Sunday, 19 December 2010

The ASX 200 cyclically adjusted PE ratio (ASX 200 CAPE or ASX200 PE10) – December 2010 Update

The Australian ASX200 is currently 4763. Let’s look at the usual monthly indicators that I monitor every month for this index. My first chart shows the cyclically adjusted PE ratio (ASX200 PE10 or CAPE) at 17.8 which is up from 17.2 last month. The P/E ratio on the other hand heads in the opposite direction, heading downwards from 18.6 to 16.4.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

This year my strategy is not adding any value - My Retirement Investing Today Current Low Charge Portfolio – December 2010

This blog is not trying to sell you anything which means that I can freely share with you both the positives and the negatives of my strategy. Today though is neither really a positive or negative experience with my year to date Personal Rate of Return sitting at 8.6%, compared with my Benchmark Portfolio which has returned 8.5%. Of course given that I spend significant time maintaining my strategic and tactical asset allocations many would argue that if I calculated the cost of my time then I would probably be behind compared to the benchmark portfolio which would probably cost a maximum 1 hour of time per annum with a rebalance at the start of every year. The only defence I have is that my portfolio has had to pay some fees (Equity ETF, Pension etc costs), even if I do try an minimise them, and also has paid some tax (cash is taxed at 20%).

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The FTSE 100 cyclically adjusted PE ratio (CAPE or PE10) – December 2010

Today’s first chart shows that with the nominal FTSE 100 price moving from 5694.6 (01 November) to 5642.5 (01 December) over the month, a decrease of 0.9%, the cyclically adjusted PE ratio (PE10 or CAPE) has also fallen from 14.1 to 13.9. These calculations are based on using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to correct for inflationary effects. If I was to use the Retail Prices Index the PE10 would be 13.6. This is still well below the FTSE 100 PE10 20 Percentile for this dataset of 16.8 while the 80 Percentile is 23.7. The long run average is 19.9 for the dataset shown in the chart. The correlation between the PE10 and the Real (inflation adjusted by the CPI) FTSE Price remains a strong 0.69. In comparison the standard PE ratio is sitting at 11.6, down from 14.5 last month.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

When Money Dies and Gold Priced in British Pounds (GBP) – December 2010 Update

With us living in a world where:

- governments around the world are in an apparent race to devalue their currencies the most through various policies including Quantitative Easing (or as I like think of it, money printing) if you are in the US or UK;

- Central banks in countries like the UK are running crazily low interest policies while allowing inflation to run a ‘little’ allowing the reckless, including the government, to inflate some debt away while thinking they can keep it all in control;

- Europe is implicitly promising to bail out every dodgy Euro zone economy which in my opinion will soon see them also heading down the money printing route to buy government debt; and

- many developed countries are carrying so much debt that it seems inconceivable that they will ever repay it and instead will attempt to inflate away the debt (or maybe forcing bond holders to take a haircut);

I thought it best to start understanding what happens in an economy when inflation rips and disaster strikes. I have therefore started to read the book “When Money Dies – The Nightmare of the Weimar Hyper-Inflation” by Adam Fergusson. This book charts the collapse of the Weimar Republic’s Mark which in 1923 had an exchange rate to the dollar of 4,200,000,000,000 Marks. This was a time when the “Republic was all but reduced to a barter economy. Expensive cigars, artworks and jewels were routinely exchanged for staples such as bread; a cinema ticket could be bought for a lump of coal, and a bottle of paraffin for a silk shirt.”

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Is Brisbane Cooling – Australian Property Market – November 2010 Update

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in November published both its House Price Index and its Average Weekly Earnings Index. Let’s therefore have a look if the country which both avoided recession and seems to have a Central Bank that is interested in controlling inflation but which to me looks like it has a bubble of a property market is still as bullish. I say has an interest in controlling inflation. The RBA has been steadily raising its cash target rate over the last year and a half to 4.75%. This is in stark contrast to the Bank of England’s 0.5% who as I’ve described before has no interest in sticking to their inflation remit with inflation now above target for about 40 of the last 50 months. Regular readers of course know that I keep a close eye on Australia as it is still a potential “retirement” location for me even if £1 today only buys a poorly $1.6199.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

There’s still plenty of time for -60% – History of Severe Real S&P 500 Stock Bear Markets – November 2010 Update

I haven’t updated my History of Severe Real S&P500 Stock Bear Markets since August 2010. At that time QE Lite had only recently been announced. That strategy kept the dead US patient alive for 3 short months before the next load of stimulus, Money Printing 2 (sorry Quantitative Easing 2). Let’s put the $600 billion involved in QE2 into perspective. It’s the equivalent of $1,950 for every US man, woman and child. I was always taught “that nothing comes for free”. In parallel to this I also can’t help but think about Newton’s first law, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. As an Average Joe I’m just wondering what the penalty and opposite reaction will be. I guess time will tell but I still can’t help thinking it’s not going to be good.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

It must be nearly bonus time and the S&P 500 cyclically adjusted PE (PE10 or CAPE) – November 2010 Update

If you’re a bank, particularly a bailed out tax payer owned bank, who’s about to pay out £7 billion or so in bonuses (which is the equivalent of £113 for every man, woman and child in the UK), while everyone else in the country is going through austerity and slowly being made redundant, then you have a seriously hard sell on your hands if you don’t want to be lynched. Before announcing the bonuses you need to get your PR machine into gear and show the general public that you’re not immoral or greedy but instead a warm and loveable organisation who cares about the general public and wants to help society as a whole.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A significant milestone plus the ASX 200 cyclically adjusted PE ratio – November 2010 Update

I blog for many reasons including to engage with/learn from like minded people, to hold myself to account, to ensure I stay on the mechanical investing path I have set myself and to chart my progress to retirement to name but four reasons. Charting my progress to retirement hit a significant milestone this week. Those with a keen eye who spend time on Retirement Investing Today will be familiar with a small chart on the bottom half of the left hand sidebar which asks “How close am I to optional work (retirement)?”. That chart has now hit a significant milestone passing over the 50% mark for the first time. Looking at my forecast today has me projecting retirement in less than 5 years at my current rate of progress. Sometimes it is really difficult to stay the course and continually month after month save up to 60% of your salary while friends and family have the latest television or mobile phone. However it’s days like today that make my strategy highly satisfying. Knowing I have no debt, are well on the way to financial freedom and at current rates will see “retirement” in my early 40’s has me smiling.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Happy birthday to me and the FTSE 100 cyclically adjusted PE ratio – November 2010

Since my last post I’ve aged one more year. This has meant that in addition to spending enjoyable time with family and having one too many pieces of birthday cake I’ve also taken time out to assess the level of risk I want to hold in my low charge portfolio. As I’ve explained many times in the past (start here if you’d like to know the basics of my strategy) ( ) my strategy is largely mechanical and centred around a basic strategic asset allocation of 28% ‘low’ risk (bonds) assets and 72% ‘high’ risk (equities) assets. This was then modified to add additional asset classes and to clarify exactly what I mean by bonds and equities. At the end of this process I ended up with a target strategic allocation of:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

No nonsense FTSE 100 cyclically adjusted PE ratio update – October 2010

No ramblings from me today. It’s just a simple update of the FTSE 100 cyclically adjusted PE (CAPE or PE10).

The first chart shows that with the nominal FTSE 100 price moving from 5371 to 5592.9, an increase of 4.1%, over the month the PE10 ratio has also risen from 13.5 to 14.1. This is still well below the FTSE 100 PE10 20 Percentile of 17.0 while the 80 Percentile is 23.7. The long run average is now 19.9 for the dataset shown in the chart. The correlation between the PE10 and the Real (inflation adjusted by the CPI) FTSE Price is a strong 0.70.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The challenges of value investing

Unlike some people out there I am not a value investor in the true sense of the word. That is I don’t go looking for individual stocks which through the use of valuation metrics appear under priced. I would more class myself as a pseudo value investor. My strategy is to be either under weight or over weight equities depending on whether the market appears over or under valued using the cyclically adjusted PE ratio (CAPE or PE10). I now track this for 3 markets:
- The UK FTSE 100 CAPE
- The US S&P 500 CAPE
- The Australian ASX 200 CAPE

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bank of England really does want to punish savers – NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates Mature

So Charlie Bean, Bank of England Deputy Governor, has now confirmed what I suspected all along. They definitely wanted to cut the incentive to save when they decided to bail out the reckless with their 0.5% rates, which they then thought would give all those savers an incentive to go out and spend those savings. What sort of crack pot notion is that? Hey everyone you’re now going to earn no return on your money so why not just go out and spend it all! Well I for one am not taking that advice. I can think of many reasons but how is this for a few:

- I never know when I might lose my job and so might have to survive for many months before finding a new one.
- I never know if I might become ill and so need some savings to tide me over.
- One of my family or friends could need my help due to either of the above.
- I don’t believe a state pension will exist by the time I am at the end of my life and even if one does it would be about sufficient to allow me to buy baked beans and toilet paper only. I therefore fully intend to support myself when I no longer want to work so I am not forced to live in poverty.
- I don't want to work until I'm dead.
- Someday soon I might want to “retire” to take up a new career that I might enjoy more with less stress, learn something new, undertake some charity work or if I choose just sit on a beach drinking margarita’s.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

How long until a house can be bought for 100 ounces of gold?

For a long time I’ve been saying that houses are overpriced. This keeps my family in rented accommodation as I refuse to buy at these prices. Instead I now watch what looks to be the early beginnings of an unravelling housing market from the sidelines. My last UK house price update was here.  Additionally, as I mentioned yesterday while gold is reaching new highs in nominal terms when prices in US Dollars it is not at new highs when priced in British Pounds although admittedly it is close. However, it is nowhere near new highs when priced in real (inflation adjusted) terms and so in my humble opinion still has plenty of upside potential if history is anything to go by.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Gold Priced in British Pounds (GBP) – September 2010 Update

It’s been a while since I had a look at gold’s movements however with it closing at $1,297 on Friday and the BBC writing articles like this which reported that gold had reached a new high of $1,300.07 during trading before dipping back I thought now was probably as good as time as any to review golds prices. Today I’m going to look at its prices in British Pounds though, rather than US Dollars, as this is the currency that matters for me. This is because I’m based in the UK and earn in the UK which makes my portfolio a GBP portfolio in my humble opinion.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The PE10 nears its 80 Percentile - S&P 500 cyclically adjusted PE (PE10 or CAPE) – September 2010 Update

Standard and Poors is showing, with 99% of earnings data available, that the Q2 2010 earnings per share for the S&P 500 will be $19.68. That’s a long way from the -$23.25 we saw in Q4 2008. This then has Standard and Poors all excited as they are now estimating that earnings for Q2 2011 will be $21.43 which is a year on year increase of 9%. So no predictions of a double dip recession there.

Why in this world do people always continually assume that because you have earnings of x this time that next time earnings will be x + 10% or so? My company does the same. You have a great year this year so the expectation is that next year you will have a great year plus another 10%. They do the same thing with turnover targets. To me this just seems nigh on impossible as eventually you end up so far up the exponential growth curve with it compounding year on year that you are almost destined for failure. Also where is this additional growth coming from? The world is not growing at 10% so the assumption must be that you are taking market share from someone else. But with the S&P 500 you have on average 500 companies all growing earnings by 9%. That doesn’t seem sustainable. I guess a good example of this is Nokia and the rise in competition from Apple and also the Android Operating System phones. I wonder if Nokia’s board was up until a couple of years ago forecasting this never ending exponential growth also? Now the flavour of the month is Apple but for how long?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Global Capitalist - My Asset Allocation

Back in August I introduced the concept of readers posts so that different perspectives other than those that I post and the comments that are posted in response could be seen.  So far only one person has taken up the challenge which is a shame because different perspectives was one of the outputs that I had hoped to achieved on this blog rather than just me talking to myself.  These different perspectives would allow us all to head off and do our own further research which could only be a good thing.  The person who has taken up the challenge is Global Capitalist who's previous post is here and who today discusses personal asset allocations.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Look further than the press releases – UK Property Market – August 2010 Update

If you were reading the papers over the last few days you will have probably seen the house price data from the Nationwide reported on. This will have been taken straight from their press release and I’m sure monthly changes of -0.9% will have been mentioned. I however prefer to analyse the raw data as the figures presented to the press are seasonally adjusted. The actual figures are worse than that reported. In July 2010 prices were £169,347 and in August they are now £166,507. That is a fall of 1.7% in a single month with the annual change now at +3.9%. This is now 2 months in a row that we have seen price falls. This is all shown in my 1st chart today.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The low fee mantra – a look at the results of Hargreaves Lansdown

Firstly an apology to regular readers of Retirement Investing Today. My life outside of this blog has recently become extremely busy. It’s going to take me a couple of weeks to get everything sorted out which unfortunately means for the next couple of weeks posts are going to be very sporadic if I manage any at all. Please bear with me as once everything is back in control the regular posts will reappear.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Alternatives to NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates? – July 2010 Update

The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is currently sitting at 4.8% while the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is at 3.1%. It is highly likely that if you are holding any cash in bank accounts that you are therefore seeing your hard earned cash being slowly devalued. I know I am. Firstly let’s look at my chart for today. This shows that if you’re prepared to lock your money up for greater than 2 years then on average you can get around 3.7% gross. If you’re a 20% taxpayer then that means a net return of 2.96% and if you’re a 40% taxpayer then unfortunately your net return is 2.22%. Both of these values are less than both the CPI and the RPI meaning on average people’s savings are still being eroded. Provided inflation keeps tracking at these types of year on year percentages then the average rates after tax seem to be well behind the deal that was being offered by NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates (ILSC’s). If you’re not sure how the returns were calculated on ILSC’s then have a look here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

If this is true then the US (and the UK for that matter) is doomed

I was reading the BBC article “US existing home sales drop to 10-year low” which was discussing the 27.2% fall in US existing homes during July compared to June. Of course the government were blamed because they ended tax credits designed to boost home sales. I could today talk about why the government are even in the market trying to boost sales when it should be a free market that is not manipulated. But I won’t because I came across a couple of quotes from Carey Leahey at Decision Economics which concerned me greatly. These were "I think [the July figure] is just suggestive of an economy that is definitely slowing down" and "unfortunately, it is a situation where we can't have a meaningful recovery without a meaningful consumer recovery, and we can't have a meaningful consumer recovery without a recovery in housing."

Monday, 23 August 2010

The lowest cost low cost SIPP

My employer offers a money purchase pension scheme administered through a large UK based insurance company. I have been making substantial contributions into this scheme over the last few years which now means that it makes up 31.7% of my Retirement Investing Low Charge Portfolio. In my opinion my employer is very generous with the salary sacrifice scheme they offer as they match my contributions up to a certain limit plus they also contribute the employers national insurance that they save through the salary sacrifice. In addition as a 40% tax payer I get this paid into the pension working on the principle that some day when I retire I will structure my finances so that I am a 20% (or whatever the appropriate lower tax rate is by then) taxpayer on the money that comes out of my pension. With I fair wind I might not even be in the UK having taken my pension elsewhere using the QROPS process. Of course most of you knew this as I had detailed this and more here.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Boom Continues – Australian Property Market – August 2010 Update

With the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishing its House Price Index on the 04 August and its Average Weekly Earnings Index yesterday I can again look at affordability of Australian Property. Of course regular readers will now that I have an interest in Australia as with a fair wind 6 years from now it could be a “retirement” location for me.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Lost Decade – History of Severe Real S&P 500 Stock Bear Markets – August 2010 Update

At my first post on this topic, back in January 2010, looking at severe real S&P 500 bear markets I postulated whether once the governments of the world stopped stimulating their economies through borrowing and quantitative easing whether we could see a real -60% bear market from the previous high within this economic cycle. Well as I highlighted here there still seems to be life in governments (or their agencies) yet with the recent QE Lite announcement.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Readers Portfolios – Global Capitalist's 1st Post

To regular readers of Retirement Investing Today what you read in today’s post represents a significant milestone. That’s because up until today everything written was essentially my opinion which was then sometimes commented on by readers. Today that changes with the introduction of a new series of posts which detail the portfolio’s of readers of Retirement Investing Today. The first post is from Global Capitalist.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Adding more Emerging Markets Equities – db x-trackers XMEM

As I discussed yesterday my Emerging Markets Allocation in my Low Charge Portfolio had fallen to 3.2% against a target allocation of 5.0%. This was a variation of 37% against my target which was by far the worst of any of my asset classes. I’ve therefore used 0.8% of my total portfolio value held in cash to buy into the db x-trackers MSCI EMERGING MARKETS TRN INDEX ETF with ticker symbol XMEM on Friday afternoon. This gives me an allocation to emerging markets now of 4.0%.

Friday, 13 August 2010

It’s been a good year to date, well maybe it has - my Retirement Investing Today Current Low Charge Portfolio – August 2010

Why has it been good year to date for my portfolio? Well year to date my Personal Rate of Return is 3.9%, which compares favourably against my Benchmark Portfolio which has returned 3.0%. For non-regular readers my Benchmark Portfolio is as simple as it can get by using 28% iBoxx® Sterling Liquid Corporate Long-Dated Bond Index total return (capital & Income) index and 72% FTSE 100 total return (capital & income) index.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Interest rates at 0% haven’t worked, QE hasn’t worked, will QE Lite - S&P 500 cyclically adjusted PE (PE10 or CAPE) – August 2010 Update

In an attempt to try and force a recovery in the US the Federal Reserve have decided that they will undertake “QE Lite” which will entail using the proceeds from maturing mortgage bonds, which were bought using Quantitative Easing (money printing in my books), to now buy long dated government debt. I guess they are hoping that this will force bond yields down further which will reduce borrowing costs across the board for the average punter. I’m thinking two things:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Isn’t Greece doing well? Its people must be so proud – Aus, UK, US and the PIGS government 10 year bond yields – August 2010 update

It’s been a few months since I last had a look at the 10 year government bond yields of Australia, UK, US and the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) however with the IMF and others applauding Greece for their "vigorous implementation of the fiscal programme" I thought it might be a good time to revisit. Generally all yields since June 10 have either been flat or fallen which I think means the market sees investment in these countries carrying the same risk or less risk of default than previously. Let’s look quickly at the yields:
- Australia has gone from 5.11 to 5.16
- UK has gone from 3.35 to 3.22
- US has gone from 2.96 to 2.83
- Portugal has gone from 5.98 to 5.06
- Italy has gone from 4.10 to 3.79
- Greece has gone from 10.60 to 10.31
- Spain has gone from 4.70 to 4.07

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The market is climbing from its June low - Australian (ASX 200) stock market plus its PE10 – August 2010 Update

The Australian stock market index, the ASX200, closed on Friday at 4566. This means that since the June average low of 4302 the market has risen by 6% in a little over one month. As of Fridays close the cyclically adjusted PE ratio (ASX200 PE10 or CAPE) has risen from 16.51 in June to 17.36. This can all be clearly seen in my first chart today.