Tech troubles

After very briefly reaching new highs last week, my portfolio tumbled again this week. The fall was instigated primarily by US tech, which after a brief rally on Monday, experienced continued negative sentiment through the rest of the week. There is quite a lot of media attention on the big US platform businesses, calling for regulation in the wake of the Facebook scandal. In my portfolio, all my US stocks took a hit – Amazon in particular after some Trump tweets. While I think data protection issues are a real concern for the likes of Facebook, I think broader calls to regulate or break up the likes of Amazon as an anticompetitive monopoly are a little absurd. Amazon’s disruptive impact on a whole host of retail markets may hurt its competitors, but that’s part and parcel of the competitive process. The overall benefits of this process to the economy, in the form of lower prices and increased convenience for consumers, are enormous. We should be protecting competition itself, not protecting inefficient businesses from competition. That said, I hope that Amazon doesn’t make too many enemies with friends in high places… Continue reading

IGG & BUR bought

I’ve recently been investing a fairly sizeable sum of new capital to my portfolio. The rebalancing required to account for this explains many of the recent transactions in the fantasy fund I use to track my performance. As well as topping up a few existing holdings, I’ve made a couple of new purchases last week: IG Group and Burford Capital. I’ve also sold out of Boohoo for an 8% loss, as the price has broken down to new lows. I expect it to bounce back fairly soon (it reports in April) though I’m going to wait and see from the sidelines rather than hold in hope. Continue reading

Taking advantage of being an amateur

For those not very familiar with investing it is natural to assume that an amateur private investor must be at a big disadvantage to the professionals. After all, stock-picking is a zero sum game. Surely it must be difficult to win at this game at the expense of the people who do it for a living. These people have greater knowledge and expertise, have spent much more time honing their skills and benefit from better access to information and to company management. Continue reading

Bull market resumes

Things are looking up. In the US at least the stockmarkets look to have resumed uptrends following February’s short correction.  The general mood has calmed down from the euphoric state we were in in January. My portfolio has had a good week and is back near its highs. All of this I think bodes well for returns in the near future at least… Continue reading

Horizon scanning

I’ve been wanting to write a post on a more big picture topic for a while. Macroeconomics has come to the fore in investors’ minds, with recent volatility prompted by concerns about inflation and interest rates. As a professional economist (though not macroeconomist), I do feel a sort of duty to be able to say something about the macroeconomic situation. However, after a few attempts at starting a post, I’ve discovered that I don’t have anything very illuminating to add. Trying to predict the economy as a whole is complicated and feels too much like guesswork. My view is straightforward: I’m optimistic at the moment because, having thought about the obvious concerns, I don’t yet see good reason not to be.

So instead of macroeconomics, I’m writing about another more interesting and useful big picture topic – horizon scanning.
Continue reading