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Lines of Navigation | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 202
Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be - Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. This is my forty-fourth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary
Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund - $716 680
Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund - $41 103
Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund - $77 788
Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund - $111 667
Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) - $202 336
Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) - $54 872
Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) - $230 058
Telstra shares (TLS) -$1 785
Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) - $6 449
NIB Holdings shares (NHF) - $5 316
Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) - $124 756
Secured physical gold - $20 070
Ratesetter (P2P lending) - $9 881
Bitcoin - $173 010
Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) - $17 258
Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) -$2 619
BrickX (P2P rental real estate) - $4 471
Total portfolio value: $1 800 119 (+$34 376 or 1.9%) Asset allocation
Australian shares - 41.1%
Global shares- 22.2%
Emerging market shares - 2.2%
International small companies - 2.9%
Total international shares - 27.3%
Total shares - 68.4% (6.6% under)
Total property securities - 0.2% (0.2% over)
Australian bonds - 4.5%
International bonds - 9.1%
Total bonds - 13.6% (1.4% under)
Gold - 8.0%
Bitcoin - 9.6%
Gold and alternatives - 17.7% (7.7% over)
Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio has substantially increased this month, continuing the recovery in portfolio value since March. The strong portfolio growth of over $34 000, or 1.9 per cent, returns the value of the portfolio close to that achieved at the end of February this year. [Chart] This month there was minimal movement in the value of Australian and global equity holdings, There was, however, a significant lift of around 6 per cent in the value of gold exchange traded fund units, as well as a rise in the value of Bitcoin holdings. These movements have pushed the value of gold holdings to their highest level so far on the entire journey. Their total value has approximately doubled since the original major purchases across 2009 to 2015. For most of the past year gold has functioned as a portfolio stabiliser, having a negative correlation to movements in Australian equities (of around -0.3 to -0.4). As low and negative bond rates spread across the world, however, the opportunity cost of holding gold is reduced, and its potential diversification benefits loom larger. The fixed income holdings of the portfolio also continued to fall beneath the target allocation, making this question of what represents a defensive (or negatively correlated to equity) asset far from academic. This steady fall is a function of the slow maturing of Ratesetter loans, which were largely made between 2015 and 2017. Ratesetter has recently advised of important changes to its market operation, and placed a fixed maximum cap on new loan rates. By replacing market set rates with maximum rates, the peer-to-peer lending platform appears to be shifting to more of a 'intermediated' role in which higher past returns (of around 8 to 9 per cent) will now no longer be possible. [Chart] The expanding value of gold and Bitcoin holdings since January last year have actually had the practical effect of driving new investments into equities, since effectively for each dollar of appreciation, for example, my target allocation to equities rises by seven dollars. Consistent with this, investments this month have been in the Vanguard international shares exchange-traded fund (VGS) using Selfwealth. This has been directed to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. Fathoming out: franking credits and portfolio distributions Earlier last month I released a summary of portfolio income over the past half year. This, like all before it, noted that the summary was prepared on a purely 'cash' basis, reflecting dividends actually paid into a bank account, and excluding consideration of franking credits. Franking credits are credits for company tax paid at the company level, which can be passed to individual shareholders, reducing their personal tax liability. They are not cash, but for a personal investor with tax liabilities they can have equivalent value. This means that comparing equity returns to other investments without factoring these credits can produce a distorted picture of an investor's final after-tax return. In past portfolio summaries I have noted an estimate for franking credits in footnotes, but updating the value for this recently resulted in a curiosity about the overall significance of this neglected element of my equity returns. This neglect resulted from my perception earlier in the journey that they represented a marginal and abstract factor, which could effectively be assumed away for the sake of simplicity in reporting. This is not a wholly unfair view, in the sense that income physically received and able to be spent is something definably different in kind than a notional 'pre-payment' credit for future tax costs. Yet, as the saying goes, because the prospect of personal tax is as certain as extinction from this world, in some senses a credit of this kind can be as valuable as a cash distribution. Restoring the record: trends and drivers of franking credits To collect a more accurate picture of the trends and drivers of franking credits I relied on a few sources - tax statements, records and the automatic franking credit estimates that the portfolio tracking site Sharesight generates. The chart below sets out both the level and major different sources of franking credits received over the past eleven years. [Chart] From this chart some observations can be made.
The level of franking credits has grown substantially over the past ten years - from a total of under $1 000 per year to around $8 000 annually.
Recent years have seen a particularly high accrual of franking credits - such that by value, over half of the total value of franking credits has been received over the past three financial years.
These credits now constitute a significant element in total realised returns - in the last financial year the value of franking credits represented a 12 per cent boost to the total level of cash distributions, and over the past two years they have contributed around $8 000 each year to the total level of after-tax returns. This is the equivalent of the portfolio paying nearly $700 per month in tax liabilities.
The key reason for the rapid growth over the recent decade has been the increased investment holdings in Australian equities. As part of the deliberate rebalancing towards Australian shares across the past two years, these holdings have expanded. The chart below sets out the total value of Australian shares held over the comparable period. [Chart] As an example, at the beginning of this record Australian equities valued at around $276 000 were held. Three years later, the holding were nearly three times larger. The phase of consistently increasing the Australian equities holding to meet its allocated weighting is largely complete. This means that the period of rapid growth seen in the past few years is unlikely to repeat. Rather, growth will revert to be in proportion to total portfolio growth. Close to cross-over: the credit card records One of the most powerful initial motivators to reach financial independence was the concept of the 'cross over' point in Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez's Your Money or Your Life. This was the point at which monthly expenses are exceeded by investment income. One of the metrics I have traced is this 'cross-over' point in relation to recorded credit card expenses. And this point is now close indeed. Expenditures on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. The three year rolling average of monthly credit card spending remains at its lowest point over the period of the journey. Distributions on the same basis now meet over 99 per cent of card expenses - with the gap now the equivalent of less than $50 per month. [Chart] The period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent form of financial independence has continued. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the the extent to which to which portfolio distributions (red) cover estimated total expenses (green), measured month to month. [Chart] An alternative way to view the same data is to examine the degree to which total expenses (i.e. fixed payments not made on credit card added to monthly credit card expenses) are met by distributions received. An updated version of this is seen in the chart below. [Chart] Interestingly, on a trend basis, this currently identifies a 'crossing over' point of trend distributions fully meeting total expenditure from around November 2019. This is not conclusive, however, as the trend curve is sensitive to the unusual COVID-19 related observations of the first half of this year, and could easily shift further downward if normal expense patterns resume. One issue this analysis raises is what to do with the 'credit card purchases' measure reported below. This measure is designed to provide a stylised benchmark of how close the current portfolio is to a target of generating the income required to meet an annual average credit card expenditure of $71 000. The problem with this is that continued falling credit card spending means that average credit card spending is lower than that benchmark for all time horizons - measured as three and four year averages, or in fact taken as a whole since 2013. So the set benchmark may, if anything, be understating actual progress compared the graphs and data above by not reflecting changing spending levels. In the past I have addressed this trend by reducing the benchmark. Over coming months, or perhaps at the end of the year, I will need to revisit both the meaning, and method, of setting this measure. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 82.6% 111.5% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.7% 136.0% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.0% Summary One of the most challenging aspects of closing in on a fixed numerical target for financial independence with risk assets still in place is that the updrafts and downdrafts of market movements can push the goal further away, or surprisingly close. There have been long period of the journey where the total value of portfolio has barely grown, despite regular investments being made. As an example, the portfolio ended 2018 lower than it started the year. The past six months have been another such period. This can create a sense of treading water. Yet amidst the economic devastation affecting real lives and businesses, this is an extremely fortunate position to be in. Australia and the globe are set to experience an economic contraction far more severe than the Global Financial Crisis, with a lesser capacity than previously for interest rates to cushion the impact. Despite similar measures being adopted by governments to address the downturn, it is not clear whether these are fit for purpose. Asset allocation in this environment - of being almost suspended between two realities - is a difficult problem. The history of markets can tell us that just when assets seem most 'broken', they can produce outsized returns. Yet the problem remains that far from being surrounded by broken markets, the proliferation appears to be in bubble-like conditions. This recent podcast discussion with the founder of Grant's Interest Rate Observer provided a useful historical context to current financial conditions this month. One of the themes of the conversation was 'thinking the unthinkable', such as a return of inflation. Similar, this Hoover Institute video discussion, with a 'Back from the future' premise, provides some entertaining, informed and insightful views on the surprising and contingent nature of what we know to be true. Some of our little systems may well have had their day, but what could replace them remains obscured to any observer. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
The recent post on FOSS android apps and how they can earn money made me curious about their bitcoin donations, so I slapped together a quick script, grabbed the donation addresses from the F-Droid metadata and queried their total received amount. The result, sorted by total received and valued using some value of today (9366.36 EUR per BTC)
Testing the Tide | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - June 2020
We would rather be ruined than changed. -W H Auden, The Age of Anxiety This is my forty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $726 306 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 118 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 730 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $111 691 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $201 745 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 357 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $231 269 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 668 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 310 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 532 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 757 Secured physical gold – $18 913 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $10 479 Bitcoin – $148 990 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 841 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 553 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 484 Total portfolio value: $1 765 743 (+$8 485 or 0.5%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.2% (2.8% under) Global shares – 22.0% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.3% (2.7% under) Total shares – 69.5% (5.5% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.7% International bonds – 9.4% Total bonds – 14.0% (1.0% under) Gold – 7.7% Bitcoin – 8.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The overall portfolio increased slightly over the month. This has continued to move the portfolio beyond the lows seen in late March. The modest portfolio growth of $8 000, or 0.5 per cent, maintains its value at around that achieved at the beginning of the year. [Chart] The limited growth this month largely reflects an increase in the value of my current equity holdings, in VAS and A200 and the Vanguard retail funds. This has outweighed a small decline in the value of Bitcoin and global shares. The value of the bond holdings also increased modestly, pushing them to their highest value since around early 2017. [Chart] There still appears to be an air of unreality around recent asset price increases and the broader economic context. Britain's Bank of England has on some indicators shown that the aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown represent the most challenging financial crisis in around 300 years. What is clear is that investor perceptions and fear around the coronavirus pandemic are a substantial ongoing force driving volatility in equity markets (pdf). A somewhat optimistic view is provided here that the recovery could look more like the recovery from a natural disaster, rather than a traditional recession. Yet there are few certainties on offer. Negative oil prices, and effective offers by US equity investors to bail out Hertz creditors at no cost appear to be signs of a financial system under significant strains. As this Reserve Bank article highlights, while some Australian households are well-placed to weather the storm ahead, the timing and severity of what lays ahead is an important unknown that will itself feed into changes in household wealth from here. Investments this month have been exclusively in the Australian shares exchange-traded fund (VAS) using Selfwealth.* This has been to bring my actual asset allocation more closely in line with the target split between Australian and global shares. A moving azimuth: falling spending continues Monthly expenses on the credit card have continued their downward trajectory across the past month. [Chart] The rolling average of monthly credit card spending is now at its lowest point over the period of the journey. This is despite the end of lockdown, and a slow resumption of some more normal aspects of spending. This has continued the brief period since April of the achievement of a notional and contingent kind of financial independence. The below chart illustrates this temporary state, setting out the degree to which portfolio distributions cover estimated total expenses, measured month to month. [Chart] There are two sources of volatility underlying its movement. The first is the level of expenses, which can vary, and the second is the fact that it is based on financial year distributions, which are themselves volatile. Importantly, the distributions over the last twelve months of this chart is only an estimate - and hence the next few weeks will affect the precision of this analysis across its last 12 observations. Estimating 2019-20 financial year portfolio distributions Since the beginning of the journey, this time of year usually has sense of waiting for events to unfold - in particular, finding out the level of half-year distributions to June. These represent the bulk of distributions, usually averaging 60-65 per cent of total distributions received. They are an important and tangible signpost of progress on the financial independence journey. This is no simple task, as distributions have varied in size considerably. A part of this variation has been the important role of sometimes large and lumpy capital distributions - which have made up between 30 to 48 per cent of total distributions in recent years, and an average of around 15 per cent across the last two decades. I have experimented with many different approaches, most of which have relied on averaging over multi-year periods to even out the 'peaks and troughs' of how market movements may have affected distributions. The main approaches have been:
An 'adjusted income' approach - stripping out the capital gains components of Vanguard funds to reach an estimate of underlying income generation, both across the entire investment period, and during the sharpest low of the Global Financial Crisis
A long-term asset class approach - relying on long-term historical data on averages of the income produced by various asset classes
A 'tax method' approach - this derives an income estimate as a percentage of the portfolio by drawing on taxable investment income totals from tax return records
Simple historical rolling average - this is a rolling three-year measure, based on the actual distributions record of the portfolio
Average distribution rate approach - this method uses a long-term average of annual distributions received as a percentage of the total portfolio since 1999
Each of these have their particular simplifications, advantages and drawbacks. Developing new navigation tools Over the past month I have also developed more fully an alternate 'model' for estimating returns. This simply derives a median value across a set of historical 'cents per unit' distribution data for June and December payouts for the Vanguard funds and exchange traded funds. These make up over 96 per cent of income producing portfolio assets. In other words, this model essentially assumes that each Vanguard fund and ETF owned pays out the 'average' level of distributions this half-year, with the average being based on distribution records that typically go back between 5 to 10 years. Mapping the distribution estimates The chart below sets out the estimate produced by each approach for the June distributions that are to come. [Chart] Some observations on these findings can be made. The lowest estimate is the 'adjusted GFC income' observation, which essentially assumes that the income for this period is as low as experienced by the equity and bond portfolio during the Global Financial Crisis. Just due to timing differences of the period observed, this seems to be a 'worst case' lower bound estimate, which I do not currently place significant weight on. Similarly, at the highest end, the 'average distribution rate' approach simply assumes June distributions deliver a distribution equal to the median that the entire portfolio has delivered since 1999. With higher interest rates, and larger fixed income holdings across much of that time, this seems an objectively unlikely outcome. Similarly, the delivery of exactly the income suggested by long-term averages measured across decades and even centuries would be a matter of chance, rather than the basis for rational expectations. Central estimates of the line of position This leaves the estimates towards the centre of the chart - estimates of between around $28 000 to $43 000 as representing the more likely range. I attach less weight to the historical three-year average due to the high contribution of distributed capital gains over that period of growth, where at least across equities some capital losses are likely to be in greater presence. My preferred central estimate is the model estimate (green) , as it is based in historical data directly from the investment vehicles rather than my own evolving portfolio. The data it is based on in some cases goes back to the Global Financial Crisis. This estimate is also quite close to the raw average of all the alternative approaches (red). It sits a little above the 'adjusted income' measure. None of these estimates, it should be noted, contain any explicit adjustment for the earnings and dividend reductions or delays arising from COVID-19. They may, therefore represent a modest over-estimate for likely June distributions, to the extent that these effects are more negative than those experienced on average across the period of the underlying data. These are difficult to estimate, but dividend reductions could easily be in the order of 20-30 per cent, plausibly lowering distributions to the $23 000 to $27 000 range. The recently announced forecast dividend for the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) is, for example, the lowest in four years. As seen from chart above, there is a wide band of estimates, which grow wider still should capital gains be unexpectedly distributed from the Vanguard retail funds. These have represented a source of considerable volatility. Given this, it may seem fruitless to seek to estimate these forthcoming distributions, compared to just waiting for them to arrive. Yet this exercise helps by setting out reasoning and positions, before hindsight bias urgently arrives to inform me that I knew the right answer all along. It also potentially helps clearly 'reject' some models over time, if the predictions they make prove to be systematically incorrect. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 81.0% 109.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.8% 133.5% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 79.2% 106.9% Summary The current coronavirus conditions are affecting all aspects of the journey to financial independence - changing spending habits, leading to volatility in equity markets and sequencing risks, and perhaps dramatically altering the expected pattern of portfolio distributions. Although history can provide some guidance, there is simply no definitive way to know whether any or all of these changes will be fundamental and permanent alterations, or simply data points on a post-natural disaster path to a different post-pandemic set of conditions. There is the temptation to fit past crises imperfectly into the modern picture, as this Of Dollars and Data post illustrates well. Taking a longer 100 year view, this piece 'The Allegory of the Hawk and Serpent' is a reminder that our entire set of received truths about constructing a portfolio to survive for the long-term can be a product of a sample size of one - actual past history - and subject to recency bias. This month has felt like one of quiet routines, muted events compared to the past few months, and waiting to understand more fully the shape of the new. Nonetheless, with each new investment, or week of lower expenditure than implied in my FI target, the nature of the journey is incrementally changing - beneath the surface. Small milestones are being passed - such as over 40 per cent of my equity holdings being outside of the the Vanguard retail funds. Or these these retail funds - which once formed over 95 per cent of the portfolio - now making up less than half. With a significant part of the financial independence journey being about repeated small actions producing outsized results with time, the issue of maintaining good routines while exploring beneficial changes is real. Adding to the complexity is that embarking on the financial journey itself is likely to change who one is. This idea, of the difficulty or impossibility of knowing the preferences of a future self, is explored in a fascinating way in this Econtalk podcast episode with a philosophical thought experiment about vampires. It poses the question: perhaps we can never know ourselves at the destination? And yet, who would rationally choose ruin over any change? The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Wife of Norwegian billionaire has been missing since Oct. 31st 2018. She is presumed kidnapped and/or killed. There was a ransom note left at the crime scene, demanding 9 million Euros in crypto currency. What happened to Anne-Elisabeth Hagen?
So.. I have been waiting for months for someone to write about this case here, and since no one has I suppose I’ll have to give it a shot. This is my first reddit post so mishaps are bound to happen, English is not my first language, apologies for any mistakes, etc… (is this a meme yet?) Edit: wow, holy crap! I didn't expect to be given gold! Thank you kind stranger! Edit: I have added more to the bottom of this post to clear up some confusion or add more important information that I missed the first time. Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen (68) is the wife of Norwegian billionaire Tom Hagen, an investor and co-founder of a company called Elkraft. They married young, only 19 years old, before Hagen made his fortune. Although Hagen is now one of Norway’s richest people, the 172nd richest according to financial magazine Kapital, he and his wife have seemingly led unassuming, quiet lives. From an outsiders perspective they seem like the kind of billionaires you could only hope to be if you ever found yourself in such financial luck, grounded and down to earth, living in the same house for almost 40 years, in a suburb of Oslo called Lørenskog. Tom drives a simple Citroën car. They are parents and grandparents. You would never look at them and think "ah, rich people!". Their house looks like any suburban Norwegian home, there’s nothing flashy or noteworthy about it. No extra security surrounding the area either. There are no gated communities in Norway, but there are still security measures one can take, and probably should take if you’re that rich, and the fact that they hadn’t might have been one of the reasons Anne-Elisabeth was targeted. This case reads more like a Hollywood movie than an actual crime case to me, because we don’t really have crime like this in Norway. The police kept the alleged kidnapping a secret until January 9th. Since then little pieces of information have come out or developments have happened in the case, but Anne-Elisabeth is still missing. The police now presumes she has been killed, perhaps even on the day she disappeared. Her family, who speaks to the media through their lawyer, still holds out hope that she might be alive. I’ll try to keep everything precise and easy to follow:
In the end of July 2018 Dagens Næringsliv (Norwegian newspaper specializing in business news) publish an article about Tom Hagen and how he had earned 174 million NOK the previous year. Police theorize that this might have kick-started this whole operation…
On October 31st Tom Hagen leaves for work around 09:00am. He arrives around 10-15 minutes later.
At 09:14am Anne-Elisabeth has a phone conversation with a family member (early reports said this conversation was with her husband Tom Hagen, but Norwegian media has since changed this to “family member”. Not sure why. If this phone conversation was indeed with Hagen, he must have just arrived at work). Anne-Elisabeth is alone with their new puppy in their house.
Only a short while later, at 09:48am electrician and neighbor Tommy Skansen calls Anne-Elisabeth's cell phone. A few weeks earlier she had asked him to switch out some light fixtures in her kitchen and he was calling about this. She doesn’t pick up. He finds it odd that she doesn’t answer, as this is unlike her. More people try calling her this day but the last anyone heard from her was at 9:14am where she either talked to her husband or some other family member. Like I said, it’s unclear who this person on the phone with her was.
01:30pm Tom Hagen arrives home from work, earlier than usual. He immediately notices something is off. Just inside the door there are numerous of Anne-Elisabeth’s belongings laying on a chair. There’s also a long letter, written in broken Norwegian. On the floor he finds a cable tie. The puppy is found locked up in a room.The letter is a ransom note, demanding 9 million Euros in crypto currency Monero. If he doesn’t pay up, a video of his wife being killed will be posted online. The ransom note also says the family is being watched, and his wife’s life is in danger should he contact the police. There are instructions on how to buy Monero included in the letter.
02:07pm Tom Hagen contacts the police in spite of the threats in the ransom note. The police meet with him secretly in a gas station shortly after.
November Because of the threats in the letter, the police can’t go out with any information regarding Anne-Elisabeth’s disappearance. They have to work very carefully and quietly in their home to secure evidence from the crime scene. KRIPOS (The National Criminal Investigation Service) and ØKOKRIM (National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime in Norway) get involved. The police finds traces of Anne-Elisabeths blood inside the house, as well as a shoe print. It is unclear whether or not the blood was from the day of the disappearance. The amount of blood found is reportedly “not unusual” because she lived there, which I take to mean it was very little. Tom Hagen continues to go to work, people describe him as unsociable and desolate during this period. Neighbors are told Anne-Elisabeth is “away”, and family members are kept in the dark as well. At the end of November family members are starting to feel like something is going on. Finally they find out that Anne-Elisabeth is missing, and there are talks of a kidnapping. No one is allowed to say anything. December The investigation is still top secret. January 9th The police finally allow the media to talk about the case. Norwegian media have known about it for a long time but have been told not to say anything yet. The apparent kidnapping is announced in a press conference after 10 weeks of utmost secrecy. A few days after the press conference, the police releases a video of the area around Tom Hagen's workplace. A man can be seen walking down the road next to Tom’s place of work at 7:36am on the morning of the crime. He then abruptly stops and turns around to walk back the same way from where he came. 24 minutes later, another man can be seen walking down the same way. He is passed by a cyclist, who has been identified. The two other men have never come forward. It has been theorised that these two men might have been a look-out of sorts. January 16th The family receives a new message from the person or people who claim to have Anne-Elisabeth. This message is recieved through crypto currency (bitcoin this time). I’m not quite sure how this works, but from what I’ve read it’s a difficult and insufficient way to communicate. January 27th The family again is in communication with the alleged kidnappers. Some people find it curious at this point that these alleged kidnappers have been unwilling to communicate with the family during the ten weeks of secrecy, but now that the world knows, they are willing to talk. Who is behind this, exactly? Professional criminals who saw an opportunity after the article in Dagens Næringsliv was published and they realised the man in question lives completely unprotected? A family member? Enemies of Tom Hagen? Could it be Tom himself? Who would want to hurt this woman? Rumours are spreading. February The police advice the family not to pay the ransom unless they receive evidence of Anne-Elisabeth’s well-being. This is stressed in every press conference, both in Norwegian and English. The family is hopeful that proof will now be provided, seeing as the alleged kidnappers are now willing to talk, albeit very little. However, they receive nothing. The police interviews a lot of people, including business partners of Tom’s. April After a long Norwegian winter, the police wants to search the lake right next to Tom and Anne-Elisabeth’s house. They employ a police dog specialized in search in water (the same dog who helped in the Kim Wall case). It’s unclear whether or not they actually find anything during this search. Certainly no body or anything like that. May The family decides to attempt contacting the alleged kidnappers themselves. They haven’t heard anything at all since January 27th. No evidence of Anne-Elisabeth’s well-being has been provided, and none is provided this time either. June The police officially changes their main hypothesis. They now believe Anne-Elisabeth was murdered, and not kidnapped for financial gain. They believe the ransom note as well as any evidence found in the house might have been staged to look like a kidnapping. More surprisingly, the police officially cancels any further search of the two men seen in the surveillance video outside of Tom Hagen’s work the morning of Anne-Elisabeth’s disappearance. They still have not been identified and it is unknown why the police now believes them not to be involved. July 8th The family lawyer Svein Holden receives an e-mail from the dark web. It is written in Norwegian, and the writing style suggests that it may have been written by the same person who penned the ransom note. According to Svein Holden this e-mail contains information that only a perpetrator would know. The message of this e-mail is as follows: in order to receive evidence of Anne-Elisabeth being alive, the family has to pay. It is again commented on by outsiders how odd it is that this message is received now, five months after the previous one, and right after the police changed their main hypothesis. Tom Hagen decides to pay 1.3 million Euros in crypto currency. He receives nothing in return. August The shoe print found at the crime scene is sent for analysis to police all over Europe. German police finds out that the print belongs to a shoe by the brand Sprox, and is in European size 45. It is sold in Norway at Sparkjøp. The police now requests help from the public, and everyone who have purchased these shoes in cash is encouraged to come forward. September The cable tie left at the crime scene has been analysed and has been found to be produced in China and sold in Norway at Biltema. Both Biltema and Sparkjøp are fairly common stores in Norway. October The police have now also analysed the paper the ransom note was written on and the envelope it came in. It was purchased at Clas Ohlson, another common store in Norway. All three stores tied to this case are located in Romerike, the district in which Tom and Anne-Elisabeth Hagen lives. It’s closing in on a year since Anne-Elisabeth disappeared without a trace. The entire country is awaiting answers. The 25th of October would have been Tom and Anne-Elisabeth’s Golden wedding anniversary. On Thursday the 31st, 365 days have passed since this all happened. But it is not a Halloween tale, it is real life. What happened to her? Where is she? Could she still be alive after all this time? Edited to add more information or clear up some confusing things:
Some people were wondering who the last person to see her alive besides her husband was. The night before the disappearance, Tom and Anne-Elisabeth were in Oslo with a couple of friends to see THE BOOK OF MORMON. They came home late. The show ended at 10:30pm and they had to drive home to Lørenskog. According to Google Maps, the drive from The Norwegian Theater, which is were the show was, to Lørenskog is 22 minutes. These friends are the last ones to see her alive besides Tom (and a possible perpetrator).
When neighbors found out that Anne-Elisabeth was possibly kidnapped one of them came forward with information about a grey/silver SUV. He describes a car taking a “weird shortcut” over a patch of grass towards Tom and Anne-Elisabeth’s house on the morning of her disappearance. It was the police’s main hypothesis for a while that she had been kidnapped in this car. Since then they’ve changed their hypothesis but this car could still be interesting! Can’t believe I forgot to add this piece of information!!!
The police has DNA on file, it is unknown whether or not this is a partial or full DNA profile. One man described as a witness was asked to deliver a sample. They have requested this from many people, presumably also Tom. The man described as a witness was also checked against the shoe print. As far as I can tell he’s been compliant. He had been inside their home. Possibly a colleague, friend or a neighbor.
Some confusion about the use of the word BILLIONAIRE. It is true that Tom Hagen would not be considered a billionaire when you convert his money to USD. However, Tom Hagen is a Norwegian Milliardær and Milliardær is the Norwegian word for Billionaire. Being a Billionaire means having at least one billion units of a currency, in this case this currency is Norwegian Kroner (NOK). See this link for more. International media as well as Norwegian media writing in English have also used the word billionaire in their articles about the case. I’m not saying Tom Hagen is the Norwegian Bill Gates, but I’m saying he’s rich. Hope that clears things up.
One user is posting comments saying that they are from the area and there are rumours about Tom Hagen being involved with someone else. While this is very juicy information and a huge motive for a possible killing, please take this information with a grain of salt as there is no official reports on this and village rumours could be untrue anyway. If this is true the police already knows about it, and it is likely the media is also privy to this information and are choosing to withhold it by request from the Police.
Some confusion about this phone call the morning of the disappearance as well. The police does know who Anne-Elisabeth spoke to that morning, the public, however, does not. Early reports said that this person was Tom, her husband, but this has since been changed to “family member”. It is unclear why this is, it could be that the first information was wrong and they had to correct themselves, or it could be that the police would prefer this information to stay secret. Of course, nothing is deleted on the internet and you can still find articles in Norwegian saying the person on the phone was Tom.
Continuing from that: Norwegian media is very good at respecting the Police and should they request this from them, the media would comply. This is why I believe it’s possible that they are hiding information about a possible motive on the husband’s part. They have no interest in ruining police work. The media is generally well regarded in Norway and have ethical guidelines to follow.
A lof of questions about "why didn't he just pay the ransom?" "he must be the perpetrator or he would've paid the ransom immediately!"Well, no. It's not that simple. In a ransom case like this one, police STRONGLY advise against paying. If you pay, you have nothing left to negotiate with. If Anne-Elisabeth was even still alive at this point, what's to say they'll let her go once the ransom has been paid? It has been implied by the family lawyer that the family would've been willing to pay if the alleged kidnappers showed them evidence of Anne-Elisabeth being alive, in form of photos or a video or something to that effect. It's a risky move, paying a ransom. On one hand, you're worried about your family member and you want them back and you'd be willing to pay anything in order to do so, on the other hand, you're scared what might happen once you pay. There's no easy way to deal with a situation like this.
edit - I came up with a far better title: Why I YOLO on LLOY I have held my Vanguard for three years and since then had read a few books (albeit badly) that inspired me to take some risks: Armchair economist, Freakonomics, Thinking Fast Thinking Slow, 80/20 Principle, Algebra of Happiness, Smarter Investing, somewhat through Intelligent Investor but it's a slow read. I had never experienced picking individuals and foolishly it was something which I wanted badly enough to open with AJBell this FY. Tbh I regret it so if you're already happy with your Vanguard offerings then I can't say I'm happy to own individual picks now. Hopefully I'll get onto the psychology of why later. So why did I pick LLOY? I'm not going to say that I'm ecstatic about it. It was painful to push the button on it. I am extremely bearish (in life not just investing!), this comes from being a millennial, and I am certain that there is a government/company waiting just around the corner to overcharge me for goods and services. I did do some quick maths from the tiny fraction my pea brain gleamed from Intelligent Investor: Assets - 1065.871bn Liabilities - 1000.070bn Long Term Debt - 143.312bn 1065.871 - (1000.070 + 143.312) = 1065.871 - 1143.382 = -77.511 Lloyds really doesn’t appear to be a good buy. But I did so anyway… Somewhat probably from thing's I've not fully understood from Intelligent Investor! Banks are out of favour. They have been out of fashion as long as I can remember.
The financial crisis. The government bailout, which when you look at it now has Barclays comment of 'never took a Govt. bailout' isn't as good after learning that LLOY bought HBOS after being strong-armed by the Govt. for them to learn that there was some weird accounting going on.
PPI Scandal - no idea how this got so out of control. It was an amazingly American style campaign that went on as far as reclaiming it went. It very much reminded me of when I was a child and would forever see compo ads on the telly.
The FinTech new banks. I have nothing bad to say about this bunch I love them, they are doing the lords work. The industry definitely needs shaking up, I remember the days where my banking app mandated a different keyboard from my Android phone for security purposes, fantastic way to 1. freak people out and 2. ruin the usability of your application. The innovation of usability and access which these FinTech's bring is fantastic. But I'm not going to take a loan out with them, my parents aren't going to be able to take a mortgage out with them, and my parents definitely won't get an account over and above their brick banks. When switching becomes even more effortless nobody will probably be with the same bank for more than a year.
Go on why did you buy it despite all this then? Intelligent Investors advice when looking for value is to find companies which are out of fashion but still adequately ran (probably a better word there for adequately). This isn't the 2008 financial crisis - we aren't in this mess because the Banks released a deadly virus. But that doesn’t mean that LLOY wasn't heading for failure before this. The stock was performing badly before this storm. The profits we're lower than expected but they had the PPI bill to pay. The bank is led by António Horta-Osório - he has led the bank since 2011, nearly 10 years of service. He even took time off for his mental health before it was cool to do so! They're even reducing their emissions by 50% by 2020. Forget Elon, this guy is as fellow kids as they come. I'm not worried about the FinTech's yet. I have a few fintech accounts and they're great. I rolled out my joint account in a few clicks. I use it for all my spending. One thing which I think the FinTechs will do better with is getting extremely rich data on their customers spending habits and will therefore be able to sell this to aggregators for a higher price. LLOY have a £3bn digital transformation project which should be completing next year, we'll have to see what they have come up with. (you can tell I started to give up here) LLOY is the leader in the Mortgage market. They even have the Tesco portfolio! Should the country not be able to afford their mortgage bill, I just can't see the government letting it all go. They helped fund this BTL nation through their mortgage interest write offs at the time when rental yields were far higher and so were interest rates! There won't be anyone around to buy the repossessions, all the elderly are dead from Corona, and the youth don’t have any money to buy the houses. I don't think prices can go down to the point at which GenX/Mil can pay for them regardless. The next Govt. handout I can see is an enforced mortgage readjustment by the Govt. to the lenders for as long as borrowers need. There is probably far more which might back this up, but that doesn’t matter because the answer is that this was a risky buy, I have no doubt there is 10 fold more rationale behind not buying this. Just look at the guy the other day who was selling his WH, 200% what a lucky sole, their website was absolute garbage in a time when everyone is betting online! Anyway finally, the psychology behind why I should have stayed with VG. There are no purchase fees! When I buy through AJ and I see that there is a £10 dealing fee I feel a loss. This is mentioned heavily in investment books but I want to talk about the psychology behind it. In Thinking Fast Thinking Slow there is lots of talk about how we as humans react to loss, there are lots of studies mentioned in the book and it is fascinating. The essential take-home point here is that we as humans see loss completely different to gains. You can feel ecstatic finding £5 on the floor but feel a huge sense of dread when a scooter taxi rips you off by £5 in Vietnam and you think about it for the rest of your life! If you can gleam one thing from the Bitcoin culture its HODL!
Two Roads Diverge | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - May 2020
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken This is my forty-second portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $727 917 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $42 128 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $78 569 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 009 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $187 003 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $39 987 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $225 540 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 726 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 741 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 652 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $117 714 Secured physical gold – $18 982 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $11 395 Bitcoin – $159 470 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 357 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 492 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 477 Total portfolio value: $1 757 159 (+$62 325 or 3.7%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 41.4% (3.6% under) Global shares – 22.2% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.4% (2.6% under) Total shares – 68.8% (6.2% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.4% International bonds – 9.7% Total bonds – 14.1% (0.9% under) Gold – 7.8% Bitcoin – 9.1% Gold and alternatives – 16.9% (6.9% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month featured a further recovery in the overall portfolio, continuing to effectively reduce the size of the large losses across the first quarter. The portfolio has increased by around $62 000, leading to a portfolio growth of 3.7 per cent. This means that around half of the large recent falls have been made up, and the portfolio sits around levels last reached in October of last year. [Chart] Leading the portfolio growth has been increases in Australian shares - particularly those held through the Betashares A200 and Vanguard VAS exchange traded funds, with both gaining over four per cent. Most other holdings remained steady, or fell slightly. Markets appear to be almost entirely disconnected from the daily announcements of the sharp effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions. Bond and equity markets seem to have different and competing expectations for the future, and equity markets - at best - are apparently intent on looking through the immediate recovery phase to a new period of strong expansion. [Chart] On some metrics, both major global and Australian equity markets can be viewed as quite expensive, especially as reduced dividends announced have largely yet to be delivered. Yet if historically low bond yields are considered, it can be argued that some heightening compared to historical equity market valuations may be sustainable. Reflecting this moment of markets holding their breath before one of two possible futures plays out, gold and Bitcoin remain elevated, and consequently above their target weightings. Perhaps the same contending forces are in evidence in a recent Australian Securities and Investment Commission study (pdf) which has found that average Australian retail investors have reacted to uncertainty by activating old brokerage accounts, trading more frequently, and holding securities for shorter periods. My own market activity has been limited to purchases of Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS) and the international share ETF (VGS), to bring the portfolio closer to its target allocations. Will Australia continue to be lucky through global slow downs? Despite this burst of market activity in the retail market, it is unclear how Australian markets and equities will perform against the background of a global economic slowdown. A frequently heard argument is that a small open trade exposed commodities provider such as Australia, with a more narrowly-based economy, may perform poorly in a phase of heightened risk. This recent Bank of England paper (pdf) makes the intriguing suggestion that this argument is not borne out by the historical record. In fact, the paper finds that industrial production in Australia, China and a mere handful of other economies has tended to increase following global risk shocks. A question remaining, however, is whether the recovery from this 'risk shock' may have different characteristics and impacts than similar past events. One key question may be the exact form of government fiscal and monetary responses adopted. Another is whether inflation or deflation is the likely pathway - an unknown which itself may rely on whether long-term trends in the velocity of money supply continue, or are broken. Facing all uncertainties, attention should be on tail risks - and minimising the odds of extreme negative scenarios. The case for this is laid out in this moving reflection by Morgan Housel. For this reason, I am satisfied that my Ratesetter Peer-to-Peer loans have been gradually maturing, reducing some 'tail risk' credit exposures in what could be a testing phase for borrowers through new non-bank lending channels in Australia. With accrued interest of over $13 000, at rates of around 9 per cent on average, over the five years of the investment, the loans have performed relatively well. A temporary sheltering port - spending continues to decline This month spending has continued to fall even as lockdown and other restrictions have slowly begun to ease. These extraordinary events have pushed even the smoothed average of three year expenditure down. [Chart] On a monthly basis credit card spending and total expenses have hit the lowest levels in more than six years. Apparently, average savings rates are up across many economies, though obviously individual experiences and starting points can differ dramatically. Total estimated monthly expenditure has also fallen below current estimates of distributions for the first time since a period of exceptionally high distributions across financial year 2017-18. The result of this is that I am briefly and surprisingly, for this month, notionally financially independent based on assumed distributions from the FIRE portfolio alone - at least until more normal patterns of expenditure are resumed. Following the lines of drift - a longer view on progress made Yet taking a longer view - and accounting for the final portfolio goal set - gives a different perspective. This is of a journey reaching toward, but not at, an end. The chart below traces in purely nominal dollar terms the progress of the total portfolio value as a percentage of the current portfolio goal of $2.18 million over the last 13 years. It also shows three labels, with the percentage progress at the inception of detailed portfolio data in 2007, at the start of this written record in January 2017, and as at January 1 of this year. [Chart] Two trend lines are shown - one a polynomial and the other exponential function - and they are extended to include a projection of future progress out to around 18 months. The line of fit is close for the early part of the journey, but larger divergences from both trend lines are evident in the past two years as the impact of variable investment returns on a larger portfolio takes hold. There are some modest inaccuracies introduced by the nominal methodology adopted - such as somewhat discounting early progress. A 2007 dollar had greater 'real' value and significance than is assigned to it by this representation. The chart does demonstrate, however, the approximate shape and length of the early journey - with it taking around 5 years to reach 20 per cent of the target, and 10 years to reach around half way. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 80.6% 108.4% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 98.3% 132.3% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 78.8% 106.0% Summary With aspects of daily life slowly and incrementally adjusting to a 'new normal', the longer-term question for the portfolio remains around how markets and government actions interact in a recovery phase. The progress of the portfolio over the past 13 years has seemed, when viewed from afar as in chart above, predictable, and almost inevitable. Through the years it has felt anything but so smoothly linear. Rather, tides and waves have pushed and pulled, in turn stalling progress, or pushing it further ahead than hopes have dared. It is possible that what lays ahead is a simple 'return leg', or more of the same. That through simple extrapolation around 80 per cent of the challenges already lay behind. Yet that is not the set of mind that I approach the remainder of the journey with. Rather, the shortness of the distance to travel has lent an extra focus on those larger, lower probability, events that could delay the journey or push it off-course. Those 'third' risks types of tail risks which Morgan Housel points out. In one sense the portfolio allocation aims to deal - in a probabilistic way - with the multiple futures that could occur. Viewed in this way, a gold allocation (and also Bitcoin) represents a long option on an extreme state of the economic world arising - as it did in the early 1980s. The 75 per cent target allocation to equities can be viewed as a high level of assurance around a 'base case' that human ingenuity and innovation will continue to create value over the long term. The bond portfolio, similarly, can be seen as assigning a 15 per cent probability that both of these hypotheses are incorrect, and that further market falls and possible deflation are ahead. That perhaps even an experience akin to the lengthy, socially dislocating, post-bubble phase in Japan presided over by its central bank lays in store. In other interesting media consumed this month, 'Fire and Chill', the brand new podcast collaboration between Pat the Shuffler and Strong Money Australia got off to an enjoyable start, tackling 'Why Bother with FIRE' and other topics. Additionally, investment company Incrementum has just published the latest In Gold We Trust report, which gives an arrestingly different perspective on potential market and policy directions from traditional financial sources. The detailed report questions the role and effectiveness of traditionally 'risk-free' assets like government bonds in the types of futures that could emerge. On first reading, the scenarios it contains appear atypical and beyond the reasonable contemplation of many investors - until it is recalled that up to a few years ago no mainstream economics textbook would have entertained the potential for persistent negative interest rates. As the paths to different futures diverge, drawing on the wisdom of others to help look as far as possible into the bends in the undergrowth ahead becomes the safest choice. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
New info on Billionaire Wife Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s possible kidnapping/murder.
I posted about this case in October and since then there’s been a few somewhat interesting updates in the case and I wanted to let you guys know about them. I recommend reading the initial post if you haven’t yet, to familiarize yourself with the case. There’s also some additional info at the end of that first post that I added later, answering some questions people had and clearing up some confusing information. If you read the post before the update, it might be a good idea to go back and read the new bit at the end. Some quick info on the case:Anne-Elisabeth Hagen is the missing wife of Norwegian billionaire Tom Hagen, an investor and co-founder of the company Elkraft. She’s been missing since October 31st 2018. There was a ransom note left at the crime scene, demanding 9 million Euros in crypto currency Monero. There’s been no sign of Anne-Elisabeth since, and she is now presumed to be dead. Here is all the new info we have:
The family has been considering offering up a reward in exchange for information that can lead to solving the case, but so far no decision has been made on this matter.
The family tried contacting the alleged kidnappers again in October, around the 1 year anniversary of Anne-Elisabeth’s disappearance. As of today, February 9th 2020, they have not yet received any answer.
In November 2019 it was reported that the police have DNA on file, found at the house. They have not been able to match it to anyone yet. It is unclear whether or not this is a full or partial profile.
In December 2019, it was revealed that a surveillance camera have caught “a mysterious car” in the area surrounding Tom and Anne-Elisabeth’s home. This car was not more than 100 meters away from their home. The car being there coincides with when Anne-Elisabeth must have been taken from her home.
On 8th of January 2020, the police announced that they are officially searching for Anne-Elisabeth’s body. In July 2019 the police changed their main hypothesis to murder and they still stand by this. As of January 2020, KRIPOS (The National Criminal Investigation Service) have officially changed Anne-Elisabeth’s status to murdered, as part of the yearly murder statistics.
The search for her body has been made on farm land, in abandoned buildings and apartments, as well as forest areas in both Norway and Sweden. These searches are based on tips from the public and information they have from the investigation.
It has been revealed that Tom Hagen has, with help from an acquaintance/business partner, sent the police at least 8 e-mails throughout the investigation with information he believes could lead to a break in the case. He has also provided a list of potential perpetrators. The police says they consider any information they get and take it seriously whether it’s from Tom or any other family member. Tom has also said there’s a key missing from the garage where they used to have a spare. It is possible the perpetrator used this key to enter the house, as there was no sign of forced entry at the crime scene.
Not much is known about the specific content of the ransom note, other than it not being handwritten, and then there’s this line: “We will upload a video of her last moments”. Investigators think this line, using the plural “we”, might indicate more than one perpetrator. They believe it’s possible that at least one person was at the house, and one or more people controlled the crypto currency planning and set up. They are currently investigating who in Norway could have the knowledge to do this, as the set up is apparently quite complicated.
Now, on to possibly the most interesting new information we have. It’s been long known that the ransom note contained instructions for Tom Hagen. Some of these instructions included how to obtain Monero and how to pay it to the other party. Tom Hagen was tasked to only purchase 1 million Euros in Monero at a time in order to avoid a disturbance in the market.
The letter also provided a set of codes with which to communicate, and these have been kept under wraps until now. This communication was through Bitcoin.The X stands for an (unknown to us) amount of bitcoin that is code for a sentence, meant to be used only by Tom Hagen and the alleged kidnappers.
These are the codes Tom Hagen were given to use: X Bitcoin = I confirm I want to pay. X Bitcoin = I have sent money for exchange and am waiting to obtain Monero. X Bitcoin = I will send Monero in 7 days. X Bitcoin = I have a problem, need more time. X Bitcoin = I have sent some Monero. Waiting for more. X Bitcoin = I have sent all Monero, €9 Million The other party then had a list of codes of their own that they could use to communicate back with Tom Hagen: X Bitcoin = Time is running out, quick or she’ll die. X Bitcoin = It’s been too long, she’s dead. X Bitcoin = Police are looking around. Not worth it for us. She’s dead. X Bitcoin = Have not received Monero. Send to the correct address. X Bitcoin = Have not received all Monero. X Bitcoin = Have received all Monero. Anne-Elisabeth will be let go in 24 hours. The police followed the instructions in the ransom note at first. Their goal was to make it seem like law enforcement were not involved. The family made the actual decisions regarding the negotiation. The police believe that it is quite likely that the letter is fake, to steer the investigation in the wrong direction. If their main hypothesis is correct and Anne-Elisabeth was in fact murdered, not kidnapped, it would make sense to try and cover it up by making it look like something it’s not. The police have talked about this inconvenient form of communication since the case became public and urged the alleged kidnappers to find some other way to talk. The family eventually received encrypted e-mails from the dark web. The family lawyer thinks these e-mails are from the same people and therefore credible. Some people believe they are from a third party who saw an opportunity to get money (and if so, they eventually did: Tom Hagen paid a portion of the money in July 2019 after getting another e-mail). It is after this second e-mail in July that all communication has stopped. Police thinks this lack of communication is atypical and odd behaviour on the kidnapper’s part. And that’s it. I’ll admit, I’ve been hoping for a major break in this case since I last posted but it seems like that won’t be happening anytime soon. Anne-Elisabeth is still missing and there are no publicly known persons of interest. Today is Mother’s Day in Norway. By all reports, Anne-Elisabeth was a beloved mother and grandmother. My thoughts go out to her children today. Let’s hope they’ll have answers soon. Source 1Source 2Source 3 (In Norwegian)
New Lands, or New Eyes? | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - April 2020
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past This is my forty-first portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goal. Portfolio goal My objective is to reach a portfolio of $2 180 000 by 1 July 2021. This would produce a real annual income of about $87 000 (in 2020 dollars). This portfolio objective is based on an expected average real return of 3.99 per cent, or a nominal return of 6.49 per cent. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $697 582 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $40 709 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $76 583 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 563 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $174 864 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $31 505 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $215 805 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 625 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 323 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 904 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $119 458 Secured physical gold – $19 269 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $12 234 Bitcoin – $158 360 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 144 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 435 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 471 Total portfolio value: $1 694 834 (+$127 888 or 8.2%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.9% (4.1% under) Global shares – 21.7% Emerging markets shares – 2.2% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 26.9% (3.1% under) Total shares – 67.8% (7.2% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 4.5% International bonds – 9.9% Total bonds – 14.4% (0.6% under) Gold – 8.2% Bitcoin – 9.3% Gold and alternatives – 17.5% (7.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. Comments This month featured a sharp recovery in the overall portfolio, reducing the size of the large losses experienced over the previous month. The portfolio increased by over $127 000, representing a growth of 8.2 per cent, which is the largest month-on-month growth on record. This now puts the portfolio value significantly above the levels of a year ago. [Chart] The expansion in the value of the portfolio has occurred due to an increase in Australian and global equities markets, as well as substantial increases the price of Bitcoin. This is effectively the mirror image of the simultaneous negative movements last month. From a nadir of initial pessimism in late March, markets have generally moved upwards as debate continues about the path of a likely economic recession and recovery from Coronavirus impacts over the coming year. [Chart] First quarter distributions from the Australian and Global Shares ETFs (A200, VAS and VGS) were received this month. These were too early to fully reflect the sharp economic activity impacts of the Coronavirus and lockdown period on company earnings. Despite this, they were significantly down on a cents per unit basis on the equivalent distributions last year. Totalling around $2700, these distributions formed part of new contributions to Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). The rapid falls in equity have many participants looking forward to a return to normalcy, or at least more open to the pleasing ideas that nerves have been held in a market fall comparable to 2000 or 2008-09, and that markets now represent clear value. As discussed last month, there should be caution and some humility about these questions, if some historical perspective is taken. As an example, the largest global equity market in the world - the United States - remains at valuation levels well above those experienced in previous market lows. Portfolio alternatives - tracking changes under the surface A striking feature of the past year or so has been the expansion of the non-traditional or 'alternatives' components of gold and Bitcoin as a proportion of the overall portfolio. Currently, when combined these alternative assets form a greater part of the portfolio than at any point over the past two years. The chart below shows that since January 2019 the gold and Bitcoin component of the portfolio has lifted from around its long term target level of 10 per cent, to now make up over 17 per cent of the portfolio. In the space of the last four months alone, it has lifted from 13 per cent. [Chart] With no purchases of either gold or Bitcoin over the period, the growth in the chart is the result of two reinforcing factors: A substantial fall in the value of the equity portfolio - reaching nearly $200 000 since the recent February market peak has naturally and mathematically led to a commensurate increase the proportion of other assets. Increases in the value of gold and Bitcoin - have also played a role with a total appreciation of around $150 000 across the two assets over the past 16 months. In fact, the value gold holdings alone have increased by over 40 per cent since January last year. Further appreciation of either gold or Bitcoin prices, particularly if any further falls in equity markets occur, could easily place the portfolio in the same position as experienced in January 2018. At that time these alternative assets made up 1 in every 5 dollars of the portfolio, an unusual, and in that case temporary phenomenon. This represents a different portfolio and risk exposure than that envisaged in my portfolio investment plan. Yet, equally it is critical to recall what the circumstances would likely be for this to arise. Simultaneously high gold and Bitcoin prices are more likely to occur in a situation of severe capital market dislocation, or falling confidence. On the other hand, should confidence and equity market growth be restored, both of these portfolio components could fall back to lower levels. It is difficult to tell which state of the world will eventuate, a key reason for diversification across asset types. United States government debt is already at record levels - equivalent in real terms to levels last seen when it emerged out of the Second World War - despite no similar national effort having being undertaken. Future inflation can potentially partly manage this burden, however, the last sustained episode of persistently high inflation rates during the decade of the 1970s spelt negative real returns. Where investors expect future inflation or financially 'repressive' policies of inflation exceeding interest rates, the economic growth required to 'grow out' of debt can be affected. At this point, my inclination is to address this circumstance gradually through time by re-balancing of distributions and new contributions, rather than to realise capital gains by selling assets at one, or several, points in time. Chasing down the lines - falling average spending in lockdown Since the implementation of lockdown restrictions, average credit card expenditure has fallen by nearly 30 per cent. This has taken credit card expenditure to lower than any similar period in the past six years. Partly as a result of this - as the chart below shows - a new development is occurring. The previously fairly steady card expenses line (red) is now starting to bend down towards, or 'chase', the rolling average distributions line (in blue). [Chart] The declining distributions line is a result of some previous high distributions gradually falling outside of the data 'window' for the rolling three-year comparison of distributions and expenditure. This intriguing picture will probably change before a cross-over occurs, as lockdown restrictions ease, and as the data feeding into the three year average slowly changes over time. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 77.7% 104.6% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 94.8% 127.6% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 76.0% 102.3% Summary Last month market volatility theoretically took progress down to below most of my financial independence benchmarks on an 'All Assets' (i.e. portfolio and superannuation assets) basis. This position has reversed this month. As markets have recovered and with additional spare time in the lockdown period, I have continued to seek out and think about different perspectives on the history and future of markets. Yet it must be recognised that there is a natural limit to the utility of these ponderings. The shape of the future is always uncertain, and in this world, confident comparisons and analogies with past events can be perilous. Comparisons with past periods of financial market crises miss the centrality of government action as a causal influence on the path of virus affected economies and markets. A virus and recovery is not the same as a global financial crisis originating in housing finance markets addressed through monetary and fiscal stimulus. Most developed country governments have quickly applied the same, if not larger versions of responses as applied in the global financial crisis, a distinguishing step that also makes analogies with the great depression era problematic. Similarly, a pandemic is not hitting and interacting with the shattered economic and health systems of the 1918-19 Spanish flu. Overlaying all of this is the imperfect and partially disconnected relationship between the economy today, and equity markets that discount and focus on the future. This makes all history's lessons more than usually caveated and conditional. One avenue for managing through these times is to focus on what does not change - the psychological difficulty of accepting alterations in financial circumstances and the capacity of markets movements to cruelly surprise us in both timing and direction. One of the best texts to read to get a sense of both of these in such times is Benjamin Roth's A Great Depression Diary. This tells of the day-by-day changes observed in everyday urban life and investment markets, from the point of view of an American small retail investor living through the times. This month also saw the exciting news that Pat the Shuffler and Strong Money Australia are combining efforts to produce a new podcast. Speaking of which, Big ERN's reflections on the current implications of sharemarket market movements for seekers of financial independence have been filled with insight and wisdom. This interesting piece (video) - the latest in a 'virus' market series - from New York University's Professor of Finance Aswath Damodaran on asset performances through the past few months - is a more technical and detailed discussion of how markets have re-priced businesses and profits. Finally, the recently released Hmmminar interview series provides a more heterodox set of speakers and ideas on current markets, presented by Grant Williams. Unlike predicting the future, seeking out different perspectives on it is perhaps the easiest it has ever been in history. While it is not always possible to change the course taken, it is possible to look at the same horizon with new eyes. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Bitcoin became uncorrelated to equities today Anonymous (ID: 1nQCbQ2y) 10/19/20(Mon)20:41:35 No. 23381099 This is why you should be holding off gambling on the shit coins, very soon Bitcoin is going to drain the fuck out of altcoins. Bitcoin - US Dollar Kurs-Chart (BTC/USD) Der heutige Umrechnungskurs von Bitcoin in USD beträgt $12.973,85. Es gibt derzeit eine Gesamtanzahl von 18,5 Millionen Kryptowährungen und das gehandelte Gesamtvolumen beträgt $19.470.661.374. Sør-Vest politidistrikt har den siste tiden fått inn flere anmeldelser i forbindelse med Bitcoin-handel. Symbol for bitcoin. More about SVG. Size 0.01 MB. Date: 01/09/2017 No. of downloads: 22 Bitcoin is slow, expensive for the user and to correct you(OP) is not being used as money. No. It is proving that cryptocurrency is money. BTC has proven itself to be a store of value yes but it is not “money”. I can’t use it anywhere outside of exchanges and why would I spend BTC instead when the value might go up and I regret it? No. Bitcoin isn’t proven as money it is proven as a ...
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