Friday, December 09, 2016

Personal update and what to look out for in this blog.

Ok, here's a quick personal update.

a) Finances

There is supposed a 100% probability that the Fed will raise interest rates before the close of the year. I think it's already built into the REIT prices so even if it happens, a rally for REITs should be around the corner. More worrying is Singapore's new found status as a sick man of the East. My position is that the downturn is built into the government goal to restructure the economy and not widen the rich-poor gap any further. If a recession is a deliberate strategy, then a more aggressive investment stance is justified.

Recently, most of us investors of Neratel got a massive pay-off in end November and the priority would be to diversify our portfolio's further. Much of the concern now is whether Neratel without it's payments business would continue to be a good dividend counter. The consensus from the stock market is "no" and it is one of the poorest performers in my portfolio for the past few months. I'm holding onto it as for now.

On the cryptocurrency front, Ethereum's performance was so bad it was comical, but I think the longterm potential of smart contracts remain and it might be an opportunity to make more strategic bets as the year closes on the currency. I am a believer that every hack makes a cryptocurrency stronger and more robust and a short term weakness should be viewed as a strength.

Overall, it feels good to reach my third year without eating into my investment capital.

b) Law School

Or rather the lack of school. I've spent the past few days being an unpaid intern for a startup which works with smart contracts and it's been quite fulfilling so far. Beyond doing legal research on electronic signatures, I'm picking up some coding skills in Meteor.js framework which allows me to quickly prototype websites in Javascript making this possibly one of the most unique learning experiences in my life.

Some of the things I learn can be quite disturbing at the broader level. You can pick up the latest textbook on a programming framework but the code and methods in their worked examples may be obsolete by the time you pick the book up. I've managed to instinctively complete the tutorials without following the instructions closely as they are no longer valid.

[ All the extra time I spent on events programming on Microsoft Foundation Classes and messing with Linux fifteen years ago paid off in spades. For the technically inclined, I wasted a few hours on setting Session variables on by web application because the ability to do this by default was disabled after version 1.3 of Meteor.  ]

At the end of the day, developers may be running on instinct and Google searches to solve engineering problems. IT is all about fooling around.

If you follow the news, NTUC is collaborating with General Assembly to bring programming bootcamps to the masses of PMETs but I doubt picking up specific coding skills would be helpful to build industry-ready software engineers. A lot depends on your mental flexibility and IT foundational skills honed over many years of general practice to know instinctively how to react when instructions fail. The strongest beneficiary of programming bootcamps will always be IT professionals and engineers and not non-IT types.

c) Future Talks by Financial Bloggers.

Work has started on planning the next talk which would be on mid-January. We are planning a session on Money and Relationships and will be sharing money management tips within the context of a family.

Can't share anymore as research on the topic starts this weekend for me but it should be fun.

d) What to expect on this blog

Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to try to post everyday.

I'm currently reading Tim Ferriss's Tools of Titans and rushed my way from the Heath section to the section on Wealth. I'm going to do a quick write-up on each wealth expert featured in his books and talk about whether I agree or disagree with Tim's writeup and the person's ideas.

Tim Ferriss is one of the most influential thought leaders in personal development today and I expect many readers of this blog to be big fans of the man. However, my personal view was that Tim made it really big too quickly and catapulted himself to the level of being a VC-level investor without a solid grounding in Finance. He invests more like an entrepreneur than an investor.

I would expect his advice to quite polarising and worth getting into on this blog.

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