Bitcoin Mining Company to go IPO globally in the world.
The Australian company, Bitcoin Group Limited (ASX:BCG) is expected to be traded on Australian securities exchange on Nov. 11th, 2015. Hopefully, other bitcoin related companies follow suit soon. What is your take? Reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08Hdhl297Fo
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.
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 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.
Murmurs of the Sea | Monthly Portfolio Update - March 2020
Only the sea, murmurous behind the dingy checkerboard of houses, told of the unrest, the precariousness, of all things in this world. -Albert Camus, The Plague This is my fortieth 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 – $662 776 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $39 044 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $74 099 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 500 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $150 095 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $29 852 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $197 149 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 630 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $7 855 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $6 156 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $119 254 Secured physical gold – $19 211 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $13 106 Bitcoin – $115 330 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $15 094 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 303 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 492 Total portfolio value: $1 566 946 (-$236 479 or -13.1%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.6% (4.4% under) Global shares – 22.3% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.0% Total international shares – 27.6% (2.4% under) Total shares – 68.3% (6.7% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 10.4% Total bonds – 15.2% (0.2% over) Gold – 8.8% Bitcoin – 7.4% Gold and alternatives – 16.2% (6.2% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. Comments This month saw an extremely rapid collapse in market prices for a broad range of assets across the world, driven by the acceleration of the Coronavirus pandemic. Broad and simultaneous market falls have resulted in the single largest monthly fall in portfolio value to date of around $236 000. This represents a fall of 13 per cent across the month, and an overall reduction of more the 16 per cent since the portfolio peak of January. [Chart] The monthly fall is over three times more severe than any other fall experienced to date on the journey. Sharpest losses have occurred in Australian equities, however, international shares and bonds have also fallen. A substantial fall in the Australia dollar has provided some buffer to international equity losses - limiting these to around 8 per cent. Bitcoin has also fallen by 23 per cent. In short, in the period of acute market adjustment - as often occurs - the benefits of diversification have been temporarily muted. [Chart] The last monthly update reported results of some initial simplified modelling on the impact of a hypothetical large fall in equity markets on the portfolio. Currently, the actual asset price falls look to register in between the normal 'bear market', and the more extreme 'Global Financial Crisis Mark II' scenarios modelled. Absent, at least for the immediate phase, is a significant diversification offset - outside of a small (4 per cent) increase in the value of gold. The continued sharp equity market losses have left the portfolio below its target Australian equity weighting, so contributions this month have been made to Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). This coming month will see quarterly distributions paid for the A200, VGS and VAS exchange traded funds - totalling around $2700 - meaning a further small opportunity to reinvest following sizeable market falls. Reviewing the evidence on the history of stock market falls Vladimir Lenin once remarked that there are decades where nothing happen, and then there are weeks in which decades happen. This month has been four such weeks in a row, from initial market responses to the coronavirus pandemic, to unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy responses aimed at lessening the impact. Given this, it would be foolish to rule out the potential for other extreme steps that governments have undertaken on multiple occasions before. These could include underwriting of banks and other debt liabilities, effective nationalisation or rescues of critical industries or providers, or even temporary closure of some financial or equity markets. There is a strong appeal for comforting narratives in this highly fluid investment environment, including concepts such as buying while distress selling appears to be occurring, or delaying investing until issues become 'more clear'. Nobody can guarantee that investments made now will not be made into cruel short-lived bear market rallies, and no formulas exist that will safely and certainly minimise either further losses, or opportunities forgone. Much financial independence focused advice in the early stages of recent market falls focused on investment commonplaces, with a strong flavour of enthusiasm at the potential for 'buying the dip'. Yet such commonly repeated truths turn out to be imperfect and conditional in practice. One of the most influential studies of a large sample of historical market falls turns out to provide mixed evidence that buying following a fall reliably pays off. This study (pdf) examines 101 stock market declines across four centuries of data, and finds that:
Large falls can lead to strong rebounds - After large falls of up to 50 per cent, the probability of a large rebound is higher.
Future returns after large market falls are generally positive - Returns following such a severe crash are systematically higher than otherwise.
Smaller market falls, however, may accurately signal poor future returns - Smaller declines (10-20 per cent) are more likely to be followed by further declines, although the strength of the relationship is weaker and less consistent.
Even these findings should be viewed as simply indicative. Each crisis and economic phase has its unique character, usually only discernible in retrospect. History, in these cases, should inform around the potential outlines of events that can be considered possible. As the saying goes, risk is what remains after you believe you have thought of everything. Position fixing - alternative perspectives of progress In challenging times it can help to keep a steady view of progress from a range of perspectives. Extreme market volatility and large falls can be disquieting for both recent investors and those closer to the end of the journey. One perspective on what has occurred is that the portfolio has effectively been pushed backwards in time. That is, the portfolio now sits at levels it last occupied in April 2019. Even this perspective has some benefit, highlighting that by this metric all that has been lost is the strong forward progress made in a relatively short time. Yet each perspective can hide and distort key underlying truths. As an example, while the overall portfolio is currently valued at around the same dollar value as a year ago, it is not the same portfolio. Through new purchases and reinvestments in this period, many more actual securities (mostly units in ETFs) have been purchased. The chart below sets out the growth in total units held from January 2019 to this month, across the three major exchange trade funds holdings in the portfolio. [Chart] From this it can be seen that the number of securities held - effectively, individual claims on the future earnings of the firms in these indexes - has more than doubled over the past fifteen months. Through this perspective, the accumulation of valuable assets shows a far more constant path. Though this can help illuminate progress, as a measure it also has limitations. The realities of falls in market values cannot be elided by such devices, and some proportion of those market falls represent initial reassessments of the likely course of future earnings, and therefore the fundamental value of each of those ETF units. With significant uncertainty over the course of global lock-downs, trade and growth, the basis of these reassessments may provide accurate, or not. For anyone to discount all of these reassessments as wholly the temporary result of irrational panic is to show a remarkable confidence in one's own analytical capacities. Similarly, it would be equally wrong to extrapolate from market falls to a permanent constraining of the impulse of humanity to innovate, adjust to changed conditions, seek out opportunities and serve others for profit. Lines of position - Trends in expenditure A further longer-term perspective regularly reviewed is monthly expenses compared to average distributions. Monthly expenditure continues to be below average, and is likely to fall further next month as a natural result of a virus-induced reduction of shopping trips, events and outings. [Chart] As occurred last month, as a function some previous high distributions gradually falling outside of the data 'window' for the rolling three-year comparison of distributions and expenditure, a downward slope in distributions continues. 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) 71.9% 97.7% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 87.7% 119.2% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 70.2% 95.5% Summary This month has been one of the most surprising and volatile of the entire journey, with significant daily movements in portfolio value and historic market developments. There has been more to watch and observe than at any time in living memory. The dominant sensation has been that of travelling backwards through time, and revisiting a stage of the journey already passed. The progress of the last few months has actually been so rapid, that this backwards travel has felt less like a set back, but rather more like a temporary revisitation of days past. It is unclear how temporary a revisitation current conditions will enforce, or exactly how this will affect the rest of the journey. In early January I estimated that if equity market fell by 33 per cent through early 2020 with no offsetting gains in other portfolio elements, this could push out the achievement of the target to January 2023. Even so, experiencing these markets and with more volatility likely, I don't feel there is much value in seeking to rapidly recalculate the path from here, or immediately alter the targeted timeframe. Moving past the portfolio target from here in around a year looks almost impossibly challenging, but time exists to allow this fact to settle. Too many other, more important, human and historical events are still playing out. In such times, taking diverse perspectives on the same facts is important. This Next Life recently produced this interesting meditation on the future of FIRE during this phase of economic hardship. In addition, the Animal Spirits podcast also provided a thoughtful perspective on current market falls compared to 2008, as does this article by Early Retirement Now. Such analysis, and each passing day, highlights that the murmurs of the sea are louder than ever before, reminding us of the precariousness of all things. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
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Upon the Fortune of this Present Year | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - November 2019
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596) This is my thirty-sixth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $797 618 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 218 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 294 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 367 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $158 769 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $28 471 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $268 114 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 057 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $9 996 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 100 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 376 Secured physical gold – $15 868 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $16 915 Bitcoin – $128 630 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 535 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 377 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 418 Total portfolio value: $1 793 753 (+$33 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 43.2% (1.8% under) Global shares – 22.9% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.4% (1.6% under) Total shares – 71.6% (3.4% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.8% Total bonds – 14.6% (0.4% under) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 7.2% Gold and alternatives – 13.5% (3.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the value of the portfolio increased again by around $33 000 in total, building on the previous two months of growth. [Chart] The equity part of the portfolio has grown by around $50 000 to now reach over $1.25 million for the first time. This increase includes new contributions and the last part of the previous June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The equity component of the portfolio has increased by around 40 per cent this calendar year. The only other major movement in the monthly value of the portfolio has been a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin, and a small increase in the value of bond holdings. [Chart] The contributions this month went entirely into the Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS.ASX), to reduce the gap to both the overall target equity allocation, and to achieve the target split between Australian and global shares. From this month onwards I expect more regular variations in whether new contributions go to either Australian or global shares, based on keeping this target allocation constant. Charting errors and wrong bearings - the nature of long-term returns Over the last month, as the end destination starts to appear a little clearer in the distance, the issue of the nature of long-term returns has been front of mind. There is a strong literature and body of academic work around long-term equity return expectations. Much of this has informed my thinking, and has over time found its way into the corners of financial independence movement through the avenues of the so-called Trinity and Bengen '4 per cent' studies (pdf), and a range of calculators that use historical data to help guide investors expectations around feasible future returns. Yet, as I have noted before, future states of the world are not drawn from the same distribution as the past - or as the British writer G K Chesterton evocatively put it - 'wildness lies in wait'. Most often this issue is glided over neatly (including by myself) with assured sounding phrases such as 'based on history'. The works of Nassim Taleb, most particularly Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, provide a fuller perspective on these issues. Recently though, reading a 2017 paper Stock Market Charts You Never Saw provided a unique and arresting view of their application to long-term return projections. The paper is long and detailed, but makes some fundamental points for consideration. It provides a challenging perspective on investment returns that falls almost completely out of mainstream discussions of the topic in the financial independence arena. To summarise, the paper highlights that:
Long-term average equity returns are just mean averages - While they have a stable property over the long-term, this is an inherent statistical property of these values being long-term averages of diverse sets of returns. They are not a reliable forward-looking promise of likely returns. In the words of the paper: 'history documents, but does not constrain'.
Time (in the market) does not always heal all wounds - Investors who spend their dividends and avoid market timing - in other words an average FI investor - can reasonably expect to encounter 30 year periods of low real returns, with US investors facing three such periods in the twentieth century alone.
Typical charts of long-term equity returns can be misleading - Through behavioural finance findings it is clear that presented with a chart showing a seemingly inevitable rising line of equity returns over a long-time frame, an impression of safety and inevitability can be created. The paper highlights a range of ways in which standard charts on equity returns can obscure important facets of investors actual experiences.
No investor actually experiences the longest set of historical returns - While it is comforting to know that equity returns have averaged (for example) six per cent over a century, or two, this information is not as relevant for an investor who is more likely to be invested in a discrete 30-50 year period in which deviations from historical averages can be significant.
One-off events should not be dismissed - While the temptation is continuously present to believe that events like the Great Depression could never happen again, careful review of equity returns yields some distinctly similar periods of sustained low or negative real returns.
Comparisons of bond and equity returns are often oversimplified - It is not an immutable truth that equities outperform bonds, at least when the US historical record is considered. Rather, a more complicated picture emerges of returns over long periods. Sometimes, equities have outperformed bonds, but at other times, bonds have out-performed equites.
As the paper notes: "When investment advisors counsel that stocks are the best bet for a long investment horizon, they should append the acknowledgement: “if my market timing is good.” When advisors argue for stocks over bonds, they should append the caveat “as long as you are not French, or Italian, or Japanese, or Swiss, and provided that the 20th century is a better guide to the future than the 19th century.” For real investors with their limited time horizons, who may reside anywhere in the world, there have been times when both stock recommendations were bad." The issue of the primacy of total returns, compared to income returns is also bracingly challenged with reference to the drawdown phase: Once portfolio accumulation ceases with retirement, portfolio income must be spent to live. Under those circumstances real price return, over short periods lasting two or three decades, becomes an important metric. By that measure, an investment in stocks has been dicey indeed. Usefully, the paper sets out (at the end) both conventional charts, and alternative representations of the same returns data, aimed at illustrating the hidden biases and properties of standard charts of market returns. In short, the paper poses challenges to many conventional investment tenets assumed to be true and widely repeated within financial independence discussions. Often these tenets are promoted with the sound and well-meaning goal of reducing new or existing investors caution or level of worry around possible falls in equity markets. The question this work implicitly poses is, in the process, are distorted expectations unintentionally being promoted? Drawing out the lessons - understanding and responding to risks What are the practical implications of this? The most obvious is to look closely at how data is presented and to think carefully about how the assumptions implicit in that presentation line up against ones own situation. Some other implications include:
Projections based on earning stable and uniform returns should be undertaken with caution - Multi-decade periods of low returns can happen, and mathematical models of compounding smooth returns don't capture their impacts.
By taking an equity position an investor is simply undertaking a probabilistic bet, with no guarantees - That is, equity investment over the long-term usually pays offs, but some risk is inescapable.
Diversification across markets and time represents a workable response to risk - Investing regularly and across geographic markets can help current investors capture some of the positive 'survivorship' bias that was denied to individual investors in many countries across the twentieth century.
In other words - to paraphrase Shakespeare's Antonio - not trusting ones ventures to one ship, place, or a fortune upon the present year. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 112.2% 153.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 90.6% 123.5% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 103.0% 140.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 84.5% 115.1% Summary As the year begins to draw to a close, a restlessness to see its final outcomes, in dividends and portfolio growth presses itself forward. It is in fact a small echo of one of the strong temptations of the middle of the FI journey - a desire to wish away time itself. Some potential upcoming changes and uncertainties in work situation have added force to this temptation, forcing some thoughts about different potential balances between work and other elements of daily life could be. By distance, the intended journey is around ninety per cent over. At times this introduces both an elegiac quality to, and a premature desire to mark, possible 'lasts' along the journey. Yet the extraordinary current state of financial markets gives pause. Policy makers and advisors casually discuss negative rates and their implications, even as Australian and US equity markets hit new highs. In a sense, it feels a more psychologically testing time to be closer to my higher target allocation for equities than any time before. The diversification in the portfolio can be thought of as a series of small hedges against different potential futures playing out. By far, the largest probability (or potential future) at 75 per cent, is that the historical dominance of equity as a generator of real returns continues to function. The remainder of the portfolio can be seen in some ways as a offsetting hedge against large equity market falls, or some other disturbance in financial markets with negative implications for equity. At base, however, I remain comfortable with the 'balance of probabilities' implied in the target asset allocation. This month saw a new (v)blogger Mx Lauren join the Australian FI scene, as well as the suggestion by Money Magazine of a new 'simplified' retirement rule of thumb to consider. A further piece of fascinating reading was this piece by Ben Carlson in Fortune Magazine, explaining the key role of earnings growth in recent US market return. It posits that the recent strong performance of US equities is attributable to fundamental earnings growth, rather than simply an unjustified expansion in the price investors are willing to pay for that growth. This - in addition to Shakespeare's pre-modern enjoinment to diversify - is potentially another reason to not confine considerations to one market, and one place, as December distributions slowly drift into sight. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
In the Shade of Afternoon | Monthly FI Portfolio Update – August 2019
It is idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to sit in the shade of the oak. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars This is my thirty-third portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19%, or a nominal return of 7.19%, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $750 246 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $43 194 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $79 500 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $110 418 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $102 977 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $20 184 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $258 984 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 982 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $14 056 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 868 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $104 149 Secured physical gold – $16 759 Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $19 968 Bitcoin – $158 330 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 223 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 104 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 395 Total value: $1 712 337 (-$2 653) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.5% (4.5% under) Global shares – 22.2% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 27.7% (2.3% under) Total shares – 68.3% (6.7% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 5.1% International bonds – 10.1% Total bonds – 15.1% (0.1% over) Gold – 7.1% Bitcoin – 9.2% Gold and alternatives – 16.3% (6.3% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio experienced a small decline this month, with an overall decrease of $2 600. This movement comes after a strong period of expansion through the first half of the year in the value of the portfolio. [Chart] As with last month, the fall occurs despite some significant new investments being made, meaning the absolute size of the decline is somewhat obscured. Renewed concerns about global trade and a relative weakening in the outlook for future earnings played a significant role in the overall movement of the portfolio. [Chart] Once again movements this month within the portfolio have been relatively limited in terms of the size of the portfolio. Equity holdings have declined by around $28 000 when contributions are accounted for, whilst appreciation in the price of gold has offset just over a third of that loss. In fact, despite no recent purchases, the gold component of the portfolio is currently at the highest nominal value it has ever held. On the topic of gold, this 2013 paper (pdf) provides a comprehensive and skeptical empirical analysis of the range of claims made to support holding gold, including tracing the real gold value of average soldiers pay across 2000 years. This month has seen a continuing 'averaging in' of the capital from July distributions. These have been directed to purchases of Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS). This is to bring the allocation closer to my original targets - with my Australian shares allocation currently further underweight than the international shares allocation. Psychologically, a weakening Australian dollar has also made purchasing unhedged international shares more problematic. Risk, volatility, markets and economies There has been significant market volatility this month, and discussion around the future of Australian and global growth in the midst of trade tensions between US and China. In such times, something to remember as this St Louis Federal Reserve piece points out, is that the economy and sharemarket are not the same thing. This means that bad (or good) news for one, does not necessarily imply anything about the other. Missing this has the potential to lead to overconfident investment actions predicated on assumptions of future national economic trends (which will themselves most likely be priced into equity markets well before any retail investor reading the news arrives). The volatility in equity markets has brought out many well-intentioned injunctions to remain calm and fixed on the objective of contributing capital with a long-term view in mind. At times, however, this wise advice can shade into a form of near complacency - for example, for people to invest confident in the knowledge that long-term returns are (almost) guaranteed. No doubt this is generally good advice, directed at easing particularly new investors' concerns about investing at the "wrong" time, and reducing the potential damage from selling into falling markets due to panic. Even as I continue to invest amidst volatility, it is important to reflect on Elroy Dimson's definition that 'risk means more things can happen than will happen', and to consider that the history of equity markets available to us provides only a basis for sound conclusions around what has happened, not what could happen. This is the definition of the risk assumed in markets by investors. None of this is to suggest that starting, saving and regular investing with a view to one's individual risk tolerances are not the most important steps in the path to FI. There is a need to pause, however, and acknowledge that at times common financial independence investment precepts bear a disconcerting passing resemblance to the declaration and mathematical proof offered by famous stock promoter Jacob J Raskob in the well-known Ladies Home Journal (pdf) article exactly 90 years ago. This declaration was that with a steady investment in equities, based on the past patterns of returns, 'everybody ought to be rich'. Nearly 90 years happened to be just before the Great Depression devastated equity markets and employment prospects alike, and US equity investors were behind in nominal terms for around 25 years. Interestingly, however, this New York Times article argues that deflation, higher dividend yields and impacts from changes in the Dow index composition could theoretically have shortened the real losses of any investor to just 4.5 years, provided they possessed the resources and fortitude to hold on to average stocks. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 107.1% 145.4% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 86.5% 117.4% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 98.3% 133.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 80.7% 109.4% Summary Progress against my goals and benchmarks has been static this month, with the exception of the 'total expenditure' benchmark. My detailed review of expenditure last month identified that I could lower this to recognise some double-counting of fixed expenses, and this has meant a leap forward in progress in that aim of 5.8 per cent. This moves the clock forward appreciably for achieving that benchmark. As a general rule, it is always later than we think. For example, on a recent lunch time walk it occurred to me that if my progress to my current FI target of $1.98 million is considered in terms of the length of an ordinary working day, it is currently approximately 3.50pm in the afternoon. Quite late, and just over an hour until heading home. This perspective, of being further towards the tail end than expected, is explored fully and powerfully in the blog Wait but Why here. It helps frame the remaining journey. Viewed in this way, wishing time away seems less useful and fitting than seeking to fill the remaining time with as much meaning, learning, knowledge transmission and patience as feasible. Yet it also explains why in a FI context at this stage sharp changes in investing approach, or commencing new 'side hustles' have limited appeal. Despite it being late afternoon from this one perspective, there are a couple of other considerations or viewpoints. One is the potentially deceptive role of compounding later in the journey, which means that - at least in a stylised world of 'smooth returns' - the end goal is actually likely closer than any purely linear measure would suggest. The other counterpoint to this is that while in my case the absolute journey to FI has involved serious investments over around 18 years, this is not the whole story. Viewed in terms of the average 'age' of dollars actually contributed or invested, the journey of the average dollar in the portfolio has been shorter. In fact, in terms of dollars contributed, around 50 per cent have been contributed since January 2016. So, in some ways, it is more akin to mid-morning for the portfolio as a whole, meaning perhaps that I should not reasonably expect to shade myself under the oak tree just yet. Finally, this month also saw Pat the Shuffler emerge from a short hiatus and provide a honest and well-argued insight into his rethink on investment options between LICs and ETFs. I also enjoyed reading the start of another Australian FI voice at Fire for One. The past few months has also had many interesting podcasts related to FI - from The Escape Artists' Chris Reining on Equity Mates, to a really fascinating practical ChooseFI episode on David Sawyer's on the UK Path to FI. On the slightly more technical and future focused side of finance, the outgoing address of the Bank of England's Governor to the Jackson Hole central bankers gathering provides much food for thought on current and longer term monetary and currency issues, particularly as global bond rates continue to cross the 'zero-bound' into uncharted territory. The post and full charts can be seen here.
Thunder and Sunshine | Monthly Portfolio Update - July 2019
If it not be now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. -Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V, Scene ii This is my thirty-second portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a real income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19%, or a nominal return of 7.19%, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $769 050 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $43 826 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $79 826 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $108 036 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $90 076 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $20 250 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $265 413 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 116 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $15 051 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $9 588 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $95 251 Secured physical gold – $15 309 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $21 070 Bitcoin – $157 290 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $16 358 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 092 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 388 Total value: $1 714 990 (-$1 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 40.6% (4.4% under) Global shares – 22.6% Emerging markets shares – 2.5% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.2% (1.8% under) Total shares – 68.9% (6.1% under) Total property securities – 0.3% (0.3% over) Australian bonds – 5.1% International bonds – 10.1% Total bonds – 15.2% (0.2% over) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 9.2% Gold and alternatives – 15.6% (5.6% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments The portfolio experienced a small decline this month, with a decrease of $1 700. This slight downward movement comes after six months of continuous increases in the value of the portfolio. [Chart] The fall also comes at a time in which some significant new investments were made, masking the size of the fall somewhat. A substantial likely contributor to the decline, however, is the natural impact of distributions being paid from shares, as well as ETFs and retail index funds. In short, around $30 000 of distributions were paid out across July, decreasing the value of portfolio securities by around the same amount. Not all of these distributions have been re-invested, creating a temporary illusion that this value has been removed. A comparable effect led to a similar reduction in July 2017. [Chart] Generally movements this month within the portfolio have been relatively limited. One of the larger movements has been an increase in Australian and international shares, with Australian share markets just reaching post Global Financial Crisis highs. A fall in the price of Bitcoin, and a smaller countervailing increase in the value of gold holdings has provided a live example of some of the issues in my last post on the potential value of non-correlated alternatives. Having said this, the fall in the price of Bitcoin is the major factor in this months downward movement. Evidently following some real estate revaluations, my BrickX holdings have also decreased in value by nearly 6 per cent since the last month. This most recent research into the actual realised returns from real estate investing suggests I should not be surprised, and usefully highlight the specific risks facing individual property investments. This month has also seen my first investment of July distributions. These were placed in Vanguard international shares ETF (VGS). The remainder of the distributions will be placed into either into VGS, or Australian shares (A200 or VAS) over the next four months, on a dollar cost averaging approach alongside new contributions. Reviewing of insurance needs and adjustments Following distributions last month I have also re-examined my insurance requirements, taking into account updated portfolio values, existing savings, insurance through superannuation, and future financial obligations. This has led me to continue to reduce both my life insurance sum insured (from $315 000 to $150 000) and my income protection insurance (from $3000 to $1000 per month). I have taken a conservative approach, and based the adjusted coverage on the goals of providing of sufficient income, at an assumed safe withdrawal rate of 3.75 per cent, to still meet my Objective #2. In other words the target has been offering full income replacement from all assets and insurance of at least $83 000 in perpetuity. Still, this adjustment has led to a substantial savings - nearly $1 000 per annum. An alternative way to think about this is that I have lowered my ongoing expenses by just under $20 per week, reducing the final portfolio sum required to support this cost by around $28 000. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 107.3% 145.3% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 86.6% 117.3% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 98.5% 133.3% Total expenses - $96 000pa 74.9% 101.4% Summary The steady reinvestment of July distributions should give a small upward push to monthly results through to December. This is tempered by an effect of the growth in the overall size of the portfolio, and its exposure to equities. As a simple example - a daily movement in equities of 0.5 per cent at the beginning of the journey meant a loss or gain of just over $3 000 in a day. The same movement now with the current portfolio would mean a gain or loss of nearly $6 000. This makes the path less clear - as new contributions can more easily be swallowed into a daily market movement. The portfolio value effect has generally been - to borrow a phrase - a little akin to watching the movement of a yo-yo being used by someone walking up or down some stairs. Psychologically, it detaches effort from reward in a way that still feels relatively new in this journey. An interesting post to think about in this context, is this from Collaborative Fund, which shows the sharp, volatile multi-year paths equities can take to reach a single destination. Usefully, it also points out the futility of many 'fine adjustments' to sectoral exposure, and unnecessary complexity in portfolio construction. A further truth illustrated by the data in the piece is that general consumer sentiment, and economic growth, do not align with stock returns in any systematic way. In short, buying or selling shares because of a view that the economy or consumer confidence is strengthening, or weakening, is a futile guesswork, which has no historical basis in the past behaviour of returns. These findings and new realities are reminders that taking the actions that support forward progress and continued regular investments are the immediate focus. This matters more than whether the portfolio sits above or below an arbitrary number on any given day. Planning and readiness for that day is the priority. The post, source citations and full charts can be viewed here.
This was just deleted from Joi's blog. This is the cached version.
Joichi Ito's Affiliations and Financial Interests
Disclosing interests for transparency and avoidance of conflict of interest. Small shareholdings of public companies and funds are not listed. Last updated May 17, 2019. Special note about Bitcoin related investments. Before starting the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, I divested of any direct holdings of any companies directly involved in Bitcoin or Blockchain technology as their primary business. This included my stakes in Blockstream and Guardtime. Since then, the company I co-founded in the 90s, Digital Garage, where I still serve as a board member, has acquired shares of Blockstream. I have recused myself during any discussions about the transaction. Digital Garage is a public company and I am unable to prevent them from making such investments. In addition, I own < 0.1% of Digital Garage and have only a de minimis exposure to Blockstream through my stake in Digital Garage.
A couple of years ago in the early months of the 2017, I published a piece called Abundance Via Cryptocurrencies (https://www.reddit.com/C\_S\_T/comments/69d12a/abundance\_via\_cryptocurrencies/) in which I kind of foresaw the crypto boom that had bitcoin go from $1k to $21k and the alt-coin economy swell up to have more than 60% of the bitcoin market capitalisation. At the time, I spoke of coming out from “the Pit” of conspiracy research and that I was a bit suss on bitcoin’s inception story. At the time I really didn’t see the scaling solution being put forward as being satisfactory and the progress on bitcoin seemed stifled by the politics of the social consensus on an open source protocol so I was looking into alt coins that I thought could perhaps improve upon the shortcomings of bitcoin. In the thread I made someone recommended to have a look at 4chan’s business and finance board. I did end up taking a look at it just as the bull market started to really surge. I found myself in a sea of anonymous posters who threw out all kinds of info and memes about the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of different shitcoins and why they’re all going to have lambos on the moon. I got right in to it, I loved the idea of filtering through all the shitposts and finding the nuggest of truth amongst it all and was deeply immersed in it all as the price of bitcoin surged 20x and alt coins surged 5-10 times against bitcoin themselves. This meant there were many people who chucked in a few grand and bought a stash of alt coins that they thought were gonna be the next big thing and some people ended up with “portfolios” 100-1000x times their initial investment. To explain what it’s like to be on an anonymous business and finance board populated with incel neets, nazis, capitalist shit posters, autistic geniuses and whoever the hell else was using the board for shilling their coins during a 100x run up is impossible. It’s hilarious, dark, absurd, exciting and ultimately addictive as fuck. You have this app called blockfolio that you check every couple of minutes to see the little green percentages and the neat graphs of your value in dollars or bitcoin over day, week, month or year. Despite my years in the pit researching conspiracy, and my being suss on bitcoin in general I wasn’t anywhere near as distrustful as I should have been of an anonymous business and finance board and although I do genuinely think there are good people out there who are sharing information with one another in good faith and feel very grateful to the anons that have taken their time to write up quality content to educate people they don’t know, I wasn’t really prepared for the level of organisation and sophistication of the efforts groups would go to to deceive in this space. Over the course of my time in there I watched my portfolio grow to ridiculous numbers relative to what I put in but I could never really bring myself to sell at the top of a pump as I always felt I had done my research on a coin and wanted to hold it for a long time so why would I sell? After some time though I would read about something new or I would find out of dodgy relationships of a coin I had and would want to exit my position and then I would rebalance my portfolio in to a coin I thought was either technologically superior or didn’t have the nefarious connections to people I had come across doing conspiracy research. Because I had been right in to the conspiracy and the decentralisation tropes I guess I always carried a bit of an antiauthoritarian/anarchist bias and despite participating in a ridiculously capitalistic market, was kind of against capitalism and looking to a blockchain protocol to support something along the lines of an open source anarchosyndicalist cryptocommune. I told myself I was investing in the tech and believed in the collective endeavour of the open source project and ultimately had faith some mysterious “they” would develop a protocol that would emancipate us from this debt slavery complex. As I became more and more aware of how to spot artificial discussion on the chans, I began to seek out further some of the radical projects like vtorrent and skycoin and I guess became a bit carried away from being amidst such ridiculous overt shilling as on the boards so that if you look in my post history you can even see me promoting some of these coins to communities I thought might be sympathetic to their use case. I didn’t see it at the time because I always thought I was holding the coins with the best tech and wanted to ride them up as an investor who believed in them, but this kind of promotion is ultimately just part of a mentality that’s pervasive to the cryptocurrency “community” that insists because it is a decentralised project you have to in a way volunteer to inform people about the coin since the more decentralised ones without premines or DAO structures don’t have marketing budgets, or don’t have marketing teams. In the guise of cultivating a community, groups form together on social media platforms like slack, discord, telegram, twitter and ‘vote’ for different proposals, donate funds to various boards/foundations that are set up to give a “roadmap” for the coins path to greatness and organise marketing efforts on places like reddit, the chans, twitter. That’s for the more grass roots ones at least, there are many that were started as a fork of another coin, or a ICO, airdrop or all these different ways of disseminating a new cryptocurrency or raising funding for promising to develop one. Imagine the operations that can be run by a team that raised millions, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars on their ICOs, especially if they are working in conjunction with a new niche of cryptocurrency media that’s all nepotistic and incestuous. About a year and a half ago I published another piece called “Bitcoin is about to be dethroned” (https://www.reddit.com/C\_S\_T/comments/7ewmuu/bitcoin\_is\_about\_to\_be\_dethroned/) where I felt I had come to realise the scaling debate had been corrupted by a company called Blockstream and they had been paying for social media operations in a fashion not to dissimilar to correct the record or such to control the narrative around the scaling debate and then through deceit and manipulation curated an apparent consensus around their narrative and hijacked the bitcoin name and ticker (BTC). I read the post again just before posting this and decided to refer to it to to add some kind of continuity to my story and hopefully save me writing so much out. Looking back on something you wrote is always a bit cringey especially because I can see that although I had made it a premise post, I was acting pretty confident that I was right and my tongue was acidic because of so much combating of shills on /biz/ but despite the fact I was wrong about the timing I stand by much of what I wrote then and want to expand upon it a bit more now. The fork of the bitcoin protocol in to bitcoin core (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) is the biggest value fork of the many that have occurred. There were a few others that forked off from the core chain that haven’t had any kind of attention put on them, positive or negative and I guess just keep chugging away as their own implementation. The bitcoin cash chain was supposed to be the camp that backed on chain scaling in the debate, but it turned out not everyone was entirely on board with that and some players/hashpower felt it was better to do a layer two type solution themselves although with bigger blocks servicing the second layer. Throughout what was now emerging as a debate within the BCH camp, Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre of Coin Geek said they were going to support massive on chain scaling, do a node implementation that would aim to restore bitcoin back to the 0.1.0 release which had all kinds of functionality included in it that had later been stripped by Core developers over the years and plan to bankrupt the people from Core who changed their mind on agreeing with on-chain scaling. This lead to a fork off the BCH chain in to bitcoin satoshis vision (BSV) and bitcoin cash ABC. https://bitstagram.bitdb.network/m/raw/cbb50c322a2a89f3c627e1680a3f40d4ad3cee5a3fb153e5d6d001bdf85de404 The premise for this post is that Craig S Wright was Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s an interesting premise because depending upon your frame of reference the premise may either be a fact or to some too outrageous to even believe as a premise. Yesterday it was announced via CoinGeek that Craig Steven Wright has been granted the copyright claim for both the bitcoin white-paper under the pen name Satoshi Nakamoto and the original 0.1.0 bitcoin software (both of which were marked (c) copyright of satoshi nakamoto. The reactions to the news can kind of be classified in to four different reactions. Those who heard it and rejected it, those who heard it but remained undecided, those who heard it and accepted it, and those who already believed he was. Apparently to many the price was unexpected and such a revelation wasn’t exactly priced in to the market with the price immediately pumping nearly 100% upon the news breaking. However, to some others it was a vindication of something they already believed. This is an interesting phenomena to observe. For many years now I have always occupied a somewhat positively contrarian position to the default narrative put forward to things so it’s not entirely surprising that I find myself in a camp that holds the minority opinion. As you can see in the bitcoin dethroned piece I called Craig fake satoshi, but over the last year and bit I investigated the story around Craig and came to my conclusion that I believed him to be at least a major part of a team of people who worked on the protocol I have to admit that through reading his articles, I have kind of been brought full circle to where my contrarian opinion has me becoming somewhat of an advocate for “the system’. https://coingeek.com/bitcoin-creator-craig-s-wright-satoshi-nakamoto-granted-us-copyright-registrations-for-bitcoin-white-paper-and-code/ When the news dropped, many took to social media to see what everyone was saying about it. On /biz/ a barrage of threads popped up discussing it with many celebrating and many rejecting the significance of such a copyright claim being granted. Immediately in nearly every thread there was a posting of an image of a person from twitter claiming that registering for copyright is an easy process that’s granted automatically unless challenged and so it doesn’t mean anything. This was enough for many to convince them of the insignificance of the revelation because of the comment from a person who claimed to have authority on twitter. Others chimed in to add that in fact there was a review of the copyright registration especially in high profile instances and these reviewers were satisfied with the evidence provided by Craig for the claim. At the moment Craig is being sued by Ira Kleiman for an amount of bitcoin that he believes he is entitled to because of Craig and Ira’s brother Dave working together on bitcoin. He is also engaged in suing a number of people from the cryptocurrency community for libel and defamation after they continued to use their social media/influencer positions to call him a fraud and a liar. He also has a number of patents lodged through his company nChain that are related to blockchain technologies. This has many people up in arms because in their mind Satoshi was part of a cypherpunk movement, wanted anonymity, endorsed what they believed to be an anti state and open source technologies and would use cryptography rather than court to prove his identity and would have no interest in patents. https://bitstagram.bitdb.network/m/raw/1fce34a7004759f8db16b2ae9678e9c6db434ff2e399f59b5a537f72eff2c1a1 https://imgur.com/a/aANAsL3) If you listen to Craig with an open mind, what cannot be denied is the man is bloody smart. Whether he is honest or not is up to you to decide, but personally I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and then cut them off if i find them to be dishonest. What I haven’t really been able to do with my investigation of craig is cut him off. There have been many moments where I disagree with what he has had to say but I don’t think people having an opinion about something that I believe to be incorrect is the same as being a dishonest person. It’s very important to distinguish the two and if you are unable to do so there is a very real risk of you projecting expectations or ideals upon someone based off your ideas of who they are. Many times if someone is telling the truth but you don’t understand it, instead of acknowledging you don’t understand it, you label them as being stupid or dishonest. I think that has happened to an extreme extent with Craig. Let’s take for example the moment when someone in the slack channel asked Craig if he had had his IQ tested and what it was. Craig replied with 179. The vast majority of people on the internet have heard someone quote their IQ before in an argument or the IQ of others and to hear someone say such a score that is actually 6 standard deviations away from the mean score (so probably something like 1/100 000) immediately makes them reject it on the grounds of probability. Craig admits that he’s not the best with people and having worked with/taught many high functioning people (sometimes on the spectrum perhaps) on complex anatomical and physiological systems I have seen some that also share the same difficulties in relating to people and reconciling their genius and understandings with more average intelligences. Before rejecting his claim outright because we don’t understand much of what he says, it would be prudent to first check is there any evidence that may lend support to his claim of a one in a million intelligence quotient. Craig has mentioned on a number of occasions that he holds a number of different degrees and certifications in relation to law, cryptography, statistics, mathematics, economics, theology, computer science, information technology/security. I guess that does sound like something someone with an extremely high intelligence could achieve. Now I haven’t validated all of them but from a simple check on Charles Sturt’s alumni portal using his birthday of 23rd of October 1970 we can see that he does in fact have 3 Masters and a PhD from Charles Sturt. Other pictures I have seen from his office at nChain have degrees in frames on the wall and a developer published a video titled Craig Wright is a Genius with 17 degrees where he went and validated at least 8 of them I believe. He is recently publishing his Doctorate of Theology through an on-chain social media page that you have to pay a little bit for access to sections of his thesis. It’s titled the gnarled roots of creation. He has also mentioned on a number of occasions his vast industry experience as both a security contractor and business owner. An archive from his LinkedIn can be seen below as well. LinkedIn - https://archive.is/Q66Gl https://youtu.be/nXdkczX5mR0 - Craig Wright is a Genius with 17 Degrees https://www.yours.org/content/gnarled-roots-of-a-creation-mythos-45e69558fae0 - Gnarled Roots of Creation. In fact here is an on chain collection of articles and videos relating to Craig called the library of craig - https://www.bitpaste.app/tx/94b361b205196560d1bd09e4e3b3ec7ad6bea478af204cabfe243efd8fc944dd So there is a guy with 17 degrees, a self professed one in a hundred thousand IQ, who’s worked for Australian Federal Police, ASIO, NSA, NASA, ASX. He’s been in Royal Australian Air Force, operated a number of businesses in Australia, published half a dozen academic papers on networks, cryptography, security, taught machine learning and digital forensics at a number of universities and then another few hundred short articles on medium about his work in these various domains, has filed allegedly 700 patents on blockchain related technology that he is going to release on bitcoin sv, copyrighted the name so that he may prevent other competing protocols from using the brand name, that is telling you he is the guy that invented the technology that he has a whole host of other circumstantial evidence to support that, but people won’t believe that because they saw something that a talking head on twitter posted or that a Core Developer said, or a random document that appears online with a C S Wright signature on it that lists access to an address that is actually related to Roger Ver, that’s enough to write him off as a scam. Even then when he publishes a photo of the paper copy which appears to supersede the scanned one, people still don’t readjust their positions on the matter and resort back to “all he has to do is move the coins or sign a tx”. https://imgur.com/urJbe10 Yes Craig was on the Cypherpunk mailing list back in the day, but that doesn’t mean that he was or is an anarchist. Or that he shares the same ideas that Code Is Law that many from the crypto community like to espouse. I myself have definitely been someone to parrot the phrase myself before reading lots of Craig’s articles and trying to understand where he is coming from. What I have come to learn from listening and reading the man, is that although I might be fed up with the systems we have in place, they still exist to perform important functions within society and because of that the tools we develop to serve us have to exist within that preexisting legal and social framework in order for them to have any chance at achieving global success in replacing fiat money with the first mathematically provably scarce commodity. He says he designed bitcoin to be an immutable data ledger where everyone is forced to be honest, and economically disincentivised to perform attacks within the network because of the logs kept in a Write Once Read Many (WORM) ledger with hierarchical cryptographic keys. In doing so you eliminate 99% of cyber crime, create transparent DAO type organisations that can be audited and fully compliant with legislature that’s developed by policy that comes from direct democratic voting software. Everyone who wants anonymous coins wants to have them so they can do dishonest things, illegal things, buy drugs, launder money, avoid taxes. Now this triggers me a fair bit as someone who has bought drugs online, who probably hasn’t paid enough tax, who has done illegal things contemplating what it means to have that kind of an evidence ledger, and contemplate a reality where there are anonymous cryptocurrencies, where massive corporations continue to be able to avoid taxes, or where methamphetamine can be sold by the tonne, or where people can be bought and sold. This is the reality of creating technologies that can enable and empower criminals. I know some criminals and regard them as very good friends, but I know there are some criminals that I do not wish to know at all. I know there are people that do horrific things in the world and I know that something that makes it easier for them is having access to funds or the ability to move money around without being detected. I know arms, drugs and people are some of the biggest markets in the world, I know there is more than $50 trillion dollars siphoned in to off shore tax havens from the value generated as the product of human creativity in the economy and how much human charity is squandered through the NGO apparatus. I could go on and on about the crappy things happening in the world but I can also imagine them getting a lot worse with an anonymous cryptocurrency. Not to say that I don’t think there shouldn’t be an anonymous cryptocurrency. If someone makes one that works, they make one that works. Maybe they get to exist for a little while as a honeypot or if they can operate outside the law successfully longer, but bitcoin itself shouldn’t be one. There should be something a level playing field for honest people to interact with sound money. And if they operate within the law, then they will have more than adequate privacy, just they will leave immutable evidence for every transaction that can be used as evidence to build a case against you committing a crime. His claim is that all the people that are protesting the loudest about him being Satoshi are all the people that are engaged in dishonest business or that have a vested interest in there not being one singular global ledger but rather a whole myriad of alternative currencies that can be pumped and dumped against one another, have all kinds of financial instruments applied to them like futures and then have these exchanges and custodial services not doing any Know Your Customer (KYC) or Anti Money Laundering (AML) processes. Bitcoin SV was delisted by a number of exchanges recently after Craig launched legal action at some twitter crypto influencetalking heads who had continued to call him a fraud and then didn’t back down when the CEO of one of the biggest crypto exchanges told him to drop the case or he would delist his coin. The trolls of twitter all chimed in in support of those who have now been served with papers for defamation and libel and Craig even put out a bitcoin reward for a DOX on one of the people who had been particularly abusive to him on twitter. A big european exchange then conducted a twitter poll to determine whether or not BSV should be delisted as either (yes, it’s toxic or no) and when a few hundred votes were in favour of delisting it (which can be bought for a couple of bucks/100 votes). Shortly after Craig was delisted, news began to break of a US dollar stable coin called USDT potentially not being fully solvent for it’s apparent 1:1 backing of the token to dollars in the bank. Binance suffered an alleged exchange hack with 7000 BTC “stolen” and the site suspending withdrawals and deposits for a week. Binance holds 800m USDT for their US dollar markets and immediately once the deposits and withdrawals were suspended there was a massive pump for BTC in the USDT markets as people sought to exit their potentially not 1:1 backed token for bitcoin. The CEO of this exchange has the business registered out of Malta, no physical premises, the CEO stays hotel room to hotel room around the world, has all kind of trading competitions and the binance launchpad, uses an unregistered security to collect fees ($450m during the bear market) from the trading of the hundreds of coins that it lists on its exchange and has no regard for AML and KYC laws. Craig said he himself was able to create 100 gmail accounts in a day and create binance accounts with each of those gmail accounts and from the same wallet, deposit and withdraw 1 bitcoin into each of those in one day ($8000 x 100) without facing any restrictions or triggering any alerts or such. This post could ramble on for ever and ever exposing the complexities of the rabbit hole but I wanted to offer some perspective on what’s been happening in the space. What is being built on the bitcoin SV blockchain is something that I can only partially comprehend but even from my limited understanding of what it is to become, I can see that the entirety of the crypto community is extremely threatened as it renders all the various alt coins and alt coin exchanges obsolete. It makes criminals play by the rules, it removes any power from the developer groups and turns the blockchain and the miners in to economies of scale where the blockchain acts as a serverless database, the miners provide computational resources/storage/RAM and you interact with a virtual machine through a monitor and keyboard plugged in to an ethernet port. It will be like something that takes us from a type 0 to a type 1 civilisation. There are many that like to keep us in the quagmire of corruption and criminality as it lines their pockets. Much much more can be read about the Cartel in crypto in the archive below. Is it possible this cartel has the resources to mount such a successful psychological operation on the cryptocurrency community that they manage to convince everyone that Craig is the bad guy, when he’s the only one calling for regulation, the application of the law, the storage of immutable records onchain to comply with banking secrecy laws, for Global Sound Money? https://archive.fo/lk1lH#selection-3671.46-3671.55 Please note, where possible, images were uploaded onto the bitcoin sv blockchain through bitstagram paying about 10c a pop. If I wished I could then use an application etch and archive this post to the chain to be immutably stored. If this publishing forum was on chain too it would mean that when I do the archive the images that are in the bitstragram links (but stored in the bitcoin blockchain/database already) could be referenced in the archive by their txid so that they don’t have to be stored again and thus bringing the cost of the archive down to only the html and css.
Hello! My name is Daria Volkova and I am the Head of Platinum Legal Department. Our team believes that these are exciting times for the crypto market. We supported more than 100 clients, created and promoted their STO and ICO campaigns, got from an idea to funding in a matter of 2.5 months! See the full list of our services: Platinum.fund We are more than proud to present our education project. The UBAI can help you to learn specifics about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. Learn all about ICO avenues and opportunities, plug into the world of trading cryptocurrency markets, become an expert in scam projects, promoting ICOs and STOs, launching your own campaigns and many more! What are the different cryptocurrency regulations in major countries? Find the answer after reading this article. Cryptocurrency Regulations across Major Countries Cryptocurrency and the blockchain industry may seem sufficiently exciting and attractive to you now. After all, you are taking the time and effort to study this course. You may be planning to work in cryptocurrency and the blockchain industry. Of course, we want to encourage you and help you proceed toward your goal. But it is also important you understand the regulations guiding the blockchain industry to help keep yourself out of trouble. This year, in particular, seems to be the year in which a lot of countries are looking to finally coalesce the regulations relating to the blockchain industry into a workable legal framework. Some countries are more accommodating to cryptocurrency and blockchain technological innovations while others are still more cautious. We will examine how each major country is forming their own regulatory framework for the blockchain industry. Canada Cryptocurrencies are not considered legal tender in Canada. This was clearly expressed by the country’s Financial Consumer Agency (FCA). Canada, like the US, has yet to clearly define or legislate a framework surrounding cryptocurrencies. But Canada still appears to be among the most transparent of countries for the nation’s interpretation and enforcement of the law surrounding cryptocurrencies (aside from Switzerland). For the time being, Canada has clearly stated its reluctance to adopt cryptocurrency as a legal tender, due to its high volatility. “ “The United States of America (USA) There are certain laws regarding transactions in virtual currency in the US today but there is still no comprehensive legal framework. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission currently regulates virtual currencies as commodities. The CFTC is the first US regulator to allow for public cryptocurrency trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission requires registration of any virtual currency traded in the US if it is classified as a security (e.g. by the Howey test). The regulatory authorities have not yet formulated or offered a coherent framework for regulations regarding cryptocurrencies. Typical of most legislators and regulatory agencies in the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has intensified its focus on the pressing need for comprehensive regulation. And it seems everyone is waiting for the right catalyst to coalesce into a usable set of legal guidelines that can protect the investing public and also allow for blockchain and cryptocurrency innovation as well. If cryptocurrency becomes a form of legal tender in the US, there will likely be stringent laws on its use. However, if cryptocurrency is treated like a security, cryptocurrencies would be regulated under securities law as interpreted by the SEC. Present securities laws place a large number of limitations on who is able to buy securities, how they are traded, and how to ensure transparency in the flow of information relevant to investors. Also note that non-US investors may experience their own difficulties getting a license to trade cryptocurrencies in the country. “ “Japan Japan has always been one of the most positive and forward-thinking nations regarding cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. Of course, they were cautious at first, and they knew no more than anyone else in government, which means they literally knew nothing. But they took time to research, learn, and develop an approach to regulate the industry without killing it. The official policy is clear: Protect the public interest, but also encourage the growth of the industry with a legal framework that allows for innovation in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. China The situation in China is a sad one. The country has been taking increasingly strict actions to discourage and outlaw any activity related to the blockchain industry. China has banned ICOs, frozen all accounts associated with cryptocurrency, stopped bitcoin miners and even ordered a nationwide ban on all forms of cryptocurrency trading. China has the strictest laws against cryptocurrency. Yet, despite that fact, as of 2017, 50% of the world’s mining population was from China! If you are involved with the cryptocurrency industry it is strongly advised to stay away from China, and avoid transactions with Chinese business because of the unpredictable and negative legal framework. “ “The United Kingdom & European Union Brexit is scheduled to take place in March 2019, yet the UK and the EU still remain united in their regulatory attitude toward cryptocurrencies. There are also reports that the UK and EU are planning to end anonymity for cryptocurrency traders. The UK and EU are both trying to control all the scams and frauds. They are working with cryptocurrency platforms to stop or at least report all suspicious transactions. This adds a degree of regulatory burden on the exchanges as well as increasing the associated compliance costs. Cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile. They are a high-risk investment. Governments across Europe are greatly concerned about the possibility of both retail and sophisticated investors losing a lot of money. This has led to a situation similar to that in the US. The regulatory authorities have not yet formulated or offered a coherent framework for regulations regarding cryptocurrencies. There is an intense focus on the pressing need for comprehensive regulation. And everyone is waiting for the right catalyst to coalesce into a usable set of legal guidelines that can protect the investing public and allow for blockchain and cryptocurrency innovation as well. We certainly hope for intelligent and effective legislation from all the major countries. “ “Accommodating & Unaccommodating Countries Below is a list of countries we have not specifically covered, but they have each taken an active position on a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. The following countries are either supportive or at least neutral toward cryptocurrencies: -Switzerland. -Australia. -Nigeria. -Ghana. -South Africa. -Singapore. Countries with the most stringent and negative cryptocurrency regulation: -Venezuela. -South Korea. -India. -Russia. Did you know? It is not uncommon to see Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency ATMs throughout Japan. Exchange robberies and hacks like MtGox, and the recent loss of $530 million NEM coins have led to serious debate in the Japanese government. The industry needs to provide a secure and manageable solution to these problems. Voluntary self-regulation and close cooperation with regulatory authorities is the most favored solution. It seems the regulators are working hard behind the scenes right now leading the industry in the desired direction in typical Japanese fashion. “ “Blockchain Industry Regulations in the USA Based on the information received from the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review, there was a variety of responses from different government bodies about blockchain regulations. The regulators responses ranged from indifference to suspicion, and to positive expectation and excitement. The US government has tremendous constitutional power to regulate business and industry, including of course the blockchain industry if it so desires. But basically, the federal government has been relatively indifferent and has even refused to speak on blockchain regulations despite the interest of various federal agencies. As of 2017, eight states in the US were working on bills promoting the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies. It is even reported that a few states have actually begun the final steps before voting and passing legislation into law. On April 3, 2018 Arizona introduced a law allowing corporations to hold and share data on the blockchain. The governor, Doug Ducey, put forward the legislation after the state began accepting signatures and smart contracts recorded on the blockchain as legally valid documentation. In 2017, Delaware was the first state to pass legislation allowing for shares of stocks to be legally traded on the blockchain. Other notable developments have occurred in the US at the state or local level. Vermont makes use of blockchain as evidence in trials. Chicago uses blockchain to maintain real estate records. New York is currently evaluating four bills for the application of data storage on the blockchain. “ ” Blockchain Regulations in Europe The entire European Union has approached blockchain with a positive and welcoming attitude. The EU has taken the position that they want to actively encourage innovation. This philosophy could support the development of cryptocurrencies in two ways: -Encouraging the exploration of uses testing the impact and effect of the laws in a way that allows for a more finely-tuned and sophisticated understanding for all parties involved. -Giving entrepreneurs the confidence that their target markets will be more trusting of their solution since they are operating with the explicit legal support of the state. This approach, along with the EU’s scope as the regulator of 28 different countries, will encourage growth across the entire crypto ecosystem, and may end up transforming Europe into one of the most desirable destinations for blockchain development. Entrepreneurs are likely to move to the EU bloc to access the rich vein of available talent, as well as the positive and supportive laws. The EU has actually disclosed through its executive arm that it is working on the use of blockchain for distributed ledger based projects. EU officials have constantly stated they are looking for ways to support more innovation with distributed ledger technology. The European Commission said it was “”actively monitoring Blockchain and DLT developments”” and has work in progress to explore “”DLT benefits and challenges as well as fields for application in financial services””. The official press release stated that the commission clearly wants to “”pilot projects to foster decentralized innovation ecosystems and help reshape interactions between consumers, producers, creators and among citizens, businesses and administrations to the end benefit of society””. “ “Blockchain Regulations in Europe §2 Switzerland has gradually become the favored hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain development in Europe. This position has been enhanced through a Swiss non-profit blockchain and cryptographic technology ecosystem known as the Crypto Valley Association. The Crypto Valley Association has begun working on the development of an ICO Code of Conduct to take advantage of the ban imposed by China on token crowd sales. They are hoping to capture the Chinese and Asian entrepreneurs searching for a new home. Other countries are not as accepting of this new DLT technology and have even gone as far as classifying it as illegal and immoral behavior. There have been hyperbolic concerns most notably from China that cryptocurrencies will destabilize world financial markets. There are various pilot projects and efforts to prove the benefits of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain industry currently being tested all across Europe. Yet even now they are barely scratching the surface of the full potential of the blockchain. Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Citizens of countries all over the world have varying attitudes about cryptocurrency. These attitudes and sentiments can be very significant to the future adoption of cryptocurrencies because politicians and regulators tend to act in consideration of the collective opinion of the public. Some countries were more accommodating at first but then became stricter, despite positive public interest, basically saying they are still not sure about the possible consequences and benefits of the technology. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Estonia Surprisingly enough this small Baltic nation has gained a reputation for being quick to accept technological innovation. Estonia has a tech-friendly government eager to accommodate the innovative use of cryptocurrency in fields ranging from blockchain technology for healthcare and banking services; and even granting citizens the right to become what is known as “e-Residents”. As e-Residents, Estonian citizens and businesses are provided with digital business authentication. It is also one of the first countries to employ the use of a blockchain-based e-voting service that enabled people to become shareholders of NASDAQ’s Tallinn Stock Exchange. This fascinating and highly innovative country is now host to a number of Bitcoin ATMs and startups, like Paxful. They are cryptocurrency friendly, and cryptocurrency user friendly as well. Estonia also has highest internet penetration rates in the world. Estonia may be a fine place to consider basing your ICO due to the friendly legal and regulatory environment. This and a lot more you can learn on our website: www.ubai.co! “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption The United States of America The USA is the world’s dominant superpower, and it should come as no surprise that it has the highest number of cryptocurrency users in the world. It also has the highest bitcoin trading volume and the highest number of bitcoin ATMs. Powered by Silicon Valley, which is home to a lot of cryptocurrency and blockchain startups, the US stands at the forefront of all things relating to cryptocurrency worldwide. Many other nations are planning to follow the US lead concerning cryptocurrency regulations. This means the USA will serve as the testing ground for cryptocurrency and crypto-regulation in the years to come. This is likely where the future regulatory framework will take shape. Bitcoin in particular has shown massive growth in the US. This can only be interpreted as a strong tailwind for a positive regulatory environment because the population at large supports blockchain technology. For the moment, due to regulatory paralysis and the resultant legal vacuum, ICOs are strongly advised against raising funds or basing operations in the US. The SEC has been particularly strict in its enforcement of securities and investment law which require an ICO to do an oppressive amount of compliance work. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Denmark When it comes to technological advancements and the standard of living of its citizens, Denmark is among the world leaders. It is considered one of the most developed countries in the world. It is also at the forefront of countries looking to reduce the use of cash money and advance to the use of 100% digital currency. As such, sentiment among the general public and political sphere actively supports the adoption of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. The only question left is which particular cryptocurrency system to adopt. It is still unclear whether bitcoin is the one, or BTC will mainly just be accepted as a means of exchange. There are also discussions in Denmark about when to redesign its national financial system; this would be a “world first”, and a radical leap forward for cryptocurrencies. Another fascinating thing is that the Danish Central Bank has declared BTC as a non-currency; meaning its use is not subject to the country’s currency regulations. Some of the top bitcoin startups and exchanges such as CCDEK have their foundations in Denmark. With its open market and encouraging regulatory framework, Denmark might very well rival Switzerland in Western Europe for the position of the continent’s preeminent ICO and blockchain industry hub. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Sweden Sweden is quite similar to Denmark, for its social and demographic climate, and also for the government’s desire to eliminate cash. The Swedish Riksbank recently introduced negative interest rates. This can cause a spike in the demand for coins in the near future as citizens look for the best way to preserve their wealth. Negative interest rates like we have seen in Europe and Japan also, actively corrode savers’ wealth because people are actually paying a percentage of their savings to the central bank to hold their cash, in addition to losing out to inflation at the same time. Sweden has taken the boldest step yet in all of continental Europe to legalize cryptocurrency. The country legalized the use of BTC and other cryptocurrencies as a means of payment by official public declaration. It is however expected that exchanges should file for a license in accordance with AML/CTF and KYC regulations. Sweden is also home to a number of cryptocurrency startups such as the Safello Bitcoin exchange, and Stockholm-based KnCMiner. The gradually increasing trading volume of cryptocurrency has been a good indicator of the country’s appreciating demand for cryptocurrencies. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption The Netherlands The Netherlands is quite fascinating in its own right. How can a country not be referred to as Bitcoin-friendly when it can boast about having its own “Bitcoin City”? There are over 100 merchants that sell goods that can be purchased with cryptocurrency in Bitcoin City. There are no regulations restricting the use of BTC in the Netherlands under the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands. This explains why a lot of startups, BTC ATMs, and even a Bitcoin Embassy can be found in the heart of Amsterdam (the capital of Netherlands). The friendly climate for cryptocurrency has led to a lot of very active bitcoin communities across the nation hosting regular meetups and other events. The country’s banking sector has been looking to incorporate BTC and blockchain to reduce costs and improve banking technology. The Netherlands is also a popular location for many important bitcoin conferences and bitcoin companies such as BitPay. The Netherlands is increasingly becoming a prominent place for ICOs and blockchain related businesses to base their operations. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Finland Well-known as the home of Nokia, Finland has constantly been at the forefront of technological innovation, just like its other Scandinavian neighbors. The Finnish Central Board of Taxes (CBT) has even gone as far as classifying bitcoin as a financial service, exempting it and cryptocurrency purchases from the VAT. What more could be better for Bitcoin? Finland also boasts a significant number of BTC ATMs despite its small population. The capital of Helsinki alone is reported to have 10 ATMs for BTC. The country is also home to top exchanges such as FinCCX and Bittiraha.fi. As of January 2016, the most expensive bitcoin sale took place in Finland. It involved the sale of a Tesla Model S worth over €140,000 at Auto-Outlet Helsinki Oy. Canada Canada is home to a variety of bitcoin startups and ATMs. It is considered to be more favorable toward cryptocurrencies than the USA. The country has two cities on its eastern and western coasts, Toronto and Vancouver, that are recognized as “Bitcoin hubs”. Canada has a vibrant cryptocurrency community and is home to startups such as Decentral, the Vanbex Group and a large number of merchants who accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Vancouver is known to have over 20 ATMs while Toronto is well-known for holding large cryptocurrency conferences. There has been constant growth in cryptocurrency trading volume in the country. Canada might be the best location in North America to base an ICO or operate a blockchain business due to its supportive regulatory environment and a rich ecosystem for cryptocurrency, with human talent, ATMs and other tools, etc. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption United Kingdom The UK is one of the absolute top financial hubs in the world. It is also a center of innovation. There are a large number of bitcoin and blockchain related startups, BTMs and active communities. All of the previously listed crypto-friendly features make the UK a very desirable environment for bitcoin. The UK has identified the inevitable need for a new payment solution and is gradually bracing itself for a widespread adoption of cryptocurrency in the future. There are even a few local pubs that accept BTC as a means of payment. It is also interesting to note that the Bank of England has been closely monitoring bitcoin technology and has requested ideas from citizens on the improvement of its monetary system. Bitcoin is presently seen as “private money” where VAT is imposed from suppliers of goods and services that accept cryptocurrency as payment. Profits and losses incurred from cryptocurrency trading are also subject to capital gains tax, just as in the US. In the UK, it has become increasingly clear that BTC can be part of a bigger story, and the trading volume indicates steady growth. There are not clear laws against cryptocurrencies at the present time. But the lack of regulatory momentum suggests we may see more positive developments soon. One thing to keep in mind, while the Brexit is still in progress, the British government may be more likely to legislate on non-core issues. “ “Country-by-Country Cryptocurrency Adoption Australia The major banks in Australia have been quite hostile toward bitcoin, but at least the country has removed the burden of “double taxation” on cryptocurrency. This was good news to the local business community because blockchain startups had begun to leave the country as a direct result of unfavorable taxation and closure of bank accounts. The use of BTC still remains unregulated, there is no law or regulation restricting the use of cryptocurrencies by Australian citizens. Cryptocurrencies are regarded as a form of property in Australia, and purchases with BTC, for example, are referred to as “barter”. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), you will remember, is transitioning its CHESS verification system to a blockchain solution that should go live at the beginning of 2019. Cryptocurrencies in Australia are seen a lot like they are in the US. Topics like the imposition of capital gains tax, concern about securities law, the legal debate about using cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services, etc., are all problematic for regulators. While the general population is quite comfortable and supportive of cryptocurrencies and blockchain solutions, at the present it is not a high priority for the government to legislate or regulate. “ “Taxation and Cryptocurrency Tax is of course one of the most important factors in financial matters on both a personal and corporate level. Taxes greatly influence investment decisions and returns, regardless of industry or size. It is one of the first things every individual or group considers before investing. Notably, in Australia and the USA, cryptocurrency gains are treated as capital gains and taxed at up to 50% of the return. Some countries have low cryptocurrency taxes specifically to encourage the blockchain industry. By offering a more competitive tax rate, countries are implicitly supporting cryptocurrency and actively trying to offer a better return profile than other countries. We will discuss the different taxation regimes in a wide range of countries so you can ascertain the financial advantages and disadvantages of a variety of locations. Belarus Belarus charges 0% in taxation until 2023. That exemption is specifically for cryptocurrency exchanges and transactions. This has been done to help Belarus build a special economic zone, referred to as ‘HTP Belarus’. Their goal is to have an economic zone strong enough to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley. The government of Belarus has also declared smart contracts as legal documents. Anyone looking to set up a blockchain company or a cryptocurrency startup should seriously consider Belarus. It has a supportive regulatory and legal environment which actively encourages the blockchain industry and does not impose punitive taxes upon those inside the industry. “ “Taxation and Cryptocurrency Portugal Any and all personal income received from cryptocurrency transactions is tax-free in Portugal at the present moment. Income from cryptocurrency trading is categorized as something legally different from traditional income or capital gains. The Portuguese government stated clearly that any kind of sale of cryptocurrency does not fall under capital income or capital gain. If an individual is however found to be carrying out professional activity, or any business activity related to cryptocurrencies, that is a different matter and such income will be subject to taxation. From a personal perspective, Portugal is one of the leading countries where an individual can carry out their cryptocurrency transactions and enjoy a decent standard of living in the same country too. However, for ICO and Blockchain businesses it is not recommended to base your operations in Portugal. China China is famous the world over for being home to some of the largest cryptocurrency mines and many active cryptocurrency investors; yet at the same time China makes it illegal to conduct any cryptocurrency related business or investment. But China still has an especially attractive environment for investors. Hong Kong runs on a policy of zero VAT or capital gains tax so it is easy to recommend you base your business there. Hong Kong also stands out as a major financial hub in the heart of Asia. “ “Taxation and Cryptocurrency Netherlands Actually, Netherlands was the first country to make use of a non-zero tax rate policy for cryptocurrencies. So, it may seem reasonable to expect a discouraging tax situation. But the fact is, Netherland’s tax policy is rather advantageous for cryptocurrency. They have a very simple, low-tax regime. Cryptocurrency assets need to be declared with the total assets owned by an individual at the beginning of the year to assess their value. Cryptocurrency gains will be taxed at the highest tax bracket for capital income of just around 5%. The Netherlands is strongly recommended as a good country to work and live in, from both a personal and corporate perspective. Germany Germany is the economic center of the EU. This makes it a great place to start a cryptocurrency or blockchain company. Financial technology has been thriving there for more than ten years, and Germany has favorable cryptocurrency laws too. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency assets have a 0% tax when used in making payments due to no VAT levied for making payments with BTC, because there is no “value added” through cryptocurrency as a fiscal product. Germany offers a moderately compelling case for both blockchain business and individuals. While the tax rate on income at the company level is not competitive, the ability to pay for services in crypto as well as hold cryptocurrency assets and sell them at zero percent taxation rate is compelling. “ “Where to Base Your ICO Let’s talk about the countries that are most accommodating with regard ICOs. Start-up ICO companies, like any company, essentially require three key principles for operation. The first is a sound legal and regulatory framework wherein the rule of law is preserved and business encouraged. The second is the ability to hire or acquire talented individuals to work at the firm. The third and final is the tax system and access to associated financial systems in order to allow the enterprise to succeed. Estonia This country is, perhaps surprisingly, widely referred to as the most digital society in the world. Estonians are known to be pathfinders deeply involved in setting up an efficient, secure, and transparent internet ecosystem. The country ranks first when it comes to the number of ICOs per inhabitant. It has an incredibly supportive tax regime, actually among the most competitive in the world, as well as a deep pool of talent across all areas of the digital spectrum. Estonia offers possibly the most supportive and friendly regulatory and legal framework in the world for an ICO. This, in combination with a zero percent tax rate at both a personal and corporate level, combine to make Estonia one of the single most appealing locations from which you can launch and operate your ICO. “ “Where to Base Your ICO Singapore Singapore is another important regional hub in Asia for its strong rule of law as well as low taxation. The country offers one of the highest standards of living in the world. It is centrally located in the heart of Asia, so it easy to travel and recruit talent from surrounding countries. At the present there are not any specific regulations targeting the blockchain industry, but it is one of the world’s largest countries by funds raised for ICOs. It has a competitive tax regime in combination with strict AML and KYC. All of these factors make Singapore Asia’s leading location to launch and base an ICO. The regulatory situation around the world may seem rather complicated. That is because it is. Laws and regulations are changing rapidly all over the world. And the regulatory framework is the most significant point of concern for a startup ICO. You should carefully study not only the current regulations surrounding your particular venture and how its tokenomics affects its classification, but you also need a reasonable sense of where the country is likely to be six months or a year later. Ideally you would base your ICO in a country that is supportive now, and all timeframes into the future with a competitive and legally sound tax system. Where to Base Your ICO Slovenia Slovenia has recently transformed itself into the leading destination for blockchain technology in Europe. The government of Slovenia has placed a strong emphasis on the study of blockchain technology in public administration, and there has been an amazing success rate for ICOs in Slovenia. While the Slovenian government is a leader in terms of adopting cryptocurrencies, its rate of taxation is still considered quite high at 19%, even though that is still lower than other European countries. ICOs are considered to be normal business activities where you are taxed based on the funds received from an ICO less the expenses of doing business. Switzerland Switzerland is trying to remain relevant for the blockchain industry and for ICOs. The Swiss finance ministry is actively trying to attract investors to the country. Switzerland is considered a very important crypto location due to fact it was home to four of the largest ICOs in the world. The country is also very attractive to investors because of its friendly regulations and digital expertise. The taxation and regulatory environment is extremely secure and positive towards the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry in general. Are there successful ICOs that have originated from the specific countries considered? Read the full article to get the answer! UBAI.co Learn more about our STO and ICO marketing services right now! Contact me via LinkedIn: LinkedIn
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