Archives for category: Best Things I’ve Read

GE 2020 campaigning weekend! This elections have been entertaining. Next friday, we’ll see if the elections will be a watershed one or just a run-of-the-mill Singapore elections

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Pandemics Leave Us Forever Altered (The Atlantic)

Great read. It’s crazy how much of our lives seem to be a fork in history. We could have easily gone down a different path if not for specific events.

Why is Gold Valuable? (Of Dollars and Data)

Great read. Especially if you’re a gold bug.

The Nifty Fifty and the Old Normal (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Another great read for those who think that the biggest companies today will continue to be the biggest and best, forever and ever.

Singapore General Elections are here! Grab your popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show.

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Singapore General Elections (essential reading)

Truth or Dare: A video about online falsehoods and Singapore’s POFMA law (Musings from Singapore)

What triggered me about the upcoming elections (Growing your tree of prosperity)

Lots of drama already in this edition of Singapore’s General Elections. PM Lee’s brother has come out as a member of an opposition party; A would-be PAP candidate has already withdrawn due to allegations about his character; Many of the old guard from various political parties retiring.

In a German Tech Giant’s Fall, Charges of Lies, Spies and Missing Billions (The New York Times)

I’m still trying to figure out how EY missed this. Was there really an elaborate and sophisticated fraud or was it just a willingness to turn and look away?

Higher Ed: Enough Already (No Mercy/No Malice – Prof Scott Galloway)

I think a lot of for-profit higher education is going to go under. It’s been a long time coming and well-deserved. Too many graduates in the workforce for jobs that do not require graduate-level training and too many graduates that honestly do not quite meet the mark.

What a week. And half the year’s already gone. This year is turning out to be bizarre.

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Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy is leading an army of day traders (MSN)

Interestingly, this week is the week I found out about a guy named Dave Portnoy because of a clip on twitter that he posted that was trending in some sub-reddit that I follow.

The clip in question was about him saying how he should be a billions dollars richer if he held on to his positions in the JETS ETF. This profile of him makes it all clear now.

By the way, despite the “crash” we had in March, I’ve been hearing stories of how many people who have never traded a day in their life has gotten into options and day trading on penny stocks. This narrative is also coupled with how institutional investors are staying on the sidelines.

Based on these bits of info and the distant stories of how Time Magazine once proclaimed ‘The death of equities” right before the 90s major bull market and newly-minted millionaires calling Buffett washed-up in late ’99…I’m inclined to bet that whatever rally we’ve seen since March won’t last.

Another leg down is coming and this time it’s these newbie traders that are going to get washed out. Dave will just be the figurehead for this group.

The Depth of Privilege (Of Dollars and Data)

Really good article to remind us that for many of us that are privileged, we often do not know just how privileged we are. I guess that’s one good thing that’s come out of the various community service modules and trips that we have in our schools here in Singapore. Many students have said that they find such experiences a good reminder of how fortunate they are in Singapore.

Is This The Most Volatile Year Ever? (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Nope. Which is a reminder that things could get worse.

Well, well, well…what a week. Amidst the chaos in the U.S and COVID-19, the stock markets have been on a tear.

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On the link between economic inequality and social injustice (The Reformed Broker)

How Big is the Racial Wealth Gap? (Of Dollars and Data)

Make no mistake, the social injustice in the United States is not just a racial one, economics also play a huge role. Money is power and the amount of resources held by a certain groups compound into huge advantages over time.

Massive Up and Down Moves in Stocks in the Same Year Are More Common Than You Think (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Many professionals have been caught on the sidelines of the massive move in the markets. But make no mistake, the returns to so many new investors may ultimately prove to be an illusion.

It’s going to hard to retool middle age PMETs (Growing your tree of prosperity)

Quite ironic that the guy making that post is doing so on blogspot but he makes good points about how, despite the government’s best intentions, that pretty much most of the retraining in high-tech areas are probably going to go to waste.

Case in point, I have a friend who spent a few thousand dollars “retraining” himself in Data Science only to find that his 3-month bootcamp is nothing more than a money-sucking opportunity for the trainer.

While unable to get a job in the area he retrained for, he eventually got a job doing the kind of admin-ish executive job that a graduate in any discipline would be well able to do in a government-linked organisation.

We’re heading into the second half of the year and here in Singapore, we’re finally going to see the Circuit Breaker (CB) measures being gradually relaxed. Fingers crossed that there won’t be another wave of infections so that we have to go back into CB.

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Don’t Expect A Quick Recovery. Our Survey Of Economists Says It Will Likely Take Years. (FiveThirtyEight)

Maybe we should be happy that a bunch of economists are predicting this since we all know that joke and weathermen, economists, and predictions.

This is the thing the bears hate most (The Reformed Broker)

I’m hardly the most optimistic person but Josh Brown has a point. If the market is all about the expectations game, then the bar for expectations right now are being lowered, making it much easier to beat expectations in the coming quarters.

Thinking About Investing and the Economy Post-Pandemic (Joshua Kennon)

I’ve followed Joshua Kennon’s blog for many years now and he is clearly a very smart person. These are his thoughts on the post-pandemic economy and the types of assets to own in this environment.

Forbes article on Kylie Jenner doing a Trump (Forbes)

It’s a super good read into the whole business of fashion and being an influencer. In the social media space, it’s a chicken-and-egg kind of thing if you want to get rich quick- one doesn’t get rich without being famous and one doesn’t get famous without being rich.

Hence, the only game in town is to pretend to be rich or richer than you are, ride on the publicity and make some dough.

By the way, this doesn’t just apply to celebrities. Lots of people in Singapore also doing this in the “I’ll teach you to get rich by XX” training course space.

Matt Levine’s comments on Luckin’ Coffee (link is to a WSJ article on Luckin’)

Matt Levine’s Bloomberg newsletter, Money Stuff, is awesome. I really like his commentary on Luckin’ Coffee which details the basic model that startups sell to investors as well as how Luckin’ perpetuated the fraud that it was growing so fast.

Apparently, it was selling coffee to itself.

If you have a Wall Street Journal subscription, you can check out the link to see how it was done.

It’s Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms out there.

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A “New Deal” for Informal Workers in Asia (IMF Blog)

The pandemic has really exposed class differences in societies. And I’m not optimistic that the spread will narrow. If anything, the recovery in the markets versus the real economy is already widening the difference.

As a good friend put it, I think the Fed is beginning to worry that their rescue of financial markets is not exactly making its way into the real economy. After all, if businesses have to remain shut, it doesn’t matter if they get loans or not.

MiB: Betting Against Fraud and China (The Big Picture)

I really enjoyed this interview. I tend to think of short sellers as bullshit detectives. They call out the suspect business models and especially the outright fraud that somehow gets through due to blind optimism. Chanos has been a particularly adept detective.

As Hospitals Lose Revenue, More Than A Million Health Care Workers Lose Jobs (NPR)

So much for defensive sectors.

Which Portfolio is Right for You? (Of Dollars and Data)

Great piece. It’s not great because of the conclusions but it’s great because of the analysis. Go read it.

Sadly, many investment bloggers in Singapore aren’t at this level. I saw a piece from a relatively unknown blogger who did a piece about the “Sell in May and Go Away” effect on the STI.

Analysis was total trash.

Yikes, it’s already May?

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Now is the Time to Retire (The Wealthy Accountant)

Well obviously not for all of us but good point on how if you’re planning to retire, then this period of time is the biggest acid test of your ability to do so. Conversely, those planning to retire because their fortunes soared (on paper) during the stock market boom years may have to rethink their retirement plans.

“Deaths of despair”: The deadly epidemic that predated coronavirus (Vox)

While Covid-19 is on everyone’s minds now, it makes sense to think about other underlying structural problems in society and the economy. I’ve always marvelled at economists who look at the data, realise something is afoot, and then go on to solve the mystery. This is one of those mysteries.

Vanguard and Fidelity investors didn’t flinch as the market tanked (Yahoo Finance)

Which is precisely why I believe that as bad as March felt, it wasn’t the worst. The worst has yet to come.

How Boeing Lost Its Way (The Big Picture)

Nice 20 minute video on how corporate culture is shaped by incentives and how short-term thinking can lead to long-term losses.

CPF: Imitate Oz? (Thoughts of a Cynical Investor)

Why Not Give Us Access to Our Own CPF Special Account in these Special Times? (Investment Moats)

Interesting points and maybe I will dig into the data to see what’s feasible but given the Singaporean mentality behind CPF, I suspect many will withdraw everything if they could.

If they are allowed to only take out a token sum (say $500 each month) they’ll complain that it’s too little.

Plus we don’t really want a run on CPF right because all those CPF monies aren’t exactly sitting around in CPF’s accounts and liquidating assets right now is exactly the worse possible time to do so.

Late post today.

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Ban parties not business (The Grumpy Economist)

36,000 Missing Deaths:
Tracking the True Toll of the Coronavirus Crisis (The New York Times)

Just some COVID-19 reads.

Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman (Novel Investor)

A summary of the main points of this classic by Seth Klarman.

Transcript: James Montier (The Big Picture)

Barry Ritholtz’s interview with James Montier. I am a big fan of Montier’s work and coincidentally enough, he mentions “Margin of Safety” in the interview.

Markets have been rallying hard. It’s crazy how much markets have rallied. Almost makes investors feel like March never happened at all…

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How the Worst Pandemics in History Finally Ended (The Vintage News)

Some pandemic history. Goes way, way back.

Economy-related links

How COVID-19 Is Wreaking Havoc On Our Ability To Make Things — Including Vaccines (FiveThirtyEight)

The Next Leg Down Will Involve Credit Cards (The Reformed Broker)

Why the Economy Will Struggle to Restart (The Wealthy Accountant)

Market-related links

What Could Cause Another Leg Down in the Stock Market? (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Why the Stock Market Hasn’t Even Gotten Cheap Yet (The Reformed Broker)

The Softbank Clause (Howard Lindzon)

I’ve said before that SoftBank was a disaster waiting to happen. Basically, it was the dot-com boom concentrated in one company. Check out the link for a list of its duds.

Basically, Masayoshi Son thinks that economics doesn’t matter.

Happy Easter Sunday! It’s a long weekend here in Singapore but it doesn’t really matter much for those on us that are working from home because we’re not considered essential services.

Sorry for not reads last week as it was a little bit of a mad rush getting ready (mentally!) to be cooped up at home for April.

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Words of Wisdom From William Bernstein (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Great interview with a legend. I read Bernstein’s book “The Investor’s Manifesto” and it is one of the better books on investing out there. Check out Ben Carlson’s interview with him.

When Dollar Cost Averaging Matters the Most (A Wealth of Common Sense)

I’ve always said that DCA is a fad that many people (even those that purport to be personal finance experts) get wrong. However, there is one situation where DCA works and that is when the market is heading south. This is one of those times.

Otherwise, most people are better off investing a lump sum and having a read on valuations.

The S&P 500 is mostly concerned with duration (chart) (The Reformed Broker)

Good point.

Economic Policies for the COVID-19 War (IMF Blog)

Quite interesting to see how IMF thinks of the current state of the economy. Basically, it seems like they are preparing for war.