Friday, December 23, 2016

Investment things I learned in Crisis-T

All the money Trump will take from the poor and give to the rich has to go somewhere. So share prices should rise.

On the other hand, a 10% import tariff will lead to a global trade war. I’m particularly looking forward to the carbon tariffs an angry China applies to the US. So share prices should fall.

Corporate behemoths will increase monopoly and monopsony powers and fully leverage regulatory capture in an era where corruption exceeds living memory. So share prices should rise.

Trump will, WTF, resume underground nuclear testing or something like that. So share prices should fall…

Hey, I don’t know what the market is going to do. If I knew I’d hire people to manage the billions we don’t have. I do know the our equity investments have grown over the Obama years, I see some warning signs, and our portfolio is now equity-heavy. So it makes sense to rebalance. Crisis-T just means I made myself do it.

I chose to rebalance primarily in our retirement accounts, so the sales had no tax implications. I sold shares and parked the cash. In a few months, when we learn if the GOP Senate has a spine, we may sell more in our taxable accounts and shift the retirement back into equities. It’s probably not an orthodox way of proceeding, but it’s relatively easy to adjust.

Since I rarely mess with our investments (largely S&P, extended market, and whole market index funds — plus college 529 plans I don’t touch) I learned a few things. In no particular order …

  1. If you sell shares in Vanguard’s ultra-cheap low overhead index funds you can’t buy back into the same fund until 30 days post-sale. So if you make it one big sale if the timing is good. Vanguard makes it easy to create a cash fund to hold sales within a particular account family.
  2. Fidelity’s 401K accounts are completely different business from their HSA accounts which are unrelated to their … Oh. Heck. I don’t like Fidelity.
  3. It takes a long time for these mutual fund orders to sell. They seem to sell at near market close the day after the order is placed — and the online accounts aren’t updated for a while. So you can’t do any of this under market pressure. I placed a sell order at 7pm on Thur, they were in process Friday, the web site was updated Sat pm.
  4. If you’re not using a SEP IRA you might as well roll it into a regular IRA. You can always create a new SEP IRA in future.
  5. Rollovers are complicated and slow. Even the Vanguard ‘concierge’ people seemed unsure about all the rules. You can borrow against 401K funds, but the investment options may be poor. You may be able to rollover a former employers 401K into a new employers 401K — but it’s all special cases. There may be a way to create an IRA account that a 401K can roll into and still be able to rollover into a 401K — but that’s just weird. Once you mix a 401K with IRA funds you can’t reverse it, it’s all IRA then. There’s a reason people spend money for tax lawyers.
  6. Vanguard has a much better web site than Fidelity and Vanguard message responses are excellent.
  7. Vanguard is in the midst of switching all their funds into a brokerage framework. I worry that it will increase costs but I’m naturally suspicious. I’d like to read something about why the change.

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