Saturday, 12 April 2008

Exams and friends !!

There is one thing I have noticed about the whole period before exams.. that is when ideas to do something new and innovative pop-up, and for someone like me who has a concentration span of 40 mins, I certainly do know how that feels.

Sitting in the library I have made a lot of friends. Yes ! at the library. The concept of man being a social animal is well under-stood if at all you are normal when you try to lock yourself up for too long all alone.

There is a sort of pleasure in making friends and social networking web-sites like Facebook ( which i use ) helps keep in touch with friends. Going through my friends list I realised that I have come a long way. There are contacts on my list who were once strangers walking beside me, and now are good friends with whom I spend some quality time chatting on life and interesting issues.

As students meeting students from different parts of the university helps you get a broader picture on any topic you discuss. Be it a medical student talking about politics or an international development student talking about the various health issues facing a developing country.

In the end everything falls into place and you come out knowing more that you would have otherwise.

I am actually glad I chose to do this course. I have developed a circle of friends whom I would cherish and being a student rocks !!

hidden dreams !!

Just last week Ft had come out with a magazine called " how to spend it ! " -

" Wine is no different from a stock market portfolio. You have to keep it finely tuned to make sure it's working for you, whether it's for profit or pleasure. "

Observing how the wealthy people live their life can create quite a story in itself. Just like all other things they are different types of 'wealthy' people as well.

Having met quite a few myself, I can say I know a "little" bit about them. You have the one's who splurge it all and the ones who hardly spend.

Warren Buffet says there are two rules that he follows:
Rule Number 1: do not lose any of your share holder's money.
Rule number 2: Do not forget rule number 1.

His advice to young people : "Stay away from credit cards and invest in yourself and
Remember :-

A. Money doesn't create man but it is the man who created money.
B. Live your life as simple as you are.
C. Don't do what others say, just listen to them, but do what makes you feel good.
D. Don't go on brand name; just wear those things in which you feel comfortable.
E. Don't waste your money on unnecessary things; just spend on things that you really need.
F. After all it's your life, then why give others the chance to rule your life."

Now, as someone who has looked upto him for advice and how to go about everyday things without money getting into your head, I would say there is just one thing that would disagree with him, and thats on point E. If we were to spend on things we really only need then we would hardly spend & wouldn't have to work hard. What is really required can be sustained with little money.

I shop when I know I can afford it. There has always been an Epinephrine (adrenaline) rush when you buy something out of the money you have earned for yourself. Having started to work at an early age because daddy refused to support my 'necessities' as a teenager, I know how it feels to splurge.

Splurging someone else's money or living it off someone else, doesn't really help much unless you have helped that someone earn that money.

If at all you wanna make it big then you must experience meeting people who have it all and who have none at all. It's good to touch base with both the sides because in reality they both exist. One cannot survive without the other (reality of life).

Having seen the two sides I can say I am ready. Ready to live it up. Life happens only once, its your way or you take the highway. (well explaining that just incase that wasn't enough: either you make your own road, or take the road someone has already laid). Remember the bumpier the ride, the sweeter the final destination.

I have a dream, a dream that one day I can fine dine in the best places without forgetting my roots.

Sisters !!

Growing up we are always advised no matter how old you are. This specific message talks about certain things we young women take for granted..!! happy reading ..


A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.

"Don't forget your Sisters," she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass.

"They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters.

Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.

"Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women... your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too.

"You'll need other women. Women always do."

'What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought.

'Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world,

here is what I've learned:


Time passes.

Life happens.

Distance separates.

Children grow up.

Jobs come and go.

Love waxes and wanes.

Men don't do what they're supposed to do.

Hearts break.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favors.

Careers end.


Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you.
A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you.

Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I.

When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead.

Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Men's Rules

I recieve a lot of mails that contain messages that are suppose to convey something beyond what is mentioned.. its like you are supposed to read between the lines...

what can u tell me from this ?

These are our rules!

Please note.. these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports it's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:Subtle hints do not work!Strong hints do not work!Obvious hints do not work!Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something Or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colours, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A colour. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear. 1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as football or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Pass this to as many men as you can - to give them a laugh. Pass this to as many women as you can - to give them a bigger laugh.

Counter Attack:

Time for some male bashing..... (For a change)...

Q: What is the difference between men and puppies?
A: Puppies grow up.

Q: Why do men always have a stupid look on their faces?
A: Because they are...

Q: What do men have in common with ceramic tiles?
A: Fix them properly once and you can walk all over them forever.

Q: If you drop a man and a brick out of a plane, which one would hit the ground first?
A: Who cares?????.. ....

Q: What did God say after he created man?
A: I can do better than this! And then he created woman!!!.

Q: What's the difference between an intelligent man & a UFO ?
A: I don't know, I've never seen either.

Q: What are two reasons why men don't mind their own business?
A: i) no mind ii) no business

Q: Why did Moses wander in the desert for 40 years?
A:! Because even back then men wouldn't ask for directions .

Q: What is the difference between men and pigs?
A: Pigs don't turn into men when they drink...

Q: What makes men chase women they have no intention of marrying?
A: The same urge that makes dogs chase vehicles they have no intention of driving.

Q: What do you do with a man who thinks he's God's gift?
A: Exchange him!!

Q: Why do men like smart women?
A: Opposites attract.


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Hearing the last lecture !!

Coming to a masters degree far away in a different continent,away from home, away from friends, I thought i would loose touch with my family. I was strong when I got into the aircraft, I remember laughing and smiling my way throughout for the next 2 and a half months. Come december, I gave my first exam, din't do well at all. I certainly did complain a lot about the course no doubt, because I thought that the money I was spending was not worth it. But on the other hand, I am learning to survive by myself. I know now that I can cook and eat :).

The journey so far has brought me very close to my parents. I have seen a side of them that I had not experienced living under the same roof. Same goes for my brother. Vivid experiences on campus taught me that nothing in life was more valuable that family and friends. If it was money, I can certainly earn it back, but people I can't.

I have made a lot of good friends on campus, learnt a lot of different things and have certainly learnt the Finance lingo. Now I can follow FT or economic times.

My academic achievements have not been good, but I am not ashamed because at the end of the day I have developed skills that no exam or books can teach me.

My friend stumbled upon this lecture delivered by a dying professor to his students. It was also passed on to me by numerous people in the following days. Every experience is a teacher and the fact it kept coming back to me meant that I had to learn something from it.

His words brought tears in my eyes. God should forgive me for saying this, but we as human beings have to know that we are dying and won't be around too long to be able to have fun without feeling guilty about it. He is in his last few months and is determined to have fun everyday.

The irony is that we become strong and brave once we know that there isn't a lot of time left.

I dont know about the people around me, but I am certainly going to enjoy everytime I step out. Life passes us in a giffy. I can't believe I have come to the end of this course.

I wish to share the link to that lecture with you all:

There is also another video on youtube (yes as students on campus with no television ..this is what we do)

This was delivered by Steve Jobbs at the graduation ceremony for Stanford Students.

After hearing these two, I have decided not to have any regrets because life is too short to have regrets and to make sure I don't , I would have to avoid doing things that I would regret later.

Be hungry .. be foolish :)

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

God save ...Ameri*** !!

Staying in Britain and having quite a few American Friends this email caught my eye..

** Important, please read thoroughly!

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.
A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
(You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' with out skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').


3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let M*crosoft know on your behalf. The M*crosoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.


4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.


5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.


7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline)-roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.


10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred
to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.


11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors
to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience
akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body Armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.


13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.


15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).


16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Reading List

By Dresdner Kleinwort

Investing 101: a reading list One of the questions I am regularly asked is which books do I consider the bestinvestment reads. This is not an easy question to answer, particularly as if you omitsomeone’s personal favourite they tend to take it as a personal affront. So it is with sometrepidation that I humbly submit the below as among the key readings for investors. Ifyour favourite isn’t on my list then feel free to send me an email, I may even compile areaders favourites list as well. In order to give my choices a little structure I have created four categories of books and only allowed myself to select five books in each group, so there were many great booksthat just didn’t quite make my very restricted list


The first category is the timeless masters. The books in this group have lasted forgenerations, yet their wisdom seems often to go unheeded.

Security Analysis by Ben Graham and David Dodd I prefer the original 1934 edition of this book (available thanks to a recent reprint). Noother book covers such an immense array of investment knowledge. Whilst theaccounting standards may have altered, the very essence of investing can be foundwithin these pages. Some may prefer the easier (and more comfortable to hold) read thatis provided by Graham’s Intelligent Investor. Either or indeed both of these great booksshould be required reading for anyone serious about investing.

Chapter 12 of the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

Much of the General Theory will do little to help investors as it is concerned witheconomics. Keynes himself turned his back on trying to apply economics as an aid toinvesting as he put it “I can only say that I was the principal inventor of credit cycle investment... and I have not seen a single case of success having been made of it”.However, Chapter 12 is very different from the rest of the book; it contains a wealth ofunderstanding and analysis of the psychology and institutional constraints that bedevilinvestors as much today as they did when Keynes was writing in 1935. (For more on therelevance of both Graham and Keynes to the modern investment problem see Global Equity Strategy, 23 January 2007).

The Theory of Investment Value by John Burr Williams

A third book from the 1930s (anyone spot a pattern emerging here?). John Burr Williamspublished his book in 1938 – having written it as his PhD thesis. Williams went to Harvard to study for his doctorate. His supervisor was none other than Joseph Schumpeter, whosuggested that he looked at the question of intrinsic value of a stock. Williams actually published his book (backed in part by his own money) before he was awarded his PhD (asubject of much discussion at his viva). The book contains the essence of the discounted cash flow approach to valuation. Assuch it far predates the more widely cited Gordon papers (as in Gordon Growth Model).The book not only lays out the process and examples of DCF but also contains perhaps the first treatment of the industry lifecycle (Chapter VII). Williams opens The Theory of Investment Value with words that have been value investors’ creed ever since “Separateand distinct things not to be confused, as every thoughtful investor knows, are real worthand market price.”

Manias, Panics and Crashes by Charles Kindelberger

First published in 1978 this is almost a candidate for our modern section. But itsnumerous reprints and editions since 1978 suggest that it has earned a place amongst the classics. This book contains not only a history of most of the major bubbles infinancial markets, but also provides a framework for understanding their progress and ultimately their demise. As such it serves to remind us that although bubbles usually ariseon different assets, the pattern they follow is relatively consistent. We have often usedthe Minsky/Kindelberger paradigm when discussing the path of bubble unwinding (seeGlobal Equity Strategy, 18 July 2002 for example).

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre

Originally published in book form in 1923 (although published in Saturday Evening Postas articles prior to that), Reminiscences tells the barely fictionalised biography /autobiography of Jesse Livermore. Livermore battled with depression throughout his life;he finally lost the fight in 1932 when he took his own life.

Although a perennial favourite with traders, Reminiscences contains much advice thatinvestors would do well to remember, such as “Another lesson I learned early is that there is nothing new in Wall Street. There can’t be because speculation is as old as the hills. Whatever happens in the stock market today has happened before and will happenagain. I’ve never forgotten that.” Or “There is the plain fool, who does the wrong thing at all times everywhere, but there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all thetime. No man can always have adequate reasons for buying or selling stocks daily – orsufficient knowledge to make his play an intelligent play. I proved it.” And “The desire for constant action irrespective of underlying conditions is responsible for many losses in Wall Street even among the professionals, who feel that they must take home somemoney every day, as though they were working for regular wages.” But perhaps my favourite quotation is “A stock operator has to fight a lot of expensive enemies within himself.”


To qualify to be in this section the book must have been written within the last ten years,but have the potential to become a classic given time.

The little book that beats the market by Joel Greenblatt

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Joel Greenblatt’s book. Indeed we havetested Greenblatt’s formula in non-US markets and shown it is a powerful tool regardlessof the market under consideration (see Global Equity Strategy, 9 March 2006). In just 155pages Greenblatt produces a mass of evidence showing that following a quantitativevalue orientated approach to stock selection can produce exceptional performance. But the book is more than just a quantitative take on the value process; it also contains gems such as “You must understand only two basic concepts. First, buying good companies atbargain prices makes sense… Second, it can take Mr. Market several years to recognizea bargain.”

Even better than that, the book is written so that an 11 year old can understand it. But alot of professional investors could do far worse than peruse this slim volume.

The little book of value investing by Chris Browne

My second choice in the modern section is another book from the little book series. This one written by Chris Browne of Tweedy Browne – one of the greatest living embodimentsof value investing. The very essence of the value approach and all it entails (patience etc.) are explored here in 180 pages. The discussion on the margin of safety highlightsthe way in which value investors think about risk – a far cry from modern portfoliotheory’s beta concept. Browne also explores issues such as how to distinguish a valuetrap from a value opportunity. Can be read easily in an afternoon, but should berepeatedly studied by value investors as a check on their own behaviour.

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb

Taleb’s next book The Black Swan is due out shortly – I’ve had the luxury of reading a draft copy and thought it was every bit as insightful as Fooled by Randomness (althoughpersonally I miss the Nero Tulip stories). In Fooled Taleb highlights just how easy it is for us to fall victim to spotting patterns in the purely random. Every investor who has donewell in a given period should read this book as a reality check, before they start to believetheir own hype. Anyone who is vaguely interested in the role of luck, chance andrandomness will find Taleb’s book a source of much wisdom.

Contrarian Investment Strategies by David Dreman

One of my favourite books on investment. I only recently read Dreman’s book (since thenI have obtained and read his previous two books, and I gather a new book is due outlater this year). This tome is packed with deep insights into the nature of the investment problem, and practical investment strategies designed to avoid some of the behaviouralpitfalls that we all too often stumble into. Dreman is also an empirical sceptic, and offersup good statistical evidence to support his analysis – something that is far too rare in theworld of investment books. My own Seven Sins of Fund Management (November 2005)reaches many of the same conclusions as Dreman, albeit from a totally different perspective.

Speculative Contagion by Frank Martin

For my final selection in the modern category I wanted a book that represented aninvestor’s real time experience of dealing with the market. Several books could havefitted the bill; Cunningham’s edited version of Buffet’s letter was a front runner, as wasChancellor’s edited version of Marathon Asset Managements’ views (Capital Account).However, in the end I settled on Frank Martin’s Speculative Contagion. This book pulls together the annual reports that Martin had written to his clients throughout the bubbleand burst years. It is source of much investment insight. As regular readers will know Irecently used Martin’s trinity of risks as a basis of a better way of thinking about the nature of risk from an investment perspective (see Global Equity Strategy, 1 February2007). Martin’s book provides us with opportunity to see exactly how bad it feels to be onthe wrong side of a bubble, but also delivers insights into the discipline needed to stick tosensible investment process though thick and thin.


The books in this category are close to my heart. They are books on psychology. They aren’t concerned with investing per se. Instead they are all concerned with the way inwhich we think and make choices. Investing is all about making decisions and choices, and as such I think a good grip on psychology is vital for all investors’s hoping to conquertheir internal demons.

The Robots Rebellion by Keith Stanovich

The title sounds like a Sci-Fi novel. However, the robots are us. Dawkin’s selfish geneideas suggest we are effectively just a vehicle for the replication of genes. Stanovichargues that we may be the only species that have the ability to rebel against our genes.At the heart of his approach is a dual system theory of thought (system X vs. system Cfor regular readers). The X system is very much a product of genetics, the C system provides us with a way of over-riding our genetic predispositions. Stanovich explores how evolutionary psychology and the heuristics and biases literatures can be reconciled (an arena that I have tried to explore before). The book also covers how and where many ofthe major biases are likely to show up

Strangers to Ourselves by Tim Wilson

Freud introduced the concept of the unconscious (at least as it is known in the West).Sadly people seem to equate Freud with psychology. However, academic psychology has little to do with Freudian concepts thankfully. Tim Wilson’s book explores the modern concept of the unconscious (system X in many ways). He presents evidence showingthat our actions are often outside of our conscious control. He also points out that simpleintrospection is not the answer, as we are more than capable of lying to ourselves. A brilliant, if disconcerting book.

How we know what isn’t so by Thomas Gilovich

This book is one of the best introductions to error prone human reasoning that I haveever come across. Many of the biases that I have explored in the context of finance are to be found within the pages of this book. Gilovich covers such areas as ourmisperception of random events (hot-hands in basket ball), our habit of seeking out information that agrees with us (confirmatory bias), and issues surrounding group influence on decisions. Anyone interested in the pitfalls of human reasoning will find thisa treasure trove of analysis.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

This book is really a book about the folly of forecasting. However, rather than focusing on the failure of GDP forecasts or interest rate forecasts, Gilbert is more interested in our forecasts about what makes us happy. Gilbert is the leading expert in the field of affective(or emotional) forecasting. This book explores his research into why it is we don’t make decisions that would make us happy. Gilbert argues that someone else’s evaluation ofhow they feel in a given situation is a far better guide to how we will feel than our ownprediction. Not only is Gilbert’s subject fascinating, he is also an incredibly talented andfunny writer, not to mention an astute observer of human behaviour with a wicked sense of humour.

The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richard Heuer, Jnr

It isn’t often that the CIA is a good source of insight! However, this book pulls togetherRichard Heuer’s papers from 1978-1986 originally written for use within the CIA. Heneatly reviews the psychology literature as it relates to the processing of information, andits application to solving intelligence problems. The overlap between intelligence analysisand investment analysis is surprisingly high. Both deal with decision making in the face ofmarked uncertainty. Heuer’s book is an easy read that more than repays its reading. Thechapter on the analysis of competing hypotheses should be mandatory reading for all financial analysts! This book may be the best value book on this list – it is free todownload at

Hidden Gems

The books in this section are a hodgepodge of ideas and interesting reads, some arerare, some haven’t even been published yet, but all provide some powerful insights into the investment problem.

The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig

This book was recently suggested to me by a client (thank you Steve). It is an empirical sceptic’s delight and should be required for all of those involved in the analysis ofcompanies from the bottom-up. Rosenzweig takes much of what passes for analysis in the business world and shows it to be complete piffle. Too many books in the businessfield go along the lines of Company “X” did exceptionally well for the last Y years, now study what they did and learn to apply it to your business. Or CEO of Company X createda culture of excellence, read this book and you can be like him. Even the so-called data based books like ‘Good to Great’ or ‘In Search of Excellence’ arereally little more than stories masquerading as science. They are subject to the garbage in, garbage out critique, low quality data will result in low quality conclusions. My favourite section is on the halo effect – our habit of seeing one good trait and inferring lots of other good traits. It strikes me that analysts may often find themselves at the mercy of thiseffect - going and visiting a company, deciding they like the management and theninferring all sorts of desirable traits like future growth or cheapness.

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Regular readers may recall that I recently used Wansink’s work as an example of theuniversality of behavioural patterns (see Global Equity Strategy, 14 February 2007). Exactly the same behavioural errors and mental pitfalls are displayed in the realm of foodconsumption and the financial markets. For those looking for an entertaining example of the wide spread nature of error prone human decision making this book is excellent. Italso provides yet more evidence of the importance of codifying rules to help overcomeour behavioural biases.

The Inefficient Stock Market by Robert Haugen

A former academic, Bob Haugen now runs Haugen Custom Financial Systems. Histrilogy of books: The New Finance, The Inefficient Stock Market and the Beast on Wall Street are all excellent. But ‘Inefficient’ is my personal favourite. Haugen explores thefailures of classical finance with his tongue firmly in his cheek. He also extols the virtuesof multifactor quantitative models, and his web site has plenty of data to show that the outof sample performance of such models has been exemplary. This book neatly combinestheory and evidence – a top read.

Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman

Perhaps the best book on value I’ve read, although not the best value book I've read since copies appear to change hands at around £700-800! I was lucky enough to findsomeone with a copy of the book who was willing to let me borrow it (Thank youWhitney). Klarman’s discussions on the nature of value investing are priceless. AsKlarman puts it “Value simply the process of determining the valueunderlying a security and then buying it at a considerable discount from that value. It isreally that simple. The greatest challenge is maintaining the requisite patience anddiscipline to buy only when prices are attractive and to sell when they are not, avoiding the short-term performance frenzy that engulfs most market participants”.

I must confess to displaying strong confirmatory bias when reading Klarman’s work. Heargues that value investors should be absolute return focused, and that the margin ofsafety is all important and central to risk management. He also explores both thebehavioural biases and institutional constraints that prevent most investors from followinga value orientated strategy.

Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig

I recently returned from holiday to find Jason had very kindly sent me a pre-publicationcopy of this book. I started reading it almost immediately, and was smitten from theoutset. For those of you who don’t know him, Jason is a well respected writer on finance.He edited the latest version of Ben Graham’s Intelligent Investor. Given that I am a hugefan of Graham’s work I rarely think it can be improved. However, Jason managed thenear impossible, he added value to Graham’s great text.

In this new book, Jason explores neuroeconomics as it applies to investing (a topic Ihave touched on before, see Global Equity Strategy, 20 January 2005). The book is a pleasure to read – Jason’s writing style is second to none. For those (like me) who arefascinated by the underlying neurological correlates of decision making, this is a must read. It also hints at why we find it quite so difficult to change our behaviour, many of thebehavioural biases appear to be a hard wired function of brain architecture.

Fun with Numbers !!

I loved this as soon as I saw it..


Don't tell me your age; you probably would tell a falsehood anyway-but

your waiter may know!


This is pretty neat


It takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read .

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to

go out to eat.

(more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758...

If you haven't, add 1757.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number. (I.e., How many times
you want to go out to restaurants in a week.)

The next two numbers are

YOUR AGE ! ------ (Oh YES, it is!)



Comparing prices

Just like any other student, when I first landed in one of the expensive countries to pursue a masters degree, I converted every pound to the maximum charges I would have to pay in INR. Till after 6 months of being here, an interesting article caught my eye. Ever wondered how we as consumers react when there are price hikes in essential commodities like fuel or food.

Here is a quick look at some interesting calculations that a gentlemen with the urge to calm his temper worked on:

Diesel (regular) in Mumbai: Rs. 36.08 per litre

Petrol (regular unleaded) in Mumbai: Rs. 50.51 per litre

Coca Cola 330 ml can: Rs. 20 = Rs. 61 per litre

Dettol antiseptic 100 ml Rs. 20 = Rs. 200 per litre

Radiator coolant 500 ml Rs. 160 = Rs. 320 per litre

Pantene conditioner 400 ml Rs. 165 = Rs. 413 per litre

Medicinal mouthwash like Listerine 100 ml Rs. 45 = Rs. 450 per litre

Red Bull 150 ml can: Rs. 75 = Rs. 500 per litre

Corex cough syrup 100 ml Rs. 57 = Rs. 570 per litre

Evian water 500 ml Rs. 330 = Rs. 660 per litre!! Rs. 500 for a litre
of WATER???!!!

And the buyers don't even know the source (Evian spelled backwards is Naive.)

Kores whiteout 15 ml Rs. 15 = Rs. 1,000 per litre

Cup of coffee at any decent business hotel 150 ml Rs. 175 = Rs. 1,167 per litre

Old Spice after shave lotion 100 ml Rs. 175 = Rs. 1,750 per litre

Pure almond oil 25 ml Rs. 68 = Rs. 2,720 per litre

Surprising isn't it ? Well that is what i thought when i read the article and soon I found myself converting everything to a litre & comparing prices thereon.

Irony of life. Numbers answer all the questions !!