Saturday, October 29, 2022

Market Assessment #5 : Old Money vs New Money


As we continue our discussion on status groups, for a financial blog, we should learn to distinguish between Old Money and New Money.

Old Money

Old Money has evolved to come up with a distinctive style that is quite hard to imitate. This is characterised by high levels of financial and cultural capital. The objective of Old Money is not to be noticed by ordinary people, but they want to be recognised by their own kind.

When it comes to fashion, Old Money does not try to be flashy or attract unnecessary attention. Colours are often muted. While I'm no fashion expert, some articles I researched recommend dressing up like you are attending a tennis match. Old Money brands include Ralph Lauren and Chanel - these are brands which have been around for a long time.

From a financial perspective Old Money, while undisputably rich, may have limits when it comes to conspicuous consumption because their wealth is often locked into trust funds. They have many other ways to distinguish themselves, and this can involve their high cultural capital. Old Wealth can spend a lot of time studying art, and it's not really fun for ordinary people to appreciate some complicated movements in classical music. 

Another aesthetic Old Money tends to love is patina. It's one thing to buy a luxury watch worth six digits, but Old Money can inherit a 200-year-old timepiece that has oxidation at the right kind of places. 

New Money

New Money is within reach of professionals in business, finance, law or medicine. For a while, the crypto folks we also part of this group of people.  

We should be more familiar with the conspicuous consumption of New Money. New Money has made their wealth within the same generation, so they can be quite self-conscious of their low cultural capital. 

And this chip on their shoulder is the reason why luxury companies make so much money every year. New Rich have the ability and willingness to spend on supercars, megayachts and Birkin Bags. To compete with other members of New Money, they are even happy to decorate their servants and employees in similar designer gear. 

When it comes to Art, New Money has no time to study the works of an artist like Renoir, but they are happy to plonk millions of dollars on Jeff Koons or an NFT. 

Imitation and counter-signalling

Now let us have a discussion of what this means for us ordinary mortals who are neither old money nor new money.

One way ordinary folks like us interact with Old and New Money is through imitation. 

While we can't adopt all the aspects of the wealthy, we can focus on adopting some parts of the wealthy into our lifestyle. I noticed that a lot of middle-income Singaporeans have a strong interest in luxury watches, and there are plenty of options from $5,000 - $20,000 range like Rolex and IWc. These brands cannot solely operate on the upper ends of the economic strata, so coming up with mid-range options is important for the bottom line. The problem with this is that for these luxury items, anyone with the right amount of credit can own a luxury watch, so I don't understand why there's a prestige in owning a luxury watch.  This is why my personal policy is not to wear one to most engagements, preferring to own stocks in Hour Glass instead.

Another way in which ordinary folks can deal with these status groups is to engage in counter-signalling. For some folks, it is simply impossible to be part of even Old Money or New Money, and imitation can only take you so far. So people form counter-cultures or groups that are directly opposed to Old or New Money. 

One example of counter-cuture is a rebellious group in the 1980s called Centrepoint Kids who are basically Ah Bengs/Ah Lians with a JPOP aesthetic who loved hanging around Far East Plaza and Centrepoint. They love buying cheap jewellery at this place called Lips Enterprises that still exists today. Centrepoint kids are rebelling against the mainstream good boys and girls who study hard and want to live the Singapore Dream.

I'd like to think that the FIRE movement is a counter-culture to Old and New Money. FIRE folks use money to buy their freedom from a toxic workplace and gain more control over their lives. The preferred approach is to be frugal and track their expenses. The most prominent FIRE folks have no identifiable aesthetic - our favourite brands are Decathlon and Uniqlo. We also eat at food courts and kinda proud about taking public transport. 

An understanding of the differences between Old Money, and New Money and the twin responses to them can help many of us in decoding the consumption behaviour of Singaporeans and stand our ground when pursuing our financial independence goals.

This is why when I met another trainer in my industry who told me that he spends $1,000 a month on his pet poodle, I replied with a smile that he probably spends more on his dog than how much I spend on my son. 

On the markets, I noticed that many students are buying T-Bills because they are yielding north of 4%. I made a presentation this morning to ask that some folks reconsider because even DBS is yielding more than T-Bills and can even generate higher dividends over time. Also, there is more flexibility as it is entirely possible that the market bottom can happen within the next 6 months.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Market Assessment #4 : Why we pursue status ?


One topic that a lot of personal finance books rarely discuss is status. Why do people seem to be obsessed with their status and why the pursuit of status can actually lead to wealth destruction. As such, a book like Status and Culture by David Marx is a useful addition to a reader's collection because developing an ability to identify status-seeking manoeuvres is the first step to curbing one's own impulses.

There are four important points regarding status :
  • Status is a position within society that denotes respect and perceived importance.
  • Status comes with rights and duties, but having status does accrue benefits.
  • Status has to be bestowed by others.
  • Status is contextual, based on how we are treated at a time and place.
Status matters to me even post-financial freedom. In Singapore, I found out the hard way that you will get abused if you fall into a lower status. I will never forget being shabbily treated when I tried to apply for my wife's Singapore citizenship with ICA, as I was queuing with the folks who are also doing the same for their Vietnamese wives, I was shouted at by boomer auntie counter staff after I said I was an unemployed student. Only after escalation to the woman's manager was I treated better because I revealed I was a law student with SMU (with the requisite non-Singlish orang atas accent).  

So the pursuit of status is really fundamental to being a human being and a higher status does lead to a better quality of life.

When people come together, they form status hierarchies and some fairly universal rules become established. One rule is that a person cannot claim more status than what they deserve. 

The four principles that run in status hierarchies are as follows :
  • Status maximization - we desire high status and fear low status.
  • Status achievement - we can level up and improve our status via our talents, accomplishments, possessions and virtue.
  • Status integrity - we cannot claim more status than what we deserve.
  • Status mobility - we can migrate to a different status hierarchy that values us more.
In my first company Procter & Gamble, employees are subject to a three-grade rating system where getting a grade A is very hard and competitive. As much as tried to get a good rating, I was not able to punch above the higher end of the B grade regardless of how much I invested in my IT skills and certifications. I'm also ranked very low socially among the "management associates" because I don't enjoy small talk during lunch about scuba diving, prefer clowning with operations staff,  and certainly don't see myself as a young and fabulous "yuppie".

So I migrated to a different status hierarchy. 

I used my savings and investments to synthetically build up my wage increments. If I saved 50% of my take-home pay and invested it at 8%, my annual increment will receive a 4% boost the following year from dividends. In a good year, my increment will be higher than someone with a Grade A. Of course, I can't really share this technique with my competition because if a Grade A employee started saving 50%, I'd be toast. 

The funny thing is that after replacing about 60-70% of my expenses with my dividends, I became much more confident about myself, got a lot more vocal and disagreeable, and I actually did get a few A grades after we got sold off to HP. There was no FIRE movement in those days, and I was really trying to build a sub-culture with just myself. But these days I can join a new FIRE movement that values frugality and low-key living instead.

I'm actually really obsessed with this topic of status right now and in the next article, I will talk about the different status markers of Old Money, New Money and FIRE money. So guys who want to hear about Patek Phillip watches and Bugattis may want to read the article I will put up next.

On my observation of the markets, I'm very happy to see a small rebound even after Hong Kong had a crash on Monday. I don't think it is time to move into the markets yet. If on November 2nd, the Fed raises by 75bps, that will be within the realm of market expectations so there should not be a big response. But if the Fed raises by 50bps, there may be a case to start buying a few local counters. 


Monday, October 24, 2022

Market Assessment #3 : Are real estate agents worse than FAs ?


Some parvenu wannabe on social media, incensed at my loathing for FAs, publicly challenged me to air my views about real estate agents, so this article is about my response to this challenge.

I don't have any beef against real estate agents. Yes, they spam my mailbox with letters addressed to "Owner", but I dump all these flyers into the rubbish bin located right in the middle of the PO Box area in my condo. Real estate agents also have to find a way to play up the real estate markets, so in any secondary school reunion, expect real estate agents to work very hard trying to convince you to transact regardless of whether it's a buy or sell transaction. The trick is to simply avoid asking the barber whether you need a haircut and read books on real estate instead. 

If anything, if I do end up doing conveyancing work, I would even end up selling to them!

To assist me in writing this article, I wound up reading Direct by Kathryn Judge which discusses the impact of middlemen in our economy and how we can find creative ways to defeat the information asymmetries that exist in our society today. Apparently in the US, real estate agents are likely to be more deplorable than FAs - whoever sells real estate actually pays 5-6% when they sell their property which incentivises wasteful activities like mass mailing.

My real estate friends are actually quite nice to me given they get front-row seats to see what I enjoy saying about financial advisors. But when I am not around, I get wind of very amusing attempts to get some business done. I think in this climate of rising interest rates, real estate agents are seeing a potential drop in sales and they have been trying to talk the markets up. I think it's fine to promote transactions when interest rates are going up, but when you do this to an old friend, you must be seriously trying to insult his intelligence or selfish as hell. 

But who am I to judge? No one has ever actually tried to do this to me.

One important point raised by someone else is useful when comparing real estate agents to FAs. Real estate markets are inefficient as every home is unique and idiosyncratic. This means that if you can find a real estate agent that really understands your needs and financial situation, and you act on their recommendations, you are more likely to profit immensely from your decision if the recommendation was made in good faith. This is opposed to financial advisors who can take a big cut of commissions when they sell a product to you, and there's very little leeway for the product to earn decent risk-adjusted returns net of fees. The best an FA can do for you is to minimise fees, but it takes a true friend to recommend you a "buy term and invest the rest" plan when other products promise much higher commissions. 

You don't have to take my word for it, just observe the folks around you :

  • I have only engaged one real estate agent in my whole life when I bought an EC and I'm sitting on $600,000 in gains today.
  • On the other hand, I see so many folks now in a state of panic when their over-confident FAs placed their funds in China and Technology stocks without any consideration for the underlying volatility. A professional FA is supposed to manage your risk for you, not take bold momentum or trend-following bets with your hard-earned money.  
On local markets, I really cannot imagine the carnage that will occur tomorrow after the unveiling of new leadership in China. Hong Kong stocks tumbled because this does not look like a team that will promote capitalism and business. As Singapore is highly correlated with Hong Kong, I think we should expect more capital losses but I'm hopeful that healthy bargains will be everywhere in mid-November, when I may make my first move after retreating from all leveraged accounts. 

I do hope that I will turn out to be wrong.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Market Assessment #2 : Three Singapore Hypocrisies


In my last article, I railed about how academics who have nice sinecures funded by tax-payers can label landlords parasites when, to me, collecting rental payouts can be seen as one attempt to replicate the same kind of financial security academics have. 

Apparently, I'm not done because there are a class of hypocrisies we see in a society where sanctimonious assholes praise or celebrate some acts and condemn other very similar manoeuvres. 

I suspect some acts are condoned because some perpetrators have more social or cultural capital. 

It's like if a poor man likes eating, he's labelled a glutton, but when a rich guy does it, he's a gourmet. 

Here are other hypocrisies I discovered :

a) You can receive advantages from early academic success, but living on investments made earlier in life makes you a rent-seeker

There's always a lot of angst over landlords who bought the property ago and now enjoying positive cash flow after paying off mortgages. If coming from academic scholars, this is highly hypocritical because many of these academics are flying high because of the stellar A-level results they had in the past. While it can be argued that scholars may have gotten high ratings in the public sector, they had a sexier project portfolio mix and a steeper CEP, but landlords also needed to maintain and hold onto their property and resist past the temptation to sell to enjoy the rents they have today. 

We pay property taxes above and beyond income tax, but we don't tax scholars for their sinecures.

b) Enrichment from buying Executive Condos is unjust, but assortative mating, which creates more inequality, is even encouraged.

There have been reports from salty people that folks like me who own executive condominiums are unjustly enriched because we see about $500,000 of capital gains since they bought their units five years ago. I'm happy to say that in this market bear, looking at the value of my EC is one of the few things that gives me joy beyond my CPF-SA account. So some policy adjustments will be made to nerf EC purchases and sales because it exacerbates inequality.

But no one has publicly admitted one of the primary causes of inequality is assortative mating, where people marry spouses who have the same educational qualifications. This gives a ridiculous advantage to their kids, who inherit higher IQs and greater social and economic status than their parents. I think there is a special hell for folks who tolerate assortative mating where doctors marry doctors and summa cum laude marry summa cum laude; some even go as far as to organise matchmaking events for folks with similar qualifications. 

I've publicly challenged policymakers to create situations where folks from Raffles marry someone from ITE. Why can't top software engineers marry ah lians? Why? 

You can code in LISP, but cannot communicate with an Ah Lian?

Next time someone ask me how much my training business contributes to income inequality, I ask them why their spouse is so educated? Why ITE cannot?

c) Inheriting wealth is bad, but inheriting a high IQ and conscientiousness is fine

Society is very upset at folks from the lucky sperm club. 

In many countries, inheritance taxes are quite large, and Singapore has done very well as a wealth hub because we don't have inheritance taxes, but there seems to be increasing rancour from leftist bastards who want to see inheritance taxes come back in Singapore.

This is unfair because we're missing out on the other half of folks from the lucky sperm club, folks who did not necessarily inherit wealth but the high IQs and conscientiousness from their assortatively mated parents. 

You can perform a thought experiment at the street level. 

It's actually accepted practice to pay thousands of dollars to tuition teachers to ramp up kid's grades, but if I save the thousands of dollars and invest it in a lump sum and transfer it to him on graduation, if he fails to enter university, the dividends would give a nice boost to his diploma starting salary in Singapore that may even be superior to graduate starting salaries. I've made public presentations on this matter, and parents always object to my alternative approach. 

At the end of the day, how do we interpret the root cause of these hypocrisies?

I think one useful approach understands that human beings form hierarchies and confer status to each other. Hierarchies themselves can be isolated from each other and are arranged in a hierarchy of their own. If the RI-High-IQ hierarchy is ascendant, they might mess with the ACS-High-Wealth hierarchy and maybe find ways to tax wealth but create privileges for the professional caste. If the opposing faction wins, taxes will be lowered, and more questions on paper generals will arise, and entrepreneurs will be celebrated. 

I don't come from an elite secondary school, I think that at the extremes, Singapore society is a compromise between the powerful RI and ACS factions embedded in elite society. 

Everybody else will have to accept being crushed for being forced into compromises. 

This is why Lawrence Wong is the Prince that was Promised. He comes from a non-elite school. 

Fortunately for us retail investors, the markets crash, affecting elites and peons alike. Had I not fled, portfolios built by my students would be seeing negative returns today.  It's clear from the data that inflation has not come under control in the US, so we should expect raises in early November. China's stubborn adherence to the zero covid policy is also bad news. 

Next month's inflation numbers will hint as to whether we will see s 50bps or 75bps rise in December. 

In the meantime, my war chest remains untouched.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Market Assessment #1 : Why Elites hate Landlords


These few days have been interesting, I'm seeing a lot of hate for landlords, with some academics calling landlord parasites etc. Some points may be well argued, so I don't really see a need to rebutt these arguments. Instead I just want to try to understand why elites hate landlords and maybe highlight the hypocrisy of these folks while we're at it.

Not everyone will agree with my worldview about living in Singapore. 

Imagine a wheel with elite schools like RI, ACS and Chinese High. 

As this wheel spins, it crushes the non-elite and neighbourhood schools beneath it as these schools go on to put alumni into positions of power. Some of these powerful folk end up in jobs that are almost sinecures in Singapore, cushy professorships, or senior civil servants on the correct side of the "scholar-farmer" divide. Some even then go on to establish powerful gangs, not unlike the Paypal mafia, to entrench their power in some professional fields. On reddit, I even read about students complaining that their job offers were rescinded because of this "mafia" action although I was not able to verify this. 

If you are nobility ensconced comfortably on the wheel, you have unparalleled access to wealth and power.

Faced with this arrangement in society, what is there left for us farmers to do? 

We desire to break the wheel, but we know this is hard. I hope PM Lawrence Wong will be the Prince that was Promised. He's someone from a neighborhood secondary school who can break this wheel forever, but I am entitled to dream and hope.

So I know a revolution will not make any sense, so I take a different route. I discover that if you buy REITs, the dividends you receive are blind to position on the wheel. 

Dividends do not check your gender, sexual orientation, university grades, the schools you attend or your current estimate potential. 

Dividends pay an equal amount to all shareholders.

Elites hate this.

Over the years, I farmed my meagre farmer paycheck to buy industrial property, land, and when I was in a really bad place in my career after leaving the private sector, I lowered my pay so much, I was able to buy one executive condominium. The capital gains from my home, now has equity nine times my annual salary when I was working for the shithole.

What is there not to love about rising home prices?

After years of studying the financial markets, getting financial certifications, I built a system to invest for dividends, it's not rocket science, but it favors folks who really know how to save money. 

If it is any injustice, I have to admit that I also did inherit money. 

My father started what is today the most successful pet shop franchise in Singapore if not South East Asia, I deployed my father's capital to give my parents comfortable twilight years using rental payouts. While I've yet to directly enjoy the money from my forefathers, I do have a measure of control over it, preferring an ascetic lifestyle so as not to corrupt my kids.

1) The question is this : Am I a parasite ?

If the answer is yes, then elites have a lot to answer for. I never had a sinecure, much less one powered by tax payer's money. I built my own sinecure with dividends payouts, and when it is time to face off a scholar centric work culture, my financial freedom allowed me to say no and enter law school for four years without pay. 

So the Elite can have there sinecure, but landlords can't synthetically build their own ?

2) Does inheriting wealth and land make me a parasite? 

If the answer is this yes, then I suggest as a society we account for items you can inherit beyond what written in your will. Intelligent people inherit a high IQ and possibly high conscientiousness. In law school, I might be able to read 8-12 cases a day, I have classmates that can do 20-30. I cannot accept that this has nothing to do with inherited genes. We are products of both nature and nurture.  

As the Strategic Retreat phase is over, we will now hunker down to observe the markets to find a good timing to get our war-chest back into the markets.
  • On 13th October, US will be releasing inflation figures, I suspect while inflation is down, it would not be enough for the Fed to stop raising rates.
  • On 14th October, MAS will release their actions on the $NEER. AS inflation will not be tamed sufficiently, it's not unreasonable to bet that MAS will steepen and recenter the $NEER
  • This should lead to 75 bps increase in interest on 2nd November.
  • Markets will see a bottom yet.
The economist has some really bad news for policy wonks. To push inflation down to close to 2%, unemployment in the US may need to reach 7%+. 

The US is still creating new jobs today.

Maybe this is the time to think about Communist revolutions and what will happen if there is peasant uprising in Singapore.

For sure, if an uprising occurs, capitalists, landlord and rent-seekers will be murdered or have their wealth confiscated. 

But history says that intellectuals will not have easy time as well. 

Can ask Xi Jinping's dad if you want the details. 

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Strategic Retreat #3 : How I assess your man bun

The week has become more relaxed as I attempt to “study” for my next blood test by eating more strictly and going for more hikes. A pal wanted to do some networking with folks who understand a little bit more about Malaysian property, so I called in a few favours to get some Malaysians to show up to explain how to pick up cheap properties in JB and KL. I don’t think any opportunity can beat Singapore property, but Malaysian property can be a good lifestyle decision post-FIRE. 

The my pal asked me a question the next day.

He asked me what I think of his man bun.

I didn’t even know he has a man bun, much less act as an authority on it. For the past 30 years, I gave only one instruction to the barber which is “medium slope”, and even right up today, I have no idea what other kinds of slope instructions there are that can be given to barbers. I did try other styles like Armani, but like ILPs, Armanis are just a shit excuse for the barber to charge more and even I do look like Jacky Cheung, I can’t sing as well and it’s even rumoured that I might actually be better with money management.

I have no comment on man buns, I can only suggest that he ask the ladies what they think about it. ( Update : The aunties are not a huge fan, but lions do not care about the opinion of sheep. )

I think what’s more important is the passive income that comes with man bun. There was Chinese poem that says that as high as a mountain can be, you need the presence of an angel to bring it great esteem. Deep oceans are mediocre unless it’s graced by the presence of a Dragon. 

I think that this idea can be reapplied to man buns. My pal has a decent stream of passive income since the last time we met, which explains why the sudden desire for Malaysian women and landed property, I think that’s the clincher. 

Of course, he can’t sell his man buns for money more than I can shave my pubes to get more dividends every month.

I’ve concluded my strategic retreat. 

My objective is to secure enough cash for 2023 and maximise my tax deductibles. I have completed the following actions :

  • Set aside enough family expenses inclusive of mortgage payments until December 2023 in a separate bucket.
  • Place $15,300 into my SRS account, to reduce my assessable income
  • Set aside enough CPF voluntary contributions to ensure that I pay zero income taxes in 2023. 

The CPF move is particularly important as a contribution for a 48 year old will yield about 3.22% as it is spread between three accounts, tax benefits will bring it up further. More importantly, it should be noted that the CPF-SA is very much superior to a SSB purchase, as you get some creditor protection and interest rates can even be increased in the future as it is tied to yields of 10-year government bonds.

Finally, none of the proceeds are invested yet. I’m adopting a wait and see stance as I expect things to still get worse with better US jobs numbers. If on 13 Oct, we still don’t see a significant drop in inflation, we’ll likely see more money flee the equity markets. 

Be careful when read news on Yahoo Finance, a lot of fund management types are harbouring fantasies of the Fed easing their monetary tightening when the Fed is just getting started. In similar vein, you need to shut off your Real Estate agent pals who still think that this is a great time to buy more property.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Strategic Retreat #2 : Details on deleveraging from margin brokers


I was meaning to update this blog a while ago, but I think I better wait for all my funds to arrive in my bank account before I piss off my margin brokers any further. 

But before I do this, an update on my health. I saw a specialist and it is likely that my situation is not deadly or urgent, so I tried to get blood test in two weeks just to see whether my numbers improve, if they do, I may skip the scans and go back to the public medical system. The downside is that I need to test whether lifestyle changes can actually improve my numbers. I've been hiking quite aggressively for the past few days and refrained from eating dairy products and red meat. 

Ok, deleveraging totally from my margin accounts and moving them into my bank account took a while and is not as orderly as I expected. I'm sharing my notes here in case some readers employ the same platforms as I do.

I will begin with my more pleasant experience with Interactive Brokers :
  • Selling from Interactive brokers is easy, but it's safer to use the Close button rather than the Sell button because it's harder to make a mistake on selling quantity. I'm dealing with over 30+ counters per broker.
  • Note that you cannot use the "Sell Everything" feature in the platform for SG stocks. 
  • Transferring from platform to bank account was fast and I transferred on Monday and received my funds on Tuesday evening.
  • The system will say that sometimes a rep will call me up to confirm my fund's transfer if the amounts are large. This did not happen. 
  • After the transfer, I have about $1,000+ left worth of fractional lots so IB is prompting me with threats of margin calls and liquidation, which can be daunting if the money has yet to arrive in your bank account.  
My more unpleasant experience was with Maybank Kim Eng :
  • I sold my stocks on the mobile app and my sale was incomplete. The reason was that the mobile app did not display the number of stocks I own correctly. The rep told me that stocks gained from corporate actions in the past are not reflected in the mobile app at all.
  • This means that I need to go through two rounds of selling. My second round was sold via the mobile app and I referred to a screenshot of my desktop app that reflected all the stocks I actually owned. 
  • Why such a convoluted method of selling? Simple, the desktop app is extremely slow during market operating hours and sometimes may hang. The mobile app responds quickly.
  • This has the unpleasant effect of allowing my broker to earn more commissions even though it is already unhealthy compared to the alternative. 
  • The money came a day later than IB, I received it yesterday evening.
All things considered, I don't want to be too harsh to Maybank Kim Eng because at least they have a responsive team and were able to use human contact to soften the edges of their drastically inferior technology so they may be better for folks desiring a human touch. I used to have a margin account with DBS Vickers and no one was there to even answer my call during the March 2020 crash, and I closed the account after my retreat. 

Also, IB margin financing rates are now over 5% for SG stocks while MBKE is 3.8%. 

Finally, I've decided to maintain both my accounts and prepare for my releverage sometime in the future. 

But which system will I employ as my primary margin broker is anyone's guess at the moment. IB's rates are high, but I think it might be determined by an algorithm so it may come down faster in the future. 

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Strategic Retreat #1 : Personal Update


I've been receiving a lot of well-wishers over my health condition so I thought I'd share an update. My medical checkup yesterday ruled out the possibility of pancreatitis, which can be good news or bad news. Good news is that I'm less likely to be suddenly hospitalized over the next few days, the bad news is that we have no idea why my Lipase numbers shot up so much over such a short time. 

Googling my condition is a bad idea because it can be a gall bladder problem or even pancreatic cancer. 

At this stage, there's nothing much the system can do for me as even I tried my best, my next appointment is a month's time, so I pulled some strings to get a private gastroenterologist to look at me next Monday. I'm not impressed with public healthcare right now because the government hospitals just rolled out this white elephant called the Epic system and every consult now is basically waiting for the doctor to waste time with data entry. So as it stands, I need to use the private sector can help me rule out the more adverse root causes, but I'll be paying through my nose because of the bodily scans and I need to manage the conflict of interest with a private doctor. 

At this point of time, I can only say that I'm really grateful for dividend payouts over the years as I'm not on any insurance panel. 

Which brings me to the issue of our strategic retreat from the markets.

I really don't enjoy being right about deleveraging but markets have attempted several rallies unsuccessfully over the past few days and we're not even getting one solid rebound at the moment. 

Fortunately, I have the luxury of time and can carefully plan how to counter attack when the fear is at the highest peak. 

There are several ways to go about the attempt, one involves high yielding REITs which have been beaten senseless by retreating investors, another involves banks. 

A couple of strategies seem credible right now - using dollar cost averaging to go in over the next year. Another is gaming the CPF and SRS system to maximize tax deductibility. A general approach will probably be explained in a free video, but detailed steps will be incorporated into my training program in November.  

We'll see how things go next week.