December and 2020 review, via seven questions

The end of December 2020. Time to do my monthly review of my portfolio, but also time to do an annual review. It is the end of my eighth year of monthly tracking of my portfolio. And it’s the first year I’ve tracked that has a very serious market meltdown in it, triggered of course by the covid-19 pandemic.

While I am somewhat geeky unusual in the attention I pay to my portfolio, it is general good practice even for ‘normal people’ to review their finances and investments on an annual basis. In the spirit of trying to be helpful, I’m setting out in this post to tackle seven generic questions that I think all prudent investors should ask themselves at least annually, and where the answers suggest ways to optimise/enhance your outcomes.

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Nov 2020: spirits lifted in lockdown 2.0

November saw the second national lockdown in England.

Most shops closed. All pubs/restaurants closed. Hair dressers closed. No social mixing indoors, and max 1 person to be met up with outside. Not a whole lot of fun. The weather has been relatively nice to us – it’s been damp and chilly, but not unrelentingly so. I’ve found some new parts of London.

Not exactly lyrical

This country park perhaps doth protest too much
The mother of all parliament’s hill
What counts as a park, in London

At work, we assumed things would turn downwards – as business became harder to do. But in fact we were busy in November. Much busier than we expected.

Trump is now officially a loser. It feels hard to describe Biden as a winner – perhaps I know how Trump feels? – but it is certainly easy to describe Trump as a loser.

But the word of the month has been Vaccines. Both an expensive Pfizer/BioNTech one, and a ‘good enough, and easy enough, and cheap enough’ one from Oxford University/AstraZeneca. Suddenly the mood music has changed very much for the better.

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October 2020: A miserable end to a miserable month

It’s national lockdown, in England, again.

It seemed pretty bad being put into Tier 2, here in London. This arcane form of lockdown jargon has us Londoners unable to socialise indoors with people from another household. Which turns every law-abiding restaurant’s dinner, at least in central London, into Valentine’s night.

The weather has been miserable too. The wettest month for over 10 years. Thankfully, not unrelentingly so.

Zone 2, London

But at the end of the month, kaboom, we have another national lockdown for (at least) a month. It doesn’t sound as if it will be quite as bad as the spring version – while pubs/restaurants have to close for eat in dining, takeaway-etc is very much allowed, and a variety of shops/services are allowed to continue to trade. But household mixing is off, almost including outdoors, and misery has set in.

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