Great Things Happen All The Time
A collection of 99 feel good stories from 2020. The world is not as bad a place as the news makes it seems. The world keeps improving each and every day and life gets better.
How To Get Wealthy
My simple secret of getting rich that is available to all is – start early, spend less than you earn, and invest that surplus well for the long run.
Buffett’s Secret Is Time
Everything worthwhile in investing comes from compounding. Compounding is the whole secret sauce, the rocket fuel, that creates fortunes.
And compounding is just returns leveraged with time.
Earning a 20% return in one year is neat. Doing it for three years is cool. Earning 20% per year for 30 years creates something so extraordinary it’s hard to fathom. Time is the investing factor that separates, “Hey, nice work,” from “Wait, what? Are you serious?”
The time component of compounding is why 99% of Warren Buffett’s net worth came after his 50th birthday, and 97% came after he turned 65.
Yes, he’s a good investor.
But a lot of people are good investors.
Buffett’s secret is that he’s been a good investor for 80 years. His secret is time. Most investing secrets are.
$1 million invested in S&P 500 in 1942 has become $5.3 billion in 2019. A1% annual charge would have reduced the return to half; $2.65 billion. You might have been robbed of most of the returns if the charges are 2 and 20.
Wealth And Friendship
Wealthier people may prefer to socialise with people on similar incomes. Logistically, it’s easier, as they can afford to do the same things. “We like to be in tribes of people like us,” says Alex Holder, a journalist specialis-ing in money issues and the author of Open Up: Why Talking About Money Will Change Your Life. “There’s so much comfort in being in places with people who like the same clothes and read the same newspapers and eat in the same restaurants.” This is the case for James, who recently attend-ed a concert in Montreal. As the tickets cost £90, James didn’t bother in-viting his lower-earning friends – he knew they couldn’t afford it. “I don’t want to only hang out with people who earn the same as me,” James says, sounding guilty. “But it’s already happening.”
Dollar Cost Averaging During A Crises
The retirement contributions you make into the stock market during a market crash will invariably be the best purchases you ever make, espe-cially when you are still relatively young.
The beauty of dollar cost averaging is you don’t need to nail the bottom in order to succeed. Simply continuing to invest while stocks are far below where they were five weeks ago is much easier than trying to bottom tick the market.
The Best Asset Class For Most
Carl Richards once made the point that a house might be the best investment most people ever make. It’s not that housing provides great returns – it does not. It’s not even the leverage. It’s that people are more likely to buy a house and sit on it without interruption for years or decades than any other asset. It’s the one asset people give compounding a fighting chance to work.
Stated preference: we want leg room & airlines are cruel capitalists for not giving us more.
Revealed preference: we buy the absolute cheapest fare we find and will not pay $30 more for economy plus
Working From Home
Beyond lost creativity and companionship, the gravest threat to many companies from remote work is that it breaks the social bonds that are necessary to productive teamwork. Several years ago, Google conducted a research project on its most productive groups. The company found that the most important quality was“psychological safety”—a confidence that team members wouldn’t embarrass or punish individuals for speaking up.
Retirement Is Liberating – And Hard Work
“Almost everyone is just thrilled with the first days of retirement, and the big thing is: ‘I do not have to set my alarm,’ ” said Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile. Eventually, another thought dawns on a new retiree: “I don’t want to turn into one of those people who sits around in their jammies half the day. I need more of a routine.”
Threes A Crowd
Three Men Make a Tiger: People will believe anything if enough people tell them it’s true. It comes from a Chinese proverb that if one person tells you there’s a tiger roaming around your neighborhood, you can assume they’re lying. If two people tell you, you begin to wonder. If three say it’s true, you’re convinced there’s a tiger in your neighborhood and you panic.
Time Moves Slower When Dealing With New Experiences
March felt like it lasted longer than some years. February feels like a dif-ferent lifetime.
It’s not just you. Everyone I talk to feels the same.
There’s a well-known idea that time feels like it speeds up as you age. Summer break feels like an eternity when you’re nine years old but your 60s can skip by in a flash.
The leading theory for why this happens is that the perception of time re-lies on the number of memories formed in a period, and memories are en-coded from new and surprising experiences. The monotony of commuting to work on the same road for 20 years passes without leaving a mark. But every day is a memorable surprise to a child experiencing her first sum-mer camp, or learning how big the universe is for the first time.
Time slowed in March because for the first time since childhood many of us are being bombarded with new and surprising experiences.
The Move To Online
The death of physical communities and the rise of virtual communities will be one of the greatest accelerations this pandemic produces. Through it all, we must remember, however, that we are human beings, social ani-mals, physical animals, and physical animals cannot do away with inti-mate interaction. Governments must devise policy to combat the urge for citizens to isolate. The attractiveness of online environments is something we already find ourselves struggling with. The cognitive impacts of a soci-ety that’s extremely online are already well-documented.
Quarantine and Divorce
Although China publishes nationwide statistics on divorce only annually, media reports from various cities show uncouplings surged in March as husbands and wives began emerging from weeks of government-mandated lockdowns intended to stop the spread of the novel corona-virus. Incidents of domestic violence also multiplied. The trend may be an ominous warning for couples in the U.S. and elsewhere who are in the early stages of isolating at home: If absence makes the heart grow fond-er, the opposite might be true of too much time spent together in close quarters.
Video Conference Attire
Walmart EVP of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett tells @YahooFinance that amid coronavirus: “We are seeing increased sales in tops, but not bot-toms” because so many people are doing video conferences from home. and all that matters is the above the waist shot.
But what’s funnier about Roy’s friend’s problem (and it was a real problem because of Yelp reviews and angry customers) is that DoorDash priced the pizzas incorrectly. “A pizza that he charged $24 for was listed as $16 by Doordash,” emphasis Roy’s. And then: “My third thought: Cue the Wall Street trader in me…..ARBITRAGE!!!!”
And so the story unfolds. “If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clear-ly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You’d net a clean $8 profit per pizza [insert nerdy economics joke about there is such a thing as a free lunch],” wrote Roy. They order 10 pizzas this way, and it worked! The money was free, a seamless transfer from SoftBank’s deep venture capital-lined pockets to Roy’s friend’s business bank account. Eventually, in another series of what Roy hilariously calls “trades,” they just ordered pizza dough through DoorDash for $75 in pure profit.
The Shifting Business Landscape
“In the David-versus-Goliath battle between big and small businesses in America, COVID-19 is…a toxin for underdogs and a steroid for many gi-ants.”
Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200. All You need to do is sign up via this link – Freetrade, top up your account, could be as little as £1 and complete the w8-ben form on the app.
“Every day, we would see that the volume was 20% higher than the last day,” Mehta says. “In a matter of a couple of weeks, we were already ahead of our end-of-year goal. A week later, we were ahead of our 2021 goals, and a few days after that, we were ahead of our 2022 goals. And so, at a certain point, we stopped counting.”
Layoffs VS Lower Pay
I asked: Why do you lay so many people off rather than reducing pay? And his answer was – I should’ve made it the title of my book – ‘to get the misery out the door’,” Bewley said.
“It’s sort of obvious, and I kept hearing that same thing all over the place,” he said. “Your core – which you want to hang onto and cultivate – have them work full-time and keep their pay and be loyal to the company. And everybody else, you sacrifice.”
Quarantines Psychological Effects
A study of the 2003 SARS epidemic — localized though it was — found that “quarantined persons … exhibited a high prevalence of psychological distress,” with PTSD observed in almost 30 percent of cases. The longer someone was isolated, the greater their chance of developing PTSD grew.
There are two ways here: you get paid more or everything you buy is cheaper. And people always really underestimate, I think, the benefits of everything getting cheaper. And so the stuff that we actually build is get-ting cheaper all the time. And that’s fantastic. The stuff we don’t build, and very specifically, we don’t have housing, we’re not building schools, and we’re not building anything close to the health care system that we should have – for those things the prices just are skyrocketing. That’s where you get this zero sum politics.I think people have a very keen level of awareness. They can’t put it into formal economic terms but they have a keen awareness of the markers of a modern western lifestyle. It’s things like – I want to be able to own a house, I want to live in a nice neighbor-hood and I want to be able to send my kids to a really good school and I want to have really good health care.
The Move From Book Value To Cash Return On Invested Capital
In the 1930s and 1940s, the discount-to-hard-book-value strategy was dominant. After World War II and into the 1950s, the second major strat-egy that dominated finance was the dividend model. By the 1960s inves-tors exchanged stocks paying high dividends for companies expected to grow earnings. By the 1980s a fourth strategy took over. Investors began to favor cash-flow models over earnings models. Today it appears that a fifth strategy is emerging: cash return on invested capital.
From 1965 to 2002, Berkshire underperformed the S&P 500 in only four of those 38 years (roughly 10% of the time) and outperformed the S&P 500 by double digits in over half of the others (53% of the time). But in the 17 years since then from 2003 to 2019, Berkshire has underperformed the S&P 500 in eight years (47% of the time) and has outperformed by double digits on only four occasions (24% of the time).
Working From Home And Innovation
Innovation typically arises from the chance encounter of two people who normally don’t talk to each other like the annoying colleague who passes by your desk and wants to ask a question that just popped in his head. Or a conversation about seemingly irrelevant things like this article between colleagues that creates a spark of insight that leads to innovation. In a sense, what I am trying to do here with these posts is not only to take a step back and encourage people to take a broader view of the world, but to help people think outside the box and become more innovative. In an environment where everybody is working from home, these chance en-counters and blue-sky conversation simply don’t happen anymore and in-novation and productivity stalls
Minimize money worries.
Money has the potential to buy happiness. But if we spend recklessly and end up financially stressed, our efforts will likely backfire. Indeed, it seems that—if we pay ahead of time—we often enjoy experiences more, because we aren’t thinking about the cost. This notion also applies to re-tirement: Those with predictable income that covers much of their living costs, whether it’s from a pension, Social Security, immediate annuities or elsewhere, appear to have happier retirements.
Working from home will not become the norm
Working from home fosters silo thinking and tribalism. If we can connect to our co-workers and team members only through email, Zoom, and the telephone, it requires an active effort to en-gage with them. The result is that we tend to interact more closely with the people we tended to interact closely with before the pandemic (e.g. our immediate superiors and team members and the people we get along with really well). But we tend to interact less with people that we had less contact with before.
In a world of employees working from home a team slowly disintegrates into different groups and in the worst-case scenario, tribalism and office politics starts to kick in as colleagues are perceived less as team members and more as competitors.
Remote work has been pushed time and again for the last 20 years or so. Some people believe it hasn’t worked because the technology wasn’t developed enough, and video calls were too cumbersome. But I think, remote work hasn’t worked because humans are social animals. And we need physical contact with other human beings to build trust and cooperate with them.
The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free
But let us also notice something: the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Republic, New York, Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and the London Times all have paywalls. Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Wire, the Federalist, the Wash-ington Examiner, InfoWars: free!
Just before the crash of ’29, I heard a young man declaring that the bull market still had a long upswing ahead because increased use of machin-ery enabled manufacturers to produce goods so cheaply that they could find markets among groups of people who formerly could not afford to buy. Later, after three years of declining stock prices, this same young man expressed his strong belief that the bear market still had a long way to go — all on account of the mechanical age in which we find ourselves… He pointed out that, because of machine production, a great mass of peo-ple, no longer needed in industry, have lost their buying power, with con-sequent reduction of business activity. He used the same facts to prove diametrically opposite opinions.
Investors Drifting towards Name They Know
This explosion in new accounts, coupled with existing trends towards pas-sive management / quant funds, has started to change market micro-structure, flow of funds, and likely led to distortions of valuations vs. his-torical precedents. The combination of the above factors has led to a sig-nificant inflow of capital into names that “people know” which include global brands / companies such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Nike, and yes even Tesla.
In our recent piece Emerging Market FinTech, we highlighted Brokerage Functionality as a key area of interest for us. We pointed to companies such as Flink in Mexico, Toro in Brazil, Bamboo in Nigeria, and more re-cently GoTrade (formerly TradeID) in SE Asia, while noting global players such as eToro. As international market participants open up access to US equities they immediately gravitate to these same names that they “know” such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and still yes, Tesla.
“For Cortright, one of the keys to the retail trading bonanza is the prolif-eration of more than 2.5 billion smartphones around the globe. That, combined with the rise of electronic markets and growing wealth in emerging economies, means an even bigger wave of retail trading could be building up. As digital wallets like INDmoney in India or Australian bro-kerage app Stake become popular, Cortright thinks “globalized investing” is taking root.
The US stock market will benefit from this overseas investment money. American brands are well known around the world, and the US equity market is the deepest and most liquid in the world. Cortright said his company is adding around 100,000 new brokerage accounts each week, and about 45% of those are outside the US.
Intelligence And Logic
To solve logic-proof problems requires intelligent, logical people to admit the possibility they might be wrong about something, but these people’s minds are often most resistant to change – perhaps because their status is deeply entwined with their capacity for reason. Highly educated people don’t merely use logic; it is part of their identity. When I told one econo-mist that you can often increase the sales of a product by increasing its price, the reaction was one not of curiosity, but of anger.
What People Want
People don’t buy products, they buy transformations.
From overweight to fit.
From dumb to smart.
From incompetent to competent.
From poor to wealthy.
From timid to confident.
Figure out what you’re transforming.
UK Household Savings During Lockdown
We’ve never seen households retrench as much as they did during the second quarter – not since comparable records began.
The UK household savings ratio has shot up from about 5% to 30%
Adding two paragraphs of text & nice pictures to randomly selected arti-cles about small European cities led to an over 9% increase in hotel stays.
Marry Well and Don’t Hassle Your Kids: If you do this, nothing else matters. You’ll be miserable 99% of the time, no matter how much money you have. Divorce is one of the biggest wealth destroyers on the planet. As far as kids go, they hate lectures and nagging. Pick your battles, and your chances of emerging victorious will skyrocket. Constantly pressuring your kids to be something they’re not is a fatal error.
Nearly one in ten (8%) UK adults said saving money on commuting during the COVID-19 lockdown makes them happy.
Those in Sheffield are happiest scrapping their commute, avoiding a cost of £89³ per month on travelling to and from the office. Over the average career length (47-years), people in Sheffield can expect to have spent a whopping £50,196 on their daily commute.
Despite Londoners spending the most on commuting a month, an average of £397, less than one in ten (8%) said that saving money on commuting and socialising brought them happiness during lockdown. However, 17% of city dwellers have been able to pay back debt using the money they’ve saved and a whopping 67% have also been able to add to their savings pots. Over a 47-year career, Londoners can expect to have spent a stag-gering £223,906 on commuting, more than any other city.
It’s quite difficult to produce what Google calls a moonshot, a 10X effect in the physical world, because increasingly, we’re running up against the limits of physics in terms of how fast a train can travel, how fast a plane can go. All those things, we’re running up against the limit to either of the physics of air resistance, or indeed passenger safety, because it’s worth remembering that if you have a crash on a 500-mile-an-hour train, that’s 250 people dead. So you’re running up against these fundamental limits.
It’s much, much easier I would argue, and indeed, it’s something you should try first, to achieve a 10X in psychology. And I’d argue that Uber, for instance, is an example of a 10X in psychology because it doesn’t re-duce the weight by a factor of 10, it reduces the degree of uncertainty by a factor of about 25.
Apples Search Engine
Apple now receives an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion in annual pay-ments — up from$1 billion a year in 2014 — in exchange for building Google’s search engine into its products. It is probably the single biggest payment that Google makes to anyone and accounts for 14 to 21 percent of Apple’s annual profits.
Bureaucracy Of The Big Firm
Sears’s widely trusted appliance brand, Kenmore, was divided between the appliance division and the branding division. The former had to pay fees to the latter for any transaction. But selling non-Sears-branded ap-pliances was more profitable to the appliances division, so they began to offer more prominent in-store placement to rivals of Kenmore products, undermining overall profitability.
The concept of being a time billionaire is truly profound.
“When I see 20-year-olds – the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billion-aires.”
Facts vs Feelings
During the seventeenth century, Davies argued, intellectuals hit upon the idea that feelings were deceitful, an impediment to peace. Facts, in con-trast, bind people. They give those with nothing in common something to agree upon; they let us reach a consensus in our understanding of the world. Experts, wielders of facts, are, in a very real sense, peace-keepers.
Davies argued that, though nationalists have always sought to mobilise our emotions, we are suffering through an era in which the value of facts has uniquely declined.
The human vision system involves time-shifting: your brain is fooled into thinking it has seen something before it happened. That’s why, when you glance at a second hand, it seems to take longer than a second to move.
Male Trees And Hayfever
Most cities plant only male trees because it’s expensive to clear up the fruit that falls from female trees. Male trees release pollen, and that’s one of the reasons your hay fever is getting worse.
Money may change everything, as Cyndi Lauper sang. But lack of money definitely ruins everything. Financial impotence casts a pall of misery. It keeps you up at night and makes you not want to get up in the morning. It forces you to recede from the world. It eats at your sense of self-worth, your confidence, your energy, and, worst of all, your hope. It is ruinous to relationships, turning spouses against each other in tirades of calumny and recrimination, and even children against parents.
Work Life Balance
Labor and leisure were delineated by physical space. If you were situated within the four walls of your factory or office, it was time to work. If you found yourself within the four walls of your home, it was time to relax. The mind was able to shift gears based on obvious environmental cues, and this delineation created some form of segmentation in one’s work and leisure life.
To say that things have changed would be the understatement of the year.
We are now living amidst the omnipresence of work. Even if we aren’t sit-ting down working, we are prone to continue thinking about it since the physical environment no longer reminds us to shift our mind state. In ad-dition, the always-on nature of our tools means that we are perpetually reachable, as our phones contain the inboxes and schedules of both our personal and professional lives. The question “are you available?” is not really an inquiry about one’s availability, but more so about whether or not one feels like taking that call.
The next time you hear Sir David Attenborough say: ‘Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is ei-ther a madman or an economist’, ask him this: ‘But what if economic growth means using less stuff, not more?’ For example, a normal drink can today contains 13 grams of aluminium, much of it recycled. In 1959, it contained 85 grams. Substituting the former for the latter is a contribu-tion to economic growth, but it reduces the resources consumed per drink.
As for Britain, our consumption of ‘stuff’ probably peaked around the turn of the century — an achievement that has gone almost entirely unnoticed. But the evidence is there. In 2011 Chris Goodall, an investor in electric vehicles, published research showing that the UK was now using not just relatively less ‘stuff’ every year, but absolutely less. Events have since vindicated his thesis. The quantity of all resources consumed per person in Britain (domestic extraction of biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, plus imports minus exports) fell by a third between 2000 and 2017, from 12.5 tonnes to 8.5 tonnes. That’s a faster decline than the increase in the number of people, so it means fewer resources consumed overall.