Happy Second Birthday, Magic Bull !!

Seasons change. So do people, moods, feelings, relationships and market scenarios.

A stream of words is a very powerful tool to understand and tackle such change.

Birthdays will go by, and, hopefully, words will keep flowing. When something flows naturally, stopping it leads to disease. Trapped words turn septic inside the container holding them.

Well, we covered lots of ground, didn’t we? This year saw us transform from being a money-management blog to becoming a commentary on applied finance. The gloom and doom of Eurozone didn’t beat us down. Helicopter Ben and the Fed were left alone to their idiosyncrasies. The focus turned to gold. Was it just a hedge, and nothing but a hedge? Could it replace the dollar as a universal currency? Recently, its glitter started to actually disturb us, and we spoke about exit strategies. We also became wary of the long party in the debt market, and how it was making us lazy enough to miss the next equity move. Equity, with its human capital behind it, still remained the number one long-term wealth preserver cum generator for us. After all, this asset class fought inflation on auto-pilot, through its human capital.

Concepts were big with us. There was the concept of Sprachgefühl, with which one could learn a new subject based on sheer feeling and instinct. The two central concepts that stood out this year were leverage and compounding. We saw the former’s ugly side. The latter was practically demonstrated using the curious case of Switzerland. There was the Ayurvedic concept of Satmya, which helps a trader get accustomed to loss. And yeah, we meet the line, our electrolytic connection to Mrs. Market. We bet our monsters, checked Ace-high, gauged when to go all-in against Mrs. Market, and when to move on to a higher table. Yeah, for us, poker concepts were sooo valid in the world of trading.

We didn’t like the Goldman attitude, and weren’t afraid to speak out. Nor did we mince any words about the paralytic political scenario in India, and about the things that made us go Uffff! We spoke to India Inc., making them aware, that the first step was theirs. We also recognized and reacted to A-grade tomfoolery in the cases of Air India and Kingfisher Airlines. Elsewhere, we tried to make the 99% see reason. Listening to the wisdom of the lull was fun, and also vital. What would it take for a nation to decouple? For a while, things became as Ponzi as it gets, causing us to build a very strong case against investing a single penny in the government sector, owing to its apathy, corruption and inefficiency. We were quite outspoken this year.

The Atkinsons were an uplifting family that we met. He was the ultimate market player. She was the ultimate home-maker. Her philanthropy stamped his legacy in caps. Our ubiquitous megalomaniac, Mr. Cool, kept sinking lower this year, whereas his broker, Mr. Ever-so-Clever, raked it in . Earlier, Mr. Cool’s friend and alter-ego, Mr. System Addict, had retired on his 7-figure winnings from the market. Talking of brokers, remember Miss Sax, the wheeling-dealing market criminal, who did Mr. Cool in? She’s still in prison for fraud. Our friend the frog that lived in a well taught us about the need for adaptability and perspective, but not before its head exploded upon seeing the magnitude of an ocean.

Our endeavors to understand Mrs. Market’s psychology and Mr. Risk’s point of view were constant and unfailing, during which we didn’t forget our common-sense at home. Also, we were very big on strategy. We learnt to be away from our desk, when Mrs. M was going nowhere. We then learnt to draw at Mrs. M, when she actually decided to go somewhere. Compulsion was taken out of our trading, and we dealt with distraction. Furthermore, we started to look out for game-changers. Scenarios were envisioned, regarding how we would avoid blowing up big, to live another day, for when cash would be king. Descriptions of our personal war in Cyberia outlined the safety standards we needed to meet. Because we believed in ourselves and understood that we were going to enhance our value to the planet, we continued our struggle on the road to greatness, despite any pain.

Yeah, writing was fun. Thanks for reading, and for interacting. Here’s wishing you lots of market success. May your investing and trading efforts be totally enjoyable and very, very lucrative! Looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

Cheers 🙂

Don’t Cry for Chris Atkinson

Chris Atkinson is terminal.

You couldn’t tell that by looking at him.

He’s happy. Most of his physical pain gets subdued by medicine. The remaining portion gets subdued by the harmonious environment he’s created around himself all his life.

Whatever’s left of his life is still a pleasure. He looks forward to it.

He won’t be sorry to go, though, for he carries with him a huge sense of accomplishment.

For starters, he’s had a flawless marriage. Neither of them have felt the need to fight.

He has been faithful to her and has given her everything he possibly could.

She has supported him selflessly in every venture of his. She has never abused the financial freedom he’s given her. Also, she’s never been jealous of his intelligence.

She has not nagged. That’s a huge one, and he knows the value of his good fortune.

Furthermore, she has overlooked the “too-much proximity” clause, and has allowed him to work from home in peace. She has even added to the harmony of his work-sphere at home.

He’s not told her he’s terminal. In fact, no one else knows, except him and his doctor.

He has always wanted to work till his last day. Also, she should see his smiling side till the end.

What about after that?

Will she be safe?

After all, before her marriage, Jane Atkinson was probably the most tech-unsavvy woman alive.

Forty something years with him have completely turned that around.

She is financially independent today. More importantly, she’s able to access and manage her personal funds and investments independently. She doesn’t need to contact any fund-managers, brokers, bankers or the like. All her accounts are online, and their logins and passwords are sorted, stored, and accessible only to her. She is able to move her personal funds worldwide with a few button-clicks.

He has taught her fantastically.

She has learnt very well.

Initially, it was a slow going.

The most important thing was, there was no ego from her side while learning. She knew he was teaching her something really important. Though she was not the least bit interested in it, she respected his seriousness and intensity, and decided to learn as diligently as she could, without insulting his earnest attitude.

Slowly, she’s gotten the hang of it. Slowly, her interest in money matters has awakened.

It’s also worked because he has been very patient with her. He’s never blown up.

His monthly “lectures” on saving have converted her from a champion spendthrift to a slightly serious saver. She still spends a lot, but has been managing to save a bit every month. Since his monthly allowance to her has been huge since the beginning, the bit she saves equates to a lot of money in her personal account at the end of every month, money that’s waiting to be invested.

And now comes the kicker. She knows how to handle idle funds. Her knowledge on investing comes purely from watching him in action. She has watched in bits and pieces over forty plus years. She has shared his professional tensions, allowing him to speak freely about what has bothered him. Her mind has soaked in all this information. Because of the long time-span involved, she has digested the information and transformed it subconsciously into a usable form. Today, she is not only financially independent, but also financially capable.

So, no, he’s not worried about her on the financial front.

What’s eating him a bit is the emotional side of life. How will she take it?

He knows she’s strong. She’ll be shattered, though. They share a bond that most people don’t have. They don’t need to speak in each other’s presence. There’s so much mutual love, that life is telepathic. Her mental strength will pull her through, he tells himself. Their happy memories will sooth her feelings.

If you ask him, he’ll want her to move on. As in, he’ll want her to find a new and suitable relationship. She won’t, though. They have something a new relationship will not be able to replace.

He knows she’ll plunge further into her charity work, and will keep busy.

She’ll remember and miss him every day. That very thought takes away any of his pain that remains, physical or mental. He feels wanted, and will do so till his last day and beyond. Feeling wanted is a tremendously satisfying state of mind.

He has always been aware that she is emotionally dependent on him, and has never abused this knowledge. Over the last four decades, he has made her aware of her emotional dependence, asking her to work on it.

Today, he feels she’s capable of handling his permanent physical absence. It’ll hurt her, but she’ll handle it. She’ll cry, but joyful memories will pull her through.

Don’t cry for Chris Atkinson.

When he goes, he’ll go on a happy and fulfilled note. He’s had a great life.

Many couples wish they would live their lives like Chris and Jane Atkinson have done.

Jesus and the Atkinsons

The Atkinsons were a nouveau riche upper middle-class couple. He was a finance geek. She liked to spend.

Wait, I think I’m forgetting something. At least twenty times a day, each of them would call out to Jesus. Not because of spiritual or religious reasons. Just as an exclamation. As in, “Jesus, what a beautiful dress!” Or, “Jesus, a 4% drop in the Dow!” At least they didn’t abuse.

Neither wanted kids. He was happy putting in 14 – 16 hours a day, sometimes more, tapping world markets. Jesus would be called upon for a wide range of underlying entities ranging from Uranium to Gold to Soy Beans to Lean Hogs to Goldman Sachs. He was thorough, meticulous, systematic and successful.

She was a by-word in the local malls. Upon her foot-fall, shop-keepers would scurry to put their most expensive exhibits forward. He once sat her down and gave her a 20 minute lecture on saving. “Jesus, we need to save…” were his opening words. It had an effect, and she started to save 10% of his now 7-figure income. She would listen to her man.

As long as she adhered to the 10% savings cut-off, he would never deny her anything. The sheer words “Jesus, I love those shoes!” just needed to escape from her, and he would get her those shoes. No matter how ridiculous or how expensive her desires were, they would be fulfilled.

He would work from home. At times, when he was working on mergers and acquisitions, he would wake up with New Zealand, and shut shop with New York. That left just one and a half hours for sleep. At these times, she would serve the best coffee every few hours. “Jesus, what amazing coffee!”, he would exclaim now and again. She would bribe the pesky neighbour kid with a bar of chocolate to make as little noise as possible. This is when the Atkinson kitchen would go gourmet. She would sense his stress levels and would up the ante in hospitality notch by notch. Was it surprising when words like “Jesus, what mind-blowing food!” boomed through the Atkinson corridors at every meal?

Her worst of spending habits did not make her a bad human being. On the contrary, she was a faithful, doting wife and a very large-hearted donor. Most of last year’s purchases would be donated. She derived pleasure from making others happy.

The Atkinsons had an excellent balance going. They were careful with their words, and with the company they kept. Slowly, she learnt how to cut cheques and keep books. He would fool around in the kitchen now and then and dish up a pasta. He made it to Fortune 500. She became the head of one of the world’s largest charity organizations.

Of course they’re still together. I wish for every couple that they find the happiness and balance enjoyed by Chris and Jane Atkinson.