Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts

Nov 22, 2010

What's that, an actuary? Kamikaze Investors

'Housing' is probably one of the most complex assets and also one of the most interesting.

Wake up...
At the next birthday party when somebody asks you the regular line: 'What's that, an actuary?....'  Don't answer the obligatory way, but demonstrate your actuarial risk management abilities in an interactive way....

Just ask who of your birthday friends would call himself a private - non professional - risky investor?........

After some hesitation and discussion, probably all of them will answer something like:  'No, I would not dare to risk much money, I put most of my savings in a 'safe - as possible - bank account'.

Than, your next question is: "Who owns a house?"
Now, probably more than 60% of your friends will raise their finger......

Congratulations! Now you may congratulate this 60% of your friends with the fact that they are probably a more risk taking investor than an average pension fund, because they are most likely (by far) overfunded  in the asset category "Housing".

After grasping the point of your little quiz, most of your friends will first laugh, than think, and after a while some of them will ask you what they should do about being a Kamikaze-investor?

Now you get to the tricky part of being an actuary:

  1. Never tell anyone what to do, 
  2. Just show them the possible scenarios
  3. Point out and quantify the risks, and 
  4. Help them take their own decisions 

 A lot of research has been done around House pricing and risk.

Although their seems to be a positive relationship between interest rate and housing-price growth, the housing risk is much more complicated than that.

Also housing prices differ strongly by country, as the next Economist table shows:

And because as actuaries, we're little Kamikaze-investors as well, the Economist has developed an interactive application to get sight at the housing-price development in your country relative to others.

Mar 14, 2010

Hedge Fun

Do you recognize the next situation?

You're at a birthday party or having a social evening. Everybody is having fun, talking to each other and - like usual - discussing the latest financial topics, scandals and solutions.

Suddenly someone turns to you and says: Heee.. you're an actuary, you can tell us what a a hedge fund is!

Of course as born or raised actuaries we all know what a hedge fund is. But when it comes down to explaining what a hedge fund is to clients, board members, friends or family, probably not one of us can explain it better than Paddy Hirsch, Senior Editor at Marketplace, can in the next Youtube video:

Now, when a Hedge Fund or a (Lehman)bank 'unexpectedly' gets into trouble, it simply uses the Repo 105 technique to to survive. Paddy Hirsch explains again.....

As professional risk managers we would expect these high risk Hedge Funds to operate under excessively severe capital requirements. Too bad...., this is not the case, as Mr. Timothy Geithner explains in the next video......

From Mr. Geithner's statements it's clear that Hedge Funds are de facto treated as 'Hedge Fun' until the systemic risk shows up.

However, when this risk becomes manifest, it will be to late to take appropriate measures.

Misunderstanding: Risk management
One of the great public misunderstandings of Risk Management is that most people - obviously including Government -think that Risk management is all about 'Managing Damage' after the corresponding loss has occurred.

As we know, Risk Management is about something else:

I. Identify, Analize & Prevent Risk
About 70% of Risk Management is about constantly identifying, analyzing and preventing risks from happening.

II. Emergency Response Plan
Another 20% is about proactively creating and updating Emergency Response Plans (ERP's) on how to deal with loss and how to limit and reduce that loss in case of the unfortunate event that a risk materializes in a loss.

III. Damage Reduction
Only the last 10% is about 'damage reduction' by executing the ERP's and tackling losses in case a risk - notwithstanding the measures taken - has resulted in a loss.

Perhaps we should offer (one volunteer is worth two pressed men) Mr. Geither a free Risk Management Course from the institute of actuaries.....

Read more about (the regulation of) Hegde Funds in an excellent (2006) paper by Dale A. Oesterle called Regulating Hedge Funds.

It's clear: there's nothing funny about fundy hedge funds....

Corresponding Links:
- Derivatives study center : Hedge Fund
- Regulating Hedge Funds (2006)
- Marketplace videos
- Will Lehman Brothers and Repo 105 allegations bring down Ernst & Young?
- Wikipedia: Repurchase agreement, Repo 105

Dec 8, 2009

Out of the Box Actuary

So you're one of those rare actuaries who thinks he really can think outside of the box?

Well, this is your lucky day. Out of the dark chambers of Actuarial Science, professors developed a brand new test for financial experts like actuaries, to find out if you qualify for the new title

Actuarial Master
Out of the Box Thinking

Most remarkable is that this test consists of only one simple question.

If you manage to give the right answer to this question within 10 seconds you'll qualify for the title. If it takes up to one minute, you'll qualify for your bachelor's degree. If it takes longer, don't be ashamed, just stay "Qualified Actuary".

However, if you don't succeed at all, simply change your title to Actuweary...., nobody will notice ;-).

In case you need help to find the right answer, you are allowed to use this tip.

Now, I will no longer keep you in suspense, here is the key question:

Just click the picture, to find out the right answer!

If you unexpected failed to come up with the right answer, please read the next fabulous blog to escape your expert view:

Nov 27, 2009

Invest or laugh

Every crisis generates his own new quotes. Currently, investment quotes are the top.

Perhaps two of the best investment quotes ever are from AIG Vice Chairman Jacob Frenkel:

"The left side of the balance sheet has nothing right and the right side of the balance sheet has nothing left. But they are equal to each other. So accounting-wise we are fine."


"Credit markets do not function. Why not, because the word credit comes from credibility"

But there's more... A nice summary of investment ROFL quotes can be find on Ian Thomson's blog Investor Jokes.

As actuaries, let's profit from Ian's latest insights and gain some extra education points by studying the next new investment definitions:

  • A long term investment: Short term investment that failed.
  • Momentum Investing: The fine art of buying high and selling low.
  • Value Investing: The art of buying low and selling lower

Probably investors and actuaries will have a hard time understanding each other, as the difference between them is in the 'tail' .....

Also large-cap fund managers have a hard time these days. No wonder everybody starts looking for a small-cap fund manager....
But how do you find one? Ians' answer is simple: Find a good large-cap fund manager, and wait...

Anyhow, keep up your good mood and laughs, as more investment 'animals' will show up next months.....

Let's conclude this blog with an old actuarial warning:

"Where there's smoke, someone gets fired"

P.S. For some more 'serious' investment quotes take a look at 52 Must Read quotes from the legendary Investor Warren Buffett. I'll quote some of the best here:
  • I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.
  • If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians (actuaries?).
  • It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
  • It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.
  • It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
  • Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
  • Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
  • Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.

How can actuaries profit from Buffett's quotes?

- Greekshares Jokes
- Ian's Investor Jokes
- Warren Buffett: 52 Must Read quotes