Well, May 2020 was the month that highlighted, as the Economist put it, Boris’ short-Cummings. Remember much else happening that month?
In May the UK started unlocking, slowly. The government(s) has(ve) been slowly releasing the strait jacket to fit what people (in London at least) have been doing anyway for a week or two. I’ve stayed healthy, and my boundaries have enlarged slightly – by which I mean I had my first Zoom party, and there are slightly more restaurants available on Deliveroo.
London has been looking beautiful. Full marks to the first person to name correctly the parks shown below – just some of the ones I’ve visited this month.
Markets up over 5%
Meanwhile, the market’s mad bounce back in April has continued. Quite calmly.
Equities are up more than 5%. Ah no, sorry, not in the UK they aren’t. And in fact the GBP fell against major currencies, which would normally push FTSE up relatively, but not this month. FTSE lagged by gaining ‘only’ 3.3%. Yet another good month to be globally diversified.
Australia had the stand out month, though I haven’t been following closely enough to know why. I do remember buying a lot of Australian equities in the last two months as my rebalancing system signalled they had fallen underweight, and their rebound has left me feeling almost overweight Oz.
Rebalancing the portfolio to a fixed allocation is about buying low and selling high and Australia over the last few weeks is a textbook example of how it can work well.
Bonds continued to climb but they looked positively pedestrian compared to equities.
I have been deliberately staying slightly aloof from the markets.Read the rest of this entry »
My Dream Home saga nears its conclusions. Longsuffering followers will recall that, in the last instalment in Q4 2016, I had abandoned my effort to sell my Former Dream Home into the Brexit referendum aftermath, in favour of renting the property out to some (North) Americans. I reasoned, three years ago, that I could well expect to sell the property for 1.20X (where X was the supposed fair market value) in 2020, by which point Brexit would be well and truly behind us…..
What happened next?
Well, the (North) Americans proved to be fine tenants. They looked after the place and kept on renewing. My rent increased by 2% each year. I used a managing agent, so the deductions were swingeing, and I had the occasional cost to bear too. But overall the landlord experience proved to be relatively painless.
Until Q2 this year, when the fine tenants gave notice. He had received a job offer back in the mother country and was off to take it.
Losing these tenants left me in something of a quandary. Brexit was due to be done in June 2019 (remember that?), except that pretty clearly it wasn’t. Property prices (and rents) hadn’t budged materially since late 2016. Yet somehow I felt a different mood – a “well I can’t put my life on hold forever” sentiment that tempted me to attempt a sale for the second time.
Moreover, with the void period starting in June, the timing felt good to ‘test the waters’ for selling the house, but reverting to let it in time for the busy ‘back to school’ season in September. So I decided to give it a go, and put my Former Dream Home on the market to sell. I listed it at a somewhat lower price than last time – essentially the price that I had accepted an offer on in 2016.
When is a sale a sale?
Cutting a long story somewhat short, the market felt completely different this summer than in the summer of 2016. I had far more interest in the house. I even had an offer, that I was prepared to accept! Not once, but in fact three times….Read the rest of this entry »
I knew I didn’t know much about Imran.
Imran joined the company at about the same time as me, less than 2 years ago, in a fairly junior position. He’s a book-keeper. He’s young – in his twenties. Very much of the millennial generation.
At my office, we get new joiners to do a dog-and-pony-show to introduce themselves to the whole floor. Imran’s dog-and-pony show was pretty memorable, for the wrong reasons: Imran didn’t know how to present, couldn’t structure his thoughts, and didn’t respect his audience. He did however make it clear he is a very hippy alternative person, a dreamer, somewhat immature, and was not from book-keeping central casting.
Since Imran joined I have had very little – too little – to do with him. I’ve been involved with his pay review, he’s made the occasional not very practical suggestion for what other departments should be doing, and that’s about it. He’s clearly a fairly withdrawn, introverted person.
In Imran’s pay review, I learnt that he’s being paid significantly less than the market rate. He is evidently not very money motivated and his motivation for joining my company was for other reasons. In the last 18 months his pay has increased from a little under £40k to a little more than £40k. He could probably find a role elsewhere in London on £50k, though his presentational/ introverted style won’t make this easy for him.Read the rest of this entry »