Stupid or victim?

Very interesting article regarding how Deutsche Bank is being positioned as a victim rather than one who committed a mistake:

Deutsche Bank’s Troubles Touch a Nationalist Nerve

The following line is especially interesting:

“Instead of parceling some of the blame on Deutsche’s management, many Germans are circling the nationalist wagons. The idea that Deutsche Bank is in large part a victim feeds into an increasingly popular narrative that Germany’s traditions, standards and institutions are under threat from outside.”

Read that in line with the point we made in the book:

After every crisis, there is a post-mortem process. We all want to know whom to blame for our miseries. Hence, after every market crash, a committee is set up to investigate the reasons for the crash. No committee has ever come up with the conclusion that the rise itself was the reason behind the crash.

Even the governments and the regulators are not left behind in this finger-pointing exercise.

There seems to be a deep psychological reason behind such thinking.

And the need to lay the blame on someone else.

Failure is a part of life for those who try. It is unavoidable and in many cases, even when one has made the efforts to win, victory eludes one and failure stares one in the eye. It is not easy to embrace this situation for most. In almost all such cases, when you do not get the desired results and the enemy is not visible (market forces in this case), one is considered either a fool who got to the situation on account of some stupid decisions and actions; or a victim of the circumstances.

It is better to be known as a victim rather than a fool. A fool would get ridicule; whereas a victim would get sympathy – the latter appears to be a better choice.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 254


Grexit – Brexit – Rexit – Investorexit

Last year, it was all about whether Greece would continue to remain a part of Eurozone. The event (or the speculation of the event), popularly known as Grexit caused a lot of anxiety in the financial markets the world over. Around this time last year, people started forgetting the same.

This year, we are struggling with another speculation – Brexit. Will Britain exit Eurozone?  While the decision is yet to be taken about the same, the markets are already nervous.

And while the world was debating about Brexit, we got a different exit, this time from a central banker. The Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Mr. Raghuram Rajan announced on Friday last week that he would go back to academia once his current term as Governor RBI gets over in September 2016.

We were very quick to coin the term for this exit – Rexit.

See the pattern – all these words sound so similar: Grexit – Brexit – Rexit. Our brains start to interpret such events as having similar outcomes. Read one of our blog posts on similar lines. Grouping the investment themes – a mental short cut. We love to take mental short cuts.

Biology says, the brain uses maximum energy and hence tries to conserve the same by taking short cuts.

Such short cuts invoke a fear and Grexit – BrexitRexit may trigger Investorexit from the markets.

Go back and read the blog we just referred to.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 186




The seeds of the crash are planted in times of the boom and vice versa

The proximate causes of these successive crisis are very different – emerging market debt problems, the new economy bubble, default on asset-backed securities, the political strains within Eurozone – yet the basic mechanism of all these crises is the same. They originate in some genuine change in the economic environment: the success of emerging economies, the development of the internet, innovation in financial instruments, the adoption of a common currency across Europe. Early spotters of these trends make profits. A herd mentality among traders attracts more and more people and money into the asset class concerned. Asset misplacing becomes acute, but prices are going up and traders are mostly making money.  …

… Yet reality cannot be deferred forever. the misplacing is corrected, leaving investors and institutions with large losses. Central banks and governments intervene, to protect the financial sector and to minimise the damage done to the non-financial economy. that cash and liquidity then provide the fuel for the next crisis in some different area of activity. successive crises have tended to be of increasing severity.

The above paragraphs have been taken from John Kay’s book “Other People’s Money – Masters of the Universe os Servants of the People”.

Different market cycles appear different, but there is a lot of similarity in each. I have written about the anatomy of a market cycle in the book “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget” that echoes the above words to a great extent. If you observe, the parallels are often staring you in the eye. However, very often, we choose to ignore the signals.

The seeds of the crash are planted in times of the boom and vice versa. As Lord Krishna tells Arjun in the Bhagvad Geeta

Bhagvad geeta 2-27

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 174

Is it really Greek and Latin? Or is it just a game of musical chairs?

“The adoption of a common currency by these countries in 1999 (Greece followed in 2001) led to convergence of interest rates across the continent. Traders no longer discriminated between the euro liabilities of different Eurozone governments, believing that not only currency risks but also the credit risks that had once distinguished well-managed European economies from those with unstable public finances had been eliminated. …

… By 2007, yields on Greek government bonds were barely higher than those on equivalent German bonds. Several states, including Greece, took advantage of what appeared to be inexhaustible supplies of credit at low rates. …

… As European banks struggled with the global financial crisis, the quality of their assets was viewed more sceptically. Credit risks were appraised much more carefully, and interest rate differentials across the Eurozone widened again. Greek bonds appeared less attractive, as interest rates rose and the refinancing of Greek credit became more difficult. The country effectively defaulted on its debts in 2011.”

This is an excerpt from the book “Other People’s Money – Masters of the universe or servants of the people” written by John Kay.

The Greece government was playing the game of musical chairs. As we wrote in the book, “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget”, liquidity was the music in this game. The only difference is when the music of liquidity stops, there are no chairs to be found.

Rolling the credit over and over again is a dangerous game. So long as the liquidity is abundantly available and at cheap rates, the game continues. A few victories in this game makes one believe that one is skillful. However, history is replete with examples of disasters when the music stops.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 165