Long term investment and potential long term losses
The losses incurred by our investments in foreign banks is now under public scrutiny and attacks. Many people are just very unhappy and are very concerned about the huge losses from public money. They have not related to how these losses could ultimately affect their savings in their CPF or to the overall financial well being of the country. If the losses are realised, and huge, it must come from somewhere. There must be a big hole somewhere waiting to be patched. The only comforting news is that it is long term investment, maybe 10 years, 20 years or 200 years. In the long term, everything will be alright. The stock prices will come back up, the property prices will come back up, and so will be our investments. These are the general expectations of how things will be from past experiences. What if the fundamentals have changed? What if the rot is of a different kind, HIV or a new mutant that is incurable? The problems with the banks we have invested, and in many of these foreign banks are of a different nature. They are not structural or cyclical. They are due to frauds and mismanagement. Many of these institutions are empty shells, being robbed over the years by their management but dressed up as respectable and sound financial institutions. The money they are asking for their rescue is mindblogging. If the trouble of these banks are cyclical or structural, it is only a matter of time before they return to their former health. The question now is that it may not happen at all, or it may take a few generations to rebuild them from scratch. The same analogy can be applied to our stock market. Under normal circumstances the stock prices will rebound and go back to where they were before. But would it be that way? To understand this we must know why the stock prices were high and why they became so low. If they are just structural or due to cyclical economic swings, then there are hopes that they will come back. What if the high and lows were due to different factors, systemic flaws, structural flaws? As examples, what if the listed companies were run by crooks that we have no control over them, or the business models and the accounting numbers were all fictitious? What if the high prices were due to in flow of foreign funds which have dried up? What if the foreign funds that were here were just for short term, to exploit the weaknesses of our system and run when they have made enough or being exposed, or the systemic flaws were patched up? Maybe instead of investing in bankrupt or empty shelled foreign institutions, it is better to plough the money into our own healthy and well regulated companies and stop throwing good money away at organisations that we have no control whatsoever. We need to build a healthy base at home and attract good quality money here, not the other way. In the long term, a rotten apple can never be returned to what it was before. Bad investments in rotten apples are simply bad investments, down the drain. Habis.