The Collapse of Mt Gox and its Meaning for You

February 2014.

Mt Gox collapses.

It’s not a mountain.

Mountains don’t collapse.

The largest Bitcoin exchange in the world – gone.

What happened?

Hazy area.

If one reads through the company’s press releases, it seems they themselves are not sure. Or, they’re trying to cover up that they got hacked, big-time.

Company’s claiming a black-swan event. Software goes into a crazy loop. Transaction shows as failed. However, system releases Bitcoin. Do this over and over again. You’re down 750k Bitcoin. Half a billion dollars. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Not buying it.

It’s probably not an inside job. Trail would’ve been too hot.

They’ve actually and probably gotten hacked. Possibly in the earlier days. Perhaps they tried to cover it up for the longest time, till it was no longer possible. There came a time then, it would seem, to throw in the towel and declare bankruptcy, coupled with the release of an unbelievable explanation.

Do the math. Conjecture.

We are down to conjecture, after an abominable event like this, where retail investors along with handlers, dealers and the works get fried.

For heaven’s sake.

Makes you rethink Bitcoin majorly.

Diversification is a safe thing. However, not at the cost of converting your computer into a big red flag.

There are two kinds of computers in the world. Those with Bitcoin or its cousins, and those without.

Currently, those with are targets.

There’s no better system of storing Bitcoin.

Banks aren’t taking it up systematically.

Dollar lobby is too strong.

It’s not letting Bitcoin settle.

Who was behind the possible hack?

You tell me.

Why would anyone sacrifice one’s sleep?

No tension, please.

We don’t wish to lose sleep over the fact that our computer might get hacked in the night. Also, will the cousin’s ever sort themselves out?

If criminals could hack Mt Gox, what are the chances of one’s desktop surviving?

Yeah, where does that leave you?

Till Bitcoin gets accepted more systematically, and till mainstream banks start storing it for you in their cyber-lockers, I’m afraid this leaves you off the Bitcoin demand-list.

Yeah, safety first.

Advertisements

Is it a Crime?

With due respect to Sade, no, the next words are not going to be “to say that i love you…”.

Is it a crime? To be oneself? For you to be you?

No.

Then why?

Why what?

Why can’t you be you?

You being you is a winning combination in the markets. 

In any market. 

Why?

When you’ve recognised who you are, you invest and / or trade as per your risk-profile. 

More than half the battle is won here already. 

You’re not trying to emulate an RJ, or a WB, or CM or BG for that matter. 

You’re too busy being UU.

When does that happen?

After you’ve been there and done that. 

After you’ve had your fill of loss-making transactions. 

Yeah, you tried to do an RJ, but couldn’t sleep the night 40% down on your position, and then you folded. 

RJ probably sleeps well, even if 40-down on a position. That’s his risk-profile. When equity markets were badly beaten some years ago, I’ve seen him on TV saying that his bread and butter is safe, and his grossly hammered positions won’t be affecting his day to day life, or something to that effect. He obviously had no intentions of folding. That’s RJ. Not you. So, don’t do an RJ. Do a you. 

What happens in the markets when you behave like you really are?

You take digestible risks. Digestible for you. 

No risk, no gain. Remember. You’ll have to put something at stake, to be able to gain. 

You take a risk, again, and again, and again. 

Some play out well. Some badly. 

You nip the bad ones in the bud. 

You let the good ones play out to their logical conclusion. 

This is already a winning strategy. 

Cheers!

🙂

 

 

 

What’s your Answer to Dictatorial Legislature?

Cyprus almost bust…

Money from savings accounts being used to pay off debt…

Five European nations going down the same road…

US economy managing to function for now, but without any security moat (they’ve used up all their moats)…

Our own fiscal deficit at dangerous levels…

Scams in every dustbin…

Mid- & small-caps have already bled badly…

Let’s not even talk about micro-caps…

Large-caps have just started to fall big…

Just how far could this go?

Let’s just say that it’s not inconceivable to think… that this could go far.

Large-caps have a long way to fall. I’m not saying they will fall. All I’m saying is that the safety nets are way below.

I see one big, big net at PE 9, and another large one at PE 12. Getting to either will mean bloodshed.

Inflation figures are not helping.

In a last-ditch attempt to get reelected, the government recently announced a budget for which it’ll need to borrow through its nose.

Oops, I forgot, it doesn’t have a nose.

The whole world is aware about work-culture ground-truths in India.

Things are out of control, and this could go far, unless a miracle occurs and Mr. Modi gets elected. Before such an eventuality, though, things could go far.

When large-caps fall, everything else falls further.

How prepared are you?

Hats off to those with zero exposure.

Those with exposure have hopefully bought with large margins of safety.

Those who are bleeding need a plan B.

In fact, a plan B should have been formulated during good times.

Anyways, how prepared is one for a Cyprus-scenario, where dictatorial last-minute legislature allows the government to whack money from savings accounts?

In future, you might need to find a solution for loose cash in savings accounts. It needs to be kept in a form where government doesn’t have access to it.

As of now, what’s serving the purpose is an online mutual fund platform, through which loose cash can be moved and parked into liquid mutual fund schemes. For government to exercise full control over mutual fund money, it’ll probably need to be more than a bankruptcy scenario.

That’s just for now. Adaptability is the name of the game. It’s always good to be aware of one’s plans B, C & D.

How To Nip A Ponzi In The Bud

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Who’s most prone of them all?

As in, most prone to Ponzis…

Frankly, I think it is us gullible Indians.

Everyday, there’s some report of a Ponzi scheme being busted, with thousands already duped.

Charles Ponzi’s is a case of the tip of the iceberg – maximum recognition came posthumously. If Charlie would have received a cut every time his scheme was used by mankind, he would probably have become the richest man in the world. Unfortunately for him, he popped it before reaping the full rewards of his crookedness.

What Charlie did leave behind was a legacy. Yeah, Charlie did an Elvis, meaning that many have tried to emulate Charles Ponzi since he departed. Maybe I’ve gotten the chronology wrong, but you know what I mean…

Chances are, a Ponzi will eventually cross your path sooner or later. More sooner than later.

How do you recognize a Ponzi? Yeah, that’s the first step here – identification.

A Ponzi will talk big – he or she will flash. There will be a small track record to back up what is being said, and this will almost be blown into your face, after you’ve been dazzled by the Ponzi’s fancy car, expensive clothes and gold pen. The Ponzi will be a good orator, and his words will have a hypnotic effect on you (ward this off with full strength). The Ponzi will show off, making you feel awkward. You will feel like being “as successful” as what is being projected before you, right there, right then. When all these symptoms match, and such feelings well up inside of you, you are, with very high probability, talking to a Ponzi, who is trying to suck you in with a promise of stupendously high returns.

After you have identified the Ponzi, the next step is to not get sucked in. This is going to take all your self-control. Remember, the grass is not greener elsewhere. Take charge of your emotions. You’ve identified a Ponzi, man, that’s big. Now you need to follow through and see to it that a minimum number of people come to harm.

Hear the Ponzi out. Don’t react. In fact, don’t say a word. Don’t commit a penny. Keep reminding yourself, that you have it in you to succeed. You don’t need the Ponzi’s help to get good returns on your money. You certainly don’t want to lose all your money. With that thought in mind, block the Ponzi and his promises out. Leave politely and inconspicuously.

After you’ve left securely, without having committed a penny and without having left your details with the Ponzi, you now need to sound the alarm. Tell all your friends of the lurking danger. Forewarn them, so that no one you know gets sucked in. Ask everyone to spread the word. The whole town needs to know within no time.

Identify – Control – Alarm – this is a three step programme to nip the Ponzi In the bud – try it out, it works!

Cheers! 🙂

Going Legit in the Times of Robber Vodka

A good, clean, healthy and tension-free life – don’t you want that for your children and families?

Right, people, go legit.

It is possible, despite the Robber Vodkas, the Call Muddies and the Rama Lundgren Rajus of our times.

The first step is going white.

Go white, people. Declare your assets, pay your taxes, just sheer refuse to deal in black money as much as you can, and for heaven’s sake, start cutting out unwanted people dealing in black from your lives.

Second step – avoid people wearing whites. 98%+ of male folk dressed in whites in this country are either inactively or actively politically connected. In the process, you might pass up on the 2% genuinely good ones in whites, but you’ll have avoided all the ones you want to avoid. Political connect in India will not allow you to go legit. People hook up with politicians for favours, and / or because they feel that in their hour of need, their political clout will save them. Did you know, that for the one favour, your political connection will make you do ten illegit things in reciprocation, stuff you’d never dream of doing normally. Ask yourself. Is the trade-off really worth it? No, right?

Then, avoid dealing with people who use body-guards. I mean, use your common-sense. There’s no reason to shun a benevolent, well-known corporate honcho with or without body-guards, like Anand Mahindra for example. You’ll learn to recognize shady honchos. There’s that feel about them, that mafioso vicious vibe. If you can sense that vibe in a honcho, don’t deal with that person. Forget about the profit you’re losing out on, and look at the level of tension and complication you’re avoiding.

Don’t deal with people promising stupendous returns. Nip the Ponzis in the bud. Dealing with a Ponzi will eventually land you in court, to get your money out . Believe me, you don’t want our super-efficient judicial system messing up your life, if you can help it.

Be firm while dealing with any government officer. The government officer will only start to misbehave if there is any weakness from your side. Remember, a government officer is supposed to serve the nation. His or her salary is paid from the taxes you dish out. If your dealing is clean, the official could harass you for refusing to bribe, but that’s about it. Take the harassment, but keep coming back till your work is done. We need to stop bribing. Then, and only then will government officers eventually stop expecting us to bribe.

Right, we’ve pretty much cut ourselves off from a lot of people and things, so where does this leave us?

Don’t worry, we are not alone.

There are like-minded people around, and we need to make these like-minded people a part of our lives. Yeah, and we can lead good, healthy lives with such people surrounding us.

Also, don’t for a moment think we can’t do anything for our country, just because we’ve nixed the political linkage. Private opportunities come along everyday, to help people and society. If you want to still make a difference, grab these opportunities. Poor people come to you for medical aid. Help them. You can contribute privately to social-welfare. Many private citizens are running clean NGOs. As the name suggests, these NGOs have no government involvement, and are less likely to be corrupt. Funds donated to clean NGOs will very likely reach disaster areas on time and in full.

You can make a difference, all by yourself. You don’t need a corrupt government to make a 20-odd% difference for you per unit of currency you trust them with, as tax or whatever. Yeah, only about that %age gets converted into welfare; the rest is nibbled up along the way.

Make a difference – all by yourself.

What are you waiting for?

Clean up your act, go legit.

It’s not going to cut you off from any good, clean and healthy action.

Trust me on this.

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 🙂

Your Personal War in Cyberia

Are you illiterate?

Literacy is not just alphabetical.

The meaning of literacy has expanded itself into your cyber world and also into your financials.

I mean, can you call yourself literate without knowing computer and financial basics?

I don’t think so. Not anymore. Times have changed, and so must you, in case you want to be called literate.

One of the first things one learns during one’s quest for financial literacy is the operation of one’s netbanking.

Once you are logged in, you soon realize, that your assets are under attack, and must be appropriately secured.

Login password, secure login, phishing filter, security questions, transaction password…you are learning fast. Your vocabulary is changing. Your defences are up. Yes, you are at war.

What kind of a war is this?

More of a cold war, till it gets hot for you, which can happen, but is not a must.

Worst-case scenario is that someone cleans you out. As in, a cyber thief steals all your money that was reflecting in your netbanking.

Your common-sense should tell you that your netbanking password is the all-important entity. Tell it to no one. Store it in a password safe. Keep changing it regularly. Don’t forget to update it in your safe. The safe of course opens with its own password, and is in sync between your mobile and your desktop. On both your mobile and your desktop, internet security prevails. Meaning, don’t use an el cheapo antivirus. Use a good one. Pay for it.

If there is a large amount reflecting in your account for a number of days without being used, secure it. Even if someone hacks in, available amounts should be as minimal as possible. Let the hacker first deal with unsecuring a secured amount. This gives you a time-window, during which you read and respond to any sms sent by your bank, that a secured amount has now been unsecured. The shot has been fired, your watchman has alerted you, and you now need to respond.

For the amount to be actually transferred out of your account, one more thing needs to happen. The hacker needs to set up a new payee under third party funds transfer. Some banks take three days for this, during which they coordinate with you whether or not you really want this payee to be set up. Other banks have a one-time password (OTP) system, where a transfer can only be activated by an OTP sent by sms to the registered mobile number linked to the account. Works.

Nevertheless, hackers seem to be getting around these systems, because one hears and reads about such cyber thefts all the time. However, the window created by your systems in place gives you crucial time to respond.

What is your first response, after becoming aware that you are under cyber attack?

Relationship manager (RM) –  call him or her. After you’ve alerted your RM, login if you can, and secure any unsecured amount. Change your login and transaction passwords, along with security images, words, questions and answers. Delete all payees. Logout. Close all windows on your desktop. Clear all history, cache, temporary files, cookies and what have you. Run a virus cum spyware scan. Clean any viruses, then shut your computer.

How does one go about securing unsecured amounts?

Make a 7 day fixed deposit with your unsecured amount. Or, configure your mutual fund operations through your Netbanking itself, and transfer the unsecured amount to a trusted liquid scheme offering 18-20 hour liquidity, all through your netbanking. Pretty straight-forward.

After you’re done, join your RM in finding the loophole. If you’ve incurred a loss, file a police report along with an application for reimbursal, citing all security measures you undertake as a given while also outlining the chronology of your actions after you realized that you were under attack.

That’s about it, I can’t think of anything else that you could do. If you can, please comment.

Right then, all the best!