ONE OPTION OF INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

A conflict of strategies on the part of the countries that are intervening in Syria is more worrying, dodgy and deleterious. It is a no-brainer that victory against ISIS will be hard to attain if Russia and USA continue to repel each other.

The bone of contention is Assad; the man USA believes is standing in the way of peace while Russia espouses a contrarian perspective, taking him to be a critical instrument in the fight against ISIS. USA has put her bet on the rebels who are fighting Assad whereas Russia treats them the same way as ISIS.
What is the way forward? Not simple but it is there. Not in black and white but both countries under analysis can see it if they seek the good of Syria and the whole world.

Is Assad important for this cause? Where would ISIS thrive? Where there is less disorder or where there is more disorder? Can the Rebels be trusted? If Assad is removed by force, would his supporters just go to sleep or become another group that would bring further complications? Can Assad manipulate anybody who shares intelligence with him to kill those who genuinely and peacefully oppose him?

First, if Assad is removed through undemocratic methods, his supporters would be another radical group on the street that, inevitably, alas, at a great loss of resources and human life, might fight back. This would make this battle more complicated- mind boggles to proactive minds!

It is a common belief that this war has a sectarian and ethnic face, in that, the rebels from the Sunni majority, who are fragmented, between them many an abyss; want to get into government without a nationwide appeal and flush out the Alawites, any Christians and some Sunni representatives whom they regard as traitors. Is sponsoring these rebels a way to democracy?

Recall that the Guardian after the 2014 elections, on 16th July, quoted Assad saying, “The failed revolution was an act of foreign aggression through local agents.” A cloud applauded, and unlike our old democracies, apart from the Government military forces, a good number of the people in this group are able fighters, the shabiha and all to that effect; these being sympathisers who, with the Army, would interpret manoeuvres other than democratic methods as an indirect foreign rule. Hence removing him through military methods may just yield another Iraq or Libya.

Further, BBC reported on 5th June, 2014 that the Supreme Constitutional Court said 11.63million out of a total 15.85million voted in the 2014 elections, which translated to 73.47% turnout. Of course, western Countries and China commented that the elections were not inclusive. This is what must be corrected using a fair political solution. If results of the 2014 elections show that the 26.13% who did not vote wouldn’t have made the opposition overtake the winner who had a landslide, then it dilutes the complaints. But that is not a foregone conclusion because bias always boasts even when naked. Hence, no stone should be left unturned. Western countries said the elections were not fair, it is possible that Bashar al-Assad tilted the vote in his own favour but, on the other hand, it may also be a profound statement from the people that the rebels are more fierce than the so labelled ‘ illegitimate Government of Assad’.

Can rebels be trusted? Pessimism be my perch. Let’s use logic. If you train rebels who turn themselves into the hands of terrorists and get assimilated, what probability is there that if a contraband of heavy weapons is given to a particular rebel group, most of those weapons won’t end up in the hands of ISIS together with a good number of those rebels?

Are not these rebels, in fact, getting in the way of the Government soldiers and reducing their thrust in the war against ISIS? Isn’t their pressure on Government soldiers with the use of western weapons creating room for ISIS who are, without doubt, looting riches and making themselves more powerful with every passing minute at the expense of human life?
After getting rid of Assad, perish the thought, what guarantee is there that these rebels will not fight against themselves and in the process, spill more blood in a protracted sectarian war before the fittest takes office?

Facing those incorrigible Selafists and wahhabists, who now are in their right environment of violence and unrestrained chaos, one wonders how the moderate Islamist groups with a few other well meaning Syrians would rise to power and not be overtaken. Another concern is that some of the moderate Islamists being empowered by the USA with weapons may turn into ruthless militia, working under the new government if, against all odds, it comes to existence.

Who is our biggest evil, Assad confined to his fixed aboard in Syria or ISIS who fly from Country to Country, selling their evil ideology to other jihadists? To be frank, Assad is a Lion with no speed who can’t overtake his challengers, the rebels, if USA and Russia are to hold him with an Irony fist in a glove.

So what would fit the bill for Russia and USA? Does one need to bury the hatchet?
This is no time to play hide and seek. It is no time to waste. Neither political rhetoric nor competition should be given priority over consensus and co-ordination.
So how should global Allies pursue peace in Syria?

First, USA and Russia ought to come together and persuade Bashar al-Assad, in this desperate situation, to agree that Syria should hold early democratic heavily monitored elections as soon as the fight against ISIS comes to an end, on condition that the ‘well meaning rebels’ suspend their fight against Assad forces and concentrate on engaging ISIS under the supervision of USA and Russia, a balanced supervision in my view. It may be fruitful also for the whole NATO to abstain from taking sides between rebels and Bashar al-Assad, put their act together, in order to be efficient and effective.

Assad must agree that the election will be strictly monitored by monitors from around the globe and all the people who did not vote in the rebel held areas in 2014 will have a bite at the cherry this time around. Bear in mind that the backbone of Assad is composed of Russia and Iran who would accept persuading him, in the presence of USA, to promise fresh elections after the fall of ISIS in order to be an irreproachable leader of a legitimate government because both Russia and Iran want clean names following the painful period of sanctions.

To be strange bedfellows in times of crisis, as long as one be not yoked with a murderer, is usually a restraint message to the most vicious enemy lurking in the back yard whereas one upmanship is like trying to stand on one leg in a blizzard. Russia and USA have to wear this cap if it fits.

There is no big risk posed to Russia in acquiring some strategic intelligence from Assad like military capabilities, geography, political assessments, culture and verify it. At the operational level, however, information from Assad may be detrimental to attaining a qualitative political solution which is on the cards because Assad is also human, susceptible to temptation; on that score, it is critical to eliminate the foreboding of western nations that he may be tempted to give Russia lists of his enemies branding them as Terrorists- leave no room for suspicion. If Assad is popular, he will win clean elections. But if his soldiers are attacked, they have every right to defend themselves.

NATO is saying Assad shouldn’t be part of the future political solution, a decision which is not consistent with the fundamental principles of democracy. What lifespan would a minority rebel group have in Government? Why didn’t NATO learn in Libya, Alfaganistan and Iraq that more militia always appear from the woodwork after a disciplinarian or Autocratic government is ousted in Arabic countries and begin to fight for the vacancy with the only language they know, weapons? Then, more gloom and doom! More often than not, the small rebel groups transform into bigger monsters than the monster they succeed. Meaning, until more riches accrue to their accounts, serenity never returns.

In the event that the rebels refuse to fight ISIS first with all resources available, surmise that they don’t give a hoot if the Country is shared between ISIS and them. Whoever cares for the country must fight ISIS first so as to stop them from enriching themselves too much and become invincible sharks. Leave them to their own devices, Assad will tame them or bomb them from the air as a coalition, giving them the same sour cake as ISIS to make Syria habitable to good human beings.

Politically, USA would be criticised to have changed horses in midstream by getting on a Russian horse but the people of Syria may be accorded a chance to rise to higher dignities step by step using civil means. It would be the worst political move in the short term but the best humanitarian move. Politics was meant to serve humanity and not humanity to serve politics at all costs.

By no means of imagination would nations intervening in Syria using uncoordinated strategies win the war in the face of antagonism without being relegated to uncivilisation and much grief.

HERD BEHAVIOUR

In today’s world, where crowds move under the influence of personal greed and sentiment, going with the flow may not yield best fruits. Crowds also get things wrong. Some, obviously pundits, know how to adapt when things go rancid whereas others do not. They just follow. As numbers ghastly increase with each person wrestling to have a part in the treasure, the higher the chances of breaking it.

In stocks, there is a similar thing. Just one form of news or a word from a guru sends crowds in one direction or the other. This is called herding. Some news is good and works. But, at times, its inconsequential news that displaces investors from good positions. Where to? To where crowds are going. But, where they are going as a flux, the first may have some good pieces and the rest could have bones. Choosing to go in the direction of crowds at great speeds, do these people ever think of stampedes?  I mean treading on one another. I have adopted the term stampede to reflect the result of this suicide splurge.

Do you know stock overheating?  Precisely my point. Stock prices can not rise forever in disproportion to the underlying business performance.   That’s the gist of this statement. Well, some herders are experts but others, a good number, in my view which holds out for many, are blind followers. So they rush to throw away their money and wait to see the disaster of their frenzy. Crazy! I mean no scorn for long term Investors who, for such irrationality, reap low returns but to those with less patience, no doubt, this is nonsense, a self inflicted robbery.

Charles Mackay came up with a very good description of herding in his book called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. He said we find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.

My interpretation of this is that these crowds operate like pendulums. They do not rest, always excited and are caught up in flip flops. Where they go, demand and prices rise abruptly. As a small Player, you can’t beat their leaders at speed and that means reaping less and in some cases, nothing, not even getting back your full principal. The leaders I am talking about are Pensions, Mutual Funds, Insurance Companies etc. But even some of those underperform sometimes. Herding has teeth and can munch anybody.

Bear in mind, when you go to the stock exchange that there are people who don’t invest in companies. They just bet. These are speculators. Heck, they bet that there will be more fools joining them at a late hour with no intention to stay long and your roving without doing any comprehensive study of stocks becomes a clincher. It makes them earn.

The market is not foolproof. Hence, they just run faster than you and punish all armatures. You buy overpriced stocks and get little or nothing in the short run as you speculate. If you want to have good perks, be a contrarian. Go where their eyes are not concentrating or where there may be a little but temporal dent that causes some Investors to stay away.

It is true that the commonest way of learning things is by imitating those who have succeeded at those things. But come to think of it. Not all the things your role model has done or is doing are correct or will play a critical role in bringing positive returns to their life, be them very nifty, witty pundits or any sort that has privileges of possessing less ignorance. Every human and his tools are prone to error, at least one error once in a while.

Remember the 80/20 rule. Pareto came up with it and I think it also applies here. Even machines have glitches. Human choices and vibes, to some extent, are shaped by inner emotions and many a bias, giving room to error. People talk good about the Companies where their money is, even if these firms are bleeding internally or are closer to overheating. Give me the strongest man who has defeated great Kingdoms or the most talented investor, they will all confess that there is one thing or the other they should have done better.

The lesson here is don’t copy everything. Copy some working principals and leave what you don’t understand. Even the successful mention the word oversight once in a while. Are you surprised? No, don’t be. The very best have seasons, good and bad seasons. They also hit some hard patches due to one decision or other.

How frequent their method works is what matters. That gives you a clue to say using their method may yield good results. Also, the level of profits should match the risk. I find the idea of using fundamental analysis of stocks very attractive. I also find scouting more profitable than running after the famous stocks when all eyes are on them.

If the spotlight gets off the famous stocks due to a simple issue and their herds subside with a resultant fall in share price, I calculate my intrinsic value and put my foot there. Cheap stock of great Companies  with huge competitive advantages or unveiled Companies with long term growth are what Investors from the school of Warren Buffet, Lee Chin or Peter Lynch believe in.

Broad is the way that leads to destruction and narrow is the path that takes pilgrims to durable opportunities. If something is so easy and has high profits, know that it will attract alot of people and the profits will be reduced. Analysts do not give clues only to a few people but give the same advice to alot of people.

So if you are lazy or lack enough wisdom, any advice will send you sprinting. After watching one program on Bloomberg or CNBC, you will jump off and go to invest in Apple, Amazon, EBay, Microsoft, Tesla, Disney and Priceline in USA but lose your money on one of these because of not checking whether a stock is very expensive or cheap and/or arriving late. Bull markets have alot of stampedes for Armatures who are speculating.

Let us say you buy Apple on 4th August, 2015 when it is trading $113 because a very small number of Investors have walked out probably due to underperformance on watch sales and other temporal factors, you would be making a wise decision since that is way below its intrinsic value. It’s very cheap now for petty reasons. But if you buy Apple on the day it will be trading around the two hundred and twenties, your probability of getting large gains will shrink since its intrinsic value lies within the two hundred and twenties.

With this approach, you can get another one of these on the day it will be very cheap. Then go to the areas which are not applauded, with stocks that the market has given no acclaim but they consistently yield good results with good growth prospects. Here pick the other six stocks to make it 8.

When people are panicking concerning the rumoured increase in interest rates, you may choose to go against the tide. It is the right time to buy. Just wait a bit for the price to fall to a figure that is low enough to enable you buy at a cheaper price and hold for a for 6 to 7years. It cuts both ways but winners opt for the positive resilient side of such stocks in the long run.

You know what. Believe you me, wisdom is not common but foolishness is in abundance and there are no upfront fees for foolishness but a charge comes after a messy. Before you follow people who are buying earlier than you and send an invitation when the stocks are overpriced, why not consider this. If you are sage, don’t panic. Do your research. Don’t be over-dependent.

Fashion is for models, majority opinion is for politicians, diagnosis and unearthing of future blue chips is a duty of all Investors. There is no prize for conformity. Neither can your poor performance be justified by the dismal performance of a group if the economy is healthy. You are on your own. It beats me that some people feel that missing a quality stock in one place while facing one direction is the end of life without turning around to see how many stocks are doing well behind.

Companies are born every day. Companies with good ideas take time to be noticed by the broad market. It is during this time that some wise Investors begin to eye their stocks. As they are about to heat prominence, they jump in. This is not very hard. Have wide open eyes. Just work hard. Keep on calculating the fundamentals for different Businesses as long as you understand their core business and they are on the Stock market.

The point is never stop researching. The other clue is that Companies which might have come off the spotlight may rebound with one idea or the other. Savvy Investors go round searching for these ideas. Once they find an idea in a Business they understand, a stock under disdain, they do more research about it as if it is already their Stock. For this reason, a very successful Investor must have a Business Mind. These are some of the secrets of very successful Investors.

More on Herding

10 THINGS WHICH COULD CONTRIBUTE TO SHARE PRICE INCREASE

Everyone who is enjoying the Sunshine must have made good decisions when struggling in the dark. If you dont prepare for your future, you will be restless in Old age. Warren Buffet said, “what the wise do in the begining, fools do in the end.” I want to equip you with some important tips on stocks, which knowledge will make your future easy. Dont wait until you make terrible mistakes to look for this information.

Things that contribute to the rise in share price include:

#1.DEMAND AND SUPPLY: On the Stock Exchange, Investors bid, offer stocks and also sell stocks at the market price. A bidder may bid at a lower price if he believes that the stocks are overvalued or when there are many sellers. The person who is offering may want to give up his shares for more money if there are less sellers or when the underlying business is doing very fine. Not to make things difficult for my reader,when there are less sellers than buyers, prices go up. These are common principles in Economics.

#2.EARNINGS PER SHARE: Watch closely after Annual General Meetings. If a Company makes a good profit and their Earnings per Share increases, its Share price will also go up. Sometimes such Companies do not even award dividends. If they are growing, it is justifiable.

#3.FUTURE PROSPECTS: If a Company wants to expand into more profitable new markets, the share price may increase. For me, in Zambia, the Companies in my Portifolio are from the Energy Sector, Finance and Construction. Remember also that if a Company is in a growing Industry, its share price may increase despite making low profits in the Preliminary stages. A bad beginning especially in Capital intensive industries may not be an omen for a bad perpetuity but it should just be probed. So, people are more interested in the future existence plus higher profits of the Company than current profits on the dark start. It is hard to invest in an Industry that is going to extinction and by the same token, a growing Industry has vast possibilities.

#4.INNOVATION:If a Company wants to make a big change that will make it have an advantage over its Competitors, Investors will be lured to buy such a Stock. Value Investors identify such undervalued Companies and make their best bets on their future. Within a short period after the ideas are implemented, stock prices begin to rise.

#5.DIVIDENDS. A Business has to make all the Stakeholders happy. For Investors, they are interested in getting a share of the profits. Hence, a Business that awards good dividends may have its stock price rise just after that Corporate action. Of course, if the Business is not growing much, but not for bad reasons, why keep all the profits?

#6.POSITIVE NEWS: Investors are attracted by good news concerning a Company. If the Image of your Company is enhanced by the Media, the Share price will increase. The Media can either build or distroy a Company Image, depending on the news from that particular Company. But again, no matter how much hype the Business may swim in, there is always time for the truth. The underlying Business Progress matters.

#7.CHANGE OF MANAGEMENT: There are Chief Executive Officers who have made names for themselves. If a Company installs Management that has turned arround Companies before, Investor Confidence increase, in view of which share price shall increase. Look for Top Management that has People with Entrepreneural minds.

#8.MAJOR BUYER: When a Company wants to buy another Company, Investors can be enticed to sell by offering at a higher price. There is a general belief that Companies are bought to be improved.

#9.MACRO ENVIRONMENT: Low Interest rates, Low Inflation, High Gross Domestic Product and Low Taxes may make Investors to opt for Companies in a particular Country. Please note that Indices may indicate how healthy Companies are in a particular Region. Meaning that the moment they rise, it may be an indication that more Investors are investing in that particular Country and stock prices will increase. You can see this from the Indices: Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S & P500 in the USA, FTSE in Britain, DAX of Germany etc.

#10.DEBT TO EQUIT RATIO: If profits and market do not justify the level of leverage, Financial Statements will show.On the Balance sheet will show Liabilities, Assets and Equity. Profit will be found on the Profit and Loss Account. Calculate the Debt to Equit ratio using figures from the Balance Sheet.Companies with healthy Financial Statements i.e reduced debts may have an Increase in Share price. Big debt to Equit ratio may not strangle Companies making high profits. Companies with low profits and not expanding into Profitable markets may find it hard to repay high debt.

Dont forget that your savings in the Bank battle with Inflation.

By CHULU KENNEDY ENEYA.
chuluken@yahoo.com