Wandering From the Path? | Monthly Portfolio Update - August 2020
Midway along the journey of our lifeI woke to find myself in a dark wood,for I had wandered off from the straight path. Dante, The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Canto I This is my forty-fifth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund $733 769
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund $41 794
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund $78 533
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund $110 771
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) $216 758
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) $64 542
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) $237 138
Telstra shares (TLS) $1 540
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) $6 043
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) $5 532
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) $121 976
Secured physical gold $19 535
Ratesetter (P2P lending) $8 998
Bitcoin $177 310
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) $17 421
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) $2 759
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) $4 477
Total portfolio value $1 848 896 (+$48 777 or 2.7%) Asset allocation
Australian shares 41.5%
Global shares 22.6%
Emerging market shares 2.2%
International small companies 2.8%
Total international shares 27.6%
Total shares 69.2% (5.8% under)
Total property securities 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds 4.4%
International bonds 8.9%
Total bonds 13.3% (1.7% under)
Gold and alternatives 17.2% (7.2% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has increased in value for the fifth consecutive month, and is starting to approach the monthly value last reached in January. The portfolio has grown over $48 000, or 2.7 per cent this month, reflecting the strong market recovery since late March [Chart] The growth in the portfolio was broadly-based across global and Australian equities, with an increase of around 3.8 per cent. Following strong previous rises, gold holdings decreased by around 2.2 per cent, while Bitcoin continued to increase in value (by 2.5 per cent). Combined, the value of gold and Bitcoin holdings remain at a new peak, while total equity holdings are still below their late January peak to the tune of around $50 000. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio continue to fall below the target allocation. [Chart] The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars. New investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) and the Australian shares equivalent (VAS). These have been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares set out in the portfolio plan. As the exchange traded funds such as VGS, VAS and Betashares A200 now make up nearly 30 per cent of the overall portfolio, the quarterly payments they provide have increased in magnitude and importance. Early in the journey, third quarter distributions were essentially immaterial events. Using the same 'median per unit' forecast approach as recently used for half yearly forecasts would suggest a third quarter payout due at the end of September of around $6000. Due to significant announced dividend reductions across this year I am, however, currently assuming this is likely to be significantly lower, and perhaps in the vicinity of $4000 or less. Finding true north: approach to achieving a set asset allocation One of the choices facing all investors with a preferred asset allocation is how strictly the target is applied over time, and what variability is acceptable around that. There is a significant body of financial literature around that issue. My own approach has been to seek to target the preferred asset allocation dynamically, through buying the asset class that is furthest from its target, with new portfolio contributions, and re-investment of paid out distributions. As part of monitoring asset allocation, I also track a measure of 'absolute' variance, to understand at a whole of portfolio level how far it is from the desired allocation. This is the sum of the absolute value of variances (e.g. so that being 3 per cent under target in shares, and 7 per cent over target in fixed interest will equal an absolute variance of 10 per cent under this measure). This measure is currently sitting near its highest level in around 2 years, at 15.0 per cent, as can be seen in the chart below. [Chart] The dominant reason for this higher level of variance from target is significant appreciation in the price of gold and Bitcoin holdings. Mapping the sources of portfolio variances Changes in target allocations in the past makes direct comparisons problematic, but previous peaks of the variance measure matches almost perfectly past Bitcoin price movements. For a brief period in January 2018, gold and Bitcoin combined constituted 20 per cent, or 1 in 5 dollars of the entire portfolio. Due to the growth in other equity components of the portfolio since this level has not been subsequently exceeded. Nonetheless, it is instructive to understand that the dollar value of combined gold and Bitcoin holdings is actually up around $40 000 from that brief peak. With the larger portfolio, this now means they together make up 17.2 per cent of the total portfolio value. Tacking into the wind of portfolio movements? The logical question to fall out from this situation is: to what extent should this drive an active choice to sell down gold and Bitcoin until they resume their 10 per cent target allocation? This would currently imply selling around $130 000 of gold or Bitcoin, and generating a capital gains tax liability of potentially up to $27 000. Needless to say this is not an attractive proposition. Several other considerations lead me to not make this choice:
The problem may solve itself as portfolio grows - Growth and continued investments in the portfolio will tend to reduce the variance caused by gold and Bitcoin. The asset allocation targeting approach I adopt has seen continued contributions to equities, reducing the ability of these alternative assets to add to future variance.
Falls in Bitcoin or gold values will also solve the problem - Conversely, price falls in Bitcoin or gold will tend to reduce the variance issue, and such price falls have significant precedents, with for example Bitcoin holdings falling to a value of around $50 000 as recently as January 2019.
If neither of these happen, there may be bigger issues to solve - The only scenario where neither of these alleviating factors occur is should gold and Bitcoin continue to rapidly appreciate compared to other assets, in which case it is difficult to see the value of reducing exposure now.
Does Bitcoin even fit the asset allocation model? - Bitcoin in particular is not a well established or accepted asset class as yet, so it may not be appropriate to apply traditional allocation rules to it - it may be functioning more as a hedge or option against extreme states of the world. Linked to this is the high degree of volatility in Bitcoin. Adopting too tight a target on Bitcoin holdings would potentially see a need to buy and sell Bitcoin frequently, where my intention is to actually never purchase any more.
This approach is a departure from a mechanistic implementation of an asset allocation rule. Rather, the approach I take is pragmatic. Tracking course drift in the portfolio components As an example, I regularly review whether a significant fall in Bitcoin prices to its recent lows would alter my monthly decision on where to direct new investments. So far it does not, and the 'signal' continues to be to buy new equities. Another tool I use is a monthly measurement of the absolute dollar variance of Australian and global shares, as well as fixed interest, from their ideal target allocations. The chart below sets this out for the period since January 2019. A positive value effectively represents an over-allocation to a sector, a negative value, an under-allocation compared to target. [Chart] This reinforces the overall story that, as gold and Bitcoin have grown in value, there emerges a larger 'deficit' to the target. Falls in equities markets across February and March also produce visibly larger 'dollar gaps' to the target allocation. This graph enables a tracking of the impact of portfolio gains or losses, and volatility, and a better understanding of the practical task of returning to target allocations. Runaway lines in either direction would be evidence that current approaches for returning to targets were unworkable, but so far this does not appear to be the case. A crossing over: a credit card FI milestone This month has seen a long awaited milestone reached. Calculated on a past three year average, portfolio distributions now entirely meet monthly credit card expenses. This means that every credit card purchase - each shopping trip or online purchase - is effectively paid for by average portfolio distributions. At the start of this journey, distributions were only equivalent to around 40 per cent of credit card expenses. As time has progressed distributions have increased to cover a larger and larger proportion of card expenses. [Chart] Most recently, with COVID-19 related restrictions having pushed card expenditure down further, the remaining gap to this 'Credit Card FI' target has closed. Looked at on an un-smoothed basis, expenditures on the credit card have continued to be slightly lower than average across the past month. The below chart details the extent to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month. [Chart] Credit card expenditure makes up around 80 per cent of total spending, so this is not a milestone that makes paid work irrelevant or optional. Similarly, if spending rises as various travel and other restrictions ease, it is possible that this position could be temporary. Equally, should distributions fall dramatically below long term averages in the year ahead, this could result in average distributions falling faster than average monthly card expenditure. Even without this, on a three year average basis, monthly distributions will decline as high distributions received in the second half of 2017 slowly fall out of the estimation sample. For the moment, however, a slim margin exists. Distributions are $13 per month above average monthly credit card bills. This feels like a substantial achievement to note, as one unlooked for at the outset of the journey. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 84.8% 114.6% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.5% 139.9% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 82.9% 112.1% Summary What feels like a long winter is just passed. The cold days and weeks have felt repetitive and dominated by a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Yet through this time, this wandering off, the portfolio has moved quite steadily back towards it previous highs. That it is even approaching them in the course of just a few months is unexpected. What this obscures is the different components of growth driving this outcome. The portfolio that is recovering, like the index it follows, is changing in its underlying composition. This can be seen most starkly in the high levels of variance from the target portfolio sought discussed above. It is equally true, however, of individual components such as international equity holdings. In the case of the United States the overall index performance has been driven by share price growth in just a few information technology giants. Gold and Bitcoin have emerged from the shadows of the portfolio to an unintended leading role in portfolio growth since early 2019. This month I have enjoyed reading the Chapter by Chapter release of the Aussie FIRE e-book coordinated by Pearler. I've also been reading posts from some newer Australian financial independence bloggers, Two to Fire, FIRE Down Under, and Chasing FIRE Down Under. In podcasts, I have enjoyed the Mad Fientist's update on his fourth year of financial freedom, and Pat and Dave's FIRE and Chill episodes, including an excellent one on market timing fallacies. The ASX Australian Investor Study 2020 has also been released - setting out some broader trends in recent Australian investment markets, and containing a snapshot of the holdings, approaches and views of everyday investors. This contained many intriguing findings, such as the median investment portfolio ($130 000), its most frequent components (direct Australian shares), and how frequently portfolios are usually checked - with 61 per cent of investors checking their portfolios at least once a month. This is my own approach also. Monthly assessments allow me to gauge and reflect on how I or elements of the portfolio may have wandered off the straight way in the middle of the journey. Without this, the risk is that dark woods and bent pathways beckon. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
I have purchased Bitcoin (and other crypto) before on Australian and Chinese exchanges, as well as LocalBitcoins in the past, but have never bought any in Japan. Was wondering what people's recommendations for a local exchange/wallet are? Looking for something FSA-approved and low fees. I hear Bitflyer thrown around a lot, does anyone have any experience with that? I also see Rakuten has opened something called Rakuten Wallet but never heard of anyone using it. Extra question in case anyone knows: If I buy Bitcoin in Japan, but sent the Bitcoin to an Australian exchange and then sold it later on the Australian exchange, how would tax be calculated? I assume I would need to record the equivalent AUD price when I bought it (despite having purchased in yen), and then calculate if there is a capital gain when I sold later in AUD. But do I pay tax to Japan or Australia in this case?
How will the tax be calculated on this transaction of bitcoin?
Let’s say I have to send quite a bitof money (approx 10 bitcoin)from India(where I live) to someone in Australia (where my family member lives). The money with which I will buy the bitcoins is savings money. So no issues of tax here. So after converting the money in to Bitcoin and sending it to account of my family member in Australia, how would the tax be calculated or will there be no tax on that money?
I am trying to contact the ATO through their early engagement process. They recently updated their tax treatment for crypto currency taxation, however they are using incorrect definitions of mining. https://community.ato.gov.au/t5/Cryptocurrency/staking-is-mining/td-p/71201Really, Proof of Stake and Proof of Work are just different models in how to allocated the 'right' to mine a block. A miners is someone who downloads the blockchain and adds block to it and are rewarded for this work. Its a general concept. A Proof of Stake miner is given the right to mine 10% of the blocks if they are staking 10% of the coins. A Proof of Work miners is given the right to mine 10% of the blocks if they control 10% of the networks computational power. However ATO treats POW Mining and POS Mining ( Staking ) differently. There is no hobby exemption for staking and it looks like you need to declare rewards as ordinary income - similar to if your are in the business of mining. Its not clear if you can deduct cost to run the full node and other expenses. This guide, by koinly treats them properly. "taxation will be different depending on whether you're mining as a hobby or are operating a crypto mining business. In order to determine whether you are mining crypto as a business, check out this section of ATO's website." https://koinly.io/guides/crypto-tax-australia/ I hope, people can convince them to use the precise definitions - because treating staking like a business will basically mean its advantages to run the staking software on the cloud instead of your home computer so its easier to deduct costs from the staking 'income'. Calculating the market value for all rewards as they come would need to be automated by software and its not something you can do by hand... Its far easier to allocated all the rewards with a zero cost base and forget deducting costs ( which is allowed for hobby mining ) Its stupid to avoid doing something you want to do just because of the tax burden..
In this week's Mr Robot episode, Darlene sits on a park bench with Dom, and distributes the money she stole from the Deus Group to everybody, evenly. I timed the transaction as it happened in the show. It was 24 seconds, between her hitting return and seeing the following message on her screen: "*Transfers Complete. All Wallets Updated*" This processing time includes a message that says, "cleaning coins through crypto tumbler". It took 1 minute and 16 seconds for the transaction to tumble, process, and for the recipients to begin to get notices that they received money in their accounts. If you have worked with bitcoin, you know that cryptocurrency does not work like this. Transferring money is a slow and sometimes expensive process, as transaction fees eat into every transaction. I know that eCoin isn't necissarily bitcoin, because it's controlled by eCorp, but it's fun to think about what happens if eCoin works like bitcoin does today... How much money was transferred? According to Forbes, the most wealthy people in the world are worth a combined $8.7 trillion, or $2.7 trillion. It depends on which Forbes list you are looking at. On the actual Forbes web site, they say the richest people in the world are worth $8.7 trillion, but they do not state how many of the richest people in the world are worth that much. If you look at sites like Victor Media, they publish a table of the 100 most wealthy people, and say they got the list from Forbes. They probably did purchase the list from Forbes. If I put the Victor Media list into excel, and add all the values in the net worth column, that number comes out to $2.7 trillion. So Forbes might be talking about a list that is more than the top 100 people, and sell the top 100 people list to sites like Victor Media? I don't know. Either way, we are talking about somewhere between $2.7 and $8.7 trillion. How many people did the money go to? That's complicated. There was no global montage showing people celebrating all over the world (which I found a little surprising, even though I still love how this episode was shot). The only indication of a truly global transfer, to every individual in the world, is a TV screen in the airport saying that, "Global eCoin Payout... Deus group collapses as wealth spreads around the world." So Darlene could have sent the money to every individual with an eCoin wallet in the world, or she could be sending them to every American, or to everybody in the developed world. I doubt the average rice farmer in Indonesia is really using eCoin, but it's possible. If she only sent it to every American, our wealth tends to spread around the globe pretty fast, so that's possible, too. Lets work with World Bank population numbers for all three of these possibilities... World Population: 7.6 billion people Global North (AKA the developed world): 1.24 billion people United States: 327 million people So we have 6 possibilities for how much money was sent to each person...
Money Per Capita
How much would this transaction cost with bitcoin? Aside from the fact that eCoin probably functions differently than bitcoin, this is a very complex question. I'm definitely not as sure about these numbers as the other numbers I have, but I'll do my best to come up with useful, realistic numbers. If you are more familiar with the block chain than me, please correct me. The coins were taken from 100 different Deus Group accounts. Lets say each transaction launders through a bitcoin tumbler 1,000 times. I'm going to ignore transaction fees for the tumbling process, because I don't fully understand the details of tumbling, but 1,000 times seems reasonable to me. That means that there are 100 x 1,000 = 10,000 inputs in any transaction that spends all the money from the Deus group. For outputs... for simplicity's sake, I will make the conservative assumption that everybody has one eCoin wallet. That means somewhere between 327 million and 7.6 billion outputs. Accounting for everybody having multiple wallets would make the transaction even bigger, but this is a good starting point to get a feel for what this transaction would look like, in the real world. How long will this transaction take to process? There is a bidding process and a bit of politics involved in processing a cryptocurrency transaction. For simplicity, I'll assume we bid enough that this transaction gets priority treatment from the bitcoin miners. According to blockchain.com, transactions happen on the block chain at a rate of roughly 3.5 transactions per second. At that rate, the tumbling would take roughly 48 minutes, rather than the few seconds it took for Darlene to tumble this money. According to buybitcoinworldwide.com's fee calculator, here are the transaction sizes, the transaction fees involved (in US Dollars), and the time it would take at 3.5 transactions per second...
So this transaction would take years to go through, and it pays Evil Corp somewhere between $1.6 and $38 million. In the real world, most of that money would go to Chinese bitcoin miners. What would the impact be? A one time windfall of $327 per capita would probably not trigger hyperinflation in America. The largest payout we calculated was $26.5k, and I doubt that would cause hyperinflation, either. Regular inflation? Yes. Hyperinflation? Probably not. It might lead to hyperinflation in other countries, though, because of differences in purchasing power. Purchasing power parity is a number that describes the differences in the cost of goods and services around the world. $5 in America will buy you a big mac, but if you go to, say, Indonesia, you can buy a lot more with that $5, because Indonesia is full of people who make something like 25 cents a week. OECD.org publishes PPP (purchasing power parity) numbers for countries all around the world. If you want to know how far your dollar will stretch, on average, in a foreign country, consult this list. If you have $100 in America, you can expect it to be worth $100 worth of American goods and services, so on the OECD table, it has a PPP of 1.0. If you take that $100 to, say, the UK, where the PPP is 0.7, you can expect that $100 to be worth $70 worth of goods and services. If you take that $100 to Australia, where the PPP is 1.48, you can expect that $100 to buy roughly $148 worth of goods and services. If Elliot and Darlene were genius economists, I might expect them to account for PPP in their payout. They would have to be geniuses, to predict what PPP is doing after events like the 5/9 hack, because their best data would be out of date, so they would have to use all kinds of fancy regressions and tricks to figure out how that would work in such a volatile world economy. They definitely aren't economists, though, so I'll assume they sent the same nominal amount to everybody. So what's the range on how much purchasing power this transaction gives people around the world? In 2018, the highest PPP number on the OECD list is Indonesia, with a PPP of 4,245.613140. The lowest PPP on the list is Lithuania, with a PPP of 0.457582. Lets see how this shakes out in each of these countries...
$ Per Capita
What would this cause? People might predict a lot of different things. The Yang gang people probably strong opinions on this. I have a bachelor's degree in economics, so I believe I can predict that most mainstream economists would predict the following... In Lithuania, when they get a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, they probably raise a pint to F Society, then put the rest towards a house or car payment, or buy themselves something nice. Minor inflation would happen, probably starting at the pubs, and that would worry financial types, but it would not cause any kind of major economic catastrophe. In Indonesia, where everybody becomes an asset millionaire overnight, they will probably have hyperinflation, mass social upheaval, and violence. In conclusion... TL;DR: What Darlene did last night with eCoin isn't actually possible with bitcoin, and the impact in America might not be as great as you think, but the impact would be much bigger in poorer parts of the world.
Established in 2018, MXC has become a one-stop service provider. It is now able to provide users spot, margin, contract, leveraged ETF, Index Products, Contract, PoS Staking, OTC services. It emerges as one of the fastest growing exchanges in the world. In 2019, the daily trading volume of MXC took 5% of the world’s digital market. Besides, leveraged ETF products on MXC took lion share in the world of the same kind of products based on data from CryptoRank. On top of that, It obtained regulation-compliance licenses in many countries, like U.S., Canada, Australia, etc. and is able to carry out digital asset service in these countries. https://preview.redd.it/xmdorlqtjt951.png?width=1298&format=png&auto=webp&s=b791ee9dc47ff43cca9bf281cacbc05a61fa2632 In the aspect of OTC trading, MXC established partnership with Simplex, a European regulation-compliance payment company, and Banxa, a legal payment company in South-east Asia, allowing users to use Visa and Mastercard to buy cryptocurrencies, like BTC, ETH, etc. directly. In the aspect of spot trading, MXC now support over 200 trading pairs. In addition to the top market cap coins and token, it has listed many high-quality DeFi projects, like COMP, MKR, SNX, KNC, LEND, REN, BNT, IDEX, SWTH, OKS, RUNE, KAVA, BAL, UMA, etc. as well as projects of Polkadot ecosystem, like KSM, EDG, PCX, RING, etc. In the aspect of margin trading, MXC supports the largest number of margin pairs among all exchanges across the globe, with 2 – 10x leverage available. The automatic loan and repayment functions are available. With the coming of the upgraded margin system, the depth, price difference, loan efficiency and matching efficiency have greatly updated. In the aspect of leveraged ETF, MXC, learned from traditional financial products, introduced in re-balance system, so there’s no liquidation risks in buying leveraged ETF products. Leveraged ETF tracks the changes of the underlying assets with 3x leverage. “3L” products refer to 3x long, while “3S” products 3x short. Now it 3x leverage for 29 cryptocurrencies, including BTC, BCH, BSV, DASH, ZEC, ATOM, XTZ, ALGO, etc. In the extreme market on March 12, 2020, BTC plummeted a high of 52.36% and the ordinary 3x leverage products for BTC plunged by 157.08%. However, with the re-balance system, the BTC3L product on MXC decreased by 92.96%, lower than the ordinary 3x leverage products and protect the interest of users in some extent. Furthermore, in the following market, the BTC3L product rose by 236%, higher than the 167.41% of ordinary 3x leverage product. The leveraged ETF once became the label of MXC, "Huobi's OTC, OKex’s contract, MXC’s ETF and Binance's spot." The popularity of leveraged ETFs has attracted many exchanges to follow suit. In terms of index products, MXC officially launched index products under the ETF zone, including decentralized storage asset index, mainstream cryptocurrency index, DeFi asset index, public chain index, 2020 halving cryptocurrency index. MXC index products are similar to traditional financial fund products, and each index product is composed of multiple constituent cryptocurrencies. According to the announcement, the MXC Index product will be adjusted according to the average daily turnover ratio of the previous 30 days, that is, the proportion of the component cryptocurrency will be adjusted. If the target does not meet the representativeness and investability, the index may be removed from the product. Decentralized storage combination components are STORJ, LAMB, GNX, BLZ; mainstream currency combination, components are BTC, ETH, LTC, EOS, ETC, BCH, BSV, XRP; DeFi asset components are KNC, ZRX, KAVA, NEST; Public chain combination, the components are TRX, VET, NEO, QTUM, BTM, ONT, IOST; halving index components are BTC, ETC, BCH, BSV, ZEC, DASH. Index products can help users not miss the bull market. Any one of the constituent cryptocurrencies increase, the user can make gains. Secondly, it can help avoid the risk of a single cryptocurrency’s plunging. In addition, it can also help save investment time and improve investment efficiency. In terms of contract transactions, MXC upgraded the contract trading system and launched a new version of the contract in June this year. MXC contract trading currently supports free adjustment of 1-100x leverage multiples. In the isolated margin mode, users can still adjust the leverage multiples after opening a position, and support isolated margin conversion to cross margin, which can help users pursue the market with all their strength. It supports users to place stop profit and stop loss orders at the same time, while occupying only one margin. It supports Post Only (Maker only) and IOC (Immediately or cancel all) strategies. Under Post Only (Maker only), the user will not immediately place an order on the market when placing an order, to ensure that the order is always Maker (pending order), saving handling fees. IOC function, that is, if the order cannot be fully executed, the rest will be cancelled. For example, the BTC price index of MXC selects the bitcoin spot prices of 6 exchanges, namely: Coinbase, Bitstamp, Binance, Huobi, OKEx, Bitfinex. If the spot price of an exchange deviates from the median of all exchanges by ±3%, the spot price of the exchange is calculated according to the median of ±3%. Use reasonable prices for liquidation, which are based on index prices. In addition, underlined proper nouns on the webpage, as long as the mouse points up, the corresponding explanation will be displayed, which is convenient for users to understand. In terms of PoS pools, MXC supports three types of PoS: Saving, Staking and Lending. Among them, PoS saving does not need to lock assets, and holding assets can obtain income.
Upon the Fortune of this Present Year | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - November 2019
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596) This is my thirty-sixth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $797 618 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 218 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 294 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 367 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $158 769 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $28 471 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $268 114 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 057 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $9 996 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 100 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 376 Secured physical gold – $15 868 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $16 915 Bitcoin – $128 630 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 535 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 377 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 418 Total portfolio value: $1 793 753 (+$33 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 43.2% (1.8% under) Global shares – 22.9% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.4% (1.6% under) Total shares – 71.6% (3.4% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.8% Total bonds – 14.6% (0.4% under) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 7.2% Gold and alternatives – 13.5% (3.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the value of the portfolio increased again by around $33 000 in total, building on the previous two months of growth. [Chart] The equity part of the portfolio has grown by around $50 000 to now reach over $1.25 million for the first time. This increase includes new contributions and the last part of the previous June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The equity component of the portfolio has increased by around 40 per cent this calendar year. The only other major movement in the monthly value of the portfolio has been a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin, and a small increase in the value of bond holdings. [Chart] The contributions this month went entirely into the Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS.ASX), to reduce the gap to both the overall target equity allocation, and to achieve the target split between Australian and global shares. From this month onwards I expect more regular variations in whether new contributions go to either Australian or global shares, based on keeping this target allocation constant. Charting errors and wrong bearings - the nature of long-term returns Over the last month, as the end destination starts to appear a little clearer in the distance, the issue of the nature of long-term returns has been front of mind. There is a strong literature and body of academic work around long-term equity return expectations. Much of this has informed my thinking, and has over time found its way into the corners of financial independence movement through the avenues of the so-called Trinity and Bengen '4 per cent' studies (pdf), and a range of calculators that use historical data to help guide investors expectations around feasible future returns. Yet, as I have noted before, future states of the world are not drawn from the same distribution as the past - or as the British writer G K Chesterton evocatively put it - 'wildness lies in wait'. Most often this issue is glided over neatly (including by myself) with assured sounding phrases such as 'based on history'. The works of Nassim Taleb, most particularly Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, provide a fuller perspective on these issues. Recently though, reading a 2017 paper Stock Market Charts You Never Saw provided a unique and arresting view of their application to long-term return projections. The paper is long and detailed, but makes some fundamental points for consideration. It provides a challenging perspective on investment returns that falls almost completely out of mainstream discussions of the topic in the financial independence arena. To summarise, the paper highlights that:
Long-term average equity returns are just mean averages - While they have a stable property over the long-term, this is an inherent statistical property of these values being long-term averages of diverse sets of returns. They are not a reliable forward-looking promise of likely returns. In the words of the paper: 'history documents, but does not constrain'.
Time (in the market) does not always heal all wounds - Investors who spend their dividends and avoid market timing - in other words an average FI investor - can reasonably expect to encounter 30 year periods of low real returns, with US investors facing three such periods in the twentieth century alone.
Typical charts of long-term equity returns can be misleading - Through behavioural finance findings it is clear that presented with a chart showing a seemingly inevitable rising line of equity returns over a long-time frame, an impression of safety and inevitability can be created. The paper highlights a range of ways in which standard charts on equity returns can obscure important facets of investors actual experiences.
No investor actually experiences the longest set of historical returns - While it is comforting to know that equity returns have averaged (for example) six per cent over a century, or two, this information is not as relevant for an investor who is more likely to be invested in a discrete 30-50 year period in which deviations from historical averages can be significant.
One-off events should not be dismissed - While the temptation is continuously present to believe that events like the Great Depression could never happen again, careful review of equity returns yields some distinctly similar periods of sustained low or negative real returns.
Comparisons of bond and equity returns are often oversimplified - It is not an immutable truth that equities outperform bonds, at least when the US historical record is considered. Rather, a more complicated picture emerges of returns over long periods. Sometimes, equities have outperformed bonds, but at other times, bonds have out-performed equites.
As the paper notes: "When investment advisors counsel that stocks are the best bet for a long investment horizon, they should append the acknowledgement: “if my market timing is good.” When advisors argue for stocks over bonds, they should append the caveat “as long as you are not French, or Italian, or Japanese, or Swiss, and provided that the 20th century is a better guide to the future than the 19th century.” For real investors with their limited time horizons, who may reside anywhere in the world, there have been times when both stock recommendations were bad." The issue of the primacy of total returns, compared to income returns is also bracingly challenged with reference to the drawdown phase: Once portfolio accumulation ceases with retirement, portfolio income must be spent to live. Under those circumstances real price return, over short periods lasting two or three decades, becomes an important metric. By that measure, an investment in stocks has been dicey indeed. Usefully, the paper sets out (at the end) both conventional charts, and alternative representations of the same returns data, aimed at illustrating the hidden biases and properties of standard charts of market returns. In short, the paper poses challenges to many conventional investment tenets assumed to be true and widely repeated within financial independence discussions. Often these tenets are promoted with the sound and well-meaning goal of reducing new or existing investors caution or level of worry around possible falls in equity markets. The question this work implicitly poses is, in the process, are distorted expectations unintentionally being promoted? Drawing out the lessons - understanding and responding to risks What are the practical implications of this? The most obvious is to look closely at how data is presented and to think carefully about how the assumptions implicit in that presentation line up against ones own situation. Some other implications include:
Projections based on earning stable and uniform returns should be undertaken with caution - Multi-decade periods of low returns can happen, and mathematical models of compounding smooth returns don't capture their impacts.
By taking an equity position an investor is simply undertaking a probabilistic bet, with no guarantees - That is, equity investment over the long-term usually pays offs, but some risk is inescapable.
Diversification across markets and time represents a workable response to risk - Investing regularly and across geographic markets can help current investors capture some of the positive 'survivorship' bias that was denied to individual investors in many countries across the twentieth century.
In other words - to paraphrase Shakespeare's Antonio - not trusting ones ventures to one ship, place, or a fortune upon the present year. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 112.2% 153.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 90.6% 123.5% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 103.0% 140.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 84.5% 115.1% Summary As the year begins to draw to a close, a restlessness to see its final outcomes, in dividends and portfolio growth presses itself forward. It is in fact a small echo of one of the strong temptations of the middle of the FI journey - a desire to wish away time itself. Some potential upcoming changes and uncertainties in work situation have added force to this temptation, forcing some thoughts about different potential balances between work and other elements of daily life could be. By distance, the intended journey is around ninety per cent over. At times this introduces both an elegiac quality to, and a premature desire to mark, possible 'lasts' along the journey. Yet the extraordinary current state of financial markets gives pause. Policy makers and advisors casually discuss negative rates and their implications, even as Australian and US equity markets hit new highs. In a sense, it feels a more psychologically testing time to be closer to my higher target allocation for equities than any time before. The diversification in the portfolio can be thought of as a series of small hedges against different potential futures playing out. By far, the largest probability (or potential future) at 75 per cent, is that the historical dominance of equity as a generator of real returns continues to function. The remainder of the portfolio can be seen in some ways as a offsetting hedge against large equity market falls, or some other disturbance in financial markets with negative implications for equity. At base, however, I remain comfortable with the 'balance of probabilities' implied in the target asset allocation. This month saw a new (v)blogger Mx Lauren join the Australian FI scene, as well as the suggestion by Money Magazine of a new 'simplified' retirement rule of thumb to consider. A further piece of fascinating reading was this piece by Ben Carlson in Fortune Magazine, explaining the key role of earnings growth in recent US market return. It posits that the recent strong performance of US equities is attributable to fundamental earnings growth, rather than simply an unjustified expansion in the price investors are willing to pay for that growth. This - in addition to Shakespeare's pre-modern enjoinment to diversify - is potentially another reason to not confine considerations to one market, and one place, as December distributions slowly drift into sight. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
The Day Advances | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - January 2020
The day advanced as if to light some work of mine Thoreau, Walden This is my thirty-eighth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $813 282 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 802 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $83 162 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 472 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $178 121 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $34 965 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $272 399 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 046 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $8 970 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $6 492 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $106 701 Secured physical gold – $17 252 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $14 755 Bitcoin – $153 530 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $18 365 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 534 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477 Total portfolio value: $1 873 325 (+$94 067) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.8% (2.2% under) Global shares – 22.6% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 28.1% (1.9% under) Total shares – 70.9% (4.1% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.5% International bonds – 9.5% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 6.6% Bitcoin – 8.2% Gold and alternatives – 14.8% (4.8% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. Comments This month saw exceptional growth in the portfolio, with a net increase of $94 000 after a small fall last month. [Chart] This is the fastest growth in the past half year. It is also the second largest absolute increase in over three years of measurement. [Chart] As the histogram below - which counts the frequency of occurrences in a specified range of monthly value changes (with red denoting losses) - makes clear, this is one of the most positive outcomes in the three year record. [Chart] The sources of portfolio growth were generally buoyant global and Australian share markets. Just under half of the growth was also due to an increase in the price of both gold securities and Bitcoin. In addition, even bond holdings increased in value over the period. Distribution payments from the Vanguard retail funds, as well as the exchange-traded funds VAS, VGS and A200 were made through this month. These totalled around $14 000 and have begun to be gradually fed back into the portfolio. This is a process which will occur through to June - with new investments twice per month. So far this has led to additional purchases in Vanguard's Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) to maintain the target allocation of Australian equities making up 60 per cent of all equity holdings. The bond allocation of the portfolio continues to be notionally under its target, but has not yet reached a position where further balancing investments are warranted. Fully excluding the value of Bitcoin, for example, it still sits on its target allocation of 15 per cent of the portfolio. If the same calculation is done for equities, they sit just above their target, at 77 per cent, and have drifted higher since early last year. Over the past months my position has been to take no portfolio balancing actions based purely on the volatile value of Bitcoin over time, and this remains my approach. There is no perfect answer to this issue - assigning no value to Bitcoin and ignoring it for asset allocation purposes is inconsistent with its role in the portfolio. Pushing either equity or bond allocations sharply out of target boundaries merely due to short-term Bitcoin movements is also not warranted. Taking a backcast 'moving average' approach might be one statistical solution, but I am not yet convinced it would do more than moderate the appearance of the issue. While expenditure has been higher over the holiday period, on average the gap between the rolling three-year average of distributions and credit card expenditure continues to close, and sits at just over a $300 per month gap at present. Flags of convenience - estimating hedging in the portfolio This month, out of a curiosity carried over from my recent review of my bond holdings, I have found the time to review of the overall currency hedging position of the portfolio. There are some excellent online research papers (pdf) and blog pieces, such as this one from Passive Investing Australia, for those interested in learning more about some of the associated issues. Currency risks have never previously been an object of much detailed thought on the journey. Rather, I had tracked a basic measure of broader exposure to foreign assets (including foreign equities, property securities, gold and more recently Bitcoin). The additional issue of whether my exposure to these assets was unhedged (meaning exposure to gains and losses from the relative movement in the Australian dollar and the foreign currencies) or hedged was not really front of mind. I suppose I had a dim awareness that some elements of the Vanguard retail funds that have until recently dominated the portfolio were hedged (for example, around 30 per cent of the Vanguard High Growth Diversified funds equity position is currency hedged), and judged that there was likely a well-considered rationale behind the amount of this hedging. The first step to understanding where any exposures exist is to understand and measure the current state of affairs. As of today, this is broadly as set out below:
Around 35 per cent of all portfolio assets are effectively unhedged - This includes Bitcoin, unhedged gold holdings, and unhedged international equities and bonds. All other things being equal, if the Australian dollar falls, the value of this part of the portfolio rises in relative terms.
The remaining 65 per cent of assets are either hedged or Australian-held assets - This includes Australian equities, Australian bonds, as well as international equities and bonds hedged back to the Australian dollar.
International equities are partially hedged - The portfolio has around $525 000 in international equities currently. Of this, around $140 000 is hedged back into Australian dollars - a hedging position of 27 per cent.
International bonds are nearly fully hedged - consistent with their portfolio role and discussed here.
The decision to invest in Vanguard's International Shares ETF (VGS), which is unhedged, is a significant event in this regard. The chart below shows the overall level of currency hedging in the international equity portfolio. Investments in VGS commenced from July 2019, and have started to affect the level of hedging. [Chart] As future contributions flow into VGS - absent any other action - a historically quite stable level of hedging will continue to fall. So far this is just a trend I am monitoring, until I have completed more research and thinking on the best approach in this area. There are many complicated, and some unknowable, issues to consider and balance in hedging decisions, such as the likely denomination of future costs, and the historical and future relationships between domestic currencies and equity markets. None avail themselves of short or easy answers. Until I have thought my way through them more fully, I remain hesitant to make any definitive decisions. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio Objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 85.2% 115.9% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 103.9% 141.4% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 83.3% 113.3% Summary This month has seen rapid progress, propelling the portfolio closer to both old and new goals. The portfolio gains this month have already closed nearly half of the additional distance created by increasing my portfolio target at the beginning of the year. The psychological forward push from distributions performance across 2019 (including, pleasingly, seeing it recognised here) has added to this sense of momentum. Additionally, this month I have also crossed the threshold to the target portfolio size needed to achieve 'credit card FI', a long-standing measure I have tracked. The long summer break that has just ended in some ways seemed like a foretaste of what some versions of financial independence could feel like. With the minimum of planning there was time to read, rest, exercise and write largely as I pleased. Returning to work following this has been infused with an unusual sense of being a temporary visitor in a new workplace. There is a greater philosophical detachment, in observing its rituals and rhythms, and less of a desire to seek to shape or resist its minutiae. Rather, what I have focused on is seeking to more deliberately make use of the freedoms it does not constrain, and pursue the best and most interesting use of the time that is outside of work hours. Through these recent strong Australian and US equity markets, this article has been a useful reminder of the 'survivorship' risks of focusing a FI target too narrowly on past performance. This excellent recent piece from Aussie HIFIRE has also, from another direction, usefully focused on separating out the decisions that do, and do not, materially matter in planning and executing on a passive indexing strategy over the long-term. For a challenging and entirely heterodox view on the potential long-term movement of equity markets upwards from here, this article has been thought-provoking. Finally, this month I have been discovering the Jolly Swagman podcast, which has long and fascinating interviews with the ex-head of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and Nobel Prize winning US economist Robert Shiller speaking on bubbles and narrative economics. During the long restful hours of summer break, the day has advanced. Though clouds may come in time, as the year starts - at least - the way forward looks bright. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
The below is the text from my latest blog post about bonds, if you want to see the original with pretty pictures, charts, graphs etc then click on this link. Ok, the title is an obvious dad joke, but as it happens it still fits in with my naming convention for posts so happy days! On to more serious stuff. The most common proposed asset allocation for people pursuing FIRE seems to involve having absolutely as much invested in equities (or to a lesser extent property) as possible, and reducing every other asset class to as little as possible. Which is certainly one way of doing things, and given the great performance of shares and property over the last 20 years or more there is an argument to be made for doing things this way. It’s certainly not the only way of doing things though, and I will be trying to show why there is a case to be made for investing some money in other asset classes, in particular Fixed Income aka Bonds. So what are bonds? Bonds are a type of debt that is issued by governments, semi-government organisations, and corporations, so basically you’re lending them money. In Australia we also have what are called hybrid securities, but they’ve got some big enough differences that I’ll talk about them in a future post (probably). Bonds are also one of those fun areas where there is an exception to every rule, so although what I’ve written below is broadly accurate there is always going to be some type of bond or a specific issue that breaks one of the rules. So please don’t be an internet hero and “well ackshually” me about premium redemption/issue bonds, soft calls, hard calls, investor puts, floaters, PIK notes and all the rest of it because broadly speaking it isn’t going to make much difference for the purposes of explaining bonds. Basically play nice readers! Talk numbers to me… Bonds are all about math. As I’m sure regular readers of this blog can imagine this makes me very happy, and probably explains in part why I spent a large part of my career working in an area where understanding bonds was crucial, although to make things more interesting we added on a bunch of other stuff like equity options, credit derivatives, FX etc. The main numbers to think about are the price you paid for the bond, the coupon on the bond, the yield on the bond, the time to maturity, and the maturity value of the bond. From those main numbers we also derive a bunch of other numbers I’ll talk about later. Bonds are normally issued at a price of 100, with a fixed coupon (interest payment based on the maturity value of the bond) and a fixed maturity value at a known maturity date. So that’s 4 of the numbers covered already, happy days! A lot of the time though you’re not going to be buying that bond when it is issued, you’ve buying it when it’s already trading in which case chances are pretty good you didn’t pay 100 for the bond. Buying it along the way doesn’t affect the coupon or the redemption amount at maturity or when it matures. What it does affect though is the yield. There are a bunch of different yield measures but I’m going to go with yield to maturity, ie what yield (return) will you get if you hold the bond to maturity. It’s not a perfect analogy, but one way to think about bonds is that they’re like a term deposit where the amount that you can buy it for moves around. If you buy a bond for $10,000 that is going to mature in a year and it has a 2% coupon and redeems for $10,200 (redemption price plus coupon payment), then your yield (2%) is the same as your coupon (2%). But if interest rates have changed and so the price of the bond has changed and you buy that bond for $9,900 or $10,100, then your yield will be different from your coupon, either 3% or 1% respectively. Hopefully that makes sense? BTW I’ve rounded the numbers here to try and keep it nice and simple. Most bonds pay interest on a semi annual basis (I used an annual payment in the example above to make things easier) so to figure out how much interest you get when it gets paid it’ll be the coupon divided by two. Hopefully all of that makes sense, if not let me know in the comments. Issuers of Bonds As I said above the main issuers of bonds are governments, semi government organisations, and corporations. Debt issued by governments is generally the safest type, because so long as they control the printing press then they can always print more money to pay you back. The Eurozone is a bit of an exception to this (understatement of the year) but in most of the other major sovereign bond markets like the US, Australian, the UK etc it’s true. Emerging markets are a bit different because they often issue debt in USD, which means that if things go pear shaped then they can’t just print more money to pay off bondholders. There can also be issues with getting your money back from sovereigns if they have too much debt, such as when they either don’t control the printing press (Greece) or the bond is issued in a different currency (Argentina) but for the most part if you lend money to a developed country in their own currency then you can pretty reliably count on getting your money back. There are also bonds issued by semi government organisations like the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development etc, these are slightly less safe for the most part but you’re still not taking on much risk of not getting your money back. Debt issued by corporations is riskier, partly because businesses obviously can’t just print more money to pay you back, and because corporations can and do go bust. Sure it doesn’t seem likely that Telstra or Woolworths or the big banks are going to blow up any time soon, but there are plenty of other bond issuers out there with much more fragile finances. As you would expect the more risk you are taking on the more return you want in order to be compensation for doing so. This is because unlike a term deposit the value of your capital isn’t protected. If you put $10,000 into a term deposit for a year with an interest rate of 2%, then you know that in a year’s time you will get back that $10,000 plus $200 in interest. If for some reason the bank you invested that money through goes bust, the government will make you whole (up to the value of $250,000 per entity per approved deposit institution. If you invest in a corporate bond and the company goes bust, well you’re probably not going to get all or maybe any of your money back. The good news is that you’re more likely to get money back than equity holders, but if the debts of the company are a lot more than the assets then you’re going to be in trouble. There’s a clear framework for what happens if a company goes bust and who gets paid first and in how much etc, the short version of this is that equity holders are absolutely last in line but depending on what type of bonds you own you may not be a meaningful better position either. And unlike a stock, when you own a bond you don’t own a piece of the issuer of the bond, you just own part of their devt. So if the company does great and starts making a fortune, you as a bondholder don’t get paid any more than what the terms of the bond state. Basically you can get a fair chunk of the downside and none of the upside beyond the terms of the bond. On the plus side this doesn’t happen particularly often, most of the time you’ll get what you were promised Bond ratings Now obviously some companies are more secure and stable than others. If you take a bond from the biggest company in the ASX200 which is CBA, then it’s more likely to fulfil the terms of the bond than whatever the 200th company is. That’s not to say the 200th company won’t, just that there is more risk. The actual degree of this risk is quantified in a couple of different ways. First of all there are ratings agencies out there who will assign a rating from anywhere to super safe (AAA) to D (in default) with a bunch of graduations in between. Anything rated from AAA to BBB- is what is called Investment Grade (IG), everything below that is called High Yield (HY) or less politely Junk. Just because a bond is IG doesn’t guarantee it will pay off, likewise something which is HY isn’t guaranteed or even likely to fail. For the most part though the different ratings given tend to play out that way in the real world, with far less defaults for bonds rated AAA vs bonds rated BB for example. The big three ratings agencies are Standard & Poors (S&P), Moodys, and Fitch, and between them they’ll rate most of the bonds and/or issuers. They tend to be fairly backward looking in my opinion, and they were hugely and obviously wrong on rating mortgage backed securities back in the GFC. Still, they will generally give you a reasonable idea of the creditworthiness of the bond issuer. Because bonds are also traded in the marketplace you can take the yield offered on a bond with a particular maturity, compare it to an equivalent government bond, and using some fun math (yeah baby!) back out a credit spread which that bond trades over treasuries (or swaps but I’m not going to get into that). The higher the spread, the higher the perceived risk of the bond, and vice versa of course. Are bonds safe? Well it kinda depends on what you mean by safe. If you mean are the bonds likely to deliver what the issuer of the bonds promised, then generally yes. As I said with government and semi government bonds you will almost certainly get all your coupons and the maturity value of the bonds delivered on time. Yeah, there are some exceptions to this but you’re unlikely to run into trouble with Australia, the US, the UK, the more economically sensible members of the Eurozone etc. Similarly with corporates the vaast majority of the time you will get your money back on investment grade bonds, and it’s pretty rare to not get your money back on high yield bonds as well. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t happen much. If you mean am I going to get back what I put into the bond, well no they’re not necessarily safe, particularly if you sell before maturity. Remember when I said bonds are kinda like term deposits that can trade? Well when they trade those prices move around, and they can move around a lot! Why do bond prices move? There are a bunch of reasons why bond prices move around, the main ones are changes in the interest rate environment, changes in economic conditions, and changes specific to the issuer of the bond. We’ll talk about interest rates first. Bond prices have an inverse relationship with bond yields, which is a fancy way of saying if interest rates (yields) go down then bond prices go up. How much do they go up? Well that depends on the magnitude of the change in rates, and a bunch of factors involving the bond. Basically the longer till maturity on the bond, and the lower the coupon on the bond, the more sensitive it will be to changes in interest rates. This is measured using modified duration and convexity. Modified duration takes into account the timing of the cashflows of the bond (so coupons and maturity) and gives you a number which is typically a little less than that number of years to maturity, the higher the coupon the more it decreases the modified duration. If you multiply that modified duration by the change in interest rates in percentage terms, it will tell you how much the bond price will move by (in theory at least). So if you have a modified duration of say 7.117, then for every 1 percent move in interest rates the bond price will change by 7.117 points. So if your bond price was previously 100 and rates moved down by 1%, then your bond should now be worth 107.117. Happy days! Conversely if rates moved up, well your bond is now worth 92.883. Not so happy days. I’ve used the [ASX bond calculator](http://%20https//www.asx.com.au/asx/research/bondCalculator.do) to give a couple of examples using the current Aussie 10 year bond. You can hopefully see below that by changing the yield on the bond from 1.5% to 1% the market price has gone from 116.87 to 121.83, roughly a 4.25% change in price for a 0.5% change in rates, so presumably the modified duration on the bond is about 8.5. To make things slightly more complex, that relationship isn’t fixed due to something called convexity. Instead of being a linear relationship, it’s actually a changing one (a curve rather than a line). Basically the more bonds prices move away from where they were issued the more that relationship will change. Then there are things like GDP numbers, employment numbers, consumer sentiment surveys, PMI surverys, and all sorts of other economic news which will potentially move bond yields around, generally pretty slightly but it really depends on how important that economic number is and how much of a change from expectations it is. On top of that for corporations changes in their own situations will have an effect on what their credit rating/spread is which will affect prices as well. If a company goes from being loss making to suddenly making a profit, then that’s going to be good for their credit and the bond price is likely to go up. Bad news like a profit warning will potentially mean a higher credit spread and lower price for the bond. There is also general investor appetite for risk, so if investors are happy to take on more risk in their asset allocation (risk on) then they will likely sell off lower risk assets like bonds and buy higher risk assets like equities and to a lesser extent property. If things change and they want to go risk off, then the reverse happens and money tends to come out of equities and into bonds. What happens to bonds if the stock market crashes or we have another GFC? A stock market crash is actually one of the more compelling reasons to invest in bonds. This is because when stock markets crash investors tend to put their money into asset classes where they feel a lot safer ie, bonds. The rationale is that getting your money back is now hugely important, and even more important is not losing all your money as you will in those horrible equities which you knew you should never have invested in but that horrible financial adviser talked you into. People. Are. Not. Rational. People panic. People sell assets which are going down in value even though they know they should be holding on for the long term. This applies not just to retail investors, but also to professionals who should know better. In the GFC I spent plenty of time talking to institutional investors with a long term time horizon (ie 5 or 10 years etc) who suddenly decided they had to get out because of bad one month performance. People will bail out if the proverbial is hitting the fan. I wrote a bit about my experiences with the GFC here, and believe me there are a lot of people who are not going to be as cool calm and collected as they think they will be. It’s very very very very (extra very for emphasis) important to note here that at this point in time investors will not be thinking that all bonds are much the same. When they are looking for somewhere to put their money that they now have after panic selling out of equities, they will park it in the safest place they can find, ie government bonds (aka treasuries). This will cause the price of those bonds to rise because of supply and demand. If they still want to take on some amount of risk then they might put some into investment grade bonds, again this will push the price up a bit. They will almost certainly not put money into high yield bonds, because those are risky and in a crisis will behave pretty similarly to equities, ie they will fall in value. If anything they will more than likely try to pull money out of HY bonds, pushing the price down. This excellent post really shows this in the below graph which shows the average performance of different types of bonds for a 10% or greater fall in the stock market (all of this is for the US but the same principle applies to Australia). It doesn’t work in every case, as shown below (same source), but in almost all cases of a big crash in equities, treasury and to a lesser extent IG bonds gave you a big positive return to help out. HY, not so much and in some cases actually gave you a worse performance than equities themselves. Please believe me when I say it is a huge help psychologically to have some of your investments going up when the others are going down, which to me at least is a great reason to have some money invested in bonds. You’ve convinced me, how much should I have in bonds? Ok so I’m probably being slightly optimistic here given the number of posts I see on reddit about how VDHG would be so much better if Vanguard got rid of that terrible 10% that’s invested in bonds and put it all in equities instead. It would be nice to think though that some people are now realising that come the next crash they too might not behave entirely rationally, and it sure would be nice to own some assets that are going to zig when the stock market zags, so to speak. On the off chance that I have actually convinced people, well it really comes down to your particular risk profile. This is going to be hard to believe for some people, but in the US the default portfolio for most investors is 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Looking at Oz , the default balanced investment option for most super funds over here are supposed to have something like a 70:30 split between growth assets (shares and property) and defensive assets (bonds and cash) although the reality is a long long way from that if you actually look into how they invest (that’s a discussion for another time though). So that maybe provides a useful starting point. I know that the average FIRE portfolio that gets talked about particularly from younger bloggers (who have likely never experienced a sustained down market) is pretty much 100% equities and property, maybe even leveraged up. Which is fine if you can hold on through the downturns, but not everyone can do this because it is extremely difficult to do psychologically. I wish them all the best of luck, but I am pretty sure that at least some of them will decide that it’s all too much and sell whenever we have the next crash. There are exceptions to the rule though. One of my favourite bloggers, and someone who I know thinks deeply about this sort of stuff, is the FI Explorer who has about 15% in bonds and 15% in defensive alternatives (gold and bitcoin) as per his latest portfolio update. Whilst I don’t like Bitcoin myself, or gold for that matter, he writes a good explanation about why he holds both here. I still don’t like either asset myself, but I recognise that I am not infallible, I could well be wrong about this, and certainly historically they have worked well as hedges. In any case the more important point here is that there is basically a 30% allocation to what would be regarded as defensive type assets. This is actually a bit over his actual target of 25% in defensive assets, but he probably sleeps just fine at night. I’m a little more aggressive in only having about 21% of my assets (excluding PPoR) in cash and bonds, but it’s not a huge difference. Both of us have been invested through stock market crashes and hopefully have come to realise that we are not the hyper rational investors that economists believe we are, and therefore it’s best to have a bit invested in stuff that will go up or at least hold it’s value when everything else is crashing. How do I buy bonds? You can buy bonds individually, but you tend to need to have a fair amount of money to do so and you can run into a lot of problems with liquidity, big bid/ask spreads etc, it’s hard to build up a diversified portfolio etc. I buy bonds the same way I buy stocks, ie via an ETF. Most of the major ETF providers have some variety of index ETFs tracking Treasury only or Treasury plus Investment Grade bonds, or you can buy HY stuff if you want. Personally I just use one ETF which has about 75% in treasuries and the rest in IG. There are also some actively managed bond funds out there, either as ETFs or managed funds. For the reasons I outlined above about bonds being a psychological safe harbour I personally would (and do) only invest in bonds which are likely to up in a crisis, but different strokes for different folks applies as always. Any more questions? I’ve only really scratched the surface here of talking about bonds, but at the same time I feel like it’s an overwhelming amount of information. If you have more questions then as always I’m happy to answer them in the comments! Do you invest in bonds? If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more like it then please subscribe!
Casting Shadows Before | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - October 2019
And coming events cast their shadows before. Thomas Campbell, Loichiel’s Warning (1802) This is my thirty-fifth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $773 028 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $44 094 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $80 383 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $108 964 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $139 698 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $27 138 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $259 380 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 860 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $13 847 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 412 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 755 Secured physical gold – $15 979 Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $17 791 Bitcoin – $147 130 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 931 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 240 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 410 Total value: $1 760 040 (+$30 378) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.0% (3.0% under) Global shares – 22.6% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 28.1% (1.9% under) Total shares – 70.1% (4.9% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.9% Total bonds – 14.7% (0.3% under) Gold – 6.5% Bitcoin – 8.4% Gold and alternatives – 14.9% (4.9% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the portfolio grew by just over $30 000 in total, building on the previous month of growth. [Chart] The equity component of the portfolio has grown, including through new contributions and another part of the June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The only other major changes in the monthly value of the portfolio have been the result of gains in the value of equity holdings and a sharp upward movement in the price of Bitcoin. [Chart] This month marks the notional passing of one of the additional FI benchmarks set at the beginning of the year - 'Credit card FI'. This benchmark is estimated on the basis of reaching a portfolio value where the annual assumed real return of 4.19 per cent could in theory fully meet average annual credit card expenses of $73 000. This benchmark is notionally met in that sense, and it is also close to being met on a far more practical and tangible basis also. The actual gap between a trailing average of distributions paid and card expenses has now fallen to less than $300 per month. [Chart] Even so, it is important to note that this narrow gap could stabilise or modestly rise once forthcoming December distributions form part of the average, replacing a higher placeholder assumption based on June's figures. Quarterly distributions from Betashare's A200 ETF and Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS) were paid this month. These distributions, in addition to another staggered reinvestment of June distributions were invested in the market. They have been mostly placed into VAS, to obtain the benefit of accessing a slightly wider range of holdings at a comparable fee, as well as to reduce any (admittedly small) risk and volatility in future returns and payout levels between A200 and VAS. To maintain the target balance for international (40 per cent) and domestic equities (40 per cent), a smaller additional investment was also made into Vanguard's International shares ETF (VGS). Sighting harbours and early arrivals - revising the FI target date A focus of thought in the two months ahead will be the expected timing of reaching my FI Objective #2. This goal is current set to July 2023. In setting this original target timeframe I used approximate and conservative estimates, based on previous average total portfolio increases over the past five years. This method effectively ignored extra contributions arising from any above average portfolio distributions, or any return impacts, given the relatively short time until both targets. As such, it represented a clear simplification of reality. Achievement of the target - I reasoned at the time - would inevitably be impacted by market fluctuations and this meant constructing spuriously exact yearly forecasts of the impacts of average returns would not be worthwhile. What has become clear since meeting Objective #1 more than 18 months earlier than expected is that more rapid progress was also being made towards Objective #2. To understand and explore this progress further I have applied a few estimation techniques to start understanding possible revised trajectories. These estimate approaches included:
simple extrapolation from past progress over a long time period
using the median monthly progress since 2017; and
assuming no investment returns at all, and reliance just on contributions.
The results of the different estimation approaches being applied were broadly consistent, with projections of Objective #2 being reached at least two years ahead of schedule. A further interesting fact was that average assumed investment returns alone would be sufficient to carry the portfolio to the original target level by mid-2023. Indeed, even if the portfolio suffered a one-off 33 per cent fall in equity values tomorrow - as is quite possible - modelling suggested the target would still be likely to be met early. With two months to go until a full portfolio review, this indicates that it may be useful to reset this target to an estimate that more closely aligns with progress to date, whilst still retaining a respectful regard for the critical role that market variations can have in this phase of the journey. Casting the shadow before - a better approach for estimating distributions? At this time of year December distributions begin to cast their shadow forward, as the previous July distributions recede. Seeking to estimate the approximate level of future distributions has been an ongoing interest, and has been looked at previously in both the Set and Drift and Wind in the Sails posts. The level of distributions is a solid and important marker of how far the journey has progressed. This month I found time to fully develop an expanded data set to allow a better estimate of likely distributions. From the website of the relevant Vanguard retail funds, as well as the sites for the ETFs VAS, VGS and A200 I was able to download the available histories of distributions. These stretched back a decade for some funds, and five years for VAS and VGS, but substantially shorter for A200. This enables the estimation of average payouts (in cents per unit) to be reached. In turn, this allows an estimate to be made of the level and components of the December distributions, using average values. This is set out below. [Chart] There are significant boundaries of uncertainty around this estimate, and some simplifications. For example, it excludes Ratesetter and smaller individual shareholdings (which represent about 10 per cent of the holdings). It also assumes for simplicity equal ETF payments through the year. With these caveats and using this approach, the total December distributions are estimated to be around $19 500, out of an annual forecast distributions of $49 800. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 110.1% 150.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 88.9% 121.1% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 101.1% 137.7% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 82.9% 112.9% Summary Coming events do cast their shadows before them. Even an initial review of progress towards my remaining financial objective has left me with a sense of time foreshortening, and the shadow reaching out towards the present. At some point this shadow will start inevitably and undeniably reaching into and touching my daily life. At the same time as this sense grows, markets feel delicately poised, with risks of bubbles, and unusual events such as required US Federal Reserve support for the inter-bank market, and a rare failure of a recent tender of short term Australian Treasury notes to reach its target issuance. Despite these types of events and historically low bond rates globally surveyed investor equity expectations remain at elevated levels. It often pays dividends at times such as this to look to the past. This is an opportunity provided by listening to Yale University's Robert Shiller in this recent podcast as well as by reading his new work Narrative Economics focused around the historical and continuing role of stories in markets and finance. Stories - such as a 'clear' link between a countries' economic growth and share market performance - can often be plausible, commonly held, and incorrect. Another informative podcast was an interview with the Head of Product Strategy for Vanguard Australia by Equity Mates. Further interesting insights into the development of modern portfolio theory and efficient markets theory can be accessed in these Youtube videos with interviews of Markowitz and Eugene Fama. The latter makes the point that the growth in indexing is likely to lead to active managers facing higher competition from more skilled investors, as the less skilled depart, making outperformance tougher rather than easier. This month I was pleased to be mentioned in this short but practical piece on Australian FI seekers, alongside Aussie HIFIRE and Aussie Firebug. For a striking visual tool around planning for FI and safe withdrawal rates, this US-based calculator also occupied some of my time. It gives a unique and simple demonstration of the different probabilities and tradeoffs that can be embedded in reaching FI. Ordinary Dollar here in Australia has some similar calculators. Without seeing coming events, they represent a useful way to look further over the horizon. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Here is an article by an author named Adnan about why Get Ticketing will explode: https://medium.com/@adnanzzz/the-bullish-case-of-get-protocol-451ad6059f2d Below is the same article copied and pasted for those who are too lazy to click the link. However, I recommend reading the article from the link instead as it has a lot of graphs, links, and pictures that gives a much fuller picture.
"GET protocol — the sleeping blockchain giant Bear with me as I try to explain why the GET token is currently the most bullish crypto token in the space. The price surge will be driven by adoption and not just mere speculation. And adoption is already there but will only now start to gain huge momentum! By the time you have read this blog you will come to see how most other crypto projects lose value in your eyes when you compare it to a project with amazing fundamentals, a project that doesn’t need an “altseason”, driven by mere mindless speculation, to give you nice returns! Most people in the crypto space have never heard of the GET protocol. This is on one side suprising because there are 191.329 wallet holders to be exact. This means that 191.329 people have used the GET protocol, mostly without even knowing it! The focus has always been on building a product that works and where there is demand for. Where other projects have focused and spent their funds on marketing in the crypto space (meaning luring in new investors) GET has neglected that part a bit. Instead they focused their funds on building a waterproof system and acquiring clients who will use the protocol (venues, artists, governments, …). The effect of this is that the price hasn’t been affected by speculation. The list of artists who use GET-fueled tickets is endless and I have honestly lost sight of everyone who uses it. But to give you an example of adoption, here is a list of some of the artists who sell GET-fueled tickets:
Amsterdam Dance Event
Youp Van ‘t Hek
What is the GET protocol and what does it do? The GET Protocol offers a blockchain-based smart ticketing solution that can be used by everybody who needs to issue admission tickets in an honest and transparent way. The goal of GET protocol is to become the worldwide ticketing standard. To put it in simple terms: the ticketing industry is plagued by dishonest players. Not only ticket fraud but also scalping are an enormous problem in the industry. Once a ticket sale starts bots buy up the tickets and later sell them for enormous profits. Fans are sidelined and are forced to buy tickets of their idols for a much higher price. The scalpers, not adding any value in the process, make tons of money at the expense of artists, fans, venues, event organizers, … and everybody who makes the event industry what it is.
This is where GET offers a solution proven to work The tickets issued on the GET protocol are registered on your phone. This means that only the person in possession of the phone also owns the ticket. Every ticket is unique and is based on a QR code that updates itself and rotates to prevent fraud and scalping. The tickets are all registered on the blockchain as a mean of transparency and accountability. This means that fans can check ticket authenticity whenever they want. This is also where the GET token comes in play but more on that later…
GET is currently the best adopted microcap This is a bold statement but it’s not difficult to prove. Whereas other crypto “companies” confuse their investors with a lot of technical words that the average Joe doesn’t even understand and show off with meaningless partnerships, GET is actually changing the ticketing world for the better! At the moment of writing there are 4 ticketing companies that are completely integrated in the GET protocol, and together have sold many GET-fueled tickets! These companies currently run on the GET protocol:
GUTS Runs fully on the GET protocol and has sold over 400.000 tickets.
ITIX Established in 2009 and sells 2 million tickets/year. Is fully integrated in the GET protocol and will start selling GET-fueled tickets soon.
getTicket A new ticketing company in South Korea that will run fully on the GET protocol.
TecTix A Germany based ticketing company that will sell GET fueled tickets with a focus on the sports industry.
Integrating an existing ticketing company is a low investment move (only the GET token is needed) that offers traditional ticketing companies several benefits. That is why I expect many ticketing companies to integrate and GET to scale quickly.
The supply Some people are scared by the big difference in the circulating supply and the total supply. This is an unneccessary fear. The GET supply is made up of 3 portions:
Circulating supply (13.5 million)
Stability Fund (12,6 million): these tokens can never enter the circulating supply. They are used to supply the ticketing companies with GET so they don’t have to buy them directly from the market. The stability fund then buys these supplied tokens from the market to fill itself up. As the protocol shifts to open source the stability fund (together with all the tokens it holds) will be destroyed forever.
User Growth Fund (7,24 million): these tokens are used for discounts to new clients. These tokens should also in principle not enter the circulating supply. Only for marketing purposes and possible exchange listing costs a small portion of these might be liquidated.
This means that the circulating supply as it is now can only, ever, lightly increase for the purpose of growth. With the buybacks and burns being large enough the circulating supply will instead keep decreasing at a swift tempo.
GET in times of COVID19 In May Dutch group Di-Rect sold thousands of tickets for an online concert. They used GET’s technology to use a dynamic price setting. This means that fans were given the option to pay whatever they wanted for a ticket. Whoever paid €20 or more had the chance to win a lottery and be present at the concert. Once the concert starts, whoever bought a ticket, will be able to watch the streamed concert on GUTS’ app. This is yet another proof of the advantages a digital ticket offers. As this was a big succes, the expectation is that more and more artists will make use of GET’s technology. On 27/05 Dennis van Aarssen, The Voice Of Holland 2019 winner, announced that he will also do a livestreamed performance of classic covers and original music on June 7th. All tickets will be issued through the GET protocol. GET also offers several advantages in different areas in the fights against COVID19. The right of access being linked to your mobile makes it possible for potential clients to monitor the number of visitors in real time all the time, to apply an automated seating selection which consideres an appropriate distance between all visitors, queue control, booking of timeslots for museums, shops, parks, beaches, … so overcrowding can be avoided. When an event gets cancelled, whereas with paper tickets it’s sometimes impossible to track who owns the ticket at the current time, with GET’s technology the event organizer can, with one click, choose to make a refund to the current ticket owner, to communicate with him, to postpone the event, …
What more to expect in the (near) future? There are so many amazing things to come in the very near future so I’ll only focus on a few of them:
Integration with Klaytn
GET-fueled tickets for K-pop
Top tier exchange listing
More focus on marketing in the crypto space
Staking & nodes
GET as an open-source protocol
Integration in Klaytn
Seeing the adoption the GET protocol has, the solution they bring and the enormous potential they have in conquering the ticketing industry, they have been asked by Kakao to join their blockchain “Klaytn”. So GET is an initial service partner of the Klaytn blockchain. “Kakao’s global public blockchain project Klaytn is an enterprise-grade, service-centric platform that brings user-friendly blockchain experience to millions.” The choice for choosing to be an Initial Service Provider of Klaytn is based on two aspects. The first aspect is the fact that Klaytn’s blockchain infrastructure is fully business and integration focused, more than any other blockchain in the market. This results in huge improvements in areas as cost-efficiency, scalability, and data reliability. The second aspect is fueled by the potential of being part of the Klaytn ecosystem. Kakao is a giant in South Korea. GET will bring its adoption to Kakao’s blockchain and Kakao, with its giant network, in return will open many doors in South Korea. A win-win for everyone involved! In 2017 Kakao had more than 220 millions users on their messaging and content platform. The last few years the company has been rapidly expanding in other industry verticals.
GET fueled tickets sold for K-pop stars As mentioned earlier: South Korean ticketing company getTicket will run fully on the GET protocol. They have already deals in line to sell tickets for K-pop stars in their country. K-pop legend Mr. Won-Kwan Jung, as someone who has a lot of connections in the K-pop world, has joined the GET protocol as an advisor. He is an iconic figure and innovator in the world of K-Pop, owing to the fact that he was one of the three original members of SoBangCha, (or ‘Firetruck’ in English) which is regarded as the first K-Pop group to exist in the world. In a survey conducted in 17 countries in 2019, around 37.5 percent of respondents stated that the genre K-pop was “very popular” in their country. The survey found that the popularity of K-pop reaches far beyond South Korean borders. The fact that their idols will be selling GET-fueled tickets hasn’t reached the Korean audience yet. It is still a “public secret”. The news will be released in a directed marketing campaign later this year. You better believe that once the Koreans find out that they’ll be buying GET like hot cupcakes!
Tickets for museums and beaches to be in line with COVID19 restriction measures With the Corona virus still not wiped out but more under control, many countries are lifting restrictions. This needs to be done in a safe and controlled manner. This means avoiding overcrowding. GET’s technology can and will surely help here. GET’s system can do all that is needed now for a safe experience. Whether it’s booking a timeslot for the beach, for a museum,… or even for a shop from your home. The system lets the client monitor everything in real time. Someone can that way for example choose to go when there is less crowd. This all while fully respecting the user’s privacy. The GET sales team has been busier than ever, being in contact with governments, museums, … and the dev team is constantly creating custom made smart ticketing solutions for new costumers. I’m sure we can expect some major announcements in this area soon!
Top tier exchange listings & marketing in the crypto space The team has confirmed that listing on a top tier exchange has already been agreed. They’re just waiting for the right time to announce it, fitting in their marketing campaign. Besides that, a fiat on ramp exchange will list GET in a short timeframe. Many projects invested most of their funds in exchange listings and fake volume, creating artifical demand. These exchange listings are almost always accompanied by paying for a market maker. Once the funds dry up (and we have seen this with many projects) delisting becomes a reality and the funds end up being spent in vain. GET’s exchange listing and marketing campaign aren’t a means to pump the price but have the goal of creating liquidity for the end users (mainly ticketing companies) who will need to acquire a lot of GET from the open market in the short future.
Expansion in several other countries GET’s business developer Sander: "I am reached out by ticketing parties all around the world on a daily basis. The main challenge is to vet these parties. The goal of GET Protocol is to be the worldwide standard of digital admission rights and to get there we need to stay extremely lean and flexible in order to scale well. In that sense we need to be 100% convinced the parties we partner up in this phase have a very high potential of becoming a big player in their respective geographies. From the onboardings we currently experience, we learn to speed up onboarding processes upcoming year." And when asked how many tickets he expects to be sold in the near future and how many ticketing companies he expects to run on the GET protocol in 5 years time: "Along the journey, we here at GET and GUTS learned quite a few things. One of them is avoiding to publicly announce ticket sale estimates as the chances are that we shoot ourselves in the foot with that. If we don’t meet our estimates, life sucks and the community will let us know which is fine and rightful, but to be honest for GET nothing to win. If we meet our goal, it is okay but even then some people members manage to say they hoped for even better. In that sense, whatever we do, we can’t do well enough on that front, so I am reluctant about giving specific numbers (and I don’t have a crystal sphere either!). That being said, regarding the amount of ticketing companies in 2025, I expect many, in many countries. It’s a matter of time that we can easier offer our products in a whitelabeled manner. Only this week we got requests for more information about our services from Germany, Paraguay, Mexico, UK and Italy and Australia. This certainly doesn’t always mean a ticketing company could lead out of such a request, but the interest is certainly there. If we keep on doing what we do now, I believe we can boost ticketeers and event organizers around the world pretty soon and let them issue fully digital and blockchain registered tickets, all processed by GET Protocol. If more ticketing companies are onboarded, the amount of ticket sales processed by the protocol will grow exponentially." Knowing how GET’s team has always been very careful with their promises, I take such statements very seriously. If the past has taught me anything: they’re probably making an understatement. So expect GET to spread its wings in many regions around the world and take the ticketing world by a storm!
Staking & nodes GET’s blockchain developer Kasper Keunen has announced that a staking model is being developed. This means that you’ll be able to stake your GET. In return a portion of the ticketing fee will be rewarded to those stakers and nodes. So see it as a passive income. You sit down, relax and see it grow exponentionally as GET conquers the ticketing world :)
The end goal is to be an open source protocol The endgoal of the GET protocol is to become open source. There will be a governance model where changes to the protocol will be determined by GET token holders. That’s why I expect ticketing companies to acquire a lot of GET in time as their revenue relies on the direction of the protocol. GET will have a role as governance for the project as a whole. Such a role for the token is the most natural in a fully open-sourced environment of the protocol(currently not the case, yet). As then governance by stakeholders (ticketing companies) with a serious stake in the game as their ticketing revenue relies on the direction/quality of the code to be on point. As of yet, we do not really assign too much fundamental value to this role for the token (we barely mentioned it actually) as it is still a bit early for it to have serious merit. So pushing that value of the token now would be a bit false advertising. As we onboard more and more ticketing companies we will develop the governance of the token role more and more!
Why the GET token is set to explode Now that I’ve covered what the GET protocol is and where it’s going, it’s time to dig deeper in the token. And I have to say that I’ve never been more bullish on anything in my life. This for the simple reason that usage will drive the price to insanely high levels (where speculation isn’t even needed).
Tokenomics As mentioned above: to have full transparency and accountability (both missing links to make the ticket industry fraud- and scalpfree) all tickets sold are registered on blockchain. You can compare GET to a gas that is needed to fuel the protocol (every state change of the ticket needs to be registered — for which GET is needed). So for every ticket sold GET is bought back from the open market and burned forever.
A single state change cost €0,07 in Q1 2020
There are minimum 4 state changes per ticket
This means that a minimum of €0,28 worth of GET is needed for every ticket sold
In Q1 of 2020 107 059 GET were burned (proof of burn: ");
It is projected that at least 50% of all GET will be burned by 2022
At the moment of writing €161.944 worth of GET have been bought from the exchanges and burned forever (all triggered by adoption and ticketing companies needing the token).
GET’s valuation in the (near) future Bear in mind that this is my own expectation, based on big changes in supply and demand that I will try to explain below. Also keep in mind that I’m not a financial advisor and nothing is guaranteed in the crypto space! But I will try to explain why I personally believe that GET will be trading at 10€ per token and more in the near future. As time goes on and more tickets are sold, the demand for GET will keep increasing while the supply will keep decreasing. You don’t need to have a PhD in economics to understand what this will do to the price!
What kind of demand/buybacks can we expect? As explained above: for every ticket sold at least €0,28 worth of GET is needed by the ticketing companies. Most of this GET is bought back from the exchanges (the money to do this is included in the ticket fee). Some GET is supplied by the “user growth fund”. This is a fund created to give potential new customers a discount. This is done by subsidizing them a portion of their need for GET so these new customers don’t need to pay the full price immediately. Bear in mind that as time goes by this fund will dry up and all the GET that is needed will from that moment on be bought from the exchanges. Since the buybacks are based on the amount of tickets issued by the protocol, to calculate what kind of buybacks we can expect in the future we need to look at the ticket sales. As mentioned before there are 4 ticketing companies using the protocol right now (GUTS, ITIX, TecTix and getTicket). Below I will make an estimation of what to expect from them. GUTS has sold over 400k tickets. From just the deals already signed, over a million tickets would have been sold in 2020. Due to Covid19 most events had to be posponed (not cancelled). In the meanwhile the GUTS sales team hasn’t been idle and has atracted many more customers. This means that the 1 million tickets number is probably even on the low side. But let’s say a minimum of 1 million tickets will be sold the first year where all events will be allowed again. This means that at least €280.000 worth of GET will be needed in that year. ITIX sells 2 million tickets a year on average. Once fully integrated they will thus need at least €560.000 worth of GET on a yearly basis. TecTix, as a new ticketing company, it’s hard to predict what kind of numbers they’ll be running at the start. But given the expertise of the TecTix team I think 200.000 tickets is a safe bet to start with. That would put us on at last €56.000 worth of GET needed/year. And finally getTicket, a ticketing company based in South Korea. In their case it’s also difficult to make a prediction because they’re new and we have no previous data to rely on. But judging from the comments made by the team that “everything is bigger in Korea” and that they’ll be selling stadium concerts for K-pop stars (just one concerts can mean over 100.000 tickets sold) I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be selling at least 1 million tickets/year. That would bring their need for GET to at least €280.000 a year. So if we put this together the 4 ticketing companies will need over € 1 million worth of GET on a yearly basis. Bear in mind that more ticketing companies will keep joining and the existing ticketing companies will keep growing, taking away marketshare from ticketing companies that can’t offer all of the advantages mentioned before. Based on all of this I, pesonally, would say that €5 million/year in GET buybacks by 2023 is not an unreasonable prediction.
What can we expect from GET’s supply? Demand for a token means nothing if the supply is unlimited. The best example of the importance of the supply is the recent Bitcoin halvening that got everyone excited. Before the halvening around 1800 BTC were mined every day. Let’s say that at current prices this was around $16 million worth of BTC per day. The miners obviously have to sell a large portion of this to cover their costs. So even if there are no other sellers, a large number of BTC has to be bought from the market every day just to keep status quo of the current price. Halvening basically means that the speed at which the supply increases will be halved (900 BTC mined on a daily basis instead of 1800). The supply of BTC will still continue to increase, only at a slower tempo. Scarcity should be the ultimate goal when investing in utility tokens. With GET’s utility token things are different: every GET bought by a ticketing company will be burned. Contrary to BTC the supply of GET will thus continue to decrease as time goes on, removing the stacks of those eager to sell. This is not a dig at Bitcoin by the way as I’m a fan. Just highlighting the advantage an adopted utility token with good tokenomics has over “the king”. I hope you now understand my expectation that the price will explode. Many holders will obviously not be willing to sell at current prices with such an increasing demand. As the price is determined by many factors and we don’t know what the price will do exactly, it’s not possible to pin down the exact supply in the future. We do know that it will keep decreasing at a swift tempo unless the price goes parabolic.
Finding the equilibrum for the price The demand for GET will keep increasing through adoption and the supply decreasing as the used GET are destroyed forever The equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity occur where the supply and demand curves cross. The equilibrium occurs where the quantity demanded is equal to the quantity supplied. If the demand increases and the supply decreases then the price will rise until it finds a new equilibrium. Putting a correct marketcap valuation on a crypto project is an extremely difficult task. With traditional companies we can for example rely on the revenue, profit, dividend payments, … to estimate what the company is/should be worth. In most countries a 5% rental yield is considered a good investment. Of course it’s not fully comparable as these buybacks don’t automatically put money on your account. But they do increase the price and destroy the supply. So I think it’s in a way reasonable to extrapolate this 5% yield to our case. Having explained why I expect atleast €5 million in yearly buybacks by 2023, that would mean the marketcap should be around €100 million (5% = the buyback of €5 million multiplied by 20). The current circulating supply of GET is around 13,5 million. The expectation is that the burning mechanism will destroy more than half of that by 2023 (this takes into account an increasing price of the GET token). So let’s round it up to 5 million GET remaining. A marketcap of €100 million with a supply of 5 million GET would mean a price of €20/GET. This would be an increase of 6566.67%. Of course these numbers are not set in stone and merely a prediction but if you’ve been reading this blog you have come to understand why I am extremely bullish on the GET token. I have completely taken the speculation factor or an “altseason” or “fomo” out of the equation and only focused on a price increase driven by an increasing demand and decreasing supply! So the focus is on an organic price growth. Another great thing about holding a token with mass adoption and guaranteed buybacks is that I don’t have to worry about the price. As the buybacks are a guaranteed thing, the lower the price of GET the more GET is bought back and destroyed forever. So even a price decrease, as contradictory as it may sound, is bullish for longterm holders!
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