Karl Dickey’s Permanent Portfolio

The material provided on this website should be used for informational purposes only and in no way should be relied upon for financial advice. Also, note that such material is not updated regularly and some of the information may not, therefore, be current. Please be sure to consult your own financial advisor when making decisions regarding your financial management. This portfolio is not necessarily Karl Dickey’s personal portfolio.

This page has been created after receiving several inquiries regarding my blog post on stocks and diversification of one’s investments. The purpose of the portfolio has the long-term in mind. I define long-term as over 10 years in time. Since this is a new page, we will start with new valuations, calculated on an investment of $1,000,000 on August 21, 2015 — though it could be done for much higher and much lower net worths. This page may eventually migrate to its own blog or website; however, since there is very little trading involved (if any), this page should be adequate for informational/educational purposes. I recommend going here first so you educate yourself about the overall concept of the permanent portfolio.

A few quick important notes. In the below portfolio, it excludes certain assets one may possess like homes, small business ownership (if you are an entrepreneur), artwork (collectibles), etc. It also excludes commissions as those vary widely and we are entering an era where we may soon be without any commission costs. Also, one may be interested in owning the physical Singapore Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, and gold bullion, for example, rather than going through indexes as I have listed in the portfolio. Also, you may wish to own investment real estate rather than go through a REIT mutual fund as seen below. This portfolio is static, meaning it will not assume one is adding regularly to the portfolio and does not take into account any tax consequences because both factors vary widely for individuals. Even those with little to invest can get started saving for retirement utilizing a ROTH IRA (to save on taxes) and/or utilizing a service such as Sharebuilder, Acorns or Stockpile. Also, for those with positive cash flow income, it may be a good idea to integrate a monthly or quarterly dollar cost averaging investment program. Heck, even if you have $1M in cash to invest, it may be more beneficial to invest over the course of a year, rather than putting it all to work in one fell swoop as we have done here in the below chart’s example. That is up to each individual’s circumstance. We also are not going to take into account income and dividends as part of our returns so our actual returns would be higher than we are publishing here.

Basically, we have a few individual stocks (BRK, PYPL, NVR), a few mutual funds and ideally one would own the physical gold, silver, and foreign currency as well as $30,000 in Bitcoins (rather than using the index) and retaining $32k in U.S. Dollars.

I will periodically update this page so you may watch how the portfolio performs (see after the chart). The chart below assumes we put $1,000,000 in a brokerage account and made the purchases on 8/21/2015, kept approximately $36,000 of U.S. Dollars in a money market fund (VMMXX) and did nothing else.

Name Symbol % of Initial Investment Last price Shares Cost basis Mkt value Gain Gain %
Paypal Holdings Inc PYPL 10.50% 78.57 3000 105000 235710 130710 124
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.B 13.70% 182.36 1000 137000 182360 45360 33.1
Dow Jones New Zealand Index (USD) NZDOWD 3.10% 317.55 130 31066 41281 10215 32.9
Currencyshares Singapore Dollar Trust FXSG 2.84% 72.43 400 28400 28972 572 2
Guggenheim CurrencyShares Swiss FXF 3.50% 96.44 300 30450 28932 -900 -5
The NYSE Bitcoin Index NYXBT 3.00% 9096.7 130 30420 1182571 1152151 3787
iShares IBoxx $ Invest Grade Corp Bd Fd LQD 1.74% 121.19 150 17400 18178 778 4.5
Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares VIMAX 10.60% 187.76 700 106050 131432 25382 24
Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares VSMAX 8.25% 69.78 1500 82500 104670 22170 26.9
Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares VGRLX 9.50% 36.73 3000 95250 110190 14940 15.7
iShares Gold Trust(ETF) IAU 7.40% 12.38 7000 78050 86660 8610 11
iShares Silver Trust (ETF) SLV 7.47% 16.08 5000 72750 80400 7650 10.5
NVR, Inc. NVR 15.00% 3401.38 100 154000 340138 186138 120.1
Cash 3.40% 31835.5 36618 36618
Totals 100.00% 1000000 2608112 1608112 160.8

UPDATE 11/25/2017:

The portfolio continues to outperform the major indexes, by far. It is up 160% since August 2015 while the DOW and S&P are up only 45 and 46% over the same time period.

UPDATE 8/21/2017 (2 Years):

So it has now been exactly two years since I made my version of the Permanent Portfolio public and it has outpaced the DOW and the S&P. The net return has been 79.4% while the DOW has had a return of 31.9% and the S&P 23.2% during the same time period. And, for the naysayers regarding my small investment in Bitcoin for the portfolio then one would have to say the same about NVR and PYPL, etc. But if one was to remove Bitcoin from the mix completely, the investment would have been within a point of the DOW’s return without any of the risks in holding just 30 equity stocks or a single ETF for the DOW. This portfolio is eclectic, to say the least, but is designed to weather some heavy financial storms as well. It also has a minimum 10-year horizon, so at two years, it is still in its infancy.

UPDATE May 25, 2017: 

So, we thought we’d check in to see how the portfolio was doing. The portfolio was posted in August 2015 and as of today, it has risen 53.3% while the DOW has risen by only 24% and the S&P by 18.7%. Our best-performing stocks have been Paypal and NVR; while the one outlier is owning a small amount of Bitcoin (in this example, the NYSE Bitcoin Index) which has risen well over 1,000% during our timeframe. Too bad we didn’t devote more money toward it. Bitcoin was a relatively small portion of the portfolio, but now it has become the single largest part of the portfolio. Even without the Bitcoin phenomena, the portfolio still would have performed well, especially for an “invest and forget it”/low-risk type strategy.

UPDATE DECEMBER 31, 2016:
It’s been one month since the last update and we’ve had Donald Trump as our President-Elect which has caused massive changes in markets around the world. The Portfolio has increased in value by 13.6% since August 2015. During the same time, the DOW has increased by only 8.5%, the S&P 5.9% and the NASDAQ as gained 6.34%.

UPDATE November 21. 2016:

The biggest changes for the Permanent Portfolio are that the Swiss Franc continues to weaken while the best returns continue to be with Bitcoin, PayPal, Berkshire, the New Zealand Dollar, and the small-cap index fund.

UPDATE October 21, 2016:

From August 21, 2015 to October 21,2016 the DOW Industrial Average rose 3.82% and the Permanent Portfolio rose 12.9% – more than three times the DOW and more than 5 times what the S&P did over the same time period (14 months). Although this is a small window in an investor’s life, we are beginning to see how this basic portfolio works over time. Again, this return is a static buy it and leave it type strategy that is both defensive against downturns while it also grows without the investor having to do anything. The best returns were from owning Bitcoins, PayPal and New Zealand Dollars. It only had one category lose money over this time period and that was owning Swiss Francs. One last note: this portfolio return does not take into account any interest, dividends or tax consequences if any.

UPDATE December 31, 2015:

So, since August 2015 the portfolio increased by 4.3%. Not too exciting especially since over the same period, the DOW and the S&P increased about 10% over the same time period. If only looking at this time period, one would have clearly been better off in an Index ETF. Let’s see how 2016 goes!

UPDATE September 21, 2015:

The value of the portfolio declined by about 1%. If we had done as we recommended above, putting money in month-over-month instead of in one lump sum as per this one chart, then we would have benefited more by buying at the low prices over late August and this month of September with better returns. Overall, our best return was with NVR and our worst was with Berkshire Hathaway.

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