Ep681: Harvey Sawikin – Do Your Own Homework

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Quick take

BIO: Harvey Sawikin is the co-founder and co-manager of Firebird. Launched in early 1994, Firebird’s funds were the first dedicated to the stock markets of Russia and the former Soviet Union.

STORY: Harvey invested twice in a bank and a vodka company without due diligence. Instead, he believed that other companies who had invested in those investments had done the job of verifying their viability. Harvey lost huge amounts in both investments.

LEARNING: You’ll fail if you rely on someone else’s due diligence and work. The most dangerous time to invest is when it’s the easiest to invest.


“Relying on someone else’s due diligence is a mistake because you never know what’s going on or when stuff starts to go wrong.”

Harvey Sawikin


Guest profile

Harvey Sawikin is the co-founder and co-manager of Firebird. Launched starting in early 1994, Firebird’s funds were the first dedicated to the stock markets of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Harvey also co-founded the Amber funds, which do private equity in the Baltic States. Before Firebird, he was an M&A lawyer at Wachtell Lipton after attending Harvard Law School and clerking for a Federal judge. Harvey’s novel, about a young lawyer who becomes an inside trader, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1995. He lives in Manhattan with his wife of 32 years and a neurotic 15-year-old cockapoo.

Worst investment ever

One of the largest banks in Kazakhstan, BTA Bank, approached Harvey’s company with an investment proposal. Another fund in the region had taken a position in it. The bank was supposedly very close with management and had excellent insight into how the company would build. The company looked cheap, with a reasonable price to book, and the economy was performing well. So Harvey invested in the bank.

It turns out the bank’s loan book was crooked, and there was a lot of self-dealing. The guy who was the main power behind the bank was arrested for misappropriating millions of dollars from the bank through bad loans. The bank was put into bankruptcy and was taken over by another bank. The shareholders were almost wiped out. Harvey’s company had invested $20 million and got under a million back.

In another incident, Harvey was very interested in getting involved in Ukraine. When a vodka company was brought to their attention, they became keen on investing in it, especially since a famous hedge fund in New York had bought a direct position. The fund said they had maxed out how much they could take and were willing to sell Harvey part of their stake.

Harvey’s company made its investment, and within two or three weeks, the vodka company released gross earnings. Its financial results were 40% below where they were supposed to be.

Harvey believed they had been duped by the hedge fund and wound up litigating against them. He eventually dropped the case due to the ruinous litigation costs in England and where the loser pays. He surrendered to losing that investment.

Lessons learned

  • You’ll fail if you rely on someone else’s due diligence and work.
  • Be careful when investing during a bubble because it becomes invisible to you when you’re inside it.

Andrew’s takeaways

  • Do your own due diligence.
  • Don’t overestimate the knowledge, skills, and persistence of other investors.
  • The most dangerous time to invest is when it is the easiest to invest.

Harvey’s recommendations

Harvey recommends Twitter as a source of real-time information as long as you follow the right people.

No.1 goal for the next 12 months

Harvey’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to hang onto his Russian positions and make sure his investors recover their money and continue to find value in the rest of Eastern Europe when the war is over.

Parting words


“If you don’t obsess over your mistakes, you’re not a real investor.”

Harvey Sawikin


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning in our community we know that the winning investing you must take risks but to win big you've got to reduce it. Ladies and gentlemen I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives to join me go to my worst investment ever.com and sign up for my free weekly become a better investor newsletter where I share how to reduce risk and create grow and protect your well. Fellow risk takers this is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guests. Harvey Sawikin. Harvey, are you ready to join the mission? I'm excited. I'm excited to have you and wow, what an interesting bio. Let me just introduce you to the audience. Harvey is the co founder and CO manager of Firebird launched starting in early 1994. Firebird's funds were the first dedicated to the stock market to Russia and the former Soviet Union. He also co authored and co founded the amber funds, which do private equity in the Baltic States before Firebird. He was an m&a lawyer at Wachtell Lipton, after attending Harvard Law School and clerking for a federal judge Harvey's novel about a young lawyer who becomes an insider trader, was published by Simon and Schuster in 1995. He lives in Manhattan with his wife of 32 years and a neurotic 15 year old cockapoo Harvey, tell us about the unique value that you are bringing to this amazing world.

Harvey Sawikin 00:42
Absolutely. Well, I having been an investor for 30 years in emerging markets, and surviving, probably five major crises, I think I've seen every kind of cycle you can imagine. And they're vicious cycles, in the sense of evil. And, and I think and preparing for this, I'm fortunate or unfortunate to have so many bad investments, as you can imagine, in all the countries I've invested in, not to mention my own outside investing, but just focusing on Eastern Europe, that it was, it was a cornucopia of mistakes and, and different kinds of mistakes. So I narrowed it down to two, because I felt that they illustrated in sort of more general investment mistakes that you can make that don't, that are not just made in Eastern Europe, but anywhere. So much value is a lot of time a lot of mistakes. And, and a healthy ability to and and lots of self criticism and self reflection about what I do wrong and continue to do wrong, even after learning the hard way.

Andrew Stotz 03:02
And just so for the audience's understanding, tell us about, you know, where are you what is the breakdown of kind of where your investment funds are going and where your energy is?

Harvey Sawikin 03:14
Well, we started to do just Russia. But very soon after that, other stock markets of the former Soviet Union started to launch. And we were among the first investors in a lot of them Estonia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Romania, Georgia, every were that we thought had the characteristics of a good emerging market. And where there was something to buy for portfolio investors, since that was our main focus. So we really run a regional strategy. Russia has generally been our largest market, because it's the most liquid. And the last few years, there really were a lot of great companies emerging. Obviously, the war has thrown everything out the window and changed everything. So right now, you know, our Rush has been marked down significantly. So it's up. It's not as big of a weighting in our regional funds anymore. And but we're active in I think, right, besides Russia, eight other countries, and, and then there are 30 others that are theoretically in our mandate, that have never been appropriate for investment for one reason or another, and some of them may become and the war may be accelerating that in fact, because some of these people so many countries have been under Russia's domination and as they get out from under that they could really turn into much more interesting market economies with with stock markets.

Andrew Stotz 04:47
What do you see as like the brightest shining light, you know, in that sphere?

Harvey Sawikin 04:54
Um, well, you have different kinds of countries you have countries that are almost like Western Europe. Now like the Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania, and they're great, you can buy what are essentially, like Western European stocks now with rule of law and everything, but usually at a discount to Western Europe, and usually in countries that have higher growth rates in Western Europe. So if you're if Western Europe grows at 2%, our these countries will grow at 4%. So they're cheaper and higher growth. And you get all the good things of Western Europe rule of law. But then there are the other kinds of countries where I would say, like Kazakhstan, which is a country in transition, it doesn't have it doesn't, you would not mistake it for Sweden. But it's caused massive potential. And if you catch a country like that, at the right moment, as it's transforming into a better market economy, with better rule of law, you know, the returns there can be quite spectacular. And I've done it many, several times. I mean, we've written up massive bull markets, not just in Russia, but in, in the Baltics and Romania, in countries that really converged. And Georgia. So there are different kinds of so the brightest shining light, I don't know, they're, they're all interesting in different ways. I mean, I'd say Kazakhstan is very interesting right now, because there's a new president, or a newly empowered president, who really seems to want to finally reform and get away from sort of rush up Soviet style, oligarchic economic activity, and it is wrong. It's one of the only countries in Eastern Europe that has a population growth as well. So that's nice, too. Interesting. I

Andrew Stotz 06:53
had a strategy piece that I brought out to my clients about a year ago, and I showed a picture of Kazakhstan on the map. And I said, Watch this space, because the amount of resources number one, whether that's oil and gas, or whether that's precious metals, or whether that's a rare earth, the proximity to Russia basically means that the US is, you know, really focused on how can we get this into our sphere, particularly with the exit from Afghanistan? And with Russia, of course, wanting to have it in their sphere? It's, and then you've got China, right, nearby, also, who needs those resources from it? It's just, as I recall, it's one of the top five oil exporters, you know, in. So it definitely seems like, there's a lot going on there.

Harvey Sawikin 07:46
One of our greatest investments was supposed to be about bad investments. But one of our great investments ever was is a Kazak Oil Company, which is owned by CNPC. And we bought shares, originally in 97, and then some more right after September 11. And I think we paid for the second tranche something like $8 a share. And for several years, we were getting $100 dividends in the early 2000s. So I mean, that's probably a total return on that thing is probably 100 bagger. But so Kazakhstan is really, really interesting. And as you say, it's balancing between China, Russia and the United States in a very intelligent way. And I think it's, they've been very smart, but the new president really is a new kind of person for the country. So we'll see how that goes.

Andrew Stotz 08:48
Well, that's part of the great thing about doing this podcast is to meet people like yourself with your expertise in different areas. So I think that's great stuff for the listeners out there. But we're not here to talk about Kazakhstan or all of your experience in these various areas. We're here to talk about your worst investment ever. And so now it's time to share it. And since no one goes into their worst investment, thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to an intelligence.

Harvey Sawikin 09:18
Well, there's two one of them actually, is in Kazakhstan. So I'll start with that one. This was a bank called BTA bank. It was a systemic institution in Kazakhstan, one of the largest banks, and it came to us because there was another fund in the region that had taken a position in it. And they were supposedly they were very close with management, and had a very good insight into how the company was going to build it looked cheap, low reasonable price to book for, and this was you know, when In the economy was doing very well. Um, the really what happened ultimately was that the bank was the bank was essentially all the loan book was crooked. And there was so much self dealing, the guy who was sort of the main power behind the bank, wound up being arrested. He's I think he may be out of jail now and Europe and, and, you know, accused of misappropriating billions of dollars from the bank through bad loans and wound up the bank basically was put into bankruptcy. And it was taken over by an another cosmic Bank, which swallowed it. And the shareholders were almost wiped out, we went up, I think we invested $20 million. And I think we got under a million back, when we were bought out and that and to get that we have to, like really fight hard to get any recovery at all. Because basically, the bank was essentially a valueless, and it was just being taken over by one of the other banks. The way I don't know. Yeah, JP Morgan took over Bear Stearns, right. It was like that. That was JP Morgan. Right? Yeah. So like that. And so that was one and then the other worst investment ever was a, it was a private company in Ukraine, called SV or Soyuz vektron, it was a vodka company. And it was brought to us and it was sort of like, this was during the period after the, the original Orange revolution when people thought, Okay, it's gonna be really good now. And we were very interested in getting involved in Ukraine. The investment was brought to us because a very famous hedge fund in New York, I won't say their name, had a large position had bought a position in it directly, a direct investment in a little private equity pool they had created. And they said that they had more than was they maxed out how much they could take. And so they were willing to sell us part of their part of their steak. And I said, Whoa, Ukraine, vodka, we had we tasted, we had a block vodka tasting, and everybody liked it. And this fun, you know, it's a very well known fun, and I said, you know, they know what they're doing. And they've drafted all these agreements with rule of law, London, you know, choice of law, and all kinds of stuff invested in, we made our investment. And literally, within two or three weeks after we made the investment, they released horrendous earnings, financial results, which were 40%, below where they were supposed to be. And, and, you know, we, we thought we had been just taken by the major hedge fund. In fact, I wound up litigating against them until I dropped the case with the ruinous costs of litigation in England and where the loser pays, but I couldn't take the chance anymore. I don't actually in long retrospect, I don't think they were trying to take us I think they were also fooled. And it was, it's the Ukrainian business culture at the time. It's just not ready for primetime. I mean, this was this was an environment until this war, and I think this war may change things in Ukraine, but for as long every time things looked good in Ukraine, you know, but the business culture never changed. people's attitudes were always steal whatever, you know, if you can steal today, there is no tomorrow. That has never been the case. In a country like Russia, five, people wouldn't believe me if I tell you that the corporate governance over the years in Russia is definitely one of the best of any country that I'm invested in. Because they don't have the rule of law. They don't have courts, all they have is relationships. So people there, if you have a relationship there that's important to the Russian, they'll not never screw you because they need. They want that they need that. and Russia, they always believed there was a future that they were building to something great. Ukraine, they didn't have that kind of a culture. So once so we made this investment before the financial crisis. And then when the financial crisis hit, what happened In Ukraine is that they immediately start the controlling guy immediately started looting the company. He took out, for example, the IP, he took just reregistered it into a company that only he'll, and, you know, good luck, you have this hedge fund had a choice of law and England to litigate Good luck, you know, good a lot in getting the judgment, and then enforcing it in Ukraine when the courts were all corrupt. So it was a write off zero. Now, let me tell you why I chose those two out of the scores of bad mistakes I've made. They illustrate two things that I've learned are really doomed to failure. One is for me, one is relying on someone else's due diligence and work. So in both cases, I didn't do my own tire kicking and real careful checking. Who are these people I'm investing with? What do I know about them? And we have lots of contacts in the region, I can find things out, I just didn't bother. Because I said, Well, clearly, these two very experienced funds have done the due diligence. So relying on someone else is is I have found, usually a mistake, and you never know what's going on. And then when stuff goes to go wrong, starts to go wrong. He I called up. In the case of the Ukrainian company, I called up what's going on, they didn't know any better than we did. And I realized, this is a New York based hedge fund that had no real experience in Eastern Europe, or in private equity. By the way. I at that point, had 20 years of experience in Eastern Europe, why the heck was I relying on them, they should have been relying on me. So big mistake, and in the other in the cosmic bank, same mistake. And then the second mistake that they both have in common, these investments were made at the peak of bubble in emerging markets bubble in 2007, when or six, seven, when we had money pouring into our funds and to Firebird funds. You know, we were getting one month in 2007, I think we took in for us and a tremendous amount of money, I don't know $50 million, $60 million. And I had a lot of FOMO, like, or filmu, fear of missing upside, I felt I have to get fully invested, I can't sit here with all this cash. And I lowered my standards dramatically. You know, I should have known better. It wasn't my first bubble rodeo. I'd seen it and you know, 97 also, but that time that 2006 2007 emerging markets bubble was so powerful, that it would have taken a lot more self restraint than then we had to either turn away that money, say it's too hot, or to just sit back and hold it as cash and say, Look, this is we gotta but what I did was because the stock markets were kind of getting so frothy, and we said, well, you know, the stock prices are high in Russia, may I know what we'll do, we'll do a private deal at a big discount. So and then not just these two, we did a bunch of other private transactions at that time, at discounts saying, Okay, well, at least we're not overpaying. But then when the music stopped in a way, we got stuck, there was no, it was a bridge to nowhere. So we wound up being stuck with these things, some of these private deals, I'm still stuck with a couple of them that I've been trying to get out of, for now or you know, 15 years. And so bubble behavior like that is and that's applicable. You know, we saw it of course, recently in tech and venture bubble and crypto bubble where, you know, money was pouring in. You have tiger law, I hate to speak ill of another fun, but this has been reported so widely. You had Tiger just basically saying, Give us the money, we'll just buy anything. We and supposedly the higher gain. So they made number mistake number one, at the top of a bubble. They were trying to get investment as fast as possible. And number two, they hired somebody else to do their work for them. They hired Bain to do the due diligence on these venture companies. And so that's both mistakes. So these mistakes are applicable to whatever you're in and as somebody was smart once said, The problem with being inside of a bubble is that it's invisible to you. You know, you think we thought and 2000s Six, and oh seven, that this was just perfect and fine and normal. It's normal that our funds are up 20 times, it's normal that everyone is pouring money to us because we're good and smart. And this part of the world is still going to grow. And there's no limit to it. And you know, so I don't know if I ever get another chance to do the right thing. I will see if I, if I learned from the mistakes, but I see other people doing it all the time. Yeah,

Andrew Stotz 20:34
maybe I'll share a couple things that I take away from it. The first thing I want to share is that like, when, when we think about investing, we think about fund managers, you know, ultimately the risk managers and they're taking on, you know, we're all taking on risk. But when I think about what you're investing in, you know, it's like you are a real, you know, you have a ability to take on some pretty amazing different risks that you're not going to face if you're trading in the s&p 500. So that's like my first observation, which is, you know, fascinating. The second thing is, you know, I've I've chronicle that being an analyst, I've analyzed all the different stories that have been either submitted to me or told to me, and I tried to classify them. And the number one most common mistake is failed to do your own research. And so this is a great example. And I use a case for CFA ethics. When I teach CFA ethics to young people, I say, you know, if you're, if you're sitting at a, at a dinner, or you're having dinner at a restaurant, and there's a person sitting next to you, and you overhear them, saying, we've just added $10 million of a particular stock into our portfolio. And then you go back, and you add that to the portfolio, your clients, have you violated ethics? And the answer is yes, you have because you haven't done your due diligence. And everybody understands how foolish that would be. And I said, but what if you're sitting in a restaurant and the person sitting next to you was Warren Buffett. And he said, I'm just investing in such and such, you know, should you just race back and buy it. And of course, what we know is that you still need to do your own work, because it may be suitable for them and not for you for other reasons that you don't even see. But here, we get a great example of why it's very important for every single investment, that we do our own work. And I think I other thing I added to that is Don't overestimate the knowledge, skills, persistence, you know, and all that other people, many people are at the top of their game at the top of their industry, because of many different factors. Sometimes it is, you know, an intense focus. And other times it's riding a wave and all that. So that's another thing. And then the third thing is that, yeah, the most dangerous time to invest is when it is the easiest to invest. When that money's coming in, when the headlines are right reading. You know, everything's great. And when it's just, you know, who's there's no fool out there, you know, you're not going to be a fool. When you go and tell people that I'm buying and making money in this up market. You're where you will be a full as you know, eventually if you were to buy in a down market where nobody wants it and all that. So those are some of the things that I take away. There's anything you would add to that.

Harvey Sawikin 23:29
I mean, just recently, I remember Jim Cramer on Mad Money. at CNBC, he was talking about a couple of months ago, he showed the 10 year, no, the two two year Treasury, and he said, anybody who buys this is crazy, you're gonna get killed. And of course, that was the best thing you could have bought. It's, you know, that was at 4% or whatever. And meanwhile, he had just recommended Silicon Valley Bank saying, you know, don't, don't worry about it. But something I would add to what you said before about my specific risks. And very honestly, if I tell you, you won't believe this, but the people who've ripped me off over the years most successfully, are they're not Russians, they're not Kazakhstan. They're not even Ukrainians. Although Ukrainians are good. It was Westerners it was Canadians, who was British stock promoters. Back in the day, it was a resource Junior bubble and then mid 2000s. And suddenly all these promoters emerged who are Canadian guys who got hold of a gold mine and Romania or got hold of an oil well and Kazakhstan. And when I met with those people, my defenses were down. They were like, oh, yeah, he's not a Russian. I don't have to be so worried. And I got completely taken to the cleaners time and again, probably a half dozen major blow ups and half dozen things I invest didn't went to zero from these promoters. Whereas with Kazakhstan, Russians, you know, we're very, very defenses are up, it takes a lot of thinking and talking and understanding to say, Okay, I do trust this person, our interests are aligned. And here's why. Like I said, Ukrainians, that was a whole other story because of the fact that the business culture was completely horrible. But in all the other countries sure I made mistakes, but, you know, they were more calculated risks than some British guy who, you know, the famous Mark Twain saying that, what is it that a liar, stands in front of a hole in the ground and calls it whatever, I lost that threat. But like, we have Firebird we have certain like shorthand things as that are almost like funny like that we've learned over the years, like, you don't ever invest with an entrepreneur who's wearing two toed shoes. But this Kazak guy with like brown and white shoes, and that's never gonna work. Like how many phones they have, that's another thing like if they haven't, nobody needs more than maybe two, if he's got four mobile phones. That's not a good sign either. But on the other hand, the best investments we ever made, include things where the financials were almost non existent when we started buying Russian vouchers in January 1994. And we were the first people to try this just about and, you know, we had no, I knew nothing about the companies we were tendering for. Except it was, for example, it was an oil company, it has much oil as mobile, and it was trading for 99% less than mobile per barrel. And, you know, we like the macro situation of the Boucher, privatizations. But sometimes, you know, the best things we ever done, and because no one else would do it. I mean, it's always I mean, right now, just as an and I've always found to also on what you say that, if I suggest an investment theme, that would make most people laugh, it's definitely worth following up on. So like, if I said right now, what everybody should be doing, and is buying equities, in companies all around Eastern Europe, X Russia, which is what I'm doing, they would say, that's crazy, I don't want to be in a war zone. And as a result of that the money has flooded out of the region, there's no new money coming in funds that need liquidity, and they can't sell Russia because all Russian stocks are frozen. They have to sell other things. So we have, you know, in our fund, everything X Russia, is valued at a PE of under five, and we have dividend yields in the double low double digits. This is the time when I think it is good, but you know, it would spark laughter. If I didn't know what else you could say today, that would spark laughter. Sometimes, if they laugh, and you're still wrong, like buying sort of banks, in the middle of the current crisis, you know, I don't think that's a good idea. If people would laugh at you, and they'd be right to laugh at you. But when I hear a really good idea, and my first instinct is to recoil, and our and laughter, and then I think about it a second time, and I said, Wait a minute, this is really interesting. Those have been some of the best things I've ever invested in, both in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Andrew Stotz 28:57
Yep. You made me think about in Thailand, you know, and as well as most of Asia, the corruption is kind of crude, compared to, let's say, the US where, you know, you're not going to be approached by a officer pulling you over asking you for 100 bucks. And so that people take that to think maybe that corruption doesn't exist, but I would say, the Americans kind of have got it down perfectly in the way that it's done and the way it's kind of coached or couched in, you know, I think about Dick Cheney as an example and its ability to, to, you know, direct funds and all that. So it made me just think that sometimes when you meet with ties, it may be a bit crude as well as others maybe in emerging markets. But when you meet with a Westerner, it may be a very different type of corruption or favoritism or corporatism or some kind of collusion with government that just is easy to overlook. So that's a great reminder for

Harvey Sawikin 30:06
I mean, even on the books as an ex lawyer, you know, one of the things I've always been interested in are the legal systems and all these countries and, you know, on the books, shareholders have more rights in most of these Eastern European countries. And the reason is, when they wrote their corporate laws, they cobbled together some of position, some of the best provisions from the city, the British law and the US law. So there's things you can get away with in the United States that you can't get away with in Eastern Europe, for example, you can't buy control of a company without making a minority offer. And in Eastern Europe, what you can do here, unless they have a poison pill or some other takeover to order some state, but uh, people can get away with a lot of things here that they can't in, in Eastern Europe, of course, someone would answer would say to me, yeah, you know, laws are on the books, but can they be? Can you enforce them? The answer is, you know, the courts in Eastern Europe have actually proven to be better than I would have thought on procedural matters. So if a company is required to make a minority buyout, and doesn't make it, and you just show that to the court, generally, those cases are good cases, you can win. And I've seen people win all kinds of cases. So, but you know, you don't have to rely on it, you don't want to make an investment, you're not gonna You're not, you're betting you're not going to wind up having to sue anybody. But if you do have to. So I think that, um, it's not as clear as that. But as you say, you know, in the Western markets, some of the shenanigans that go on are incredible. I mean, if you look at what's just happened in the banking sector here, you know, we have our largest sector waiting is banks, because in Eastern Europe, because if you want to play the growth of an economy, usually the bet in an emerging market, usually the bank is the best way. And all the banks that we invest in, they're all systemic banks and their countries, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Romania, and the level of regulation and oversight that they have, is very, very strong. It's like JP Morgan plus. And so, you know, there are certain advantages. When you get into the developing world, if people don't realize their advantages, but they don't understand you know, that, especially the countries that want to do well, you know, they will be very banking crisis is a disaster, it sets you back five years minimum and an emerging market. So they're doing everything they can to prevent that. So our banks in Eastern Europe, everything's mark to market, they don't have any held to maturity securities are very, very little. When interest rates went up at last year, their profits went up, not down. Everything's marked to market. So and capital ratios are higher, and everything is loan to value is not as aggressive. So yeah, that's one of the advantages. But I want to come back to Ukraine for a minute, just because I don't want to leave this talk and leave with a bad effect I've made before the war started, I used to say about Ukraine, that I've seen a lot of Westerners try to succeed in Ukraine. And the only thing the average these guys ever succeeded in doing was marrying a woman who was like way out of their league. Ukrainian women are brilliant, beautiful, and they're with guys who would not have a chance in any anywhere else. But I would say that what is happening now is under the Lensky is really exciting. And I think that if when this war is over, if Ukraine survives, as I think it will, he's going to use the post war boom, boost that he has to finish pushing through these reforms, and they've already done a lot. They've kicked out a lot of the oligarchs removed, reduce their power, and it's not kicked out, but they've reduced their Stranglehold over certain industries. Next, they have to fix the judicial system. But then he will have a mandate to really finally make it and I think Ukraine could be a wonderful opportunity, not necessarily for me because I don't know that it'll be a portfolio investor opportunity, and I'm too old and too late in my life to do more Private equity and real estate, things like that too hard, too much work and too much traveling. But for some, if I was if some young person was asking me, where's there a good opportunity in emerging markets, I'd say, you know, go to Ukraine, go to Western Ukraine where it's relatively safe, and start to make contacts because after this war, there's gonna be hundreds of billions of dollars of reconstruction money, there's going to be opportunities and real estate and construction, and, and really is a chance to, to finally turn turn this country, and they will get on EU they're already on EU track. And that changes everything. When a country hits on a eu track and Eastern Europe, things really change. Usually not always. But the example of Romania where we've made very successful investments is a great example of how the EU trap keeps pulling them even when it's their instinct to start doing things the old way. The people won't have it. The people will stand up and say, No, we want to be in the EU, we want to live like they do in Poland and like the EU, in Germany, so. So I think Ukraine, after the war could be one of the great stories, I'm not sure I'll still be actively managing money, but we'll see. I hope so. Because I think I'm optimistic about,

Andrew Stotz 36:31
okay, what's the resource you'd recommend for our listeners?

Harvey Sawikin 36:36
Um, you know, I really hate to say it, because I really am not a fan of Elon. But I have to say right now Twitter is, you know, it's a source of real time information. And if you follow the right people, it's just so like, animal. It's an incredible tool and resource. And it depends on you know, obviously, I see a lot of things about Russia, Ukraine, since I'm following the war. But you know, in any area that you're interested in, you know, you can find people post great ideas, great investment thesis, I bought Facebook at 100 bucks, because I read this brilliant thesis about it. Somebody just posted on Twitter who runs a fund. And he was bullish on Facebook and explained it, it was right there. So I like that. And, you know, obviously, Bloomberg is great. That's all that really comes to mind.

Andrew Stotz 37:41
Last question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Harvey Sawikin 37:48
Well, my number one hope for the next 12 months is that this work comes to an end, this insane war comes to an end in a way where you know, Ukraine is left to the full country that it was before. And, and that Russia goes back to, you know, reverses some of the track that they've been on for the last few years. I can't make that happen. To me my goal in investing is with my Russian positions is to hang on, make sure my investors have the chance to recover their money when this is all over and in the end to continue to find value in the rest of Eastern Europe. And enjoy the what looks like a very good opportunity there.

Andrew Stotz 38:36
Listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. Remember, I'm on a mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. If you've not yet joined that mission, just go to my worst investment ever.com and join my free weekly become a better investor newsletter to reduce risks in your life. As we conclude, Harvey, I want to thank you again for joining our mission and on behalf of a Stotz Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Harvey Sawikin 39:06
No, I love talking about my mistakes. And if you don't obsess over your mistakes, you're not a real investor.

Andrew Stotz 39:15
Now those are great parting words, so that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. Let's celebrate that today. We added one more person to our mission to help 1 million people reduce risk in their lives. This is your words podcast host Andrew Stotz saying, I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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