God is a Capitalist

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

QE to Infinity and Beyond and Cantillon

Mainstream economics denies that Cantillon Effects exist. Cantillon Effects are one of those insights that Austrian economics offers followers that help us avoid nasty surprises like the Great Recession. Recently, McKinsey and Company provided research that supports the Austrian view of Cantillon effects from QE. Here is one of their charts:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Markov Confirms ABCT

Greg Davies and Arnaud de Servigny offer a different take on diversification in their book Behavioral Investment Management: An Efficient Alternative to Modern Portfolio Theory. Chapter 6, “Representing Asset Return Dynamics in an Uncertain Environment was the most interesting chapter to me, and the one that adds confirmation to using the ABCT as a guide to timing the market. 

Modern portfolio theory tells investors to diversify their portfolios at least between two asset classes, stocks and bonds. A simplistic summary of the method is to use the statistical measure called standard deviation to assess the risks of asset classes and diversify according to risk. But in reality, advisers have found that a fixed ratio, say 70% stocks and 30% bonds, often works better without requiring as much work. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Financial Education Fails

 Many people share a strong pessimism about the future of Social Security while secure pensions from a lifetime of working for the same company have followed the path of buggy whips. So in spite of decades in which the nanny state tried to protect people from life, people feel  less secure than ever. 

As usual and when all else fails, the experts turned to education. Teaching people about the miracle of compound interest and providing GPS guides to navigate the forest of investment alternatives and complex securities would empower consumers to make wise investment decisions. But as usual it failed according to a paper by three academics who analyzed 168 papers covering 201 prior studies. The paper, “Financial Literacy, Financial Educationand Downstream Financial Behaviors” was made available online in January and will appear in a forthcoming journal, Management Science. The authors concluded that

These interventions cost billions of dollars in real spending and larger opportunity costs when these interventions supplant other valuable activities. Our meta-analysis revealed that financial education interventions studied explained only about 0.1% of the variance in the financial behaviors studied, with even weaker average effects of interventions directed at low-income rather than general population samples.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Buffet's Investing Advice

Fortune magazine recently published an excerpt from Warren Buffet's annual letter to investors in which Buffet offers advice for the average investor. He starts by telling two investing stories:

This tale begins in Nebraska. From 1973 to 1981, the Midwest experienced an explosion in farm prices, caused by a widespread belief that runaway inflation was coming and fueled by the lending policies of small rural banks. Then the bubble burst, bringing price declines of 50% or more that devastated both leveraged farmers and their lenders. Five times as many Iowa and Nebraska banks failed in that bubble's aftermath as in our recent Great Recession.