There are two types of knowledge. First, we have real knowledge. We see it in people who have committed a large amount of time and effort to understand a topic.

The second type is chauffeur knowledge – knowledge from people who have learned to put on a show. These people just make show that they know everything but they just speak what they have heard from the source. They speak as per the predefined script ready for them.

Any fool can know. The point is to understand. – A. Einstein

Source – Vivify

Investment – It is difficult to judge who is an expert and who has just a bird view of knowledge.

In 1998 Wesco meeting, Charlie Munger Quoted –

I try to get rid of people who always confidently answer questions about which they don’t have any real knowledge. To me, they are like the bee dancing its incoherent dance. They are just screwing up the hive.

Mr Warren Buffett suggests us to decide what we know and stay with it, what he calls a circle of competence. Mr Munger suggests that the size of the circle is not important but important is, we stay within its limit well. If we do not know anything, we should simply say we don’t know rather act as an expert. I also faced such problems during the initial days of my career. I considered people with Chauffeur knowledge as an expert until I do not meet real experts.

In the stock market, we meet many people who act as an expert but the majority of them not. We have to carefully check their knowledge before trust on them. We have to understand their investment philosophy and process before making a judgement of them. True experts recognize the limits of what they know and what they do not know. If they find themselves outside their circle of competence, they keep quiet or simply say, ‘I don’t know.’ We also have to perform the same for becoming an expert in our field.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.

Overconfidence – 2

The Illusion of Validity

Subjective confidence in a judgment is not a reasoned evaluation of the probability that this judgment is correct. Confidence is a feeling, which reflects the coherence of the information and the cognitive ease of processing it. It is wise to take admissions of uncertainty seriously, but declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.

Business – When the business personal preparing blueprint for a particular project and the narrative of the project seems good then he starts believing that this project is very good. Thus, they have to execute that project. But this confidence can turn out as overconfidence.

Investment – When we study a particular company and its narrative looks so good then we start getting confidence in the future performance of the company. But this confidence has created a story in our mind and that does not necessarily to be proven as true so that we also should work on writing down what can kill this idea. This helps us to make wise and rational decision.

The Illusion of Stock-Picking Skill

What made one person buy and the other sell? What did the sellers think they knew that the buyers did not?

Buyers think the price will increase and sellers think that price will fall.

Individual investors try to react to each news but institutions are selected about the reaction on the news which also proves their label of Smart money.

The majority of people have an illusion of skills. The majority of people believes that picking stocks and getting a return on them is mostly responsible for their skills and does not appreciate the role of luck.

But it is not the ultimate truth. There is a role of luck that should be appreciated. Not believing the role of luck will lead to overconfidence in their skill. And that will tend to make any irrational decision. So that after buying or selling, we will think that stock price will move as per our expectation because we have completed with all necessary study and confident about movement.  

We should always think that the seller/buyer has much more insights than us which make him selling/buying a particular stock. This thought process helps us with widening our thoughts process.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.


We tend to overestimate our knowledge, ability to predict events/future, own behaviour, etc. The overconfidence effect does not deal with whether single estimates are correct or not. Rather, it measures the difference between what people know and what they think they know.

Expert suffers more from overconfidence rather than normal laypeople. We have statistically proven data but we ignore it and overestimate our abilities and knowledge. Overconfidence has been called the most “pervasive and potentially catastrophic” of all the cognitive biases to which human beings fall victim.

The Illusion of Understanding

In The Black Swan, Taleb introduced the notion of a narrative fallacy to describe how flawed stories of the past shape our views of the world and our expectations for the future. Narrative fallacies arise inevitably from our continuous attempt to make sense of the world.

When we read about anything, our mind starts creating an illusion of understanding regarding those concepts or event. When we make any critical decision and that succeed then we give huge credit to our skills and underestimate the role of luck.

The core of the illusion is that we believe we understand the past, which implies that the future also should be knowable, but in fact, we understand the past less than we believe we do.

We try to learn many things from the success of others but we have to understand that things can be more different than what we are understanding.

Business – Management of any business easily fall under such bias, if they have a strong track record in past. Few managers have overconfidence in their ability to run a business. So that they acquire any business or plan for a new capex at the top of the business cycle at sky-high valuation. They just follow their intuition rather than follow data and facts. We should avoid businesses having such a manager for investment purpose.

Successful businesses also can meet failure in some of their ventures. Google has achieved success in the search engine, e-mail services, mobile operating system, video streaming, maps etc. but Google also has faced failure in social media platform such as Orkut, Google Plus.    

The Illusions of Pundits

Investment – When we have research and made investment decisions then we overestimate our knowledge and think that we cannot go wrong. Though the result shows that we have got wrong in past then also we blame it on external forces.

Everything makes sense in hindsight, a fact that financial pundits exploit every evening as they offer convincing accounts of the day’s events. And we cannot suppress the powerful intuition that what makes sense in hindsight today was predictable yesterday. The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.

Few experts are becoming overconfident as they acquire more knowledge. They fall more under the illusion of skills. So that does not try to predict the future based on the past.

“The mistake appears obvious, but it is just hindsight. You could not have known in advance.”

When we see the 2008 financial crises now, we can say that such mistakes are obvious and should avoid. But we can only do it after it happens rather than during that period.

In conclusion: be aware that you tend to overestimate your knowledge. Be sceptical of predictions, especially if they come from so-called experts. And with all plans, favour the pessimistic scenario. This way you have a chance of judging the situation somewhat realistically. Experts miscalculate; championships change hands; and winners become losers.

We can save ourselves by killing our ideas.

When we are investing, we should write down every decision in an investment journal so that we can track the quality of our own decision. Also, we should prepare a checklist which helps us to reduce our emotions and improves decision.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.

The Social Costs of Hindsight

When an unpredicted event occurs, we immediately adjust our view of the world to accommodate the surprise.

A general limitation of the human mind is, its imperfect ability to reconstruct past states of knowledge, or beliefs that have changed. Once you adopt a new view of the world (or of any part of it), you immediately lose much of your ability to recall what you used to believe before your mind changed.

Business – When businesses running well then businessman start thinking that business is always going to do well and they start making huge Capex for it. Or they feel that a strong business environment will remain to continue and business has more value creation left (top of the cycle) so they will announce a buyback. Such things happen especially with cyclical businesses.

Investment – When we keep evolving with the new process, philosophy to invest then we start replacing it with an older one which helps us to make the best of ourselves. But with it, we should not forget good things about the previous process, mistakes made by us in an older process because these all help us to keep evolving over some time. We should document our learning over a period so that we can evolve in a better way by retaining our previous learning. We have seen the evolution of Legendary investor Mr Buffett, who has evolved from ciggarbutt to moat investing but still he has not forgotten his learning from a past strategy.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.


When we look back then past events look very obvious to us. But that was not as obvious as it looks now. People who know hindsight bias, also fall under the trap of it. So, the author has suggested us a way to handle it.

When we read any history book then feel that events that occurred were so obvious but living those moments are much difficult.

Business – If any businessman achieved success then he will look back in past and rate his probability of success much higher.

Investment – In 2007, everyone talks about the great growth potential of the economy and in 2017 also, post GST we will have a strong economy, we will post stronger economic growth. But when we look back to 2008 and recent GDP falls. It looks obvious to us.

So, when we have maintained records of our observations and decisions then we can track the quality of our decisions. We can look back on our decision and on what basis, we have taken a decision.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.


The 12th part of Series “Once a darling, now an evil”. This series is based on the companies which were once upon a time darling of the market and now, it has wiped out the majority of all those gains. I am trying to put some of the number-crunching facts by which we have identified ongoing issues in the companies and have saved our wealth.

I am starting this part with one of the company is in the business of global education company, with presence across the US, 40 counties in the UK, Pan India, Singapore, 9 countries in MEA, Hong Kong and 2 countries in the Caribbean which has an all-time high price of ~Rs.437 in 2008, ~Rs.338 in 2012 and now last traded price at Rs.1.77.


In the first instance this company having huge sales & PAT growth. Also, the narrative of the business seems good. But such growth and good narrative should not be a reason for investment.

So, we go deeper ….


Here, we can see that debtor day and inventory days are growing rapidly with fall in payable days which has to turn out a cash conversion cycle to positive from negative & growing rapidly. Assets utilization & return ratio are falling.

I would like to go further detail of it.


Here, we can see that CFO is lower than PAT with cumulative CFO of FY07-12 is Rs.779 cr whereas cumulative PAT is Rs.982 cr so that CCFO<CPAT which indicates that company has a working capital issue which we have seen in debtor days and inventory days also.


If we here look at the depreciation cover then initially it was higher but that is due to lower depreciation rate. Later on, that depreciation rate has become almost double. This has an impact on CFO.


We can see that the borrowing part is growing in overall sources of funds and on the other side the highest part is other assets.

Let’s go deeper into it one by one.


Here, we can see that company has software development is in inventories but similar inventories are not available with Infosys and TCS annual reports, even not in their initial years’ reports. The company is capitalizing inventories as well as few other expenses on the name of inventories which has boosted profits but has affected balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Journal entry of Inventory

Cost of goods sold expenses Dr

            To Inventories

So when inventory gets sold costs are recognized into income statement but if you keep showing inventory not sold out then cost also gets understate which boosts profit artificially.


Here, we can see that company has intangible assets under development is Rs.529 cr in FY2012 and Rs.313 cr in FY11; Goodwill on Consolidation (arises due to investment in subsidiaries) Rs.118 cr in FY2012 and Rs.70 cr in FY11. These two items are 18% of the balance sheet. This is again a capitalization of expenses to balance sheet.

Journal entry of cost capitalization into assets

  • Assets Dr

                        To Cash

When we recognize assets created as expenses –

  • Expenses Dr

                       To Assets

So that cash keeps on reducing but borrowing keeps growing because there was just a capitalization of costs and not actual assets creation. This again boosts profits but when we look at the FCF then FCF always comes negative.


The company got an advance from group companies which increases the current liabilities part.


Here, the company has created provisions for fringe benefit taxes which a tax that an employer has to pay in lieu of the benefits that are given to his/her employees. A company has a pending to pay it means either company does not have enough money to pay it or they have created provision during the good time so that they can write back to boost profit.

Journal entries

When provision/liabilities get created

Profit & Loss A/C DR

           To Provision/liabilities A/C

When the provision was written back

Provision/liabilities A/C DR

            To Profit & Loss A/C

The company can boost profits whenever it requires to do.


The company has Rs.58 cr in the current account and Rs.37 cr of cheques on hand which is combined 60% of total cash and cash equivalents. Why does the company need to keep large funds into a current account where it does not get any interest?

In addition to all the above factors, the company has given a loan to related parties worth of Rs.116 cr in FY12, investment into subsidiaries worth of Rs.34 cr in FY12. We can see that company has put good efforts to hide many aspects but if we go into deeper, understand numbers, and read annual reports then it can visible to us.

Disclosure – Companies mentioned in the article are just for an example & educational purpose. It is not a buy/sell/ hold recommendation.

Jesse Livermore Manage Your Risk

We cannot make a rule of thumb for the investing world because there are lots of parameters which can affect the price of a business. If today some parameters driving prices of businesses then tomorrow there will be some another parameter which drives the prices of businesses.

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We need to focus on to be on the right side. If we cannot short the overvalued businesses then also we can book the position of overvalued businesses, we hold into our portfolio.

When Mr. Livermore was learning about the market, he kept records of his trades to the journal. Keeps journal of our trades helps us to overcome many emotional biases and help us to stick with our predecided process. I am keeping a journal for my investment studies and decision since the last 2+ years which has helped me to build strong decisions.

In May 1901, Mr. Livermore has experienced first larger loss as a professional speculator. He put an order of short sale of US Steel and Santa Fe Railroad at $100 and $80 respectively before the market got opened. He had also taken leverage for this trade. But his US steel and Santa got executed at $85 and $65 respectively, it is a price where he intended to cover his position.

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When we are engaged in the trading or into the investment, we need to spend the time to learn. We have to train ourselves as we get training in any other field. We cannot able to survive and win without getting thorough education, knowledge, experience, and temperament. If we are making an investment without spending time on above points then we have depends on the luck which we do not know that favor us or not. Rather being dependent on luck, we should work for developing our skills and temperament. If luck wants to favor us then it will add additional advantages to us.

He has a conviction on his position with the proper logic and he did not change his conviction into the worst period which has made him a rich man.

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Many times, we get influenced by the other person or information overload (noise) which affect our decision. We should work on evolving our process but should not make a decision by just getting influenced by others. We should increase our position to the odds which are into our favors, not to the odds which are not into our favors. While we keep on accumulating our winners then we can have a huge probability to win. And when we keep on accumulating our losers then we can have a huge probability to lose.

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We need to do our homework before making an investment, we cannot bet our money on the decision of others. If we see the past track record of so-called professionals then we can realize the importance of own homework.

Mr. Livermore had been cheated by people many times which also teach us that we should not trust others easily. We should work on what we know, not what others want us to do. If someone knows much then lets them take benefits. Because staying on the pitch is much important rather than getting wiped out. I have already implemented such learning into my investing career but still struggling with my personal life.

After the few snake and ladder game, Mr. Livermore has started to short from the year 1927 and the great recession of the year 1929 has created fortune of him.

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The year 1932 was set for the bottom of Dow Jones but Mr. Livermore was on the wrong side. He had made the biggest mistake ever, he covers his shorts and goes for long on the top of the Dow Jones. After this failure, he declared bankruptcy for the second time.

One of the biggest lesson from Mr. Livermore –

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We also need to prepare a list of “Don’ts” and which can be through our own experience or through the experience of others, such as learning from the mistakes of others.

He was also failed in his last attempts in the year 1939 and after that, he took his own life.

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As Mr. Livermore quoted that there are a huge amount of mistakes available to the investing filed. We cannot avoid all of them but we can definitely avoid repeating those mistakes again and again.

The main lesson from the mistake of Mr. Livermore is to manage risk. He has not properly managed risk and he blows up. Investing itself as an uncertain and we cannot control our return, we cannot control uncertainty but we only can manage risk which is only into our hand. We need to construct our investment process in a way which can help us to manage risk and avoiding a few of the mistakes which can increase the probability of our winning. We need to work on the checklist, process, do’s and don’ts etc. I have work on the same and still making my checklist and process stronger which has to help me well.

Read for more detail: Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments by Michael Batnick