Seriously, mutual funds don’t beat the market

People believe in their financial advisors. Most of them say that the fund managers are better understanding the market conditions and they will play safe when necessary. All wrong. Why?
  1. It is almost impossible to time the market.
  2. The more they buy and sell, the more commissions we pay and the more we suffer from the  buy-sell spread.
  3. On top of the above, we have to pay a high fee to the fund.
In case you have any doubt, check this link.

Again, as we have been saying lately, the easiest solution for a retail investor is the use of ETFs to have exposure to the stock or bond market.


Desire through...

René Girard is a brilliant French philosopher who developed the idea of mimetic desire. Basically, we borrow our desires from others. A desire for a certain object is created by the desire of another person for the same object. Therefore, we don't have a direct relationship with the object but a triangle: subject, object and mediator. In a twisted way, it is the model or mediator who is at the end sought (Deceit, Desire and the Novel -1961).
Humans make up many tricks to fool ourselves into thinking that we only desire the object in a simple manner. Mimetic rivalry is contiguous, so it leads to violence. At the end the object is forgotten or used as an excuse to fight our newly created enemies.
In Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978) he expanded the idea of the scapegoat mechanism. When rivalry threatens the existence of the community itself, a common solution is to project all the communal violence upon a single individual to restore the peace.
His interesting theories are finally starting to be considered in many circles from psychology to economics.
For more information you can click here.


This could be crazy, but...

... there is a lot of money to be made if we enter into a new recession in 1 or 2 years. By the way, this scenario is very likely.

If you have read simplynorisk.com during the last years, you know we don´t like bonds in general. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, we are experimenting with P2P lending or very specific perpetual bonds for certain moments of the market. In our public portfolio we don´t hold any bond with maturity longer than 2 years.

Imagine for a second that the FED and the ECB drop the interest rates to zero in the next year or years, what happens to a 10y bond? It goes up in price..., a lot. Some people don´t know how to manage bonds, and for these people a good idea could be to buy an ETF, such as BLV (US exposure, government and corporate) or IEGZ for the investor focused on Europe. There are many options, even with leverage (3x).

Just something to think about...


Gold, finally?

The chart above shows the gold price in USD. Lately, we have witnessed the last attack to the red line on the right. Too many, so this time could be the good one. First target could be the red line on the left.

However, if we are wrong and the price of gold just goes up momentarily and then goes down (window dressing), the fall could be huge and the bearish target could easily make a new minimum.


Smart ETFs

As explained in the previous post, in general, an ETF tracks a simple index such as S&P 500. But also they can include some algorithm trying to achieve better returns or to reduce the risk. Here we want to show you some interesting ones:

LRGF, iShares Edge MSCI Multifactor USA. From investorplace.com: the ETF screens for stocks that meet four of the biggest determinates for success. These include financially healthy firms, stocks that are inexpensive, smaller companies and trending stocks. Better known as quality, value, size and momentum. Expense ratio: 0.2%.

SPLV, Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility. From investorplace.com: SPLV tracks an index of stocks that exhibit the lowest realized volatility over the past 12 months or the lowest magnitude of price fluctuations over time. By betting on the least-volatile stocks, investors are able to capture plenty of upside, while limiting the drawdowns. Expense ratio: 0.25%.

ALFA, AlphaClone Alternative Alpha. From etf.com: ALFA tracks an index that aims to deliver outperformance by mimicking hedge funds' positions in US equities. The index relies on lagged published holdings to determine long exposure. Expense ratio: 0.69%.

MNA, IQ Merger Arbitrage. From etfdb.com: this ETF offers exposure to a merger arbitrage strategy that has been popular among hedge funds and other sophisticated investors for decades. By seeking to capture the gap between the ultimate transaction price and current price levels for takeover targets, MNA is capable of delivering relatively stable returns that should exhibit low correlations to asset classes such as stocks and bonds. Expense ratio: 0.78%.


ETF explained

ETF or Exchange-Traded Fund is a very convenient tool to invest in stocks or other types of securities.

Imagine you want to invest in the American Nasdaq. You want to overweight the tech sector, but you don’t know exactly which are the best stocks. To do that you have 3 options basically:

- Buy a normal fund that invests in Nasdaq.

- Select a basket of shares from the Nasdaq based on size, behavior...

- Buy an ETF, like QQQ.

More or less it has been proven that you cannot systematically beat the market, therefore using a normal fund might not be a good idea because of the fees (1-2%). Selecting a basket of shares can be complicated if we don’t have enough money and we won’t be totally diversified. The best thing would be to buy the Nasdaq index as a whole and for that we use an ETF. For instance, QQQ tracks the Nasdaq and its annual fee is just 0.2%.

The process of buying an ETF is exactly the same as the one we use when buying shares. We just go to our broker, find the ticker, set the price and number of shares and that is all.


Extracto del nuevo libro...

Ya en proceso de edición, les presentamos un extracto de la Introducción del nuevo libro Pequeña Guía de Finanzas Novedosas para Familias Inteligentes. Avisaremos en breve cuando la edición esté completada.

“El Tao Te Ching, para muchos el mejor libro nunca escrito, fue supuestamente creado por Lao Tse en el s. VI A.C. en China. Es un compendio filosófico completamente innovador compuesto por 81 capítulos de perfecta aplicación práctica. Uno de los aspectos más curiosos para los occidentales se refiere al hecho de desvincular la acción del resultado, esto es, se obra de determinada forma correcta sin esperar el premio que conlleve la acción.

El presente libro utiliza este mismo principio y solo expone cuál ha de ser la mejor forma de gestionar las finanzas personales sin pretender atarse a ningún tipo de objetivo. Unas familias a duras penas sobrevivirán, otras tendrán la capacidad de crear un patrimonio para cuando se jubilen sus miembros activos, otras incluso estarán pensando en una jubilación tempranera..., cada una según sus capacidades, suerte o intención. Lo que sí es cierto es que a niveles similares de ingresos existen unas diferencias financieras más que notables entre unas personas y otras. Con este libro se intenta explicar las razones de esta disparidad y poner las soluciones para siempre ser el vecino o amigo que hace “las cosas bien” en materia de dinero.

Los que juegan a cartas entenderán este concepto perfectamente. La gran mayoría de los juegos de cartas combina azar y sapiencia. Se tiene que jugar con las cartas que se han recibido, no con las que se desearían en un mundo perfecto. A todo el mundo le gustaría ganar más con su mismo trabajo y en idénticas circunstancias, pero esto no es de lo que va este libro. Hay mucha literatura para mejorar profesionalmente, pera aquí solo se pretende tratar de optimizar la realidad que se vive en términos de ahorro y gasto.”


Liberty and Austrian economics

There is a clear relationship between Austrian economics and being libertarian politically. Here we have selected some webs so that YOU can decide for yourself:
Besides there are more and more papers finding a strong correlation between prosperity and economic freedom. Are we going in the right direction?


If you buy real estate abroad...

..., do your own research and not only online.

You might think it could be a good moment to buy a nice apartment in Istanbul, because of the terrible drop of the Turkish lira. You start surfing the web (in English), and you end up reading British pages with outrageous prices in pounds. However, if you physically travel to Istanbul and meet local realtors, you can find some great deals, even taking the typical overpayment for being a foreigner into account.

A similar situation happens in Asia, mainly in Thailand.

It is a great idea to buy real estate abroad, but we shouldn’t be lazy and visit the properties in advance and prepare the set up for the future management.


After the crisis, I was told to pay off my mortage

If governments want to pay the huge amount of debt they have incurred after the financial crisis, the most likely macro scenario I forecast is based on what it is called financial repression:
  • Negative real interest rates (bond rates under inflation).
  • Capital controls (difficult to move money abroad).
  • Moderate to high inflation.
The idea behind this method is to shrink the debt in a couple of decades in real terms. It is not new. It has happened in the 70s.

But how do we protect ourselves if the above is correct? 
  • First, obviously keep no bonds and the minimum cash for emergencies.
  • Second, invest in assets that pay back like certain stocks or real estate to rent. You manage your own risks.
  • And third and most important, use reasonable mortgage, the longer the better. Why? Because it is the only way normal people can jump to the other side of the shore and take advantage of what the government does to diminish its debt as we will have debt ourselves.


¿Son mejores las empresas que reparten dividendos?

Cuando un negocio tiene beneficio, este se puede repartir entre los accionistas en forma de dividendo, pero también se puede dejar dentro de la empresa para hacerla crecer. Las dos soluciones tienen lógica según el tipo de mercado y el momento en que opere esta empresa. Además, dependiendo de los países, pueden también existir matizaciones fiscales.

Esta es la teoría, pero como el inversor pequeño no tiene forma de dilucidar la solución óptima tiene que encontrar la que estadísticamente le sea más favorable. En este sentido hay infinidad de artículos académicos al respecto, con disparidad de opiniones. Como casi siempre en el ámbito financiero “el demonio se encuentra en los pequeños detalles”.

La Constitución de Estados Unidos se basa en el juego de contrapoderes, donde el Presidente puede vetar al Congreso y el Congreso al Presidente, por ejemplo. La idea detrás de este esquema es que el incremento de leyes y regulaciones resulta perjudicial para el país, por tanto, los vetos que impidan aprobar nuevas leyes son buenos. De la misma forma que el incentivo de los políticos es hacer el estado más grande (no el país), el incentivo de los directivos de las empresas es hacerlas crecer, en muchos casos por motivos bien discutibles. Si realmente una empresa tiene un proyecto nuevo, claro y rentable, no le resultará difícil buscar financiación para el mismo. Esta búsqueda servirá como filtro adicional para evitar ideas peregrinas.

El dividendo resulta un freno para el crecimiento de la empresa, lo que en muchos casos es positivo. La idea primordial de cualquier compañía es servir a la sociedad ofreciéndole algo valioso en contraprestación por un dinero que en parte debiera retornar a los accionistas de la compañía. En el caso ideal, una empresa se centra en lo que hace mejor, busca su tamaño perfecto adecuándose a su mercado y se convierte en un cajero automático para sus accionistas.

Comparando el comportamiento de acciones que consistentemente reparten dividendo con el mercado en general, se desprende que no hay una ventaja clara para ninguna de las 2 opciones. Según los períodos de tiempo elegidos se pueden sacar unas conclusiones u otras. En cualquier caso, sí parece que las acciones que reparten dividendo son menos volátiles (¿menos riesgo?), lo cual es lógico al filtrar en principio empresas que no ganan dinero.

Para estos estudios, en muchas ocasiones, se utilizan lo que se llaman los Aristócratas del Dividendo. El índice de bolsa americano S&P 500 creó en mayo del 2005 un subíndice con estos Aristócratas. Para poder pertenecer a este selecto grupo, las empresas tenían que haber incrementado su dividendo durante más de 25 años consecutivos y tener una gran capitalización bursátil. Ejemplos de empresas que pertenecen a este índice son: Coca-Cola, Colgate, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Nucor, Chevron o AT&T. Hasta ahora los Aristócratas han dado una rentabilidad de casi un 3% más anualmente que el S&P con una volatilidad sustancialmente menor.

Sobre los beneficios, el porcentaje que se reparte como dividendo se llama ratio de distribución de dividendo o en inglés payout ratio. Una ratio de 90%, por ejemplo, implica que casi todos los beneficios se reparten cada año a los accionistas. En ocasiones se verán ratios superiores al 100% pero puede ser debido a ajustes contables o simplemente a estar usando deuda para pagar los dividendos. Obviamente, esto no es lo más sano en el tiempo.

Sin entrar en muchas más profundidades, hay dos conceptos que se han de separar: las acciones que pagan mucho dividendo y las acciones que hacen crecer el dividendo. Estas últimas son las que se encuentran en tendencia hoy en día.

Desde el punto de vista del inversor individual, lo que más interesa es valorar hasta qué punto el dividendo es sostenible en el tiempo. Muchas veces, operar con sentido común en sectores defensivos, esto es, los que en un momento de crisis siguen funcionando bien como la comida, la electricidad o la sanidad..., puede ser la mejor arma.


Gold sinking..., again

As predicted, USD is becoming stronger. However, gold priced in USD is falling in a bigger percentage and it is losing territory even against the euro (right now 1038 EUR per ounce).

Reasons? Probably the need of some nations (Turkey for instance) to buy dollars to stop their currency bleeding and one of the few assets investors want to purchase is gold. We expect this movement to be a summer storm, but we will see.

On our twitter account, @SimplyNoRisk, we have posted a composition of 4 interesting tweets about the gold trend right now.


10 years of NOK and GBP

With all the Brexit, how is the pound behaving? What about the Norwegian krona?

As shown below, we are touching the upper band of the euro against these 2 currencies. It wouldn’t be crazy to think that during the next years the euro will weaken.

We will be following.


Don´t listen to anyone...

... use your own brain, find the facts, think about them, and create your own scenario.

26 January 2016, Marc Faber: Can’t see another bull market in my lifetime (link).

26 January 2016, Dennis Gartman: Oil will not trade back above $44 in my lifetime.
    TODAY $70


The One More Year Syndrome

Some people are lucky enough to achieve financial independence, however instead of quitting their jobs, they continue working for just one more year to have an extra buffer. The next year financially they are even better off, and again, instead of quitting, they stay just one more year. The above behaviour creates a loop that cannot be broken and these people end up never quitting.

The trigger for the OMYS is very powerful: a combination of fear and greed. What if my numbers are wrong? What if the stock market collapses (that should be taken into account)? I am too old and won’t be able to get a job, if needed. If I have more money, I could travel on this luxurious cruise. I’m going to pay the property tax of the house for the next 10 years before retiring.

One of the problems is to determine how much is enough. From our professional experience, “enough” is much more than what people get on the first calculation. In any case, once you figure out how much you need a year to live the way you want (that means travelling, restaurants, etc..., if desired), and you find reliable passive income that matches your expenses without forgetting inflation, the problem is solved.

If you suffer from OMYS, just create an extra buffer to use the new money on tangible purposes, and quit once you reach them without thinking. We have to remind ourselves that we can get sick and not enjoy the rest of our lives anymore. Also, that the mental transition from working to leisure is a tough one (it lasts more than a year) but the sooner and younger we go through, the better.

Perfection is the enemy of good.