Bye bye 2011. Hello 2012. image:

I realised I didn’t do one last year and the previous one was just a list on my previous blog.

Looking through all the entries on this blog and the previous one, it suddenly hits me how time flies. Let me just say that 2011 has been one of those years that’s better off forgotten. I’m sure participants of the stock-market will agree with me. Fortunately, my personal life has never been better so here goes the things that I’m thankful for this year.

Family and Loved ones

I’ve always been lucky in this area of my life- lots of support and encouragement as always despite the impending career change. My Melly’s stood by me in this respect (even when one of my plans was to start from the bottom of a different food chain) and considering the next phase of life we’ll be entering, it’s not going to be easy. But I suppose better to change direction now than when we have to adopt greater responsibilities.

Marriage awaits and honestly, I can’t wait for the day where I can say, “Finally, it’s our turn.” Of course, I popped the question early. The upside is that we’ve had lots of time to plan, prepare and gather moolah to fund the whole thing- better a nicely planned one with all the bells and whistles than a haphazard affair. The only itch was seeing so many people we know get married in the interim that it made us look forward to ours even more! I guess you could say that the upside of that was that we gathered a lot of tips based on both first-hand accounts and observations so I guess our wedding will turn out very close to how we want it to be.

This year’s been a foodie year. Melly and I have done lots of baking- log cakes, choc fudge cake, double choc-chip cookies, muffins, cupcakes and orange glazed cherry chiffon cake. The more adventurous recipes were done in a baking class so I guess the next natural step would be to recreate them by ourselves. That’s the goal for 2012.

My paternal grandma had a few minor scares that resulted in her being hospitalised a couple of times during the year. Thankfully, she’s doing well now and adjusting to her ‘drop-foot’ condition. My mom had an eye scare but that seems to be alright now. Other than that, everyone else in the family is in great shape.


On the investment front, things haven’t gone so well. My portfolio dipped together with the general downturn in the markets. Fortunately, it was cushioned by generous dividend payouts and the fall gave me lots of opportunity to enter the market once again; I scooped up quite a bit of stocks towards the end of the year. Only thing is, with all the uncertainty over how things in the Euro Zone pan out, stocks might get cheaper. Oh well, I do have ammo for that and on a valuation basis, the market is pretty cheap so even if stocks get cheaper…to paraphrase Buffett, I’ll be a sex-starved man in a whore house. On the whole, I think the portfolio will do well over the next 3-5 years.

I’m also excited with taking on a new challenge next year. That’ll require more studying of sectors and market history and I think it’ll benefit my own portfolio as well…Let me call it ‘Project G’. If things go well, it’ll be another pillar of my wealth creation plans. This could really be a fundamental boost to what I eventually want my life to be like.

Also, important lessons for the year:

– Montier’s 7 immutable laws of investing

– Importance of CAPE, Dividends and a long time horizon

– Asset Allocation (In anticipation for good times: Industrials, Tech, CD, Financials; Bad times- Utilities, Staples, Telecoms, Healthcare)

– Cash is King when the world goes to hell.

2011 in General

Definitely not a good year to be a dictator or against the US- think Mubarak, Gaddafi, Osama and most recently, Kim Jong Il. Shitty year to be an authoritarian government too- think Russia and (ahem) us. Power to the people has been a theme this year- scents of a jasmine revolution and arab spring led to movements like Occupy Wall Street. Singapore had some inane copycats like the Slutwalk SG movement.

I’m not sure what the situation within the PAP is like now. They lost a GRC for the first time ever (poor Ong Ye Kung and George Yeo. No sympathies for Cynthia Phua and Lim Hwee Hua though) and their newbies (Tin Pei Ling, Puthucheary, Vikram Nair, Chan Chun Sing and especially the guy who retreated at the last min) only made people wonder if the PAP’s selection process is as strict as they claim. This was worsened by the fact that other parties recruited gems like Chen Show Mao, Pritnam Singh, Nicole Seah, Hazel Poa & Tony Tan, Benjamin Pwee. On the PAP front, only Heng Swee Keat stood out for me. Clearly the PAP has a renewal problem when they have to rely on Lim Boon Heng to devise a strategy to reclaim Aljunied. How about all the not so new newbies like Teo Ser Luck, Vivian Balakrishnan, and co.? Haven’t they gotten enough political mileage to do something? Oh wait. Those same guys fubbed a rally speech and couldn’t do much for poor folks or handle ‘once in 50 year floods’ that already began since his predecessor’s time. What about even more experienced guys like Mah Bow Tan and Lim Swee Say? Ok, I think the point I’m making is clear- despite what they say, renewal in the PAP is not a new problem. I think Khaw Boon Wan is doing an awesome job (as a politician) though- not good to be holding stocks of mass market property developers while he’s in charge. Luckily Tony Tan managed to get voted into the Istana otherwise, they’d really be hitting the panic button. It was exciting, 2 nation-wide elections in one year. I don’t think we’ll see something like that again in a while.

Nuclear got a bad name this year no thanks to Fukushima. It was a terrible disaster (more from the tsunami I think) and my heart goes out to the people still suffering from the aftermath; but I don’t think many people account for the fact that the Fukushima reactor was built a long time ago and there was a story about how there was a cover up by the company that built some steel containment structure for the reactor so the fallout we’re seeing is possibly due to human folly rather than a lack of technology. I’m no expert but if Bill Gates thinks that nuclear is the way forward, I think it’s worth putting more brain power into looking at the issue rather than taking a knee-jerk reaction to score political brownie points by banning nuclear.

Personal Development

I’m not sure what new skills I’ve picked up this year since my personal budgeting has always been fairly prudent to begin with. Despite the terrible year for markets (STI down 17% for the year), my personal portfolio (Cash + Equities. I don’t count CPF since there’s a lot of restrictions on when and what you can use the monies for) hit a milestone this year so that’s a minor triumph.

I’ve read great stuff like Influence by Robert Cialdini, All your worth by Elizabeth Warren, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnmen, Born to Run by Douglas Mcdougall, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko, The Rare Find by George Anders, Boombustology by Vikram Mansharamani, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and much much more that I can’t remember off the top of my mind.

Looking Ahead

This year I want to map out stuff that I will achieve next year. Simply because large projects require small efforts directed at it over long periods of time and writing out such a list will allow me to focus on where to direct my efforts for the year ahead.

  1. Flesh out a comprehensive investing process specifying the steps and aspects involved in making investment decisions. (A checklist to overcome my system 1 biases)
  2. Brew a batch of beer good enough to be consumed on a regular basis.
  3. Bake and decorate a chocolate cake good enough to replace cakes bought for birthday parties.
  4. Blog more often on textbook Investment and Economics. This should be a chapter/concept type of post, essentially it should serve as supplemental notes comprehensive enough to teach a chapter or concept.
  5. Be less critical about people. Criticise concepts not people.

I hope 2012 will be better than 2011 for most!