Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Ancient wisdom from Kuala Lumpur made relevant for Investors !

I was in KL to support my mum for some family matters over the weekend and I was unable to put up articles on this blog, but now I am back an between my lectures and tutorials.

KL is the land of great wisdom and my relatives have shared with me the ancient proverbs of Hakka/Cantonese origin. Unfortunately, while I am able to adapt these proverbs for investing, I am unable to transcribe their pronunciation on this blog.

As of now, I can't even tell whether they are Hakka or even Cantonese in origin.

a) Flying a kite with your public hair

Whoever came up with this proverb was clearly a genius !

When Singapore civil servants are discussion a task that is very tedious and yields very little benefits for the tax-payer, they use the metaphor of "boiling the ocean" to discourage the officer from going ahead with it.

Now we have a better proverb - Imagine using your public hair to fly a kite. The amount of effort required to tie pieces of your public hair to form a string that is solid enough to out a kite in the sky must be enormous. Many civil servants would rather volunteer to work on procurement than to do that (But I won't at my current pay grade).

There are a lot of bloggers who do bottom up investing - identifying the profitability of individual departments and then reconstituting their analysis to create a sum of parts valuation. These investors usually own about 6-8 counters that they analyse very carefully. As good as bottom up investing is, it is difficult for quants to do the same for 40-60 counters.

Because quants, too, would not want to fly a kite with their pubic hair.

b) Sharpening your blade with your penis.

"Your penis is not a whetstone." -  This would have come from the lips of Tyrion Lannister but you get to hear it from me first.

When you use your penis to sharpen a blade you put yourself in a precarious position. If you go AWOL and do not check into camp because you are engaging in underaged sex with your CO's daughter, you are trying to sharpen a blade with you penis.

Some investing ideas are simply bad. In the 90s, some companies sold put options on their own company stock. These days we have ICOs. Imagine mortgaging your home to buy a diversified portfolio of Dogecoin mining contracts.

In summary, KL is a wonderful place. Because of that, this is a wonderful blog.

If you can find more uses for these proverbs, I strongly urge you to share them here.

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