Randomness in itself is not risky when it comes to investing in the stock market. But how you manage that randomness is what matters in the final outcome of your investment process.
Imagine you are offered to play a betting game with a regular dice. The deal is that if your chosen number turns up, you win and get back double the amount you bet. Would you play this game?
Using simple probabilities, we can see that the expected value of this wager is negative. How? The probability of each number on the dice (with six faces) is 1/6. So expected value = 2 x (⅙) – 1 x (⅚) i.e., -(1/2).
If someone agrees to play this game, he’s blindly speculating. Isn’t he? He obviously doesn’t understand probability. The outcome of a dice throw is pretty random and you can’t hope to make money from randomness. But hang on. The game is about to get little more interesting and profitable.
If you’re informed (by reliable sources) that the dice is completely loaded (unfair) and number 6 turns up on every throw, would you bet your money now? Of course. The game is no more random for you. But for a person who doesn’t have this specialized information about dice, the game is still plagued by randomness.
Which means randomness could be subjective. It is not absolute – the same event is more random to one person than to another. Notice that the extent of randomness decreases with the knowledge we obtain (the dice is loaded and favours the number 6). Which simply translates to the idea that the better we understand the business we are exposed to, professionally or through a stock purchase, the less random the environment is to us.
The dice example might look very obvious and uninsightful but if you could draw a parallel in investing, the lesson learnt can turn a losing investment strategy to a winning one. Because there is strong correlation between randomness and risk.
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