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Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 10:49 AM   #1
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Invalid Assumptions?

The 4% Rule is based on the 130 years of analysis and is thus as solid as probably anything can be in this world. *But I do have one concern: there may be a paradigm shift occurring across the ocean.

The last 130 years have one common assumption: *American dominance (or at least high growth) in manufacturing and exports. *Something new is happening in the global economy: *America is losing and losing badly and there is no end in sight.

Japan is nothing compared to China. *If you doubt what I am saying, read this incredible summary article:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...u=/bw/b3911401

It'll sober you up more quickly than any other article I've read.

Without American dominance/high growth in manufacturing and exports, can we really assume that the 4% Rule will apply? *

Yes, the 4% Rule chugs right through the Great Depression and 70's and 80's stagflation. *But let's face it: *we were the undisputed world economic heavyweight during both eras. *Everyone knew in the long run we were going to come out all right. *That's simply not the case any more. *The probability that we will continue to dominate the world financial stage is highly debatable and some sort of collapse is becoming much more highly accepted as a potentiality.

Does anyone have any strategies around this? *Have any of the early retirement gurus been touching upon this subject? I'm not one of those guys to go out and bury gold bars in my back yard as I think there is always a way around any financial situation if you invest correctly...
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

You know, I have been hearing about the demise of the US for at least 20 years, and I'm still waiting for it. Not holding my breath for the catastrophe du jour this time, either.

Having said that, I think simple prudence suggests some investment allocation to non-US assets. YMMV.
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 04:38 PM   #3
 
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

I think assumptions by invalids deserve
the same respect as any others.

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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 05:32 PM   #4
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
Does anyone have any strategies around this? *Have any of the early retirement gurus been touching upon this subject? *I'm not one of those guys to go out and bury gold bars in my back yard as I think there is always a way around any financial situation if you invest correctly...
Have a look at these two threads:

http://early-retirement.org/cgi-bin/...num=1100072593

http://early-retirement.org/cgi-bin/...725081;start=0
-particularly from page 3 on
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 07:27 PM   #5
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:

Have a look at these two threads:

http://early-retirement.org/cgi-bin/...num=1100072593

http://early-retirement.org/cgi-bin/...725081;start=0
-particularly from page 3 on
Thx for the good links. I don't suppose you have the Cliff Note version of the top one?
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 08:14 PM   #6
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
You know, I have been hearing about the demise of the US for at least 20 years, and I'm still waiting for it. *Not holding my breath for the catastrophe du jour this time, either.

Having said that, I think simple prudence suggests some investment allocation to non-US assets. *YMMV.
From the responses that I got I can see I didn't really represent my position well. *For the record I don't see America as truly disappearing off the global economic map! We're still one of the most free laissez faire economies in the world (in spite of our bloated federal government and deficit) and this gives us an instant advantage. *

But that said I work in IT and I've already seen what a significant change Asia has had on the industry and the change is just beginning. *So that's where I'm coming from: *my personal opinion (for what it's worth) is not one of destruction but very significant change. But my purpose was not to actually discuss that anyway.

I was really just wondering if any ER authors/links were starting to deal with the idea or had examined the underlying issues associated with Asia as a new superpower. *I frequent some investing/trading web sites and this is a pretty hot topic and thought maybe it was here as well. *But I can tell from the responses that it really has not made its way into ER materials yet, so I'll just wait...
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-28-2004, 10:41 PM   #7
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

I was really just wondering if any ER authors/links were starting to deal with the idea or had examined the underlying issues associated with Asia as a new superpower. I frequent some investing/trading web sites and this is a pretty hot topic and thought maybe it was here as well. But I can tell from the responses that it really has not made its way into ER materials yet, so I'll just wait...

Whisper,not that i have all the answers,but it pays to have the shotgun approach to portfolio construction.im very well aware of the doom news,and have been clued in for 4 or 5 yrs by somebody with far more experience and insight from not only a fundamental,technical,and analysis background,but also a psychological understanding(by trade he's a Jungian psycho-analyst).This falling $/equities/dominance phenomana has been ongoing for 4-5 yrs,its not the first time,hopefully one of the last.He made me aware of the current process LONG before it seemed safe to place $'s accordingly.BELIEVE ME buying any form of PM'S 4 yrs ago was not easy.That being said,the headwinds facing the USD are truly daunting.I dont care what any past excell based printout sez(AIMHO).Time so far has proved the US bear correct,it seems strange that it is only just now coming to more public view.but then its said from a traders point of view,that the public buys the last 30% of the top(or sells the bottom).Not that we have seen a $ bottom since i expect a gradual dribbling to 65-73 on the US$ index.Our unfunded mandates and foreign trade balance,entitelments,let alone our current account imbalances are extremely daunting.Asia is an empire waiting to happen(complete with stumbleing blocks and limitations not unlike our own),it seems strange that the fall of the Berlin wall could perhaps be there catalyst(in a way).that being said,while much is made of rising empires,keep in mind that as our $ falls,our exporters (seems to be more agricultural than industrial,but im not an expert)become more "valuable".So while the public cry is "out of the $!"its not neccasarily the outcome they will expect.Also keep in mind everybody loves a model that goes straightline forever.History has shown thats just not the case.Everything youve read about asia has been known for some time,like any trend to capatilize the most you need to see the inflection points,hard to do unless you are willing to spend the time.The easiest way is as i stated above(shotgun approach)the harder way's are the engineers approach and the technical chartist(with a tad of good luck/timing).
There are many flavors here,some rigid,some a bit more flexible,the hardest part is deciding which flavor fits for you.Square pegs wont fit in round holes very well,but octagons might barely squeeze in both :-)
Hope this helps some,if its to abstract,lemme know ill dial it down a bit tighter,and perhaps i can find you some links or info---ak
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 07:14 AM   #8
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
Thx for the good links. *I don't suppose you have the Cliff Note version of the top one? *
The really short version of the top one (which is 3 papers by William Sharpe) is to hold a portfolio that is allocated as the market allocates capital because the best source of information on how to allocate assets is the results of everybody's estimates (the market is a big computer). That means that in stocks you would hold something like 40% in US and 60% in the rest of the world.

Now having given away the ending I would still highly recommend reading them. I'm through 2 of the 3 and the papers read pretty easily, the ideas are interesting and thought provoking.

Buried in the second link are two other papers that seem to be worthwhile and I've skimed but not yet read (only so many hours in a day).

http://www.gsm.uci.edu/~jorion/papers/century.pdf

http://www.jeremysiegel.com/view_art...1&h=1#_ftnref8
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 09:09 AM   #9
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:

The really short version of the top one (which is 3 papers by William Sharpe) is to hold a portfolio that is allocated as the market allocates capital because the best source of information on how to allocate assets is the results of everybody's estimates (the market is a big computer). *That means that in stocks you would hold something like 40% in US and 60% in the rest of the world.

Now having given away the ending I would still highly recommend reading them. *I'm through 2 of the 3 and the papers read pretty easily, the ideas are interesting and thought provoking.

Buried in the second link are two other papers that seem to be worthwhile and I've skimed but not yet read (only so many hours in a day).

http://www.gsm.uci.edu/~jorion/papers/century.pdf

http://www.jeremysiegel.com/view_art...1&h=1#_ftnref8
Of course, the tough thing with the "60% world" category is how to invest it in an index. Are you using the iShares ETF's to approximate this?
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 09:15 AM   #10
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
I was really just wondering if any ER authors/links were starting to deal with the idea or had examined the underlying issues associated with Asia as a new superpower. *I frequent some investing/trading web sites and this is a pretty hot topic and thought maybe it was here as well. *But I can tell from the responses that it really has not made its way into ER materials yet, so I'll just wait...

Whisper,not that i have all the answers,but it pays to have the shotgun approach to portfolio construction.im very well aware of the doom news,and have been clued in for 4 or 5 yrs by somebody with far more experience and insight from not only a fundamental,technical,and analysis background,but also a psychological understanding(by trade he's a Jungian psycho-analyst).This falling $/equities/dominance phenomana has been ongoing for 4-5 yrs,its not the first time,hopefully one of the last.He made me aware of the current process LONG before it seemed safe to place $'s accordingly.BELIEVE ME buying any form of PM'S 4 yrs ago was not easy.That being said,the headwinds facing the USD are truly daunting.I dont care what any past excell based printout sez(AIMHO).Time so far has proved the US bear correct,it seems strange that it is only just now coming to more public view.but then its said from a traders point of view,that the public buys the last 30% of the *top(or sells the bottom).Not that we have seen a $ bottom since i expect a gradual dribbling to 65-73 on the US$ index.Our unfunded mandates and foreign trade balance,entitelments,let alone our current account imbalances are extremely daunting.Asia is an empire waiting to happen(complete with stumbleing blocks and limitations not unlike our own),it seems strange that the fall of the Berlin wall could perhaps be there catalyst(in a way).that being said,while much is made of rising empires,keep in mind that as our $ falls,our exporters (seems to be more agricultural than industrial,but im not an expert)become more "valuable".So while the public cry is "out of the $!"its not neccasarily the outcome they will expect.Also keep in mind everybody loves a model that goes straightline forever.History has shown thats just not the case.Everything youve read about asia has been known for some time,like any trend to capatilize the most you need to see the inflection points,hard to do unless you are willing to spend the time.The easiest way is as i stated above(shotgun approach)the harder way's are the engineers approach and the technical chartist(with a tad of good luck/timing).
* There are many flavors here,some rigid,some a bit more flexible,the hardest part is deciding which flavor fits for you.Square pegs wont fit in round holes very well,but octagons might barely squeeze in both :-)
*Hope this helps some,if its to abstract,lemme know ill dial it down a bit tighter,and perhaps i can find you some links or info---ak
Well, where I was going was more: "How can one enjoy the 4% Rule w/o assuming the SnP will do as well?" I think that there must be a way. Perhaps it is in the link above about dealing with inflation. Perhaps it's what you say: a little market timing is needed. Perhaps it's in global diversification. Or perhaps none of the above...
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 09:42 AM   #11
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
Of course, the tough thing with the "60% world" category is how to invest it in an index. *Are you using the iShares ETF's to approximate this?
For my taxable account yes I use ETFs to get the international portion (currently EFA and EEM though I may broaden it). For the majority of US investors though I would suggest that they use something like Vanguard's funds for this. I'm only temporarily a US tax resident and when I cease to be one Vanguard would likely cancel my account. It makes it easier just to purchase the ETFs now especially as I make purchases in my taxable account in a "lumpy" fashion (large purchases only a couple of times a year - my trading costs are a small fraction of a percent).

With the Vanguard option you could just buy 40% VTSMX (Wilshire 5000) plus 60% VGTSX (Total International) for the equities portion of your portfolio. In a taxable account I would suggest that you split the VGTSX into the funds that it holds ~60% European (VEURX) + ~30% Pacific (VPACX) + 10% Emerging Market (VEIEX). You would do this because of the US laws on foreign tax credits arising from funds of funds (which VGTSX is).

You could then just mix that with bonds (and possibly commodities and real estate) in whatever ratio you wish - e.g. 80% equities + 10% bonds (VBMFX) + 10% real estate (VGSIX).
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 09:52 AM   #12
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

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From the responses that I got I can see I didn't really represent my position well. *For the record I don't see America as truly disappearing off the global economic map!
There is absolutely no need for that kind of scenario. Whenever the possibility of the US ceasing to be the world dominant super-power Americans pooh-pooh it with either an answer of "it could never happen" (ignoring history) or a "well it would need a cataclysmic destruction" (again ignoring history or perhaps suggesting that the only way the fundies will let it happen is to take the whole world out in a man-made apocalypse).

Just look at the last such transition - when the US took over from Britain. Britain hasn't vanished and it still remains as one of the most powerful nations on the earth both economically and militarily. US GDP surpassed that of Britain around 1880 and from then on it was a gradual shift of power. Well, China is estimated to pass US GDP in about 10-20 years.
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 02:33 PM   #13
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:

Just look at the last such transition - when the US took over from Britain. *Britain hasn't vanished and it still remains as one of the most powerful nations on the earth both economically and militarily. *US GDP surpassed that of Britain around 1880 and from then on it was a gradual shift of power. *Well, China is estimated to pass US GDP in about 10-20 years.
Great example. This is more how I picture it. I do have to say though I think on the road to this there will be significant lifestyle changes on the way. This will be an adjustment. But I don't see it as catastrophic in anyway (although I think some will). I remain pretty optimistic about the future, but I do think it's important to be on top of when a paradigm shift is about to occur, esp. if it effects your underlying assumptions potentially...
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 02:39 PM   #14
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:

With the Vanguard option you could just buy 40% VTSMX (Wilshire 5000) plus 60% VGTSX (Total International) for the equities portion of your portfolio. *In a taxable account I would suggest that you split the VGTSX into *the funds that it holds ~60% European (VEURX) + ~30% Pacific (VPACX) + 10% Emerging Market (VEIEX). *You would do this because of the US laws on foreign tax credits arising from funds of funds (which VGTSX is).

You could then just mix that with bonds (and possibly commodities and real estate) in whatever ratio you wish - e.g. 80% equities + 10% bonds (VBMFX) + 10% real estate (VGSIX).
Thx for the ideas. Can't wait to look at the Vanguard charts.

Q: How do you feel about the Vanguard fund VBTSX versus using ETF's? Sorry that was vague. What I mean is is VBTSX weighted toward market share percentages based on current exchange rates? I don't want a Japan-heavy fund for example.

Also: Do you happen to know if they only include the China Hong Kong (as I've heard you don't want to touch anything else at this point)?
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 03:14 PM   #15
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

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Q: *How do you feel about the Vanguard fund VBTSX versus using ETF's? *Sorry that was vague. *What I mean is is VBTSX weighted toward market share percentages based on current exchange rates? *I don't want a Japan-heavy fund for example.
Do you mean VGTSX? If Vanguard would let me keep my account when I ceased to be a US tax resident then that is where I would keep my taxable account. They won't so I don't.

Hmm, what do you mean "Japan-heavy"? It follows the MSCI Pacific Index. If you want to hold a "world market" portfolio as discussed in the Sharpe papers then you would want to hold Japan in proportion to the equity weighting of the country. We can use GDP as a proxy to figure this out.

The GDP of the US in 2003 was US$10.8B and Japan was $4.3B. If you have 40% of your equities the US market then you would want (4.3/10.8) * 40% ~= 16% in Japanese equities.

What would holding VGTSX give you? Well it holds ~30% of VPACX which holds about 75% of Japanese stock. So, that's 60% * 30% * 75% = 13.5%. That sounds to be in the right ballpark to me.

Quote:
Also: *Do you happen to know if they only include the China Hong Kong (as I've heard you don't want to touch anything else at this point)?
The VEIEX fund, which follows the MSCI emerging market index, only has a small percentage in the Chinese market - below 10%. I'm not sure if the Chinese secuities are from the Hong Kong exchange or not.
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 06:15 PM   #16
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:

Do you mean VGTSX? *If Vanguard would let me keep my account when I ceased to be a US tax resident then that is where I would keep my taxable account. *They won't so I don't.

Hmm, what do you mean "Japan-heavy"? *It follows the MSCI Pacific Index. *If you want to hold a "world market" portfolio as discussed in the Sharpe papers then you would want to hold Japan in proportion to the equity weighting of the country. *We can use GDP as a proxy to figure this out.

The GDP of the US in 2003 was US$10.8B and Japan was $4.3B. *If you have 40% of your equities the US market then you would want (4.3/10.8) * 40% ~= 16% in Japanese equities.

What would holding VGTSX give you? *Well it holds ~30% of VPACX which holds about 75% of Japanese stock. *So, that's 60% * 30% * 75% = 13.5%. *That sounds to be in the right ballpark to me.


The VEIEX fund, which follows the MSCI emerging market index, only has a small percentage in the Chinese market - below 10%. *I'm not sure if the Chinese secuities are from the Hong Kong exchange or not.
Thanks for the examples. I just wanted to make sure I understood the gyst of how the funds are composed. Your post led to discover of other interesting ETF's including ones built around gold, foreign RE and RE.

I'm mostly interested in ETF's as my current broker has very inexpensive commissions but does not have mutual funds.
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 07:34 PM   #17
 
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Interesting posts on what may happen to the USA
vis-a-vis other nations, and our role and
relationships with them , now and in the future.
In the meantime, I am concerned with other weighty issues, like..............are the fish biting? Where to have lunch? What's for dinner? Should I walk the dog, wash the car,
or take a nap? Yep, it's a tough job but someone has to do it

John Galt
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 07:47 PM   #18
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

Quote:
Interesting posts on what may happen to the USA
vis-a-vis other nations, and our role and
relationships with them , now and in the future.
In the meantime, I am concerned with other weighty issues, like..............are the fish biting? *Where to have lunch? *What's for dinner? *Should I walk the dog, wash the car,
or take a nap? *Yep, it's a tough job but someone has to do it *

John Galt
I think you've got the stress reduction part mastered. Did you read the latest the latest headlines about stress and telomeres? Huge potential news in the longevity arena:

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...ress_and_aging
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-29-2004, 10:37 PM   #19
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

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I'm mostly interested in ETF's as my current broker has very inexpensive commissions but does not have mutual funds.
Just realize that there are a lot of hassles with ETFs as an ongoing investor. Even with "inexpensive commissions" you are going to need to be investing a lot at one time to get the %age cost down. Even if you get $10 commissions then you need to invest $1000 at one time to keep the cost at 1%. If you've 5 ETFs (spread over some different asset classes - 1 US Total Market, 1 EAFE type, 1 Emerging Market, 1 RE, and maybe 1 precious metal) then you need $5000 dollars at a time. That's only to keep the fees at 1%.

You've also got to let the money build up over time until there's enough to invest. That means that the money isn't really working (brokerage interest rates are low) and that you've got to have more discipline about saving it.

Another problem is that you can only invest in whole units of shares. You can't with a normal brokerage buy fractional shares. Even non-round lots (groups of 100 shares) can be a little harder to sell though it isn't as bad as it used to be.

Really think about this. It wouldn't be that hard to open a Vanguard mutual fund account and have them auto-deduct from your chequing account on a regular basis.
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?
Old 11-30-2004, 04:13 AM   #20
 
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Re: Invalid Assumptions?

"Brokerage interest rate are low" caught my eye.
Not only are they low, they are so low it is almost an insult to be told what they are paying you. It might
be better PR to pay nothing and just tell the client they need to find a place to park the money. For those of you wondering; yes I understand why they pay such
ridiculous rates. That doesn't mean I don't resent it.

John Galt
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