Portfolio Update – August 2020 – How downgraded credit ratings may impact your portfolio

  • Monthly portfolio update: Fairly stable month: bonds down on Fed policy shift, but offset by K-shaped recovery in stocks and commodities
  • Book tip: The Everything Bubble: The Endgame For Central Bank Policy by Graham Summers (link at the bottom of the post)
  • In case you missed it: I have ditched all intermediate-term bonds (post from 3 August 2020)
  • Coming soon: a post on real estate investing and how it fits in the All Seasons Portfolio. Stay tuned, and subscribe to newsletter for notifications!

Buongiorno!

I hope you have had a great summer under the circumstances, and are ready for the next (non-economical) season!

When posting this article, I have just come home to Sweden after a few weeks of visiting my girlfriend's family in Italy. For sure, the virus has put a great strain on the country, but it is good to see that things are moving in the right direction with society opening up. With few exceptions, new cases have been declining in Italy and Europe, which has bolstered investors with renewed confidence the past months.

Our vacation this year was not as we had initially planned (beaches in Sicily), but of a less touristy, and much more responsible, sort. Instead, we have stayed with her family and taken a few day trips to selected non-crowded destination (Venice has not been this empty for centuries). While more and more flights are opening up across Europe, it is still important to be cautious and not take unnecessary risks. One should not think that the danger is over, just because travelling is again somewhat possible. We can just hope for a full recovery as soon as possible.

But this is not a travel blog, but a financial blog, even though I wish to one day be able to sustain a life abroad thanks to my finances.

In this light, I have lately been thinking about how Covid-19 has affected the financial stability of countries, and how that in turn will impact sovereign credit ratings. For example, if debt-to-GDP would increase too much, if the affordability of the debt would fall, or if the economic outlook or stability of a nation would decrease, it will impact the country's ability to service its debt.

The ability to service debt - or a sovereign state's credit worthiness - is what the credit rating agencies Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor, are all analysing and rating. If a sovereign state has a good credit rating (AAA, Aaa etc.), this gives great comfort to the investors who purchase the country's bonds that there is a low risk of that the state defaults on its debt.

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – August 2020 – How downgraded credit ratings may impact your portfolio

Portfolio Update – July 2020 – The value of currency hedging

  • Worst month for the US Dollar in more than a decade: how it impacts European investors and how to protect against currency risk
  • Monthly portfolio update: Fairly stable month: impacted by negative currency movements
  • Book tip: Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises by Ray Dalio (link at the bottom of the post)
  • In case you missed it: I have ditched all intermediate-term bonds

Hope you are having a good summer so far, even though I am guessing it is spent quite close to home this year. Unlike others here in the Nordics, I have worked through July, and will have my vacation from mid-August instead. Looking forward to get some time off to read about investing.

I am really pleased to see that there seems to be great interest out there for low-volatility investing and balanced asset portfolio allocations. I strongly believe that the past decade has made stock investing feel easy, but there are more risk in it that you might have thought. Over the long term, the economy, and thus the financial markets, experiences big shifts in the long-term cycle. Now, total debt levels to GDP are at extreme levels not seen since the Great Depression.

This ratio is enhanced by decreasing GDP world-wide due to lockdowns and increased debt to cope with the effects of the coronavirus. Are we nearing the end of the long term debt cycle and are nearing a great deleveraging that must ensue thereafter? According to Ray Dalio, we were nearing the end of the long-term debt cycle even a year before the Covid-19 outbreak hit the markets, as he describes in a video posted by Yahoo Finance from early 2019.

That is quite scary when you think of it, and if I was heavily invested in stocks, I would be terrified. Luckily, several assets in the All Seasons Portfolio and a balanced portfolio will protect against such downturn. You will find a link to Ray Dalio's book Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises (2018) at the end of this post. If you have not read this already - it is now more relevant than ever.

Even though it is interesting, that is not the main topic for the day. Instead, we will be discussing EUR Hedged investing.

Continue Reading Portfolio Update – July 2020 – The value of currency hedging