Liqui-Deity

Ammunition. 

Ask the soldier about it.

Running out of it on the battlefield is the soldier’s worst nightmare. 

We’re soldiers too, in our respective fields of work. 

Our liquidity is our ammunition. 

What counts when an opportunity comes is how liquid we are.

When there is a market bottom, most of us are fully invested.

Is that sound strategy?

Putting together ammunition in one place is where it starts.

Holding on to ammunition and using it when most required – that’s sound strategy. 

Saving habits lead to accumulation.

Barriers hold the accumulated liquidity in one place. 

What are barriers?

Welcome to the world of self-created restrictions in an effort to have liquidity ready when one most needs it.

A dedicated bank account is what one requires first. 

Trading?

Link a bank account to your trading account, and use this one for nothing else.

Next, whatever accumulates in this account – take it away from your direct vision.

Meaning?

Block it as a fixed deposit. 

This is a barrier. One don’t see the funds as available. Thus one don’t feel the urge to use them.

When a trade motivates one enough to be taken, one then most need the funds. 

Break the FD.

Transfer the funds. 

Trade.

Has a trade just culminated?

Nothing else coming up?

Again, take the funds away from your direct vision.

Block them, either directly in your trading account, by putting them in overnight funds, or transfer them back to your bank account, if you know that you are not going to be trading for another week plus. 

Both options are valid. Do either. Bottomline is, the funds should not show up as available until you need them.

Investing?

Link a different bank account to your investing-only trading account.

Make multiple fixed deposits in this bank account, each one being one exact entry quantum in value.

Upon identifying an entry opportunity, whenever that happens, break one quantum’s FD, move the funds, and enter into the investment. 

Liquidity needs to be revered.

Unless we don’t give it proper respect, we will not have it at our beck and call when the next opportunity arises, whether we are trading or investing. 

Let’s go, let’s get our ammunition together, and let’s put it to great use.

Rewiring 3.0.3

We grow up, being taught to win.

Slowly, we learn to expect shocks, but only sometimes, in sparing intervals.

We prepare fancy resumés. 

Life must look five star plus all the time, that’s the standard. 

We see this standard all around us. It encompasses us. We become it, in our minds.

It’s not like that in the markets.

Markets are a world, where loss is our second nature. 

If we’re not accustomed to loss, we die a thousand deaths, in the markets. 

What kind of loss are we taking about?

Small…

…loss. 

Your stock holding going down to 0…

…is a small loss…

…when compared to another holding multiplying 1000x over 10 years. 

Both these scenarios are very possible in the markets. They’ve happened. They will happen again. 

How do we react?

Our stock going down to zero mortifies us. We do something drastic. Some of us quit. 

When our potential 1000x candidate is at a healthy 10x, yeah, we cut it. 

Then we quickly post the win on our resumé. 

We must look great to the world, at any cost. 

We keep reacting like this…

…and, like this, we’ll perish in the markets with very high probability.

We can’t take a hit, and are nipping our saving graces in the bud. 

When does this stop happening?

When we rewire.

Rewiring is a mental process that happens slowly, upon repeated market exposure. 

For successful rewiring to take place, real money needs to be on the line, again and again and again, as we iron out our mistakes and let market forces teach us the tricks of the trade. 

While we’re rewiring, we need to play small. 

When we’re partly rewired, we wake up to the fact that this is the age of shocks. 

High-tower professors who’ve never had a penny on the line and have put together theorems about six-sigma events (black swans) setting on once in blue-moons have led us to believe that black swans are rare. 

They are not. They have become the norm. Our first-hand experience of multiple black-swans in a row teaches us that.

Once we rewire fully, the expectation of black-swans as the norm is engraved in our DNA. Then, we use this fact to our huge advantage.

How?

We realize the value of our ammunition, i.e. our liquidity. 

Whenever we have the chance, we build up liquidity. 

We become savers, and are not taken in by the false shine of the glittery world around us.

Also, when markets are inflated, we sell stuff we don’t want anymore, boosting our ammunition for the next onset of crisis…

…and, we stop preparing fancy resumés.

Markets have humbled us so many times, that we now just don’t have the energy to portray false images. 

Whatever energy we have left, we wish to use for successful market play, i.e. to make actual money. 

When that happens, yeah, we know for sure that we’ve fully rewired. 

Welcome to rewiring three nought three. 

Behaviour at the Sweet Spot

When you’re active,…

…happy,…

…at your financial goal,…

… and looking to go beyond,…

…what is this condition called?

It’s called…

…being at the sweet spot.

Stop here.

Enjoy it. 

It’s come after toil.

Don’t let is go.

Whatever you do from this point onwards, maintain the existence of the sweet spot.

If you’re careless, the sweet spot will be gone…

…and you’ll be back in the rut. 

If you don’t know how to behave at a sweet spot…

…you’ll most certainly see it go.

So…

…how does one behave at a sweet spot?

First up, don’t make too many moves here, because balance is brittle and has come at a cost. 

You’ve moved your mountains to reach here. Movement is done. 

Savings will emanate at the sweet spot. 

Tap these. 

Do whatever it is you wish to do from a part of these savings. 

As your savings grow further, detach yourself more and more from the rat-race. 

The sweet spot was the one where you told yourself you’d be happy. 

Beyond, you should be happier. 

Make sure that comes true for you.

Happy Living!

Try retaining one-off Wealth

Easy come, easy go…

…am sure you heard that one before…!

When you come into something too easily, you sure do want to spend it, right?

Well, why not?

However, do take that one step back.

Let’s explore the possibilities here. 

You can spend it all. Have a blast. Blow it up. Yeah. We’ve touched upon that. Know many people like that. 

Or, you can save some and spend some. 

How about that?

Who’s asking you to save it all?

No one. 

You like spending?

Fine. Spend. A bit. Gratify your most burning desires without injuring anyone’s fundamental rights. 

Then, save the rest. Pickle it. Look away. Move on with your life. 

Why?

Lady Luck smiled. You got your one-off dose of wealth. Use some of it to make wealth a permanent feature in your life. 

For that to happen you’ll need to invest, be patient, compound, reinvest and what have you, till many many cash flows take care of all your needs. 

From which point did it start?

From the moment you decided to save some of your corpus and provide it with the necessary environment to grow.

It’s a basic decision…

…, yeah, a real simple one…

…that’s tough to implement. 

Try retaining wealth. 

You’ll then know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Wealth vs Income – the What-When-Why? 

Income… 

… comes into your account… 

… on a regular basis. 

You spend a good part of it to keep your ball rolling. 

If you save even a fraction, well you’re good, because this ain’t really an age of savers. 

Saved income goes into an asset. 

The asset either generates more income…  

… or, it generates wealth. 

What is wealth?

Wealth is not income. It doesn’t come into your current account regularly. 

Wealth accrues. 

Wealth compounds.

Wealth multiplies. 

Wealth grows in a skewed fashion, like an exponential curve.

You don’t look at your wealth-generating asset everyday. Once a month is more than enough. 

Wealth funds big events. 

Wealth likes time, to grow. 

Wealth separates you from those who are hungry. Hunger is not limited to food. 

Have you understood the nature of wealth?

What do you strive for, income or wealth?

That’s a huge question.

I’ve answered it for myself.

It’s taken 12+ years to find the answer.

I’ll tell you.

I now strive to create wealth.

Why?

Because income has become just a number to my mind.

Yes, that’s the answer for me.

Learning to define the quest for income or wealth requires the appropriate state of mind.

When income becomes just a number to your mind, addition to it doesn’t satisfy you anymore.

Yeah, the kick is missing…

…the thrill-factor…you know what I’m talking about. 

In an effort to rekindle this missing element, you then look to create wealth.

There’s enough additive securing you. 

You start going for the multiple. 

🙂

Is it just the Japanese?

No.

It’s us too.

We’re all whacky, at some level.

Humans have quirks.

Different ones to make the world go round.

Normal for me would be idiosyncratic elsewhere.

And vice-versa.

So there we are.

The other day someone was talking about panty-automats and strawberry-excretia. Way off the bell-curve, thought I. What was it about the Japanese?

Then, how were we perceived, as people?

We do have some ugly habits, us Indians.

Ever seen a guy doing an ayurvedic nasal-cleanse on the road? Sure.

Most leave the ayurvedic out.

Occupying someone else’s seat – we’re champions at that.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Indian Standard Time.

Cleaning house and throwing the dirt on the road outside our house – yeah, we’re geniuses.

However, one of our quirks is actually positive.

We SAVE.

It’s inborn. In our genes. Adding up. Compounding. All this comes naturally to us.

Yeah, silver lining. Does redeem us a bit, since this particular quality is in short supply, the world over.

Here’s hoping that we infect other nations with the savings bug.

Also, every nation has some positive quirks. Let’s look for these, to adopt.

Cheers!

🙂

What is it about Vacuums?

I borrow often.

Shocked?

You won’t be, after you hear my borrowing ideology.

You see, I only borrow against a solid structure I’ve already created. Free and idle cash makes me take grossly irresponsible and wrong decisions with itself. I’ve learnt to first bind my free and idle cash in a structure, and then to borrow against this structure to create another new and ultimately free-standing structure. I’ve been amazed at the quality of investment decisions coming through for me with this methodology.

Also, I try to only borrow for the purpose of creating this new (solid) structure. Because I’m creating this new structure with borrowed money, this makes me work that much harder during due diligence.

Furthermore, I borrow to create vacuum.

As you understand already, vacuum attracts flow.

On top of that, and this is the icing on the cake, when I’ve borrowed, there’s pressure on me to save, and to nullify the borrowing as soon as I possibly can. Believe it or not, this fact, coupled with the principle of attracted flow, leads to the borrowed amount being filled up (paid back) very, very fast indeed.

What I then have left standing is my original solid structure.

Oh, yeah, I also have my new structure, which I have just created, and which will serve me.

So worth it.

Hanging On to a Structure

How does one build a wall?

Brick upon brick, right?

One doesn’t usually take out the brick two layers below to use elsewhere. Common-sense. 

Why should it be any different while building a rock-solid portfolio?

Well, it’s not. 

Those who feel it is will soon realise… that it’s not.

You set up an investment.

You then see it through to its logical conclusion. 

You don’t let it go in between… …unless we’re talking about a life and death situation.

Apart from this one caveat, you just don’t let the investment go. You see it through… to its logical conclusion. Period. 

Meanwhile, other opportunities arise. 

You are tempted to get into them. That’s what opportunities are for. 

Now you need to be creative. 

You’re not letting one structure go for the sake of creating another. 

You are going to keep the former and create the latter. 

How?

Dig into your reserves.

How were the reserves created?

They were created by former structures that were seen through to their logical conclusion. These contributed along their paths and upon their culmination. 

Reserves not enough?

Borrow agains a former structure. 

Don’t borrow big. Borrowed amount should not be big enough to harm the former structure, but big enough to couple with your reserves and see your new structure through. 

Still not enough? Requirement for new structure not being met?

Let the new structure go. 

Opportunities keep coming and going. No one’s got a copyright on opportunities. 

Save up for the next one. 

Brick by brick, remember. Without sacrificing the bricks below. 

🙂

Harnessing FD-Power within your Meta-Game

Everyone’s heard of fixed deposits (FDs). 

Are they so non-lucrative?

I believe that in some countries, you need to pay the bank to hold a fixed deposit for you. 

Why does our system shun savings? 

What are savings, actually?

On-call cash. Ready for you when an opportunity arises. 

That’s exactly it. The system doesn’t want you to have ready cash when an opportunity is there. 

Why?

Because finance people have already dibsed on your cash. They want it when opportunity is there. The cash should be available to their institution, not to you.

That’s why, your bankers generally try and get you to commit whatever spare cash floats in your account. They try for commitment towards non-access for a specific period of time.

I don’t know how things are in other parts of the world, but in India, a fixed deposit is still considered ready cash, because one can nullify one’s FD online, in a few seconds. Some banks charge a penalty for such nullification, but this penalty is charged on the interest generated, not on the principal. Therefore, in India, you have access to at least your FD principal (plus a part of the interest generated) when you really need it, all within a few seconds. 

What’s the meta-game here?

You “lock” your money in an FD for one year, for example. Let’s suppose that within that one year, no opportunity arises for you. You cash out with full interest. In India, as of now, if you’re in the top taxation bracket, and are a senior citizen, you’re still left with a return of between 6.6%-6.8% after tax, whereby we are not looking at the effects of inflation here, to keep the example simple, though I know, that we must look at inflation too. We’ll go into inflation some other day. 

Meanwhile, your FD has been on call, for you. Let’s assume that a lucrative investment opportunity does arise within the year, and your break your FD after 6 months, reducing earned interest to 4% annualised from 9.5-9.75% p.a. However, your investment yields you 20% after tax, because it was made at the most opportune moment.

You do the math.

Do you see the inherent power of ready money?

Your FD has thus worked for you in multiple ways. 

It has worked as an interest-generator, yielding a small return. Simultaneously, it has worked as ready cash, on-call in case of opportunity. Should the opportunity arise, and if the investment that follows works out well, a handsome return could be made. It’s all should/could/would in a meta-game. 

There is yet another way FDs are used. I use them this way. 

FDs are a safety-net. They allow you to take high risks elsewhere. You lose the fear of high risk once you know that your family is secured through your safety-net. In a safety-net, sums are large enough and deposits are regular enough to discount (actually effectively / realistically nullify) the power of inflation. With the haven of a safety-net going for your family, you can enter high-risk arenas fearlessly. Fearlessness is a perquisite to do well in high-risk arenas. If you’re afraid of loss, don’t enter such areas. Safety-nets make you lose your fear of loss elsewhere. 

People – SAVE! 

Create FDs. Don’t listen to your bankers. Commit your money to an uncompromisable lock-in only if you’re convinced that the investment is safe and really worth the lock-in for you. Harness the power of the FD for yourself. A safety-net of FDs is the first step towards the formulation of a profitable meta-game.

Did you also know that when you create an FD, the money used to create the FD doesn’t show up as ready cash in your account. Bank accounts with large amounts of ready cash over long periods of time are like red flags which online fraudsters look for. Creation of FDs gives extra online safety to your money. 

ONLY you are responsible for your money.

Start looking after it. 

Start making it grow.

Start saving. 

NOW.

Taking the Pan out of Panic

Panic – Pan = ic = i see = I SEE.

Times are unprecedented.

We’re breaking new lows of evil everyday.

Ours looks to be a hopeless nation.
Is it over for us?

Shall we pack up our bags and migrate?

Just take a deep breath. Bear with me for a moment. Try and cast your panic aside. Try and think clearly.

I’ll share with you an observation. Take any Indian. Doesn’t have to be an outperformer. Take an under-averagely performing Indian, for all I care. Weed him or her out of our pathetic system, and place him or her in a nation with good governance.

Lo and behold, our candidate will start performing. Not only that, soon, he or she will be outperforming. After a decade or so, he or she will probably have mastered the system and punctuated it with innovative short-cuts.

Get my point?

We are a resilient race. We might look fickle, frail and harmless superficially, but we can struggle, bear, survive, and finally break out. Just give us good governance.
Don’t panic. We’re not going down that easily.

What’s happening currently is a purge. Yeah, it’s a catharsis with a big C. While it continues, asset classes across the board will probably get hammered.

What does that mean for you?

Only one thing.

Stay in cash. Accumulate it. Learn to sit on cash. Sit on it as long as the purge lasts. Let its value depreciate, doesn’t matter. Park it safely with a conservative private bank. Fixed deposits would be the instruments of choice. Yeah, you don’t want to leave unattached cash lying around. Potentially, unattached cash could be susceptible to online fraud. Attach your cash, safely, and keep it before your eyes. Put some watch-dogs in place, as in sms and email alerts. Password-change attempt? You are immediately alerted. New payee added? You are immediately alerted. Watch-dogs bark.

As per my instinct, though we probably won’t go bankrupt as a nation, we might just go a long way down before the purge is over. After the purge, there will be tremendous bargains on offer, across the board, in all asset-classes. Cash will be king. Save your cash and sit on it – for that day.

Meanwhile, your wealth-manager will try to push you into panic purchases with your cash. As in, buying gold at 32k, and the USD at 65. Don’t listen. These are crazy levels. One doesn’t invest at crazy levels. These are not even normal trading levels. Yes, they are institutional trading levels. One does not invest at institutional trading levels.

It’s time to use your common-sense and maintain a cool head.

You can only do that by refusing to panic.

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.

A Tool By The Name of “Barrier”

Come into some money?

Just don’t say you’re going to spend it all.

Have the decency to at least save something.

And all of a sudden, our focus turns to the portion you’ve managed to save.

If you don’t fetch out your rule-book now, you’ll probably bungle up with whatever’s left too.

Have some discipline in life, pal.

The first thing you want to do is to set a barrier.

Barrier? Huh? What kind of barrier?

And why?

The barrier will cut off immediate and direct access to your saved funds. You’ll get time to think, when hit by the whim and fancy to spend your funds.

For example, a barrier can be constructed by simply putting your funds in a money-market scheme. With that, you’ll have put 18 hours between you and access, because even the best of money market schemes take at least 18 hours to transfer your funds back into your bank account.

Why am I so against spending, you ask?

Well, I’m not.

Here, we are focusing on the portion that you’ve managed to save.

Without savings, there’s nothing. There can be no talk about an investment corpus, if there are no savings. Something cannot grow out of nothing. For your money to grow, a base corpus needs to exist first.

Then, your basic corpus needs a growth strategy.

If you’ve chalked out your strategy already, great, go ahead and implement it.

You might find, that the implemetation opportunities you thought about are not there yet.

Appropriately, your corpus will wait for these opportunities in a safe money market fund. Here, it is totally fine to accept a low return as long as you are liquid when the opportunity comes. There is no point blocking your money in lieu of a slightly higher return, only to be illiquid when your investment opportunity comes along. Thus, you’ve used your barrier to park your funds. Well done!

Primarily, this barrier analogy is for these who don’t have a strategy. These individuals leave themselves open to be swept away into spending all their money. That’s why such individuals need a barrier.

An online 7-day lock-in fixed deposit can be a barrier.

A stingy spouse can be a barrier.

Use your imagination, people, and you’ll come up with a (safe) barrier. All the best! 🙂

The Ugly Side of Leverage

Not too long a time ago, in an existence nearby, people saved.

Credit was a four letter word, or a six letter word, or whatever you want to all it, as long as you get my point.

People worked hard, and enjoyed the sweet taste of their labour.

They knew their networth on their fingertips, and there was no question of extending oneself beyond.

People were happy. They had time for their families. Words like sophistication, complicated and what have you had simpler meanings.

At the end of the month, as large a chunk as possible was pickled away.

For what?

Safety. Steady growth. For building a lifetime’s corpus. For the future generation.

Life was straight-forward.

Then came leverage.

At first, leverage was an idea that was looked down upon. People were slow to leave their safety zones.

Then they saw what leverage could do.

It could make possible a lifetime of fun. One could do things which were well out of one’s financial reach currently. Leverage could even buy out billion dollar companies.

All one had to do was to pledge one’s incoming for many, many years. If that didn’t suffice to fulfill one’s fun-desires, one could even pledge the house. The money borrowed would eventually be paid up, along with the compound interest, right? After all, one had a steady job that promised regular income.

What use was a lifetime of sweat if one didn’t get to enjoy oneself? One couldn’t really live it up after retirement, could one? That’s when one would eventually possess enough free funds to do what one was doing now, with the advent of leverage.

The do-now-pay-later philosophy soon took over the world.

Without being able to afford even a meaningful fraction of their expenditure, people began to go beserk.

What people didn’t know, and what they are now finding out the hard way, is that leverage is a double-edged sword. Since people didn’t know this, and since they didn’t bother to read the fine-print of the documents they were signing while leveraging their monthly salary or their home, well, financiers didn’t bother to educate them any further. No hard feelings, it was just business strategy, nothing personal.

Today, we know more. Much much more. Hopefully we have learnt. We are not going to make the same mistakes again.

So, when you buy into a company, look at the leverage on the balance-sheet. A debt : equity ratio of 1 : 1 is healthy. It promises balanced growth. If the ratio is lower, even better. We’ll talk about debt : equity ratios that are below 0.5 some other day.

Most companies do not have a healthy debt : equity ratio. Promoters like to borrow, and borrow big. You as an investor then need to judge. What exactly is the promotor using these funds for? Is he or she using these funds to finance a hi-fi lifestyle, with flashy cars, villas and company jets? Or is the promoter using these funds for the growth of the company, i.e. for the benefit of the shareholders? Use your common-sense. Look into a company’s management before buying into any company.

As regards your own self, reason it out, people. Save. As long as you can avoid taking that loan, do so. Loaned money comes with lots of hidden fees. If I’m not mistaken, now you’ll even need to pay service tax and education cess on a loan, but please correct me if I’m wrong. There’s definitely a loan-activation fee. Then there’s the huge interest, that compounds very fast. Ask someone who has borrowed on his or her credit card. There’s the collateral you’re promising against the loan. That’s your life you’re putting on the line. All for a bit of leveraged fun? How will your children remember you?

Also, when you invest with no leverage on your own balance-sheet, your mind is relaxed. There is no tension, and your investment decisions are solid. Furthermore, if you’re invested without having borrowed, there’s no question of having an investment terminated prematurely because of a loan-repayment date maturing coupled with one’s inability to pay.

How does the following sentence sound?

” Then came leverage, and common-sense disappeared.”

Not good, right?

What Does it Take to Decouple?

Is Decoupling a myth?

Why hasn’t any country been able to decouple from collective world economics for longish periods?

What does it take to decouple?

For starters, good governance. Over long periods.

Resources. One needs to have independent resources, as in energy resources. For example, India does not have ample independent oil resources. Going nuclear could make it a stronger candidate for decoupling, but does the country have responsible governance to handle nuclear energy safely? As of now, no.

A conducive business environment is the order of the day. Business needs to thrive. It can only do so, if laws are approved, that are favourable for business. The private sector needs to be allowed to grow wherever possible. Red-tapism and babudom are enemies of decoupling.

To thrive, business needs proper infrastructure. Bottlenecks arise when those responsible for getting this infrastructure in place simutaneously siphon away funds, thereby decreasing the quality of the infrastructure proportionately. Bottlenecks are enemies of decoupling.

Internal demand drives a decoupled economy. The demographic social structure of such an economy allows demand for manufactured goods to blossom.

What kind of a population dynamics caters to this sort of demand creation? One with a healthy demographic pyramid, with the broad pyramid base boasting a large, young consumer base.

This young consumer base is also supposed to be the decoupled economy’s demographic dividend.

Demographic dividends don’t just start existing just like that. They need to be reaped after sowing the proper seeds. An economy needs to first provide proper education and healthcare infrastructure, so that its citizens enjoy a beneficial environment to grow up in, which is when they can go on to become productive citizens.

Savings of productive citizens provide cushion to the decoupled economy. No savings, no cushion. The first Tsunami then destroys the decoupling.

Domestic payment cycles need to be healthy, and not chokingly long.

Imports are a necessary element of trade. Importers should thrive too, but not to the extent of recoupling a decoupled economy.

Then there are moral values. These keep a decoupled economy on track, after everything else is in the correct trajectory. Productive citizens need to do the right thing. Long-term, holistic thinking. No corner-cutting.

Sounds utopic, right?

Well, at least one is allowed to dream!

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.

Cool & the Bean-Counters

Cheer up, people, it’s another Mr. Cool story, yayyyy!!

We need to catch up on his life, especially because that’s Mr. Cool there, pulling in to the parking in his spanking new X5!

And oh, that hot, blonde babe seated next to him must be his new girl-friend.

Who are those suited blokes in the back?

Well, they are his bean-counters. You’ve met one before, his broker, Mr. Ever So Clever. The other two are his accountant and his banker, respectively.

Why are they called bean-counters?

Well, they count the beans he spends on them, through them and with them.

Why weren’t they there before?

Because he didn’t have any beans? In fact, he owed beans to his very bean-counters.

So what happened?

You see that hot blonde over there?

Yup, can’t miss her.

Well, she’s not only hot, she’s got brains too.

Really?

Yeah, she’s an analyst with Sax.

Wow! I thought she was his girl-friend.

Ya, that too, but only after he hit the bean-fountain.

So how did he do that?

The story revolves around Miss Sax. She gets around. She is privy to a lot of inside info, but is intelligent enough to not get caught, yet.

How does she get the inside info?

You’ll need to use your imagination. What’s she got that a holder of inside info might want?

I see. And then?

Well, she sells the info to the highest bidder. For the last one month, that’s been our friend Mr. Cool.

How did he manage to assemble funds in the first place? I mean, the last time we saw him, he was in the dumps, out of money, heavily in debt, and contemplating suicide for all we know.

Which is when he was approached by the bean-counters. They had easy access to funds for hours at a stretch without anyone noticing, provided they’d put the funds back before someone would look. They needed an external face to deal with Miss Sax and to place their trades.

Ingenious. This way, they’d never be in trouble if something went wrong.

Correct. The only risk they took was for the first few hours that they embezzled funds. It was very necessary for that principal to be put back in time.

So that must have obviously gone off well, huh?

Yeah, their first trade based on Miss Sax’s inside info clocked two million in an hour. They cashed out, put the principal back into banks, trading accounts and other private accounts where it was embezzled from, and from there onwards, they pulled all their future trades on the back of their profits.

And it’s all been going good, is it?

Well, Miss Sax is dishing out million dollar tips week after week.

What if they get caught?

Hmmm, actually, I’m only worried about Mr. Cool.

Why?

She’ll get out of any jam. She’s too smooth to get caught. Even if she’s implicated, she’s capable enough to get herself off the hook. Then, the bean-counters don’t even have a trail leading to them. All the dealing is in Mr. Cool’s name. The four of them needed a front-runner who will take the hit if their scheme is busted.

And that’s our dear friend Mr. Cool, right?

Yeah, and he’s dumb enough not to realize it.

How does he pay them their share?

In cash. There’s no paper or electronic trail. They spend it in an inconspicuous manner. These are highly intelligent people with crooked minds.

Yeah, the only one flashing red flags is our friend Mr. Cool. The new X5, Armani suits, expensive holidays, plus the grapevine says he’s planning to buy a new penthouse.

Yup, he’s never heard of saving when times are good. Because of these red-flags, he’s eventually going to get caught. The authorities keep scanning for insider-trading, and the very people they scrutinize are the ones making quick and big expenditures, as our candidate is doing.

So are you saying that, very soon, we’ll be seeing Mr. Cool in the dumps again?

There’s a very high chance of that.

With no bean-counters and no Sax around?

Oh, they’ll be long gone, looking for their next front-runner.

A Matter of Pride

Eurozone this, Eurozone that…

Man, it’s getting irritating.

Can we, for one moment, imagine a world without the Euro? Yes. Why is it so difficult? What would the cost of that scenario be?

Deleveraging, people, that will be required. All of those nations that leveraged themselves into quasi financial extinction will need to deleverage massively, once the Euro is discontinued, for as long as it takes to pay off their debts.

What does deleveraging mean? It means not using leverage for as long as it takes. It means paying off one’s debts by working overtime and saving.

Do you think the Italians or the Greeks et al. are liking such suggestions. Of course not. That’s the thing with debt. If you can’t pay it off, you’re in deep sh*t. Nobody thinks of that while taking on debt.

When the Eurozone was formed, sovereign debt of financially weaker countries was sold worldwide using the Eurozone tag. As in “C’mon, it’s all Eurozone now, and these Greek bonds give a premium return as compared to German ones!” Ingenious way to market junk bonds. Meanwhile, citizens of these financially weaker Eurozone countries borrowed left, right and centre to build houses and to consume. As 2008 approached, many lost the earning power to pay back their monthly installments. Now, as more and more of this debt matures, these financially weaker Eurozone countries need to conjure up billions of Euros they do not have.

You’ve got to hand it to the marketeers. Pure genius. They always get you, don’t they.

The reason things are not really working is the looming idea of uncalled for hard work that the process of deleveraging requires. Even if one wants to put in hard work, where does one put it in, if there’s no work.

Thus, the only option remaining involves massive cutbacks, like you’re seeing in Greece just now. Consumer spending down to zero. Pension cuts. Medicare cuts. All-round cuts. To one level above slowdown, till the deleveraging process is over. Scenario will take long to smoothen.

After enjoying a penthouse suite, a 1-BHK feels pathetic.

Eurozone wants to remain alive financially, but are they willing to pay the harsh price?

What you’ve been seeing since this crisis exploded is infinite artificial maneuvering. This might stall the situation. The goal is to stall long enough so that the deleveraging process is over before the stalling process can be weaned off. And that’s a fatal error. Nobody understands deleveraging properly, because the world has never done it properly before, at least in modern financial times. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Deleveraging is going to take longer than all the stalling moves put together. That is my opinion. Stalling results in a false sense of security because of all the maneuvering to show that the economy is doing well. Owing to this false sense of security, people continue to consume. Instead of deleveraging, people leverage. Instead of decreasing, debt increases.

What’s the deal here? You see, pride and egos are at stake. Eurozone doesn’t want to become the laughing stock of the world, the focus of all jokes. Thus, for the sake of their pride, and to fan their egos, European leaders feel the need to keep the Euro alive, even if it costs them their elections, and their financial survival.

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.

Making the 99% See Reason

Hey 99%,

Fine, fine, #OccupyWallStreet and all…

To be honest, this needs to be more about brains than brawn. The 1% are where they are because they’ve used their devious and canniving brains to become super-rich. Now you need to use yours to first extract yourself from your debt-trap situation and then to work towards financial freedom. Something like this can only work long-term. Using brawn, you’ll probably break the law and land up in jail, simultaneously exacerbating your predicament.

The first step is to SAVE. That’s what your forefathers did. They saved. They made your country a super-power because of their SAVINGS. If you’re not in a position to save, please get yourself into such a position. There’s no way out. To attain financial freedom, you have to start saving.

Tear your credit cards into two. Don’t consume. Don’t use and throw. Use, repair and reuse. Eat less if you have to, but extract yourself from the debt-cycle at any cost. There’s no other way.

Once you’ve started to save, you’ll need to learn how to manage your savings. Don’t ask the 1% to manage them for you. Instead, learn how to manage them on your own. With that, you’ll be putting yourself into the business of money- and asset-management, and then you can truly and totally boycott the 1%. That would be a message to the 1% that could make them scramble for survival. Believe me, to survive, they’ll be forced to change their ways. They don’t understand your brawn. It just aggravates them.

There’s enough material on the web available, that’ll get you going. The best thing is, most of it is free of cost. Go for it. Learn how to manage your savings on your own and make them grow. You can start by reading this very blog.

Continuous savings, over years and years, and the intelligent and independent management of these savings – these two acts will lead you towards financial freedom. Perhaps you will be too old to fully benefit at that time, but your children will benefit.

There’s no point beating about the bush – this is a long-term pursuit. No short-term effort or remedy is going to solve it.

Do it for your children.