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What caught my eye this week.

Last week I suggested we all remember that bear markets exist and we’ll see one again, so invest accordingly.

But we can invert this with a reminder that bull markets come and go, too.

It’s difficult to recall the pessimism of 2008 and 2009 today, after a 10-year bull run.

But it’s maybe even harder to remember how out-of-love investors were with technology companies.

One advantage of writing your own investing blog that offsets some of the disadvantages (work, trolls, looking silly in retrospect) is that it enables you to track your thinking.

Often this is embarrassing. Occasionally you get a signal that you’re doing something right.

I did vast amounts of reading when I began investing nearly 20 years ago. Real-life lessons are more valuable, though.

For instance, when I wrote about what I called the investor sentiment cycle back in 2010, I’d only seen a couple of sector-specific booms and busts – though I’d read about many more.

And it’s somewhat gratifying to extract the following snippet from that 2010 post today:

Dot come again

For a contrasting unloved sector, consider technology companies.

It’s hard to remember a time when half the office owned shares in nonsense companies like Baltimore, Webvan, and NTX.

Yet it was only a brief decade ago that the Dotcom stocks were doubling in a month on a good press release and a name change.

Today roughly nobody except institutional investors bothers with individual technology shares – yet the Nasdaq tech market in the US has been quietly beating the Dow and the S&P 500 for months.

Especially this bit further down:

Perhaps Facebook or Twitter will float for what will seem a crazy valuation, but will look positively modest a few years later.


Keen observers of the market may know that Facebook did float at $38 a share in 2012, and many pundits thought it was overpriced.

Indeed the shares plunged below $20 a few months later on fears that Facebook would not be able to capitalise on smartphone advertising.

That seems ridiculous now, particularly when you look at Facebook’s share price.

As I write its shares are up more than ten-fold from that low, at $211.

Tech tock goes the clock

Today’s investors (to some extent me included) can’t get enough of growth and tech names.

There are good theoretical reasons for this, in a low interest rate world. (See point #10 in my post on low interest rate investing issues).

But it’s surely also true that we’re happy to hold tech shares at high valuations because they’ve shot the lights out over the past ten years. Facebook is now a $600bn company, and four US tech companies in the US are valued at over a trillion dollars each!

Will this continue?

Yes –  until it doesn’t.

“Trees don’t grow to the sky”, as the old-timers used to say.

I’m not going to speculate here about when the very real potential of technological disruption is sufficiently priced-in, or whether the future will disappoint us.

But I will remind everyone again that these things move in long cycles.

Not for spooky reasons. Rather from a combination of economic reality and sentiment.

For example, emerging markets just hit a 16-year low relative to US stocks, as shown in this graphic from All Star Charts.

(Click to enlarge)

I would – and as an active investor probably should – bet that the slope won’t look that way in 2030.

For passive investors, it’s an umpteenth reminder to stay diversified across geographies, sectors (i.e. own the market) and not to get distracted by fads.

For naughty active investors, it’s a warning to stay aware. (And maybe to become a passive investor if your edge is simply that you own a lot of tech shares… 😉 )

Have a great weekend!

The title is a quote from Horace. But you knew that.

From Monevator

Why I’m not scared of my interest-only mortgage – Monevator

From the archive-ator: How gold is taxed – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

The Body Shop will start hiring the first person who applies for any retail job – Fast Company

Pound jumps after Sajid Javid storms out of No.11 and is replaced by Rishi Sunak – ThisIsMoney

House prices rise across UK for first time since July 2018 – Guardian

US investors’ move to indexing means the average dollar invested beats the average fund –  Morningstar

“She was beautiful, funny, and she scammed me…”BBC

Failing to protect nature could cost UK economy £16billion a year says World Wildlife Fund – ThisIsMoney

(Click to enlarge)

Ranked: The social mobility of 82 countries – The Visual Capitalist

Products and services

NatWest unveils a bumper £175 bank account switching offer – ThisIsMoney

An overview of country specific and regional investment trusts – IT Investor

German digital bank N26 pulls out of UK, blaming Brexit – Guardian

RateSetter will pay you £20 [and me a cash bonus] within 30 days of you putting in your first £10… – RateSetter

…while Zopa will pay you £50 if you invest £2,000 [and give me a cash tip, too]Zopa

City penthouses for sale [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

The Getting Rich Quadrant – Safal Niveshak

Nobody told me – Humble Dollar

The wealth gap: how changing fortunes tear close friends apart – Guardian

Some thoughts about young people getting into day-trading – A Wealth of Common Sense

Finance and Instagram: What’s not to like? [Search result]FT

What if my broker goes bust? – Finimus

Not-so-great expectations: The curse of high expected returns – Daniel Egan

Fighting complexity – FireVLondon

How will the novel coronavirus affect your portfolio? – Of Dollars and Data

Illusion of progress – Indeedably

The choice of success – The Simple Dollar

A (not so) brief history of the value factor – OSAM

Hedge funds floundering mini-special

Hedge funds have (almost) never delivered on their risk-mitigation promises – Institutional Investor

Still, five hedge fund heads made more than $1billion last year… – Yahoo Finance

…but hedge fund ‘Masters of Mayfair’ are no more, says Man chief [Search result]FT

Naughty corner: Active antics

The coming green bubble – The Macro Tourist

The secret of stock picking – The Irrelevant Investor

Why you should hunt around for boring investments – Collaborative Blog

Beyond Meat, post-barbarianism: Reasons to invest vegan – Bennallack

ICOs make IPOs look good – Klement on Investing

Valuing the UK market by CAPE ratio; the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 – UK Value Investor

What would you put in a 100-year portfolio? – RCM Alternatives

The primacy effect on trading and investing decisions – Price Action Lab Blog

The Warner music IPO and the case for investment in music – The Lefsetz Letter

Politics and Brexit

Michael Gove confirms post-Brexit trade barriers will be imposed – Guardian

Home Office tells 101-year old man Italian applying to remain in UK that his parents must confirm his identity – MailOnline

Kindle book bargains

Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption by Ben Mezrich – £0.99 on Kindle

Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters – £1.99 on Kindle

Hit Refresh: A Memoir by Microsoft’s CEO by Satya Nadella – £1.99 on Kindle

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Kombucha slime is an edible solution to the world’s plastic problem – One Zero

All your favorite brands, from BSTOEM to ZGGCD – New York Times

Bats carry many viruses. So why don’t they get sick? – NPR

World population: 2020 overview – Yale University

You are not, and never will be, Anna from This LifeThe Guyliner

And finally…

“Ironically, a crash at the beginning of your investing life is a gift. In fact, any pullback in stock prices is a gift while you are in the process of accumulating your wealth.”
– JL Collins, The Simple Path to Wealth

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

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