Sunday, October 14, 2018

Thoughts #10: Correction or Capitulation?

Global markets fell c.6-10% last week. The US markets finally cratered after months of strength despite markets in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Europe correcting, led by the internet names that had done so well. The question is then whether this is just a correction or is this leading to capitulation?

Well, the markets seem to be saying this is just a correction for now. Stocks started recovering slightly on Friday (12 Oct) after the dramatic fall on Thursday. But we need a few more days this week to be sure. Valuations are always good gauges, with global PEs of global stock markets are at mid to high teens, we are not seeing over-valuation in the broad sense. Of course internet names had been expensive which is why they led the downfall. 

From peak to current share price:

JD.com -51%
Twitter -40%
Tencent -37%
Facebook -35%
Alibaba -29%
Baidu -28%
Netflix -19%
Google -13%
Amazon -12%
Microsoft -4%
Apple -3%

Besides the surge that led to over-valuation in the internet names, the big reason for this sell-off is the rise in bond yields. This had been raised before when US 10 year Treasury hit 3%  earlier in the year. Now that it seemed that 10 year bonds going above 3% had been more or less established, the theory is that earnings yield should also normalize? This means stocks have to fall.

Recall that we discussed how lower risk free rate (at 0-1%) would cause everything to go up, since investors require less and less yield to compensate themselves. That was why property globally went through the roof, why 20-25x PE stocks became normal and why art, wine, watches and other assets began to appreciate in value. Now if this trend of higher yields continue, then everything should reverse. This can be really scary. 


JCNC share price Year-To-Date (YTD)

But for now, this seemed to be a correction and not a capitulation. I am not suggesting we buy anything. These are tough times. Valuations are not cheap, there aren't too many interesting stocks to look at and other asset classes don't quite seem fit the bill as well. I would think that Tencent might be interesting. In local markets, I still prefer the old economy names. Jardine Cycle and Carriage have fallen to such low levels that it's dividend hit 4% and sum of its parts are adding to more than its whole.


However, every party must come to an end, we are into the tenth or eleventh year of markets rallying. This is a very tired bull market. At some point, something gives, we have to hope it is not like another Lehman type crisis. Because the next big crash could really mean the end of the global financial system. So far, there are no signs but we must be vigilant. Meanwhile, the music is playing and so we dance!

Huat ah!




Sunday, October 07, 2018

It's the Blue Ocean, not the Blue Whale Game!

I felt very compelled to write this post as I believe this would save lives. If readers here ever feel there is a need to repost this, tell someone about this, please do so asap. Our lives are very precious and there is never, I repeat, never a good reason to end it prematurely. We are connected to everyone (and all animals and all of nature) the day we are born. Every connection is very important. You are very important. More than you know it.

The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived. It is a highly intelligent animal and has been able to bounce back from the brink of extinction despite humans hunting them for food. Blue whales can sing and this fact was featured beautifully in Pixar's Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. Hitherto, it is not known why they sing but I would speculate that they sing because they are happy and they want to communicate their joy, just like we do. Blue whales sing a lot! They sing when they find food and they sing to impress other blue whales. As they are connected to Mother Earth as we are, blue whales' songs are heard by other blue whales and sailors and other sea animals. Blue whales then repeat the same nice tunes, resonating across the oceans.

The blue whale, one of the world's most amazing creatures

Hence it is beyond me that a suicidal game could be named after such an amazing creature. For the un-initiated, there is a dangerous, detrimental game called the Blue Whale Game that is being downloaded all over the world causing teenagers to commit suicide. The game starts innocuously by asking the gamers to do some simple tasks like listening to music or to write an online status, it then gets crazier and crazier until the last task - to commit suicide. The gamers are held ransom as the game hacks into their phones and the curators would threaten to wipe their phones or reveal embarrassing pictures or videos if the gamers do not complete the tasks.

Do not download this game.

Here's a sample list of the crazy tasks:
  • Listen to music the “curator” sends. 
  • Write a status online about being a whale.
  • Watch scary videos all day.
  • Draw a whale on a piece of paper Write “yes” on the person’s own leg if ready to be a whale. Otherwise, they should cut themselves multiple times. 
  • Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and watch a scary video (sent by the curator.) 
  • Make lengthwise cuts on the person’s own arm.  
  • Get up at 4:20 and go to the roof. 
  • Carve a whale on the person’s own hand.  
  • Sit down on a roof with legs dangling over the edge. 

Even if you have downloaded a game, there is always a choice to quit. So what if the phone get wiped. So what if some photos or videos are revealed online? It is not the end of the world. But suicide is, for the person. Nothing can be worse when life ends. Majority of people who tried to commit suicide actually regret at the last moment bcos deep down, they knew there is always another way out. Suicidal people tend to think that the pain ends with death.

However the pain doesn't end because we are all connected. The loved ones continue to bear the pain of the person who committed suicide. Suicide family survivors bear the pain and guilt of losing someone to suicide for the rest of their lives. They will forever ask why? Why didn't they manage to stop the person? Could they have done something better? Could they be more caring? It is a like a broken link in a web. Suicide doesn't solve anything. It amplifies the problem and passes it on. 

Broken web

It is said that 90% of all suicides are actually caused by depression. Depression is a serious sickness not unlike other major illnesses such as dementia, strokes, cancers and heart problems. It requires medication and treatment. However unlike most other illnesses, it is a sickness of the mind. Depressed people cannot snap out of sadness. The negative thoughts in the minds circle around over and over again. The thoughts lead them to conclude that the only choice to make in order to escape the pain is suicide. Hence medication and therapy is needed to overcome this highly dangerous sickness.

There's an analogy here with investing. In investing, it is always a multitude of choices. However most market participants are inclined to think in very limited scenarios. This is very rudimentary and is often proven wrong. For example, when TV first came out, people believed no one would ever listen to radio again. Sorry we still do, every day, in our cars. Today, it's about disruptions. If Amazon is going into groceries, then Walmart is going downhill. If Tesla grows big, all traditional automakers will be bankrupt. Sorry, wrong. The world is never so binary. Walmart is going strong and Costco is at all time high despite Amazon's onslaught and BMW is going from strength to strength. Look at its long term chart!

Tesla or not, BMW just powers on!

The investing world is always about creativity. This is because businesses are run by smart people who adapt and change, just like our ancestors for millions of years. Hence people who think in binary terms or have tunnel vision approach will always be constrained and their investing returns mediocre, very very mediocre. Ever heard stock critics talk about how this industry is gone because of that, how margins must be so and so, using deterministic language as if they know the future? That's tunnel vision and tunnel investing. We have to break away from that. 

The Blue Whale Game is the complete opposite of creativity and coolness. It locks people in, limiting choices, using threats and peer pressure to achieve its tunnel vision mindfuck. I have to emphasize again, do not download or play this game. It is even worse for people suffering from depression. Depressed patients need help to break away from the tunnel vision that lead them to only one outcome - suicide. This game exacerbates that. It does not help.

Depression requires doctor intervention. Often times, depressed people do not know why they are depressed. It's could be trigger by anything. They then get worried, unable to sleep, cry for no reason then seek to escape reality. They also have this perpetual feeling that they are worthless or helpless even though it's not true. Everyone has value. Even a business that has already bankrupted will always be able to buyers. Depression is a serious illness. Do seek professional help if you think you are suffering from depression.

Are you depressed? Seek professional help.

The world actually needs the other type of game, a Blue Ocean Game - a positive achieving game where anything becomes possible and we become the best that we can be, helping others and saving the world. We start with simple positive tasks but grow to complete a list of wonderful projects and then make the best deal ever - never ever commit suicide. Here's a list of tasks:

  • Look in the mirror, smile and say, "I love you."
  • Hug your mum, dad, partner, spouse, sister, brother, dog, cat, kids, any other loved ones and tell them you love them.
  • Wake up at 6 am, have a good breakfast and then go out watch your city/town/neighbourhood waking up.  
  • Say sorry for wrong things you have done someone by texting him or her. If you are up to it, ask them out and say sorry in person.
  • Forgive someone who had done wrong to you in the past, text him/her and tell him/her that if necessary.
  • Try to talk with at least 5 different unknown people about something for at least 5 minutes each.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes.
  • Eat no meat for a day.
  • Exercise daily for 10 days.
  • Say,"I can see, hear, feel better and I know that I am full of love and I will make this world a better place." x 1000.
  • Make this pact with someone or with yourself - you will never take your own life and you will help make this world a better place for all sentient beings.

By completing these tasks and making meaningful pacts, we can then understand that possibilities are as limitless as the Blue Ocean and the world is our oyster. We are only limited by our own barriers and the tunnel visions that we had imposed on ourselves. We have to regularly connect with positive-minded friends and with Mother Nature to move out of tunnels and into the light. That's when we free our minds and execute the blue ocean strategies to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.



Sunday, September 30, 2018

Chart #15: Singapore's Richest

Found this a few weeks back. Putting the source of wealth here for easy reference. 1) Far East (Property) 2) Facebook 3) Nippon Paint 4) CDL (Property) 5) Stanchart and Goodwood Park 6) UOB 7) Pontiac Land (Property) 8) Chandler Group (Investing) 9) Royal Group (Property) 10) Hotel 81


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Monster Monsanto & Other Risks!

This is a continuation of the previous post on Bayer / Monsanto.

In the last post, we postulated that Bayer is a buying opportunity because it is the world's largest player in crops and seeds which is growing at mid single digit and its stable cash cow businesses in pharmaceutical and consumer drugs would provide huge free cash flow to investors. At its low, Bayer traded at EUR 68 billion market cap while generating FCF of EUR 7-8bn. Salivating right?

Bayer / Monsanto's Biggest Risk

As promised, today we discuss Bayer's risks. Bayer didn't crash and burn for no reason. It lost EUR 20bn in market cap when Monsanto's cancer causing weedkiller news broke but it had also lost another EUR 20bn before that as the market caught whiff of the bad news. To summarize here, Bayer has three key risks:

1. Monsanto could face litigations amounting to USD 5bn in costs and lose more revenue in the years ahead for one of its biggest seller - Roundup.

2. Bayer's drugs going off patent would mean that the pharma business could lose EUR 10 billion in annual sales if it doesn't come up with new replacement drugs.

3. Bayer and Monsanto's matrimony is deemed a marriage made in hell. Environmentalists, farmers and some regulators hated the deal and it would face scrutiny on many fronts.

The biggest risk on most investors' mind is Monsanto's cancer causing weedkiller called Roundup. While most of us in sunny Singapore would never have heard of Roundup, this is the revolutionary weedkiller created some 40 years ago that farmers use to increase crop yield by selectively and successfully killing weeds. However, it was recently deemed as carcinogenic because some farmers died after years of handling and using Roundup on their crops. While this is sad and there might be some truth, it is also too late to turn back the clock. The world has been using Roundup for 40 years! Without Roundup, we would never produce enough food to feed 7 billion mouths. The solution is not suing Monsanto but to create better weedkillers, which is ironically also up to Monsanto.

Financially, the negatively impact has also been factored into the share price. Bayer's market cap collapse c.$20bn since the news broke. Analysts had estimated that the maximum litigation cost is c.$4bn which means that lost revenue should translate to c.$16bn. I believe this is factoring in losing close to a decade worth of sales in related products which could be the worst case scenario. In short, a $20bn drop in market cap had essentially fully factored in the bad news with regard to Roundup.

The second risk pertains to Bayer's own pharma business. It has two blockbuster drugs that will go off-patent between 2023-2025. Bayer would lose close to 30-35% of its pharma EBITDA or 30-40% of overall EBITDA. While it has 6-7 drugs in the pipeline, none of them looked promising enough to offset the decline from the two key drugs. So this means that the pharma business should see its value collapse by a similar margin i.e. 30-40%. Well, given the additional EUR 20bn drop in market cap before Monsanto's debacle, one would argue it already has. (The pharma business has 6bn EBITDA and using 10x EV/EBITDA multiple, it is worth c.60bn which means that a 20bn drop is a 33% decline.)

In short, the bad news with its pharma business is also factored in. So any incremental positive from here should be just pure upside. This brings us to the last point - Bayer and Monsanto is a marriage made in hell and global regulators would not give their blessings. The new entity would face more hurdles, litigations and what not in the future. We cannot put a number to this. Is it another 20bn market cap decline or more? Who knows? 

Bayer share price rebounding!

Investment is never about eliminating all the risks. It is about measuring the risk reward. Can Bayer fall another $20bn in market cap, bringing the stock to EUR 48bn market cap meaning it trades at a 15% FCF yield and a 6% dividend yield? At EUR 48bn it is worth less than what it paid for Monsanto and close to what ChemChina paid for Syngenta. Another Chinese SOE would just buy this up to help secure China's future food supply.

Well, the probability of Bayer dropping a lot more is not zero, but it is not high. Meanwhile, is it more likely that the market recognizes its synergies with the merger, or the market recognizes the value in its businesses and hence bidding it up back to a more reasonable historical 4-5% FCF yield. Or Roundup's litigation costs and lost revenue see better quantification which is much less than 20bn? It is hard to say, it might take some time ie 2-3 years. This is real investing, no one knows. We measure the probabilities and bet accordingly. 

The catalyst might come when the current Chairman and CEO Werner Baumann moves on which again might take 2-3 years. He was appointed two years ago and oversaw the Monsanto deal which wasn't well like. He also has a reputation of being too smart and hence not well-liked by some. So that also partly explained why it was an easy sell for investors. They don't feel good after meeting the man. So, we might need to see some changes. 

Meanwhile, we are paid to wait with the almost 4% dividend (subjected to 20+% capital gains tax though). Bayer traded as high as EUR 130 just three years ago. If it gets close, we are talking about 70% upside!

Huat Ah! This blogger just bought Bayer!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Funny Quote of the Day

Look up this post when you are feeling down ;)


To just type it out: if anyone is having a bad day, remember that today in 1976, Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake in Apple (AAPL US) for $800. Today (Sep 2018) it is worth 1,081,130,640,000 dollars.

Remember: compounding is the eighth wonder of the world.

Huat Ah!

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Ready Bayer One!

Bayer was a EUR 100 billion market cap industrial conglomerate that has collapsed big time from a recent high of EUR 120 per share to EUR 73.5 today. There were two reasons. Firstly, the firm is being sued in the US for selling cancer causing fertilizers. Well, actually it's Monsanto, the world's largest GMO seed seller and pesticide and herbicide manufacturer that was selling bad products but hey, Bayer is going to buy Monsanto, so Bayer and its investors are on the hook! Next, Bayer announced disastrous results warning of lower full year sales and profit blaming higher integration cost with Monsanto.

The market sent the stock down 5% last week after it dropped 12% two weeks ago as a result of the Monsanto debacle. However, I believe this is where things are getting really interesting. Value investors like to fish in perfect storms. We are prepared to get wet while catching whales! Okay, let's first state the investment thesis - our reason for buying a stock which should be clear and concise:

Bayer will become the world's powerhouse in crops and seeds after acquiring Monsanto with close to 30% global share and together with its original stable portfolio of businesses in consumer and pharma drugs, it is poised to generate at least 10% free cashflow based on today's market cap. 

The following chart shows the pro-forma breakdown of Bayer's revenue after absorbing Monsanto.

Bayer's revenue breakdown

To put it simply, Bayer's revenue split would be 50% crop and seeds, 40% pharma and 10% consumer. Essentially, we can see it as 50% Growth - coming from crops and seeds and 50% Stable Cashflow - coming from its pharma and consumer segments. All three businesses are traditionally great businesses with strong moats, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the following paragraphs.

The crops and seeds business is dominated by Monsanto. This firm is the global leader in seeds, weedkillers and crop products. It has very high global market share (40-80%) in various products including GMO (genetically modified organisms) soy bean and corn seeds. After its combination with Bayer, it would be the world's largest player in an oligopolistic market with a few other players - Du Pont, Dow Chemical, Syngenta, BASF and Agrium. But it will be the Big Brother calling the shots (actually Monsanto was already the biggest brother in the US). The agriculture industry is also in a secular growth trajectory as the global affluent population continues to increase and we need to keep up food production.

Nobody likes Big Brother. The environmentalists had been making noises about Monsanto's GMO products, labelling them as evil and causing illnesses but the truth is a lot of people would go hungry without GMO seeds. Alas, we cannot have our cake and eat it. It's gonna be GMO or no food. Your choice. What's even more interesting is that the bulk of the seeds goes into producing food to feed cows and pigs, not humans. So before labelling Monsanto evil, perhaps we should all stop eating meat first?

Regardless, Monsanto is in a huge growth industry, we need more pigs and cows to feed humans and we need faster food production. Monsanto believed that long term topline CAGR should be in the mid single digit range. With its merger, it would also be able to extract a billion Euros of synergies and it would continue to be a price and product leader, while extending its R&D prowess and distribution network to global farmers. Is it a wonder why farmers and scholars hated the deal? It was said this could be a marriage made in hell. So better hedge by owning them as minority investors right?

Bayer's pharma business

Okay, let's talk about old German Bayer. Bayer has two interesting businesses. It has a pharmaceutical arm that had produced 2-3 hit drugs with EUR 16bn in annual sales. The current largest contribution is Xarelto, a blood thinner which was very successful but its patent would expire in a couple of years. The second drug is Eylea which is used to cure certain eye conditions. Both drugs are blockbusters but investors are concerned that there might be nothing left in Bayer's pipeline which means that this business could be worth very little going into 2025. I am no pharma expert so let's assume that might be true. The key question is should this business be valued next-to-nothing? We will go through the math later.

The last business is Bayer's consumer over the counter drug business which has long standing branded drugs such as Aspirin and Claritin generating EUR 6bn in sales and 1 plus billion EBITDA annually. Bayer has tried to beef up this business with M&A but synergies were lacking. It most recently bought Merck's consumer business but with little results. This is partly another reason why investors didn't feel comfortable about another big merger with Monsanto.

Bayer's consumer business

Now putting everything together, we have two stable cash cows generating EUR 6bn in EBITDA and c.5bn of free cashflow (FCF). In the past five years, Bayer's standalone free cashflow was EUR 2.8bn, 3.2bn, 3.8bn, 5.8bn and 5.2bn. Monsanto's FCF adds another USD 2bn which brings overall FCF to EUR 7bn if not 8bn. Bayer today trades at EUR 68bn implying more than 10% FCF yield. Dividend yield is also closing in on 4% as a result of its stock price collapsing.

Recall that Bayer bought Monsanto for USD 62.5bn or EUR 53.6bn which means that market is valuing the rest of Bayer's original businesses to be less than EUR 10bn. So is it right to value two businesses generating 2.8-5.8bn FCF at 10bn? Or looking it the other way, the market is saying that Monsanto should be worth a lot less than USD 62.5bn. But this contradicts the fact that Monsanto traded at USD 50bn market cap for years before Bayer bought it. Either way, Bayer definitely doesn't look expensive.

While there are reasons why the market thinks so negatively about Bayer and Monsanto, I believe this is an over-reaction hence a golden buying opportunity. The risk reward is very skewed here. Bayer and Monsanto's free cash flow of EUR 7-8bn is very stable and more likely to grow with the promised synergies than to collapse. Hence as a Bayer buyer today, we stand to earn a c.4% dividend and the reward that it would pop 50% far outweighs the risk that it would fall 50%.  

Next post, we talk about the risks!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Tangible Thoughts #8: Trade War Beneficiaries

Trade wars happened before, when Japan rose to power in the late 1980s and the 1990s. The beneficiaries were the neighbouring countries that had the capacity and the education level to capture that demand. In the Japan era, it was Thailand, Korea and to some extent China itself. In the Americas, it was Canada and Mexico.

Today, if the same scenario happens, it would be the whole of ASEAN that would capture the shift of manufacturing from China. It would be Vietnam for high end manufacturing and Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos for mid to low end manufacturing. Indonesia would also benefit to some extent.

In today's global village, the beneficiaries would also be global, if US chips cannot be shipped to China, then it would be chips designed and made in other countries. Beneficiaries could be UK, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Germany. Global Foundries in the Middle East could also benefit.

As mentioned before, investing is never binary. It is more about creativity and there's always a different way to look at things! Huat Ah! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Lessons #3: The Selfish Gene Part 2

This is a continuation of the Book Lessons #2: The Selfish Gene Part 1. Unfortunately, I cannot find any investment lesson in this post, only life lessons!

In the later part of the book, The Selfish Gene, the author Richard Dawkins introduced how altruism sometimes work in nature as it becomes beneficial to both the giver and the taker. The simplest example is what we had learnt in Biology 101 - symbiosis, the direct opposite of the parasitism. It was a good reminder that in struggle between good and evil, there are always examples of good triumph over evil. Though strictly speaking, the main theme of the book is to really move the argument away from good vs evil but rather to think in terms of evolutionary stable strategy or ESS.

Faces of Mother Nature I

In short, there is really no good and evil in the real world of Mother Nature. Is the cuckoo bird evil because of her parasitic way of breeding? What matters is whether evolutionary strategies would achieve stability i.e. the genes would be able to propagate into many future generations. Similarly, in our own lives, rather to think in terms of good vs evil, sometimes it is about having better strategies and think about what's the final endgame that matters for us and for future generations. Having said that, we surely must refrain from deploying too many "evil" strategies! We are here do make the world a better place, not turn it into hell!

One example that brings this out well is the story of the Tit-for-Tat strategy. This strategy became famous after in won over all other strategies in the famous Prisoner's Dilemma game when two prisoners are caught and they can choose to betray the other one or not to. As a reminder, the payoffs are as follows:

1) If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison.

2) If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa).

3) If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge bcos there is not enough evidence).

In just one game, betrayal is always the logical outcome unless you know 100% that the other guy surely won't betray you. However when the game becomes iterative, things get very interesting. We can devise as many strategies as we like. So when competitions for multiple strategies were played via computers, it was discovered that the best strategy is actually the Tit-for-Tat strategy which means that we only betray when we were betrayed previously. In some cases, Tit-for-Two-Tats also work. 

This has found to work in nature as well with birds (again). Birds usually have ticks growing in their feathers and they can pick them off with their beaks but not those ticks on their heads. So birds rely on other birds to help and usually this works on the tit-for-tat basis. If you help me, then I will help you. A bird that keeps betraying would soon realize no one will help it get rid of ticks. Its head will get so itchy that it fails to procreate, or explode, or whatever. Just kidding. But surely they have less energy to procreate when they are always itchy.

Faces of Mother Nature II

Similarly a bird that keeps helping might find disappointment from time to time if the other bird betrays by not returning the favour. The tit-for-tat works because it helps to figure out who the betrayers are and hence avoid them. When it finds a nice guy, it would continue to cooperate as long as the other guy cooperates which works out well and both would live happily ever after, walking into the sunset.

In life, most of the time, it doesn't pay to be the good guy. Hence the phrase, "good guys finish last". Nature has also shown that evil does triumph 58% of the time as shown in the last post (in a population of hawks/aggressive and dove/docile, 7 hawks to 5 doves being evolutionary stable i.e. the ratio of hawks to doves will not change after many iterations) but there is always room for good. In fact, the moral of the story seemed to be that we should be good when it pays to be good and we should fight evil with evil when the situation calls for it.

Interestingly, the Always Betray strategy can beat Tit-for-Tat sometimes when many iterations of the game is played. There seems to be a knife edge whereby Always Betray will win and become evolutionary stable on one side and Tit-for-Tat on the other side. This knife edge depends on how the strategies evolve at the start, if the bad strategies become too populous, then Always Betray will come out winning.

However, once a population succumbs to Always Betray, it will always remain there. If we think back in terms of the jail sentences, everyone will be getting the same sentence. There is no room for "upside" anymore. The Tit-for-Tat strategy is different. Even if there is just a tiny portion of the population that continues with Tit-for-Tat, usually in a local cluster with no Always Betray strategies around, it can grow again and in time crosses the knife edge and converts the whole population to Tit-for-Tat.

The author further explains why Tit-for-Tat is so powerful. First, it is nice, it always begins by cooperating. Second, it is forgiving, it betrays only after being betrayed and it never remembers beyond the last betrayal. Third, it is not envious. It doesn't care if the other guy gets more money or a lesser sentence. Hence it is a strategy that strives to beat the system, not just the other guy. Perhaps that should be the motto how we should live our lives too! 

Faces of Mother Nature III

The truth is, Tit-for-Tat happens a lot in human societies and in nature as vividly illustrated by the author using how the British and German soldiers behaved during WWI and also in vampire bats. Not knowing when the war will end, British and German soldiers started cooperating rather than fight and die in the cold winter. They even celebrated Christmas together! On the other hand, vampire bats are known to donate blood to their kins and sometimes to stranger bats too when these poor bats did not find enough blood to fill their stomachs on unlucky nights.

To end this post, here's quoting the author,

Vampire bats rise above the bonds of kinship, forming their own lasting ties of loyal blood-brotherhood. They could form the vanguard of a comfortable new myth, a myth of sharing, mutualistic cooperation. In fact, they could herald the benignant idea that, even with selfish genes at the helm, nice guys can finish first.


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Chart #14: Live Concerts!

Happy National Day Singapore!

Here's another interesting chart. Sales of concert tickets had quadrupled since 2000. The top concerts bring in $100-200m just in North America alone. Live Nation (LYV US) is just racking it in!


This is the Experience Era. Since internet took over the world, reality now has a different meaning. We treasure what's left that cannot be done on the net more than ever. Hence concerts, live events, theme parks even going to the movies is different. 

"Welcome to the real world, Neo," - Morpheus, in the Matrix

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Tangible Thoughts #7: Coffin Homes

Just read a disturbing article on this term while research on Hong Kong. A significant proportion of low income families or singles live in these coffin homes because rental has simply gotten too expensive.


Coffin homes are becoming a way of life in HK. The pic above shows typical single man living in his coffin home. The pic below shows a small family living in a slightly larger room.


Families living in a "bigger coffin" spend their time in confined space studying. The picture below shows another family having a meal in their coffin room.


Here's the punchline: is this also the reality Singapore is facing?