Manias and Panics – Lessons from last 400 years


“I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.”

Sir Issac Newton (after losing money in the South Sea Bubble, 1720)


Financial bubbles and crashes have been a frequent occurrence throughout the recorded world history. Almost all have led to bankruptcies, job losses, and financial distress.  If meltdown of bubbles is so painful, why can’t we stop them? Won’t it be better if prices remain etched to the financial worth of underlying securities/ assets, and owners earned the natural yields of those assets?

We scanned over 10 episodes of bubbles and crashes of last 400 years – including Tulip Mania of 1636, the Great Depression of 1929, the Dot Com bubble of 1999, the Sub-prime crisis of 2008 etc – to try and understand the causes of bubbles and crashes. The objective was to pull out/ revise lessons that today’s enthusiastic investors can learn from and avoid similar mental and financial toil.

Initial Rational Source: In almost all the bubbles of last 400 years, one or more of the following were the initial source(s) of economic exuberance:

SN Initial Rational Sources Examples
1 Inventions/ Productivity growth o    US 1920s (railways, radio, automobiles),

o    US Tech Bubble 1990s (internet)

2 Expansion of credit, excessive leverage, easy money, low interest rates o    Japanese Real Estate 1980s,

o    US Subprime Crisis 2000s,

o    Global Venture Capital boom 2015-2022

3 Globalisation, exports, cheap currency o    Japanese Real Estate 1980s,

o    South East Asia 1990s,

o    China 2000s

4 Economic Reforms/ Liberalisation o    Mexico 1980s,

o    US abandoning the Gold Standard 1970s,

o    India Harshad Mehta episode 1990s

5 Monopolies o    South Sea Bubble 1720,

o    Mississippi Bubble 1720


Most of the above measures were taken in pursuit of progress and economic well-being. And most of these measures were justified reasons for imagining a brighter future. They did improve lives and general wealth.

Wealth Effect: Anticipation of higher demand and growth due to above initial events leads to rise in asset prices. Banks get comfortable lending funds against security of these inflating assets. Raising money through equities become cheaper. Easy availability of both debt and equity capital at low cost of capital encourages capital investments and job creation. This raises incomes and thereafter consumption. The wealth effect thus feeds itself. 

Greater Fool Theory: What turns initial optimism into euphoria and bubble is the over estimation of brighter future, animal spirits and emotional outburst of greed, envy and fear of missing out (FOMO). Wealth effect leads to general sense of prosperity. It triggers envy and FOMO among sideliners. Prices start to detach from underlying reality. People buy in the hope that others may buy from them at even higher price – the Greater Fool Theory.

Timing the top: Sadly, sooner or later the supply of greater fools run out. Some external event happens that makes prices to first stop rising and then start falling. Those not able to service debt or expenses are forced to liquidate falling assets. Gradually greed turns to fear and wisdom of crowds turns into stampede of folly. If we try to pick clues about being able to time the peaks, we will return disappointed. For, there is no upper range of time in months when a bubble pops. However, sooner or later, it does pop. Following have been one or more common crash triggers/ escalators of the past:

SN Crash Triggers/ Escalators Examples
1 Frauds or Swindles o    Enron/ Worldcom During US Tech Bubble 1990s,

o    Satyam, India 2008

2 Default or Bankruptcies o    US Maring Debt 1920s,

o    South East Asian Crisis 1997,

o    Lehman Brothers 2008,

o    IL&FS default 2018

3 Contraction of credit or money supply o    Japanese Real Estate 1980s,

o    US Tech Bubble 1990s

4 Geo-Politics, Terrorism, War o    Yom Kippur War and Oil Crisis 1973,

o    9/11 Attack 2001

5 Natural Calamities including Pandemics o    Spanish Flu, 1918,

o    Covid -19, 2020


 Saviour: Primary protection against emotional follies of envy, greed, fear of missing out and overconfidence in an overheated market is to remember what Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett said about bubbles and human nature –

“The investor’s chief problem, and even his worst enemy, is likely to be himself”

“Be fearful when others are greedy”

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Investing during elections

Government policies and regulations have a material impact on business growth and profitability. Research has shown that business/ capitalism friendly policies add to general national prosperity. Take for instance the 1991 Economic Liberalisation in India. That single decision has altered the trajectory of wealth creation by Indian businesses. Respect for trade, commerce, enterprise and property rights has been a common source of wealth creation across multiple countries including Switzerland, Singapore, America, Japan, and to a limited extent, even China.

It is not surprising that Indian markets are cheering the expectation of the Modi government’s relection in the forthcoming elections. Over last 10 years, the Modi government has spearheaded many notable reforms including GST, reduction of corporate income taxes, speeding up infrastructure spends, fostering digitalisation through JAM – Jandhan, Aadhar and Mobile – trinity and promoting Make in India to name a few.

While the impact of policies on business growth is clear, the near term impact on the markets is less so. Two key challenges are (a) double counting and (b) impact of other factors:

Often, expected election outcomes already get baked into prices. Expecting a further rise when markets have already risen can be a double counting error.

Also, politics is not the only factor that affects markets. Global interest rates (falling interest rates since 2008 to 2022), global economic cycle (Chinese commodity boom in 2003-2007), geo political issues (Kargil war, 9/11, Ukraine-Russia war), technological changes (internet in 2010s and AI currently), demographics etc. all can have multiplicative or countervailing effect on markets.

Here are few examples of how correlation between elections and stock market is messy:

After rising 3x post Economic Liberalisation of July 1991, (partly due to the Harshad Mehta scam), the BSE Sensex remained flat for next 11 years even as the benefits of Liberalisation continued. There was the Asian crisis, Pokhran nuclear test (leading to global sanctions), and the Kargil War all in between.

In the 2004 elections, there were high expectations of the BJP-led government’s re-election under Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We all remember the optimistic “India Shining” campaign. Contrary to expectations, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won, initially leading to a 14% drop in the Nifty Index over the month following the election. However, the market was up 24% next year due to the Chinese commodity boom.

Or, take the 2009 elections, when Sensex was up 81% for the full year on re-election of The UPA’s government with a stronger coalition. How much of this was due to UPA re-election and how much a recovery from steep fall the previous year due to the Global Financial Crisis, is difficult to segregate.

In summary, it is not very easy to pinpoint election outcome’s exact and solitary impact on stock markets both in near term and longer term. This is because not only do prices bake in expectations, but there are other factors at play too.

Our approach is taking election outcomes as one of the many inputs into assessment of a company’s economic worth and comparing that worth with prices. Election outcomes stack lower than many other more important inputs like size of opportunity, competitive advantage, management quality etc in the pecking order. While there may be some businesses that directly benefit from who is in the power (infra, mining, defence, capital goods etc), economic cadence of businesses that we like (not many in the above list) are not materially affected by who’s in charge of the country so long as capitalism and free enterprise flourish.

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From Beginner’s Luck to Winner’s Curse?


Consider this: If 1000 monkeys had constructed portfolios of Indian stocks in the calendar year 2021, how many of those 1000 portfolios would have beaten the BSE 500 index after 3 years?

The surprising answer: ALMOST ALL OF THEM (997 of 1000).

No, these aren’t specially gifted/ trained primates; they’re random monkeys with random portfolios. We conducted a simulation with 1000 random portfolios. Each portfolio picked 100 equal weighted stocks at random from the BSE 500 universe in calendar year 2021. To remove starting period bias, we excluded period from May 2020 to December 2020 (marked by a sharp recovery from Covid-19 lows). Additionally, we assumed that stocks were added on a monthly basis throughout calendar year 2021. Then, on March 31, 2024, we compared the performance of these 1000 portfolios with that of the BSE 500 index, assuming a similar monthly purchases of the index. Remarkably, almost all monkey portfolios outperformed BSE 500’s 15% annualised returns from 2021 to March 2024, recording a median return of 22% p.a.

The secret behind this superlative performance lies in the starting point and market’s direction during the study period. Stocks have been on a relentless ascent since Covid-19 lows in May 2020. Many small and midcap BSE 500 stocks with less than 1% weight in the index have surged 3x to 12x. An equally weighted portfolio of random 100 stocks would allocate 1% weight to these stocks. Just a few such stocks are sufficient to improve the portfolio performance materially. Moreover, hardly any stock experienced significant declines to drag down the overall performance. If these portfolios were allowed to include micro caps, IPOs and SME IPO stocks (currently excluded) or reduce the number of stocks from 100 to say 50 or even 30, their performance would have risen further (100% outperformance; over 22% median return).

This outcome – call it beginner’s luck – mirrors the experience of many new investors who entered equity markets post Covid-19. Consistently beating the index is challenging even for seasoned investors. So, after outperforming the index over 3 years, many novice investors may start to believe that they possess a Midas touch for stock picking. However, in reality, the past 3 years’ success is largely attributable to luck. Worryingly, nothing sets up someone for financial and/or emotional ruin more than luck mistaken as skill and/ or an imprudent approach rewarded handsomely. Emboldened by their riches, many investors will raise their bets (trade in options, dabble in stocks of questionable companies etc.) precisely at the wrong time, and fall victim to the winner’s curse.

We also conducted a reality check: we made those 1000 monkeys repeat the same exercise in calendar year 2018. How many of them would have beaten the BSE 500 by June 2020? Only 200 out of 1000, with a median return of -6%. The reason? The markets were in decline from 2018 to June 2020.

Liquidity can propel stock prices to any level in the short term. However, fundamentals and valuations ultimately serve as anchors. Until then, ironically, a thoughtful investing approach may seem foolish, while a foolish investing approach may appear thoughtful. It’s therefore difficult to correctly evaluate performance in a uni-directionally rising market. The true test of investment skill lies in a falling market. Correct evaluation period should encompass a full market cycle, not just one phase as is the case with last three years. A full cycle is when margins and multiples both mean revert. A strong performance across full cycle results from being mindful of risks in a rising market and maintaining the price and quality discipline consistently.

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When to sell

Selling is easier when either the thesis turns out to be wrong or unexpected events impair the business fundamentals. However, the difficulty arises when business and share price both are doing well. The biggest mistake many renowned investors have admitted making is selling winners too soon (selling a potential 10-50 baggar at 2x). If the business is fundamentally sound, interim price fall may be temporary. Selling sooner would mean forgoing all the future upside.

On the flip side, however, endowment effect – overvaluing one’s things/ efforts – can fool us to mistake an ordinary company to be a future winner. Even if we remain dispassionate in assessing the business quality and immune ourselves from endowment effect, we are dealing with the future which can bring negative surprises. Promoters often failing to predict the future of their companies is a case in point. Therefore, on the sell date, we can never be fully sure that we have sold right.

Another aspect around selling is an opportunity to re-balance the portfolio by reducing strongly correlated positions. Over time, the mutual weights of positions change. If price changes lead to increase in portfolio exposure to one or more themes/factors – capital expenditure, crude oil, rural demand or capital markets for instance – selling may allow lowering excess exposure to a single theme/factor.

The middle road, then, is to vary the extent of selling depending on dispassionate assessment of fundamentals, portfolio exposure to a theme/ factor and degree of overpricing.

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Tribute to Charlie Munger

Bull markets go to people’s heads. If you’re a duck on a pond, and it’s rising due to a downpour, you start going up in the world. But you think it’s you, not the pond.”

-Charlie Munger, 1924 – ∞


Charlie Munger, partner of Warren Buffett, passed away recently at the age of 99. Warren credits Charlie for the mindset shift and phenomenal track record of Berkshire Hathaway. Charlie’s teachings have had an important impact on our thoughts and behaviour as well. While it is difficult to do justice to cover it all here, but as a token of tribute, we take a shot at sharing some of his worldly wisdoms around thinking, living and investing better:


Better Thinking

  1. Lifelong multidisciplinary learning: “To a man with a hammer the world looks like a nail”.

                                                       Munger said that a single discipline often lacks tools to look at the world holistically. Having key mental models from multiple disciplines – compound interest from Mathematics, margin of safety from Engineering, natural selection from Biology, breakpoint, tipping moment and autocatalysis from Physics and Chemistry, behaviour from Psychology and many more – give better tools to analyse problems or opportunities. For eg. Economic theory predicts that demand falls as price increases. However psychology provides exception to this rule– often high prices of certain products indicate their exclusivity and in turn increase their demand.


  1. Read read read: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero. Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself. Nobody’s that smart.”

                                                       The road to better thinking and learning is to read. Munger read in truck loads across diverse topics. Buffett said that Munger has the best 30 second brain, he can think about the answers before the question ends. Munger admits that he is able to do this because of hours of study and analysis that has gone into forming opinions on wide range of topics of general importance. Those who keep learning will keep rising.

  1. Seek to invalidate: “Any year that we don’t destroy one of our best-loved ideas is probably a wasted year. Recognize reality even when you don’t like it – especially when you don’t like it.”

                                                       Seeking to invalidate long held incorrect beliefs is necessary to progress. The key is not to ignore disconfirming evidence but to embrace them. Munger gave example of Charles Darwin (father of the theory of natural selection), who trained himself to intensively consider any evidence that went against his hypothesis.

  1. Human Biases: In his famous talk “Psychology of Human Misjudgement”, Munger shared 25 human tendencies/ biases that lead to judgement errors. An awareness about them can reduce errors. Here are a few popular misjudgements:
    1. Incentive caused biases: it is difficult to do something that goes against incentives. For eg: AUM based fee or brokerage will lead to asset gathering or portfolio churn respectively.
    2. Reciprocity bias: tendency to return favours and disfavours. For eg: releasing favourable equity research reports in exchange for investment banking deals (IPOs, M&A, block trades etc.).
    3. Liking/ loving bias: tendency to ignore faults or grant favour to those liked or loved. For eg: getting investment opinions influenced by good looking/ presentable top management of a company.
    4. Confirmation bias: tendency to look at facts selectively so as to support already held beliefs or conclusions. What a man wishes, that also will he believe. For eg: overlooking bad news around owned stocks.


Better Living

  1. Invert, always invert – “If you want to achieve X, find how to avoid non-X. Invert, always invert. To live a good life, find how to live a bad life and don’t do it. All I want to know is where am I going to die so that I donot go there. It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”
  1. Track Record: “I think track records are very important. If you start early trying to have a perfect one in some simple thing like honesty, you’re well on your way to success in this world. Remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets – and can be lost in a heartbeat.”
  1. Work/ Career: “Three rules for a career: Don’t sell anything you wouldn’t buy yourself. Don’t work for anyone you don’t respect and admire. Work only with people you enjoy.”
  1. Happiness: “Avoid envy, avoid self-pity, avoid resentment and have low expectations.”
  1. Mistakes: “A meaningful life cannot be lived without making mistakes (corollary: pursuit of returns higher than risk-free rate will invite chances of mistakes). But try avoiding fatal ones by first learning from others’ mistakes.”


Better Investing

Below are few useful thoughts that Munger has shared on investing:

  1. All intelligent investing is value investing – acquiring more than you are paying for. You must value the business in order to value the stock. (inference: growth and quality are components of value)
  2. A great business at fair price is superior to a fair business at great price. (Warren Buffett attributes the shift of his style and resultant success of Berkshire Hathaway to this one secret.)
  3. There are worse situations than drowning in cash and sitting, sitting, sitting. I remember when I wasn’t awash in cash —and I don’t want to go back.
  4. We have three baskets for investing: yes, no and too tough to understand.
  5. The wise ones bet heavily when the world offers them that opportunity. They bet big when they have the odds. And the rest of the time, which can be very long, they don’t. It’s just that simple.
  6. I want to think about things where I have an advantage over others. I don’t want to play a game where people have an advantage over me. I look for a game where I am wise, and others are stupid. And believe me, it works better. God bless our stupid competitors. They make us rich.
  7. How could economics not be behavioural? If it isn’t behavioural, what the hell is it?
  8. Bull markets go to people’s heads. If you’re a duck on a pond, and it’s rising due to a downpour, you start going up in the world. But you think it’s you, not the pond.
  9. Understanding both the power of compound return and the difficulty of getting it is the heart and soul of understanding a lot of things.
  10. It’s (investing) not supposed to be easy. Anybody who finds it easy is stupid.

Book suggestion: Those interested in reading more about him can start with Poor Charlie’s Almanac

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Immediate Vs Delayed Outcomes

Often we judge the success of an activity by its outcome. We run a sprint, we know at the end who has won. We write an exam, results in few hours/weeks tell us how we did. When outcome is immediate, cause and effect relationship is easy to understand.

However, this outcome based evaluation can mislead if the outcome occurs, not immediately, but over long periods of time. More so, if immediate outcomes are different from long term outcomes. Consider healthy eating. Giving away junk food for healthier alternatives look painful today but is beneficial in longer run. Or consider working out. Going to the gym looks a chore in near term but immensely beneficial eventually. Conversely, smoking or gambling may feel great in the near term but are harmful over longer term.

For such activities with longer term outcomes, a judgement based solely on immediate outcomes – healthy eating or workouts are undesirable, smoking or gambling are desirable – will be wrong.

Investing is more like the latter set of activities. There is an element of luck in the near term which can lead to false positives – great returns despite buying wrong things; or false negatives – poor near term returns despite correct process.

If the immediate outcome of an activity is poor, how do we know for sure that we need to stop or continue that activity? We need to look at historical evidence of longer term effects. And we need to ask whether it makes sense in longer term.

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Embracing Truth, Light and Immortality in Investing

असतो मा सद्गमय। तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय। मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय

(May we move from untruth to truth, darkness to light, and mortality to immortality.)

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


Truth: There are only a few eternal truths in investing. Some of them include: (a) Stocks are not pieces of paper, they represent partial ownership in live businesses. (b) The value of a business (and therefore stocks) is the present value of cash that can be taken out of the business over its life. That depends on opportunity size, competitive advantage and management quality. And, (c) Risk stems from acting without understanding this value and/ or paying above the conservatively assessed value. The closer our actions are to these truths, the better our long term performance will be.

Light: Returns lie in the future. However, future is uncertain and dark. Only an intellectually honest understanding of a business can shine light on its character and help predict its future. While perfect understanding of a business is impossible, honest working understanding of key variables is sufficient. Mistakes occur when we think we understand a business when actually we don’t. Hence there is need for humility, sceptic mindset and use of common sense, forensics, and triangulations. Unless proved otherwise, every incoming information about a company needs to be doubted. Keeping our hypothesis always in question and seeking to invalidate our most loved beliefs can allow us to move towards light.

Another aspect of darkness is our biases and emotions that prevent us from seeing the light. Greed, envy, fear of losing or missing out, overconfidence, and hubris obstruct the light of rationality. While these biases and emotions have evolutionary importance, they become counterproductive while investing. It may sound funny, but the first impulse is usually wrong in investing and it would be safe to act opposite to it. Being greedy when fearful, for example. Yes it is difficult to go against our evolutionary programming, but staying aware of our emotions and biases can take us towards right action. 

Immortality: Being a custodian of wealth that is going to be useful not only for the current but even future generations, we need to think in terms of decades instead of quarters. Our first objective as investors should, therefore, be to avoid mortal mistakes, financial ruin and permanent loss of capital. Focus on risk should precede expectation of riches. This requires preference for sustainability and repeatability.

Prices often rise in short term due non-fundamental reasons including narrative, liquidity and news flow; many times against fundamental reality. While riding such rise due to luck or design looks temptingly doable, it is not sustainable (at least for us) and may eventually reverse. In longer run, paying below carefully assessed fundamental value is the only way we understand to sustainable returns.

Lastly, when assessing value or behaving, we should remember that most things – high growth, high margins, success and failure are impermanent. Prices move from being expensive to being cheap and vice versa. By retaining equanimity and behaving counter-cyclically, we can use these swings to our advantage.

In summary, we have to keep moving towards and sticking to a process that is based on eternal truths, intellectual honesty and sustainability.

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Underperformance of an Investment Style


Practicing a sensible investment style consistently is important for investment performance. There will be periods when a style will be out of favour. And with each year of underperformance, one will wonder if the style works (Warren Buffet in 1998-2000; Prashant Jain in 2015-2019). The tendency to dump the out of favour style and hug the popular style is highest at the time when the out of favour style starts working again (both Warren and Prashant came out on top as cycle reversed).

So if the style makes economic and rational sense, there is need to endure especially when the confidence is low. 

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Five hurdle checklist that reduces risks and improves returns

Surgeons, pilots and many critical professionals have saved lives using checklists. In last 12 years, our investment checklist has evolved after being battle tested with real life wins and losses. Here’s that checklist summarised into five key hurdles/ questions that every company we own or wish to own has to pass:

First and the biggest hurdle is that we must be able to independently understand the business. This involves understanding how the business makes money and why do consumers demand its product/ services. Due to complexity of the business or our own ignorance, many businesses are not able to pass through this screen. No understanding, no conviction, no investment case. Time, reading and thinking help us improve understanding of new or existing businesses.

The second key question that we ask is how large is the opportunity size. A company that is serving an essential product/ service with no threat of substitution and has low penetration can be said to have a long runway (for example demat accounts, air conditioners, health insurance etc). A definite disruption threat is a key risk to avoid.

Long runway, however, in itself is not enough. The business should have some inherent competitive advantage that allows it to tap the runway profitably. Competitive advantage allows the company to protect profits from competition or regulations. Low cost, network effects, patent/ license/ copyright, switching costs, consumer habits, culture etc. can be some of the sources of competitive advantage. Without competitive advantage, growth does not create shareholder value. This is an area where we spend a lot of time. High returns on capital hints presence of an advantage in the past. We probe the causes and durability of such high returns. It is important not to mistake cyclical tailwind/ headwind as competitive advantage/ disadvantage.

The fourth and the most difficult filter is management quality. We look at the past actions of management around three areas. First is execution track record i.e. ability to create distribution, human resource, and supply chain capabilities that allows it to maintain or grow its market share. Second is capital allocation i.e. investing incremental earnings on return accretive projects or in absence, returning them back to shareholders in best possible way. Last is treatment of minority shareholders as evident from accounting quality, embezzlement, remuneration and skin in the game.

The last but important hurdle is valuation. For core equity positions, valuation alone is useless unless the company passes all the four hurdles above. Our preferred method to value is to see what growth and margin assumptions are built into current price versus (a) past and (b) our conservative imagination of its future. Often a company that passes the above four tests does not come cheap. While quality demands paying up, paying any price can be a mistake. We need to wait for temporary hardships or size discount (smaller companies can remain mispriced due to lack of attention from larger investors) that can create mispricings.

Despite failing to pass one or more of the above five hurdles, a company’s stock may do temporarily well. An 80 P/E stock may go to 100P/E; stock of a company in a new long runway sector but no entry barrier may rise in initial euphoria; temporary tailwinds may be mistaken for enduring advantage etc. But if the truth around the five steps hold, weak thesis gets its due punishment. Conversely, a company passing through all the five hurdles sooner or later gets it due reward. Keeping the investing bar high and executing all five of them with discipline and margin of safety is the key to minimise investment mistakes and improve long term returns. Funnily, the five hurdle process eventually works because it does not always work


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An “investment” product to strongly avoid

Rs 144 trillion. This is the size of India’s favourite financial savings instrument– bank fixed deposits. Rs 30 trillion. This is the next favourite instrument. Can you guess what is it? This is the size of savings plans of life insurance companies. This is twice the size of debt mutual funds in India and is 50% higher than combined sum held as current and savings deposits with banks.

A typical insurance savings product is pitched like this (LIC Bima Jyoti): Invest Rs 10,000 every month for 15 years. Get Rs 30 lacs at the end of 20 years. Get tax benefit under section 80C. Redemption proceeds are tax free as well.

What is not expressly told is that this will give a return of just 6.6% p.a. after GST and income tax benefits (assuming 30% tax bracket). And that there is a lock-in period of 5 years. Failure to pay premium in any of the first five years, not only will lead to loss of tax benefit but also attract surrender charges. Sadly, around 50% of people close their policies before 5 years and their net returns are much lower.

For such a long duration commitment there are better alternatives. A PPF that comes with similar benefits and 15 year term returns 7.1%. In fact, an ELSS (equity mutual funds that are eligible for section 80C benefits), which has just 3 year lock-in can return even higher. In last 20 years it has returned over 12% p.a. after tax. For death benefits a pure term insurance plan is much better. A Rs 1 crore cover can be obtained at an annual premium of around Rs 20,000.

It is extremely fascinating how the confluence of (a) high commissions, (b) tax benefits and (c) human fallacies have created such a colossal but nearly useless product. 

  • Life insurance savings products pay around 30% commissions to agents on first year premium and upto 15% from second year onwards. An agent will prefer selling these over a mutual fund that earns him just 1% for same investment garnered. That’s why your favourite finfluencer has started peddling these products in their “educational” Youtube channels. And that’s why your bank RM or distant relative talks so sweetly to you while suggesting investment options.
  • Life insurance products were given tax benefit so that more and more people secure financial safety of their dependents. The tax benefits were created envisaging pure term policies that only pay death benefit. However insurance companies have misused this benefit for creating FD like products.
  • Lastly, investors drop their guards as soon as they hear “guaranteed returns” and “tax benefits”. Many are not able to calculate the internal rate of return (IRR) embedded in these products. Finally, they rush to buy these products in March, just before the end of financial year without proper evaluation.

Best exit action for those stuck with such products, is to hold them till the lock in period of 5 years and then surrender the policies. This will help retain the tax benefit on redemption and minimise surrender charges.

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