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Archives for February 2016

Poke the Box: School Yourself

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Just in case you missed any of this on Safal Niveshak in the last week…

Book Worm
The Elements of Investing is a short, straight-talk book about investing and saving. While talking about power of saving and compounding, authors, Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis, write –

Time is indeed money, but as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” If only we could all train ourselves at a young age to know what we know now. When money is left to compound for long periods, the resulting accumulations can be awe inspiring.

Benjamin Franklin provides us with an actual case. When Franklin died in 1790, he left a gift of $5,000 to each of his two favourite cities, Boston and Philadelphia. He stipulated that the money was to be invested and could be paid out at two specific dates, the first 100 years and the second 200 years after the date of the gift. After 100 years, each city was allowed to withdraw $500,000 for public works projects. After 200 years, in 1991, they received the balance—which had compounded to approximately $20 million for each city. Franklin’s example teaches all of us, in a dramatic way, the power of compounding. As Franklin himself liked to describe the benefits of compounding, “Money makes money. And the money that money makes, makes money.

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Latticework of Mental Models: Permutation and Combination

Here’s an interesting trivia.

If you wear different tie on the same shirt, most people will think that you’re wearing a different shirt. That’s an interesting way to multiply your options without really buying new cloths (except few new ties).

“That’s not a trivia, that’s a Jugaad.”, you might want to say. Anyways, That brings me to an equally interesting mindbender.

If you have 2 shirts (white, blue), 3 pants (black, gray and brown) and 3 different ties (pink, orange, red), in how many different ways can you get dressed? Assumption here is that getting dressed requires you to wear all three i.e. a shirt, a pant and a tie.

Using the multiplication principle we can say that there are total 2 x 3 x 3 = 18 ways to get dressed. Of course some of the dress combinations will look outright funny but our concern here is to find out all possible ways to get dressed. Moreover, today we are getting into Maths discipline and most mathematicians don’t really have whole lot of fashion sense anyways.

So that’s the simplest example of using the idea of combinations in real life. Now let’s say, for some strange reason, we were also considering the order in which you put on the cloths, i.e. it matters to us if one puts on the shirt first instead of tie.

Imagine wearing a tie first and then squeezing the shirt inside the tie, funny right? I told you mathematicians don’t care much about the dressing etiquettes 🙂

Okay, back to the same question again. In how many ways can you get dressed if the order of dressing matters?

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Where is the Stock Market Headed: A Conversation With My Friend

“What is happening with the stock market, Vishal?” my very concerned trader-who-thinks-he-is-an-investor friend Ravi asked me on phone.

“Why Ravi, what happened?” I asked in my usual show of ignorance.

“Hey, aren’t you seeing the stock market crash?”

“Okay, so you know what is happening with the stock market. It is crashing!” I said jokingly.

“Stop that Vishal!” Ravi scolded me. “I have already lost all my profits in this crash, which I made during the past three years.”

“So how can I help you my friend?” I asked.

“Tell me if you have any clue where the stock market is headed?” he asked.

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Poke the Box: Dealing with Stock Market’s Moments of Terror

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Revisiting the archives for some old posts on dealing with stock market turbulence…

Book Worm
Yesterday, I was re-reading what Buffett wrote in his 1987 letter to shareholders, which I believe is one of the most important texts ever written on how to become a sensible stock market investor. As a student of value investing, you must have read what follows several times. But then, such super-texts need several readings, and then several more.

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Latticework of Mental Models: Switching Costs

How many times in last 6 months have you bought something from any of the these websites –

  1. Flipkart
  2. Amazon
  3. Snapdeal

In my case I have used all three, at least once, in last 6 months. With two infants at home, my wife’s favourite online shopping destination is firstcry.com these days. But when it comes to buying diapers, I order from Amazon. Why? Whichever website offers better discount, we go for it. I am not loyal to any particular online store.

Now let me ask you another similar question. How many times have you switched your bank in last 6 months?

In last 1 year? Or in last 5 years?

Well even if another bank comes with an offer of higher savings interest rates, how many people actually take the pains of shifting all their cash and bank deposits to another bank? Very few I guess. My father hasn’t changed his bank in last 30 years.

But why is it that we change our online shopping stores in the blink of an eye but never really change our banks. Even credit cards or demat brokers don’t see too much churning in their customers base. If you talk to bankers, you’ll find that the average turnover rate for deposits is around 15 percent, implying that the average customer keeps his or her account at a bank for six to seven years.

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Poke the Box: Choose Must

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
As Mr. Market behaves like a drunkard trying to get on a horse, here’s time to revisit some old posts dealing with how to behave during a stock market turbulence like we are seeing now –

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Latticework of Mental Models: The Bystander Effect

“Madness is a rare thing in individuals – but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages it is the rule.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Just after 3 a.m., March 13, 1964 in New York City, Catherine Genovese, a 28-year old woman, was stabbed to death in a parking lot in front of her apartment complex. Catherine’s murder story could have drowned in the middle pages of most newspapers like many other crime stories, except that it didn’t.

Catherine’s murder wasn’t a quick, muffled death. It had been a long, loud, tortured, public event. The killer had chased and attacked her in the street three times over a period of thirty-five minutes before his knife finally silenced her cries for help.

Shockingly, thirty-eight people, all in the surrounding apartments, witnessed at least one of her killer’s three attacks from the safety of their apartment windows for 25 minutes without calling the police.

The story has since been thoroughly debunked, a case of sensational reporting, but at the time it was written it led to intense interest in the phenomenon from psychologists. Even if there is a ten percent truth to above story, it’s a baffling account of a crime, not because it was a murder, but because “good people” failed to call the police.

Why didn’t the neighbours help? Were they indifferent? Frightened? Why should they be afraid of calling the police from the safety of their own homes? Has the violence on TV and movies made people so insensitive? Was it the beginning of a new epidemic known as large scale social apathy?

Interview with the witnesses revealed none of these explanations was the real reason behind people’s inaction.

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Poke the Box: Don’t Set a Bad Goal

Let’s Start with Safal Niveshak
Just in case you missed any of this on Safal Niveshak in the last week…

  • In investing, knowledge is cumulative and the relation between effort and results is nonlinear, so focus on the process and keep practicing the art of investing.
  • For investors, like airline pilots, the job entails hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. If you can stomach the stock market turbulence you’ll end up with very satisfactory results over long term.

Book Worm
Derek Sivers is the perfect example of what one might want to call as an accidental entrepreneur.

He was a musician who simply wanted to sell his music CDs online. In 1998 the internet was still picking up and e-commerce was pretty much an unknown phenomenon. So Derek started his own website to sell his music CDs online which, to his utter surprise, grew into a multi-million dollar business. He eventually sold his business, CDBaby.com, for $22 million.

Derek’s approach to business is very unconventional but makes a lot of sense. He has compiled his business philosophy in a small book called Anything You Want. It was an absolute treat to read this book. I just couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing this 100 page book in one sitting.

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