This article originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 24 August 2013.
Our son Jack is just over two and a half years old, putting him well into the ‘terrible twos’. In somewhat of a pleasant surprise however, reaching this milestone hasn’t resulted in the deluge of tantrums which we were expecting. There is the occasional tantrum of course, which can usually be dealt with by the appropriate parenting technique. Liz’s approach is to use gentle reasoning and try to remain calm until the storm passes. My tactic is to use chocolate and lollies to bribe him into behaving – I know which approach works the quickest, although I may regret it if I find myself visiting him on weekends at Long Bay Jail in fifteen years’ time.
So no real tantrums then, but his new-found talent is to be confoundingly fickle. For a few months he couldn’t get enough Greek-style natural yoghurt. Breakfast, lunch, dinner…it didn’t matter what meal it was, it had to involve a mug of yoghurt. Then one day he gave the usual mug of yoghurt a sceptical look and pronounced it as ‘pooey’, and from that day onward a drop of yoghurt has never passed his lips. And it’s not just yoghurt. For a week the mania was all about vegemite. Everything had to involve vegemite. If you gave him vegemite on a piece of cardboard he would be back within minutes wanting more. Then one day vegemite was consigned to the dustbin of history, pronounced as ‘pooey’. Porridge, cheese and bananas have all at one stage or another fallen victim to the slur of ‘pooey’ and disappeared from his diet. Strangely chocolate or lollies seem to never be denounced as ‘pooey’, but one can only hope.
Unfortunately, on occasion some investors can be just as fickle as Jack. Should we be in gold? (Just before the gold price peaks at $1,900 per ounce). I hear there’s money to be made in uranium (just as the price of yellowcake plunges 70% during 2009). What about investing in this great internet business? (Just before the dot-com bubble pops with a vengeance). The message in all this is that making money from chasing the latest investment fad involves being incredibly lucky or smarter than 99.99% of the rest of the market participants. And as most of us are neither of these things, it’s an approach that invariably results in a smaller amount of money than you started with. The truth of investing is that there are no shortcuts; no quick and easy trades which are going to net you a 300% gain, at least not on a regular basis. When you’re looking through your investments, or considering making a new one, be realistic and ask yourself – is this a business I want to own, or is it a little bit ‘pooey’?