Thursday 29 April 2010

UK Property Market – April 2010 Update

I am still out of the UK residential property market although today I really am beginning to wonder why. It really is amazing what a government can achieve if they are prepared to sacrifice the country long term to keep a bubble afloat. Today the Nationwide reported that average house prices had risen from £164,519 to £167,802, a monthly rise of £3,283 or 2.0%. On an annualised basis house prices in absolute terms are up by 10.5% and if I look at real (after inflation) returns they are still up by 5.2%.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

British Bankers Association reports on mortgage lending levels

The British Bankers Association (BBA) reported on mortgage lending levels for March yesterday. As regular readers will know I blog on mortgage lending levels monthly (last month here) however I use the Bank of England data which is currently only published up until February 2010.

US Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation – April 2010 Update

The above chart shows the US Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) to March 2010 courtesy of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year on year US CPI inflation has risen from 2.1% in February 2010 to 2.3% today. Annualising the last 6 months has inflation at 1.5% and annualising the last 3 months has inflation running at 3.1%. Have the US government succeeded in kick starting some good ‘healthy’ inflation? Many developed countries around the world are in my opinion craving this to help them erode both their debts and those of their reckless population who gorged themselves on easy credit.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

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

In absolute terms gold continues to climb in value reaching a new high today of £745.44 (when compared with the monthly historic dataset) since gold started its upward climb in 2005. In the last month gold is up £5.83 ounce however in real (inflation adjusted) terms as shown in today’s chart gold is actually going nowhere rising by only £0.77 per ounce.

Monday 26 April 2010

Average UK Earnings – April 2010 Update

As we know inflation according to the retail prices index (RPI) year on year is currently running at 4.4%. Looking at historic RPI inflation data shows the average year on year RPI annual change since 1991 at 2.8% and the trendline since 1991 shows inflation year on year trending downwards. My chart today shows these RPI figures in blue.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Gold Priced in US Dollars (USD) – April 2010 Update

Within my Retirement Investing Strategy I currently hold 4.1% (up from 3.5% at the last USD gold update) of my portfolio in gold with a targeted holding of 5%. Gold is the only portion of my portfolio that does not provide a yield (dividends, interest etc).

Saturday 24 April 2010

Minimising investment portfolio ‘fees and taxes’ not ‘fees or taxes’

One of the principles I followed when I first constructed (and in the ongoing maintenance of) my retirement investing low charge portfolio was to minimise fees and taxes. I do this as fees and taxes have a big effect on your final portfolio when investing over many years due to the compound interest effect as I demonstrated here.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Are we heading towards a series of sovereign crises around the world?

It appears to me as though governments around the world have just about maxed out their credit cards as they continue running massive fiscal deficits. I’m starting to wonder if we might not see one or two sovereign debt crises in the near future. This is just some of the highlights from the news that I have seen today (not even this week but today).

Buying Gold

Gold priced in US Dollars (USD) and gold priced in British Pounds (GBP) remains above its historical real (after inflation) trend line price and above its historical real historical average price. It is however still below its historic real highs priced in either of these currencies. I’ll try and get monthly updates up for gold in both currencies in the next few days however today I’d like to report a buy/sell decision that I have made. I try and report every one of these (but I’m sure I’ll forget to do this occasionally) so that you can track what I’m up to.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Australian (ASX 200) stock market including the cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio (PE10 or CAPE) – April 2010 Update

To try and squeeze some more performance out of a retirement investing strategy that is heavily focused on asset allocation I am using a cyclically adjusted PE ratio (known as the PE10 or CAPE) for the ASX 200 to attempt to value the Australian Stock Market. The method used is based on that developed by Yale Professor Robert Shiller for the S&P 500. I will call it the ASX 200 PE10 and it is the ratio of Real (ie after inflation) Monthly Prices and the 10 Year Real (ie after inflation) Average Earnings. For my Australian Equities I will use a nominal ASX 200 PE10 value of 16 to equate to when I hold 21% Australian Equities. On a linear scale I will target 30% less stocks when the ASX 200 PE10 = 26 and will own 30% more stocks when the ASX 200 PE10 = 6.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

UK Inflation – April 2010 Update

The Office for National Statistics has reported the March 2010 UK Consumer Price Index (CPI) as 3.4% up from 3.0% and the UK Retail Price Index (RPI) as 4.4% (in fact it was 4.449% so almost 4.5%) which is up from 3.7% last month.

Monday 19 April 2010

A History of Severe Real S&P 500 Stock Bear Markets – April 2010 Update

Looking at the first chart which shows the real (inflation adjusted) S&P 500 (or its predecessor) stock market I have identified three historic severe stock bear markets. These I am defining as stock markets where from the stock market reaching a new high, they then proceeded to lose in excess of 60% of their real (inflation adjusted) value. These are best demonstrated by the second chart which shows each of these stock bear markets and the fall in percentage terms from the peak. So briefly what were these bear markets (full details here).

Sunday 18 April 2010

Changes to the UK State Second Pension (S2P)

This year there have been changes to the State Second Pension (S2P) rules however I don’t remember seeing this mentioned in any main stream newspapers or television news. I therefore thought it best to warn Retirement Investing Today readers so that at least you were aware and could then do your own research.

Saturday 17 April 2010

US (S&P 500) stock market including the cyclically adjusted price earnings ratio (PE10 or CAPE) – April 2010 Update

To try and squeeze some more performance out of a retirement investing strategy that is heavily focused on buy & hold and asset allocation I am using a Cyclically Adjusted Price / Average 10 Year Earnings (PE10 or CAPE) ratio for the S&P 500 to value the US (specifically the S&P 500) stock market. The method used is that developed by Yale Professor Robert Shiller however I also incorporate earnings estimates up to the PE10 month of interest. Background information here.

Thursday 15 April 2010

UK Mortgage Rates and Mortgage Approvals – April 2010 Update

Today I present two regular charts that unfortunately give me little information this month about what could be occurring in the housing market. They show the UK markets just treading water for the month. The first shows the monthly interest rate of UK resident banks and building societies sterling standard variable rate mortgage to households (not seasonally adjusted) and highlights that for this data set rates remain at near record lows at 4.05% for March 2010 (actual low was 3.82% in April 2009). This is static compared to the previous month.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Australia, UK and US government 10 year bond yields – April 2010 update

I continue to monitor the 10 year government bond yields of three countries (Australia, United Kingdom and the United States) to try and understand when interest rates on savings and mortgages may start to rise with my datasets shown in today’s chart.

Monday 12 April 2010

Are we back to blowing asset bubbles already?

Last week saw Alan Greenspan interviewed as part of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. The Times reported that during this interview “Mr Greenspan denied his policies encouraged the type of risky lending that spurred the financial crisis. The long-time Fed Chairman - whose reputation has been deeply undermined by the crisis - denied low interest rates and loose regulation had encouraged lenders and borrowers to take ever greater risks."

Sunday 11 April 2010

Where is the economic recovery?

I keep hearing in the news about how fragile the economic recovery is that we are currently seeing. I don’t know about you but I don’t see any economic recovery. What I am currently seeing is nothing more than a mirage that has been caused by massive fiscal stimulus by governments borrowing money (or as I like to think of it, stealing money from the future generations) that they didn’t have or worse by printing money (quantitative easing etc). I am yet to see any evidence that would make me think we are seeing a genuine recovery.

Saturday 10 April 2010

An appropriate quote for how the economy should be managed

MoneyWeek every week publishes a series of quotes. In this week’s issue one of these particularly leapt out at me. In my opinion it really sums up how the UK government (or for that manner any government) should manage the economy and highlights how far away from this philosophy we are today.

The Bank of England shows their hand – UK Bank Rate held at 0.5%

The Bank of England this week held interest rates at 0.5% for the fourteenth month in a row. I’ve been speculating over the past few months at what the Bank of England are up to but I’m now convinced I know the strategy of the Bank of England and unfortunately it’s not their officially published Monetary Policy Framework of keeping to the Government’s inflation target of 2%. It’s clear that’s not the strategy when the Retail Prices Index (RPI) is running at 3.7% (annualised 3 month RPI is 4.8%) and the government set Consumer Price Index (CPI) is running at 3.0%.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Investing mistakes I’ve made – contango and exchange traded commodities (ETC’s)

Since I took full responsibility for my retirement investing strategy I’ve made some mistakes that have cost me money. I’m also sure that going forward I’ll probably make some more. What however is key for me is that if I make a mistake I never make that same mistake again. Over the coming months, if I get time, I will try and share some of these mistakes with you so that you can do your own research which hopefully might even save you some money. The first of these was not understanding how exchange traded commodities (ETC’s) work plus also not understanding the concept of contango that is associated with many ETC’s.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Buying NS&I Index Linked Savings Certificates

As I highlighted here National Savings and Investments (NS&I) today released a new issue of both 3 and 5 year Index Linked Savings Certificates. I’ve made use of this and invested around 4% of my retirement investing low charge portfolio into the 3 year 20th issue of these certificates by transferring some cash holdings. This new issue is paying index linking + 1%. This now means that I have 19.6% of my retirement portfolio invested with these tax efficient certificates.

Monday 5 April 2010

2010 Quarter 1 Retirement Investing Portfolio Review

Edited 06 June 2010: I have found more exact data allowing me to determine benchmark returns to the day. I have therefore updated the data in this post to reflect this. As the blog has developed I have also changed the method used to calculate the returns as I have learnt more accurate methods. I started with:
- [assets at end of period – assets at start of period – new money entering portfolio] divided by [assets at start of period],
- then used the mid-point Dietz which was a more accurate method,
- and now use Excel's XIRR function for anual returns. If it is not a full year I then adjust XIRR by the PRR (Personal Rate of Return) = [(1+XIRR Annualised Return)^(# of days/365)]–1.
Apologies for the confusion but I'm learning here too.
The first quarter is over so it’s time to benchmark my low charge retirement investing portfolio against a simple Strategic Asset Allocation that anybody could implement in next to no time. It’s a basic stock/bond asset allocation with the stocks portion being represented by the FTSE 100 total return (capital & income) index and the bond portion being represented iBoxx® Sterling Liquid Corporate Long-Dated Bond Index total return (capital & Income) index.

Sunday 4 April 2010

My Current Low Charge Portfolio – April 2010

Buying (New money): Since my last post I have continued living frugally and saved 81% of my net earnings and pension salary sacrifices. Total new money entering my retirement investing Low Charge Portfolio was around 1.5%. These were allocated as follows: 69.5% to cash, 4.6% to UK equities, 6.4% to international equities, 1.2% to index linked gilts and 18.3% to UK commercial property. This money was invested both outside of any tax wrappers and also within a pension.

Saturday 3 April 2010

The government keeps spending our taxes to inflate house prices

I am yet to buy a house as I believe that house prices are still overvalued. I try and demonstrate this monthly with the house affordability ratios that I present. This current government however seems intent on using our taxes to prop up this property market bubble. This offends me because my (and your) taxes are being used against me to keep me out of the market and also as an electioneering tool.