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Saturday, 25 September 2010

Financial magazine review(s)


I have been faithfully subscribing and reading the Economist and the Edge for the past few years (ever since I started investing) until I decide to stop the latter. Instead of just saying why am I dissatisfied with The Edge, I might as well write a simple review of the three finance or business magazine I deemed useful for my interest.

The Economist, my main workhorse of info after the newspapers

Besides the news on papers or over the Internet, I get the most useful geopolitical, macroeconomic information from The Economist. Though I might not agree with all the articles, some are actually biased collection of facts to shape reader views, most articles are nicely written and well argued, especially the articles in the 'Business' and 'Finance and economics' sections. I like it most whenever there are 'special' coverage of a particular topic, e.g. the economy of a particular country, her strengths and weakness, her challenges and opportunities. Price-wise, it really depends on how good a deal one can squeeze from the distributing agent. I always bargain for a 2-year subscription (at quite a steep discount to newsstand price) at the World Book Fair and get the agent to throw in 1-year subscription of any magazine for free (that's how I got The Edge). Anyone with an even cheaper but timely alternative (other then reading from the library free) please let me know. Thanks!

The Edge, thanks but no thanks

I have to say I like to read The Edge... whenever there are nice articles, especially when they ran exclusive coverage of certain companies or particular fields of business. But unfortunately, these articles made up just a tiny portion of each issue, with advertisements, charts, stocks and property listings almost practically filling the rest of the pages. I find myself reading less than 10% of each issue. Info per dollar wise, each 'useful' content in The Edge is really expensive. Thus after renewing for a year when my free subscription of The Edge ends (that comes with The Economist), I terminated it.

Pulses, a better replacement to The Edge

I need to find a finance or business related magazine that give a more Singaporean perspective, the local businesses, the market environment that's closer to me etc. I discover this magazine while loitering around a newsstand when I was too bored, can't remember whether I was too early for an appointment, or the person I'm meeting was late. Anyway, at least 50% of the magazine is 'useful' material. The magazine can be subscribed from SPH:


We live in an information age and sieving through the tonnes of garbage for useful stuff is getting harder each day. Life can be more pleasant if there are better one-stop, customised source of useful information one can easily digest to become knowledge and attain the wisdom to translate these into concrete results.


Friday, 17 September 2010

Investing is similar to gambling?


I read with interest an article published on Asiaone "Casino not so different to stock investment":

In the article, Kwon Oh-nam, CEO of Grand Korea Leisure, South Korea's leading foreigner-only casino was quoted as saying:

"... Some people get so obsessed with stock investment that they sit in front of the computer monitor to check Dow Jones all night long. Even if they do, some lose big money, but such cases are not criticized as much as gambling...".


This is something I totally disagree. Hey, that's not investing, that's stock speculation! And yes, to all things in life, there are plenty of opportunities to speculate, not just in stocks and casino, but in properties, commodities, currencies etc.

Stock investing vs Gambling

I've been to a casino once only, the one in Genting Highlands with my wife. We changed RM$50, yes one single $50 note, to chips and played at the "big-small" game table. Our chips are too few to warrant a seat, so we just stand around. We played till we are left with with $10 chips and en-cashed them back to cash, to 'complete' the 'process' of 'gaming' experience at Genting. I'd say the experience is thrilling and fun... at one point we almost doubled that $50 we started with and that occurred in less than 30 minutes of play. Such quick and solid returns can only occur in a gambling environment.

It is the same thing when one speculates. The 'bet' is quick and the 'returns or loss' are fast. Stock punters normally don't care whatever a company does for business (or still in business?) so long as its stock volume is huge and the price swings are there, buying and selling for potential quick profit is what they are after.

For investing, one have to study the company, read up on its past, its present and using available data, project its future...then buy, hold and wait... and the wait can last several years... no thrill, no fun to speak of. In short, its plain boring.

Its all about odds

If I define gamble as just a bet on an outcome one desires. Then all kinds of bets are merely subsets of gambling and the single factor that differentiates the groups is the odds. For investing, the odds are to the investor's advantage over the long run. For speculation, the odds are cleared staked against the punter.

For gambling at the casino, the odds are staked against the player and for stock speculation, the odds are staked against those with no insider info or those dependent on 'inaccurate tips'; but for investing, the odds of winning are higher the greater the margin of safety and a longer time horizon they are willing to wait, i.e. delayed gratification pays off.


Come to think of it, it is not only about the odds or what's right or what's wrong... but also knowing what one is doing. Its one thing when one knowingly gamble, but quite another when one confuse speculation with investing.