Nov 182019
 

Time + Ownership = Financial Freedom

When financial writer David Bach was just 7 years old his grandma took him to McDonald’s and explained to him that there were 3 types of people in the world: The minimum wage employees working there, the consumers who pay money and eat there, and the owners who aren’t there but can still make money from the restaurant. David’s grandma helped him buy 1 share of McDonald’s, and taught him how to read and follow MCD’s stock chart.

The next time they went to a McDonald’s restaurant she told him, “now you are not just a consumer here, you are also an owner. Every time you eat here you are paying yourself.” It’s a brilliantly simple concept; easy enough for a child to understand. Yet it’s an inspiring and powerful idea. David became hooked on investing. He bought other stocks over time to eventually become a millionaire. 🙂 From the time he bought his first stock to today in 2019, MCD shares have increased in value by over 250 times! But it didn’t happen overnight. It took decades.

McDonald’s menu in 1973 when David Bach was a kid.

Fortunately anyone can become an owner by investing in established companies like McDonald’s. And the best part is you get to earn all your money while you sleep. 🙂

It all comes down to saving a percentage of your income, and investing it on a consistent basis. And then simply wait. The longer you wait the more your money will have time to compound and grow exponentially. Although you can schedule to invest every month, or every quarter, studies suggest you should invest as soon as possible to maximize potential returns.

People who try to get rich quick stay broke long.” ~ David Bach

If we understand that financial success requires patience, then investing will appear to be easier and less risky. For example, imagine if 2 investors held 2 different views about buying a house.

Investor 1) I’m afraid prices might drop in the next year or so. 🙁 And it’s a rather large investment so I question if now is a good time to be buying.

This mindset makes it difficult to pull the trigger when a good opportunity comes. We act based on what we believe. If we believe prices may fall then of course we will experience more hesitation and concern when buying a house. But let’s look at the second mindset where patience is paramount.

Investor 2) I have the patience to hold this property for at least 7+ years. So after the year 2026, based on macro trends, house prices will probably be much higher than it is now. Most likely rent in the city will be higher as well. Therefore buying a house now and locking in a mortgage balance is probably better than buying a house later and risk taking on an even larger mortgage.

The first person is thinking about the short term, while the other is thinking only long term. The second investor has a better chance of putting his intent into action because his long term perspective provides him with more investment certainty. That’s because it’s hard to know what the market will do next year. But due to inflation and urban densification, it wouldn’t be hard to predict that Vancouver’s home prices will trend upwards over the long run.

Continue reading »

Nov 042019
 

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Many people turned back their clocks 1 hour marking the end of this year’s daylight saving time. But time wasn’t the only thing that fell back. Economic growth in the U.S. pulled back to just 1.9% for the 3rd quarter of 2019, lower than the previous 2 quarters. Last month I wrote about anticipating this GDP number, and warned that if it continues to fall (which it did) then we may be close to a U.S recession. The Canadian economy is also in trouble, managing to eke out a 0.1% gain in the latest month.

Yet somehow the U.S. stock market reached an all time high at the end of October. Senior citizens must be thrilled to see their retirement funds performing so well. 😀

So economic output is slowing down, but investors have never been more optimistic – pushing stocks to record highs. How does this happen? It’s basically the result of the U.S. Central Bank’s monetary policy. In late October the Fed lowered interest rates again, trying to stimulate the overall economy. However, all it did was push investors to buy stocks over bonds because bonds now pay lower interest/returns. But a higher company stock price doesn’t improve business hiring, productivity, or employee salaries. The average American worker doesn’t see any direct benefit from the Fed’s monetary stimulus. Only Wall St. does.

The result is a diverging economic reality between two worlds; the working class that’s just one paycheck away from financial ruin, and the investing class who continues to see growing asset prices. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 gave investors about 13% annualized return. So the fact is if someone put $1,000 into a low cost index fund in October 2009, then today he would have $3,400 – assuming he reinvested the dividends. Wow. And all this required zero effort on the investor’s part. Amazing. 🙂

So the lesson here is simple. Focus on investing your savings, and be patient. Investing is like cooking a juicy steak; the less you touch it the better. Working hard at a job can only get you so far. But the real secret to financial success is to leverage the Central Bank’s policies, and invest in a diversified portfolio to build wealth the easy way. 🙂

Although October was a good month for stocks, I had a major expense (property tax payment for my farms) that stifled my savings. In the end, I was able to grow my wealth by $8,300 for the month. Not bad, but I didn’t reach the $1 million net worth milestone I was aiming for. Oh well. Better luck in November. 🙂

 

Liquid’s Financial Update

*Side Incomes: = $5,400

  • Part time job =$600
  • Freelance = $400
  • Dividends =$1200
  • Interest = $500
  • Farm rent = $2,700

*Discretionary Spending: = $3,700

  • Food = $300
  • Miscellaneous = $2,100
  • Interest expense = $1300

*Net Worth: (ΔMoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,384,500 (+7,000)
  • Cash = $9,100 (+300)
  • Canadian stocks = $195,100 (+2400)
  • U.S. stocks = $134,900 (+1400)
  • U.K. stocks = $21,900 (+500)
  • Retirement = $137,700 (+1900)
  • Mortgage Funds = $37,100 (+200)
  • P2P Lending = $36,700 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $385,100 (-1,300)
  • Mortgage = $186,100 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $162,400 (-500)
  • Margin Loans = $34,800 (-200)
  • Line of Credit = $1,800 (-200)

*Total Net Worth = $999,400 (+$8,300 / +0.8%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.76/USD

This will probably be the last year I pay property tax for my farmland. I have been in contact with a realtor in Saskatchewan, and have already instructed him to list both my farms for sale. 🙂

Agricultural land has not been immune to the wider real estate slow down across the country. But there does seem to be some interest in my farms so far. In terms of market pricing, my realtor says I can probably expect to sell my farmland for about $446,000 in 2019. That’s pretty close to the farmland value I’ve already been using to calculate my monthly net worth so I will stick with my existing number for now.

Farmland values have had a great run in Canada, but slowing economic growth, trade barriers, and changing local conditions suggest to me that it’s time to reduce my exposure to Canadian farmland.

 

____________________
Random Useless Fact:

Oct 212019
 

Investing is a lot like dating. Low confidence can keep you out of the market. A good way to gain confidence is to learn from those with experience. 🙂

When you do an internet search for “famous investors” you might see a list of highly experienced individuals. Some are dead. Most are alive. But despite being from different backgrounds, all the investors from the search result appear to have one thing in common.

None of them are wearing hats. A piece of headwear can tell a lot about someone’s personality. However, there is one famous investor that didn’t come up in my search results but does like to wear hats: and that’s Hetty Green. There aren’t a lot of photos of her because she died in 1916, but she had an incredible investment career. Here are five lessons we can learn from Hetty.

 

1. Start early

Wearing hats wasn’t the only trait that differentiated Hetty from other world class investors. With her grandfather’s encouragement Hetty had learned to manage her family’s financial accounts when she was just 13 years old. Born into the Quaker family (yes, the cereal name) Hetty was raised with conservative financial principles that would stay with her for life. The world was much simpler back in the days before Instagram and electric scooters. But while other kids were playing hopscotch outside, Hetty was busy reading financial papers and stock reports. 🙂

2. Practice delayed gratification

When her father bought her brand new clothes, Ms. Green sold her new wardrobe and purchased government bonds with the money instead. She eventually turned an inherited sum of $6 million into $100 million by 1916, which is the equivalent of $2.3 billion in today’s climate thanks to inflation.

3. Have an independent mindset and don’t follow the crowd

Hetty followed a contrarian investing strategy where she bought stocks and bonds when the market was full of pessimistic sentiment. She also had a knack for snapping up cheap real estate deals and trading railroad companies. In her own words she told the New York Times in 1905, “I believe in getting in at the bottom and out at the top. I like to buy railroad stocks or mortgage bonds. When I see a good thing going cheap because nobody wants it, I buy a lot of it and tuck it away. I keep them until they go up and people are anxious to buy. That is, I believe, the secret of all successful business.” She showed off this strategy a couple years later in 1907. After deciding that the market was overvalued, Hetty called in all her loans. Then, when the market crashed, she swooped in and bought them again at the lows. This line of thinking is very similar to Warren Buffett’s investment advice about being “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

Continue reading »

Oct 072019
 

How to spot the warning signs of a looming recession

Last year I wrote a blog post explaining that a recession may not be far away. A recession is 2 consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. The indicators at that time were still questionable. But fast forward to today and wow, the signals have become much clearer! Here are 10 economic indicators that strongly suggest a U.S. recession could be imminent.

recession indicators to keep an eye on

  1. Inverted yield curve
  2. Unemployment rate reaching an inflection point
  3. The long term unemployment is flattening out
  4. Declining GDP growth
  5. Lower expectations for corporate earnings
  6. Manufacturing index PMI falls to 10 year low
  7. Global uncertainty index at all time high
  8. Declining Cass Freight Index
  9. The Fed Bank of New York drastically raised the likelihood of a recession
  10. Rising auto loan delinquencies

Additional breakdown of each of the 10 indicators below.

The yield curve has inverted

The graph below shows the difference between the 10 year treasury yield and the 2 year treasury yield. The yield curve tends to get flatter when the economy reaches the end of an expansion cycle. The vertical gray bars on the graph represent periods of recession. How reliable is this indicator? Over the last 50 years, every recession was preceded by a yield curve inversion. 😮 The graph dropped to below 0% earlier this year in March, officially inverting the yield curve. According to Credit Suisse, a recession occurs about 22 months on average after a yield curve inversion.

US 10 year treasury against 2 year treasury yields from FRED

 

The unemployment rate is bottoming out

A lower unemployment rate is good for the economy. But at the end of every full employment cycle is a sharp increase in the civilian unemployment rate, usually accompanied by a recession. When we last looked at this graph in 2018 the unemployment rate was at 4% and heading down. Today it is lower at 3.7%, a 50 year low in fact. Practically speaking it cannot drop much more than this. Historically we can see in the chart that after the lowest point in each employment cycle, the unemployment rate shoots up abruptly, usually coinciding with a recession.

Unemployment rate cycle against past recessions. The correlation is very clear.

 

Continue reading »

Oct 012019
 

Tight Race Ahead

In a few weeks Canadians will vote for a Prime Minister to lead the country. Who knows what kind of chicanery will ensue. According to the CBC poll tracker, which aggregates all publicly available polling data, the Conservatives hold a narrow lead over the Liberals. Looks like it’s going to be a close call. 😮

canadian poll for 2019 election

Financial markets are always uncertain right before an election because policy changes can drive consumer incentives and business decisions. During the past quarter leading up to this month’s election the stock market has seen lower volumes of trading. Many companies put off hiring and investing until they know which political party is going to win.

Meanwhile south of the border, the United States economy is slowing down. Its 2nd quarter GDP growth dropped to 2%, down from 3% from the previous quarter. Manufacturing data also shows weakness and poor sentiment about businesses. Business earnings growth estimates have dropped from 7.6% last year to just 2.3% now. As a result the U.S. central bank dropped interest rates by 0.25% last month. This is good news for people who have floating rate debt in US dollars like myself. 🙂 So now my investment expenses are slightly lower than before.

Markets were slightly positive in September bumping up my net worth to $991K. It’s nearly at the $1M mark. 🙂 Below are my financial results ending September 30th.

Liquid’s Financial Update

*Side Incomes: = $2,700

  • Part time job =$700
  • Freelance = $400
  • Dividends =$1200
  • Interest = $500

*Discretionary Spending: = $2,200

  • Food = $400
  • Miscellaneous = $300
  • Interest expense = $1300

*Net Worth: (ΔMoM)

  • Total Assets: = $1,377,500 (+4900)
  • Cash = $8,800 (+1200)
  • Canadian stocks = $192,700 (+3200)
  • U.S. stocks = $133,500 (-1800)
  • U.K. stocks = $21,400 (+700)
  • Retirement = $135,800 (+1000)
  • Mortgage Funds = $36,900 (+300)
  • P2P Lending = $36,400 (+300)
  • Home = $367,000 (assessed land value)
  • Farms = $445,000
  • Total Debts: = $386,400 (-3,300)
  • Mortgage = $186,500 (-400)
  • Farm Loans = $162,900 (-500)
  • Margin Loans = $35,000 (-400)
  • Line of Credit = $2,000 (-2000)

*Total Net Worth = $991,100 (+$8,200 / +0.8%)
All numbers are in $CDN at 0.76/USD

Another month is in the bag. 🙂 The Canadian dollar got stronger which is both good and bad. On one hand Canadians have stronger purchasing power globally so we can buy more things for cheap. But on the other hand our assets outside the country are worth less when converted back into $CAD.

 

____________________
Random Useless Fact:

The hamburger got its name from a cut of beef in Hamburg, Germany, and doesn’t contain any ham.