The Full English Accompaniment – Why a seismic economic shift won’t happen.

The end of the month fell since the last Full English. That means a link-fest below. To save time for all the other writer’s out there I only have a few short thoughts today.

A YouGov/ New Economics Foundation poll published in the Guardian this week demonstrated that 31% of people want to see big changes to the global economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 6% wanting no changes (1). I take any poll or news-worthy statistic with a pinch of salt, especially those espoused to support lefty claims in a lefty rag. However it makes sense, we’ve all experienced big changes through lockdown:

  • Less commuting and more working from home
  • Supply chain changes, less in the shops, more available locally
  • A push to support local businesses
  • Less spending for the sake of it on consumerist tat (because the shops have been shut).

Why not take this opportunity to change things? The Government is already bankrolling huge sectors of the economy. Now is the perfect time to do the big rejig. Perhaps switch towards:

  • renewable, green energy and policies (2)
  • home-working supported by massively improved infrastructure
  • on-shoring industries to support rapid supply chains.

But we won’t. For two reasons.

  1. Inertia (3)
  2. Management.

People do not like dramatic change. Individually we may find it exciting and exhilarating. The potential. The opportunities.

That requires you to get up and do something about it. And we’re fundamentally lazy, stupid, panicky animals. We are much happier doing things the same way we’ve always done than having to learn something new. It requires effort, and motivation. Motivation on a national scale is a challenging construct.

The top level management are also not going to be on board. They have a vested interest in the status quo, it’s how they got there, it’s how they get power/money/fame (delete as appropriate). Why would they risk that?

Plus when have top-down restructures worked well? The Government’s management of the COVID tracking system says enough here.

So, like Soho’s pubs, we’ll soon be back to where we were before. Minus a few tens of thousand dead.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

Opinions/ Blogs:

References:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/28/just-6-of-uk-public-want-a-return-to-pre-pandemic-economy
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanmichelson2/2020/06/30/how-to-rebuild-the-economy-and-create-jobs-with-clean-energy-innovation/
  3. https://indeedably.com/inertia/
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53222765
  5. https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2020/07/04/a-latin-american-economic-tragedy
  6. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-8475855/No-road-tax-cheaper-run-E-car-recharge-finances.html
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/jul/01/uk-annual-house-prices-fall-for-first-time-since-2012-coronavirus
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/29/central-banks-could-face-political-pressure-to-allow-high-inflation
  10. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-28/the-future-of-inflation-is-the-biggest-question-in-finance?amp_js_v=a3&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQFKAGwASA%3D#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2020-06-28%2Fthe-future-of-inflation-is-the-biggest-question-in-finance
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53272411
  12. https://www.moneymage.net/2020-june-savings-report/
  13. https://www.onemillionjourney.com/portfolio-update-19-june-2020-100347e/
  14. https://firevlondon.com/2020/07/04/june-2020-disadvantage-month/
  15. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-june-2020/
  16. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-24/
  17. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/07/01/june-2020-plus-other-updates/
  18. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.com/2020/07/01/month-end-june-2020/
  19. https://playingwithfire.uk/june-2020-life-spending-and-investment-update/
  20. https://www.thefrugalcottage.com/dividend-income-june-2020/
  21. https://moneygrower.co.uk/june-stock-purchase-the-new-economy/
  22. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/june-20-net-worth-and-monthly-update-22-569037-13570-89-fi/
  23. https://sparklebeeblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/monthly-update-jun-2020/
  24. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/07/02/financial-independence-update-june-2020/
  25. https://www.moneyforthemoderngirl.org/i-did-an-antibodies-test-plus-saving-side-income-and-learning/
  26. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/07/investment-review-june-2020.html
  27. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/07/01/financial-update-16-june-2020-going-up-up-and-away/
  28. https://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2020/07/total-portfolio-37113-1688-debt-0-0.html
  29. http://www.cantswingacat.co.uk/2020/06/30/june-income-report/
  30. https://monevator.com/the-slow-and-steady-passive-portfolio-update-q2-2020/
  31. https://drfire.co.uk/q2-2020-report/
  32. https://igniting-fire.com/2020/06/29/2020-q2-update-long-days-short-weeks/
  33. https://firevlondon.com/2020/06/29/help-wanted/
  34. https://www.firemusings.org/time-to-change-the-car-part-1/
  35. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/dont-faint-its-a-blog-post/
  36. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2020/07/05/why-everyone-should-start-a-blog/
  37. https://hustleescape.com/anchoring-and-adjustment/
  38. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.com/2020/07/04/8-great-things-about-working-from-home-during-the-lockdown/
  39. https://playingwithfire.uk/hi-im-the-new-girl-expat-financial-mistakes-learnt-the-hard-way/
  40. https://monevator.com/financial-planning-software-wide-of-goal/
  41. https://youngmoneyblog.co.uk/apprenticeships-are-we-failing-disadvantaged-young-people/
  42. http://bankeronfire.com/hunters-farmers-and-financial-independence
  43. https://indeedably.com/better-days/
  44. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/07/powercell-portfolio-addition.html
  45. https://www.foxymonkey.com/day-trading/
  46. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2020/07/01/passive-investing-bubble/
  47. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/06/blue-whale-growth-fund-the-next-big-thing/
  48. https://www.muchmorewithless.co.uk/lockdown-spending-habits/
  49. https://www.finumus.com/blog/school-fees-are-now-very-expensive-or-are-they

The Full English – Strength in Unity

This blog is mainly apolitical, and this post is not intended to be politically biased. With that in mind I’ll start this post with a statement:

Boris Johnson will not lead the UK to growth through Brexit.

How did I come to this conclusion?

I’ve been reading a lot of posts through the Way Back Machine on Slate Star Codex (1). I’m late to the SSC party (many thanks Indeedably for the pointer), but there are a lot of parallels of thought. Relevant to this point, is the 2014 essay ‘I can tolerate anything except the outgroup’ (2). It’s particularly pertinent with the current Black Lives Matter movement.

Scott Alexander essentially makes the point that we define ourselves as part of a tribe. Those definitions are often built upon stereotypes. Those stereotypes, that definition, and that tribe provoke more intense feelings than race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality alone. The concept that you are more likely to have intense negative feelings towards someone outside of your, essentially political, tribe has been validated again more recently. A 2017 Stanford study found that political identity is that which we hold most dear (3).

Boris Johnson built his current political success through a combination of his previous irreverent populist persona and alignment with the Brexit campaign. Cummings further drove that campaign and the subsequent political party direction towards populism. Defining themes included that Westminster and the political elite were not hearing the ‘man on the street’, ‘taking back control’ and investing in UK-centric policy (4, 5).

In doing so they created a new political schism. The ‘outgroup’ were centrist and included the existing ‘political elite’. The new division was Leave/Stay, and BoJo was a strong enough persona to unite people behind him. Corbyn, for all the positives he may have, was indecisive on the a difficult question, but one through which people began to define their tribe.

Johnson and Cummings won their battle. They created a large enough tribe with a strong enough identity to not only result in Brexit, but also in the 2019 election win.

But a telltale sign of the future comes from that 2019 election win. Boris Johnson’s manifesto was essentially a bit of everything, sort of business as usual, and without any great rallying points (6). If the great defining point of their tribe up until now has been Brexit, taking back control, railing against the political system and instigating policies for the UK people, where was the definition in this manifesto. Or even currently?

The current cabinet core rose to power through defining themselves as an in-group. Mostly by defining an out-group, and then denigrating them. Lots of ‘they aren’t listening to you’, ‘they didn’t do this’, ‘yes but, no but’. Those defining characteristics are becoming irrelevant. They have reached the top, and now the reasons for the tribe are gone.

Boris Johnson’s response to COVID-19 has been good evidence of this. At times he has been statesmanlike. At others he has been nowhere to be seen. The UK’s outcomes and conduct in fighting COVID-19 will be reviewed in the future, likely with lots of inquiries that result in bugger-all.

Ultimately when the current government has tried to unify the country, in my opinion, he has lacked a methodology. BoJo’s MO is to divide, deny, distract and with Cummings, define a foe.

There are no more internal foes.

Good political leaders are defined by their ability to unite people behind a cause. The greatest, by their ability to unite without criticism or negative connotation. JFK (and to a less public but more politic extent LBJ), Thatcher, Obama… all could bring people together who previously would not have stood so.

The current government has brought people together, but there was no further plan, and the methodology to bring those people together was negative, not positive.

Either we see a re-invention of the Conservative party, into a new political tribe built upon Johnson’s foundation. Or the tribe splinters, to the next strong unifier.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

Opinion/ Blogs:

References:

  1. https://slatestarcodex.com/
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20200618075102/https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/
  3. https://news.stanford.edu/2017/08/31/political-party-identities-stronger-race-religion/
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/06/uk-brexit-guide/482730/
  5. http://www.voteleavetakecontrol.org/briefing_newdeal.html
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50524262
  7. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-22/boe-s-bailey-says-he-d-shrink-balance-sheet-before-raising-rates?_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQFKAGwASA%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bloomberg.com%2Fnews%2Farticles%2F2020-06-22%2Fboe-s-bailey-says-he-d-shrink-balance-sheet-before-raising-rates
  8. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/06/22/andrew-bailey-warns-markets-bank-england-will-reverse-money/
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53148678
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53164304
  11. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/25/imf-global-financial-stability-markets-disconnect-risks-a-correction.html
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53183504
  13. https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/23/zopa-granted-full-uk-bank-licence/
  14. https://www.reddit.com/r/UKPersonalFinance/comments/hdax3m/is_there_a_financial_vehicle_that_i_can_use_to
  15. https://life.spectator.co.uk/articles/are-we-heading-for-hyper-inflation-or-deflation/
  16. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qj4ka5/covid-19-broke-the-economy-what-if-we-dont-fix-it
  17. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/06/european-opportunities-trust-whacked-by-wirecard/
  18. https://youngmoneyblog.co.uk/credit-covid19/
  19. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/06/quality-companies-sustainable-growth.html/
  20. https://drfire.co.uk/double-down-pivot-or-start-over/
  21. https://sparklebeeblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/net-worth-analysis/
  22. https://indeedably.com/inertia/
  23. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/06/26/garden-explosion/
  24. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/the-power-of-mrs-fu-money/
  25. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/priapic-solstice-perambulations-in-pursuit-of-weed/
  26. https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/is-your-life-getting-better-or-worse/
  27. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-is-your-isa-keeping-up-with-the-joneses/
  28. https://monevator.com/bond-prices/
  29. https://monevator.com/lars-kroijer-onavoiding-covid-19-losers-ultra-low-interest-rates-and-dividend-cuts/
  30. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/06/26/i-hereby-declare-this-pandemic-over/
  31. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/06/hedge-gap-in-filling-by-underplanting.html
  32. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.com/2020/06/27/climbing-mount-fi/
  33. https://hustleescape.com/hanlons-razor/
  34. https://www.thefrugalcottage.com/the-next-investing-workshop-is-nearly-here-limited-spaces/
  35. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/ethical-investing-fifty-shades-of-green/
  36. http://bankeronfire.com/a-matter-of-time
  37. http://bankeronfire.com/when-your-money-makes-more-money-than-you
  38. http://bankeronfire.com/weekend-bonus-edition-low-risk-corporate-bond-investing

 

The Full English Accompaniment – Racism in the NHS

I think it’s hard to be racist whilst working in the NHS, when a full fifth of your colleagues are from BME backgrounds (1). Many of the friends I’ve made through work are first or second-generation immigrants. We’re all as good as each other. Earlier in my medical training I operated on people from all backgrounds; inside we’re all the same.

Without immigrant workers the NHS would have collapsed during COVID-19. Those individuals have been on the end of racial slurs (2). When you’re employed to provide free care for all it’s difficult to turn people away if they insult you. Discrimination by managers has been reported by 15% of BME staff, and bullying by 29% (1, 3). Sadly BME staff are also more likely to be on the end of disciplinary hearings, and less likely to be in managerial positions (3). There are questions over whether the NHS is institutionally racist, and inquiries are starting as BME NHS workers have born the burden of COVID-19 exposure, and subsequent mortality (4, 5).

When we hear racial insults and discrimination in work we call it out when we can. But sometimes they get missed, or staff let it slide. ‘They’re drunk’. ‘They’re old and out of touch’. ‘It doesn’t matter’.

Reading and hearing from Black Lives Matter, I’ve learnt more about the effects of these words. The effects of turning the other cheek all the time. How we become complicit by not calling it out (6). Listening to the BBC Rugby Union podcast on race really brought it home (7).

Outside of work my exposure to racism is very different. I was fortunate to be born in western country, white, to affluent(ish) parents, with good education. I grew up in a country town. My primary school was all white. My first secondary school had a handful of non-white kids. The second school I went to was even whiter. I remember farmer’s sons perpetuating racial stereotypes. These were kids who had never had interactions outside of their small world. We were the kids playing rugby where racial slurs would fly around. Is that stuff still going on? The BBC podcast suggests so.

I remember my grandmother informing me as a small child I would be disowned if I married a non-white person. She came from another time, grew up with staff, from a family wealthy enough that they didn’t need to work. These are the excuses we make. By making excuses we allow it to continue. That isn’t right.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

Opinion:

References:

  1. http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Care-News/nhs-must-tackle-systemic-racism-as-report-shows-staff-discrimination-on-the-rise
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/05/nhs-heroes-and-targets-of-racists
  3. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-staff-racism-bme-ethnic-england-data-a9340601.html
  4. http://www.irr.org.uk/news/institutional-racism-in-the-nhs-intensifies-in-times-of-crisis/
  5. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/19/positives-and-negatives/
  6. https://indeedably.com/complicit/
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08gh94p
  8. https://www.ft.com/content/4eda8fe4-a100-4b0c-b38a-7ac9f4df4aa8
  9. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-15/morgan-stanley-economists-double-down-on-v-shape-global-recovery
  10. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-8422807/Triple-lock-pension-guarantee-threat-inflation-falls.html
  11. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8419729/Buyers-return-lockdown-fuel-rise-house-prices.html
  12. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/18/young-trader-dies-by-suicide-after-thinking-he-racked-up-big-losses-on-robinhood.html
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53097572
  14. https://www.reddit.com/r/wallstreetbets/comments/h945ly/dddd_retail_investors_bankruptcies_dark_pools_and
  15. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/the-stock-market-may-be-pricey-but-its-nothing-like-the-genuine-market-bubbles-of-the-past.html
  16. https://moneyweek.com/economy/inflation/601534/a-years-worth-of-inflation-in-a-single-month
  17. https://www.finumus.com/blog/google-skynet-hedge
  18. https://igniting-fire.com/2020/06/14/revisiting-the-race-for-fire/
  19. https://www.onemillionjourney.com/global-index-funds/
  20. https://www.foxymonkey.com/pay-for-cash/
  21. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/06/scottish-american-investment-company-built-for-resilience/
  22. https://drfire.co.uk/investing-demystified/
  23. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/ermine-egging-on-the-economy/
  24. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2020/06/17/passive-income-through-option-writing-part-5/
  25. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/06/sse-full-year-results.html
  26. https://indeedably.com/deuce/
  27. https://youngmoneyblog.co.uk/debt-covid19/
  28. https://monevator.com/income-or-capital-growth-us-uk/
  29. https://monevator.com/walter-schloss/
  30. https://monevator.com/negative-interest-rates/
  31. https://awaytoless.com/the-benefit-of-salary-sacrifice-pensions/
  32. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/06/20/unlikely-topic-of-conversation-1-quantitative-easing/
  33. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.com/2020/06/20/6-months-6-ways-to-save-the-planet/
  34. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2020/06/18/investing-strategy-the-barbell-approach/
  35. https://firevlondon.com/2020/06/18/how-sustainable-is-your-investing/
  36. https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/less-choice-not-more-makes-for-a-happy-life/
  37. https://thesavingninja.com/something-happened/
  38. http://bankeronfire.com/how-to-lose-your-job-in-10-years
  39. http://bankeronfire.com/pedal-to-the-metal-how-to-build-wealth-in-your-40s

The Full English Accompaniment – Gamble your COVID days away

Opinion: We’re in a stock market bubble driven by bored amateur traders (speculators)

The market has come a long way since mid-March.

We’re now almost back to post COVID-crash valuations. Some of my investments are actually higher than they were then. Yet our economic situation, though now clearer, are no less dire.

Why?

COVID-19 is not as terrible for the global economy as the markets thought?

QE and other government/ central bank policies have propped things up?

Tech companies are making bank?

Perhaps some of this.

There’s a lot of news and opinion calling the current climb the ‘FOMO rally’. Driven by people who saw others ‘buying the dip’ and don’t want to miss out. Novice investors testing the ‘buy low- sell high’ off the back of the March fall (1). Some of that is new users of trading apps and platforms. Freetrade hit 100,000 users in February (2). By their latest crowdfunding raise they had reached 150,000 (3). Small fry compared to Robinhood’s 13 million active users (4).

Image Credit: /u/theycallmeryan (5)

I have skin in the game with Freetrade, having invested in their crowdfunding and using them for my ISA. If you would like a free share for signing up, drop me an email.

The number of trades per day is shooting up. Small traders, for the first time since 2000, have made more than 50% of the daily trades (6).

Image Credit: /u/theycallmeryan (5)

Some of that money is going into funny places. As bond yields fall people are investing in riskier corporate bonds, (1, 7). Robinhood users are making interesting plays and swapping more. They piled into Hertz (the car rental company) after it declared bankruptcy, sending the stock market sky high (1, 4, 8). See also JC Penney. These weren’t long term purchases to hold. This was pure speculation on the price rising during bankruptcy proceedings, as many economic authors in classic tomes describe.

Image source: (8)

And as people are sat at home, furloughed or out of work, with no sport to watch or bet on, they’re turning their amateur hands to the markets. The number of searches for ‘how to trade options’ has shot up:

Image Credit: /u/theycallmeryan (5)

And the number of small time traders buying options is climbing (6). As a result of delta hedging the price of the underlying securities of the options traded rises (5).

This has the effect of uncoupling market valuations from underlying stock value; the speculative options are irrelevant of value, and as others buy stocks as a hedge against the risk introduced by the speculation the stocks themselves become separate from the value. To make this picture even more complicated, the Fed’s policy of QE this time has also included corporate bond ETFs right the way down to junk bonds, offering direct loans to risky companies, buying dodgy mortgage-backed securities, and buying the debt of the riskiest companies (5, 9). The QE methods taken by international central banks have basically eliminated risk from the equation by supporting those companies which should have bankrupted, in an effort to stop a depression.

This drops interest rates. It drives people to take more risk for returns. The risk averse pay down debt, which explains the falls in consumer credit debt we’re seeing.

Debt is very cheap, and cashflows are uncertain due to Coronavirus, making the Discounted Cash Flow Model and underlying values difficult to calculate (10).

The Buffett indicator; composite market value of the market compared to GDP, is currently back at dotcom levels. Then they were 71%, now they’re 74%, where >30% is overvalued.

So things are likely to remain rocky for a while.

The sensible course of action remains to ignore the movements, and bet on the gradual returns. Drip feed and dollar-cost average.

We live in interesting times.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

N.B. I aim to keep this blog apolitical. Some issues transcend politics. I share my voice as an ally. Black Lives Matter.

News:

Comment:

References:

  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-investors-think-fomo-could-power-fresh-gains-in-the-stock-market-2020-06-13
  2. https://blog.freetrade.io/there-are-now-100-000-freetraders-c12a27ee2843
  3. https://freetrade.io/crowdfunding-2020
  4. https://www.techradar.com/news/robinhood-growth-is-floating-the-stock-market-despite-pandemic
  5. https://new.reddit.com/r/wallstreetbets/comments/h0ytcy/the_liquidity_trap_how_qe_and_low_rates_might_be/
  6. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-09/speculative-fervor-in-u-s-stocks-surges-to-stunning-levels
  7. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/11/treasury-yields-fall-after-gloomy-fed-outlook.html
  8. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-global-markets-themes-graphic/take-five-pump-it-up-idUKKBN23J1RC
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/10/its-not-capitalism-why-are-global-financial-markets-zooming-up
  10. https://new.reddit.com/r/wallstreetbets/comments/gynyi8/dddd_equity_valuations_and_why_they_no_longer/
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52973089
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/10/uk-economy-likely-to-suffer-worst-covid-19-damage-says-oecd
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52977098
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53005454
  15. https://moneyweek.com/economy/inflation/601481/ten-reasons-inflation-could-be-set-to-return
  16. https://www.wsj.com/articles/vanguards-new-robo-service-offers-low-cost-financial-and-retirement-advice-11591873200
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/jun/13/ethical-investments-are-outperforming-traditional-funds
  18. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/boris-johnson-driving-electric-car-scrappage-scheme-2020-a9558361.html
  19. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2020/06/10/passive-income-through-option-writing-part-4/
  20. https://www.moneyforthemoderngirl.org/black-lives-matter-power-control-and-money/
  21. https://indeedably.com/complicit/
  22. https://cashflowcop.com/policing-without-consent/
  23. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/06/08/goodbye-dogs-2019/
  24. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/06/09/its-in-the-price-the-stockmarket-has-already-taken-that-stupid-internet-article-into-account/
  25. https://thesavingninja.com/the-fire-movement-wasnt-for-me/
  26. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/were-not-going-on-a-summer-holiday/
  27. https://hustleescape.com/open-plan-offices/
  28. https://monethalia.com/matched-betting-with-multiple-accounts/
  29. https://www.moneymage.net/what-is-a-pension/
  30. https://playingwithfire.uk/how-to-not-lose-friends-and-alienate-people-with-fire/
  31. https://sparklebeeblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/the-world-of-work/
  32. https://www.firemusings.org/the-memories-in-photos/
  33. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/21-year-old-net-worth-and-fire-plan-update/
  34. https://www.muchmorewithless.co.uk/grow-your-own-veg/
  35. https://moneygrower.co.uk/using-furlough-to-practice-being-fired/
  36. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/a-walk-on-the-wild-side/
  37. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/06/dividend-growth-rate.html/
  38. https://monevator.com/new-account-how-to-make-money-in-shares/
  39. https://southwalesfi.co.uk/2020/06/13/learn-from-my-f-i-r-e-mistakes/
  40. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/06/nibe-industrier-portfolio-addition.html
  41. http://bankeronfire.com/how-people-get-rich-with-real-estate
  42. http://bankeronfire.com/reach-financial-independence-faster

The Full English Accompaniment – Cold turkey interest rates

A few weeks back I considered the deflationary risk weighing on the global economy. A discussion on the This Is Money podcast, and comments from the BoE have taken me in the other direction this week. Why would we end up with high inflation and high interest rates?

First we need to talk about debt. Consumer debt has actually seen a record fall since the start of Coronavirus, something to do with not being able to spend and no need to keep up with the Jones’ (1). The same can’t be said for Government debt. As I write this The Economist’s Global Debt Clock is rising through $61,594,467,000,000 (2). This was a problem before COVID-19. 2019 saw record global debt to GDP ratios (322%), following slight falls in 2017 and 2018 (3, 4). China’s ballooning debt was of particular concern, with plenty of tenuous business loans supporting growth (4, 5).

The word addiction had been bandied about with reference to debt. Below is a favourite short that I use to explain addiction when doing teaching sessions about the dangers of gambling and drugs. You come to rely on the object of abuse to feel normal. Credit cards and lifestyle anyone?

Credit: Andreas Hykade, Filmbilder & Friends (6)

The reasons for increasing debt woes are country specific. In Europe and the US it’s a combination of household spending, QE and zombie companies. There’s the massive junk bond bubble scare brewing; corporations kept going in 2008/9 through borrowed money now being refinanced, on the verge of reaching junk bond status, at the same time low yields push people to riskier bonds in aid of returns (7, 8, 9). Yet people keep buying bonds (10). China is just straight up building infrastructure projects that are getting abandoned or never used, while Japan can’t get it’s GDP to grow (11). Individual investors continue to seek returns. Interest rates on savings are minimal, with decent returns disappearing (12, 13). Bizarre investment structures, like this Buy-to-Let-Cars scheme, hoover up those desperate for income on their holdings (14).

And then there’s COVID-19. The Government were very happy to deny a massive money tree for the NHS/ social care. Then they’ve opened their metaphorical chequebook and are handing round a whole forest of blank cheques. Which is needed. But the cost could be £298 billion in debt for Apr 2020/21 alone (15). Analysis from the Resolution Foundation suggests that currently £80 billion has been raised with no deterioration in cover ratio (16). Predictions therein suggest a further extension to QE in June (16).

Image Credit: Resolution Foundation (16)

So we’ve got a mounting pile of government debt as we borrow our way out of trouble. Low, or even negative interest rates are helpful for the Gov here. Favourable to continue borrowing. As TA at Monevator covered this week, we’re seeing some negative UK bond yields (17). The noise from the BoE is that proper negative interest rates are unlikely, but not impossible (18). Certainly there’s no push towards an interest rate rise (19).

Why should there be. Inflation sits at 0.8% for April 2020,(20) well below the BoE’s goal 2.0%. We’re worryingly close to stagflation; rising prices due to rising demand with static growth (21). There’s an argument that there’s a lot of pent up demand due to lockdown, with limited supply also thanks to lockdown. The QE money creation rears it’s head.  Deflation is a feedback loop international governments definitely do not want (22). It will only increase their debts.

The magic bullet

So what about inflation. Measures of inflation like the CPI may not have spiked since the 2008/9 financial crisis because Joe Bloggs in his northern terrace has practically seen little inflation of prices. Consumer goods have probably decreased in cost. But the high ticket items like sports car, larger houses in certain postcodes, watches, wine, art and even gold have all risen in price.* The QE wealth got stuck on it’s trickle-down in high net worth owner’s assets. It created a high net worth inflationary micro-environment.

How are we getting out of this mess? A survey of top UK economists suggests that they feel there is no need to tackle public debt soon, and tax increases may the best method in the end (23). We can keep borrowing in the short term. In the long term there is the suggestion that inflation is the only sensible answer (24). QE and other factors are likely to push towards inflation anyway (25). Running inflation higher than 2.0% would reduce that Government debt burden. This method has been used before; after the second world war inflation ran at 4-5% for a good couple of decades (26).

My generation is just not used to that sort of inflation. One of my takeaways from The Intelligent Investor is the change in financial policy/climate. Graham wrote in a period where 4-5% inflation was not unheard of, and savings accounts could yield 5-7%. I vaguely remember those sort of numbers from my childhood building society, but I’ve never been conscious of that financial world. The risk of a 1970s/ Weimar Republic style inflation spike is present (27). The fear of that sort of inflation seems greater than the 1950s 4-5%, maybe due to recency bias, or because those with the most to lose are those who remember the 1970s (28).

Ultimately it seems we’re unlikely to see interest rates or inflation change in the short term. But maybe, in the medium-long term, we’ll see 5% interest rates again. We’re preparing for such eventualities (29). We can tolerate up to 12% on our mortgage with some belt-tightening. I’m sure many can’t. Those zombie companies would go to the wall. The BTLs may struggle. Perhaps a period of 4-5% inflation is the economic reset we need.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

*Gold is slightly more interesting because of just how much the price has rocketed, the argument for it’s use as a hedge, and it generally being the ultimate lesser fool’s gambit (30, 31). No-one wants to be left holding the hottest potato.

N.B. Again, as a more involved speculative post, I would love feedback and opinions on these thoughts.

News:

Comment:

References:

  1. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cardsloans/article-8380019/Consumer-debt-falls-record-7-4bn-April-borrowing-spend-slumps.html
  2. https://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock
  3. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/13/economy/global-debt-record/index.html
  4. https://blogs.imf.org/2019/12/17/new-data-on-world-debt-a-dive-into-country-numbers/
  5. https://www.ft.com/content/d93a95d0-2ee9-11e9-80d2-7b637a9e1ba1
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUngLgGRJpo
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_debt_bubble
  8. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/coronavirus-economy-wall-street-debt-boeing-shares-junk-a9513176.html#gsc.tab=0
  9. https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-corporate-debt-death-spiral-shows-no-signs-of-stopping-51584023200
  10. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/07/junk-bond-scare-is-rising-no-one-cares-people-are-buying-everything.html
  11. https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterpham/2017/11/24/why-are-we-addicted-to-debt/#136e4b2515fd
  12. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-8381231/Top-fixed-rates-disappearing-Average-account-pays-just-0-3.html
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/jun/05/savers-uk-covid-19-lockdown-cash
  14. https://www.buy2letcars.com/
  15. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52663523
  16. https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-economic-effects-of-coronavirus-in-the-uk/
  17. https://monevator.com/negative-yields-bonds/
  18. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8357383/BoE-not-remotely-close-decision-negative-rates-Haldane.html
  19. https://moneytothemasses.com/owning-a-home/interest-rate-forecasts/latest-interest-rate-predictions-when-will-rates-rise
  20. https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/inflation-cpi
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/31/for-all-his-woes-at-least-sunak-does-not-need-to-worry-about-stagflation
  22. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/29/federal-reserve-global-economy-coronavirus-pandemic-inflation-terminal-deflation-is-coming/
  23. https://cfmsurvey.org/surveys/covid-19-and-uk-public-finances
  24. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/coronavirus-recession-bank-england-inflation-mandate-change-jim-o-neill-a9539796.html#gsc.tab=0
  25. https://moneyweek.com/economy/global-economy/601179/heres-why-the-coronavirus-crash-is-likely-to-end-in-inflation
  26. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-07/inflation-is-the-way-to-pay-off-coronavirus-debt
  27. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/when-money-dies-a-1975-cautionary-tale-from-the-weimar-republic/
  28. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/at-some-point-during-this-bear-market-i-realized-that-i-probably-shouldnt-keep-doing-this/
  29. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/how-to-prepare-for-an-interest-rate-rise
  30. https://fee.org/articles/which-is-the-best-inflation-indicator-gold-oil-or-the-commodity-spot-index/
  31. https://pureadmin.qub.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/120196463/gold_inflation_s.pdf
  32. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext
  33. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8372271/Homes-face-14-price-slump-says-Nationwide.html
  34. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/06/01/may-2020-financial-update/
  35. https://firevlondon.com/2020/06/02/may-2020-a-sunny-month/
  36. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-23-back-to-break-even/
  37. http://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2020/06/end-of-month-report-1st-of-june.html
  38. https://playingwithfire.uk/may-2020-savings-and-spending-update/
  39. https://obviousinvestor.com/p2p-lending-portfolio-update-for-may-2020/
  40. https://www.foxymonkey.com/property-partner-coronavirus/
  41. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/05/31/may-2020-plus-other-updates/
  42. https://www.moneymage.net/2020-may-savings-report/
  43. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-may-2020/
  44. https://thesquirreler.com/2020/06/06/may-2020-net-worth-update/
  45. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2020/06/06/may-review/
  46. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/06/mcphy-energy-portfolio-addition.html
  47. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/06/20-global-investment-trusts-compared/
  48. https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/buying-used-electronics-can-earn-you-money/
  49. https://monevator.com/what-is-behind-the-coronavirus-trading-boom/
  50. http://bankeronfire.com/who-is-smarter-than-the-stock-market
  51. http://bankeronfire.com/it-wont-happen-to-you
  52. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/chasing-inflation/
  53. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-boom/
  54. https://igniting-fire.com/2020/06/05/the-joy-of-creation/
  55. https://drfire.co.uk/building-wealth-in-my-20s-successes-and-failures/
  56. https://money-side-up.com/will-coronavirus-infect-the-fire-retire-early-movement/
  57. https://hustleescape.com/hindsight-bias/
  58. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/06/dividends-and-dividend-cover.html/

The Full English – No extraneous opinions

I’m working this weekend, so much like Monevator I’m afraid it’s links only. Usual service resumed next week.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

This image from the FT demonstrates how little of ‘infinite QE’ has actually been deployed (1):

Comment:

This amazing image from the Visual Capitalist (28):

References:

 

  1. https://www.ft.com/content/a1fba7cd-5329-46e6-82a8-57149e409f6c
  2. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/28may2020
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52820814
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52795376
  5. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/25/tech/airbnb-hosts/index.html
  6. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8351337/Britains-plan-25bn-sovereign-wealth-fund.html
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52829348
  8. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-8365581/Electric-car-owners-PAID-charge-prices-turned-negative.html
  9. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robtoews/2020/05/25/deepfakes-are-going-to-wreak-havoc-on-society-we-are-not-prepared/
  10. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/05/monks-investment-trust-with-change-comes-opportunity/
  11. https://www.moneymage.net/6-reasons-to-quit-your-job/
  12. https://monethalia.com/monthly-savings-report-may-2020/
  13. https://cashflowcop.com/our-numbers-tax-year-2018-2019/
  14. https://www.mouthymoney.co.uk/would-you-move-into-a-house-youd-never-seen-i-did-and-heres-what-i-learnt/
  15. https://drfire.co.uk/stoicism-financial-independence/
  16. https://hustleescape.com/delayed-gratification/
  17. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/05/30/financial-independence-update-may-2020/
  18. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/may-20-net-worth-and-monthly-update-21-555467-21028/
  19. https://playingwithfire.uk/leasehold-property-explained/
  20. https://the7circles.uk/market-timing/
  21. https://moneygrower.co.uk/may-stock-purchase-corona-virus-rally/
  22. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/priveleged-rule-breakers-dominic-cummings-and-luxury-car-drivers/
  23. https://monevator.com/14-weeks-and-12-numbers-that-have-changed-the-investing-history-books-forever/
  24. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/05/29/are-online-side-hustle-worth-it/
  25. http://bankeronfire.com/the-illusion-of-passive-income
  26. http://bankeronfire.com/the-future-is-tech-or-is-it
  27. https://indeedably.com/changing-gears/
  28. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/all-of-the-worlds-money-and-markets-in-one-visualization-2020/

The Full English Accompaniment – How are we all managing?

Last year I started writing a blog post called “How the other half live”. I never finished it for various reasons. In it I started to explore the realities of being super rich, financially independent from birth. What’s it like to have a trust fund(1). COVID-19 has brought this to the fore of my mind. It has indiscriminately affected us all, so how have different people managed?

One of the core tenets of the FIRE movement is minimising lifestyle inflation. Happiness does not need to be bought. The overlap with the stoic philosophy of acceptance. Seeing and appreciating small pleasures.

Plenty of blog posts have been written on this balance. How much do you limit your spending, does deprivation become part of the journey (2). More ascetic than stoic. Stingy or frugal (3). The overlaps with minimalism.

Some university friends had the UK-equivalent of trust funds, or came from families where money was not a problem. We have family friends who are 1%-ers. Not billionaires, but enough for their family to never need to work as long as money was managed diligently. There were able to explore passions and hobbies; pottery, classic cars, travel, sailing. Money was never spent on displays of wealth. Why should it be? The pressure to display wealth, emulate the Kardashians, didn’t effect this brand of old-money (4). Their passions, experiences and opportunities to share them brought them happiness, not flashing cash (5, 6).

We are all humans. Social creatures. Our friends in some way define us, and what we think is important, so we can share things we enjoy. COVID-19 has stopped those social interactions. Zoom/ Skype/ WhatsApp/ Facebook calls are great, but they’re not the shared lived experience.

The billionaire in their lockdown bunker is still isolated from their friends (7). Unable to have their social interaction.

The body conscious duck-pouters can’t get their fillers/ extensions/ acrylics (8). Unable to have their social interaction, which doubles as their internal validation.

Even TI isn’t able to have cup of really good coffee with a friend (9).

My wife recounted a conversation with a production line worker at her company discussing how different people on her street were coping, including the line “it must be really difficult for the ones on the game”.

We’re still working full time. We’re eating nice food and doing house renovations. The biggest change to our day-to-day life in lockdown has been a lack of shared experiences with friends. It’s made me realise how important that social interaction is. It’s the thing I really miss, and the absence of it has made life less enjoyable. I don’t think I would enjoy FIRE if I had no-one to enjoy it with.

I hope you’re all coping well.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

COVID:

News:

Comment:

References:

  1. https://www.thecut.com/2018/04/what-its-really-like-to-have-a-trust-fund.html
  2. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/deprivation-is-not-part-of-the-journey/
  3. https://fourpillarfreedom.com/living-stingy-vs-living-frugally/
  4. https://www.thecut.com/2018/06/how-do-celebrities-spend-their-money.html
  5. https://theescapeartist.me/2014/08/08/optimising-for-happiness/
  6. https://monevator.com/how-to-enjoy-life-like-a-billionaire/
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/stories-52669638/how-the-super-rich-spent-lockdown
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-52728957
  9. https://monevator.com/the-latte-factor/
  10. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31180-6/fulltext
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52737169
  12. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2066
  13. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/20/highly-indebted-zombie-companies-control-more-than-2-million-us-jobs.html
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/20/uk-sells-government-bond-with-negative-yield-for-first-time-coronavirus
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-8336629/Savers-opt-old-favourite-NS-offering-best-deals.html
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52735240
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-45046023
  18. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/zoom-boom-biggest-airlines/
  19. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/22/britain-sliding-deflationary-death-spiral/
  20. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52691369
  21. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/james-dyson-interview-electric-car-tesla-tzls09t5m
  22. https://www.businessinsider.com/perfect-storm-of-stupid-in-stock-market-right-now-2020-5?r=US&IR=T
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/20/coronavirus-fallout-to-slow-global-growth-in-renewable-energy
  24. https://monevator.com/salary-sacrifice/
  25. https://indeedably.com/dichotomy/
  26. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/05/24/information-overload/
  27. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/johari-rumsfeld-and-overpaying-mortgages/
  28. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/the-nhs-pension-allowances/
  29. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/what-will-we-do-with-our-world-when-this-is-over/
  30. https://awaytoless.com/remaining-positive/
  31. https://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/05/relocating-fig-tree-six-on-saturday.html
  32. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/05/22/back-to-basics-why-you-must-get-out-of-debt/
  33. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/were-all-going-on-a-mortgage-holiday/
  34. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/05/22/reached-100000-in-index-funds/
  35. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/an-analysis-how-to-optimise-the-traditional-emergency-fund/
  36. https://drfire.co.uk/lifestrategy-100-vs-ftse-global-all-cap/
  37. http://bankeronfire.com/losing-the-plot
  38. http://bankeronfire.com/demystifying-stock-market-returns
  39. https://zerotofreedom.org/how-to-invest-on-minimum-wage/
  40. https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/will-the-gold-standard-return/
  41. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/05/scottish-mortgage-the-biggest-and-the-best/
  42. https://playingwithfire.uk/what-to-do-if-you-lose-your-job-6-steps-from-a-recently-unemployed-fire-enthusiast/
  43. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/05/21/which-fi-dinosaur-are-you/
  44. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/05/troy-trojan-ethical-portfolio-addition.html

The Full English – Elon Musk, lifestyle design, cults of personality and F=MA

I bloody hate ‘Lifestyle Design’ (1). Thankfully, I’m not the only one (2).

It’s so glib. Why in God’s name do I need someone to tell me routes to follow my dreams but blatantly ignore that most goals are achieved through hard graft and determination.

Yeah, so Tim Ferriss made a killing off the 4-hour work week, but that doesn’t mean you will (3). He grafted for it.

People seem to focus on the outcome, and that self-belief alone will get them there. Along with an online course and a self-published book…

Sod off.

The people who do consistently well have a combination of self-belief (A), confidence to achieve it (B), intelligence (C) and grit (D).

It’s all well and good singing your self-belief and confidence, but if you haven’t got the smarts to see the end-goal, and the kajones to graft it out, you’re just another dreamer.

Plenty of (A) and (B) on Instagram, selling a life/ie.

Plenty of billionaires grinding out (C) and (D), quietly supported by (A) and (B).

Those making noise about all four gather admirers, those who wish they could be the same. Steve Jobs, Branson, Jay-Z, Trump. Maybe not the C or D for Trump.

Which is where Elon Musk is interesting.

He’s on Instagram, selling the life, building a cult following, leveraging that to support his business. He’s not just a man with a long-term goal, he’s a master of public performance. He courts intrigue and amusement, despair from the stuffy stiff suits. He’s a man of the people… he projects.

He also seems to have spent too long getting high on his own Instagram feed. A good marker for Tesla’s stock price would be Musk’s order to his dealer.

Self-belief is great, but at some point it conflicts with reality (4). Don’t get me started on when he tried to tell Anaesthetists how to run a ventilator on a COVID-19 patient.

Image Credit: Reddit

But lets not forget he got where he is by working 100-hour weeks. As someone living that life, I can tell you they’re pretty shit. Musk is selling his homes (his instagram life?) to achieve his Mars dream (5).

Your life is the product of your decisions. Those decisions and choices determine the direction of your life. Graft then takes you there.

Applying a formula

Turn to our old friend Newton (6).

F=MA

Force = (mass) x (acceleration)

If you want your life to go a certain way, you need to exert your will to accelerate it in that direction. Your existing lifestyle ties is the inertia, your mass.

Sometimes one big push will be enough to produce force in the required direction. One burst of acceleration.

Most of the time slow sustained acceleration will achieve the force in the direction required.

Steady graft.

Not a Youtube tutorial and a £1500(+) drop-shipping course.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

COVID – I advise the use of the BMJs information hub for evidence-based updates:

News – I have been deliberately avoiding news outlets recently. I don’t have the headspace for the hysteria:

Opinion:

References:

  1. https://fizzle.co/sparkline/what-is-lifestyle-design
  2. https://medium.com/swlh/lifestyle-design-please-shut-the-fuck-up-a16dc38cd306
  3. http://www.timferriss.com/#
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52627744
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52530316
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion
  7. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1844
  8. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1849
  9. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1835
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52663523
  11. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/16/investors-bet-750m-plunge-sterling/
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52673727
  13. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-8313027/Saving-deals-plunge-Goldman-Sachs-cuts-rate-Marcus-account.html
  14. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-8307873/Mortgage-rates-lowest-level-fail-pace-BoE-cut.html
  15. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/insight-four-lessons-aprils-car-sales
  16. https://www.ft.com/content/78108d3a-d046-4916-858a-a5df090ce8c3
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2020/may/14/investors-can-return-to-obsessing-over-relations-between-us-and-china
  18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/16/britain-heading-eighties-style-unemployment-crisis/
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52578720
  20. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2020/05/nothing-fails-quite-like-success-in-the-stock-market/
  21. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/05/tips-for-investing-in-a-coronavirus-world.html/
  22. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2020/05/11/another-bull-market/
  23. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/the-nhs-pension-allowances/
  24. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/05/building-new-greenhouse-part-3-six-on.html
  25. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/the-merits-of-a-paid-off-mortgage/
  26. https://southwalesfi.co.uk/2020/05/15/my-progress-to-f-i-r-e/
  27. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2020/05/10/april-review/
  28. https://averagemoneymanagement.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/5-reasons-why-investing-isnt-gambling/
  29. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/05/15/predictions-are-a-mugs-game-but-lets-play-anyway/
  30. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/2020-re-budget-lockdown-impulse-purchases-exciting-announcement/
  31. https://gettingminted.com/short-term-thinking/
  32. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/05/herald-investment-trust-home-grown-tech/
  33. https://leftfi.home.blog/2020/05/17/personal-finance-update/
  34. https://monevator.com/would-you-lend-yourself-money-in-an-emergency/
  35. https://monevator.com/get-out-of-debt-to-unleash-your-inner-money-maker/
  36. https://monevator.com/the-stock-market-is-wilder-than-you-think/
  37. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/05/16/do-you-need-as-much-as-you-think-to-be-financially-independent/
  38. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/post/early-retirement-small-things-make-a-difference
  39. https://indeedably.com/doppelganger/

View at Medium.com

The Full English – Why did Buffett sell his airline stocks?

This week, whilst avoiding infection in my daily work, I’ve been thinking macro. I kept coming back to that Buffett selling BH airline stock news (1). Something about it doesn’t hang right.

Market Insider reckons he bought in against his own advice, anticipating that more people would fly and airlines would maintain value and continue stock buybacks (2). He sold out at a $50bn loss (2, 3). Most of the articles reckon this is because Coronavirus has off-the-cage smackdowned flying. They quote Buffett’s “The world has changed” (1). Plenty of airlines are staring into a debt pit and begging governments for handouts. So of course Buffett sold out at a loss, better to lose some rather than all.

So is the Sage of Omaha just a normal investor who called it wrong?

I can’t help but feel someone of Buffett’s experience, who normally play the ultra-long/ value/ invest and hold game, wouldn’t sell out because of profit warnings. There was already talk of government bailouts. Yes those airlines aren’t going to be profitable in the short-medium term, and will probably suck cash at the same rate as oxygen and Jet A-1, but people will still need to fly. Are our choices and habits really going to change that much? Is our society really going to stop the daily business return flights, or the stag weekends in Budapest?

So what’s he seeing?

The market and it’s FOMO rally appears to be convinced of the V-shaped recovery. The NASDAQ has climbed back to where it was pre-COVID (4). Record numbers of investors are buying back in (5). People called January the melt-up, but this feels suspiciously bubbly again (6). Buffett didn’t give much away in this years Berkshire Hathaway AGM (7). Perhaps most intriguing is that $130 billion cash pile.

To try and gain some sense, I went to other unprecedented times; specifically the Great Depression and Stagflation. To be clear, I’m not thinking we’re in a repeat of either, each major crisis is different, but I’m looking to learn.

The Great Depression

Split between Keynesian and monetarist theories. Keynesian’s (demand-driven) believe loss of confidence led to reduction in investment and spending. Holding money becomes profitable as economic deflation sets in. The monetarist theory suggests this was a normal recession that tipped in severity due to scarcity of money supply. These then follow Irving Fishers debt deflation theorem (8).

A third school of thought, the Austrian School of Economics, argues the FED drove the Great Depression. Expansion of money supply in the 1920s (hence the roaring twenties) led to an unsustainable credit boom (9).

To quote Ludwig von Mises:

 “Credit expansion cannot increase the supply of real goods. It merely brings about a rearrangement. It diverts capital investment away from the course prescribed by the state of economic wealth and market conditions. It causes production to pursue paths which it would not follow unless the economy were to acquire an increase in material goods. As a result, the upswing lacks a solid base. It is not a real prosperity. It is illusory prosperity. It did not develop from an increase in economic wealth, i.e. the accumulation of savings made available for productive investment. Rather, it arose because the credit expansion created the illusion of such an increase. Sooner or later, it must become apparent that this economic situation is built on sand.” (10)

During the period there was massive deflation, falls in GDP, and high unemployment. The CPI began the decade at 17.1, and had fallen to 14.0 by 1939 (9)

CPI and Inflation 1930- 1939

Image Credit: Inflationdata.com

Stagflation

Up until the ’70s it was believed there was a stable inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment. The US economy slowed, in part due to the Arab Oil Crisis. Rapid rises in the price of oil made some companies uneconomic, leading them to sack workers. Rising unemployment was accompanied by rising price inflation. Monetary policy in the late-60s and early-70s period was also expansive, contributing to inflation (11).

The normal response of increasing interest rates to reduce the speed with which money changes hands doesn’t work (12). Annual inflation ran at 7.25%, but in some months touched 13%. The CPI rose from 37.8 to 76.7 (13).

Image Credit: Inflationdata.com

To summarise:

  • Both periods preceded by expansionist monetary policy
  • Both periods have high unemployment
  • Great Depression – economic deflation, low interest rates, fall in aggregate demand
  • Stagflation – price inflation, reactionary interest rates, fall in aggregate supply

Application

Concerns about the future are widely shared. The Bank of England is predicting the sharpest recession on record (14). TI in this weeks Weekend Reading covers a bit of the GDP expectations (15). Iona at Young Money Blog takes it further, covering GDP and drawing comparisons with the Great Depression (16). She goes so far as another event-driven collapse, the Great Frost of 1709. The Ermine has also looked to Buffet and seen bad news (and as an ardent Asimov fan, I particularly like his Trump-Mule comparison) (17).

Plumbing the depths of some thought experiments and potential outcomes, what are the current conditions?

  • This period has been preceded by expansionist monetary policy (QE).

Though bond/gilt yields and limits on futures lending suggests there remains fear in the market (18).

  • We’re about to see high unemployment.

This New York Times front page showing how many jobs were lost due ...

Image Credit: Reddit/ NYT

To some extent the Coronavirus job retention scheme, or whatever name the Government is currently calling it’s buy-itself-out-of-jail card is going by now, has helped. The Gov is footing the bill, and most people will receive an income. This has maintained peoples spending, and therefore aggregate demand in the economy.

This is not infinite. The furlough scheme is due to end in July, at the same time as mortgage holidays (19). It is unlikely we’ll be fully back to normal until autumn at the earliest. Not all companies will start back. Our heavily service-sector dependent economy will probably be the most affected. Services account for 80% of total UK economic output. The purchasing index data for those services is a fifth of what it was pre-Coronavirus (20).

To quote Ermine quoting ZXSpectrum on the Monevator thread (21).

“The high street was obsolete anyway, airlines should go bust, the petroleum industry needs massive downsizing. The FTSE is not coming back because it full of crap companies with obsolete business models. The S&P and Nasdaq are not.

I’m also more relaxed about higher unemployment. The UK made a sort of Faustian bargain: low unemployment for high underemployment and low skill base.

[…]

Machine learning and AI is going to make many middle class people unemployed. We might start getting used to it now and stop stigmatizing those who don’t have jobs. A generation or two from now being unemployed might well be the norm.” (17)

So we’ve got mass unemployment, largely of those working in the service industry, most affecting those on zero-hours, casual contracts, or those with minimal qualifications.

  • Interest rates have been dropped to record lows

Which, coupled with QE, is putting more money into the market. Again helping perk current demand.

Supply or demand?

The great fear when this kicked off was the supply side. All the factories in China were shut, companies going under because they can’t source product etc. Plenty of anecdotal evidence. This led to various fears that Coronavirus would lead to stagflation through flat economic growth and spiking prices from the supply side shock (22). This could still well be the case.

This article on Econlib makes a good argument for it (23). We’ve seen a fall in aggregate supply. We’re seeing a fall in aggregate demand. If there’s more demand then supply we’ll see stagflation.

I think they’ve got it the wrong way round though.

The aggregate supply has returned through global supply chains. Deliveries happen, and the companies that supply are making bank. Looking at you Amazon.

Demand is the question.

The government has kept aggregate demand going through the furlough scheme etc. That is not indefinite. Will, or even can, companies restart with their employees?

If they can’t, and we see mass unemployment, then what happens to demand?

This could coincide with the end of a Kondratiev wave, such as the transition from a supply/ IT/ service predominance to one of green technologies and an internet of things (24). Ably supported by the rise of home-working through improved IT. Goodbye commercial REITs.

We could see mortgage refinancing risk rear it’s ugly head, coinciding with decreased bank lending due to deflationary concerns, as laid out in this masterful piece by Finumus (25). It has me worried about my rate.

If aggregate demand falls but supply doesn’t, then oversupply drives deflation and job losses. Basic economics. Decreasing supply costs have helped maintain standard of living and low inflation for years – all that offshoring. In days of deflation, oversupply and job losses then cash in the bank is king. Is the governments current demand prop enough to see us through?

Or did Buffett just call it wrong on airlines?

Have a great week,

The Shrink

N.B. I would truly appreciate others thoughts in the comments on posts like this. They are my attempts to reason through processes, and balancing counter-argument is most welcome.

COVID – I advise the use of BMJs information hub for evidence-based updates:

News:

Opinion:

References:

  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/buffett-dumps-entire-airline-stake-saying-the-world-changed-for-airlines-2020-05-02
  2. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/why-warren-buffett-invested-big-4-airlines-sold-them-loss-2020-5-1029167021
  3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/03/warren-buffett-sells-shares-major-airlines-amid-50bn-loss/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/07/us-nasdaq-index-wiped-out-all-of-2020s-losses-triggered-by-covid-19
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/may/06/small-investors-poured-back-into-stock-market-in-april-says-data-firm-uk-equity-funds
  6. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4317127-2020-melt-up-and-aftermath
  7. https://compoundyourfreedom.com/2020-berkshire-hathaway-shareholders-meeting/
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt_deflation
  9. https://inflationdata.com/articles/inflation-cpi-consumer-price-index-1930-1939/
  10. https://mises.org/library/causes-economic-crisis-and-other-essays-and-after-great-depression
  11. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/1970-stagflation.asp
  12. https://inflationdata.com/articles/2008/11/19/stagflation-what-is-it/
  13. https://inflationdata.com/articles/inflation-cpi-consumer-price-index-1970-1979/
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52566030
  15. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-get-ready-for-the-drop/#more-50276
  16. https://youngmoneyblog.co.uk/coronavirus-economy/
  17. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/this-is-your-captain-warren-speaking-its-going-be-a-long-night-three-out-of-four-engines-are-on-fire-the-fourth-is-running-rough/
  18. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-03/hong-kong-oil-etf-s-broker-refuses-to-let-it-buy-more-futures
  19. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8294137/Double-blow-furlough-mortgage-holiday-schemes-come-end.html
  20. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8288563/Services-sector-plummets-customer-facing-businesses-remain-closed.html
  21. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-under-infected-over-optimistic/comment-page-1/#comment-1198185
  22. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/10/investing/stagflation-economy-coronavirus/index.html
  23. https://www.econlib.org/i-fear-stagflation-and-general-price-controls-are-coming/
  24. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kondratiev_wave
  25. https://www.finumus.com/blog/beds-are-burning
  26. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1861
  27. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1850
  28. https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1742
  29. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/health-coronavirus-britain-elderly/
  30. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52591262
  31. https://www.euronews.com/living/2020/05/05/musk-and-bezos-feud-goes-electric-with-amazon-s-answer-to-tesla
  32. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jan/29/uk-electric-van-maker-arrival-secures-340m-order-from-ups
  33. https://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/property-news/first-time-buyers-uk-home-guide
  34. https://firevlondon.com/2020/05/03/april-2020-a-mad-bounce/
  35. https://thesquirreler.com/2020/05/03/savings-ninja-thought-experiment-10/
  36. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-update-20-april/
  37. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/05/personal-assets-trust-portfolio-addition.html
  38. https://www.mouthymoney.co.uk/from-investing-to-account-switching-what-hit-video-game-animal-crossing-can-teach-us-about-money/
  39. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/05/06/ive-got-a-sneaking-admiration-for-donald-trump/
  40. http://bankeronfire.com/a-letter-to-my-younger-self-three-key-lessons-for-building-wealth
  41. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2020/05/obfuscation.html
  42. https://averagemoneymanagement.wordpress.com/2020/05/08/buying-shares-as-a-substitute-for-buying-stuff/
  43. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/05/08/how-game-of-thrones-won-the-culture-war/
  44. https://playingwithfire.uk/i-lost-my-job-what-now/
  45. https://www.onemillionjourney.com/portfolio-update-17-april-2020-97039e/
  46. https://www.moneymage.net/2020-april-savings-report/
  47. https://www.foxymonkey.com/managing-money-with-your-partner/
  48. https://indeedably.com/indefensible/
  49. https://adotium.co.uk/2020/05/09/are-you-not-entertained/
  50. https://awaytoless.com/why-100-equities/
  51. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2020/05/06/internet-privacy-and-your-data-part-1/
  52. https://igniting-fire.com/2020/05/05/just-20000-to-save-the-world/
  53. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/05/building-raised-beds-six-on-saturday.html
  54. http://www.lifesavvy.com/24712/this-companion-planting-chart-will-help-your-garden-thrive

 

 

The Full English Accompaniment – Dumping Shit

This week the Swedish city of Lund dumped a tonne of chicken manure in one of it’s parks at night to deter visitors to an annual celebration (1). Chicken shit wasn’t the only thing being dumped. Lots of UK bloggers are selling off, and so is the Sage of Omaha.

I try to avoid commentating on transient market flux, but right now I find myself drawn in. What the hell is going on?

Well the talk has been of whether we’ll see a V-shaped or L-shaped recovery from the March sell-off. If you read the headlines you’ll see that the stock market has been going great guns (2):

FT

As TI at Monevator identifies in this weeks Weekend Reading it’s mostly a US market thing; and specifically the S&P500 (3). The FTSE100 is looking very L-shaped. The FTSE100 is heavy in oil and service stocks, which are taking an absolute battering. The S&P500 is tech led, companies who couldn’t ask for a better demand boost. We saw a small sell-off at the end of last week after earnings reports, but not as much as was expected (4).

If you hold a world index tracker like myself, due to sheer capitalisation size, you probably hold a decent portion of the S&P500. Like many bloggers below you might have seen a net worth jump. Tech values have gone up on expected earnings, the market appears convinced that we’ll all be back to work soon, and it’s banking on the ‘Fed put’; that cheap government lending will bolster and boost the market (5, 6).

Meanwhile, on the ground, people are being laid off and things don’t look all that rosy. Retailers with shut shops are having online sales to clear stock, a problem compounded as discount shops like TKMaxx can’t help them clear inventory (7). Manufacturers like Rolls-Royce are cutting jobs (8). Some bloggers like Playing with Fire have been made redundant (9). Others like Fire Lifestyle have lost significant portions of their turnover (10).

Poor darlings who over-extended themselves to buy property to then let on AirBnB, inflating the housing market in the process, are suddenly exposed to a lack of income (11).

The market as a whole feels quite self-contradicting, in my opinion. Tech is going to be doing well in this environment, along with all the rest of those companies raking it in with our lifestyle alterations. Meanwhile huge swathes of the economy are seeing cataclysmic change. Buffett has dumped all his US airline stock (12). He’s also said the range of outcomes from this is massive.

Me, I’m with Ermine (13). I think we have a long way to go yet. I’m still buying – I’m not a big enough man to bet against time in the market by timing the market. Tech offers plenty of potential returns, and I’m sure there are some value investor nuggets out there. I just see the stories coming out of people losing their jobs, companies shutting, and IMF predictions of global recessions and eyebrows are raised (14).

We live in interesting times.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

Opinion:

References:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/swedish-city-lund-dump-tonne-chicken-manure-park-deter-visitors-coronavirus-lockdown
  2. https://www.ft.com/content/88e57ec9-42d4-455d-a045-293a6a54837d
  3. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-under-infected-over-optimistic/
  4. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4340089-big-cap-techs-report-all-in-one-week-and-what-means-for-sell-off-scenario
  5. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8277961/How-come-global-stock-markets-best-month-years.html
  6. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4342416-what-hell-is-stock-market
  7. https://www.businessinsider.com/tj-maxx-ross-shutting-down-makes-inventory-problem-worse-2020-4?r=US&IR=T
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-52514444
  9. https://playingwithfire.uk/well-it-finally-happened/
  10. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/04/18/work-is-getting-tough-recession-looming-small-business-pressure/
  11. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-bargain-with-the-devilbill-comes-due-for-overextended-airbnb-hosts-11588083336
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/03/warren-buffett-dumps-us-airline-stocks-saying-world-has-changed-after-covid-19
  13. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/musings-on-misadventure-and-market-madness/
  14. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/imf-economy-coronavirus-covid-19-recession/
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-8266703/Now-banks-target-LOYAL-savers-rate-cuts.html
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/30/covid-19-crisis-demand-fossil-fuels-iea-renewable-electricity
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52483455
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52483359
  19. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/05/02/tesla-applies-uk-electricity-provider-licence/
  20. https://averagemoneymanagement.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/my-alternative-investments/
  21. https://lifeafterthedailygrind.com/how-identity-theft-happens-and-how-to-stop-it/
  22. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/04/gresham-house-energy-storage-2019.html
  23. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/05/combining-fundsmith-equity-and-lindsell-train-global-equity/
  24. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/04/29/light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/
  25. https://playingwithfire.uk/april-2020-savings-update/
  26. https://thesquirreler.com/2020/04/26/april-2020-net-worth-update/
  27. https://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2020/05/end-of-month-report-1st-of-may.html
  28. https://www.moneyforthemoderngirl.org/the-british-woman-who-became-financially-independent-in-her-mid-30s-in-london/
  29. https://www.firemusings.org/invest-in-the-bottoming-market-or-pay-the-mortgage-off/
  30. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/the-lowdown-on-the-lockdown/
  31. http://bankeronfire.com/an-introduction-to-investing-in-bonds
  32. https://drfire.co.uk/lockdown-reflections/
  33. https://igniting-fire.com/2020/04/30/tshe-time-for-a-solar-battery/
  34. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-22-i-failed-at-market-timing/
  35. https://www.muchmorewithless.co.uk/aldi-food-parcel-review/
  36. https://firelifestyle.co.uk/2020/05/01/april-2020-financial-update/
  37. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/april-20-net-worth-and-monthly-update-20-534439-32858/
  38. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/05/02/april-2020-plus-other-updates/
  39. https://adotium.co.uk/2020/05/02/april-2020-report/
  40. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-april-2020/
  41. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/05/01/financial-independence-update-april-2020/
  42. https://zerotofreedom.org/investors-on-what-they-wish-they-knew-before-starting/
  43. https://southwalesfi.co.uk/2020/05/02/how-to-invest-avoiding-fossil-fuel-companies/
  44. https://monevator.com/do-us-treasury-bonds-protect-uk-investors-better-than-gilts/