Thursday, March 20, 2014

Asians are risk takers while Swiss take few risks

I went to a high class school in Switzerland. Not that we were rich, but in the class there were several very well-to-do Swiss family members. Of the children of these families, most have no more money. 

One still has a lot of money because his grandmother was studying in Paris in her youth and took a liking to the 1910-1920s impressionists. So they have Van Goghs and Renoirs and Matisses — even in the bathroom they have so many of them. The appreciation in value of these paintings was fantastic.

Another one is well-to-do because he inherited money from an uncle of his. So it’s funny that entrepreneurial families that were – at that time — either in construction or the textile industry, are essentially all gone. The largest wealth of my school friends came from inheritances.

I liked Asia when I first came there in 1973. I went to Hong Kong because people were very entrepreneurial and risk takers. They like to gamble and they’re not afraid. In Switzerland everybody is always afraid of losing money. 

In Asia, they take risks and some of the entrepreneurs have become immensely rich — immensely rich starting from zero. These are people that were frugal with themselves. They worked very hard and they also benefited from asset inflation. In Hong Kong, property prices went ballistic over the last 30, 40 years. So anyone who owned properties became very rich.