What is Human Capital Capable of Doing?

Sky’s the limit, and so’s the ocean.

That’s the deal with human capital. 

However, we are pretty capable of choosing that kind of human capital which aims for the sky. 

After weeding out the fraudsters, we go ahead and align ourselves with stellar managements. 

Choice of management is one of the top three criteria while selecting a stock. 

Why?

One doesn’t wish to be in a stock with a lack-lustre, dull and boring management which has stagnated and has no creativity.

One wants one’s management to be actively pursuing the prime goal of finding means to beat inflation. 

Equity is perhaps the only asset class that promises to beat inflation, in case a management uses its intelligence. 

That is what good human capital is doing for us all the time, i.e. finding means to beat inflation and maximise profits. 

Inflation is something that eats into our assets, and at a rather alarming rate too. 

Gold, cash, real-estate, fixed-deposits, bonds and other similar asset classes have no choice but to take the hit. The returns they give us in reality can well be negative, with the exception of real-estate and bonds sometimes. However, here, even the real positive returns are expressed after deducting the effects of inflation, and they don’t amount to much, and we’re not really looking at double digits at all after inflation has done its work.

Equity, on the other hand, tells a different story.

It suffices to to sum up the case of equity by saying that this asset class gives inflation adjusted returns.

How?

Managements tear their brains apart to find ways to circumvent the effects of new laws, tariffs, duties, levies, taxes, natural events, unexpected circumstances etc. and the like to try and achieve a commendable balance sheet by the end of the financial year. 

What is inflation?

Exactly this.

Inflation is the sum of all the effects of new laws, tariffs, duties, levies, taxes, natural events, unexpected circumstances etc. and the like on your asset class, and the result that it causes is the diminishing of the value of your asset class. 

Managements thus take inflation head-on, and are constantly devising ways to come out with a stellar performance despite the sum total that we refer to as inflation. 

Because we have chosen to align ourselves with stellar managements that already have a commendable track record in taking inflation head-on and beating it, our assets are ideally positioned to show inflation-adjusted positive returns, year upon year upon year, and perhaps even double digit ones. 

I’ll leave you with some hard cold facts. 

Adjusted for inflation, gold has yielded 1% per annum compounded since the history of its existence. 

Adjusted for inflation, bonds, cash and fixed deposits are yielding negative returns, and have been doing so for a long time now. 

Adjusted for inflation, and after taking the black money component out, real-estate has yielded single-digit returns, per annum compounded.

Adjusted for inflation, all-time equity, including all stocks that don’t exist anymore, has yielded 6% per annum compounded. 

Adjusted for inflation, all-time equity, not including stocks that don’t exist anymore, has yielded 11% per annum compounded. 

Adjusted for inflation, an intelligently chosen portfolio is extremely capable of yielding 15%+ per annum compounded over a period of 10 years or more.

What more can one want from an asset class?

Go for it, do super due diligence, choose wisely, enter in a proper manner, and build up your long-term portfolio. Master the art of sitting, and you will be in a great position to make double-digit returns, per annum compounded, adjusted for inflation. 

🙂

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What about Daddy Cool? 

Boney M sang this blockbuster hit in the ’70s.

I’m sure you’ve heard it, because it’s still the rage. 

he’s crazy like a fool – what about daddy cool? 

Who’s Daddy Cool? 

You tell me. 

Is it you, in a cool cucumber moment, slow to respond to stimulus, devoid of anger, master of your situation in a kinda non-bossy, non-micro-managing (cool) way? 

And what of Mr. Hyde’s Dr. Jekyll nature? 

We’re talking about your “like a fool” moment.

Just for your information, winning behaviour is often termed foolish by the crowd. 

Contrarian investing is one such example. 

Successful derivative trading is another. 

To cap it, let’s not even talk about private equity in real-estate. 

Did someone mention high-yield structured-debt? 

There are many examples of “foolish” behaviour. 

These same examples earn very well. 

So… 

… how do we do it? 

We maintain our cool. 

We keep all basics going, as they are. 

With a small portion of our surplus, we take calculated risks, in a controlled environment. 

Sure, these risks will appear foolish to someone on the outside. 

However, our controlled environment has installed riders for our safety. 

A balance-sheet might be stressed, but not stressed enough for bankruptcy. 

A lock-in might be ultra-short. 

A stop-loss might be in place. 

Collateral might be up to 4x.

There might be a highly reputed Trustee in between. 

What have you.

Have your Daddy Cool fool-moments. 

Take some calculated risks with small portions of your surplus. 

These should give your portfolios an extra-boost. 

Nath on Equity – make that a hundred

Long-term equity is 81). brought low.

The idea is to, if required, 82). sell it high.

Otherwise, 83). it is sold when you no longer believe in the stock concerned, for strong fundamental reasons. Or, it is sold when something more interesting comes along, and your magic number is capped. Then you sell the stock you’re least interested in and replace it with the new one.

84). Attitudes of managements can change with changing CEOs. Does a new management still hold your ideology-line?

Is the annual report flashy, wasteful, rhetorical and more of an eyewash? Or, 85). is it to the point with no BS? Same scrutiny is required for company website.

Your winners 86). try to entice you to sell them and book profits. Don’t sell them without an overwhelming reason.

Your mind will 87). try and play tricks on you to hold on to a now-turned-loser that is not giving you a single good reason to hold anymore.

If you’re not able to overcome your mind on 87)., 88). at least don’t average-down to add more of the loser to your folio.

89). High-rating bonds give negative returns in most countries, adjusted for inflation.

The same 90). goes for fixed deposits.

Take the parallel economy out of 91). real estate, and long-term returns are inferior to equity, adjusted for inflation.

92). Gold’s got storage and theft issues.

Apart from that, 93). it’s yielded 1% compounded since inception, adjusted for inflation.

Storage with equity is 94). electronic, time-tested-safe and hassle-free.

Equity’s something for you 95). with little paperwork, and, if you so wish it, no middlemen. In other words, there’s minimal nag-value.

Brokerage and taxes added together 96). make for a small and bearable procurement fees. Procurement is far more highly priced in other asset-classes.

One can delve into the nervous system of a publicly traded company. Equity is 97). transparent, with maximal company-data required to be online.

As a retail player in equity, 98). you are at a considerable advantage to institutions, who are not allowed to trade many, many stocks because of size discrepancies.

All you require to play equity is 99). an internet connection and a trinity account with a financial institution.

If you’re looking to create wealth, 100). there’s no avenue like long-term equity!

🙂

When Push Comes to Shove 

Genetically… 

… we’re savers. 

Indians. 

Save. 

That’s a good thing. 

Since the ’00s though, our banks have started pushing loans as if there’s no tomorrow.

The motto seems to be : we don’t care who you are, just borrow. If we know who you are, here, borrow some more

That is dangerous policy. 

It sets the stage for a push comes to shove scenario. Savings are being lent further, and they might not come back. 

What counts when push comes to shove? 

Deposits in the bank? No. Gone. 

Real Estate? No. No buyers. No renters. Illiquid stuff just won’t move. 

Equities? No. Dumps. Good entry levels though. No resale value for a while. 

Bonds? Perhaps. Short duration ones, provided underlying doesn’t go under. 

Gold? Yes. Big. 

Trading? Yes. Options, forex, commodities, what have you. 

Cash? Yes. Provided there’s no hyperinflation. Use it for day to day life. Use surplus to acquire great bargains. 

Farmland? Yes. You’re then sorted as far as food and water are concerned. 

Use your imagination. 

Prepare for a push and shove scenario. 

It probably won’t happen. 

However, you’re prepared, just in case. 

Focused Diversification : Mantra for all Times

I’m more into focus.

One can focus on one thing at a time.

Agreed.

What if after that one thing starts running, it doesn’t require any more focus?

Wow.

Then I focus on another thing.

Get it running.

Then another.

Till my focus window is full.

Let me tell you about my focus window.

I focus on cash, debt, equity, forex, gold, real-estate, arbitrage, and options.

With that, my professional focus in finance is full full full.

I get something running.

That’s it.

Then I don’t need to be with it. Mostly.

Let me run you through.

1). Cash – Bind it in a worry-free and accessible manner. Done.

2). Debt – Study the underlying very thoroughly. Reject 10 underlyings. Take up the 11th which passes all criteria. Be happy with a slightly better than FD-return. Done.

3). Equity – Invest for life. Study till you drop the stock or take it up. Only invest in what meets all criteria and offers margin of safety at time of investing. On top of that – SIP (systematic investment plan). Done.

4). Forex – Get a software robot to trade it for you. Or some human-capital. All available online. Requires a bit of fine-tuning. Keep tuning till you start making a return. Done.

5). Gold – Buy physical gold. Research your source. Needs to be impeccable. Bullion. Coins. SIP. Accessible. No jewellery. Done.

6). Real-estate – Make your real-estate yield you an income. Regular income? Done.

7). Arbitrage – Understand what this is, and why it gives you a tax benefit. Get an online MF account going with Kotak MF or DWS. Divert some funds into their arbitrage MF, either or. I prefer Kotak. Monthly dividend payout option. Done.

8). Options – Get the option-strategy going. You don’t require a desktop. Mobile is sufficient. All you now need to do is take care of square-off. On mobile. This means a slightly higher level of engagement than the above avenues. Only slightly. Are you ok with that? Fine. Done.

In a flow, it’s all doable.

And, you remain focused.

Why all this?

Times demand it. You never know what might come in handy, and when.

Yeah, times are tough.

However, you are tougher.

To use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terminology, you are antifragile.

Meet the BenchWarmers

Yeah, one too many real-estate agents (REAs) have popped up over the last decade.

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (TD/H) who has nothing to do becomes an REA.

Small little office, empty chairs, one TD/H reading a newspaper or watching TV… familiar?

Meet the bench-warmers.

Real-estate is in the dumps.

Sure.

Real-estate bill is in the offing. Might come out soon, might come out later.

Circle-rates are trying to bring the black-money component down.

Government A-B-C categorization is all warped.

Meanwhile, deals have dried. Volumes are zilch.

Is this the bottom?

Who says yes?

I’m afraid not too many have that conviction.

I don’t either.

You see, at bottoms, there’s blood on the streets.

Do you see any blood?

Nope.

Is black-money receding?

Slightly, maybe. Some say significantly. Some say insignificantly. Wishy-washy answers at best. Let’s put this under the “not-sure” category.

Are the bench-warmers packing up their benches?

Nope.

Are more bench-warmers springing up, in anticipation of volume-spikes?

Yeah.

Is this going to make their situation only worse?

Yeah, probably.

When will things start moving finally?

No one knows for certain.

Under the circumstances, how can one call this a bottom?

We’re still way above 2005 levels.

It’s not a bottom, or so I think. Maybe I’m mistaken. However, that’s my opinion.

All right, if it’s not a bottom, what is it then?

Time to wait and watch?

Yeah.

Time to pick up (a property) already?

Probably not.

Time to nibble at a real-estate stock?

Maybe. Just make sure the fundamentals are good and debt-component is negligible. And nibble. That’s all.

What about the bench-warmers? How should they act?

Use their office to generate income. Any which legal way, through any vocation. If not, rent it out with fool-proof lease deed. That’ll generate income too.

Bench-warming degenerates our faculties. It shouldn’t be practised over a prolonged period of time.