What have the Chinese ever done for us?

Reminders of that old Chinese curse – ‘may you live in interesting times’ – are filling the financial pages/blogs/chatosphere at the moment.  The consensus is that a fall by the Chinese stock market of over 30% is a massive sneeze, and when China (with 15% of the world economy) sneezes, the rest of us are due for a cold.  And yet, and yet, I don’t buy it.

Seeing FTSE-100 below 6000 and my portfolio page full of red ink (did you know that in China red means price increases?) is quite a jolt after months of very little turbulence in the UK/US stock markets.

Many better bloggers than me are adequately covering the key points – have a plan, stick to it, and if anything this correction is a buying opportunity.  So while I may be cursing that August is my lowest month for dividends, and my tradeable cash reserves are empty, there is nothing to see here so why not move on?

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What to teach your 20-something self, about pensions?

I have volunteered to do a simple class at work for a few younger folk about pensions.  I’m promising them Five Simple Things to know about pensions / saving.  What should I tell them?

My audience are young, ambitious Londoners.  They earn between £20k and £40k.  None are yet parents.  All aspire to get on the housing ladder.  They are smart but not obviously financially literate. They know pensions are an important matter but it wouldn’t be urgent for any of them.

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Anatomy of a portfolio’s excellent returns

In the 100+ investments that I can track in detail*, half a dozen made annualised returns of over 60% from 1/7/12 to 1/7/15.  In this post I’m going to examine these six investments in detail.

Under normal conditions, >60% p.a. returns can only come from active investments, not passive ones.  As such, these positions were all small – unfortunately, but sensibly.  But with such high returns, there are two questions I’m asking myself:

  1. How sensible was my logic, with hindsight? Was this skill, or was it luck?
  2. Should I have taken much bigger positions? Or would this have been just rank speculation?

FIREvLondon 2015 07 three years anatomy - winners

Let’s look at these six investments in no particular order.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a portfolio’s excellent returns”