John Paulson You Only Need to Win Once

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Luck is not always going to support us if we do not have the proper skill to make appropriate decisions. If we won by help of luck but make the wrong decisions thereafter then we end up with the losing a game. And for making an appropriate decision, we need to work on developing our skills. If we get success by using a stroke of luck then we cannot say that failure will not come to our way. Actually, success and failure is a cycle so that if we meet success then failure will come to meet us next. By developing a skill, we can reduce the intensity of the failure.

John Paulson has started a hedge fund company with $2 million of own fund in the year 1994. His firm is specialized into the merger arbitrage. But during the year 2005, one of his analyst Mr. Paolo Pellegrini suggested him that US housing market is into the bubble territory. And after reviewing facts presented by Mr. Paolo Pellegrini, Mr. Paulson convinced to go against the housing price. He started acquiring credit default swaps. As he got a confirmation for his idea, he has started acquiring more swaps. The largest mortgage guys of the country were positive on the sub-prime during the year 2005. But outside of his team called him a crazy. He has earned during a fall of subprime in the year 2007 worth of $15 billion for the fund and $4 billion for personal.

After the big success, he started searching for a similar big winning idea. When we get a huge success then we need to save ourselves from the trap of ego. This is a very crucial emotional bias which enters to us and we remain unknowable about it.

Mr. Paulson has an idea to buy more valuable asset compared to inflation during the year 2010. So that he bought gold and gold-related investment worth of $5 billion, he became the largest owner of gold in the world. He could not able to repeat his past success and lost 30%+ value in a year and after that, he lost value for consecutive three years. Mr. Paulson other funds also lost in value and also merger fund where he has an expertise that also falls.

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We cannot able to hit winning shot every-time but when we hit a winning shot, we need to keep those value which we received. But generally, we try to repeat those winning shot again and again which create destruction of wealth for us. I learn from my Guru – Mr. Neeraj Marathe Sir, from Howard Marks and Mr. Ben Graham, that protection of wealth must be our priority. Neeraj Sir always mentioned that if we focus on avoiding mistakes then we won half of the battle. So that we should focus on not to hit a winning shot but rather focus on not to lose money. If we survive into the game then we may have a chance to hit winning shot again. But if we do not survive into the game then there will not be any probability to hit a winning shot again. If we keep our focus on hitting a winning shot then we compromise with the capital protection which is an essential part of the game. And we should not forget it ever.

Read for more detail: Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments by Michael Batnick

BIBLIOPHILE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS

One of the books which have influenced me and my investment journey is “The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks”. This book teaches us the most important thing which we need to develop for becoming a wise investor.

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“The Most Important Thing” has many concepts which can help us to our investment journey. I have posted articles on the book. Now, I have compiled different articles into the one file for the ease of reading.

For, All in One Article click – BIBLIOPHILE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS

BIBLIOPHILE: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS “ADDING VALUE”

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If our target is to achieve returns similar to the market returns with the similar risk & reward scenario then it’s not a difficult task. We just need to buy an index fund. But if we want to add a value to our targeted returns, different risk & reward scenario then we require a superior investment skill, superior insights which we have seen in second level thinking.

For the understanding, what actually mean for skillful investors to add value, we need to understand Beta – portfolio’s relative sensitivity to market movements. And Alpha – ability to generate performance unrelated to the movement of the market (I.e. personal skills).

While we are active investors then we have a number of options available to us.

1) We can decide that whether to build aggressive or defensive portfolio compared to the index, such characteristics of the portfolio is for temporary situations or for permanent. If we build an aggressive portfolio then it will increase a systematic risk of the portfolio that is beta.

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2) We can make a decision to get deviate from the index. We may buy few index stocks and exclude others or add stocks which are not the part of the index. As such portfolio gets diverted from the index so that return of portfolio also get deviate from the index. But in a long-term, the return of investors with superior insights will cover index return and can able to add value in terms of risk-reward scenario.

If we are managing our portfolio actively then we require having a second level thinking skill. If we do not have such superior insights then it is advisable to go with a passive investment. We need to shift a portfolio from aggressive or defensive as per the surrounding situation and need to avoid a frequent trades with the belief of generating a higher returns.

Different active investors hold different portfolios, some of those portfolios perform better than others portfolio, and some of the portfolios perform well during some particular time period. In a longer-term, active investors with superior insights can able to generate an above average risk-adjusted return. Combination of all different active portfolio reflects market behavior but in fact, all of those portfolios having different features.

Aggressive investor’s portfolio can able to generate a higher returns compared index in a good time and lose more compared to the market in a bad time. This volatility is measured by beta.

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If the Investors who generate higher returns with risky portfolio compared to other investors who generate average returns with low-risk portfolio then always we need to put more emphasis on the risk-adjusted return. But we cannot quantify each and every risk involves the portfolio. So that we need to accept that investment skills having an existence though everyone does not possess it.

If we don’t have any investment skill then we can able to achieve index return by making an investment in the index fund. Some of the investor’s portfolio fluctuates more compared to benchmark and few of the investor’s portfolio moves near to benchmark returns and few others can able to control risk and fall less. We get a different result at the different market scenario but our core focus should be on controlling risk and able to generate a risk-adjusted return.

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In bad years, defensive investor’s lossless and in good years, aggressive investors make more money. So can we say that they are adding value? We cannot able to say anything about the value added by just seeing to the one-year performance of any investor. We can able to see the value added in a long term only.

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Mr.Buffett, Mr.Howard Marks have mentioned that they like to increase average in good years and fall less in bad years. This provides them an advantage to adding value over a longer period of time. Protecting ourselves against the worst period is essential compared to the beat into the good period.

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Read for more detail: The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks

BIBLIOPHILE: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS “APPRECIATING THE ROLE OF LUCK”

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While we involve into any of the investment decisions then those decisions are having dependencies on the future. As we know that future is uncertain and it is difficult to predict it. In such uncertain investment environments, luck plays an important role and we have to recognize the role of luck in our investment journey.

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When we get some result or looking at the result then we must have to think the role of randomness in that generated result.

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Many outcomes are visible to us but we have to think those outcomes with different viewpoints. If someone has made a risky & uncertain investment and he gets a good outcome from it. We can say that such outcome happens due to luck not due to skill. But people take such outcome as their skill, not consider a role of luck.

For example, baller throw ball towards stump for capturing a wicket of the batsman and that becomes the wrong throw and ball has touch boundary line then it is not a skill of batsman but the role of luck.

Many times, people get the return on investment by just being in the right place at a right time. Not due to their skill.

If someone has invested his fund during the year 2013 with just making a portfolio with random stocks then also that person generated a good return. Doubled your Money in Last 3 Years? Skill or Luck?

In short term, we can able to generate a good return and many a time achieved an abnormal return by just being in the right place at a right time. But what about the long-term result? How we can say that luck always keeps on favoring us.

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Generally, during a boom period, the person who takes a higher risk get highest returns. But that is not the reason to consider them as the best investors. Very few people appreciate the role of randomness or luck in the life or in investment journey.

Mr. Taleb has mentioned the list of things which are generally mistaken by us.

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We should understand that when things going right, luck looks like a skill and people misinterpret lucky investors as skillful investors. Many a time, we get an extremely good reward by chance and we make a mistake to consider such result as our skill.

That means batsman hit ball for six and that ball also declared “No ball” and batsman get free hit and he again hit another six on a free hit.

In short run, we can win and make good returns by an occurrence of chances but in a long run, our wise decision provides us a good reward.

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When we realize that investment outcomes get an influenced by the randomness then we can able to focus on every event with the different perspective. Otherwise, we just thought that such outcomes happen due to our skills only.

We have made a list of assumption for the occurrence of events but we also should focus on the occurrence of other different events; which we may not have assumed. It might be possible that sometimes all other events have collectively more probability to occurred compared to the single event on which we have put the huge focus. Such ignorance becomes dangerous for our financial health.

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Investing something like a mixture of both skills as well as luck. Investing is not a pure luck like a snake and ladder game or not a purely skilled by the game of chase.

While we play chase then we require a skill to protect ourselves from moves of an opponent’s. We cannot able to win chase just by waiting for the favor of luck and mistake made by an opponent. We have to create a scene where opponent commits a mistake and we can able to win a game.

Whereas, there is not a requirement of a skill in throwing a dice while playing a snake and ladder game.

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But we generally consider our winning as our skill while we should recognize that we are winning a snake and ladder just due to a support of a luck. While we should reach towards 100, we should not forget that there is a snake on 99 number which can bring us towards number 7. And transform our success into failure due to highly dependencies luck. Similar happens to us while we play an investment game on the base of pure luck. We may win till number 98 and maybe that our fortune transforms into failure by destruction in our wealth. We climb many ladders, get many multifold return generator stocks but we forget that such occurrence is due to luck. If we do not have our skill involve in it, then our wealth get destroy. We should not forget that investment requires a luck but also it requires a skill. If we fully dependence on the luck then we should never forget a snake on number 99.

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Read for more detail: The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks

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