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OH ROMEO, ROMEO, WHERE ARE THOU?

By Gabriel Yap

OH ROMEO, ROMEO, WHERE ARE THOU?

Two days before the UK voted on its European future, the world's most powerful banker Janet Yellen, chairperson of the US Federal Reserve warned that Brexit would cause "significant economic repercussions". The markets subsequently experienced a few days of frantic trading, only to calm down to a rather quiet summer.

In fact, the summer that just passed had been one of the calmest (I certainly can hear the birds chirping in the woods in my Spanish villa) in the past few decades as the prospects of Yellen raising interest rates receded, the shock of Brexit dissipated and economic data did not disappoint, another stab into the bears’ prognostications of darkening and gloomy markets forecast.

The FTSTI danced within the range of 2,730 to 2,945, but had spent more than 85% of the time closing within the tight 2,805 – 2,895 trading range, a very very tight trading range of 80 points in the past 4 months.

This was a stark (and indeed a welcome one) contrast to last summer when the China’s yuan devaluation on 20 Aug 2015 sent shockwaves through markets, resulting in 2015 as a year of 2 halves.

Lesson 1 therefore was – Markets can be treacherous, but trading like trekking in the woods, can be smooth if you do recognize how to quarantine negative factors around a perfidious Sterling.

The summer was also great for me to ride my horses out into the rolling hills. As I rode, another thought that ran through my mind was – hold and behold, the nature and streams that unfold before me was one of exquisite charm and smell of summer dew, but really how many of us take time to savour such a beautiful world?

As the evening settles, I draw great pleasure in re-reading classics from one of my favourite authors – William Shakespeare who is actually celebrating his 400th death anniversary this summer.

The beauty of reading (and re-reading) Shakespeare lies in his tales which are woven around the events of his time 400 year ago. It is about an introspection into the human characters, their feelings and reactions to certain events.

To me, what intrigues me on Shakespeare (which certainly help in my investment analysis framework) is that many of the characters are not only memorable, they are also real and fallible, very much like investors these days, who are more confused rather than informed, by the constant media attention 24/7 coverage on stock market ups-and-downs and the follies of the capital markets.

If one has the chance to attend one of Shakespeare’s plays, you will find an uncanny resemblance and relevance to modern day management issues and corporate governance in the light of problems at the Oil & Gas sector, the bankruptcy problems of Swiber and Perisai.

Plays like Hamlet, Othello and Julius Caesar provide thought-provoking insights into the use/mis-use of power, authority, corporate governance and leadership which are ubiquitous in the contemporary business world.

If indeed Swiber or Perisai had been well-led and heeded “neither a borrower nor a lender be” as in Hamlet, they would not be in financial dire straits.

For me, lesson 2 would be to quote Shakespeare – for investors, “Go Slowly and wisely for those who rush, they would stumble and fall” as in Romeo & Juliet.

So do use the current market lull to study in-depth into your investments and time your investments wisely instead of asking “Oh Romeo, romeo, where are thou?”

Gabriel Yap
Gabriel Yap

Mr Gabriel Yap,CFA was an eminent stockbroker who retired from stockbroking in 2009 to devote himself to philanthropy to help the needy, poor and handicap globally. He has donated and assisted Charities Aid Foundation, Australia (CAF), a not-for-profit donor funds management business.  

Mr Yap is also Executive Chairman of GCP Global Pte Ltd, an investment firm that invest in both direct capital markets, bonds, real estate, commodities, foreign exchange and builds businesses. Mr Yap appears regularly for the TV media like Channel News Asia and Bloomberg and radio channels like FM93.8 for their various investment programs.

Previously Mr Yap has also lectured at renowned government institutions like the SEASEN Course for the Monetary Authority of Singapore and at AsianDevelopment Bank. Mr Yap has also lectured at financial institutions like the Stock Exchange of SingaporeInstitute of Banking and Finance, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Singapore Institute of Management and the Securities Investors Association of Singapore.

In 2010, the venerable Reader's Digest magazine created the Money Savvy column in their magazine, helmed by Mr Yap who writes on all things finance and answers questions from the magazine's subscribers.

Mr Yap presently splits his time between Melbourne, Europe and Singapore.