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Archives for July 2016

Latticework of Mental Models: Straw Man Fallacy

A policeman, while on his usual late night patrol, finds a well dressed gentleman squatting under a streetlight.

“Is there a problem sir? Are you looking for something?” Policeman asked the man.

“I lost my car keys officer.” Replied the gentleman.

“Do you need some help?”

“Thanks. I sure could use some help. It’s been an hour since I lost my keys and can’t find them.”

So they both started looking under the streetlight together. After about half an hour, the policeman asks, “Where exactly did you lose your keys?”

“Oh, I actually lost them in the park, half a kilometre down this road.”

“Then why in the world are you searching here under the streetlight?”

“Because this is where the light is.” The gentleman replies with shrug and a look of obviousness on his face.

This might look like a party joke but it has important clues about human behaviour. Please allow me to explain.

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Value Investor Interview: Rajeev Thakkar – Part 2

Note: This interview was published in the January 2016 issue of our premium newsletter, Value Investing Almanack. To gain instant access to more such interviews and other interesting stuff on value investing and business analysis, click here to subscribe now.

SN: Is there a mechanism in Mutual Funds where you repay cash to shareholders if you’re not finding opportunities for a long period of time?

RT: Some people do it by the way of dividend payouts. Other mechanism is that you can shut the doors for the inflows. What you can say is that I’m not getting opportunities now so I wouldn’t be buying anymore. Lot of people have done that also. So you shut the door and say I’ll not take any more inflows from this date onwards. And you can open it as and when the opportunity arises. You can keep it shut for may be 3-6 months or 1 year or whatever period you deem fit.

SN: Being a fund manager, what are your thoughts on indexing?

RT: Indexing has a very important role to play but you can’t overemphasize it. People typically fall into two categories. One category of people are completely pro indexers. And the other is people who are completely against indexing. I am someone who is in between. So at one side indexing acts as a huge control on excessive fund management fees. Since indexing is a low cost mechanism for people to participate in equity markets. It’s a fact that if all the money were to be managed by professional managers the aggregate return that they give to investors will be market return minus fees. They can’t outperform themselves as a group. So mathematics is fine and I appreciate indexing from that point of view.

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Value Investor Interview: Rajeev Thakkar – Part 1

Note: This interview was published in the January 2016 issue of our premium newsletter, Value Investing Almanack. To gain instant access to more such interviews and other interesting stuff on value investing and business analysis, click here to subscribe now.

Rajeev ThakkarRajeev Thakkar possesses over 15 years of experience in various segments of the Capital Markets such as investment banking, corporate finance, securities broking and managing clients’ investments in equities. He is currently the Director and Fund Manager at PPFAS Mutual Fund.

Rajeev’s tenure at PPFAS began in 2001. His passion for researching and analysing the fundamentals of companies was evident from the very beginning and very soon he was heading the Research division at PPFAS. His responsibilities soon expanded as he was appointed the Fund Manager for the flagship scheme of the Portfolio Management Service, titled “Cognito” in 2003.

Rajeev is a strong believer in the school of “value-investing” and is heavily influenced by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s approach. In his interview with Safal Niveshak, Rajeev shares his wide investment experience and how investors can practice sensible investment decision making.

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Video Series: Latticework of Mental Models

We perceive this world through our five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. So our eyes, ears, skin, tongue and nose are the five receivers which help us make sense of the world around us.

Nature has designed each of our senses meticulously. In spite of that, if used individually, these five instruments are insufficient to help us function normally. That’s why for most of our routine activities we use combination of more than one sense organ. For example, walking requires use of eyes, skin and ear (for balancing), for communicating we use ears and tongue etc.

For most people who are passionate about learning, reading is a primary source of information. However, in reading you’re only using one instrument – eyes. These days, audio books is another popular and very effective medium to learn new things. In audio books (and podcasts), you’re again engaging only one sense – hearing.

In fact, for thousands of years, until the discovery of print medium, most human civilizations transferred their knowledge orally from one generation to other – their own version of audio books, if you will.

But what if you could engage both these senses together? Don’t you think the retention of what you learn would be much better?

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Latticework of Mental Models: Inattentional Bias

“Where is it?” I asked my wife, while my eyes scanned the kitchen cupboard again. I was looking for the sugar jar. The plan was to impress her with my exceptional tea making skills which I acquired after watching few YouTube videos.

“It should be there. Right in front!” informed my wife from the other room.

“It’s not here. I can’t see it.” I again scanned all the shelves in the cupboard.

“Look again. I kept it there in the morning.” My wife sounded very sure about it.

“No! It’s not here. I am sure.” I confirmed while closing the cupboard. What happened next shouldn’t be surprising for you because most of you have experienced it before.

She came, opened the cupboard, grabbed the sugar jar which was obviously sitting right in front and handed over to me. I stood there flabbergasted. How could I miss it? What’s wrong with my eyes? Have I gone blind? It felt as if the jar manifested itself out of thin air. It was like…magic.

Haven’t you experienced something similar in your life? I see a smile on your face. 🙂

Now that embarrassing episode in the kitchen may look like a minor incident but it holds an important clue to a fascinating behavioural bias inherent in every human brain. It’s called Inattentional Blindness, which means not being able to see things that are actually there.

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Results: Book Review Contest 2016

We recently concluded the first edition of Safal Niveshak’s Book Review Contest. Today, I feel happy to announce the winners of the same.

We received 22 entries in total and found it extremely tough to rank most of them in terms of quality, simplicity, and thoroughness of review.

While our choice of winners does not devalue the quality of reviews sent by others, it’s just that we had to pick the best very few, and here they are –

1st Prize

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

4th Prize

5th Prize

Here are the prizes winners have won –

  • 1st Prize – Books of choice, worth Rs 3,000/-
  • 2nd Prize – Books of choice, worth Rs 2,500/-
  • 3rd Prize – Books of choice, worth Rs 2,000/-
  • 4th Prize – Books of choice, worth Rs 1,500/-
  • 5th Prize – Books of choice, worth Rs 1,000/-

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all who participated!

Click here to view/download all the submitted entries.

Safal Niveshak is 5 Years Old

Safal Niveshak completes five years today. 🙂

A lot has happened in these five quick years, but as with any five-year-old, we’re just getting started.

Most of all, I and Anshul want to thank you for “raising” this initiative to this point — it truly could not have happened without you, dear tribe member.

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for your interest and support, for keeping us honest, for helping this entire movement of creating smarter and independent stock market investors become greater and spread wider.

You are magnificent, and we are supremely grateful for your time and attention.

Just in case Safal Niveshak has touched your life, we would be happy and honoured to read your thoughts in the Comments section of this post.

Thanks again for being there!

Latticework of Mental Models: Wisdom of Crowds

Kaun Banega Crorepati (Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) is unarguably one of the most popular reality show on Indian Television. So here’s a question which has never appeared in KBC before and probably never will.

Among all the different types of life lines that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan offers to a KBC contestant, which is the most reliable one?

We’ll come back to this little later in the post. However, you can keep thinking about it while you read on.

Have you ever seen an ant at work? If you closely watch a single ant when it’s away from its other ant friends, the little fellow seems to be taking a stroll in the park with no specific purpose or sense of direction. It seems to be looking for something but its approach appears largely chaotic.

Dumb insect, isn’t it? But wait a minute. If the ant is so dumb why is there an army of scientists enamoured by the behaviour of ants?

In numerous fascinating studies, these scientists have discovered that in spite of seemingly unimpressive behaviour of a single ant, the ant colony works as a highly efficient entity for exploring and exploiting the sources of food. Somehow an ant’s individual pattern-less behaviour, when combined across several thousand ants, transforms in to a very intelligent strategy.

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