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Don't be overconfident when it comes to investing




Overconfidence is a very serious problem, but you probably don’t think it affects you. That’s the tricky thing with overconfidence: the people who are most overconfident are the ones least likely to recognize it. We tend to think of it as someone else’s problem.

When it comes to investing, however, we all have a problem.

As we become more and more confident we become willing to take on more and more risk. Why? We start seeing risky behavior as, well, less risky. But the reality is that as the level of overconfidence increases, the cost of our mistakes increase as well.

The classic example is Long Term Capital Management. A hedge fund run by extremely smart people (Nobel Prize winners in fact) ended up losing $3 billion in 1998 and was bailed out by a group led by the New York Fed. The geniuses at Long Term were positive that the most they could ever lose in a single day was $35 million, and then on Aug. 21 they lost $553 million.

Consider more recent events. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve for 19 years, could do no wrong, and his overconfidence was supported by four presidents. Mr. Greenspan’s faith in his models contributed (some say it caused) the worst market crash since the Great Depression. In October 2008, Mr. Greenspan admitted to Congress that he was “shocked” when the model he had used confidently for over 40 years turned out to be “flawed.”

obviously very sian
Or Temasek Holdings, who reported a lost of S$40 billion, during the quarter ending Mar 09.  A building full of scholars could possibly do no wrong right?

This is a big issue. It affects Nobel Prize winners, Fed chairmen, scholars and individual investors as we make allocation decisions in our CPF Investment Schemes.

But we can do something about it. We need to recognize that we’re not as smart as we think we are. In fact, the smartest investors (and frankly the smartest financial advisers) are the ones that acknowledge that they’re vulnerable.

The smartest people in the world aren't those who know the most; but those who know what they don't know.

So the next time you’re about to make an investment decision because you’re sure you’re right, take the time to have what I call the Overconfidence Conversation. Find a friend, spouse, partner or financial planner you trust and walk them through your answers to the following questions:

1) If I make this change and I am right, what impact will it have on my life?


2) What impact will it have if I’m wrong?

Considering the consequences of being wrong might lead you to make more careful decisions and to a greater appreciation of the enormous potential costs.

Singapore University and Polytechnic Costs

Below shows the chart of tertiary education in Singapore.  Looking at the data, I am surprised of some of the difference, mainly SMU and Temasek.  SMU's fees are slightly steeper but I guess that's the price of having a campus right in the middle of the CBD.  But I have no idea why Temasek Poly is cheaper, considering Republic Poly is the newer, less established poly.

- The costs are projected to increase at the rate of 5% per annum.
- The fees are calculated based on the average fees for the Lab and Non-Lab based courses.
- This document is  based on data provided by Jinisis. It is intended for information purpose only and does not constitute financial advice or recommendation.
- Information is accurate at time of production on 18 January 2010.