Saturday, April 21, 2018

I see it well enough

Godfried, you may say, why do you think that you know it all?  Why are the political left and its fanatical special interest groups wrong and why do you think individuality is so important? 

I know, I see the world from my not another person’s perspective. A lot of this blog is about my world view. And how I perceive where the world is going. Investing is very personal. In fact, as investors we allocate capital to where we think it does most good. As such, you cannot walk blindly through this world and unfortunately, you are exposed to print and electronic media that scream emotionally loaded content at you all day long.  It is though to step away from the hysteria of headlines – much more so today than 20 or 40 or 100 years ago. The dispersion of information through the internet is so fast and ‘loud’, with us on the receiving end not having a chance to fact check everything. There is a lot of ‘fake news’ to sort through without us receivers having much of a chance to decide what is true and what is a blatant lie. And we often react with our emotions rather than rationally. And even so, we are not all Commander Spock, while most of us can only dream of being Captain Kirk whose intuitions combined with Spock’s logic allways lead to a happy ending. With all this uncertainty, us humans tend to cling to dogmas – non-existing certainties. We need badly something to hold on to and… there is nothing but our inner self.

Neither investing, nor my other passion in life - geology, is all about logic and truth.  Yes, facts and objective data are important, but we never truly see the total picture.  It is much more about seeing ‘enough’ of the picture to be able to make a decision. And no-matter what our decision is, it is often wrong. Yet, there is usually enough time to review our decisions and correct or better adjust.  Our lives are not about absolutes. Things always change; our view points change. Having said that, there are days that I think that at heart, I still am that adolescent naïve boy from my later teenage years, who wrote agonizing comments in a diary full of newspaper clips and thoughts about the existence of ‘a God’.  I suspect my thinking has become more sophisticated and my life experience has taught me more about the uncertainty of things. There always seems to be another way of thinking about or of doing things. But the core of me hasn’t changed. Which is nice, because it keeps me young and always wondering.

Geology or investing or many of the other aspects in our lives is not about being absolutely right. It is not about knowing the absolute truth. There is no such thing. We just have to know what to do next and with enough optionality to change course if things do not work out. Strangely enough, this is not allowed for politicians or so it seems. Stephen Harper wrote about building a ‘Firewall around Alberta’ in 2000.  The Liberals were using that against Stephen Harper a decade later. Yet, as Prime Minister of Canada he looked out for the entire country and did not do much in terms of building such wall.

It is not about being absolutely correct. It is about having enough insight into an issue to reduce the odds of losing money or rather to advance and optimize our returns. All investors do is directing their investments to what they believe is most profitable for ourselves first and also to what is most beneficial for those around us.  By accumulating assets for whatever reason, we accumulate means to do what we feel is most important in our life and for everything around us.  We are little boy scouts trying to be ‘wise in the use of our resources’. Not only for today but hopefully for many years to come. If we are successful in our investments, we grow and can direct matters around us even more and if we make the wrong allocations then our influence on the world around us declines. It is not about knowing the absolute truth.  Live is one big, ever changing, uncertainty and we will do fine as long as we see matters well enough.

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