Over the past three years, I have rarely taken a break from writing on this blog.
But every once in a while, it does happen. Between raising a young family and putting deals together for a living, it’s easy to run out of hours in the day.
Writing under time pressure is never a good idea.
It’s not enjoyable for the writer. And because the content typically ends up being subpar, it’s not fair on the readers. I respect my readers too much to waste your time with a bunch of dross.
So what was it that kept me busy over the past few weeks? Well, a combination of things.
Work remains busy as usual, even though it looks like the current situation will deflate dealmaking activity for the foreseeable future.
On top of that, I was busy refinancing one of our properties (more to come on this topic) and dealing with yet another personal issue, of the exciting kind.
And then, war happened.
The Big W
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I have a clear view on the situation.
After much bullying and deception over the past decade, including blatant lies of “we are not planning to invade” up to the very last moment, Putin seems bent on wiping Ukrainians off the face of the earth.
What’s even worse is that the majority of Russians, at least the ones inside the country, seem to be giving their explicit or tacit support to this genocide.
It’s a tragic situation, and the only silver lining is how tremendously inspiring the Ukrainians have been in resisting the invasion.
This is not a political blog, and I have no intention of making it such. I do, however, want to make a few observations.
First and most obvious, we need to do everything we can to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
That means supporting both humanitarian efforts and Ukraine’s military. Calling your MPs to exert maximum political pressure on the government. Joining the protests to show your support.
For many people, that also means dealing with the higher cost of living as a result of the economic sanctions being imposed.
It might not seem like it’s making a difference, but never underestimate the power of millions of people acting in concert.
(As an aside, Come Back Alive gets a big nod from my Ukrainian friends and clients as a highly credible NGO. That being said, there are plenty of great humanitarian organizations – just do your research and ensure that your contribution isn’t eaten up by overhead.)
The second point here is that we should be under no illusion – this isn’t just Ukraine’s fight.
If we let it slip now, war will come to our doorstep next. Just like with Hitler, it is simply a matter of time.
Which brings me to my next point.
In personal finance circles, we always focus on things like maximizing income, increasing our savings rate, and diversifying our investments.
But the implicit assumption we are making is that we will be around to enjoy the fruits of our labour.
As the events of the past few weeks have shown us, that’s not a given.
Lives, livelihoods, and lifetimes of sacrifices get wiped out overnight. Some will survive – but very few will thrive.
For all the shortcomings of democracy, it has proven time and again to be incredibly robust in ensuring peace and prosperity.
There’s a good reason so many people (my parents included) make massive sacrifices to make sure their children grow up in democratic countries.
But democracy isn’t free. First, you need to fight for it. And then, you need to fight to keep it.
This is exactly why the Capitol attack was so dangerous. This is why populist politicians with no substance are dangerous.
And this is why supporting anti-democracy regimes around the world – in any way shape or form – is so dangerous.
If you think it has nothing to do with you and I, I would urge you to reconsider.
It could be taking that lucrative job in a… ahem… less democratic part of the world. The one with a great comp package, tax breaks, and subsidized private schools.
It could be helping that dodgy businessman or individual do business in the West – because “if I don’t do it, someone else will”.
And it could be something as simple as putting your money to work in one of those economies in search of that elusive alpha.
Once again, it might not seem like your individual actions are making a difference. In the short term, they probably aren’t.
But as we know, compounding can be beautiful and dangerous at the same time. And a big reason we find ourselves being threatened with nuclear war today is our collective actions over the past two decades.
As a perennial optimist, I am confident we will work through this situation and end up in a better place. But we all need to do our bit.
As always, thank you for reading. We are back to regularly scheduled programming starting next week.
About Banker On Fire
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Banker On FIRE is a London-based M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker. I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence, and living the best life possible.
Find out more about me and this blog here.
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