Thursday, April 9, 2009

Yet Another Ponzi


I don't know why so many finance managers are dealing with Ponzi schemes. I just read another one on paper today. This time it's Shawn R. Merriman.

I mean, get real. How can people who are supposedly know their numbers expect to keep doing it and not have the scheme collapse eventually? There's only so much money in the world and you can't get them forever. Doing a ponzi scheme with the intention of staying is extremely foolish. These are the kind of people in charge of millions of dollars!?

If we're talking about financial market, those analysts have been losing money all the time, while drawing a big fat salary for themselves. It has been a big scam all along. I forgot where I read this, but apparently, some analysts published a paper on how the market is inherently positive, so when you bet big, you win big. That works until the market collapsed, then you lose big. Of course, that's how it supposed to work.

The problem is, they never worked on an exit strategy. That's a big mistake. There comes a time when market is confused, and you have to stay away from it for a while. I stayed away from stock market until I heard the Dow hit 6000. So far, I'm holding for the long haul. Market is good and cheap right now, but that stops to be above 8000. Obviously, the closer you get to 6000, the better. The point is, there is a limit both on the low end and the high scale. "Balanced" is cliche, but it is truism you should follow.

Even though I believe in GM's recovery. I refused to invest more when it gets below $2. Too risky. We'll see whether or not GM will recover in 2 months. For now, do nothing.

I also constantly remember why I manage my own investing. I used to have 401(k) investment. That went to zero when dot com melted down. The question I asked was: "How can it goes to zero? The market, although down severely, didn't go to zero!" Obviously, he "balanced" my portfolio by selling safe investments and put it into risky ones, such that I keep losing money on the deal.

I resolve to manage my own money from then on. "When it comes to losing 100% of my money, I can do it myself. If I make a mistake, then I get hurt, and learn from it. When these scammers make a mistake, other people get hurt, they seek new victims, yet never bothered to correct their mistakes."

It has been a hard approach, but on the whole, I've been doing quite well. I lost $8 on my short term investments for last year, that's due to 1 big mistiming on a good stock. My fault. I got emotional, and ignored 3 warning signs. Never again.

As far as long term investments, that will have to wait until October.

So, back to this Ponzi scheme. Why would anyone be engaged in this illegal tactics when they can easily make good money doing bad trades legally? Greed answers only part of it. Stupidity is really a major part of it. These people studied numbers? I find that hard to believe. I think these people studied politics and excusology (good at making excuses, and deflecting and/or ignoring hard questions). If only people would learn how to spot these people better.

So the business plan goes like this: Fool people out of their life savings, live extravagantly for a few years, and apologize, go to jail and receive free food, board, health benefits for 20-30 years. That, folks, is what is wrong with this. The bad guy got more than the victims, which after their life savings is exhausted, most likely will end up starving out there on the street.

Someone said that it's not that the analysts can't calculate things, but that they won't. I agree with that. Even with my limited exposure to investing, I'm doing well. Warren Buffett lost 2/3 of his wealth. I only lost 1/3. Of course, Mr. Buffett has billions, and you just can't move that much money to cash all of a sudden. And I think, that smart as he is, he would be able to get it all back when the market picks up again in a couple of years.

When things get tough, be tougher! Don't cheat!

Oh, one more thing: Shawn Merriman is a Bishop for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint. (The Denver Post, Thursday, April 9, 2009, "Financial Fiction.")

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