Wednesday 29 January 2014

AKB48 Koi suru Fortune Cookie

    Even though I like you,
    it's like you're not interested in me
    I prepared myself so many times to have my heart broken
    Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

    Because there are many much cuter girls all around me
    You wouldn't notice this plain flower
    Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

    While casually listening to the cafeteria music,
    I start tapping my feet to the beat
    without even realizing it
    I can't stop, how I'm feeling
    Come on come on come on come on, baby
    tell me my fortune!

    Love Fortune Cookie!
    The future ain't that bad
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    You gotta show your smile to get some of that luck
    Heart-shaped Fortune Cookie
    let's start making our luck better
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Life isn't all that bad
    A surprising miracle will come in a surprising way
    I feel like we'll be able to love each other somewhere, somehow

    I want to confess to you
    but I have no confidence in myself
    Because I can just imagine your reaction
    Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

    "A girl with a good personality would be nice" is what all the boys say
    But looks are an advantage
    The ones that always get first place in popularity contests are cute girls
    Please! Please! Please! Oh baby!
    Look at me!

    Love Fortune Cookie,
    let's start breaking out of that shell
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Not even God knows what will happen next
    Sad Fortune Cookie,
    no need to be so negative
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    The world is full of love
    It makes you forget all the sad things
    I believe that tomorrow is another day

    Come on come on come on come on, baby
    tell me my fortune!

    Love Fortune Cookie
    The future ain't that bad
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    You gotta show your smile to get some of that luck
    Heart-shaped Fortune Cookie
    let's start making our luck better
    Hey! Hey! Hey! 
    Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Life ain't all that bad
    A surprising miracle will come in a surprising way
    I feel like we'll be able to love each other somewhere, somehow

Monday 27 January 2014

You are shorting already!

For me, going long or short is no different from betting black or red at the roulette tables in the casinos

Whether you call it an "investment" or speculative trade, it's just a directional bet - up or down. Nothing more; nothing less.

Most traders don't have a problem with shorting - think about it, does it smell like a "rigged  game" if you are only allowed to bet black at the casinos?

Somehow, when it comes "investing", some politicians and "investors" go on a epilepsy fit and/or start a witch hunt whenever there is "shorting" in the market...

You know what?

Whenever you go  "long" on an asset, you are simultaneously going "short" something else at the same time.

If you are buying equities today, you are long equities - making a bet it will go up in whatever time frame you had in mind. 

You have to pay for the equities with something in exchange. And that's normally cash.

Do you see it? 

You are in fact "shorting" cash and going "long" equity within the same transaction!

You are betting that your cash will be "rotting" in your account and equities will outperform cash.

Similarly, if you are taking some money off the table or selling your equities today, you are "short" equities and going "long" cash.

You believe cash will outperform equities in the near future. Don't lose money is outperformance right?

Rotating between cash and equities is the simplest and cleanest method if you have problems using leveraged instruments like CFDs or Futures to "short" the market.

Another way instead of cash is the traditional equities and bonds asset allocation method. You are "shorting" bonds if you rotate out from bonds into equities. And vice versa "shorting" equities if you rotate back into bonds.

This is not popular with retail "investors" as most do not own bonds or are familiar with it. 

By the way, most Finance trained graduates are familiar with bonds and their relationship with interest rates. If you are not Finance trained, do bring your knowledge up to speed so that you don't bring a flick-knife into a gun fight...

There's a saying bond traders are smarter than equities traders... Don't look at me. I didn't say it!

For those die die must be 100% invested in equities at all times, there's a solution too! Especially if you know when you rotate into cash, you have difficulty getting right back into equities.

After a good run with speculative penny counters, you now want to protect the winnings. You can rotate into defensive dividend paying stocks while maintaining your pristine 100% vested at all times conviction.

Of course your defensive counters will drop in a market correction! But the key word here is relative. 

It's not so bad if your defensive dividend stocks drop 10% while you previously-owned penny stocks are now 20-30% down, is it?

And if you believe the tide has turned, you can "short" defensive dividend stocks and go "long" and rotate back into your bombed-out speculative penny stocks once again. 

Eh? Why am I hearing Katy Perry's Hot N Cold song in my head now?

Before I go, I'll leave you with one Science law and one Spiritual symbol for you to ponder on next time you say you have never "shorted": 

Newton Third Law of Motion

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Taoist symbol

Thursday 23 January 2014

Have you noticed great investors are superb writers too?


Who is your favourite investing guru?

How did you get to know this person? (Face to face, books, print media, You-tube videos, documentaries, TV, etc.)

Do you quote the famous sayings of this guru?

Whether it be newsletters, annual reports to shareholders, articles to print media, or books written, have you noticed these investing greats have one thing in common - they write really well!

Was it their facility with History? Providing the context and perspective for the now relative to what has happened in the past?

Or was it their clever interweaving of Literature onto the skeletons of numbers to flesh-out the human emotions and behaviours behind these numbers? 

Literature is human emotions and behaviours. 

Human emotions and behaviours have not changed much for the past 5,000 years.

I suspect the gurus we like and admire are adept at using both sides of their brains.

For young students reading this post, you may want to reconsider dropping Literature or Arts subjects completely if you have ambitions to be the next investing great

For working adults working on your investing journey to escape, take a look at your collection of books. Are they too skewed towards dry bone skeletons and too little on spirit and soul? 

Tuesday 21 January 2014

3 bananas in the morning, 4 in the evening

I think most have heard of this story where a group of coconut picking monkeys were not satisfied with their "wages" of 3 bananas in the morning and 4 in the evening.

So off they went to confront the farmer and demanded a raise.

The farmer though deeply for a while and gave the monkeys a "raise" with a wry smile - 4 bananas in the morning and 3 in the evening.

The monkeys walked away happy with their "victory".

Is this a win-win situation or what!

Or is it?

When you take public transport - be it buses or MRT - have your noticed that if you divide on a per km basis, you are paying more for shorter trips than for longer journeys?

It's the same with taxis. Make a wild guess whether taxi-drivers prefer shorter or longer fares? Not what you expected on first look right?

When I was on business trips to China, India, and Indonesia, I found that in 3rd tier cities, I can find detergents and candies being sold on a per sachet basis.

Not a big packet of bite-sized candies, but each bite-sized candies being sold individually. I guess marketers have realised the need to keep the absolute price affordable for these markets.

But on a gross margin level, these small sachets and bite-sized offerings are much more profitable than the jumbo economy sized packages that are sold in 1st tier cities.

Don't believe? Next time you go to the supermarket, do a simple math on which is more economical from consumer point of view - a large 2l bottle of coke or a can of 325ml coke?

Your be surprised!

Some "investors" think like monkeys when it comes to equities and properties.

A $10 big cap stock "expensive"; so they buy into small caps at $0.08 since it's a lot "cheaper". Huh?

This condo is so affordable at below $600,000! Cheap! Buy!

But on a per sq m or per year of lease basis...

Moral of story, monkeys can't count.

Salesmen and business owners can.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Maiden walk round Bedok Reservoir - Jan 2014

I decided to make a trip to walk round Bedok Reservoir yesterday.

There's so many places in Singapore that I've yet to visit and explore. A bonus of this trip is I accidentally found Temasek Polytechnic!? So it's here!

Bedok is a town where I am not familiar with. The only time I was here was when friends brought me to eat at one popular meatball noodle shop. It was at night and don't remember anything else. 

The rest of the time, I just zip through Bedok while taking the bus or MRT. Always passing through; never stopping.

Took bus 65 from Harbour Front interchange and arrived at the jetty. 

Wednesday afternoon around 1pm. Hardly anyone around. Glad the weather is not hot. Rain clouds gathering...

Only 2 people were fishing nearby. Here's one of them. There's one Indian couple in their 30s smooching on a park bench nearby. I think I don't disturb them. Kiss, kiss, hug, hug. 

Some young girls were jogging on the dirt track. I monkey see; monkey do. OK, they jogged; I strolled.

The weather was interesting. Want to rain; don't rain. A bit of a tease like the markets recently. Go up don't go up; go down don't go down...


Most of the properties surrounding the this man-made reservoir are private condominiums. But there were some lucky HDB blocks that overlook this reservoir. Hmm... Were they "planned", or were they built before the decision to convert this sand quarry to reservoir? Ugly view turned golden?

I like curves.

If a psychologist would to ask me what I see in this picture, I would say breasts.

Well, at least mine made more sense than people seeing breasts in a glass of ice cubes!? (It's a strange article I read many many years ago on subliminal messages)

Or maybe it's a case of we seeing what we want to see?


Striated Heron

Found this interesting bird near the water edge. Anyone bird watcher here? Can share with us? I think it's migratory?

See the rubbish on the foreground? 

A gentle poke to Bedok residents - you all no taking care your own backyard?

Not us lah! It's you all foreign non Bedok local residents that come and dirty our place you say?

Wait! This conversation sounds vaguely familiar...

Nice parking! Neat and in a straight line some more! Order. Discipline.

Grey sky, grey water. Where are the colours?

It puzzles me. Big open reservoir space. Why do we need cordons, barriers, demarcations?

There's also lanes for rowing like in the swimming pool. 

Hey! I see a pattern! Man-made pools and reservoirs have lanes. Natural seas and oceans have no lanes?

Ah! A refreshing gentle stroll round the reservoir. Fresh air and cool weather. Hardly any sweat at all.

Green makes me feel good. It's the colour of nature.

It's not one uniform green. There's dark green, light green, and various shades of green in between. There's whole leaves, broken leaves, and leaves with holes in them.

Did you notice it too? Nature have lots of curves; very few straight lines.

3pm plus now. Better make a move home before the buses get crowded after 5pm. It's a 1.5 hours bus ride back to Queenstown, with transfer after Harbour Front.

It's OK. Time is on my side.

And I feel good.


Monday 13 January 2014

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail - really?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Pause and reflect whether this saying makes sense to your life presently in the here and now - suspend for a moment what you think is the correct "textbook" answer, or what you think others expect you to answer. 

No one understands your life better than you! Unless you have the habit of telling little lies to yourself...

Now make a wild guess whether this saying applies to successful entrepreneurs (they built the business), business owners (can inherit or marry into one), and great investors or traders.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, who do you think were his customers for Management by Objectives? 

I don't think it was management.

Land owners and puppet masters, oh boy! Do they love to use the above saying to "carrot and stick" their minions or what!?

How about children? Did they grow up the way you have "planned"? 

Now turn the tables. Are you living your own life now, or that your parents have "planned"?
Same for marriage. Is that divorce or blissful life together "planned"?

Just to be sure, I am not against planning. It's a wonderful tool! Although I think some are mistaking it as the solution.

With more free time, I am mind-fxxxing myself silly. Questioning this, poking that.
All this planning stuffs (which includes goals, KPIs, etc), how does that gel with:

1) The Abrahamic spirituality of "submitting to thy will"?

2) The Taoist idea of 无为 (no control)?

3) The Buddhist idea of 随緣 (act accordingly)? 


Friday 10 January 2014

Ultimate Risk Taking - Your Life

What's the worst that can happen to our trading or investment account?

What's the worst consequence if we quit our job and embark on the path of a freelance existence?

What's the worst case scenario if we start a business and it fails miserably despite we putting vision, mission statement, and lots of goals into it?

Last night, 2 men made the news after a big "trade" they made went horribly wrong...

If the trade had went their way, each of the men will walk away with SGD 1 million. But the ultimate downside risk to pay could be their lives...

The risk/reward setup just isn't there.

Bad traders. Even worse gamblers...

Monday 6 January 2014

Queenstown Hawkers - Alternative Financial Independence

When I was in my primary school in the 70s, I had the impression that hawkers work 7 days a week with no rest days one - especially those that I frequent in the coffee shop near my place.

The only rest days are the 15 days during Chinese New Year. 

Now after returning 2 years ago, I noticed quite a few hawkers in Queenstown close for 3 days of the week - work 4 days only!?

The stall selling "pao" (Chinese buns) at Alexandra Village Food Centre, the stall selling chicken feet hor hun at Mei Ling Street Food Centre, the fried fritters (you zhar guey) stall at Tanglin Halt Food Centre, for eg.

Most of the other hawkers work a 5 day work week - even better than the full-time sales colleagues I work with currently; we have a 6 day retail work week schedule (and we wonder why most  Singaporeans shun retail and service work).

For those living in Queenstown, did you notice during the school holidays, more and more hawkers close their stalls for 1- 2 weeks too? Not just June and December, but during March and September months too!

Before some of you may lament that hawkers today are not as resilient or hard working as the old days, let me point out the hawkers I mentioned are those from the old days.

They are the first generation hawkers who are mostly in their 70s and 80s now. And those helping them are the second generation who themselves are in their 50s. They have been working at their stalls for the past 30-40 years!!! 

These hawkers were here ever since our Queenstown estate was built.

Initially, I find it quite irritating. Mom would ask for certain food for breakfast or dinner, and its not fun going out and finding the stall is closed. After 2 years, it's not a problem.

"Lor mee closed today mom."

"Nasir lemark OK? No?" 

"You want chicken rice. The one at Mei Ling street not open, the one at Alexandra can?"

And so it goes in our daily routine back and forth.

These elderly hawkers have paid their dues. Children are all grown up with their own families.

It's a grass-root microcosm of the Singapore dream.

Work hard; raise your children well.

Evidently, these hawkers who can afford to take 2-3 days off a week and frequent holidays (with grand children abroad?) throughout the year are working not because they HAVE TO; but because they WANT TO.

Their children and grand children are probably the ones who are constantly coaxing and nagging them to retire!

I am not sure whether anyone have pointed out to these hawkers that their CPF are inadequate for their old age, they are not sufficiently covered by medical insurance, and horror upon horror! They have not even started on their retirement planning at all!!!

No passive income? No investments to hedge against inflation? No emergency fund? What were these hawkers thinking!? No make my first million goal? No aim in life? Content to be a hawker all their lives?

I'll stop right here. 

You decide who is envying whom. Over planning and worrying too much can distract us from what's really important. Especially if it's always me first perspective...

This post is an expansion to a previous remark I've made about emergency fund does not have to funded with money... 

Sometimes it's good to pause and ask:

"Where is the love?"

Thursday 2 January 2014

Stand Tall

You are wearing your favourite Liverpool red jersey and you saw a pub that's a sea of red.

As you walked into the pub, oh shit! Its Manchester United red...

Do you make a hasty retreat or do you walk in and STAND TALL?

You have been going to your favourite casual dining restaurant in your T-shirt and bermuda shorts for years. 

What the....? Tonight, all the other patrons are dressed to the nines.

Do you feel under-dressed, or do you STAND TALL?

You love your son dearly, and today you both are going to the market to sell your donkey.

Along the way lots of kay-pohs (busy bodies) are telling you and your son how to bring the donkey to market.

Do you capitulate, or do you STAND TALL?

For those who don't do metaphors well, the son could be your parents, significant other, siblings, or your pet dog Alfie - woof, woof!

The  donkey can be an insurance policy, an education fund, or your new wife to be. 

I envy women. You have a good war cry:

I am woman.

I am power!


Then you go make the Wonder Woman pose. Power or what?

For men, our war cry some how doesn't have the same oomph as theirs...

I am man.

I am master of the universe!

I wear my underwear on the outside!!!

Do we still do the Superman pose? As if wearing ballet tights is not embarrassing enough...

Stand tall?

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