It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions. The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscaleand its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread.My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers. Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well.If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF?
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed?
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created?
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor. Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”) Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product?
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Cash: The investor pays the subscription amount in cash and the Authorized Participant will use that cash to purchase ETH.
ETH: The investor transfers the ETH to the Authorized Participant, which will contribute the ETH in-kind to the Trust.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow?
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there. As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however. Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH?
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself. Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares?
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure?
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset. Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE?
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC. ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing?
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC. As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on. Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain?
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good. Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon. Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel?
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.) That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely. IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]…
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0?
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015. Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?”
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
Access to trading within a tax advantaged retirement account
Institutions can easily and safely get exposure to crypto in a more legal-friendly manner
Ease of use for those who are not very technologically savvy
Ease of access for someone who doesn’t want to set up a Coinbase account
Perceived trust in institutional platforms over something like Coinbase or Kraken
Degen traders who just want access to the volatility ETHE provides that have no interest in crypto beyond that
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance. As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium?
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
ETHE is NOT redeeming shares and as such doesn’t have an effective arbitrage mechanism
ETHE has a 1 year wait to be sold on the secondary market, again negating the ability to effectively arbitrage the premium
People may simply be willing to pay a premium for the benefits stated above.
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:
ETHE hasn’t been around as long, so there is less secondary market supply to go around
ETHE was listed at an insanely high premium to begin with
ETHE might simply be more popular at the moment
Could just be sheer stupidity (investors think ETHE is a 1:1 ratio not 1:11)
Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC?
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc?
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing. For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH?
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund. In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale?
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know. Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE?
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Calm before the storm? Analyst says $20K Bitcoin possible in 3 months
Mohit Sorout says Bitcoin could rise to a new all-time high in three months when it breaks out of the existing range. The price of Bitcoin (BTC) has been consolidating within a tight range for several months. If the top cryptocurrency successfully breaks out, Bitazu Capital founding partner Mohit Sorout says a record-high would be imminent. Since July 2020, Bitcoin has been ranging between $10,200 and $11,800, a 15% range. It has seen subdued volatility for a prolonged period, except for some short instances of a volatility spike. When Bitcoin stays stable for a long time in a tight price range, a major price movement typically occurs. Whether a breakout would occur in the near term or not remains an uncertainty. But if it happens, Sorout says it would take three months for BTC to hit $20,000.
Why three months for a Bitcoin all-time high following a breakout?
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.
Price fluctuations in the bitcoin spot rate on cryptocurrency exchanges are driven by many factors. Volatility is measured in traditional markets by the Volatility Index, also known as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX). More recently, a volatility index for bitcoin has also become available. Known as the Bitcoin Volatility Index, it aims to track the volatility of the world's leading digital currency by market cap over various periods of time. Bitcoin's value has been historically quite volatile. In a three-month span from October of 2017 to January of 2018, for instance, the volatility of the price of bitcoin reached to nearly 8%. This is more than twice the volatility of bitcoin in the 30-day period ending January 15, 2020. But why is bitcoin so volatile? Here are just a few of the many factors behind bitcoin's volatility.
Bad News Hurts Adoption Rate
News events that scare bitcoin users include geopolitical events and statements by governments that bitcoin is likely to be regulated. Bitcoin's early adopters included several bad actors, producing headline news stories that produced fear in investors. Headline-making bitcoin news over the decade or so of the cryptocurrency's existence includes the bankruptcy of Mt. Gox in early 2014 and, more recently, that of the South Korean exchange Yapian Youbit. Other news stories which shocked investors include the high-profile use of bitcoin in drug transactions via Silk Road that ended with the FBI shutdown of the marketplace in October 2013. All these incidents and the public panic that ensued drove the value of bitcoins versus fiat currencies down rapidly. However, bitcoin-friendly investors viewed those events as evidence that the market was maturing, driving the value of bitcoins versus the dollar markedly back up in the short period immediately following the news events.
Bitcoin's Perceived Value Sways
One reason why bitcoin may fluctuate against fiat currencies is the perceived store of value versus the fiat currency. Bitcoin has properties that make it similar to gold. It is governed by a design decision by the developers of the core technology to limit its production to a fixed quantity of 21 million BTC. Since that differs markedly from fiat currency, which is dynamically managed by governments who want to maintain low inflation, high employment, and satisfactory growth through investment in capital resources, as economies built with fiat currencies show signs of strength or weakness, investors may allocate more or less of their assets into bitcoin.
Uncertainty of Future Bitcoin's Value
Bitcoin volatility is also driven in large part by varying perceptions of the intrinsic value of the cryptocurrency as a store of value and method of value transfer. A store of value is the function by which an asset can be useful in the future with some predictability. A store of value can be saved and exchanged for some good or service in the future. A method of value transfer is any object or concept used to transmit property in the form of assets from one party to another. Bitcoin’s volatility at the present makes it a somewhat unclear store of value, but it promises nearly frictionless value transfer. As a result, we see that bitcoin's value can swing based on news events much as we observe with fiat currencies.
Large Currency Holder Risks
Bitcoin volatility is also to an extent driven by holders of large proportions of the total outstanding float of the currency. For bitcoin investors with current holdings above around $10M, it is not clear how they would liquidate a position that large into a fiat position without severely moving the market. Indeed, it may not be clear how they would liquidate a position of that size in a short period of time at all, as most cryptocurrency exchanges impose 24-hour withdrawal limits far below that threshold. Bitcoin has not reached the mass market adoption rates that would be necessary to provide option value to large holders of the currency.
Security Breaches Cause Volatility
Bitcoin can also become volatile when the bitcoin community exposes security vulnerabilities in an effort to produce massive open source responses in the form of security fixes. This approach to security is paradoxically one that produces great outcomes, with many valuable open source software initiatives to its credit, including Linux. Bitcoin developers must reveal security concerns to the public in order to produce robust solutions. It was a hack that drove the Yapian Youbit to bankruptcy, while many other cryptocurrencies have also made headlines for being hacked or having stashes of cryptocurrencies stolen. As an early example, in April 2014, the OpenSSL vulnerabilities attacked by the Heartbleed bug and reported by Google security's, Neel Mehta, drove Bitcoin prices down by 10% in a month. Bitcoin and open source software development are built upon the same fundamental premise that a copy of the source code is available to users to examine. This concept makes it the responsibility of the community to voice concerns about the software design, just as it is the responsibility of the community to come to consensus about modifications to that underlying source code as well. Because of the open conversation and debate regarding the Bitcoin network, security breaches tend to be highly publicized.
High-Profile Losses Raise Fear
It is worth noting that the aforementioned thefts and the ensuing news about the losses had a double effect on volatility. They reduced the overall float of bitcoin, producing a potential lift on the value of the remaining bitcoin due to increased scarcity. However, overriding this lift was the negative effect of the news cycle that followed. Notably, other bitcoin gateways looked to the massive failure at Mt. Gox as a positive for the long term prospects of bitcoin, further complicating the already complex story behind the currency’s volatility. As early adopting firms were eliminated from the market due to poor management and dysfunctional processes, later entrants learn from their errors and build stronger processes into their own operations, strengthening the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency overall.
High-Inflation Nations and Bitcoins
Bitcoin’s use case as a currency for developing countries that are currently experiencing high inflation is valuable when considering the volatility of bitcoin in these economies versus the volatility of bitcoin in USD. Bitcoin is much more volatile versus USD than the high-inflation Argentine peso versus the USD. That being said, the near frictionless transfer of bitcoins across borders makes it a potentially highly attractive borrowing instrument for Argentineans, as the high inflation rate for peso-denominated loans potentially justifies taking on some intermediate currency volatility risk in a bitcoin-denominated loan funded outside Argentina. Similarly, funders outside Argentina can earn a higher return under this scheme than they can by using other debt instruments, denominated in their home currency, potentially offsetting some of the risks of exposure to the high inflation Argentine market.
Tax Treatment Lifts Volatility
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), bitcoin is actually considered an asset for tax purposes. This has had a mixed impact on bitcoin's volatility. On the upside, any statement recognizing the currency has a positive effect on the market valuation of the currency. Conversely, the decision by the IRS to call it property had at least two negative effects. The first was the added complexity for users who want to use it as a form of payment. Under the new tax law, users would have to record the market value of the currency at the time of every transaction, no matter how small. This need for record keeping can understandably slow adoption as it seems to be too much trouble for what it is worth for many users. Secondly, the decision to call the currency a form of property for tax purposes may be a signal to some market participants that the IRS is preparing to enforce stronger regulations later. Very strong regulation of the currency could cause the adoption rate of the currency to slow to the point where it is not able to achieve the mass adoption that is critical for its overall utility in society. Recent moves by the IRS are not clear as to their signaling motives and therefore have mixed signals to the market for bitcoin.
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.
Perfect storm leads to big sell-off for Bitcoin and DeFi: Weekly recap
A sharp correction in equities markets led Bitcoin price and DeFi tokens to sell-off sharply but have investors turned bearish? Digital asset markets were on a parabolic surge until investor confidence took a major hit to close out the week with a bearish tilt due to a perfect storm of negativity. Before reading the rundown, catch up on the most-read stories centered around the price of Bitcoin, the macroeconomic picture and the DeFi phenomenon gaining traction. Bitcoin price, stocks and gold plunge in tandem — What’s next? Don’t panic? ‘Smart money’ whales are waiting to buy Bitcoin at $8,800 Yearn.finance’s $140M yETH vault proves investors are ravenous for DeFi Bitcoin mirrors gains of past halvings, suggesting $41K price in 2020 Ethereum gas fees reach $500K as ETH price hits a 2020-high at $486 A significant drop in equities markets was led by blue-chip stocks that had been at all-time highs. As this occurred, many tokens tied to DeFi platforms corrected sharply, most notably, SushiSwap (SUSHI) which lost nearly 40 percent of its value. The correction in traditional markets appears to have influenced Bitcoin’s (BTC) more than 10 percent drop before a small bounce back to the $10.3-$10.4K range. More isn’t always merrier Technology stocks that led US equities to record highs this summer reversed sharply this week, sending the Nasdaq Composite index tumbling almost five percent in its biggest fall since June. Apple’s shares lost eight percent — wiping more than $150 billion from the iPhone maker’s value — while Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft all fell more than four percent. As a result, the VIX index jumped above the 30-point mark for the first time since mid-July, and the equivalent volatility index for the Nasdaq shot up to more than 40 points — nearly double its mid-August low. Historically, the VIX has only surged into the 30s a handful of times in the past and almost always leads to a significant retracement. It is a reminder that crowded trades bring a lot of volatility when someone begins to unwind their positions. Digital asset traders are more than aware of such dynamics and while the bulls may be feeling particularly salty about the reversal of fortunes, the pull-back offers an opportunity to rebuild. The futures curve also flattened aggressively as leverage buyers were the first ones to look for cover, and there are plenty of opportunities in the options market to take advantage of market mispricing. Are DeFi tokens the new pink sheets? Ethereum transactions soared to multiple new all-time highs for the second time in three weeks and Uniswap V2: Router 2 is now the lead contributor to gas usage, according to Etherscan. The decentralized exchange is followed by Tether (USDT); and then the latest DeFi sweetheart that is SushiSwap: MasterChef LP Staking Pool. And so, Tether has finally been dethroned from its top spot as the main contributor of gas usage. The fact that it was toppled by none other than a DeFi platform speaks a lot for the recent growth of the industry and, as it stands, over $9.34 billion is locked across various platforms. Currently, Aave, Maker and Uniswap constitute about $1.5 billion TVL each. On the one hand, DeFi is a high risk, high reward market, but so is trading small-cap (pink sheet) stocks. Both clearly have a market, and always will among those with an appetite for risk. Is relief from high gas fees on the way? The ongoing focus on DeFi and the recent hyperactivity on Ethereum has resulted in sky-high congestion and gas fees. This led Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin to point out several solutions through rollups and sharding. ZK-Rollups are a zero-knowledge proof technique that helps rollup or batch many transactions into a single transaction, and therefore, helps reduce congestion on the Ethereum blockchain. Less congestion means lower fees. Optimistic and ZK roll ups can increase capacity from ~15 tx/sec to ~3000 tx/sec by doing most of the transaction processing on layer 2. Sharding, on the other hand, increases the capacity of the base layer by ~100x. This could lead to a 100x decrease in fees, though realistically in the long term it would not decrease quite as much because the demand for Ethereum is also likely to increase. The only solution to high transaction fees is scaling and Tether, Gitcoin and other apps are doing the right thing by migrating to ZK rollups. A positive development is that Tether is now planning to add support for another Layer-2 scaling solution (ZK-Rollups).
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.
https://federationofglobalmerchants.com/2020/08/14/gold-and-silver-where-do-they-go-from-here/ Investors know by now that one of the leading indicators of an unstable and unpredictable stock market is a surge in the price of precious metals like gold and silver. In February, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the markets officially entered a recession, even though just months later several of the major indices have reached all-time highs. It was a brief dip into recessionary territory, but this sort of volatility is what gives investors hesitation in putting their money into the stock market, rather than something that is perceived to be more stable. Gold future contracts are selling well above $2000 per ounce for the rest of 2020 and well into 2021 as well showing that investors are confident that gold will continue to rise in price. Silver is also surging reaching new all-time highs on a daily basis. So investors may be curious as to how to get into this red-hot market, especially as the markets continue to fluctuate. Gold: For centuries now gold has been literally the ‘gold-standard’ of currency and wealth. Dating back all the way to around 40,000 B.C. in Spanish caves, gold is a naturally occurring element that has both fascinated and lured people for as long as barter systems and wealth has been recorded. Currently, gold is enjoying its highest valuations in history as investors flock to the stability of the precious metal through various streams. So what is the allure of gold and why is it so stable? Warren Buffett once said, “Gold is a way of going long on fear.” That is quite a statement from perhaps the greatest investment mind of our generation. But what does this mean for the novice investor? Even the most successful blue-chip stocks can crash. Obviously the more prominent and profitable companies with mega market caps will not crash as easily as smaller companies, but given the volatility of the pandemic, we can see anything happen. But as stock markets fluctuate on a daily basis, the price of gold remains mostly stoic. Not as manipulatable as stock prices, gold is as steady as it gets for investors. What makes gold so stable? It is a combination of factors, first and foremost, it is a physical and tangible element which makes it possible for people to store and stockpile. It does not corrode or wear down over time, making it durable and ensuring that the value remains. There is also a finite supply of it in the world. This reinforces that it will always keep a certain level of valuation as the supply is kept in check. Today, as the Federal Reserve tries desperately to pump money into the American economy to stave off a global recession and keep companies afloat. Printing more American dollars helps in the interim, but it is a temporary band-aid for the bigger problem. As more of the dollar gets created the more it gets devalued as a form of currency. This is another reason why gold is skyrocketing. The two valuations always work inversely to each other, so as the greenback continues to plummet, the price of gold will continue to surge which makes perfect sense if one thinks about it. The value of gold is priced in American dollars per ounce, so if the value of an American dollar retreats, the cost of gold will rise in response. So how can investors take advantage of the current state of gold? In the age of internet investing, there are plenty of ways to invest in gold or anything in that matter. Most American platforms give inventors the ability to buy fractional shares of companies. While this comes in handy for expensive stocks like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), or Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), it also allows investors to diversify their funds across multiple companies to form a basket approach to an industry. There are also plenty of ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds, available for investors to consider. These funds have the diversification of a mutual fund or index fund, but trade like individual stocks. Here’s a few of the better gold ETFs to consider if you are looking to get into the industry:
IAU – iShares Gold Trust: One of the better known gold ETFs out there, iSHARES is a reputable brand with great overall market performance. The fund has returned over 17% to inventors already this year, and with the price of gold projected to continue to rise, this fund should keep delivering for investors into next year.
DGL – Invesco DB Gold Fund: Another well known and reputable ETF, the Invesco Gold Fund has slightly higher fees than iSHARES but has also had a slightly better return so far this year.
IAUF – iShares Gold Strategy ETF: Another iSHARES ETF, this one has parts of IAU, as well as gold futures contracts, to get a long term forecast of the price of gold so the investor gets exposure to a wider range of gold options.
There are dozens of other ETFs available for investors that cover everything from miners to the finished products. Mining company stocks are another great way to get exposure. As the demand for gold increases, these mining companies should see a rise in their revenues and eventually, their profits as well. These changes will be reflected in their stock prices and we have already seen some of this already this year.
ABX – Barrick Gold: One of the largest gold mining companies in the world, this Canadian company has seen healthy gains in their stock price so far in 2020. Over the last 52 weeks, Barrick investors have enjoyed a 131% increase in stock price. With mining projects ongoing in Canada, America, Australia, South America, and Africa, Barrick has already announced that it is on track to achieve guidance this year despite closures from COVID-19.
FNV – Franco-Nevada Gold: This stock price rose almost 15% in July alone. Franco-Nevada operates as a funding company to gold mining companies, rather than actually doing the mining themselves. Sustainalytics, a guidance and analysis company, rated Franco-Nevada number one amongst 104 precious metal companies.
NEM – Newmont Goldcorp: The largest gold stock by market-cap and the only stock to trade on the S&P 500, Newmont is probably the safest company for gold investors to invest in. On top of steady returns and low volatility in the stock price, the company pays a fairly healthy dividend as well.
With gold at all-time highs, we can begin to question how high the precious metal may go. With a second wave of the coronavirus making its way around some parts of the world, and America, still making its way through their initial wave, the uncertainty that exists in today’s markets may continue into 2021. Some Wall Street analysts have forecast gold to rise as high as $10,000 per ounce, but that seems like a little ambitious. Gold has just recently hit all-time highs at $2000 per ounce and to imagine that it can run up another 500% in the next few years seems far-fetched at this point in time. That would require the markets to enter an extended bear-market, which of course is possible after a decade of a bullish run, but it would also require the American dollar to continue to be further devalued. Gold is pegged to continue to rise for the rest of this year though and well into 2021. That means investors and analysts are foreseeing a further devaluation of the American greenback as well as continued volatility in the markets and economy. Is gold a safe haven? Some people believe it is, but if you are an investor that enjoys high returns over long periods of time, investing in precious metals may not be for you. Investors love the stability of gold but the returns are never astronomical, with the last few months being an exception. It helps to have a portion of your portfolio dedicated to precious metals to diversify and protect you from any sudden market corrections, but investors should not be looking at gold as a short-term way to get wealthy. Silver: The other precious metal that has been flying sky-high of recent months is silver, the eternal younger brother to gold. Mined from silver-ore, it is a highly malleable metal that was once valued higher than gold by the Ancient Egyptians. Today, it is relatively low in price per ounce compared to gold, reaching all-time highs recently of just under $30 per ounce. Silver is another stable alternative to gold, and at lower prices, it may be a little more affordable for the novice investor to jump into. Like with gold, silver has an inverse relationship to the American dollar, and to all currencies in general. Again, this is another reason why silver is hitting all-time highs right now, with silver future contracts predicting a steady rise to mirror gold, well into 2021. There is also something that Wall Street calls the gold silver ratio, which is exactly what it sounds like: the ratio of the price of gold per ounce to the price of silver per ounce. This ratio has historically moved together, which makes logical sense if both precious metals are independently moving inverse to paper currencies. Historically, the gold and silver prices do move together though as the general ratio has been in the range of 17:1 to 20:1. Silver also has numerous ways for investors to get involved in, including silver mining and production companies, as well as the ever popular silver ETFs. These Exchange Traded Funds have gained popularity amongst retail investors in recent years as a way of purchasing a diversified product as a single equity with low costs, and no trading fees if your platform allows it. Here are a few of the better performing silver ETFs that investors can look into adding to their portfolios if they are interested in the precious metal:
SLV – iShares Silver Trust: Probably one of the better known silver ETFs, this is fully backed by silver bullion and coins held in a vault. While usually fairly steady, this ETF has enjoyed a 52-week increase of 152% with much of that coming in the last few months.
SIVR – Aberdeen Standard Physical Silver Shares ETF: Very similar to SLV but with lower fees, this is an ideal fund for novice and experienced investors to get into as they start to diversify their portfolios.
DBS – Invesco DB Silver Fund: Again another stable ETF for investors to get into, and another good performing one as well. Just as with their gold ETF, Invsco focuses on silver futures contracts for this fund, so it is a nice long-term play if investors are bullish on silver.
Just as with gold, investors can get a slice of the silver pie by buying shares of silver mining companies as well. Here are a few of the top silver mining company stocks that investors can look into adding to their portfolios.
PAAS – Pan American Silver Corp.: This Canada based miner is focussed on the exploration, development, extraction, refining, processing, and reclamation of silver. They operate mines in Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, and are developing more as well for the future.
WPM – Wheaton Precious Metals: Another Canadian based company that deals with miners of gold, silver, palladium, and cobalt. Wheaton is not a direct miner, rather they purchase these precious metals from other mining companies.
AG – First Majestic Silver Corp.: Canadian companies seem to be dominating the silver industry, and First Majestic is another of those. This company focuses mainly in Mexico for gold and silver.
Silver may never be as popular as gold for investors to keep track of but the two precious metals move in a synchronized fashion, and both are looked upon by investors as safe havens for their money when the market is in flux. The rest of 2020 seems like a wildcard right now, with many analysts expecting a further correction to the markets at any point. There seems to be an inevitability to a market crash of some sort, whether it is as big as the one that happened back in February and March, remains to be seen. Investors are looking at the precious metal industry to hold their funds to wait out any sort of correction or crash. If this does happen, we may expect a pullback in precious metals too as investors selloff to get back into some stocks at their low levels. Such is the ebb and flow of the economy during turbulent times like the current one we are in. At the same time, what if a market correction does not happen? Will the uncertainty continue or will investors feel relatively secure in the way the markets are progressing? This could cause a reduction in the demand for silver and gold, culminating in lower prices in the future. Of course this also depends on the Federal Reserve diminishing their rate of printing paper currency to bailout the economy, which does not seem like a reality in the short-term at least. Another point of contention for investors is the ongoing economical and political tensions between China and America. The two world powers have been feuding for the past couple of months over various things, but it escalated as China social media app Tik Tok gained popularity in North America. It was alleged that TikTok was sending data and information from mobile phones back to China, though nobody is sure of their intended use of this data. Regardless, the markets have stumbled several times lately because of this. Both sides have threatened economic sanctions and the banning of certain product use in each country. The prices of silver and gold have shot up as the tensions have escalated between the two governments, as investors flock to the precious metals. Many of the biggest companies on the major stock indices rely on China for materials or production, so any sort of breakdown in supply chains could cause an enormous change to their stock prices. An example of this is a sudden 5% correction in the price of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), as it was thought that iPhone sales would decline if China’s chat platform WeChat was banned in America. There are other factors that may have an effect on gold and silver prices as well. In this modern economy, many of the retail investors have trended towards younger adults with a sudden influx of income. Popular platforms such as Robinhood combined with increased time at home during the quarantine, have caused retail investor usage to skyrocket during the pandemic. Many of these investors are more lured in by the shiny new objects of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Perhaps we will start thinking of these cryptocurrencies as a modern day version of precious metals one day, as many investors and some analysts, believe that Bitcoin may be a safe haven in the future. Already, the price of Bitcoin has risen above $12,000 in August, mirroring the highs of gold and silver. If the demand for Bitcoin rises higher than the demand for precious metals, we may see an investor migration to cryptocurrencies rather than tangible metals. Conclusion: Gold and silver are staples of our global economy, and will continue to be so as long as the demand for precious metals exists. In times of uncertainty, gold and silver are viewed as safe relative to the volatility of the stock market. Sure, their prices can vary as well, but because they are tied to a less dynamic valuation that is based on an inverse relation to paper currency, their prices will not and can not fluctuate as much as the liquidity of individual stocks. As long as the world remains in flux, there will be a general feeling of instability, especially for global markets. A second wave of COVID-19 in the third or fourth quarter of 2020 could prove to be enough to push the markets over the edge and into another recession. The bull market has been rallying for over a decade now, with astronomical gains over the last few years, especially for sectors like the big tech FAANG stocks. Another factor to consider is what a Biden government could bring to the world if he is elected over President Donald Trump in October. A new government could ease some of the tensions with China, as well as within America itself. These are all big what ifs, and could all have potential impacts on the economy and the world. As long as all of these factors are up in the air, investors will be looking to gold and silver as ways of stabilizing their portfolios and protecting their finances from a potential market crash in the future.
﷽ The Federal Reserve and the United States government are pumping extreme amounts of money into the economy, already totaling over $484 billion. They are doing so because it already had a goal to inflate the United States Dollar (USD) so that the market can continue to all-time highs. It has always had this goal. They do not care how much inflation goes up by now as we are going into a depression with the potential to totally crash the US economy forever. They believe the only way to save the market from going to zero or negative values is to inflate it so much that it cannot possibly crash that low. Even if the market does not dip that low, inflation serves the interest of powerful people. The impending crash of the stock market has ramifications for Bitcoin, as, though there is no direct ongoing-correlation between the two, major movements in traditional markets will necessarily affect Bitcoin. According to the Blockchain Center’s Cryptocurrency Correlation Tool, Bitcoin is not correlated with the stock market. However, when major market movements occur, they send ripples throughout the financial ecosystem which necessary affect even ordinarily uncorrelated assets. Therefore, Bitcoin will reach X price on X date after crashing to a price of X by X date.
Stock Market Crash
The Federal Reserve has caused some serious consternation with their release of ridiculous amounts of money in an attempt to buoy the economy. At face value, it does not seem to have any rationale or logic behind it other than keeping the economy afloat long enough for individuals to profit financially and politically. However, there is an underlying basis to what is going on which is important to understand in order to profit financially. All markets are functionally price probing systems. They constantly undergo a price-discovery process. In a fiat system, money is an illusory and a fundamentally synthetic instrument with no intrinsic value – similar to Bitcoin. The primary difference between Bitcoin is the underlying technology which provides a slew of benefits that fiat does not. Fiat, however, has an advantage in being able to have the support of powerful nation-states which can use their might to insure the currency’s prosperity. Traditional stock markets are composed of indices (pl. of index). Indices are non-trading market instruments which are essentially summaries of business values which comprise them. They are continuously recalculated throughout a trading day, and sometimes reflected through tradable instruments such as Exchange Traded Funds or Futures. Indices are weighted by market capitalizations of various businesses. Price theory essentially states that when a market fails to take out a new low in a given range, it will have an objective to take out the high. When a market fails to take out a new high, it has an objective to make a new low. This is why price-time charts go up and down, as it does this on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and even century-by-century basis. Therefore, market indices will always return to some type of bull market as, once a true low is formed, the market will have a price objective to take out a new high outside of its’ given range – which is an all-time high. Instruments can only functionally fall to zero, whereas they can grow infinitely. So, why inflate the economy so much? Deflation is disastrous for central banks and markets as it raises the possibility of producing an overall price objective of zero or negative values. Therefore, under a fractional reserve system with a fiat currency managed by a central bank – the goal of the central bank is to depreciate the currency. The dollar is manipulated constantly with the intention of depreciating its’ value. Central banks have a goal of continued inflated fiat values. They tend to ordinarily contain it at less than ten percent (10%) per annum in order for the psyche of the general populace to slowly adjust price increases. As such, the markets are divorced from any other logic. Economic policy is the maintenance of human egos, not catering to fundamental analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is well-known not to be a measure of actual growth or output. It is a measure of increase in dollars processed. Banks seek to produce raising numbers which make society feel like it is growing economically, making people optimistic. To do so, the currency is inflated, though inflation itself does not actually increase growth. When society is optimistic, it spends and engages in business – resulting in actual growth. It also encourages people to take on credit and debts, creating more fictional fiat. Inflation is necessary for markets to continue to reach new heights, generating positive emotional responses from the populace, encouraging spending, encouraging debt intake, further inflating the currency, and increasing the sale of government bonds. The fiat system only survives by generating more imaginary money on a regular basis. Bitcoin investors may profit from this by realizing that stock investors as a whole always stand to profit from the market so long as it is managed by a central bank and does not collapse entirely. If those elements are filled, it has an unending price objective to raise to new heights. It also allows us to realize that this response indicates that the higher-ups believe that the economy could crash in entirety, and it may be wise for investors to have multiple well-thought-out exit strategies.
Economic Analysis of Bitcoin
The reason why the Fed is so aggressively inflating the economy is due to fears that it will collapse forever or never rebound. As such, coupled with a global depression, a huge demand will appear for a reserve currency which is fundamentally different than the previous system. Bitcoin, though a currency or asset, is also a market. It also undergoes a constant price-probing process. Unlike traditional markets, Bitcoin has the exact opposite goal. Bitcoin seeks to appreciate in value and not depreciate. This has a quite different affect in that Bitcoin could potentially become worthless and have a price objective of zero. Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a now famous mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto and its’ open source code was released in 2009. It was the first decentralized cryptocurrency to utilize a novel protocol known as the blockchain. Up to one megabyte of data may be sent with each transaction. It is decentralized, anonymous, transparent, easy to set-up, and provides myriad other benefits. Bitcoin is not backed up by anything other than its’ own technology. Bitcoin is can never be expected to collapse as a framework, even were it to become worthless. The stock market has the potential to collapse in entirety, whereas, as long as the internet exists, Bitcoin will be a functional system with a self-authenticating framework. That capacity to persist regardless of the actual price of Bitcoin and the deflationary nature of Bitcoin means that it has something which fiat does not – inherent value. Bitcoin is based on a distributed database known as the “blockchain.” Blockchains are essentially decentralized virtual ledger books, replete with pages known as “blocks.” Each page in a ledger is composed of paragraph entries, which are the actual transactions in the block. Blockchains store information in the form of numerical transactions, which are just numbers. We can consider these numbers digital assets, such as Bitcoin. The data in a blockchain is immutable and recorded only by consensus-based algorithms. Bitcoin is cryptographic and all transactions are direct, without intermediary, peer-to-peer. Bitcoin does not require trust in a central bank. It requires trust on the technology behind it, which is open-source and may be evaluated by anyone at any time. Furthermore, it is impossible to manipulate as doing so would require all of the nodes in the network to be hacked at once – unlike the stock market which is manipulated by the government and “Market Makers”. Bitcoin is also private in that, though the ledge is openly distributed, it is encrypted. Bitcoin’s blockchain has one of the greatest redundancy and information disaster recovery systems ever developed. Bitcoin has a distributed governance model in that it is controlled by its’ users. There is no need to trust a payment processor or bank, or even to pay fees to such entities. There are also no third-party fees for transaction processing. As the ledge is immutable and transparent it is never possible to change it – the data on the blockchain is permanent. The system is not easily susceptible to attacks as it is widely distributed. Furthermore, as users of Bitcoin have their private keys assigned to their transactions, they are virtually impossible to fake. No lengthy verification, reconciliation, nor clearing process exists with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is based on a proof-of-work algorithm. Every transaction on the network has an associated mathetical “puzzle”. Computers known as miners compete to solve the complex cryptographic hash algorithm that comprises that puzzle. The solution is proof that the miner engaged in sufficient work. The puzzle is known as a nonce, a number used only once. There is only one major nonce at a time and it issues 12.5 Bitcoin. Once it is solved, the fact that the nonce has been solved is made public. A block is mined on average of once every ten minutes. However, the blockchain checks every 2,016,000 minutes (approximately four years) if 201,600 blocks were mined. If it was faster, it increases difficulty by half, thereby deflating Bitcoin. If it was slower, it decreases, thereby inflating Bitcoin. It will continue to do this until zero Bitcoin are issued, projected at the year 2140. On the twelfth of May, 2020, the blockchain will halve the amount of Bitcoin issued when each nonce is guessed. When Bitcoin was first created, fifty were issued per block as a reward to miners. 6.25 BTC will be issued from that point on once each nonce is solved. Unlike fiat, Bitcoin is a deflationary currency. As BTC becomes scarcer, demand for it will increase, also raising the price. In this, BTC is similar to gold. It is predictable in its’ output, unlike the USD, as it is based on a programmed supply. We can predict BTC’s deflation and inflation almost exactly, if not exactly. Only 21 million BTC will ever be produced, unless the entire network concedes to change the protocol – which is highly unlikely. Some of the drawbacks to BTC include congestion. At peak congestion, it may take an entire day to process a Bitcoin transaction as only three to five transactions may be processed per second. Receiving priority on a payment may cost up to the equivalent of twenty dollars ($20). Bitcoin mining consumes enough energy in one day to power a single-family home for an entire week.
Trading or Investing?
The fundamental divide in trading revolves around the question of market structure. Many feel that the market operates totally randomly and its’ behavior cannot be predicted. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the market has a structure, but that that structure is not perfect. That market structure naturally generates chart patterns as the market records prices in time. In order to determine when the stock market will crash, causing a major decline in BTC price, we will analyze an instrument, an exchange traded fund, which represents an index, as opposed to a particular stock. The price patterns of the various stocks in an index are effectively smoothed out. In doing so, a more technical picture arises. Perhaps the most popular of these is the SPDR S&P Standard and Poor 500 Exchange Traded Fund ($SPY). In trading, little to no concern is given about value of underlying asset. We are concerned primarily about liquidity and trading ranges, which are the amount of value fluctuating on a short-term basis, as measured by volatility-implied trading ranges. Fundamental analysis plays a role, however markets often do not react to real-world factors in a logical fashion. Therefore, fundamental analysis is more appropriate for long-term investing. The fundamental derivatives of a chart are time (x-axis) and price (y-axis). The primary technical indicator is price, as everything else is lagging in the past. Price represents current asking price and incorrectly implementing positions based on price is one of the biggest trading errors. Markets and currencies ordinarily have noise, their tendency to back-and-fill, which must be filtered out for true pattern recognition. That noise does have a utility, however, in allowing traders second chances to enter favorable positions at slightly less favorable entry points. When you have any market with enough liquidity for historical data to record a pattern, then a structure can be divined. The market probes prices as part of an ongoing price-discovery process. Market technicians must sometimes look outside of the technical realm and use visual inspection to ascertain the relevance of certain patterns, using a qualitative eye that recognizes the underlying quantitative nature Markets and instruments rise slower than they correct, however they rise much more than they fall. In the same vein, instruments can only fall to having no worth, whereas they could theoretically grow infinitely and have continued to grow over time. Money in a fiat system is illusory. It is a fundamentally synthetic instrument which has no intrinsic value. Hence, the recent seemingly illogical fluctuations in the market. According to trade theory, the unending purpose of a market or instrument is to create and break price ranges according to the laws of supply and demand. We must determine when to trade based on each market inflection point as defined in price and in time as opposed to abandoning the trend (as the contrarian trading in this sub often does). Time and Price symmetry must be used to be in accordance with the trend. When coupled with a favorable risk to reward ratio, the ability to stay in the market for most of the defined time period, and adherence to risk management rules; the trader has a solid methodology for achieving considerable gains. We will engage in a longer term market-oriented analysis to avoid any time-focused pressure. The Bitcoin market is open twenty-four-hours a day, so trading may be done when the individual is ready, without any pressing need to be constantly alert. Let alone, we can safely project months in advance with relatively high accuracy. Bitcoin is an asset which an individual can both trade and invest, however this article will be focused on trading due to the wide volatility in BTC prices over the short-term.
Technical Indicator Analysis of Bitcoin
Technical indicators are often considered self-fulfilling prophecies due to mass-market psychology gravitating towards certain common numbers yielded from them. They are also often discounted when it comes to BTC. That means a trader must be especially aware of these numbers as they can prognosticate market movements. Often, they are meaningless in the larger picture of things.
Volume – derived from the market itself, it is mostly irrelevant. The major problem with volume for stocks is that the US market open causes tremendous volume surges eradicating any intrinsic volume analysis. This does not occur with BTC, as it is open twenty-four-seven. At major highs and lows, the market is typically anemic. Most traders are not active at terminal discretes (peaks and troughs) because of levels of fear. Volume allows us confidence in time and price symmetry market inflection points, if we observe low volume at a foretold range of values. We can rationalize that an absolute discrete is usually only discovered and anticipated by very few traders. As the general market realizes it, a herd mentality will push the market in the direction favorable to defending it. Volume is also useful for swing trading, as chances for swing’s validity increases if an increase in volume is seen on and after the swing’s activation. Volume is steadily decreasing. Lows and highs are reached when volume is lower.
Therefore, due to the relatively high volume on the 12th of March, we can safely determine that a low for BTC was not reached.
VIX – Volatility Index, this technical indicator indicates level of fear by the amount of options-based “insurance” in portfolios. A low VIX environment, less than 20 for the S&P index, indicates a stable market with a possible uptrend. A high VIX, over 20, indicates a possible downtrend. VIX is essentially useless for BTC as BTC-based options do not exist. It allows us to predict the market low for $SPY, which will have an indirect impact on BTC in the short term, likely leading to the yearly low. However, it is equally important to see how VIX is changing over time, if it is decreasing or increasing, as that indicates increasing or decreasing fear. Low volatility allows high leverage without risk or rest. Occasionally, markets do rise with high VIX.
As VIX is unusually high, in the forties, we can be confident that a downtrend for the S&P 500 is imminent.
RSI (Relative Strength Index): The most important technical indicator, useful for determining highs and lows when time symmetry is not availing itself. Sometimes analysis of RSI can conflict in different time frames, easiest way to use it is when it is at extremes – either under 30 or over 70. Extremes can be used for filtering highs or lows based on time-and-price window calculations. Highly instructive as to major corrective clues and indicative of continued directional movement. Must determine if longer-term RSI values find support at same values as before. It is currently at 73.56.
Secondly, RSI may be used as a high or low filter, to observe the level that short-term RSI reaches in counter-trend corrections. Repetitions based on market movements based on RSI determine how long a trade should be held onto. Once a short term RSI reaches an extreme and stay there, the other RSI’s should gradually reach the same extremes. Once all RSI’s are at extreme highs, a trend confirmation should occur and RSI’s should drop to their midpoint.
Trend Definition Analysis of Bitcoin
Trend definition is highly powerful, cannot be understated. Knowledge of trend logic is enough to be a profitable trader, yet defining a trend is an arduous process. Multiple trends coexist across multiple time frames and across multiple market sectors. Like time structure, it makes the underlying price of the instrument irrelevant. Trend definitions cannot determine the validity of newly formed discretes. Trend becomes apparent when trades based in counter-trend inflection points continue to fail. Downtrends are defined as an instrument making lower lows and lower highs that are recurrent, additive, qualified swing setups. Downtrends for all instruments are similar, except forex. They are fast and complete much quicker than uptrends. An average downtrend is 18 months, something which we will return to. An uptrend inception occurs when an instrument reaches a point where it fails to make a new low, then that low will be tested. After that, the instrument will either have a deep range retracement or it may take out the low slightly, resulting in a double-bottom. A swing must eventually form. A simple way to roughly determine trend is to attempt to draw a line from three tops going upwards (uptrend) or a line from three bottoms going downwards (downtrend). It is not possible to correctly draw a downtrend line on the BTC chart, but it is possible to correctly draw an uptrend – indicating that the overall trend is downwards. The only mitigating factor is the impending stock market crash.
Time Symmetry Analysis of Bitcoin
Time is the movement from the past through the present into the future. It is a measurement in quantified intervals. In many ways, our perception of it is a human construct. It is more powerful than price as time may be utilized for a trade regardless of the market inflection point’s price. Were it possible to perfectly understand time, price would be totally irrelevant due to the predictive certainty time affords. Time structure is easier to learn than price, but much more difficult to apply with any accuracy. It is the hardest aspect of trading to learn, but also the most rewarding. Humans do not have the ability to recognize every time window, however the ability to define market inflection points in terms of time is the single most powerful trading edge. Regardless, price should not be abandoned for time alone. Time structure analysis It is inherently flawed, as such the markets have a fail-safe, which is Price Structure. Even though Time is much more powerful, Price Structure should never be completely ignored. Time is the qualifier for Price and vice versa. Time can fail by tricking traders into counter-trend trading. Time is a predestined trade quantifier, a filter to slow trades down, as it allows a trader to specifically focus on specific time windows and rest at others. It allows for quantitative measurements to reach deterministic values and is the primary qualifier for trends. Time structure should be utilized before price structure, and it is the primary trade criterion which requires support from price. We can see price structure on a chart, as areas of mathematical support or resistance, but we cannot see time structure. Time may be used to tell us an exact point in the future where the market will inflect, after Price Theory has been fulfilled. In the present, price objectives based on price theory added to possible future times for market inflection points give us the exact time of market inflection points and price. Time Structure is repetitions of time or inherent cycles of time, occurring in a methodical way to provide time windows which may be utilized for inflection points. They are not easily recognized and not easily defined by a price chart as measuring and observing time is very exact. Time structure is not a science, yet it does require precise measurements. Nothing is certain or definite. The critical question must be if a particular approach to time structure is currently lucrative or not. We will measure it in intervals of 180 bars. Our goal is to determine time windows, when the market will react and when we should pay the most attention. By using time repetitions, the fact that market inflection points occurred at some point in the past and should, therefore, reoccur at some point in the future, we should obtain confidence as to when SPY will reach a market inflection point. Time repetitions are essentially the market’s memory. However, simply measuring the time between two points then trying to extrapolate into the future does not work. Measuring time is not the same as defining time repetitions. We will evaluate past sessions for market inflection points, whether discretes, qualified swings, or intra-range. Then records the times that the market has made highs or lows in a comparable time period to the future one seeks to trade in. What follows is a time Histogram – A grouping of times which appear close together, then segregated based on that closeness. Time is aligned into combined histogram of repetitions and cycles, however cycles are irrelevant on a daily basis. If trading on an hourly basis, do not use hours.
Daily Lows Mode for those Months: 1, 1, 2, 4, 12, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30
Hourly Lows Mode for those Months (Military time): 0100, 0200, 0200, 0400, 0700, 0700, 0800, 1200, 1200, 1700, 2000, 2200
Minute Lows Mode for those Months: 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 00, 09, 09, 59, 59, 59, 59
Day of the Week Lows (last twenty-six weeks):
Weighted Times are repetitions which appears multiple times within the same list, observed and accentuated once divided into relevant sections of the histogram. They are important in the presently defined trading time period and are similar to a mathematical mode with respect to a series. Phased times are essentially periodical patterns in histograms, though they do not guarantee inflection points Evaluating the yearly lows, we see that BTC tends to have its lows primarily at the beginning of every year, with a possibility of it being at the end of the year. Following the same methodology, we get the middle of the month as the likeliest day. However, evaluating the monthly lows for the past year, the beginning and end of the month are more likely for lows. Therefore, we have two primary dates from our histogram. 1/1/21, 1/15/21, and 1/29/21 2:00am, 8:00am, 12:00pm, or 10:00pm In fact, the high for this year was February the 14th, only thirty days off from our histogram calculations. The 8.6-Year Armstrong-Princeton Global Economic Confidence model states that 2.15 year intervals occur between corrections, relevant highs and lows. 2.15 years from the all-time peak discrete is February 9, 2020 – a reasonably accurate depiction of the low for this year (which was on 3/12/20). (Taking only the Armstrong model into account, the next high should be Saturday, April 23, 2022). Therefore, the Armstrong model indicates that we have actually bottomed out for the year! Bear markets cannot exist in perpetuity whereas bull markets can. Bear markets will eventually have price objectives of zero, whereas bull markets can increase to infinity. It can occur for individual market instruments, but not markets as a whole. Since bull markets are defined by low volatility, they also last longer. Once a bull market is indicated, the trader can remain in a long position until a new high is reached, then switch to shorts. The average bear market is eighteen months long, giving us a date of August 19th, 2021 for the end of this bear market – roughly speaking. They cannot be shorter than fifteen months for a central-bank controlled market, which does not apply to Bitcoin. (Otherwise, it would continue until Sunday, September 12, 2021.) However, we should expect Bitcoin to experience its’ exponential growth after the stock market re-enters a bull market. Terry Laundy’s T-Theory implemented by measuring the time of an indicator from peak to trough, then using that to define a future time window. It is similar to an head-and-shoulders pattern in that it is the process of forming the right side from a synthetic technical indicator. If the indicator is making continued lows, then time is recalculated for defining the right side of the T. The date of the market inflection point may be a price or indicator inflection date, so it is not always exactly useful. It is better to make us aware of possible market inflection points, clustered with other data. It gives us an RSI low of May, 9th 2020. The Bradley Cycle is coupled with volatility allows start dates for campaigns or put options as insurance in portfolios for stocks. However, it is also useful for predicting market moves instead of terminal dates for discretes. Using dates which correspond to discretes, we can see how those dates correspond with changes in VIX. Therefore, our timeline looks like:
2/14/20 – yearly high ($10372 USD)
3/12/20 – yearly low thus far ($3858 USD)
5/9/20 – T-Theory true yearly low (BTC between 4863 and 3569)
On March 15th, the Federal Reserve started the first round of its stimulus plan to stabilize the tumultuous economic conditions caused by the country-wide shut down due to COVID19. Significant was a $700 billion round of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the cutting of interest rates effectively to zero percent. The reaction of the stock market and most asset classes was to continue its downward trend that had started in late February. The Federal Reserve continued to make smaller policy changes during the next 8 days until March 23rd when it announced its “extensive new measures to support the economy”. In short, the Fed is expanding its QE program announced on March 15th and will be making additional expansions in the future as needed. This time Wall Street reacts positively, as March 23rd was the starting point of a historic bull run.
The Breaking of the 60/40 Model
The 60/40 model of portfolio allocation has been a traditional portfolio management strategy used for over 30 years. The strategy states to put 60% of your funds into stocks and the remaining 40% into high quality bonds. The philosophy behind this investment strategy is that by having your portfolio diversified this way, you won’t take a huge hit if your stocks go down because you’ll have returns from bonds to make up for it. This is a strategy generally used by people with low risk tolerances, or people who don’t want to constantly keep their eyes on the markets. Over the past few decades, the 60/40 model has demonstrated a good amount of success; however, there are many who believe the chances of this strategy continuing to function successfully into the future are very low. Both JP Morgan and Bank of America have released statements on the decline of the 60/40 portfolio. JP Morgan strategists have stated “In the zero-yield world, which we think will be with us for years, bonds offer neither much return nor protection against equity falls,” referencing the fact that the majority of government bonds are trading at yields below 1%. In a research note titled “The Death of 60/40” Bank of America strategists had this to say, “The challenge for investors today is that both of those benefits from bonds, diversification and risk reduction, seem to be weakening, and this is happening at a time when positioning in many fixed-income sectors is incredibly crowded, making bonds more vulnerable to sharp, sudden selloffs when active managers rebalance.” So, with diminishing trust and poor returns from bonds, many investors are looking for other assets to replace the 40% hole in their portfolios. Many are increasing their percentage allocated to stocks in addition to investing in Gold and other metals as a protection against inflation. Many investors are also looking to Bitcoin.
Asset Reallocation Flowing from Bonds to Stocks
The historical runup in stock prices, specifically for the tech heavy Nasdaq, started on March 23rd. With the NAS100 index up close to 60% (from $6,584 to $10,616) in less than 3 months. It's not showing any signs of slowing down. In the opinion of QuantifyCrypto, the major reason for this is the flow of capital that would normally be going into bonds is now going into stocks. Yes the Fed stimulus is positive, but can you say the market conditions are actually better for stocks when there is still uncertainty in the future? While some stocks are fundamentally better due to COVID19, this is not true for most stocks. The next chart shows the price movement of the NASDAQ 100 Index for 2020. NAS100 Daily Chart from Trading View
Asset Reallocation to Cryptocurrency – When?
When asked about the current demise of the 60/40 portfolio model, veteran investor Dan Tapiero stated there could be “nothing more bullish for gold and bitcoin,” and that we are in the midst of the “beginning of the end for [government] bonds as a functioning productive asset class. Traditional 60/40 portfolios will need to find a new defensive asset to replace a portion of the 40%.” It seems that other players in the world of finance are saying similar things, hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones told CNBC in May that Bitcoin is a “great speculation” and that he has one to two percent of his assets in Bitcoin. Historically, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tend to have higher volatility than stocks. Three days before the Federal Reserve started making its announcements, Bitcoin went down over 50% in a single day. High volatility and a full price recovery continued in April and May, with Bitcoin closing on May 30th at ~$10,440. Until this point, there had been a high correlation between the NASDAQ 100 and Bitcoin as shown in the chart below. NAS100 Daily Chart with Bitcoin (blue line) added Since June 1st, Bitcoin has clearly lagged while stocks have continued their upward climb. While Crypto has been stagnant and down since May, the fundamental picture has never been better:
The Central Bank stimulus response is inflationary to Fiat currencies, this is positive for non-inflationary assets like gold and cryptocurrency.
The lack of new funds moving into bonds is flowing into stocks. When the stock market advance slows or starts to decline, the flow into other assets classes will start to increase.
The full deflationary impact of the Bitcoin halving still has not kicked in.
Corporate adoption and use cases for cryptocurrency is accelerating (Future article).
Before COVID occurred, 2020 was looking like a very strong year for Bitcoin and Altcoins. This price strength is likely to return.
As government bonds continue to trade with yields below 1%, it is safe to say that more and more people will be abandoning the traditional 60/40 strategy. While it’s too early to determine what the new percent strategy will become, with Bitcoin presenting a clear solution to the problems with bonds and the diminishing value of cash, portfolio managers may very well be using cryptocurrency to solve their diversification requirement.
The platform Quantify Crypto provides live cryptocurrency prices, technical analysis, news, heatmaps and more. Our flagship product is the trend algorithm, designed to be on the correct side of significant cryptocurrency price moves. We are a new site, please check us out and let us know what you like and do not like about the site. None of this is meant to be financial advice and I do not have any financial expertise. John Barry worked at the New York Stock Exchange for over 23 years, it was as a developer supporting computer systems, not as a stock trader. Alex Wason is an intern working for Quantify Crypto Full discloser: John Barry owns Bitcoin and has stock positions.
Bitcoin has been trading sideways in a tight price range from $9,000 to $10,000 since the beginning of May 2020. As a result, its 10-day volatility has now fallen to a new year-to-date low. Looking at the tightened price moves through Bollinger Bands further implies a growing contraction in the cryptocurrency’s volatility. https://preview.redd.it/wdnind6kns751.png?width=980&format=png&auto=webp&s=6e51b1ed426ff449c09d0b316a32d14093aeb179 A period of low volatility ends up in a breakout. But it is difficult to predict the direction of Bitcoin’s next big move. As shown in the chart below, Bitcoin is trading inside a symmetrical triangle, its price fluctuating within the pattern’s contracting upper and lower trendlines. Since the Triangle appears after Bitcoin’s 150 percent price rally, its bias is to the upside. That puts Bitcoin en route to new 2020 highs. https://preview.redd.it/w1m2d9knns751.png?width=980&format=png&auto=webp&s=ac596c6c15f62ac13ed96c383864a46065c3aad7 Review of the week: Former Wall Street investor Tone Vays summarised this week that because of Bitcoin’s high correlation with the stock market (S&P 500), BTC will be stuck in the $6,000 to $10,000 range until 2021. On a technical level, he added, Bitcoin’s daily relative strength index, or RSI, breaking below a long-term trendline in June came at the same time as higher Bitcoin price levels compared to May. And if bears win out, a potential low for BTC/USD should lie in the $7,000 zone, with an RSI of around 30. Bitcoin is more likely to break this consolidation to the downside rather than the upside. Disclaimer: The above market commentary is based on technical analysis using historical pricing data, and is for reference only. It does not serve as investment or trading advice. About Coinviva: Coinviva aims to create the best crypto financial services ecosystem for both institutional and individual investors. We provide reliable fiat funding options, excellent trading liquidity, bank security level custody and one-stop high liquidity provision on-site & off-site. Our founding management team all come from top tiered investment banking (e.g. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch), with fully comprehensive financial institution operation experience. Homepage: https://coinviva.com/ Telegram: https://t.me/coinviva
Crossing the Ocean | Monthly FI Portfolio Update - February 2020
No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm. Charles Kettering This is my thirty-ninth 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 – $772 191 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $44 099 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 139 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $111 360 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $174 810 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $32 294 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $250 949 Telstra shares (TLS) – $1 844 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $8 083 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $5 580 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $114 375 Secured physical gold – $18 455 Ratesetter* (P2P lending) – $13 971 Bitcoin – $149 920 Raiz* app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 424 Spaceship Voyager* app (Index portfolio) – $2 446 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 485 Total portfolio value: $1 803 425 (-$69 900 or -3.7%) Asset allocation Australian shares – 42.1% (2.9% under) Global shares – 22.3% Emerging markets shares – 2.3% International small companies – 3.1% Total international shares – 27.7% (2.3% under) Total shares – 69.8% (5.2% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.6% International bonds – 9.7% Total bonds – 14.3% (0.7% under) Gold – 7.4% Bitcoin – 9.7% Gold and alternatives – 15.7% (5.7% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments Equity markets fell significantly this month, resulting in a portfolio loss of around $70 000. This is the largest monthly fall across the three years of this record in dollar terms, and the third largest as a proportion of assets. [Chart] The falls follow a large increase in the portfolio value last month, and have occurred amidst increasing global impacts and fears from the spread of the Corona virus. The losses are mainly in Australian and global equities and have been concentrated in the last two weeks. Overall, the portfolio fell around 6 per cent from a peak in mid-February. Amidst this downward movement, gold and Bitcoin have performed relatively positively, with the price of gold increasing and Bitcoin mostly maintaining its value. Consistent with their role of diversifying portfolio risks, the value of bond holdings slightly increased over the period. [Chart] The 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). In better news, this month expenditure has been lower than over the summer holiday period, continuing the broader declining trend. The most significant development in looking at the rolling three-year comparison of distributions and expenditure, however, is a new downward slope in distributions. [Chart] This is the first in this particular record, and results from the three year averaging window starting to move beyond a period of exceptionally high distributions in 2017. So it is an artefact of the chosen time period, and, for example, the equivalent four year comparison does not show this. Relocating the emergency stores This month has also seen a small re-entry into exploration of the world of fintech, through opening an account with Neo-bank Xinja. The motivation was an interest rate of 2.25 per cent, with no complex bonus eligibility rules. Added to this was curiosity about the experience with the product. The sign-up process was quick and easy, and I am planning to use it instead of a previous Ubank USaver online account - paying less than half of that in interest - for my emergency fund. So far the process has been smooth, and the pre-tax benefit of the switch from the improved rate is around $33 per month. Worse things happen at sea - modelling future portfolio risks With a range of markets at or close to highs, pushing progress towards my financial objective forwards in past weeks, I had been considering the issue of downside portfolio risk. Needless to say, the past week has reinforced the value of reflecting on that risk. To keep this issue steadily in view I have for the past year kept a rough and ready data series, called 'Market Event', which rather crudely assumes a rapid 25 per cent fall in equity values. Over the past month I have spent time considering and building a slightly more sophisticated way of modelling the impact of market falls on the portfolio. This allows some simple scenarios to be modelled, and recognises the potential for different behaviour of individual parts of the portfolio (for example, equities, bonds, gold and Bitcoin) in equity market falls. The value in this is that it allows better visibility of what the portfolio could look like after what are, in historical terms, quite regular occurrences. The three illustrative scenarios modelled are:
Normal 10% equity market decline - These are fairly routine over any length of time investing in equities, and could easily be expected in any given month. The past week - at least so far - is an example of this kind of event.
'Bear market' - This scenario is a 20 per cent decline, which could occur in a given month or over a sustained period of decline.
'Global Financial Crisis Mark II' - This is broadly based on the equity impact of the Global Financial Crisis on US share markets, including up to a 50 per cent fall.
These are imperfect simplifications of a myriad of possible events over different timeframes. Yet they are still sufficient to give a sense of the range of underlying risks in equity markets. The question they help answer is: just how does diversification actually reduce risk and volatility? In the scenarios below it is assumed that losses in equities are partly offset by gains in alternative diversifying assets (such as bonds, gold or even - more speculatively - Bitcoin). The reactions of these alternative assets to equity market falls are not a constant. In fact, research indicates (pdf) that from the early 2000s bonds have transitioned from being negatively correlated to equity (rising when equity prices fall), to be mildly positively correlated at times. Therefore, populating the three scenarios in Figure 1 has included some assumptions, drawing typically on long-term historical averages and some judgement, rather than just extrapolating performance over the past 15 years. Testing the waters - the scenarios results The results of each of these scenarios are set out below. Figure 1 - Illustrative Effect of Three Market Scenarios on the FI Portfolio [Diagram] Some observations on the scenarios and model outputs are:
Downside risk is real and unavoidable in an equity dominated portfolio - There is no escaping that a large fall in equity values will have a significant portfolio impact, even with around 30 per cent of assets being non-equities.
Diversification helps soften the fall - In large market events, assuming equities move in the opposite directions to other portfolio components, the current portfolio construction tends to reduce losses by around 10 per cent.
Equity market falls can make a difference to the journey time - A normal to moderate bear market would put the overall portfolio back the equivalent of 6 and 9 months of progress. A Global Financial Crisis style crisis would put the progress of the portfolio back around 24 months
Critically, the results of this thought experiment are sensitive to correlation assumptions. Relationships between assets returns change over time, in both direction and magnitude. This means reliance on historical relationships is not a certain guide. In the case of Bitcoin, especially, no long historical pattern of relationship exists. Changing the magnitudes or the plus or minus sign from the correlation assumptions I have adopted produces quite different results. Progress Progress against the objective, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Portfolio objective – $2 180 000 (or $87 000 pa) 82.7% 112.8% Credit card purchases – $71 000 pa 100.9% 137.6% Total expenses – $89 000 pa 80.9% 110.3% Summary This month has seen a transition from the heat of summer, smoke, into storms and an unsettled period. This has been reflected in both daily life as well as in the continuing volatility in markets and the portfolio. It has felt like a changing of perspective, and a shifting vantage point upon the world. The last post sought to trace my shifting perceptions and actions while investing through the Global Financial Crisis. A barrier to this was reconstructing contemporaneous thoughts from the persistent embrace of hindsight bias. This record is partly designed to overcome that problem. My perceptions on current falls are that they are unsurprising given the strong record of equity markets over the past decade, but that it is simply unknown and unknowable whether they represent a 'typical' pull back that routinely occurs, or the opening stages of a sustained downturn in equity markets lasting 12-24 months. These times can lead to a sense of being a passive observer of events beyond our control. The potential loss analysis above - which was started before the recent downturn - is designed to at least start to put some boundaries around these uncertainties, and volatility. To 'practice' - as it were - facing possible outcomes before we come upon them. Regularly reviewing downside exposures helps re-check that the portfolio risk is at the right level, and avoid complacency from past market gains by reinforcing their potentially temporary nature. Another method of addressing the same issue is to maintain flexibility around future spending rules or withdrawal rates. This paper (pdf) from Vanguard proposes a particular 'dynamic spending rule'. This places moving 'guardrails' around a spending level, partially recognising the value of market gains (or losses). As a concept, this is potentially a helpful update to simple 'rules of thumb' such as the 4.0 per cent safe withdrawal rate (or its 2012 updated version, the 4.5 per cent 'rule'). On the same topic, from a different direction, I have been interested in the findings of this research paper (pdf) based on a century of data of Australian equity returns. It makes a strong case for lowering expectations for future returns. Similarly, this interview provides an intriguing suggestion of how the next global financial crisis may originate from central banks, rather than private debt or equity markets. Finally, Credit Suisse have released their annual yearbook of global investment. This year unfortunately only a partial snapshot of global returns is given. This work highlights the changing nature of global investment through time, as sectors and technologies change, and provides useful historical checks on past global equity returns (5.2 per cent on a geometric basis). Backed by a century of data, it also reinforces the truism that most journeys are defined by their end, even though storms and uncertainties may assail us on the passage. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Over the past 100 days, Grayscale has bought every third bitcoin
Over the past 100 days, Grayscale has bought every third bitcoin The Grayscale Investments cryptocurrency investment fund acquired every third bitcoin mined in the last 100 days. And in April, the fund bought 50% of all ETH mined. At the same time, despite the financial crisis and the fall of the cryptocurrency market in March, shares of Grayscale crypto funds in the first quarter of 2020 attracted record investments, which indicates a growing interest of institutional investors in the crypto industry. Why does the company need so many coins, what is its current position regarding the crypto market and what role does it play on it?
Aggressive Grayscale crypto purchases have recently been spotted with respect to ether. So, by April 24, the company had bought about 756 539 ETNs (accurate data are not publicly available) for its Ethereum Trust fund. This is about 48.4% of all 1.5 million coins mined since the beginning of this year. As a result, the company already owns 1% of all coins in circulation and only increases the pace of purchases. The first user to notice this was Reddit under the nickname u/nootropicat. According to the latest quarterly report by Grayscale, the flow of investments in ETN reached a record level for the first three months of 2020 — $110 million. This is a very sharp increase, given that total investments in ETN for the previous two years amounted to $95.8 million. The total demand for the Ethereum fund grew over the quarter is almost 2.5 times compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. From the beginning of the year until the end of April, the company issued 5.23 million shares of the fund at 0.09427052 ETN apiece. At the same time, shares are traded with a premium of 420% relative to the current price of the coin — $92 against $17.70. That is, investors are willing to pay extra pretty much not to deal with cryptocurrency on their own. Most likely, the increase in the rate of purchase of the coin is associated with the upcoming upgrade of the network to the state of Ethereum 2.0. It can take place at the end of July, but, most likely, it will happen not earlier than the end of the year. After the upgrade, the network will become more scalable and there will be the possibility of staking — validators will be able to receive passive income for providing their funds to confirm the blocks. The crypto market, by the way, is also preparing for the transition of the ecosystem to a new stage. ETH has grown 55% since the crash in March, from $110 to $202 on the day of publication. At the end of April, CoinDesk drew attention to the increase in the number of long positions in ETH futures — this indicates expectations for further growth of the coin.
Last quarter — the most successful in the history of the company
In May, Grayscale released a report on the results of the first quarter of this year. “Despite the decline in risky assets this quarter, Grayscale’s assets continue to approach record highs, as does our share of the digital asset market,” the document says. And this despite the coronavirus pandemic, the global recession and the traditional cryptocurrency market volatility. A record $503.7 million investment was raised in the first quarter. This is almost twice the previous quarterly maximum of $254 million in the third quarter of last year and accounts for 83% of the total capital of $1.07 billion raised for the entire 2019. New investors accounted for $160 million of raised funds. The main products of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and Grayscale Ethereum Trust raised $388.9 million and $110 million, respectively. It is noteworthy that the company reduced the premium on stocks of funds relative to the price of assets. 88% of investments came from institutional investors, among which hedge funds prevail; 5% — from accredited individuals, 4% — from pension accounts (yes, pension funds are extremely conservative in nature, but also invest in bitcoin against the background of a decrease in the profitability of other assets); 3% came from family offices, and 38% of customers invested in several products at once. It is noteworthy that two years ago the share of institutional investors was about 50% — it is obvious that they no longer consider bitcoin as something criminal. “Many of our investors see digital assets as medium and long-term investment opportunities and the main component of their investment portfolios. Quarterly inflows doubled to $ 503.7 million, demonstrating that demand is reaching new peak levels even in conditions of “risk reduction”, the document says. Today, more than 46.5% of the inflow of funds was attracted from multi-strategic investors. Crypto investors accounted for only 11.2% of the inflow, according to the report. Grayscale currently operates ten cryptocurrency investment products targeted at institutional investors. They cover PTS, ETN, ETS, BCH, ZEC, XRP, LTC, ZEN, XLM. The value of the assets under his management is more than $3.8 billion. GBTC is the most demanded product, most investors invest in it and it takes about 1.7% of the total volume of circulating bitcoins. Aggregate quarterly flow of funds to different Grayscale products. Pay attention to the growing share of investors diversifying portfolios with products tied to altcoins. Since January of this year, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has been registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to it, the company provides quarterly and annual reports in the form of 10-K. The status makes it possible to sell shares of a trust in the secondary market after 6 months, rather than 12, as before, and also increases the confidence of conservative investors. Other products comply with OTCQX reporting standards in the OTC market and are approved by the US Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for public offering. Amount of assets managed by Grayscale as of May 20, 2020. It is noteworthy that the news about the success of Grayscale comes amid news of how panicky investors in traditional assets are fleeing from market turmoil. So, the largest fund managers — BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors — lost several trillion in capitalization of their assets, and BlackRock in the first quarter for the first time in five years saw a net outflow of funds from its long-term investment products.
Bitcoin is the best asset for hedging portfolios in crisis
At the end of April, Grayscale also released a separate report on the analysis of the impact of regulators during a pandemic and the crisis caused by it and how it affected the bitcoin and cryptocurrency market as a whole. The document said fiat currencies are at risk of devaluation as central banks print more and more money. Even the US dollar, which is the world’s reserve currency, risks being devalued if the US Federal Reserve continues to print the currency in trillions. A decrease in interest rates to zero and negative values deprives government bonds of the status of “safe haven” during the crisis. Therefore, investors are trying to diversify their portfolios with alternative instruments. Cryptocurrencies are the best choice for this, according to the authors of the report. The text emphasizes the historical significance of gold as a global standard, but it is noted that in the modern digital world it is becoming increasingly burdensome for investors — it has complex logistics. Bitcoin seems resistant to the problems that other assets face. Therefore, in times of economic uncertainty, the first cryptocurrency is one of the best assets that investors can use to hedge their portfolios. The coin performs better than any other asset, including fiat currencies, government bonds, and traditional commodities like gold. The authors of the report emphasize that Bitcoin has already begun to show signs of becoming a protective asset. At the same time, the company believes that bitcoin is an excellent asset not only in times of crisis. So, in December 2019, Managing Director of Grayscale Investments Michael Sonnenshine said that the company expects an influx of investments in bitcoin after the transfer of $68 trillion of savings between generations in the next 25 years. Today, this capital is invested in traditional assets, but a significant part of these wealth millennials will invest in cryptocurrencies. Already, according to him, investments in GBTC are among the five most popular among young people, ahead of, for example, investments in Microsoft and Netflix.
The unprecedented financial measures taken by the US Federal Reserve, as well as the worsening recession, are forcing even the most conservative investors to rethink their current strategies and portfolio composition. Many of them are increasingly beginning to appreciate the fixed emission and non-correlation of Bitcoin — it is becoming a tool for risk diversification. Growing institutional interest is driving the acceleration of coin prices. Subscribe to our Telegram channel
Calculate volatility & yearly volatility in Excel (Bitcoin volatility)
Volatility 75 Index -mejor estrategia de trading. (aprende a generar 100 a 1000 dolares DIARIOS! (aprende a generar 100 a 1000 dolares DIARIOS! - Duration: 50:02. What is the VIX, or volatility index? Often referred to by traders and the media as the "fear index", there are many myths surrounding this important indicat... For the past few weeks, Bitcoin analysts have observed extremely low volatility in the nascent cryptocurrency market. Nothing shows this inaction quite as well as the chart below from Blockroots ... This video shows bitcoin historical price in dollar (USD) in a chart from 2014 up until the current bitcoin price. The bitcoin price history shows how volatile bitcoin is, but also that there is ... The historic volatility is showing us that we may see a huge move in the price of Bitcoin in the near future. I want to have a look at which levels I'm watch...