Cass Business School proves that monkeys are better

The lead article in the Cass Business School’s In Business magazine this month is all about how they have proved that monkeys do beat the market. They ran simulation portfolios of random stock picking over the last 43 years and it proves everything that I wrote in my book. Random stock picking beats the market.
See: https://www.cassknowledge.com/inbusiness/feature/monkey-business

Welcome to BBC Radio 4 listeners

Monkey with a Pin featured in the BBC Radio 4 program How You Pay For The City on Saturday 3rd August 2013. You can hear the program here.

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Latest book now published: Inflation Tax

Buy on AmazonPete’s latest book is all about inflation and Tax is the first book to present in simple easy to read way why inflation is such a big problem in the UK (even at low levels).Inflation is reducing the standard of living of most people and redistributing wealth from savers to debtors.

The book shows that inflation is not a mere by-product of random economic forces. Instead it is a stealth tax primarily paid by savers and pensioners. Furthermore, it has been used by successive governments since 1945 as a tool to manage the UK’s debts.

The book examines likely future inflation scenarios in the UK and the best ways to save and invest in those environments.

Contents:
SECTION I – INFLATION
1. Inflation – why you should be worried
2. What is inflation?
3. Theories of inflation
4. Measuring inflation: RPI/CPI
SECTION II – DEBT
5. Government debt and the UK’s Financial Dunkirk
6. Labour’s post war solution to the debt
7. US inflation reduces UK debts
8. Debt: 1970s onwards
SECTION III – INFLATION TAX
9. The benefits of inflation tax
10. Who pays inflation tax?
11. Disguising inflation tax
12. Problems with inflation tax
SECTION IV – THE IMPLICATIONS
13. How to pay less inflation tax
14. Future debt and inflation scenarios
15. Concluding thoughts

Amazon kindleThe book is now available to buy on Amazon Kindle priced £4.99. If you want a different eBook format (eg ePUB for iPad), you can download it here.

The paperback version of the book is at the printers and should be available to buy from Amazon and other online bookstores shortly. UPDATE: PAPERBACK NOW AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE.

Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook 2103

It is welcome to see that Monkey with a Pin may have had a direct impact on one of it’s contributing sources. Last week saw the publication of the latest edition of the Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook 2103 – down here.

For the first time, they are now talking about survivorship bias in their data. Hooray! However before you get too excited, all they have done is to include a couple of countries that have seen their stockmarkets liquidated e.g. Russia in 1917 and China in 1949. The impact on their average equity returns is minimal (down 0.14% to 5%).

What they have yet to do is to address the more serious issue I raise about survivorship bias in the constituents of the index itself. That is where the real error in their returns are due to survivorship bias and these are significant – I estimate they are reducing returns by 1% a year if you are an investor in individual stocks (as opposed to buying index trackers). I agree it is more difficult to calculate this (as you just can’t lift a dataset of FTSE index scores and pop them into a spreadsheet) but it behoves the likes of Dimson, Staunton & Marsh to try to do this or at least acknowledge the problem.

Not only do they steal survivorship bias from Monkey with a Pin, but they are also mentioning that returns need to factor into costs too – albeit only as an aside on Page 14, but that is progress.

The final good thing about the report is, like Money with a Pin, it makes a big point of reminding investors that returns are just not going to be as high as they expect. To quote them:

Many investors seem to be in denial, hoping markets will soon revert to “normal.” Target returns are too high, and many asset managers still state that their long-run performance objective is to beat inflation by 6%, 7%, or even 8%. Such claims are unrealistic in today’s low-return world.

Forbes article about a new monkey experiment

On the Forbes website today there is an article about some new research about to be published by Research Affiliates.  It involved making up 100 random portfolios of 30 shares from the top 1000 shares every year from 1964-2011. It then compared the performance of these portfolios with the index. It claims that 98 our of 100 of these portfolios beat the market.

Although I have seen consistent out-performance of monkeys vs the index and professionals, the size of this out-performance seems slightly incredulous. I fear that they may not not have used survivorship bias free back data for this simulation. I await the full report from Research Affiliates to see.

Next book from Pete Comley

The plan for my next book is beginning to take shape. It is all about inflation.  The fuse for a potential time-bomb of inflation has now been lit by central bankers across the world. Within a decade, 5%-10% inflation is likely to return and have a major impact on society and (more importantly) your wealth.

The book is going to examine in layman’s terms what is inflation is, what causes it, why we have difficulty understanding it, the tricks governments get up to with it, and how it is going to change your life in the future.

If you have any views on the subject, please let me know and I’ll do my best to include them.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Pete Comley

Monkey with a Pin paperback now available on Amazon

At last Amazon are distributing a paperback copy of v1.1 of Monkey with a Pin. The cost is £8.99 including postage. CLICK HERE TO BUY.

You can still download the book in eBook format for free from this site in all major ebook formats including Kindle and audiobook. To do this, you need to join this website to be able to access that page (terms/privacy).  DOWNLOAD FOR FREE HERE

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Is the market going up or down?

Harvey Jones of Motley Fool wrote an article yesterday in which he talked about “the excellent book Monkey with a Pin“. He mentioned my personal view that the FTSE will probably go below 4000 at some point in the next few years. In the article he was pointing out though that the FTSE currently was going in the opposite direction and rallying (bar yesterday’s 2% drop). Given this, I thought I’d clarify my position. Here is my reply to him.

Harvey – I thought I’d pick up on your interpretation of what I said about the FTSE hitting 4000 at some point in the next few years. I still hold by that but I never said it would happen now.

What I didn’t write in my post about that (http://www.iii.co.uk/articles/36243/why-i%E2%80%99ll-buy-40-random-stocks-when-ftse-100-hits-4000) was that I had a personal belief that the FTSE would go higher in the short term.

If you look at the S&P over the last 10-15 years, you’ll see it has topped out at around 1500 twice before (in 2000 and 2007). There is a certain mathematical symmetry that suggests to me it wants to repeat this at some point (in the next year) and this is the “unpredicted rally” you refer to. What will cause the final push? I suspect it will be QE3 in the US.

The FTSE will get dragged up by that event too. Personally, I think the FTSE won’t make back its previous highs but will probably end up around 6200-6300.

However after that event, all world indices will decline – possibly when it becomes apparent how useless bouts of QE really are, possibly after China implodes, or more likely when the euro starts to break up. I know not why, nor care, but I just have a hunch it is going to happen. It is after that that the FTSE will put in a low sub 4000 (not in the immediate future).

Then will be the point at which investors can make the biggest killing. So keep some of that powder dry. Also don’t lose those darts, as you’ll need them then to pick your random shares amongst the tatters that will follow such a decline.