19 years ago today, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party’s 1996 and 2000 presidential nominee, posted the following to WorldNetDaily as his reaction to the events. Prior to 9/11, Browne warned interventionist American foreign policy would have catastrophic consequences for the nation. In his essay, he explains why the attacks should not surprise,…Harry Browne: When Will We Learn? — Independent Political Report
So, it was August 21, 2015 when I made public my permanent portfolio so we will do a full five-year review along with why I chose each investment. The portfolio page can be found here along with all its lengthy financial disclosures, more details, etc. The portfolio was put out publicly for educational purposes.
The foundation for the portfolio was Harry Browne’s Permanent Portfolio; however, I made some adjustments based on my experience. I designed the portfolio to protect against inflation with an eye on capital appreciation and very low annual income tax exposure. The portfolio is static, so there is no trading involved unless you do what I recommend and dollar cost average into the portfolio with consistent contributions. This is a buy and hold portfolio with some esoteric investments. The figures below do not include dividends, which are minimal anyway, but would boost the total return slightly higher.
So, let’s get right into it.
From August 21, 2015-2021:
DOW was up 69.69% (16,459 to 27.959)
S&P was up 72.4% (1,970 to 3,397)
Karl’s Permanent Portfolio was up 252.3% ($1,000,000 to $3,522,744)
Now for the individual stocks and investment assets:
PayPal Holdings (PYPL) is a solid company, and I am surprised someone like BRK hasn’t swallowed them up. It was originally around 10% of the portfolio and is now just shy of 17% of the portfolio after growing 462% over the last five years. I like this company because of its solid track record, no dividend, and felt it had great growth potential.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.b) does not produce a dividend but does produce capital appreciation. While everyone has been naysaying Buffett about how he’d lost his touch and was too old to run such a large company, he has recently showed them. Since the 1960s BRK has been an excellent investment vehicle that does not offer a dividend but reinvests its profits. I went with the “B” shares rather than the “A” shares as I felt the “B” shares are priced for the everyday person whereas the “A” shares are now priced at over $300,000 per share. BRK started in the portfolio at almost 14% of the portfolio and is now 5.8% of the portfolio after rising 51.4% over the last five years. This is mostly because of some heavy negative hits; however, it seems to be getting its mojo back.
Dow Jones New Zealand Index (NZDOWD) is a way to diversify away from the U.S. Dollar. As noted in previous posts, it would be better to physically have New Zealand Dollars; however, for the portfolio, I went with the next best thing. I never expected this to be a growth play, but a protection against a falling U.S. dollar. With recent trillions being added to the U.S. balance sheet, owning foreign currency has proven to be a smart move. NZDOWD started off as around 3% of the portfolio and is now 1.6% growing 83% over the last five years.
Singapore Dollar is another small protection against a fall of the U.S. Dollar. The portfolio started with 2.84% of its value invested in FXSG; however, it is no longer publicly traded, so we converted to the actual Singapore Dollar. It has only gained 2.8% over the last five years.
Guggenheim Currency Shares Swiss (FXF) is based on the Swiss Franc. Again, better to hold the physical Swiss Franc and I chose FXF to be an easy vehicle for most to invest as a protection against a falling U.S. Dollar. FXF used to be called Guggenheim; however, is now Invesco. Held over the last five years, the investment has been flat after recovering recently from losses. It had a loss of .01% over the last five years, though over the last three months it has risen over 6% because of worries of the U.S. adding trillions to its debt.
The NYSE Bitcoin Index (NYXBT) is perhaps the most controversial investment in the portfolio. Again, better to own the actual digital Bitcoin, and it has taken over the portfolio. Like the foreign currencies, it started out as only 3% of the portfolio, and it is now 43% of the portfolio with extraordinary gains of 4,912% over the last five years. Although I felt Bitcoin would appreciate in value, I never expected this level of rise. As people demand a decentralized currency, Bitcoin and a few of its popular alternatives will continue to rise in value as it has a set number that will be issued unlike the U.S. Dollar which our government continues to abuse.
iShares IBoxx $ Invest Grade Corp Bond Fund (LQD) is an investment I almost kept out of the portfolio as I am not a lover of bonds, either government or corporate. I feel you can get better growth through equities and other vehicles. But in the interest of diversity, I put 1.74% of the original portfolio in LQD and it has risen 17.6% over the last five years (not inclusive of dividends).
Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares (VIMAX) is a convenient way to own mid-cap stocks, and I put a little over 10% of the portfolio in it. It has given back over 44% over the last five years. Vanguard is one of the lower fee mutual fund companies with a long, solid history. So in adding mutual funds to the portfolio, I chose Vanguard for the three positions.
Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares (VSMAX) is a convenient way to invest in small capitalization stocks. Initially putting 8.25% of the portfolio in VSMAX has produced over a 36% return.
Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGRLX) is another diversity play which invests in foreign real estate stocks. Originally just under 10% of the portfolio, it has done horribly as it is down 5.4% in its return over the last five years. You’d have done better throwing the money away at a local bank certificate of deposit. This, and the Swiss Franc are the only positions that lost money, and the Franc was only down .01%.
iShares Gold Trust ETF (IAU) is another investment, though I would recommend people own the physical gold. For the portfolio, I used IAU as a logical alternative. Originally 7.4% of the original portfolio, it has returned just under 66% for the last five years. This investment didn’t do much until this year when the U.S. starting “printing” trillions of Dollars and is now up 26.49% year-to-date.
iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) is the same situation as with the above IAU. Starting at 7.47% of the portfolio it has risen more than IAU and over the last five years has returned 71%.
NVR, Inc. (NVR) is one of two real estate investments in the portfolio. NVR has a unique real estate business model that I appreciate and it does not through off a dividend which I also appreciate. It is also a solid company. Starting as 15% of the original portfolio, it is now representing about 12% of the portfolio and has returned over the last five years over 174%.
So that is it. The portfolio over the last five years. Some of these investments have been consistent during that time, others would require some Pepto-Bismol if you watched it every day. And that is the purpose of this portfolio, to buy it and forget it. Buy and hold. Brokers don’t like it because there is no trading profits for them.
I will keep the portfolio page up and perhaps do yearly updates. A true long-term investor would look at 10 year returns, though 5 years is a good gauge as to a portfolio’s strength — especially in the turbulent times we have endured over the last five years.
My friend Bill Sadler passed on August 5, 2020. He leaves behind the legacy of a magnificent wife of 52 years, amazing children, and grandchildren. He was a fortunate man.
I first met Bill 24 years ago. We did not become friends until eight years later and we have become close over the years. Bill was a living example of the Dale Carnegie book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ When he and I were in private, he would never speak ill of someone. Even with certain people who he had a legitimate grievance, he would not attack them.
Bill was always busy. You could find him walking every day, working, volunteering, or spending time with his family. Bill always wanted to be a productive member of society, and he was.
Bill was part of my men’s breakfast “club”, which he attended more often than me. He was understated, though would always offer sage persuasions and great humor. He also took part in some of my other events, like my Midnight Dining Club. Friends would get together at midnight for dinner at either Howley’s in West Palm Beach or the Flashback Diner in Boca Raton.
At my urging, Bill gave a speech to one of the local Rotary Clubs about Libertarianism. Although he was nervous, he did swimmingly as I knew he would, even when faced with tough questions about legalizing drugs. Bill held various positions with our local Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County. Most recently, he was our Vice Chairman. He now joins other Florida freedom fighters who recently passed: former LP of Florida Chairman Char-Lez Braden and former LP of Florida Vice Chairman Thomas Regnier.
It was Bill’s understated and strong character that drew people to him. He always had a kind word to offer and was a pleasure to be around. It didn’t hurt that he had a lifetime of experiences to offer reasoned advice to others, never telling them what to do; always leaving them up to their own devices.
Bill offered me a tremendous friendship, great wisdom, and countless laughs. He made a difference in many people’s lives.
For an early Father’s Day gift, I gave him a bottle of Basil Hayden’s. I do not know if he enjoyed it or not, but like all things, he accepted the gift gracefully.
To you, Bill, we will miss you.
Penn Jillette, Libertarian for Gary Johnson and the voice of world-famous magic duo Penn and Teller, has a message for people who want to tell you your third-party vote is wasted: “Fuck You in the Neck.” This week on Penn’s fantastic podcast, “Penn’s Sunday School,” he made this excellent point: When people say, “you’re wasting […]Penn Jillette: “Fuck You in the Neck” if You Say My Third-Party Vote is Wasted
Today, Saturday, May 23, 2020, the Libertarian Party held a bifurcated national convention online — the first-ever for any political party to . The Libertarian Party will hold an in-person convention in Orlando, Florida from July 9-12, 2020. The party’s national convention was originally scheduled for this weekend in Austin, Texas; however, due to the COVID-19 crisis, it necessitated these changes.
Libertarian Party delegates elected Jo Jorgensen as their presidential nominee after a session lasting over twelve hours and four rounds of voting. Jorgensen is a lifetime Libertarian Party member and is well known in Libertarian circles; though time will tell if the general voting public in the United States will learn who Jorgensen is before the general election on November 3, 2020. Jorgensen is a candidate for those seeking a principled, freedom-based candidate who also happens to be a woman.
Today’s nomination process was challenging; however, Chair Nick Sarwark expertly threaded through the many interruptions (Robert’s Rules of Order) to get the hundreds of Libertarian delegates to vote for their nominee. Sarwark and all members of the Libertarian National Committee deserve a tremendous amount of gratitude from the delegates and the general membership of the Libertarian Party for handling the difficulties of putting on an online nominating convention. This weekend’s convention will continue tomorrow at 11 a.m. Eastern to nominate the party’s Vice-Presidential nominee. Although delegates will be participating on ZOOM, the public will be able to view tomorrow’s nomination via YouTube and other channels.
Jo Jorgensen will face the Republican Party and Democratic Party presidential nominees who are Donald Trump (incumbent) and Joe Biden, respectively. Jorgensen’s success in the 2020 general election will largely depend upon her ability to garner media exposure. Whether the mainstream media chooses to give Jorgensen equal or significant air time and print alongside Trump and Biden remains to be seen. Jorgensen also gives Republicans and Democrats a better option than the two other candidates who will likely be on the ballot in all 50 states.
The Libertarian Party is accustomed to making history, so today is not unusual. The party’s first presidential candidate was openly gay and had the first female to receive an electoral vote in the 1972 general election. The Libertarian Party was supportive of marijuana legalization decades before the rest of the nation came around to their way of thinking. The same can be said on a multitude of issues like asset forfeiture, same-sex marriage, foreign policy, etc. The Libertarian Party has been the most-advanced political party when it comes to maximizing the freedom of the individual.
The material provided on this website should be used for informational purposes only and in no way should be relied upon for financial advice. Please be sure to consult your own financial advisor when making decisions regarding your financial management. I am not in any way a licensed anything and some people think I am a bit of a dolt.
This is the time to be buying BRK while it has been beaten down to the tune of around 17% over the last year and over 25% these past few months. It is a conglomerate worth owning that does not pay a dividend and has a proven positive track record lasting decades. Whether one has $1,000, $100,000 or $10,000,000 to invest, it should be directed to BRK over the next five months so long as one does not need a dividend and is seeking capital appreciation over the long term (ten or more years).
BRK comes in two versions; the “A” shares and the baby “B” shares and they mostly trade in concert with one another. Most Americans will buy the $170 +/- BRK.b shares which trade an average of eight million shares daily. But if you are able, purchase the BRK.a shares which are at around $250,000/share, and trade a little over 400 shares daily. This is a long-term stock, one to own for your retirement and potentially hand down to your beneficiaries when you pass.
It is my opinion, one should dollar-cost-average this stock over the next five months. So, as an example, if you plan to put $10,000 into BRK.b, buy either $2,000 worth each month or even better: buy around $500 each and every week for the next five months. Your future self will thank you.
Today is Mother’s Day for 2020 and many are celebrating their mothers….from a distance. Unfortunately, I am doing the same, as my mother is in a physical rehabilitation center two hours to my north.
I have been more fortunate than many in having such a loving mother over the years. She has truly been an amazing mother, and she is an amazing person for anyone who has been fortunate to meet her.
My mother provided a safe and nurturing environment for me and my siblings to live. She kept us constantly busy; cleaning the house, volunteering our time, giving us entrepreneurial direction, etc.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there!!!
Yesterday, Saturday, May 9, 2020, the Libertarian Party National Committee (LNC) met online to decide how to go about their 2020 national convention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous Saturday, the LNC met and canceled their contract with the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas. This is becoming a common scenario with political parties as they make changes in their conventions in light of personal distancing requirements as well as travel challenges.
The LNC has decided to choose our Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee on Memorial Day weekend, the original time of the Austin, Texas convention. This will likely happen via ZOOM and details will be forthcoming for delegates. The choices for presidential nominees are extensive and vary greatly. You can see a complete list here.
As for other business before the national Libertarian Party, there will be an in-person convention happening July 8-12 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida. No charge for parking for convention attendees 🙂
Yesterday’s meeting got bogged down in a minutia of Roberts Rules of Order as well as an embarrassing amount of infighting. No wonder, current Chair Nicholas Sarwark is no longer seeking to be chair (at least as much as I’ve been told). He was obviously frustrated throughout the eight-hour-long meeting that went from public comments to the LNC meeting, to Executive Session, then back to the actual LNC meeting where the final decisions were made.
Today, the Bylaws and Convention Rules Committee will meet.
For those wishing to watch party business, you can subscribe to the Libertarian Party’s YouTube channel here. Under Sarwark’s leadership, the party has been very good with transparency. In addition, to yesterday’s meeting, you can watch past videos that are very informative and occasionally entertaining.
As a matter of public disclosure, I have been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1996 and have held various positions with the Libertarian Party of Florida and the Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County.
There are many reasons why the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves.
The coronavirus is merely the most-recent example.
While law-abiding people are worried about crime and societal breakdown, it appears that criminals also have something to worry about.
Meanwhile, the Babylon Beesatirizes vapid celebrities.
No matter how they expressed their emotions, everyone agreed that the scene off the Malibu coast Monday morning was exactly what America needed to get through this pandemic. Celebrities gathered their multi-million-dollar yachts on the waters of the Pacific Ocean and spelled out “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.” “We’re just like you,” said Ellen DeGeneres on her Instagram as her servants sailed her yacht into position to form the apostrophe. …”Stay…
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I was not planning to do another update to my Permanent Portfolio until August 21, 2020, which would be the five year anniversary I made this portfolio public, but with all that is going on, I thought we’d do a quick check-in.
So, we have had one change regarding the CurrencyShares Singapore Dollar Trust. This is no longer on the exchange so hereon, I will use the actual currency exchange rate between the Singapore Dollar and the U.S. Dollar. It had almost no effect as the Trust never moved very much and you will see at 71SD to 1USD, it is precisely the same value it was in 2015.
Moving on to the portfolio as a whole, much to my surprise, it actually ticked up since the beginning of the year. It went up 1.3% YTD while the S&P and DOW have been down YTD. Perhaps the most disappointing so far this year has been Berkshire Hathaway, NVR, Vanguard’s Small Cap Index Fund, and Vanguard’s U.S. Real Estate Fund. These have taken a dive. It is for these reasons I strongly recommend dollar-cost-averaging so you are buying shares each month or each quarter – sometimes at a lower price and sometimes at a higher price. This portfolio; however, is designed to be static (no trading).
From August 21,2015 through May 1, 2020, the portfolio has returned a gain of 163% (exclusive of dividends) while the S&P has returned 43.7% and the DOW 44%. The portfolio has continued to outperform even in times of turmoil, which is how it was designed to perform.
The next update will happen on August 21, 2020.
We first started hearing about COVID-19 (“the coronavirus”) seriously this past January 2020, and most of us didn’t think much of it. There was already a fissure forming between “the left” and “the right” as President Donald Trump shut down flights coming into the United States from China. Then, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi staged a press conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown in February, inviting tourists to visit the area. Also, President Trump formed the President’s Coronavirus Task Force to “monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information.
The word “coronavirus” has been around for years, yet it wasn’t until January 2020 that the mainstream media seemed to pick up on it, and the conflict going on between “the right” and “the left”. In fact, now there are seven types of human coronaviruses and this one has been promoted heavily by the general media.
The media was slowly ramping up its coverage of COVID-19 throughout February 2020 and it became nearly non-stop news in March 2020 here in the United States. The media coverage has been the dominant story of our 24-hour news cycle here and throughout the world. Much like our government and health officials, they have been parroting false information that the public soaked up.
My opinion on the matter has remained consistent from the beginning of the year to today. I feel our government and media have over-hyped COVID-19 to the point of reducing any last shred of confidence the American citizenry had for the elected officials, some doctors, and scientists. Much like other disasters, natural or otherwise, it became clear over these many months that the federal government and state and local governments are incompetent. There are many examples, but one that has stuck in the craw of many Americans is why our medical professionals did not have enough N95 rated masks. After the H1N1 debacle regarding not having enough masks in 2009, the federal government seems to have a problem replenishing its stockpile and now the 2020 federal budget has allocated over $700 million to (hopefully) keep things up-to-date.
What I have found interesting about how best to deal with the issue has many people at odds with one another. Even in my Libertarian world, Libertarians are at odds with the best policy to follow. Libertarian Party National Chair Nicholas Sarwark wrote a comprehensive essay titled “A Libertarian Approach to COVID-19“ in mid-April 2020. While Sarwark’s article seemed a reasonable, well thought out statement, he was attacked on social media by not only Republicans and Democrats but Libertarians.
So, what did I get right and what did I get wrong...so far?
I have been correct in my stance that COVID-19 was over-hyped by the media and actions taken by various governments in the United States have been excessive. Based on the death numbers, especially here in Florida, this has proven to be correct. Whereas the economic impact has been devastating, worse is the psychological impact it has had and the negative health consequences unrelated to COVID-19. I will be eager to see the numbers as they come out throughout the year on government actions which have caused an increase in cancer and heart disease deaths as many Americans have been fearful to go to the doctor or the emergency room. As we sit here on May 1, 2020, I realize while we should have taken various voluntary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and other viral diseases, the actions taken by our governments have been excessive. I have been correct that the number of deaths in Florida would never exceed those of regular influenza that hit us every year. This year the predominant strain has been H1N1.
Here in Florida, here are the leading causes of death with the most definitive figures available. While as of this morning COVID-19 has killed 1,268 people in Florida, it still has not reached close to the levels seen in this chart. Influenza and pneumonia kill far more people each year in Florida than COVID-19; however, why don’t we shut down the economy each year from January through March to save 3,000-4,000 lives? We don’t because we have accepted those number of contagious disease deaths will happen each year and we go about our business as usual.
Why don’t we take more Draconian actions to prevent the large number of deaths due to heart disease and cancer? While they are not communicable diseases, we have definitive proof we could save tens of thousands of lives each year if we somehow magically banned the sale cancer-causing and heart-disease causing foods, drinks, and other substances. We don’t do those things because they are not popular politically, and frankly, it is an idea that would create an underground economy of banned goods. So, we accept that a certain number of people will die each year because of drinking alcohol, eating fried foods, consuming processed foods, and smoking.
I have been incorrect in forecasting the death rate (number of confirmed cases/deaths). We can explain part of this because the official numbers coming from various sources are dubious and I hope we have a better way to code deaths. Dr. Birx has said during one of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force press conferences that “We’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality.” Someone can die of a heart attack and be asymptomatic with COVID-19 and they still record it is as a COVID-19 death.
So the official figures, unfortunately, are heavily skewed. In Florida, we have had 4,000 people die of influenza (including 13 children) while 1,268 in Florida have died of COVID-19 including zero children. I was also incorrect in the number of Florida deaths as I never thought it would exceed 1,000 this season. While every death is tragic, with a population of 21.5 million people, Florida has been nowhere near as affected as what the “experts” had predicted.
It would behoove all of us if we had more accurate reporting of deaths and more availability of testing for COVID-19. It almost goes without saying that once a vaccine is created many will take it every year while others will not. We should also get better at forecasting as this time around, the forecasting has been highly inaccurate.
Lastly, we never should close our economy and have our governments spread out “helicopter money” onto the masses. The financial ramifications will be challenging as opposed to doing the alternative. There are no rosy scenarios when something this major comes our way, but there are better ways to be prepared and better ways to handle it. Had we been reducing our federal debt and our deficit spending over the last few decades, this last situation would have been more palpable, financially.
Remember the “jobless recovery” of the Obama years?
The good news was that Congress eventually said no in 2014 (actually one of the three best things to happen that year).
After that happened, the labor market improved.
But politicians apparently didn’t learn anything. As part of emergency coronavirus legislation, they turbo-charged unemployment benefits.
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial from yesterday has a good summary.
Much of the harm from the coronavirus is unavoidable, but it would be nice if politicians didn’t compound the damage by ignoring the laws of economics. The worst blunder so far on that score is the $600 increase in federal jobless benefits… Why would anyone take a pay cut to go back to work? …Employees say they’ll…
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In the interview, I mentioned that minimum wage mandates aren’t good news for workers who lose their jobs.
One of them, Simone Barron, wrote in the Wall Street Journal about her unfortunate experience after the minimum wage was increased in Seattle.
This city’s minimum wage is rising to $16.39 an hour on Jan. 1. Instead of receiving a bigger paycheck, I’m left without any pay at all… That’s because the restaurant where I’ve worked for six years is closing as a consequence of the city’s harmful minimum-wage experiment. …When rent is too high, labor costs too much, and customers don’t want to pay $40 for a roast-chicken entree, the only way for many operators to ease the pain is to…
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