Saturday, April 07, 2018

Reviving Old Trading Models

I dug into my computer files and updated the trading models I last used 10 years ago. One of them which is fairly simple flashed a strong warning sign at the January high in the market. It does tend to have false positives where it is fooled by a very strong trend into thinking that that is a top in the market, but this time the market actually did fall of course after the warning. This is a very negative signal. There was a minor buy signal at the recent low about a week back but there are typical several buy signals on the way down in bear markets. I had been looking for signs of a recession before taking de-risking action in a big way on our portfolio - for example, an inversion of the yield curve. There hasn't been any sign of a recession. But Trump's trade war and the Fed's unwinding of its inflated balance sheet are having a negative effect on the market.

I have another much more complex model that attempts to forecast the day ahead direction of the market - despite what standard investment theory says, that the stock market is a random walk and can't be predicted this is actually possible to some degree with some insight from econometrics into how to turn it into a predictable problem. I updated the model using the last ten years of data and reoptimized the parameters - they hardly changed. That is a good sign. However, though I have all the past predictions and the trade directions I decided on based on them, I can't remember how I used the model to actually choose market direction. Unless I can find something I wrote about that, I'll have to reverse engineer that from scratch.

P.S.
I found a folder of handwritten research notes on my trading model from 2006-8 in my home office. This should help a lot.

P.P.S.
I predict the US will go into recession in 2019. In 2007 the stock market peaked in Summer-Fall but the recession didn't really get started till Bear-Stearns failed in March 2008. In 1999-2000 the stockmarket peaked in March 2000 but the recession didn't really get going till September 11, 2001.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Types of Trading

There are lots of types of trading. Some of the important strategies are the following:

1. Market-making: A market maker profits from the bid-ask spread in the market, selling at the ask and buying at the bid. This is very apparent in options markets where there is usually a big bid-ask spread. They can hedge their "delta" risk by buying or shorting the underlying security - for example for futures options they can buy and sell futures contracts. For individual stocks - if they are trading a diversified basket they can again hedge using futures contracts (or ETFs). It is possible for individual investors to make markets in small and illiquid stocks - ie. selling at the ask and buying at the bid, but it is a very slow process waiting for people to trade with you.

2. Arbitrage: This exploits pricing anomalies, for example between futures contracts and ETFs for the same underlying index. Short one and buy the other. Occasionally, there are big arbitrage opportunities such as the famous Palm case.

3. Mean reversion: These are generalizations of arbitrage. For example, buying closed end funds (listed investment company in Australian) when they are selling below net asset value and shorting them when they are above. I've done this quite a lot with Platinum Capital (PMC.AX - just selling when above NAV - but actually there is a CFD you could use to short the stock). This is arbitrage between the value of the portfolio and the price of the fund. Statistical arbitrage is a market-neutral mean reversion trade where stocks that have risen in value are shorted and those that have fallen are bought. It was pioneered by Ed Thorp.

4. Selling option premium: This relies on the time decay of options. Most options expire worthless and risk aversion means that buyers should pay in net to reduce their risk. So option sellers should on average win. Again, delta risk could be hedged away in theory. The simplest case is covered calls where the trader buys a stock and sell a call - though actual delta hedging is a lot more complex than that.

5. Information trading: Here the trader knows information that they think will move the security. For example, recently I bought shares in IPE because Mercantile did. I assumed correctly that their analysis must have shown that the underlying portfolio was worth more than the stock price. This is a kind of mean reversion/arbitrage of course and is could also be seen as investing. Even after the company released news of the sale of Threatmetrix to Elsevier, the price didn't immediately move to the new higher NAV.

6. News trading: Here the information is not yet known but a trade is placed to take advantage of it. For example, if I know that Apple Computer will release their earnings but I don't have a hypothesis of which way it will move the stock, I could buy both calls and put options in the hope that a big move will make one increase by more than the other decreases. This seems pretty close to gambling - option prices should take into account the size of likely moves, so you are gambling that the move will be bigger than the market thinks.

7. Trend following/momentum trading: This is what most people think of as trading. The trader tries to take advantage of market momentum. This is the approach taken by many managed futures funds. Much online trading advice is based on this.

8. Hedging: These traders trade to hedge their investment or business positions. For example, an airline buying oil futures contracts to guarantee their future price of oil or an option buyer hedging an investment portfolio. The latter might also sell options to fund the hedging puts.

What have I missed? This paper has an interesting discussion of types of traders.


Tuesday, April 03, 2018

First Futures Trades Since 2008

I transferred some money from my Australian bank account to Interactive Brokers to do some practice trades. I haven't traded futures since 2008 and so just want to get used to doing trades again. I did 2 very quick daytrades, shorting the E-Mini S&P. The first trade I got out where I got in and so I lost $4.10 the cost of commissions. On the next trade I made 1 point or $50, so I made $46.90 net. I was very nervous while doing the trades even though I am trading with a stop that is transmitted at the same time as my order and is only one point above my sell price, so the most I can lose is $50.  The contract value is $130k (about my pretax annual salary :)), so short selling that much stock does make me feel nervous despite the stop. I've just got to get used to this again as I am thinking of doing more systematic trading again and doing it properly this time. When I traded before, I had lots of winning trades but my winning amounts were small relative to my losing amounts. If I can fix that I could trade profitably.

March 2018 Report

The first of the new style reports. A second losing month, but thanks to (listed) private equity investments, we beat the ASX200 index.

The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7794 to USD 0.7680. The MSCI World Index fell 2.15%, and the S&P 500 2.54%. The ASX 200 lost 3.77%. All these are total returns including dividends. We lost 1.20% in Australian Dollar terms and 2.64% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and underperformed international markets.

The best performing investment in dollar terms was IPE.AX, a listed private equity fund, which gained AUD 9.8k in the continuing rise after the acquisition of Threatmetrix by Elsevier. I sold my holding in IPE prior to the stock going ex dividend, as I didn't want an AUD 11k income tax bill. I then bought back even more shares than before as MVT.AX were recently still acquiring shares.

The worst performer in dollar terms was not surprisingly CFS Geared Share Fund, down $18.6k. The best performing asset class was private equity, which gained 7.12%. The only other asset class with gains was hedge funds, up 0.57%. The worst performing asset class was large cap Australian stocks down 3.01%.

We made a little progress towards the new long-run asset allocation:


Total leverage includes borrowing inside leveraged (geared) mutual (managed) funds. The allocation is according to total assets including the true exposure in leveraged mutual funds. The "improvement" in allocation, came partly due to market movements and partly due to investment activity. We invest AUD 2000 monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Then there are distributions from funds and dividends. During the month, I also:
  • Sold out of Clime Capital (CAM.AX)
  • Bought a small amount of Oceania Capital Partners (OCP.AX, listed private equity)
  • Did the trading in IPE.AX
  • Bought more units in the Winton Global Alpha fund (managed futures - in the commodities category)
Over time we've been reducing our exposure to large cap Australian stocks since the post financial crisis high:


Monday, April 02, 2018

New Era in Moomin Valley


In a few months we will reach "financial independence" - our annual spending will be feasible with a little less than a 3% p.a. withdrawal rate. About 60% of this was due to our own efforts working, saving, and investing over the last 24 years and 40% from inheritance. I never depended on receiving the inheritance, which is why I saved so hard. Because I knew finding an academic job could be very hard when my initial short-term contracts ended, I saved up to 50% a year at times. This allowed me to live for a year in 2001-2 without working for pay, traveling around the world looking for work. Similarly, when we moved to Australia, I could experiment with trading in the financial markets while exploring alternatives.

On the other hand, I think I was willing to take more risk based on the probability that we would receive a substantial amount. In the case of the financial crisis in 2008-9, I took on too much risk. The pressure of trying to make a living from trading with a small amount of capital combined with the volatility of the financial crisis was too much and I decided to stage an academic career comeback, which has been very successful.

The other half of the financial independence equation in the blogging community is usually "retire early". I don't have any plan to do that any time soon. I like the research side of my work and I have my teaching etc organized so that going forward it shouldn't be too hard - I only need to teach during one half of the year for now. As things are at the moment, it would be hard to find a better job than this. So, it doesn't make any sense to sacrifice my salary. I am actually exploring a potential career move to another bigger city. That job would have more admin and maybe no teaching. Introspection tells me that I wouldn't like to retire currently.  On the other hand, Moominmama is pretty frustrated with her work at the moment and so now has options to take a break and consider alternatives.

On the other hand, our spending is growing by more than the rate of inflation and I expect that to continue. So the current 3% withdrawal rate would become more than a 3% rate over time unless investment returns are very good, which does not seem likely. Continuing to earn some money does sound good in those circumstances.

Is continuing to work limiting our location choices? At the moment, I don't think there is another location that we would both agree on and which would make practical sense. We have to consider education opportunities for little Moomin. So, moving to a small town in Australia does not sound like a good move from that perspective. The nice parts (with good education) of the two biggest Australian cities are extremely expensive and would take us out of the financial independence zone. We definitely would never move to Moominmama's home country (she doesn't even want to visit at the moment). Moominmama is not enthusiastic about moving to either of my home countries. One is too cold and dark as far as she is concerned (Northern Europe) and the other too foreign and dangerous (Middle East). That leaves Southern Europe as a sensible or feasible alternative, but I don't think we want Moomin to grow up speaking Spanish or French? I think it would be hard for Moominmama to learn those languages too, though not difficult for me. So, continuing to work is not stopping us from making a move to another location that we could or would want to make.

So, for now not much will change, but this blog will change. I plan to stop reporting actual earning, spending, and net worth figures. Going forward, all numbers will be in percentage terms only. When the vast majority of our net worth was the result of our own work and effort I was happy to report those numbers, and reporting, even though it is mostly anonymously, helped keep us on track. But now that so much of our net worth has not come from our own efforts and we don't have the goal of achieving financial independence anymore, I don't want to report the numbers any more. On the other hand, I'm not going to erase the existing blog.

Our long term goal now is to pass on at least as much wealth in real terms to the next generation as we received from the previous one. My parents also inherited more than 2/3 of their eventual net worth, though they also saved and worked hard to build up wealth in earlier years. They eventually passed on what they inherited.


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Perth Mint


The Perth Mint (Western Australian government corporation) looks like the best way to invest in gold. There are no fees for trading or storage for Australian and NZ residents for accounts greater than AUD 50k, though there are fees to trade online. This is assuming that you only want to have an interest in a pool of gold rather than own specific gold bars. Alternatively they have an ETF trading on the ASX with a management fee of 0.15% p.a. (PMGOLD.AX). This is lower than IAU or GLD.

Other alternatives are to actually hold physical gold in a bank vault or trade gold futures. The problem with futures is if the price of gold does go up, you will have to pay short-term capital gains taxes continuously as the contracts expire (and buy and sell contracts every few months). And I don't really like the idea of getting delivered a bunch of gold bars, taking them to the bank, and then paying storage fees.

Gold has historically been a reasonable hedge aganst inflation but only in the very long run. It is actually more useful as an asset that is negatively correlated with the stock market and useful as an emergency fund in a stock market crash.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Target Portfolio

Following up on my previous post where I tested the performance of an idealized portfolio, here are some more ideas about an actual implementation. In total, 50% would be allocated to stocks, half of that Australian and half of that international. A fifth (maybe more) of the Australian category would be allocated to small cap stocks. Of the remaining 20% portfolio allocation half would go into unhedged funds/stocks and 10% into hedge fund type funds, probably mostly listed hedge funds, such as Cadence Capital (CDM.AX). Of the 25% in international stocks, half would go into hedge funds, primarily Platinum Capital (PMC.AX), which pays franked dividends. Then 25% is allocated to managed futures, probably mostly Winton Global Alpha Fund. This should mostly be held in a superannuation account for tax reasons – pay 15% tax on distributions instead of 47%. That means I am going to need a self-managed superannuation fund.

5% is allocated to gold. This would be held in a taxable account as it doesn't pay dividends. On the other hand, the long-term capital gains rate in superannuation accounts is 10% (and zero after going into pension mode) and my current long-term capital gains rate is 23.5%. If Labor get into power, which is likely, and implement their program, which is less likely, that will rise, though in retirement I expect my marginal tax rate will fall back into the 32.5% bracket but with Medicare tax and Labor's proposal, I would still be paying more than 25% for long-term capital gains. So it makes sense to get more money into superannuation, which is zero taxed in pension mode for the first $1.6 million for each partner. I plan to initially invest about $900k in the SMSF. This will come from rolling over my superannuation fund now at Colonial First State and adding $300k - you can invest 3 years of contributions at once - for each of Moominmama and myself.

The remaining 20% is allocated roughly equally to (mostly direct - i.e. not listed) real estate, bonds, private equity, and cash. Then the whole thing is levered up a bit, with the overall exposure adjusted for market conditions. I expect that debt will be roughly equal to the value of our house ($840k).

To summarize, this is the asset allocation (not including our house):


We are quite a long way from that - in particular very overweight long Australian shares and underweight hedge funds, managed futures, and gold.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Safe Withdrawal Rates

Interesting simulations of safe withdrawal rates over longer time horizons by ERN. The lowest withdrawal rate simulated is 3% p.a. Ed Thorp states that 2% is actually the safe capital preserving withdrawal rate. Our current spending is about 2.75% of estimated total net worth including the inherited money. But I expect our spending to continue to increase faster than inflation for a long time to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Art and Net Worth

On one of the many documents we've been sorting through my mother estimated her and my father's net worth in 1995. The number she came up with is equivalent to about USD 1 million today (£350k at the time). But she estimated that an inherited artwork* they owned was worth £20k (USD 56k today). The next year the artwork sold at auction for... £750k (USD 2.1 million). Another letter from my father to his brother in 1954 stated that the art had been valued at USD 880 or around USD 8500 today.

*The art consisted of panels like on this cabinet, but not the cabinet itself:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sorting Things Out

We're sorting through everything in the apartment - first finding things specifically identified in the will to be given to various people. Mostly jewellery and silverware. But also a stamp collection, which I am supposed to get. We found most of them, but not all. Searching through boxes of documents - recycling a lot of routine financial statements and reserving others for further study. There are files and boxes of letters from the early 20th Century and even greeting cards from the 19th Century. Old books, some family books with names in, others that my mother saved from destruction. We are sorting books into ones we are interested in and others to probably give away. We decided to sell the apartment within a year - if we sell in less than 18 months our mother's previous tax status will apply and we won't need to pay capital gains tax. The apartment will need a lot of work to put it into saleable condition. But there is plenty of demand. My brother keeps getting asked if he is going to rent it out. But like me, he is not keen on owning physical assets directly....

Friday, March 16, 2018

My Mother

This weekend I am traveling to the other side of the world to visit the "home country", though it's not the country I grew up in.

Just over three weeks ago my mother died. She had dementia for several years. When I visited in December, things didn't look good, but she went through a few more cycles of getting a little better and then worse again. Still when the news came it was a shock, though it was so long expected. Maybe partly just finally hearing the bad news. I had decided beforehand not to rush to the other side of the world, right away. The custom there is to hold the funeral on the same day if possible. So, I would miss the funeral or hold everyone up. It seemed better to try to go on with life somewhat normally for a little while than inconvenience everyone here to sit on a plane and in airports on my own for two days each way. Now I am going for the ceremony when the gravestone is "set".

I am also going to work with my brother on sorting all the legal and financial stuff out. Things are actually quite well organized, especially as my brother and I managed all my mother's finance and care etc in the last few years, but there are still some uncertainties. My brother will have to handle most of the organizational details. The main  thing I have been involved with so far is paying the termination payment for the care worker who looked after my mother in the last 7 years. Her devoted work meant that my mother could continue to live at home and did not move to a nursing home or hospital. My brother and I shared in making the payment, which includes paying out her nominal superannuation savings - there aren't real accounts for foreign workers superannuation it seems. We transferred the money to her daughter in her home country. My mother's bank accounts are all frozen now until the probate is sorted out, so we have to take care of all these expenses. Luckily we have the means to handle this kind of thing - my share of this payment was equivalent to a few months salary for me - easily.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Out of IPE

I sold my 700,000 shares of IPE.AX on Friday and today at 13.5 cents each. This was after the company announced that due to a potential performance fee the net tangible assets of the fund were likely 13.8 cents a share. They will pay out next month a 7 cent per share distribution that is about half unfranked dividend and half capital return. If I had kept my shares I would have got a $A49k distribution with about $A11k of tax payable on it this year. By selling now and taking a capital gain, because I still have accumulated capital losses, the income tax is effectively deferred to a future year - by bringing forward the date I will have to pay capital gains taxes again. This probably doesn't make strict financial sense as I "threw away" about $2,000 to avoid paying $11,000 in tax this year rather than a year or two later, which implies a high discount rate. On the other hand, it's quite likely that the fund will have other expenses etc before we would get a final distribution from the fund.

On the other hand, Mercantile (MVT.AX) - Ron Brierley's firm - are still buying. They probably won't have the same tax consideration that I do and they must see some upside in the shares still. It will, therefore, be worth having another look at this stock again after the ex dividend day later this month.

Lifetime profits over the ten years I've been invested in IPE, starting with just 6,000 shares have been about $A31k with $A20k in gains since the beginning of this year.

I also recently sold out of Clime Capital (CAM.AX). Their performance has been subpar in recent years. Instead, I have increased my holding in Cadence Capital (CDM.AX).

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Dividend Reinvestment Policy

If a company offers shares at a discount to the market price through a dividend reinvestment plan then I participate in the plan. Not participating seems like not getting part of the return on investment. We own shares in two companies that offer a discount – Platinum Capital (PMC.AX) and Cadence Capital (CDM.AX). But if a company or fund doesn't offer a discount, currently I'm not participating. We did this to help build up the money in our offset account, but it seems to make sense in the longer term to provide cash for rebalancing and new investments without paying fees to sell shares or increasing margin borrowing. There is one exception to this rule, which is the Winton Global Alpha Fund. But I am trying to increase the allocation to managed futures and so it doesn't make sense to withdraw money from the fund.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Optimal Portfolios

I have been doing some experimentation with designing optimal portfolios, something which I last looked at in 2011. I have the monthy rates of return on various asset classes going back to 1996. These include international shares (MSCI World Index, gross) both hedged into Australian Dollars and not. Australian shares (ASX 200 accumulation), Managed Futures (a mix of Man AHL and Winton), direct real estate (a particular US fund as a proxy), hedge funds (HFRI index), the bond market (again I'm using a fund as a proxy), Australian Dollar cash, and gold in Australian dollars. You can use the solver in Excel to find the allocation that monthly rebalanced gives the highest Sharpe Ratio. This optimal portfolio varies over time but generally it doesn't like hedge funds and allocates about 10-20% to gold, and 20-40% to managed futures. Because future performance won't necessarily be the same as past performance (particularly a worry for managed futures) and because managed futures, in particular, are not tax effective – they pay most income out subject to marginal tax rates – I wouldn't allocate according to a particular optimization. A target portfolio gets near the optimal performance while being more diversified and a bit more tax effective:

This graph shows the performance of various assets and a "target portfolio":


Here the target portfolio is 25% international shares (half hedged into Australian dollar and half not), 25% Australian shares, 25% managed futures, and then 5% in each of real estate, bonds, cash, gold, and hedge funds. Then the whole thing is geared up a bit with borrowing. It performs pretty nicely over various historical periods.

Here we have a close up of performance since the financial crisis:

I've managed to match the performance of the Australian index but have lagged behind the MSCI World Index. It matches the performance of the MSCI but has a smoother path. The next graph shows ten year rolling returns:

Here we see that such a portfolio clearly dominates in the long-run over regular stock indices or my own performance, which has not been good over a ten year period recently. The graph also shows how the performance of the Australian stock market has declined. It had very high ten year  returns prior to the crisis, but now has lower returns than international shares over the last ten years.

I have been moving in the direction of the optimal portfolio by diversifying out of Australian shares and buying managed futures, but it has been too slow so far. In the last few months I have been buying $A10k of managed futures each month. I also allocated more to international investments when I reinvested my CFS superannuation fund in their wholesale funds.

Friday, March 02, 2018

February 2018 Monthly Report

After eight months of gains comes a losing month. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" which is mostly salaries (after tax) was $12.3k. Spending (not counting our mortgage) was a little on the high at $8.6k. But spending was elevated by $2.7k I paid for a plane ticket to "the other side of the world" - more about that soon. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.1k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was $910 less than this), we dissaved $0.4k on the current account and added $2.2k in housing equity. Retirement contributions were $2.9k. Net saving was, therefore, $4.7k across the board.

The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7794. The MSCI World Index fell 4.16%, and the S&P 500 3.69%. But the ASX 200 gained 0.36%, the All these are total returns including dividends. We lost 0.43% in Australian Dollar terms and 3.92% in US Dollar terms. So, we underperformed the Australian market and outperformed international markets.

The best performing investment in dollar terms was CFS Geared Share Fund, which gained
$3.3k. The worst performer was the Winton Global Alpha Fund, down $4.5k. I am assuming that the market plunge was too sudden for them to change direction. The best performing asset class was hedge funds, up 0.44% and the worst commodities down 4.48%

As a result of all this, net worth fell AUD 3k to $2.156 million or USD 64k to USD 1.681 million.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Rising Local House Prices


The graph shows the percentage premium over the original sales price (when the development was originally marketed) of freestanding houses sold in our development since we bought. Ours is the first datapoint. The most recent sale at auction yesterday establishes a new record premium. The regression model I fitted to the data predicts a price for our house that almost exactly matches my recent upgrade of the value. I use two regressors – the original sale price and the date of the new sale. Premia are higher on the houses that originally had lower sales prices i.e. the smaller houses.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Long Term Investing Trends

The Australian Dollar tends to be high relative to the American Dollar during economic booms and low during economic crises. The recent low point in 2015-16 is related to a fall in commodity prices and slowdown in the World economy, especially in China. I think China probably slowed down by much more than the government admitted. During 2015 US stock markets went sideways or declined. The Australian market started 2015 optimistically but then had a steep fall:


There is now a lot of talk of renewed growth in the World Economy. On the other hand, US interest rates are rising as the Federal Reserve tries to reduce its balance sheet and with the Fed not buying US government bonds, but the US Treasury trying to issue even more after Trump's tax cut, the Treasury will need to offer higher interest rates, which makes government bonds an unattractive investment as rising yields implying falling prices for existing bonds. That is likely to both have negative effects on growth in the short run and make Australian Dollars less attractive in terms of interest yields. So, I'm a bit skeptical about the Australian Dollar rising strongly from here.

The US stock market is also very highly valued based on corporate earnings over the previous 10 years (Shiller's measure of stock market valuation, CAPE):

Historically, that has meant negative returns in the US market going forward. On the other hand, it is possible that something has changed and the risk premium for stocks has declined so that the stock market won't return to PE's as low as in past bear markets. It's unlikely that inflation would get as high as it did in the 1970s, which both raised the required rate of return and compressed growth profit. CAPE in Australia was 18.4 at the end of January, which is much more reasonable.

The best indicator of an oncoming recession is the yield curve. If short-run interest rates are higher than long-run interest rates, usually a recession follows. There is no sign of that at the moment in the US:



Thursday, February 01, 2018

January 2018 Report

We gained for the eighth straight month in a row as US stock markets went parabolic, the Australian Dollar rose, and one of our private equity investments made a big gain.

Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" consisted entirely of salaries (after tax) this month and was $17.8k. It's higher than usual because I finally got my tax refund from last year of $2.6k. Spending (not counting our mortgage) was a little on the high side at $7.8k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.1k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $874 less than this), we saved $6.1k on the current account and added $2.2k in housing equity. Retirement contributions were $2.9k. Net saving was, therefore, $11.1k across the board.

The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7813 to USD 0.8077. The ASX 200 lost 0.45%, the MSCI World Index gained 5.66%, and the S&P 500 5.73%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.11% in Australian Dollar terms and 4.53% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and underperformed international markets.

The best performer in dollar terms was IPE.AX, which is a listed private equity fund of funds, gaining $8.7k. One of their funds made a deal to sell Threatmetrix to the former Reed Elsevier group, now known as RELX. The stock, which had been languishing at around 9.9 AU cents rose to 12 cents. Management estimates that if all goes well the net value of the stock has risen to 14 cents. I have bought some more shares at 11.5 cents since the deal was announced. Is this what Ron Brierley knew when he bought into IPE? I am at around 470,000 shares and hoping to buy more as the position is only 3% of net worth :) Early in the month I sold out of Platinum Capital (PMC.AX) at prices of $2.09-$2.15 and then recently when the price fell I bought back in at $1.96-2.00. I also reopened a position in Oceania Capital Partners (OCP.AX), another private equity investment. So far, my latest trade is down. Yes, it was the worst performing investment this month, down $2.7k.

The second best performer this month was Winton Global Alpha Fund, a managed futures fund, which gained $2.8k. I'm planning to increase my holdings in it too as a hedge against equity downside. Currently, the position is $110k after investing an extra $10k. Yeah, that's only 5% of net worth. Despite the craziness of the stock market rise in the US, there isn't a strong case for a big correction. The yield curve isn't yet near inverting, the world economy seems to be doing well, and Oscar Carboni is bullish for the year :)

Private equity was the best performing asset class, up 9.6%. All asset classes gained. Australian large cap stocks gained the least at 0.1%.

House prices rose here 8.4% for the year. Given this strong rise, I have raised the value of our house adjusting the September and December 2017 accounts. The carrying value is now $840k.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 30k to $2.158 million or rose USD 81k to USD 1.743 million.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Projection for 2018

My fair weather forecast for 2018 is a net worth gain of about AUD 250k to reach about AUD 2.3 million. It is based on expected salaries and retirement contributions, an increase in spending of 6% and an 8% rate of return on investments.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

ASX200 Alpha and Beta

Another new chart:

This is based on regressing my returns in excess of the RBA cash rate on the ASX200 returns in excess of the cash rate using 36 months of data. Clearly there is a negative correlation between alpha and beta. In recent years beta is less than one and alpha greater than one. Alpha was very negative during the financial crisis and there are some wild swings before that. The tech crash also had hugely negative alpha. Looks like I outperform in bull markets and underperform in bear markets but that it isn't all just due to too much leverage.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Annual Report 2017: Graphs

So here is how the last year looks on a graph in the context of everything since 1996:


The blue line is the sum of the other three lines. Medium term balance is liquid assets, the green line is retirement accounts. Both of these and housing equity increased. Markets performed well this year and we saved more.




This graph provides a slightly different view, breaking things down according to savings and profits. I don't break down housing equity into the two components as it's not worth it yet...

Though we are making savings outside of retirement accounts and housing equity - the blue line is rising - the slope is shallower than before we bought a house and had a baby but steeper than last year. So, a lot of this year's increase came from profits. In the long run we have done much better with retirement than with current accounts in terms of profits. Half of our retirement accounts are now made up of profits and half from contributions.

The next graph shows actual monthly non-retirement savings since 1996 and a 12 month moving average:



I have truncated the axis at -$15k - we dissaved $53k in January and $118k in February 2015 as we bought the house. After the big transfer of savings to buy the house, savings recovered, but to a lower level than in recent years. In the past year they have edged back up again to an average of $5k per month, though they are very volatile.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Housing Saving

A new chart - monthly housing saving:

It's mostly mortgage principal payments. Initially, we made our downpayment in two payments over two months. I've truncated the scale at $10,000 - saving in January 2015 was $37k and in February 2015 $115k. The main interesting thing on the graph is the upward trend over time. This reflects the increasing money in our offset account and the resulting lower interest payments. As a result, the part of our mortgage payments that's reducing the principal increases over time. The periodic spikes are the three mortgage payment months - we make a mortgage payment every two weeks. The red line is a 12 month moving average.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Annual Accounts 2017


This is our annual account - the sum of each of the monthly accounts I've posted - in Australian Dollars (one Aussie Dollar is currently 78 US cents - see accounts in USD at the end of this post). First a reminder about how these accounts are laid out: Current account is all non-retirement accounts and housing account income and spending. Then the other two are fairly self-explanatory. But housing spending only includes mortgage interest. Property taxes etc. are included in the current account. There is not a lot of logic to this except the "transfer to housing" is measured using the transfer from our checking account to our mortgage account. Current other income is reported after tax, while investment income is reported pre-tax. Net tax on investment income then gets subtracted from current income as our annual tax refund or extra payment gets included there. Retirement investment income gets reported pre-tax too while retirement contributions are after tax. For retirement accounts, "tax credits" is the imputed tax on investment earnings which is used to compute pre-tax earnings from the actual received amounts. For non-retirement accounts, "tax credits" are actual franking credits received on Australian dividends and the tax withheld on foreign investment income. Both of these are included in the pre-tax earning but are not actually received month to month as cash.... Finally, "core expenditure" for housing is the actual mortgage interest we paid. "expenditure" adds back how much interest we saved by keeping money in our offset account. We include that saved interest in the current account as the earnings of that pile of cash. That virtual earning needs to be spent somewhere to balance the accounts... It is also included in the "transfer to housing". Our actual mortgage payments were less than the number reported by the $8k in saved interest. For current accounts "core expenditure" takes out business expenses that will be refunded by our employers and some one-off expenditures. This year, I think there are none of those one-off expenditures. Oh, "saving" is the difference between "other income" net of transfers to other columns and spending in that column, while "change in net worth" also includes the investment income.

We earned $201k after tax in salary, business related refunds, medical payment refunds, tax refunds etc. We earned (pre-tax including unrealised capital gains) $107k on non-retirement account investments. Both of those numbers were up strongly from last year as Moominmama went back to work and investment markets performed very strongly in the first year of the Trump Administration. Total current after tax income was $308k. Including mortgage interest we spent $101 up 7.5% from last year.

$7.6k of the current investment income was tax credits, which actually was down on last year. Finally, we transferred $50k in mortgage payments (and virtual saved interest) to the housing account. The change in current net worth, was therefore $160k. Looking at just saving from non-investment income, we saved $60k. Both these numbers were up strongly from last year.

The retirement account is a bit simpler. We made $47k in after tax contributions and the value rose by an estimated additional $126k in pre tax returns. $15k was the estimated tax on that and so the increase in net worth was $158k. Taxes are just estimated because all we get to see is the after tax returns. I do this exercise to make retirement and non-retirement returns comparable.

Finally, the housing account. We spent $14k on mortgage interest. We would have paid $23k in mortgage interest if we didn't have an offset account. I estimate our house is worth $2k more than I did last year based on recent sales in our neighbourhood. After counting the transfer of $50k into the housing account housing equity increased $31k of which $27k was due to paying off principal on our mortgage.

In total net worth increased by $350k, $135k of which was saving from non-investment sources. Comparing 2017's accounts with the 2016's, we saved 34% more and net worth increased by 61% more. Total after tax income was almost half a million dollars, up 52% on last year. It is hard to get my head around that number and reconcile it with our fairly modest lifestyle. Of course, most of it was earned in retirement and non-retirement investment accounts and it includes a lot of notional unrealized capital gains. In 2008 we had a net loss of $150k...

Here are the same accounts expressed in US Dollars:

Because of exchange rate movements "non-core" investment earnings don't translate from one set of accounts to the other at a regular exchange rate. The "core investment earnings" takes out that exchange rate movement.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

December 2017 Report

The optimistic annual projection was AUD 2 million. We exceeded this, reaching AUD 2.064 million at the end of this month. I'll do an annual report soon.

Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" consisted entirely of salaries (after tax) this month and was $13.1k. Spending (not counting our mortgage) was moderat at $6.2k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.0k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $994 less than this), we saved $2.9k on the current account and added $2.2k in housing equity. Retirement contributions were $3.1k. Net saving was, therefore, $8.2k across the board.

The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7571 to USD 0.7813. The ASX 200 gained 1.81%, the MSCI World Index gained 1.65%, and the S&P 500 1.11%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.43% in Australian Dollar terms and 4.67% in US Dollar terms. So, we slightly underperformed the Australian market and strongly outperformed international markets because of the rise in the Australian Dollar against the US Dollar.

The best performer in dollar terms was the Colonial First State Geared Share Fund, gaining $9.2k followed by Colonial First State Developing Companies, which gained $4.5k. Generation Global Share FUnd was the worst performer losing $0.3k because of the fall in the US Dollar against the Australian Dollar. Australian Small Cap stocks was the best performing asset class in percentage terms, gaining 3.54% followed by Commodities at 2.89%. Private equity was the worst performing asset class, but it still gained 0.45%.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 32k to $2.064 million or rose USD 74k to USD 1.613 million.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

How Did We Get to AUD 2 Million?

This month we hit $A2 million net worth for the first time. We reached $A1 million in September 2013. How did net worth increase that much in 4 years? This graph should help explain:



The biggest contributor is profits on retirement accounts at $295k. Stock markets have been very strong. Retirement contributions added $182k. Housing equity contributed $249k. Current savings added $72k and profits on non-retirement accounts $219k. But, of course, we shifted $150k of current savings as a downpayment on our house. So really current savings were a larger contributor than retirement contributions. Of course, mortgage payments come out of our current income too.

A lot of the time it feels like that we aren't doing any saving now apartment from mortgage principal payments and retirement contributions. The blue line shows that actually we are.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

November 2017 Report

Stock markets rose again this month and our net worth went over the AUD 2 million mark. I am wondering how sustainable that is going to turn out to be. We hit the AUD 1 million mark in September 2013. So it's only taken just over 4 years to add another million and double our net worth.

Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" was $21k. This was a three salary payments month and I also got a large reimbursement. Spending (not counting our mortgage) was high at $8.5k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $5.6k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $869 less than this - it was also a three mortgage payment month), we saved $7.1k on the current account and added $3.7k in housing equity. Retirement contributions were $4.7k. Net saving was, therefore, $15.6k across the board.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7672 to USD 0.7571. The ASX 200 gained 1.64%, the MSCI World Index gained 1.98%, and the S&P 500 3.07%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.98% in Australian Dollar terms and 1.68% in US Dollar terms. So, we slightly outperformed the Australian market and slightly underperformed international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was the Colonial First State Geared Share Fund, gaining $5.9k followed by Unisuper, PSSAP, and Platinum Capital, which all gained around $4k. 3i (III.L) was the worst performer losing $0.8k. Hedge funds were the best performing asset class in percentage terms, gaining 2.43%. Private equity was the worst performing asset class, losing 0.47%.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 48k to $2.034 million or rose USD 17k to USD 1.54 million.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

October 2017 Report

The Australian stock market rose strongly for a change this month and the Australian Dollar fell a little. As a result, our net worth increased strongly and now is quite close to the AUD 2 million mark. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):



"Current other income" was $15k. We received almost $2k in childcare subsidy that the government pays us quarterly. Spending (not counting our mortgage or business expenses that should be refunded) was a little higher than last month moderate at $7.0k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.0k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $828 less than this), we saved $1.7k on the current account and added $2.1k in housing equity. But we should get a $2.3k refund of business expenses at some point, which will be credited as saving in a later month. Retirement contributions were $3.1k. Net saving was, therefore, $6.9k across the board.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7839 to USD 0.7672. The ASX 200 gained 4.01%, the MSCI World Index gained 2.1%, and the S&P 500 2.33%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 4.19% in Australian Dollar terms and 1.97% in US Dollar terms. So, we slightly outperformed the Australian market and slightly underperformed international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was the Colonial First State Geared Share Fund, gaining $17.5k. Cadence (CDM.AX) was the worst performer losing $0.5k. Australian small cap stocks were the best performing asset class in percentage terms, gaining 4.68%. Hedge funds gained 4.46% and US stocks 4.42%. Private equity was the worst performing asset class, but still gained 2.21%!

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 72k to $1.985 million (new high) or rose USD 23k to USD 1.523 million (also a new high).

Thursday, October 05, 2017

TFS Capital Closes Its Mutual Funds

I was surprised to hear that TFS Capital is closing its three mutual funds. I have about USD 14k invested in the TFS Market Neutral Fund. I think they will send me a check with the proceeds. Following Interactive Brokers transferring my account to their new Australian subsidiary, this will be another step in reducing my financial footprint in the US. I still have a couple of bank accounts and a 403b fund there. I'm not planning on closing the latter and will also try to hang onto the bank accounts.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

September 2017 Report

It was another relatively quiet month financially. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" was $14.7k. I got paid about $2.5k of backpay. Spending (not counting mortgage) was about the same as last month moderate at $6.8k. Rates (property tax) and the body corporate (condo) fee added more than $1k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.0k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $840 less than this), we saved $3.9k on the current account and added $2.1k in housing equity. Retirement contributions were $3.5k. Net saving was, therefore, $9.5k across the board.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7922 to USD 0.7839. The ASX 200 lost 0.02%, the MSCI World Index gained 1.97%, and the S&P 500 2.08%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 0.97% in Australian Dollar terms and lost 0.09% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and underperformed international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was the various Platinum Funds, gaining $6.0k. IPE was the worst performer losing $2.0k. That was the result of a tick down of 0.5 cents in the share price to the bid rather than ask side of the spread. Hedge funds were the best performing asset class in percentage terms, gaining 3.55%. Private equity was the worst performing asset class, losing 4.11%. Commodities were also down, 1.58%. All other asset classes gained.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 22k to $1.910 million (new high) or rose USD 2k to USD 1.498 million (also a new high).

Monday, October 02, 2017

Moominmama's Taxes 2016-17 Edition

I've filed Moominmama's tax return for this tax year. The tax year runs from 1st July to 30th June in Australia. The figures ignore employer and employee contributions to superannuation (retirement account) which amount to a lot of extra income. Everything is in Australian Dollars of course.


Her salary is down because she went on maternity leave and the average tax rate also falls as a result. Investment income is up though.

Here are the reports on Snork Maiden's taxes for all previous years:

2015-16
2014-15
2013-14
2012-13
2012-13
2011-12
2010-11
2009-10
2008-9
2007-8

Moominpapa's Taxes 2016-17 Edition



I have now completed my tax return. Looks like I should get a $2,870 refund. This huge increase in refund compared to last year is mainly due to the 16% increase in tax witholding by my employer relative to only an 11% increase in tax owed. My taxable income is up by 8%. But my tax is up 11%. This is because the increase in income is taxed at the maximum marginal rate, which is 49%. Gross cash income is before tax income ignoring franking and other tax credits and adding in net undiscounted capital gains (not deleting losses from previous years). It was up 16%.

I again checked what information the government knows about my tax affairs as revealed by the prefilled information on my tax return. They are still missing as much information as last year.  I filed Moominmama's return online for the second time, using the prefilled numbers plus deductions.

Previous years' reports:

2015-16
2014-15
2013-14
2012-13
2011-12
2010-11
2009-10
2008-9
2007-8

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Interactive Brokers Australia

Interactive Brokers have set up a subsidiary in Australia and are requiring all clients resident in Australia to move their account to the new broker. The only declared difference is that they won't hold cash in currencies apart from AUD and USD. A few years ago they told Australian clients that they couldn't borrow on margin any more. Maybe that was fixed in the meantime. In any case, the website indicates that you can borrow on margin. Formally, it doesn't change the obligation to pay US estate tax on US assets. These start at an estate of only USD60k for non-US citizens. But it would probably make it easier to avoid. I still have a US retirement account, which is a bit over the USD 60k limit and a US mutual fund worth USD 14k. I also have a bank account, but that isn't included in the estate tax liable assets. It seems though that the US-Australia estate tax treaty means that my estate wouldn't be required to pay US estate taxes.*

* This wasn't the case for my mother who lives in a country that doesn't have an estate tax treaty with the US.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Pay Offer

My employer announced the pay deal for the next 5 years. For the average academic it will be a 9.1% increase (less for me), which is less than inflation was over the last 5 years :( For the average non-academic it will be 10.6%, which matches inflation. It's the same deal for both groups but some years will have absolute pay increases and some proportional pay increases, so the more you are paid the less you will get. Also, the after tax gain will be even less, because additional pay is all taxed at your marginal rate of tax. Seems the union has agreed to this. A minority of employees belong to the union. In theory you can appoint your own representative if you don't belong to the union... but that doesn't really happen, I assume. When I went to check the local union branch's Twitter thread to see whether they had anything to say about the deal, it is all about same sex marriage and other political campaigns that they spend union fees on. Nothing on the deal the employer announced. No, I won't be joining the union...

Friday, September 15, 2017

10 Years in Australia

Today is the 10th anniversary of us arriving together in Australia. A lot has happened but in another way not much has happened. We live in the same city, though we moved suburb. Moominmama is still in the same job that we came here for her to start. But now we have a child. When we first came here, I was planning on quitting academia. That didn't work out, and I returned to academia and am now a full professor and also have had some heavy admin roles.

When we came here we had a net worth of about $A1/2 million and a relatively low income - Moominmama's (then Snork Maiden) salary and what I could make from trading. Now we are approaching $A2 million net worth and typically spend twice what she was earning then every month.

This is a snapshot of our net worth ($A) at the beginning of September 2007 and 2017:
It wasn't smooth upward sailing from 2007 to 2017. The financial crisis arrived soon and our net worth plummeted. It hit a minimum of $A284k in February 2009, though that was one month I didn't post a monthly account on this blog. Over the ten years retirement accounts grew much more than stocks in non-retirement accounts. This has been due to much better returns on retirement accounts, largely because of the huge negative effect of the financial crisis, and partly due to diversion of savings to buying a house and then stacking up money in our offset account. We saved more money in non-retirement accounts than in retirement contributions over the ten years. These are the sources of the change in net worth over the period:

Current profit is on non-retirement accounts and is pre-tax. Net tax is reflected in income and hence current savings. Of course, a big chunk of housing equity was once current savings, which we then contributed as a downpayment and since then we have been making mortgage principle payments. Only $37k is attributed to gain in house value.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Ron Brierley and IPE


Ron Brierly is a famous New Zealand investor, now based in Australia. He is chairman of MVT. This company is Gabriel Radzyminski and is supposedly a listed investment company, but one that has a habit of taking over other small companies. At Sandon Capital he also has an activist approach to investing.

They had a stake in IPE of less than 5%, but two days ago took their stake up to near 20% when they purchased a large block of shares from Wilson Asset Management. I infer that was who sold from the list of major shareholders in the IPE annual report. I did have 150,000 shares in IPE. Yesterday I bought another 250,000. Either MVT is planning a takeover of IPE, or they think that the remaining private equity assets are worth more than their carrying value. Given that the shares are trading at net asset value of 0.105 cents, they must think the latter either way. On the other hand, though Wilson Asset Management must have not seen additional value. Or perhaps a $2 million shareholding is no longer worth their attention when they are managing $2 billion and could find a willing buyer at NAV. The shares have fallen in value as the company has returned capital and dividends in a winding down strategy.

Anyway, I now own 0.3% of the company, which is a bit scary :)

August 2017 Report

It was a relatively quiet month financially. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):


"Current other income" was $14k which includes almost $2k of childcare subsidy from the government that we get paid quarterly and salaries (after tax). Spending (not counting mortgage) was a little higher than last month moderate at $6.7k. The electricity, water, and gas bills that totalled about $1,100 (we pay these quarterly here in Australia) partly explains the increase. After deducting the mortgage payment of $4.0k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $792 less than this), we saved $3.4k on the current account and added $2.0k in added housing equity. Retirement contributions were $2.8k. Net saving was, therefore, $8.3k across the board.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7981 to USD 0.7922. The ASX 200 gained by 0.71%, the MSCI World Index gained 0.43%, and the S&P 500 0.31%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.13% in Australian Dollar terms and 0.38% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and the S&P500 index. The best performer in dollar terms was the Unisuper superannuation fund, gaining $3.5k. Clime Capital was the worst perfomer but only lost $0.6k. Australian small cap stocks were the best performing asset class in percentage terms. All other asset classes gained.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 25k to $1.889 million (new high) or rose USD 8k to USD 1.496 million (also a new high).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Property Taxes

Our "rates" or property taxes are up 30% from last year! Presumably this is partly because of the shift in this state from stamp duty on buying a house (we paid $A 27,000 when we bought this house) to land taxes over time. Only the value of the land is taxed here in Australia, not the structure on it. For "townhouses" like ours - our house is actually a separate house - that are part of a body corporate (condo association) the land is valued as a share of the overall value of the land in the development. Our land share is only valued at $A168k, when a similar individual block in this suburb would be about $400k. So, this means our property tax is much lower than if we didn't live in a development like this. It's still $1,970 per year.

I just noticed that taxes on commercial property are outrageously high. The value in excess of $A600k is taxed at almost 5%. So you would pay about $A40k a year on land valued at $1 million.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

July 2017 Report

Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):
"Current other income" was very high at $26k due to a lot of money coming in from a consulting project. Spending (not counting mortgage), on the other hand was moderate at $5.6k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $3.9k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $690 less than this), we saved $16.5k on the current account and added $3.5k in added housing equity. Retirement contributions were lower than recently at $2.9k. I have stopped my voluntary retirement contributions due to the reduction in the concessional contribution cap from 1 July. Moominmama's employer also cut their contributions to her account since the beginning of the new financial year. Even though she has been working part time since the beginning of the calendar year they made contributions at the full time rate up till now. Housing equity increased by $2k. Net saving was, therefore, $21.3k across the board.

The Australian Dollar continued to rise from USD 0.7681 to USD 0.7981. The ASX 200 fell by 0.01%, the MSCI World Index gained 2.83%, and the S&P 500 2.06%. We gained 0.34% in Australian Dollar terms and 1.88% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian and  underperformed the international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was Platinum Capital, gaining $4.0k across our various different holdings. The worst performer was the Unisuper superannuation fund, losing $2.9k. Hedge funds was the best performing asset class in percentage terms thanks to Platinum Capital, followed by private equity. All other asset classes gained apart from large cap Australian stocks which lost 0.04%.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 27k to $1.864 million (new high) or rose USD 76k to USD 1.488 million (also a new high).

Sunday, July 02, 2017

June 2017 Report

This month we spent a lot of money. We went on vacation to Singapore - our first trip overseas with little Moomin. Since last year there are now direct flights between our city and there - one of two international destinations now available on direct flights. I think next time we will go to the other country where the weather is much more to my liking, at least in the summer. The trip ended up costing a lot more than expected...

This month's accounts are very preliminary as they include estimates of franking (tax) credits on managed funds ($3.9k) that we won't actually know till the end of July. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):

"Current other income", which is mainly salaries, was a bit higher than usual at $14.8k. Spending (not counting mortgage) was very high at $10.9k. After deducting the mortgage payment of $5.5k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $698 less than this) - there were three mortgage payments this month rather than the usual two - we dissaved $1.5k on the current account and added $3.5k in added housing equity. Retirement contributions were quite high at $5.1k as I got three retirement contributions this month. Net saving was, therefore, $7.1k across the board.

From next month I will stop my voluntary retirement contributions of $100 a week due to the reduction in the concessional contribution cap from $35k a year to $25k a year. My employer contributions will actually exceed the cap. As is usual in the public sector they are much higher than the 9.5% compulsory contributions. The excess will just be taxed at my marginal rate like a non-concessional contribution. I might still add some non-concessional contributions to superannuation in a few years time but don't feel like locking up more money than necessary when there is no immediate tax advantage and the rules on taxation in the retirement phase, could change at any time...

The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7437 to USD 0.7681. The ASX 200 rose by 0.17%, the MSCI World Index gained 0.50%, and the S&P 500 0.62%. We gained 0.38% in Australian Dollar terms and 3.68% in US Dollar terms. So, unusually we outperformed both the Australian and  international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was CFS Geared Share Fund up $5.6k. Next best was Platinum Capital, gaining $3.0k across our various different holdings. The worst performer was PSSAP superannuation fund, losing $0.8k. Small cap Australian stocks was the best performing asset class in percentage terms, followed by hedge funds. All other asset classes gained apart from commodities and real estate.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 9k to $1.839 million (new high) or rose USD 51k to USD 1.413 million (also a new high).

30th June is the end of the Australian financial year. Over the last 12 months we had a rate of return of 13.7% in AUD terms (17.5% in USD terms). The ASX200 gained 14.1%, while the MSCI gained 19.4% in USD terms. Net worth increased AUD 262k and we are still on track to get close to the optimistic projection for 2017. Of course, anything could happen in the next 6 months!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

May 2017 Report

Another month flies by. Financial markets were mixed, falling in Australia and rising globally. We earned a lot of extra income this month. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):

"Current Other income", which is mainly salaries was very high at $29k. The main reason is that I finally got paid some back pay for the additional duties I have taken on. From now on my usual salary will be a little higher, though I really hope to get out of these duties by the end of the year as with the baby and these it is hard to get my core job functions done. We also got the first childcare subsidy payment of $1.3k which covers the months of February and March. We will get this payment quarterly. On top of that this was a three paycheck month - we are paid every two weeks here in Australia.

Spending (not counting mortgage) was moderate at $6.0k. After taking into account the mortgage payment of $3.8k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $641 less than this) - which shows up as a transfer to the housing account, we saved $19k on the current account. We made $6.9k of retirement contributions, which is very high due to the extra pay, and saved a net $1.9k in added housing equity. Net saving was, therefore, $28k across the board. I increased the carrying value of our house by $2k, following the local auction.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7475 to USD 0.7437. The ASX 200 fell by 2.75%, the MSCI World Index gained 2.3%, and the S&P 500 1.41%. We gained 0.06% in Australian Dollar terms and lost 0.45% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and underperformed the international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was Oceania Capital Partners up $4.4k - this is a thinly traded and volatile stock. Next best was Platinum Capital, gaining $3.4k across our various different holdings. The worst performer was the CFS Geared Share Fund, losing $16k. Private equity was the best performing asset class, followed by hedge funds. All other asset classes gained apart from Australian shares, with large cap Australian shares the worst performer.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 32k to $1.832 million (new high) or rose USD 17k to $US 1.362 million (also a new high).

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Another Very Local Auction

The house 2 doors away from us was auctioned today. It sold for $801,000 (AUD). Initially it passed in at $785,000 after one bid at that level after the auctioneer made a bid at $780k but then there was a negotiation with the highest bidder. The house plan is identical to ours. The main difference is that it is wedged between two other houses - side windows are frosted glass, while our house has open land or the street on all but one side. We have a much better view as a result. Our backyard is a bit less deep and our front yard longer. The presentation of this house is better than the current state of our house. I reckon we might need more than $10k to bring it up to standard. The original selling price was for some reason $10k more than our house. When I add this new sale into my model of the value of our house based on sales in this development since we bought, it only increases the carrying value of our house by $2,000 to $777k. I think this is a good conservative value for our house.

Monday, May 01, 2017

April 2017 Report

Yet another positive month for the markets and us. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):

Spending (not counting mortgage) was high at $8.0k (after taking out some business expenses that have been refunded - "Other income" includes the refund as well as salaries). Salaries etc. added up to $13.1k (after tax). After taking into account the mortgage payment of $3.8k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $642 less than this) - which shows up as a transfer to the housing account, we saved only $19 on the current account. We made $3.6k of retirement contributions, and saved a net $1.9k in added housing equity. Net saving was, therefore, $5.5k across the board. Still not getting the childcare subsidy.... This month we paid the apartment rent for our trip... part of which was the business expense that was refunded...

The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7637 to USD 0.7475. The ASX 200 gained 1.03%, the MSCI World Index gained 1.60%, and the S&P 500 1.03%. We gained 1.52% in Australian Dollar terms and lost 0.63% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the Australian market and underperformed the international markets. The best performer in dollar terms was again the CFS Geared Share Fund ($7k) followed by Unisuper ($5.1k). Platinum Capital gained $4.4k after the share placement. The worst performer was Oceania Capital Partners down $3.0k. Private equity was the worst performing asset class, followed by small-cap Australian stocks. All other asset classes gained. Many investments, in particular international shares and large-cap Australian shares are at all time highs.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 27k to $1.798 million (new high) but fell USD 9k to $US 1.344 million.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

March 2017 Report

It was another positive month for the markets and us. Here are our monthly accounts (in AUD):

Spending (not counting mortgage) was high at $9.1k (after taking out some business expense that will be refunded). Salaries etc. added up to $11.8k (after tax). After taking into account the mortgage payment of $3.7k (which includes implicit interest saving due to our offset account - the actual mortgage payment was about $567 less than this) - which shows up as a transfer to the housing account, we dissaved only $1.3k on the current account. We made $3.6k of retirement contributions, and saved a net $2.0k in added housing equity. Net saving was, therefore, $4.3l across the board. We still aren't yet getting the childcare subsidy. One other big expense this month were a ticket for Moominmama and Moomin to come on a trip with me (my employer paid directly for my ticket). It will be Moomin's first foreign trip. It's hard to see anything else exceptional - property taxes, body corporate fee, dental bills... It's scary that the new normal is now $7-8k before the mortgage payment.

The Australian Dollar fell slightly from USD 0.7686 to USD 0.7637. The ASX 200 gained 3.32%, the MSCI World Index gained 1.29%, and the S&P 500 0.12%. We gained 2.05% in Australian Dollar terms and 1.40% in US Dollar terms. So, we underperformed the Australian market and outperformed the international markets again. The best performer in dollar terms was again the CFS Geared Share Fund ($15k) followed by Unisuper ($5k). All asset classes apart from private equity gained with bonds being supposedly the best performing asset class (not a very accurate estimate). The worst performer was Oceania Capital Partners down $1.8k.

As a result of all this, net worth rose AUD 32k to $1.766 million (new high) or rose USD 16k to $US 1.348 million (ditto).