Review: IQ plus EQ: The Arrow and the Hoisting Crane by Feliciano Bantilan

IQ plus EQFeliciano Bantilan, a veteran stock investor and physicist by training, was struck down by Parkinson’s disease, leaving him unable to work. Lucky for us, however, he has turned his hand to penning exceptional advice for young people interested in approaching the stock market with a new kind of acumen: applying IQ plus EQ.  He says,

IQ refers to intelligence as commonly understood. EQ refers to emotion quotient, or, emotional intelligence. When someone presents you a math puzzle to solve, certain mental operations are set into motion in your brain. The capacity for solving such type of puzzles—we call IQ or intelligence.

By applying these two strengths to the matters of investing wisely, he has created a book here packed full of wisdom that anyone new to investing would find immensely valuable. The secret to the approach is simple: by looking at investment as an almost spiritual and innate action, good choices can be made to see yourself set in the future. This is the long ball, and Bantilan, a classic example of why investment is prudent, knows exactly what is required. His argument, set up in his abstract — for the book is essay-like — is clear. This book argues that to make better investing decisions in the stock market, we have to understand the workings of human nature; the arrow and the hoisting crane are the sentiments investors feel while investing,

The slow, if majestic motion of the hoisting crane, tells us it is foolish to act on the time scale of the arrow.

This work could be described as challenging, but frankly, that’s a word used by those not ready to learn. I found it immensely stimulating and refreshing; it is a work filled with quotes and references used well, and opens the mind to learn and actually get excited about a subject that for many stays dormant and one of the unknowns in life. I am sure as a physicist, Bantilan’s predilective thirst for knowledge serves him well as he ties his fascinating thoughts together thread by thread for his reader. So be aware Bantilan throws his reader into the jungle from the outset, with figures and percentages speeding through investment terms such as “compound growth” or “Incommensurate time horizons”. But these terms are explained in a wonderfully poetic way, anchoring his reader to their own humanity and legacy. Here’s his description of how we as human beings make “poor intuitive statisticians”,

Our ancestors in the savannahs in Africa paid close attention to the rustling of leaves. They could pay dearly with their lives if they ignored the rustle as just caused by a random fluctuation of the wind…

They navigated in a reality teeming with intentional agents—predators, intent on turning them to protein sources… To drop their vigilance to “causes” was to invite the end of their line.

Thus we evolved into superb intuitive “causaliticians”; but, very poor intuitive statisticians. Eons of time honed our ancestors to be sensitive to causal events; but not to chance events. Our mind structure is such that for any event we automatically search for its cause. We expect there to be always some correspondence between events and causes.

Having read The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nicolas Taleb about causality in the stock market, which is about the idea that the universe is not as tidy as human being perceive it in terms of random events was mindblowing in 2007, and now Bantilan’s theory very nicely augments these ideas with something even closer to theories of perception: our own nature. Therefore it’s obvious that this book could easily be picked up by the right person and create a storm. Unlike many more theorized books on the more spiritual side of math, Bantilan’s science background does not allow him to leave any stone unturned. His theories are provable with figures, calculations, graphs and scenarios to illustrate his argument.

The one criticism is that the book could use a further proofread as there are some small but noticeable spelling and grammar errors, but these could be ironed out on a later edition, as they don’t detract from the immensity of Bantilan’s brain and how he uses it here. And all of this from a man in his sixties with Parkinson’s! In his bio, we learn, “only a finger in his left hand could press keys of his laptop.”

My favorite part was an equation for valuing a business, as well as what exactly a mutual fund is;  I’ve had one for years as a bonus at an old job, and never really knew what it was! Now I do!

This book is a highly interesting read for the right person, and I learned a great amount in a very relaxing and philosophical way. The book is almost meditative in its execution, and I am certain that this zen quality in itself will encourage many about to be involved in investing with its intense high-octane drama will be glad of this incredibly informative read. A surprising and original positive take on the markets long overdue.

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