Monthly Archives: December 2015

Precarity or fecundity?

The title of this post suggests some apposite thoughts on the world but, as will become obvious later, this post is far from that. 2015 has been a good year for me professionally, if very busy at times. Investment wise, it’s been a “so what” year with valuations roughly where they were 12 months ago, although the strong dollar and pound have helped a slightly down year in local currencies for some fund positions. Markets enter 2016 in a state of uncertainty. Still, I can’t complain even though an early retirement due to my investing genius is as implausible as ever!

I did not get as much time as I had hoped this year for blogging with an average of just below 3 posts per month compared to 5 in 2014. Besides work, I did manage to spend some time this year reading a few books (I posted on Wolf’s book here and Mason’s book here). In fact, I am currently enjoying reacquainting myself with many of the words of wisdom of Charlie Munger in Tren Griffin’s book “Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor”. Munger’s views on continuous learning and being worldly wise can never be said often enough. This time around, Munger’s words on needing to test one’s thought process against multiple models to avoid torturing truth into a perceived reality have helped me in a number of cases recently. It has a Monty Pyton feel to it, but the internet is full of examples of the multiple models Munger may be referring to, although he rightly declines to give us the handbook for wisdom (now there’s a best seller!). This article from Griffin is one example.

Another pearl from the Sage is on what a waste of energy envy is. Munger says that “envy is a really stupid sin because it’s the only one you could never possibly have any fun at”. Now, that’s a motto for 2016!

Another book that I am hoping to read over the holidays is “Superforecasting” by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner which has been getting rave reviews. Tetlock’s previous work, such as that on foxes (know a little about a lot) and hedgehogs (know a lot about very little), has always been engaging.

One of my reading habits is to note down words which I am unsure of and then try and use them in the future. That explains the title of this post! A list of some of these words is below (and I may just spend my free time over the next few weeks trying to come up with some clever sentences to use them in for posts next year!!!).

  • Apposite: apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.
  • Sundered: split apart.
  • Vainglorious: vain, excessively boastful, swelled pride.
  • Progeny: a descendant or the descendants of a person, animal, or plant.
  • Insuperable: impossible to overcome.
  • Insouciant: showing a casual lack of concern.
  • Fecund: producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth.
  • Hysteresis: the phenomenon in which the value of a physical property lags behind changes in the effect causing it.
  • Dissonance: lack of agreement or harmony between people or things.
  • Propitious: giving or indicating a good chance of success.
  • Strictures: a restriction on a person or activity.
  • Parsimonious: very unwilling to spend money or use resources.
  • Higgling: to bargain in a petty way.
  • Sublation: assimilate a smaller entity into a larger one.
  • Impermanence: not permanent or enduring; transitory.
  • Precarity: a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material and/or psychological welfare.
  • Dialectial: relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions; concerned with or acting through opposing forces.
  • Confected: make (something elaborate or dainty) from various elements.

I did warn at the beginning of this post on its content…..

I really just wanted to wish all readers a great holiday and to thank you for your time and support this year.

Happy Christmas.

Obstinate OpRisk

Insurers and banks are currently grappling with how best to model operational risk. Many firms struggle to come up with sensible figures that can past any proper validation criteria when faced with issues like limited applicable data, correlation with other risks, aggregation challenges, and the impact of prospective operational risks from the use of new technology.

McKinsey have an interesting article out suggesting a structured approach to the issue. The graphic below illustrates their approach.

click to enlargeMcKinsey Operational Risk Exhibit

No one approach is ideal or applicable to all. Notwithstanding this, financial firms all too often focus on justifying a low operational charge to regulators in their capital modelling rather than ensuring that their approach can be embedded into their control framework as a practical risk management tool for management and employees to use in being continually vigilant of operational risks whilst offering tangible incentives to mitigate risk which are, by their nature, unanticipated.