Author: Eight percent per annum

Charts #22: Another Property Chart

Here’s another city property chart that looked interesting. How much space can USD 1m buy? Does it really make sense? The record is now held by Monaco at 16 square metre. This is not to say property is a bad investment though. If we think about it, this is just another greater fool game in a different scale, or as we had discuss, the reflection that the value of money will just keep getting eroded with inflation and QE. If we look at this chart in twenty years, maybe Monaco will be 8 square metre and the rest of...

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Lessons Learnt: Hyflux – Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous post. In the last post, we summarized the Hyflux debacle and discussed the lessons learnt. 1. Always limit or risk capital to an amount we can lose 2. Map out all the scenarios and probabilities and keep monitoring them. Today we delve in #2 and share the third lesson further below. In our due diligence on Hyflux eight years ago. I would say that I did not do this well. Hyflux scenarios and probabilities should have looked like the following: 60% – business as usual, Hyflux continued to operate as successful as...

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Thoughts #14: Hwa Chong or Chinese High?

Are you Hwa Chong or Chinese High? This was a perplexing question for some who attended these schools in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hwa Chong Junior College (a.k.a HCJC, a prominent high school in Singapore) was established which was a separate entity to the Chinese High School, one of the earliest boys’ school in Singapore. The story goes that Chinese High organized a 100th anniversary dinner in March 2019 and if you are a Hwa Chong student, it’s technically not your dinner. So should you attend? However, HCJC was then merged with Chinese High to form Hwa...

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Lessons Learnt: Hyflux – Part 1

Eight years ago, we discussed Hyflux perpetual bonds here, putting forward the investment thesis that 6% was good dividend/interest income and how Hyflux had a so-so business model but things should be okay because the Singapore government would support Hyflux as they had done so in the past. That turned out to be a huge mistake. Not only did the government not support Hyflux, she rubbed it in, pushed the proverbial dagger into Hyflux’s belly, delivering the fatal blow. Et Tu Temasek? (Ref: Et tu Brute) How did things come to such a dire situation?  As described in the...

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Charts #21: Misery Index

While we live in sunny Singapore and watch Game of Thrones, bask in rich and affluent culture, there are parts of the world where things can be quite different and miserable. Note: Argentina is not the most miserable country, it’s Venezuela which has an index reading of 1.7m, way off the chart below. Inflation is one big cause. Singapore was once like that. During WWII and then the decades shortly after war in the 1950s and 1960s. Our forefathers pulled us through those difficult times with good economic policies, financial common sense: saving money, balancing the govt budget and...

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How to Be a Really Bad Portfolio Manager

Intuitively, most people would think that portfolio management should be more science than art right? After all, the two words: portfolio and management just sound so scientific! In reality, portfolio management is probably more art than science. Yet most professional fund houses like to approach portfolio management scientifically. Hence the no.s speak for themselves. 80% of all portfolio managers cannot beat an index like the Straits Times Index, or the Dow Jones. Good portfolio managers* are a unique breed. Especially those who had been humbled by the markets time and again. They spent their entire careers learning about markets,...

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Books #5: Best Selling Books

Did a quick google check on most books ever sold. Interesting list – no non-fiction and the best selling book was not written in English.  Fortunately for 2018, we do have some non-fiction. In fact mostly non-fiction. 2018 was definitely Year of #MeToo and Girl Power! Haven’t read Michelle Obama’s autobiography, should be good! Meanwhile, just finished Shoe Dog by Phil Knights, founder of Nike. Amazing story, must read for...

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Lesson from Bohemian Rhapsody – Part 3

This is a continuation of the previous two posts about lessons learnt after watching Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie about the famous rock band Queen and its lead singer Freddie Mercury. Freddie was a free spirited artist who lived recklessly. He brought joy to millions while bringing sorrow to those closest to him. Hence, he have the many life lessons that we can learn here. In this last post, we shall talk about a Chinese idiom – 祸从口出 (huo4 cong2 kou3 chu1).  In Chinese, the famous saying above states that disasters come out from one’s mouth. This is another lesson...

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Thoughts #13 – Trump Lies

Michael Cohen, fixer for Donald Trump, gave the biggest exposé on Donald Trump recently. Yet Trump supporters continued to believe in him and he would still be the US President and might win the second term.  Why did Americans support Trump despite overwhelming evidence that he lied profusely? Why do we believe in half truths? The article below shed some light: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_the_science_of_lying_explain_trumps_supportWe forgive lies if they were told for some greater good. This is a bit like white lies. Trump supporters believed he told the lies for the greater good – to make America great again.  Sometimes, we do...

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Lesson from Bohemian Rhapsody – Part 2

*This post contains spoilers about Bohemian Rhapsody – the 2018 Hollywood movie about Freddie Mercury, pls stop reading if you intend to watch the movie.  In the last post, we talked about never ever betraying your cadre and how if you did, your most trusted friends and family will forgive you once or twice. But, there is only a few times you can do this. There are people who keep betraying and in the end, they have no one to turn to. Sometimes we hear stories about lonely old men living in temples with no one to turn to....

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Lessons from Bohemian Rhapsody – Part 1

I have this habit of viewing everything with investors’ lens and again this was what happened when I watched Bohemian Rhapsody recently. This top grossing movie of 2018-19 was about Queen and its lead singer: Freddie Mercury. Friends and acquaintances raved all about it and seeing it as the top movie on the inflight entertainment, I put on my headphones and started watching before the plane left the tarmac It was good but not as good as my expectations. Expectations – the markets are also all about expectations. When expectations are too high, then the stock will likely fall....

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Happy CNY 2019! Huat Ah! Bcos We Are Singaporeans!

Is it because I’m Chinese? No, sweetie, we are Singaporeans :) The Year of the Dog is coming to an end. Tomorrow, we usher in the Earth Pig. Yes, while the media always reports that this year is the Year of the Golden Animal, it seldom is. The last real Gold animal was in 2011 – called Gojek, the Golden Jackass. Just kidding, it’s the Golden Rabbit and before that the Golden Tiger in 2010.  The next one is in 2020 – the Golden Rat. As there are five elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Wood and Gold) and each element gets...

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