The Zurich Axioms

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The Zurich Axioms
by Max Gunther


Major Axiom 1 :- On Risk
Worry is not a sickness but a sign of health. If you are not worried, you are not risking enough.

Put your money at risk. Don't be afraid to get hurt a little. The degree of risk you will usually be dealing with is not hair-raisingly high. By being willing to face it, you give yourself the only realistic chance you have of rising above the great unrich. Worry is the hot and tart sauce of life. Once you get used to it, you enjoy it.

Minor Axiom l
Always play for meaningful stakes

Minor Axiom ll
Resist the allure of diversification
( Because it forces you to violate precept minor axiom 1 )
( Because it creates situation where gains and losses cancel each other out.
( Because you end up with too many balls in the air )

Major Axiom 2 :- On Greed
Always take your profit too soon.

Sell too soon. Don't hope for winning streaks to go on and on. Don't stretch your luck. Expect winning streaks to be short. When you reach a previously decided-upon ending position, cash out and walk away. Do this even when everything looks rosy, when everyone else is saying the boom will keep roaring along.
The ONLY reason for not doing it would be that some new situation has arisen, and this situation makes you all but certain that you can go on winning for a while.
Except in such usual circumstances, get in the habit of selling too soon. And when you've sold, don't torment yourself if the winning continues without you.

Minor Axiom lll
Decide in advance what gain you want from a venture, and when you get it, get out.

Major Axiom 3 :- On Hope
When the ship starts to sink, don't pray. Jump.

Learning to take losses is an essential speculative technique. MOST never learn it. Take losses at once and move on. Take small losses to protect yourself from the big ones.
Beware the 3 obstacles to jumping ship:
- fear of regret ( that the loser will turn out to be a winner when you've bailed-out )
- Unwillingness to abandon part of an investment ( become willing to abandon )
- Difficulty of admitting you made a mistake.

Minor Axiom lV
Accept small losses cheerfully as a fact of life. Expect to experience several while awaiting a large gain.

Major Axiom 4 :- On Forecasts
Human behavior cannot be predicted. Distrust anyone who claims to know the future, however dimly.

Nobody has the foggiest notion of what will happen in the future. Nobody. Never lose sight of the possibility you have made a bad bet.

Major Axiom 5 :- On Patterns - The Emperor Axiom
Chaos is not dangerous until it begins to look orderly.

Do not look for order where order does not exist. Do not overlook the large role chance takes in any speculation. Study information in whatever speculative medium to improve chances and take your best shot. Stay light on your feet ready to jump this way or that. You are dealing with chaos, as long as you are alert to that fact you can keep yourself from getting hurt.
Internal Monolog goes:
“OK. I've done my homework as well as I know how. I think this bet can pay off for me. But since I cannot see or control all the random events that will affect what happens to my money. I know the chance of me being wrong is large. Therefore I will stay light on my feet, ready to jump this way or that when whatever is going to happen happens."

Minor Axiom V
Beware the historians trap.
The Historian's trap is a particular kind of orderly illusion. It is based on the age-old but entirely unwarranted belief that history repeats itself. People who hold this belief - which is to say perhaps ninety-nine out of every hundred people on earth - believe as a corollary proposition that the orderly repetition of history allows for accurate forecasting in certain situations.... Don't fall into this trap. It is true that history repeats itself sometimes, but most often it doesn't, and in any case it never does so in a reliable enough way that you can prudently bet money on it.

Minor Axiom Vl
Beware the Chartist's illusion.

Minor Axiom Vll
Beware the correlation and causality delusions.

Minor Axiom Vlll
Beware the Gambler's Fallacy. ( This is my lucky day.)

Major Axiom 6 :- On Mobility
Avoid putting down roots. They impede motion.

Be ready to jump away from trouble or seize opportunity. You do not have to bounce from one speculation to another like a ping-pong ball. All your moves should be made only after a careful assessment of the odds for and against, and no move should be made for trivial reasons. But when a venture is clearly souring, or when something clearly more promising comes into view, then you must sever those roots and go. Don't let the roots get too thick to cut.

Minor Axiom lX
Do not become trapped in a souring venture because of sentiments like loyalty and nostalgia.

Minor Axiom X
Never hesitate to abandon a venture of something more attractive comes into view.

Major Axiom 7 :- On Intuition
A hunch can be trusted if it can be explained.

Though intuition is not infallible, it can be a useful speculative tool, if handled with care and skepticism.
If you are hit by strong hunch - put it to the test. Trust it only if you can explained it. That is only if you can identify within your mind a stored body of information out of which that hunch must reasonably be supposed to have arisen.
Be wary of any intuition that seems to promise some outcome you want badly.

Minor Axiom Xl
Never confuse a hunch with a hope.

Major Axiom 8 :- On Religion and the Occult
It is unlikely that god's plan for the universe includes making you rich.

Assume you are on your own. Rely on nothing but your own wits.

Minor Axiom Xll
If astrology worked, all astrologers would be rich.

Minor Axiom Xlll
A superstition need not be exorcised. It can be enjoyed, provided it is kept in its place.

Major Axiom 9 :- On Optimism & Pessimism
Optimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.

Optimism can be a speculator's enemy. It feels good and is dangerous for that reason. It produces a clouding of judgment. It can lead you into a venture with no exits. Even when there is an exit, optimism can persuade you not to use it.
You should never make a move if you are merely optimistic. Before committing your money to a venture, ask how you will save yourself if things go wrong. Once you have that worked out, you've got something better than optimism. You've got confidence.

Major Axiom 10 :- On Consensus
Disregard the majority opinion. It is probably wrong.

Probably wrong. Figure everything out for yourself.

Minor Axiom XlV
Never follow speculative fads. Often, the best time to buy something is when no-one else wants it.

Major Axiom 11 :- On Stubbornness
If it doesn't pay off the first time forget it.

Perseverance is a good idea for spiders and kings, but not always for speculators. Don't fall into the trap of trying to squeeze a gain out of any single speculative entity.
Don't chase any investment in a spirit of stubbornness. Reject any thought that an investment “owes you” something. And don't buy the alluring, but fallacious idea that you can improve a bad situation by averaging down.

Minor Axiom XV
Never try to save a bad investment by averaging down.

Major Axiom 12 :- On Planning
Long-range plans engender the dangerous belief that the future is under control. It is important never to take your own long-range plans, or other people's, too seriously.

React to events as they occur in the present. Put your money into ventures as they present themselves and withdraw it from hazards as they loom up. Value the freedom that will allow you to do this. Don't ever sign that freedom away.
There is only one long-range financial plan you need: the intention to grow rich. The how is not knowable or plan-able. All you need to know is that you will do it somehow.

Minor Axiom XVl
Shun long-term investments.

The Zurich Axioms
Max Gunther
Souvenir Press
London
1985
CST
332.645
G97

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