The past 2 years have been madness. I believe you saw how COVID-19 took the world by storm. Your company might have been left paralyzed, our governments scrambled and ordinary people that you know became separated from their loved ones.
Just as we think that things are becoming more stable, Omicron emerged. When will this ever end?
First thing first, for readers following Wealthdojo, I would like to thank you for all the support you have given by sharing my articles. It is really a pleasure.
As you know, it is a yearly tradition to write a reflection of the year so that we don’t miss the lessons we learnt (Read More: 2019 Reflection. 2020 Reflection). In this annual 2021’s reflection, I have a new epiphany.
What if things never really ends and these will continue forever?
History In Context
In the last 100 years, things were crazy. If you travel through time to the 1900s and tell someone that you can find all the information in the world in a 6 inch metal piece (smartphone), they will think that you are crazy.
Do you know what else is crazy? Imagine all of these happening just in the last 100 years.
- 1.3 million Americans died while fighting nine major wars.
- Four U.S. presidents were assassinated.
- 675,000 Americans died in a single year from a flu pandemic (This wasn’t even COVID 19. 777,000 and counting died because of COVID-19)
- 30 separate natural disasters killed at least 400 Americans each
- 33 recessions lasted a cumulative 48 years.
- The stock market fell more than 10% from a recent high at least 97 times.
- Stocks lost a third of their value at least 12 times.
- Annual inflation exceeded 7% in 20 separate years.
Every single time when we thought things are crazy, we bounced back as a human race to be where we are now. I believe things will be crazier from now on. (Maybe the Metaverse isn’t that crazy after all. More on the Metaverse in the points below.)
The Crazy Things That Happened in 2021
Let’s start with my pet peeve. Over 35% of all the American dollars ever printed by the U.S. government has been printed in 2020! These American dollars are given out for people like shopping vouchers. I cannot imagine how inflation will be like in the near future. This has raised food prices and (unintended so they say) impacted countries like Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen where people are rioting in the streets for having nothing to eat.
We also saw terrible companies’ stock soar insanely high. Companies such as Gamestop (GME), AMC saw great gains. The worse part of it all is that I see speculators trying to rationalize those buys.
One of the biggest property developer in China, Evergrande is on the verge of collapse.
NFT are now sold for millions with the current record of $69 million. Did I mentioned cryptocurrency already? Anyway, here’s the NFT that was sold.
Investing in 2021 is like going to NTUC before PM Lee gives his speech. There will be lot of people buying, stocking up on toilet paper and cup noodles. There will be fair share of people taking photos or videos of situations. It is funny, exciting and everyone will have a story to tell.
Please enjoy my reflections as I reflect on the 2021.
No One Gives a Damn About Long Term Investing Anymore
If they are, they are probably very seasoned investors or part of a Long Term Investing community.
It is not easy being a self directed long term investor. We live in a world of instant gratification. If you want food, just hit the Grab App and you will get it in 30 minutes. If you want a dress, just hit the Shopee App and you will get it in 2 to 3 days. If our internet connection is down for 15 mins, we behave like the world is over. In a world where things comes so easily, the virtue of patience becomes very hard.
The stock market is one where we see unique individuals. Some people treat it as a place to buy high quality companies. Others might treat it like a platform to instantly change their lives by putting all their savings in one company/coin. I don’t think there is right or wrong to this. I just wonder if they do get their intended results.
Social media changed the stock market completely. 🚀🚀🚀. Everyday, we are going to the moon. HODL. 🚀🚀🚀. It almost makes investing looks like it is easy money until it is not. Corrections happen and people suddenly becomes a “long term investor” again. Well.. at least until the correction is over.
I find it so difficult to talk about investing now when their expectation is getting multi-baggers in the next few weeks. If it is not 100%, don’t even bother.
I wonder if people will be ever satisfied by buying and holding quality companies anymore. That being said, my own investment thesis is still investing and holding on to the quality companies in the long run.
Burn Outs Are Real
Do you remember holidays? Holidays are mostly overseas trips requiring you to pay buckets loads of money for you to take a photo over a scenic location. (Kinda look like this).
Jokes aside, I noticed the lack of holidays causing burns outs among my friends. Doctors, healthcare workers, teachers and people from all walks of lives are reported to have face anxiety, depression and burn outs in the pandemic. It is so hard to walk away from our work now and worse still, we can’t even go for a holiday.
I always thought that holidays were a temporary reset that we need in a driven society. There is always an email that you need to reply. There is always a whatsapp work group chat that you need to give attention to. You are constantly engaged. Although holidays are temporary relief much like Panadol, you might feel that at least it gives you the opportunity to disengage yourself from work and enjoy that moment.
*Important* If you find yourself constantly feeling helpless or trapped, having an increasing cynical outlook of life or lacking motivation, back pains, shoulder aches, gaining those extra pounds around your belly, those might be signs that you are experiencing a burn out. You might need some help.
I’m not suggesting that I’m an expert to help with burn outs. Pandemic or not, I believe it is very important to take breaks or just a time to do nothing. I can tell you that it is not easy to do nothing. We have NOTHING in our culture that focuses on doing NOTHING. I grow up learning that I should not waste time and I was punished for wasting time.
Took me 5 years to learn that relaxing is not wasting time. This is so important that I’m going to bold and type this sentence again. RELAXING IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME.
Burn outs are real. Take breaks.
The Common Man Behaves Like Experts
Put a smart phone in the hands of ordinary man and they behave like experts. In my university days, I learnt about Bunning-Kruger Effect in Behavior Economics. Dunning-Kruger effect is generally reported as an irrational tendency among certain incompetent individuals systematically to overestimate their true level of competence.
An obvious example is ordinary man or woman becoming “experts” in vaccines overnight and being able to share certain theories. For companies like Moderna who aren’t even sure if their vaccines will work on the Omicron without new data, how can the common man be so sure?
I struggle with this a lot. It seems like everyone thinks there is a conspiracy theory everywhere and they are very convinced about their own theory. The trust in the government is tested regularly with every strain or every spike in COVID-19 cases. Though I feel annoyed when there are heighten restrictions on dining, I believe we are doing all we can to get through this.
Thinking deeply, I believe the struggle of this generation will be to find the right information. We have an overload of information and it is our duty to sleeve through all the noises. I see this in investment as well. There is probably someone you know who talks about Bitcoin and may be earning money if you know what you are doing.
For me, I placed high importance in finding places with right information.
Be Open Minded AND Keep your Eyes Open
I would like to finish off with this statement. I can’t help but feel that the world is constantly changing. Something that might have worked 5 years ago might be obsolete now.
Floppy discs, CDs, DVDs, MP3 players, the pager, overhead projectors, fax machine are just some technologies that once took the world by storm and are obsolete today. The world is changing and so should our minds.
Be open minded.
I’m currently learning about everything related to the Metaverse and recording them here. You can follow the page if you wish to be updated. I believe that this is an emerging trend and we are still early in the adoption of the technology.
It is also important to keep our eyes open. With the new shiny object in the room, there will be new scams, new rug pulls (I just learnt this term) and new ways to be cheated. Open your eyes and move. There is no guarantee that we will not be hurt but it is important to keep moving.
This is probably my last article for the year. Wishing all of you good health and may fortune favor the brave.
What about your reflections in 2021? Let me know in the comment below.
Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.
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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.