Storing Wealth Made EZ


Storing Wealth Made EZ

mcsi indices

These charts from Bloomberg.com of the Morgan Stanley World Index and

mcsi indices

and the MSCI ALL World Index shows how risky the economic world has become.

The MSCI World is a stock market index of over 6,000 ‘world’ stocks. It is maintained by MSCI Inc., formerly Morgan Stanley Capital International, and is often used as a common benchmark for ‘world’ or ‘global’ stock funds.

The index includes a collection of stocks of all the developed markets in the world, as defined by MSCI. The index includes securities from 24 countries but excludes stocks from emerging and frontier economies making it less worldwide than the name suggests.

A broader index, the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI), incorporates both developed and emerging countries.

The volatility of these markets over the past five years shows how we have edged into an increasingly risky world.

Here are three ways to store wealth in this high risk world.

Over the past four decades global economic tensions in the USA and Europe have twisted like gigantic tectonic plates colliding at seismic faults.  Government and private debt, aging populations and huge, unfunded future obligations have slowly but relentlessly built and distorted fiscal reality while a younger emerging world grew bold and rich through low cost labor.

Finally this monetary stress unleashed an earthquake of financial reform that threatens every financial aspect of the modern world.  Banks, stocks, bonds, government debt and most currencies have all been thrown into stagflationary shock…where inflation rips purchasing power apart at the same time that wages and employment opportunities fall.

This shift has put almost every investment at risk and raises the question, “How can one store wealth in such an atmosphere?”

High Risk World

Most investments are now at risk because most savings and capital come in the form of a promise. Stocks are a promise of shared earnings and growth in business. Bonds are a promise of money used and returned with interest. Bank and savings accounts are a promise of money kept and cared for to be returned at the owners’ desire.

Currencies are promises of products and services delivered later from products and services given now.

We are in times when few promises… especially those made in terms of paper currency can be kept.

Traditionally Swiss francs and precious metals, especially gold and silver are the favored stores of wealth.  These investments should usually play a part in portfolios as insurance. 5% to 10% of a portfolio in metals and hard currencies is a general rule of thumb.

These hard assets were good ideas for speculation a year or two or even a few months ago.  Not when they are at all times highs though. History suggests that their high price puts their promise as a store of value at risk. In previous monetary corrections when the price of Swiss francs, gold and silver exploded upwards… the peak was followed by a harsh… extended downfall.

Storing Wealth Made EZ

Today investors and businesses need a new mindset for storing wealth…a thought pattern that leads in new ways to  make a relentless search for diversification, necessity and value.

Here are some tips that lead to professional investing who can help you make it easy to zero in on three ways to store of wealth in the high risk years ahead.

Diversification  –  Non Correlated Investments

The first way to store value is to look beyond stocks, bonds and certificates of deposit .

Stocks, bonds and certificates of deposit are the traditional ways that most investors and savers store wealth.

These three asset classes usually offer non synchronized opportunity. Their movements are connected.  When cash investments make sense… shares and bonds may not be such good buys.  When shares are rising… bonds are falling and vice versa.

When economic and fiscal problems create systemic risk… as they are now,  the entire system is shaken and all three asset classes… stocks, bonds and cash may be at risk.

One non correlated type of investment is a managed currency or forex speculation investment.  Such investments are aimed at profiting on currency parity fluctuations which have little to do with stock or bonds so these fluctuations are not correlated to any of these asset classes.

An example is the Managed Forex Account offered by Jyske Global Asset Management in Copenhagen. These accounts offer a fundamentally managed forex service where every investor has a separate account.  This is a very low leverage service with a maximum of four times leverage depending on each individual’s risk profile.

Experienced JGAM currency traders borrow currencies they believe will fall in value and invest the loans in currencies they believe will rise versus the borrowed currency.  Then they use 24 -7 overview and stop losses to cut losses short and to let profitable positions ride.

Borrowed Currencies

Current JGAM is leveraging the account with one third US Dollar, one third Japanese yen and one third euro loans.

The dollar is weak in JGAM’s opinion because the Federal Reserve (Fed) is under no pressure to normalize policy any time soon and will keep the interest at the very low level until mid-2013.  This announcement makes the US dollar (USD) attractive as a funding currency, which should have a negative effect on the USD.

They have borrowed euro because on the other side of the Atlantic the eurozone has many unsolved debt challenges, which create a distrust of the euro. This distrust make investors sell euro (EUR).  The challenge is that both currencies cannot weaken at the same time (verus each other).

As of mid August 2011 Morgan Stanley’s (MS’s) EUR/USD target for Q3 is 1.40 and Bank Credit Analysts (BCA) predict 1.55. It is currently trading at 1.4240.

The Japanese yen (JPY) is a borrowed currency because it has strengthened so much due to the turmoil in the global economy. MS and BCA are both arguing that JPY inflows will remain substantial as long the uncertainty is intact.

However, Bank of Japan (BoJ) has intervened several times (sold JPY) in order to stem the JPY rally. BoJ has announced that it has increased the amount of its asset purchase program, which creates plenty of ammunition for further interventions. BCA is bullish on the JPY while MS is neutral to bearish.

Because of the current situation with financial uncertainty and divided expectations, JGAM decided to continue with the current loan mix, consisting of three equally weighted funding currencies.

Diversification is JGAM’s strategy and their existing currency positions (August 20, 2011) are:

The Singapore dollar (SGD) which has retracted upward lately (weaker SGD) and broke the 1.2100 resistance level against USD. However, JGAM remains confident of the SGD fundamentals and maintains their long SGD and short USD position. They are keeping their stop loss order at USD/SGD 1.2740.

The Canadian dollar (CAD) has suffered the past month and moved from 0.9433 to 0.9850 against the USD.  The sudden change in sentiment happened on the back of softening economic data and in generally weaker commodity currencies. However, the Canadian economy is outperforming its southern neighbor and Bank of Canada (BoC) should gradually normalize fiscal policy while odds of additionally Fed easing are rising. The diverging monetary policies should over time push USD/CAD lower (stronger CAD). Therefore, JGAM has kept this position.

Learn more about JGAM’s forex account for Americans from Thomas Fischer at fischer@jgam.com

Learn about Jyske for non Americans from René Mathys at mathys@jbpb.dk

 (GRV) Mars Hill Global Relative Value ETF

Another non correlated investment is the Mars Hill Global Relative Value ETF (GRV).   The goal of this ETF is to generate consistent positive returns in excess of the average annual return of the MSCI World Index using  a “Relative Value” approach to identify long positions within the major global regions that they expect will outperform the Index and an equal amount of short positions within the major global regions that they expect will underperform the Index.

This core long/short portfolio construction is designed to mitigate the directional influence of the global equity markets and instead seeks to profit from the spread between its long and short positions, which are prevalent throughout flat, rising and falling market environments.

This ETF reduces market exposure as its investments are fully hedged like a hedge fund, but as a New York Stock Exchange traded share has an open book so investors can see the high degree of risk management. The short positions offer a hedge against a decline in global equity markets, while concurrently offering an opportunity to even generate positive returns in such an environment.

The Fund employs an equal amount of long and short positions regardless of market direction so can profit whether the market is on a rise or fall.

The Fund’s Relative Value approach looks for attractive positions that bring added return and liquidity for the risk.

Because of the long/short strategy, the performance positions create a return stream that is expected to have a low correlation with both stocks and bonds.

This GRV ETF invests in many countries, sectors and industry groups to provide global diversification.

Necessity – Invest in Agriculture and Water

farm water

One reason Merri and I purchased our Blue Ridge farm is an abundance of…

farm water

spring fed water and dozens and dozens of artisian wells.

The second way to store wealth is in necessities.   No matter the state of the economy… basic necessities remain… food clothing and shelter.

Clothing perhaps can wait… but eating and drinking cannot.

Water is becoming a scarce resource yet investment in water treatment and infrastructure has been low due to artificially low prices.  This trend is changing as supply and demand realities  overwhelm political expediency.

Water is becoming a leading global commodity as the world population increases and increases the demand for clean water.  Global water demand has increased almost twice as fast as population growth in recent years.

Global population growth and water withdrawals that are already 275% higher now than 50 years ago add trillion dollar potential to this industry.

Modern farming creates the greatest demand on water for agricultural irrigation, so investments in water also are investments in food.

Investments in shares of water processing companies can provide multi currency diversification.

For example, holding just these three shares diversifies savings globally into dollars, euro and Singapore dollars!

American Water Works Co. – USA –US Dollar. This company  provides drinking water, wastewater and other water-related services in multiple states and Ontario, Canada. The Company’s primary business involves the ownership of regulated water and wastewater utilities that provide water and wastewater services to residential, commercial and industrial customers. Symbol NYSE: AWK.

 

Veolia Environnement S.A. – France – Euro.  This firm operates utility and public transportation businesses. The Company supplies drinking water, provides waste management services, manages and maintains heating and air conditioning systems, and operates rail and road passenger transportation systems.  Veolia ADRS symbol at NYSE:VE

Hyflux  – Singapore – Singapore Dollar. Hyflux is a leading provider of integrated water management and environmental solutions with operations and projects in Singapore, Southeast Asia, China India, Algeria, the Middle East and North Africa. Symbol OTC: HYFXF

water share chart

This finance.yahoo.com chart of the Water Shares Index shows that water shares are down… a short term fear based drop on a long term fundamentally sector.

For greater diversification several exchange traded funds are designed to give a diversified investment in water.

PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio (NYSEArca: PHO)

PowerShares Global Water Portfolio ETF (NYSEArca: PIO)

Guggenheim S&P Global Water Index (NYSEArca: CGW)

First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (NYSEArca: FIW)

Necessity – Shelter – Real Estate

The collapse of American real estate prices combined with rising construction costs and the fact that the USA is growing faster than any other industrialized country in the world creates an outstanding store of wealth.

Studies have shown that Americans today occupy almost 20% more developed land (housing, schools, stores, roads) than 20 years ago.  By the late 1990s, 1.7 acres — the equivalent of about 220 parking spaces or 16 basketball courts — were developed for every person added to the population.

As America’s population expands from 300 to 400 million people the next 100 million people will at present standards create 73 million new jobs, about 70 million new homes and 100 billion square feet of non-residential space.

The overhang from the overbuilding in the mid 2000s cannot supply this demand for long.

Extraordinarily low US property prices are already attracting increasing numbers of people from around the world.  For example, Visit Florida reported that visitor numbers for the second quarter of 2009 were up 6.9% over the same period as last year to about 21 million visitors.  Estimates show that US visitors increased 5.3%, overseas visitors increased 17.3% and Canadian visitors 18.4%.  About 82 million visitors spent 60 billion dollars in 2010.

One way to invest in US real estate is with a US real estate ETF.  An August 5, 2011  ETF Digest article entitled “Top 10 Real Estate ETFs” points out that: “There is currently an expanding list of nearly 20 ETFs oriented to primarily REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) with more on the way”.

Included in the list are:

Vanguard REIT ETF(VNQ_) follows the MSCI US REIT Index which covers about 2/3 of all REITs in the U.S. market.

iShares DJ U.S. Real Estate ETF(IYR_) follows the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index which measures the real estate industry primarily through REITs.

SPDR DJ Wilshire REIT ETF(RWR_) follows the Dow Jones U.S. Select REIT Index consists primarily of REITs in commercial real estate.

Good Value Equities

The third way to store value is with good value equities. This is traditionally the best long term investment.

A long term multi currency research project by asset allocation expert, Ibbotson Associates, looked at various returns over 95 years of differing assets classes under varied conditions.

The asset classes we bonds, T-bills. Equities, Housing and Silver. Over the entire 95 years the return was:

Equities: 11.9% per annum

Housing: 6.7% per annum

Bonds: 4.8% per annum

T-Bills: 4.6% per annum

Silver: 4.2% per annum

However the results were very different when the economy was split and viewed in five different conditions, Stable. Moderate Inflation, Rapid Inflation and Deflation.  Equities outperformed all asset classes except during rapid inflation when silver performed better and deflation when bonds were the best bet.

If stagflationary trends continue (inflation and recession) the economic slowdown will add a drag to the industrial and demand side of metals making them suspect as a dependable store of value.

The easiest way to diversify in equities globally is via an ETF  that tracks one of MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital Index) Indicies.

The MSCI World is a stock market index of over 6,000 ‘world’ stocks. It is maintained by MSCI Inc., formerly Morgan Stanley Capital International, and is often used as a common benchmark for ‘world’ or ‘global’ stock funds.

The index includes a collection of stocks of all the developed markets in the world, as defined by MSCI. The index includes securities from 24 countries but excludes stocks from emerging and frontier economies making it less worldwide than the name suggests.

A broader index, the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI), incorporates both developed and emerging countries.

Here are two US traded ETFs that give various global equity diversification.

The iShares MSCI ACWI Index Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the MSCI All Country World Index.

The Rydex MSCI EAFE Equal Weight ETF seeks investment results generally corresponding to the price + yield performance of the MSCI EAFE Equal Weighted Index. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australasia, Far East) Equal Weighted Index equally weights the securities in the MSCI EAFE Index (MSCI EAFE Cap-Weighted Index), which is a free float-adjusted market cap index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the USA & Canada.

Having enjoyed global financial stability for almost 60 years, the mindset of most investors has become used to stocks bonds and CDs.  These investments have been considered as safe as the Western governments in an expanding industrialized work.

Not since the 1930s, when all financial institutions were questioned, has so much of the global economic system been shaken. This puts all stocks, bonds and cash instruments at greater risk.   The three ideas above and many professional money managers can help make the process of storing wealth in this risky world safer and easy.

Gary

Learn how to get my full  Multi Currency report here.

You can learn more about ETFs from Morgan Hatfield at Ruggie Wealth. Her email is mhatfield@ruggiewealth.com

Tom Ruggie of Ruggie Wealth was featured on the Flashpoint Talk Show last week.

ruggie-wealth

See Tom Ruggie on Flash Point here.

Join Merri, me and Thomas Fischer from JGAM in North Carolina this October.

 


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