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The Slow and Steady passive portfolio update: Q3 2022

The Slow and Steady passive portfolio update: Q3 2022 post image

Aaargh! [Breathes deeply. Thinks about dolphins.] That’s better. [Peeks through fingers and looks at portfolio again.] Aaaaaaargh!

If you enjoyed the disaster movie Don’t Look Up, you’ll love the sequel: Don’t Look Up Your Portfolio.

Bad things are happening in there.

The Slow & Steady passive portfolio is taking its biggest run of beatings ever. For the first time in a dozen years we’re down for three calendar quarters in a row.

Our UK government bond losses are especially grim. Government bonds are on course for their worst year in history.

But let’s not get too despondent. For all the drama, the portfolio is still only down 15% in 2022.

And less – 11% – over one full year.

Step back and we’re up 6.26% for every one of the 12 years we’ve been tracking the portfolio. Call it a 4% real annualised return.1

Admittedly, if you add inflation to this year’s nominal losses then for sure we’re deep in bear market territory this year.

But previous generations of investors have come back from worse.

First we have to get through the present. And it’s natural to second-guess your decisions in the midst of market declines like we’ve seen in 2022.

In particular, you may be questioning why you bought bonds in the first place.

We do need to talk, but first let’s face up to the results. They’re not pretty:

The Slow & Steady portfolio is Monevator’s model passive investing portfolio. It was set up at the start of 2011 with £3,000. An extra £1,055 is invested every quarter into a diversified set of index funds, tilted towards equities. You can read the origin story and find all the previous passive portfolio posts tucked away in the Monevator vaults.

Bond-o-geddon

Nothing is working right now. Rapidly rising inflation and interest rates are scalping everything in sight.

But it’s most unsettling that bonds – supposedly our refuge in difficult times – are plunging like equities.

Our gilts tracker is down -28% year to date.

Previously the worst annual return for gilts was -33% in 1916 – recorded in the year the British army was scythed down at the Somme.

That was a real return though and they were extremely long bonds.2

This year UK long gilts are cratering even harder than their World War One counterparts. They’re down -45% year-to-date3. With inflation raining hammer blows on top.

This matters because if you’re cursing your choices it’s important to know you’re caught in the cross-hairs of history.

On one front we’re suffering the withdrawal symptoms that accompany the world giving up its negative interest rate meds.

On another we’re dealing with a needless act of economic quackery by our own prime minister, Liz Truss. Like an ill-qualified psychiatrist she’s determined to unleash her experimental electro-shock therapy while the patient lies strapped and terrified on the table.

As Truss fiddles with the voltage, gilts’ vital signs have deteriorated faster than their global peers. Culminating in a cardiac arrest that only the Bank of England could step in to relieve:

Source: justETF: intermediate gilt ETF vs intermediate global gov bonds (GBP-hedged)

This is a self-inflicted wound. It’s also a political choice.

Which means much of the harm can be undone by another political act. Polls point to a Tory rout. The party will force Truss to recant, or it will decapitate yet another leader if she won’t. They’ve got form.

Hence the UK-only damage suffered by government bonds may yet be reversed – at least in part.

But even then the wider global sell-off would make any holder plenty miserable.

Buy high, sell low?

We all know that buy high, sell low is a classic blunder. So why is your hand still magnetically attracted to the sell button next to your bond ETF?

Offloading bonds during their darkest hour is probably a mistake. Swearing off them for life is probably a mistake.

Falling prices have certainly inflicted a short-term defeat on most bond funds. But lower prices equate to higher yields. That’s bond maths 101.

Moreover as yields are up across the board, investors will demand higher coupons4 in exchange for buying the future debt issued by the government.

It takes time but these improved cashflows will actually set our bond funds on a higher growth path than they were previously taking.

As your fund sells off its old bonds, the proceeds are ploughed into the new higher-yielding variants that are coming on to the market.

And as those new bonds pay more interest, it gets reinvested (if you own an accumulation fund or do it yourself), ratcheting up the transition from low income assets to higher income ones.

Pound-cost averaging accelerates the process. New money buys more of the higher-yielding debt.

The upshot is your bond fund will eventually deliver a higher annualised return – after interest rates stabilise – than if we’d never gone through this.

How long that will take depends on the average duration of your fund. The longer duration your bonds, the longer it takes – but the greater the potential reward.

Carry on regardless?

It’s the same principle as when equities are on sale. High-quality government bonds are now a better deal than they were.

Plus, if the wind changes direction again and the economy goes into recessionary convulsions, then nominal government bonds are still the best diversifier you can buy.

Big picture it’s a bit more complicated.

We flagged problems with a simple 60-40 portfolio in 2021. Because no asset class always works, we argued for greater diversity on the defensive (40%) side:

Those were reasonable calls:

  • In the passive portfolio, our short index-linked bond fund is down 6% year-to-date. Not down -30% like a long-dated UK index-linked gilt tracker. (We took evasive action back in 2019).
  • Cash is currently yielding 2% and gold is up nearly 13% so far this year.

I’d still urge that level of diversification for a baseline portfolio, although we’ll continue to track the Slow & Steady as it stands, sans gold and cash.

Note your optimal allocation to equities may be higher if you can handle the risk.

Relegation form

I’d like to advocate one more change for us to think about.

I used to be ambivalent about whether to pick intermediate gilts or intermediate global government bonds (currency-hedged back to the pound) for recession protection.

Gilts were the obvious choice for a UK investor, and as a proud Brit I was happy to hold them. I bought into the idea that we belonged in the premier league of nations.

Well, the last six years and one month have smashed that delusion.

We could argue about Brexit and probably will forever. But you can’t argue with the decline of the pound and the gilt market’s verdict on Trussonomics.

If you want to know what hard-headed, independent operators think of the UK’s recent performance then just consult the charts. Money talks and it’s telling us this country is in a relegation battle.

And so I wish I’d chosen to diversify my fixed income risks with a global government bond fund.

Other countries may put maniacs and shysters in charge, but I thought it couldn’t happen here.

Come to Jesus.

New transactions

Every quarter we throw £1,055 into the market wishing well. Our hopes and dreams are split between seven funds, as per our predetermined asset allocation.

We rebalance using Larry Swedroe’s 5/25 rule. That hasn’t been activated this quarter. Thank heavens.

These are our trades:

UK equity

Vanguard FTSE UK All-Share Index Trust – OCF 0.06%

Fund identifier: GB00B3X7QG63

New purchase: £52.75

Buy 0.245 units @ £215.18

Target allocation: 5%

Developed world ex-UK equities

Vanguard FTSE Developed World ex-UK Equity Index Fund – OCF 0.14%

Fund identifier: GB00B59G4Q73

New purchase: £390.35

Buy 0.791 units @ £493.64

Target allocation: 37%

Global small cap equities

Vanguard Global Small-Cap Index Fund – OCF 0.29%

Fund identifier: IE00B3X1NT05

New purchase: £52.75

Buy 0.145 units @ £362.80

Target allocation: 5%

Emerging market equities

iShares Emerging Markets Equity Index Fund D – OCF 0.2%

Fund identifier: GB00B84DY642

New purchase: £84.40

Buy 47.209 units @ £1.79

Target allocation: 8%

Global property

iShares Global Property Securities Equity Index Fund D – OCF 0.17%

Fund identifier: GB00B5BFJG71

New purchase: £52.75

Buy 23.656 units @ £2.23

Target allocation: 5%

UK gilts

Vanguard UK Government Bond Index – OCF 0.12%

Fund identifier: IE00B1S75374

New purchase: £305.95

Buy 2.344 units @ £130.52

Target allocation: 29%

Global inflation-linked bonds

Royal London Short Duration Global Index-Linked Fund – OCF 0.27%

Fund identifier: GB00BD050F05

New purchase: £116.05

Buy 110.84 units @ £1.05

Target allocation: 11%

New investment = £1,055

Trading cost = £0

Take a look at our broker comparison table for your best investment account options. InvestEngine is currently cheapest if you’re happy to invest only in ETFs. Or learn more about choosing the cheapest stocks and shares ISA for your circumstances.

Average portfolio OCF = 0.16%

If it all seems too complicated check out our best multi-asset fund picks. These include all-in-one diversified portfolios such as the Vanguard LifeStrategy funds.

Interested in tracking your own portfolio or using the Slow & Steady investment tracking spreadsheet? Our piece on portfolio tracking shows you how.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

  1. The real return is the gain once inflation has been subtracted. It is a measure of the growing spending power of your money. []
  2. Government bonds at the time were undated. That is, they paid interest in perpetuity or until they were eventually called and repaid. []
  3. SPDR Bloomberg 15+ Year Gilt UCITS ETF []
  4. The fixed interest rate paid by a bond. []
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Weekend reading: Shock and poor

Weekend reading: Shock and poor post image

What caught my eye this week.

Last week we debated the Mini Budget on Monevator in a couple of excellent threads of reader comments.

By Wednesday morning all that was out the window.

Any potential benefits to the new administration signalling a growth agenda or to its seemingly ill-timed tax cuts were moot. The gamble had already backfired.

The UK government bond (gilt) market was in meltdown.

Most of the headlines had focused on the weakness of the pound following Kwasi Kwarteng’s bolt from very blue.

But the impact on the gilt market was soon apparent.

Indeed as the week began I was tinkering with my ‘low volatility’ sub-portfolio I’d set up specifically to feel safer in what looked like being a choppy 2022.

Longer duration bonds – and a few proxies such as REITs – were sliding.

Time to nip and tuck?

But by Wednesday morning, my now ironically-named low-volatility basket was shedding value like sheets of snow slewing off a roof in the warming sun.

This was not supposed to happen – at this pace – with government bonds:

It looked to me like forced selling and I doubted it could stand for long.

Was it, then, a chance to load up?

I was on the scent – pension funds were in difficulties. But my learning curve – and the slope the descent – was too steep for me to get confident about a wholesale switch into these supposedly super-safe assets. How bad would it get?

Then – even as I was giving myself a crash course in the ‘liability driven investment’ (LDI) hedging strategies behind the plunge – I saw the same index-linked gilt ETF was climbing.

Was I missing the boat? Had big investors stepped in?

Now it was motoring! The sheer pace made it clear I’d missed a ‘red headline’ on a Bloomberg.

So there I was just before lunchtime on Wednesday, when the Bank of England stepped in to save the pensions sector from imploding.

Where were you?

The doom loop

Like always with these events – from the Global Financial Crisis to September 11 to Pearl Harbour – there’s a paper trail you can follow with hindsight, after the worst has happened.

It turns out insiders had warned about the potential risk of a spiraling LDI crisis months ago.

For example, from the Financial Times in July:

LDI is big business, having more than tripled in size over the past decade, and the reason is simple — it helps funds manage the risks in meeting their pension promises for members, partly through derivatives.

But now funds are facing calls from counterparties to put up collateral to fund those trades. The sums are potentially huge and asset sales to meet the calls could have a knock-on effect to markets such as equities.

Of course nobody paid much attention.

UK politics has been quietly mullering the economy for years, but it hadn’t yet crystalized in a drama that stood apart from the fug of lockdown. The damage was real, but diffuse enough to dismiss pre-Brexit concerns as scaremongering. Yields were rising, but that was a global thing.

But this time was different. What Rishi Sunak had warned would happen in his debates with Liz Truss had started before Kwasi Kwarteng had barely stopped talking.

Confidence was shot, and investors started to mark down British assets.

And through the hedging strategies of pension funds, there was a mechanism for shit to get real, quickly.

You’ve probably had your fill of explainers over the past few days. This was one of those weeks where our little corner of the Internet becomes front page news. (Honestly, it never happens if Egyptology is your hobby.)

But in short: in less febrile times pension funds hedged away the risk of prices moving against them – and impacting their ability to fund their liabilities – with derivatives. These hedges were backed with collateral, including but not limited to gilts. As gilt prices fell they triggered margin calls, which to some currently unknown extent prompted more gilt selling. That drove gilt prices lower. Causing more margin calls. You get the picture.

I haven’t seen anyone else make the comparison yet, but what this most reminds me of is the 1987 stock market crash.

That year’s short, sharp plunge was blamed on portfolio insurance strategies. Again they were meant to protect against declines that they were afterwards blamed for accelerating.

Of course the 1987 crash was in equities – where we’re all ready to shrug our shoulders and say it happens.

Not in the ‘safe’ gilt market, which is meant to be the bedrock of the financial system.

We’re all in it together

Yet for all the drama of a highly-rated government bond market in meltdown, even a crash of this magnitude is not truly surprising to me.

As long-term readers know – and have suffered – like others I’ve been warning about the political direction of travel in the UK for years. That it’s finally culminated in something like this is arguably a feature not a bug of the narrative’s fairy tale thinking, to borrow Sunak’s phrase.

Even for markets generally, it’s almost surprising it took so long for something to really break given the regime change of 2020.

As I wrote in April when high inflation had started to cause ructions in student loans:

I’m surprised we haven’t heard about massive financial blow-ups yet, given the pace of developments.

Another one ticked off the To Do list.

I also warned about quantitative tightening back in February, of the likely hit to retirement plans, and urged readers to stress test their mortgages even as others celebrated a return to double-digit house price inflation.

I’d argue Monevator was ahead of the curve on all that. Yet a fat lot of good it’s done me personally, so fast have things gone off the rails.

Hitherto you could kind of wave away the cost-of-living crisis if you had sufficient funds to put the heating on without a care and to do your weekly shop at Waitrose.

It was awful, of course, to imagine families on the breadline without the money to heat their homes.

But you wouldn’t be personally much at risk.

Now though the realities of 2022 are becoming manifest for all of us.

Keep calm and carry on cutting

How will this all resolve itself in the weeks and months ahead?

Your guess is as good as mine.

But for starters, I suspect the pound ended the week strengthening not because the markets are suddenly smitten with Trussonomics – as the reliably-ludicrous John Redwood claimed on Twitter.

Rather, traders surely sense that – with Labour more than 30 points ahead in the polls and Tory backbenchers up in arms – we’ll see a personnel change and/or a row-back of policy.

Or, more frighteningly, an enormous axe taken to already-straitened State provisions.

As I said last week, I’ve nothing against lower taxes or even an aspiration to shrink the State, in principle. A long time ago I even voted Conservative once or twice.

I also agree Britain has a long-term productivity problem – plus now the self-inflicted wounds of leaving the EU. (Trade frictions, staff issues, higher inflation, and so on).

But even with a sympathetic read, the Mini Budget seemed to have its priorities mostly wrong. Especially with the relatively cheap but politically toxic scrapping of the 45% rate of tax.

One day, sure. But why now?

Meanwhile talk of supposedly game-changing supply-side reforms are just talk until November.

Add to the Budget surprises the government’s high-handed treatment of everyone from the civil service to the OBR to the Bank of England to the media, it’s not surprising investors took flight.

Something must be done to calm things a longer-term basis. Otherwise borrowing costs will go haywire, provoking a truly deep recession and making the UK’s debt burden a noose.

Just keep in mind that to reassure the gilt market, Truss and crew only need to show they understand Britain’s particular economic problems – especially its big trade deficits – and that Britain will pay its bills in a vaguely inflation-sensitive fashion.

The market doesn’t really need to care whether Truss and Kwarteng have a palatable project in mind.

Gilts trade in a financial market. They are not tallied up on a morality-weighing machine.

Which means a calming resolution here might be as ugly as the cause, for many people.

There’s talk, for instance, Truss could cut benefits in real terms to help balance the nation’s books.

More pain, more gain

Perhaps hard-right Tories would see bringing fire and brimstone to the welfare state as making the best of a crisis.

Time will tell.

However in the same vein of looking for a bright side in a car crash, I want to conclude by stressing there’s a silver lining to this bond market roiling.

I’ve been surprised recently how often people here and elsewhere are asking whether they should now dump their bonds.

I’d say that boat has sailed. On the contrary, from here on bonds may regain their place as a useful portfolio diversifier.

Because while bond prices have fallen further and faster than almost anyone anticipated – at least until the Bank of England stepped in – that has in turn driven up yields for new purchasers.

Clearly it’s easier for me to say this as a naughty active investor who came into 2022 with zero in gilts or Treasuries. (I have had swingeing losses on what I bought this year though, so do share some pain!)

But in the long-term, higher returns than they otherwise could have expected – at least compared to what were at worst nailed-on negative yields – will hold be for passive investors, too.

Lower bond prices are – eventually – beneficial to bond fund returns. Bonds will rollover and the money is reinvested into higher-yielding issues. These deliver more income bang for your buck in future years.

Again, this sea-change has been fast and dramatic.

The 30-year index linked gilt yield-to-maturity (YTM), for example, was negative 2% in December 2020. You were paying the government to inflation-protect your capital.

But the sell-off sent its yield above 2%. You could lock in a 2% real return if you wanted.

That seems attractive right now. Will it amount to much in the years ahead? As ever we cannot know. But it’s certain that positively growing wealth is a lot better for your portfolio than an asset priced to eat it.

It’s a similarly remarkable story with the 10-year vanilla gilt yield:

We are back to pre-2010 levels here.

Again, 4.1% doesn’t seem amazingly attractive with inflation running near-10%, but that shouldn’t last. Moreover there’s now some yield firepower to buffer a portfolio again, should equities fall.

And the 10-year gilt yield was as high as 4.5% before the Bank of England intervention.

It ain’t over until it’s over

Incidentally, some people say the Bank is back to QE in trying to manage down longer-term yields.

I believe that’s wide of the mark.

The Bank of England has said its gilt buying is a temporary measure designed to restore market functioning. It’s even put a date on stopping the purchases.

To me the Bank clearly aspires to get pension funds enough time to fix their positions and then to let gilt yields go where they may.

And when that happens, prices could resume their fall, and yields climb again. Which would price fixed rate mortgages even higher, among other things.

Of course the Bank may be overtaken by events again. But the point is the same push-me pull-you dynamic that I cited last week (and that The Sunday Times paid, um, homage to) is still in place.

The Bank of England wants to raise rates to curb inflation. Meanwhile the government (so far) has only announced extra borrowing and tax cuts.

The first tightens money. The second is loose. Something has already given. There’ll surely be more drama to come.

A few follow-up reads:

  • Seven days that shook the UK [Search result]FT
  • Who exactly has the BoE bailed out? [Search result]FT
  • “I’d never seen anything like it”: market turmoil sparked a pension sell-off – Guardian
  • The liquidity haves and have nots – Bond Vigilantes

Oh and while this week’s acute crisis was of the government’s own making, it’s true that the sell-off in bonds in 2022 has been historic globally:

That’s a lot of pain to go around.

It’s all go

Lastly, a housekeeping note.

Readers who peruse Monevator via mobile may have found they couldn’t read our new passive investing guide on their phones this week.

The special mobile theme that we were using didn’t render the page properly.

That theme delivered a lovely browsing experience on mobile and I know some of you loved it. But it has been causing problems for years now.

So we’ve decided to turn it off. Instead, the standard responsive Monevator theme will now load across all devices.

Sorry if you regret the change. But please do check out the passive investing guide – and forward it to your family and friends! It’s really comprehensive.

Have a great weekend everyone.

[continue reading…]

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Don’t currency hedge your equity portfolio

Photo of some US dollars to represent currency exposure

Don’t bother currency hedging your equity portfolio. Especially not if you live in the UK. It’s what old-timers call a Texas hedge: one that increases both risks and costs.

Of course, with Sterling plunging in the past few days – for what, if I was being polite, I’d describe as idiosyncratic UK political reasons – my opinion might smack of recency bias.

But I’ve been banging this same drum for decades.

Later on I’ll recall what happened during the Covid pandemic, safely insulated from the heat of the latest made in Westminister mayhem. 

But first a few basics.

What is a currency-hedged equity portfolio?

You’re a UK-domiciled investor. You measure your portfolio’s return in British pounds (GBP).

Let’s say you buy a London-listed ETF that tracks the S&P 500. (Ticker: IUSA, for instance).

The share prices of companies in the S&P 500 are denominated in US dollars (USD).

You’ve therefore now got two exposures: to the prices of the stocks, and to changes in the GBP/USD exchange rate.

If you want to eliminate the exchange rate risk, you can buy an equivalent currency-hedged ETF. (Ticker: GSBX, say). This ETF uses a financial instrument (a derivative) to bet against the USD.

As a result you now only have exposure to the price change of the stocks in the S&P 500, not to the currency as well.

Why do some people claim hedged is less risky?

Well, that’s just common sense, surely. Taking one risk must be less risky than taking two risks added together?

Right?

You’ll also hear: “Your future liabilities are in GBP. So you want to hedge all your cash flows back into GBP”.

If you accept these arguments, then the debate is whether the reduced risk is worth the extra expense of the currency hedging. Obviously the currency hedges cost money, because you don’t get owt-for-nowt. But it’s cheap – only costing a few basis points a year. 

However I’d argue you really shouldn’t currency hedge your equity portfolio because of: 

  1. The existence of holistic ‘natural’ hedges
  2. The relationship between currency values and inflation
  3. The correlation structure between currencies and equities during bad times

Reasons (1) and (2) apply wherever you live.

Reason (3) depends on the correlation between your currency and global equity markets. This one depends on where you live.

Natural hedges

Your own home, the Net Present Value (NPV) of your earned income, the NPV of your state pension, and any defined benefit pension rights are all denominated in your home currency.

Most of your unhedged equity portfolio probably won’t be denominated in your home currency. But your portfolio is also likely a lot smaller than those other assets.

In that case I’d suggest you actually want exposure to other currencies. This is more diversifying, and holistically, it reduces risk.

By contrast hedging reduces your level of diversification across all your assets. And, as you probably know, diversification is the only free lunch in finance.

The other natural hedge is within the equity portfolio itself.

Hedged products hedge against the listing currency. But this is often not the actual economic exposure.

For example I’d argue a US company which earns most of its profits overseas is not really a US dollar-exposed company.

For the same reason, the FTSE100 usually goes up when Sterling falls. That’s because most of the FTSE 100’s earnings are actually in USD.

Inflation

The relationship between currency movements and inflation also causes a natural hedge.

Since the UK imports pretty much everything – including labour – a lower value of GBP increases inflation in the long run.

But at the same time, a lower value of GBP would boost the value of your (unhedged) foreign portfolio. Just when you’d want it to offset higher inflation – how convenient!

What about the other way round?

If GBP rises, then sure, the value of your foreign portfolio will fall. But inflation will be lower in the future thanks to the stronger pound, and the value of your house, salary, and so on will be higher in terms of global purchasing power.

Correlation: risk-on / risk-off

Is your home currency a ‘risk-on’ or a ‘risk-off’ currency?

If your home currency is a risk-on one, then its value will rise when times are good and fall when times are bad – just like equities usually do.

Hedging can therefore increase the size of your portfolio drawdown1, because this is a Texas Hedge (one that increases risk).

I’ve written my article under the assumption that most Monevator readers live in the UK, which has a risk-on currency.

If you live in a risk-off country like Switzerland or America, well done!

Pandemic case study

To sidestep any arguments around those ‘idiosyncratic politics’ I mentioned earlier, let’s look at the Covid pandemic rather than dwell on what currently ails the UK.

Cast your mind back to the height of the Covid market panic. It is mid-March 2020, and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is crying on CNBC.

What is Sterling doing? This might jog your memory:

GBP/USD in 2020. Source: Yahoo Finance.

As a UK investor in global equities, what did ‘hedging’ deliver?

Well, measured at the height of the crash hedging your equity portfolio would have resulted in about a 10% greater drawdown. Some hedge!

When adding two bad things together makes them… worse. Source: Google Finance.

So there you have it, don’t hedge your equity portfolio if you live in a country with a high risk currency, like the UK.

What about bonds?

The hedging decision is a lot more nuanced for bonds.

The volatility of bonds is generally low (well, until this year, anyway). This means currency fluctuations can swamp bond returns. 

Why are you holding bonds? If you’re holding them for the steady drip of income in your home currency, and you just want to observe low volatility in your account – then maybe currency hedging them is the way to go.

But most of us don’t actually hold bonds for income. We hold them because they (usually) go up when equities go down.

That’s what the 60/40 portfolio and regular re-balancing is all about…

Surely going up more, when equities go down then, would be even better?

And, almost magically, if we live in a ‘Risk On’ currency area then we can do just that, by simply not hedging the currency risk of our bonds.

How? In bad times (usually… not always and not right now) when equities fall, the GBP falls, and USD sovereign bond prices rise.

In pounds, hedged bonds rise, but high-quality unhedged bonds2 rise even more (because GBP has fallen).

Which is great because that will give us more money to rebalance into equities.

Like everything in markets and investing, you can’t bank on this neatly happening every time without fail. But that’s typically what we’ve seen in the past.

My vote? Don’t hedge your bonds, either.

King dollar

Personally I skew my liquid investment portfolio towards foreign assets and I never hedge currency exposure. Most of my foreign assets are in USD.

As well as the reasons above for not currency hedging, I also have my own personal biases.

After decades of working in financial markets I just can’t think of GBP – a currency used pretty much exclusively on a small, isolated, increasingly irrelevant island with a yawning trade deficit and a government that applies sanctions to its own citizens and businesses – as real money at all.

To me, there’s only ever one money. And it isn’t the British pound.

Read more unique takes from Finumus in his dedicated archive, or follow him on Twitter.

  1. That is, your maximum loss. []
  2. I’m thinking of US Treasuries here. []
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Don’t miss our new guide to passive investing

Our passive investing logo

I know how hard it is to turn your head away from the economic and political car crash news. Trust me, we’re rubbernecking with the rest of you.

However in a couple of decades Kwasi Kwarteng will probably be just an obscure answer in a pub quiz and Boris Johnson a contestant in a onesie on the 43rd season of Celebrity Big Brother.

And by then it will be your steady saving and investing that will mostly have determined your financial well-being.

Happily, my co-blogger The Accumulator hasn’t just been fondling his shrinking gilt funds and shrieking “My Precious!” as his 60/40-ish portfolio heads into the fiery abyss.

Oh no. He’s been keeping his head and updating our passive investing HQ. Which is our best attempt at explaining why and how you should base your financial plans around buying and holding index funds.

All on one page on the Internet!

What, why, and how

You have one very big choice as a private investor. Will you invest your savings passively in a systematic way? Or will you try to beat the market?

Choose carefully. As @TA writes:

The money invested by all active investors only earns average market returns, minus costs.

The set of all passive investors also earns average market returns, again after costs. That’s what passive funds are designed to do, and they’re very good at it. 

But passive costs are lower.

The result is that passive investors beat active investors as a group.  

Not a startling revelation to most long-term readers of this site. But there remain millions to be converted to passive investing in the wider world – and many more who need to know how to do it. We’re trying to fill that gap.

Check out our new passive investing guide. And please share any feedback in the comments below.

Keep it steady and all that. 🙂

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