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Monday, 25 April 2016

And now Japan...

Japan has just crossed up through the SSTO and 21/89 EMA, so I'm buying the Blackrock Japan Fund.

That's all stock markets except the US now, so I'm about 25% invested in equities now.

All previous purchases are in the green for now, but let's see what happens...

Knowing my luck, everyone will sell in May and I'll be left holding the bag...

My sell signal is if markets drop below their 89w EMA and the SSTO

Friday, 8 April 2016

Buying Europe and UK...

European shares and UK shares (based on the FTSE100 and All-Share index) have both now popped up through the 21-week EMA and SSTO, so I'm buying them.

As before, this means using the following funds:

Blackrock UK Equity Tracker D Acc

Blackrock Continental Europe Equity Tracker D Acc

All that remains is the US, which I believe is over-priced, and Japan, which is still in a bear market. Japan could be on the buy list soon enough though...

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Buying Emerging Markets and Pacific ex-Japan...

OK, so I have to admit I was hoping for some better bargains than this, but I've forced myself to follow my own "rules" - Emerging Markets and Pacific excluding Japan have just crossed up through their 21 week EMAs and SSTOs.

That means I'm buying them.

All other markets (US; UK; Europe; Japan) look expensive to me, although I'm at pains to point out that I have NO IDEA what the future holds. This is purely a rule-following exercise.

Since I approximately follow the Permanent Portfolio (with personal tweaks of adjusting allocations based on long-run price averages and timing of equities and bonds based on long-term moving averages to avoid bear markets and buy into bull markets at the beginning when they are cheap), my current allocation to equities is 27.6% based on long-run price averages.

I break that allocation to equities down as follows:

UK = 16%
US = 20%
Europe = 16%
Pacific ex Japan = 16%
Japan = 16%
Emerging = 16%

Therefore, only (16% * 27.6%) = 4.4% of my total wealth has been allocated to each of these markets.

Never put all your eggs in one basket...

UPDATE - I realised I ought to have pointed out HOW to buy these markets!

I'm personally buying the following:

Blackrock Pacific ex Japan Equity Tracker Class D Acc

Blackrock Emerging Markets Equity Tracker Class D Acc

Through my TDDirect SIPP and ISA.

As always, Monevator has a fantastic comparison of most (all?) of the online brokers and the cheapest index trackers. Like him, I also prefer funds rather than ETFs, and you can see why here.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Hoping for some Stock Market bargains...

As you might have noticed, the stock market is throwing its toys out of the pram.

For me, and anyone else sitting in cash / out of stocks, this could represent another buying opportunity...

I'll be following my favourite long-term indicators in a test that I haven't yet had the chance to try out. They work well in back-testing, but we all know that the past is no guide to the future.

Here's a link to a chart of the FTSE100 over the past ~20 years. You should see two trend lines on the FTSE index itself, and another chart of two lines below it.

The red line on the FTSE chart is the 21 week EMA (exponential moving average). This is my "short-term" signal line. The green line is the 144 week EMA. This is my "long-term" signal line.

When the FTSE is high and falls through the 21w EMA, I think nothing of it. When it falls below the 144w EMA however, this is one signal to get out of the market. When the 21w EMA also falls below the 144w EMA, this is another, more serious warning.

The graph below the FTSE is the Slow Stochastic or SSTO. It's a moving average of the closing price vs. the opening price. I like to use a period of time between the short (21) and long (144) periods, so I use 55w and 34w. When the short-term line (blue) falls below the long-term line (red), this warns that the "pressure" is falling and that the FTSE is tending to lose steam.

Using these signals on the recent FTSE100 gives this timeline:

Jun 5th = FTSE falls through 21w EMA (no big deal)
Jun 19th = 34w SSTO falls through 55w SSTO (first hint of FTSE losing steam)
Aug 14th = FTSE falls through 144w EMA (warning sign to exit the market)
Sep 25th = 21w EMA falls through 144w EMA (2nd warning sign to exit the market)

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out, but if it's anything like the last time these signals all appeared (2001; 2008), there could be some cheap stocks by the time it's over.

Here's how I'm going to buy back in:

When the FTSE moves up through the 21w EMA, this is the first sign of improvement.
When the 34w SSTO moves up through the 55w EMA, this is the second and final sign I'll use to move some cash back into stocks.
The final confirmation, although it's too late at this stage, is the FTSE moving back up through the 144w EMA.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

UK House Price History since 1952...

This is more for my own curiosity...

Green line = Nationwide UK house prices, corrected for inflation, since 1952 plotted on a log scale (left axis). The trend line is exponential and therefore appears linear on this scale.

Purple line = UK population plotted on a linear scale (right axis).

Comments are from wikipedia's article on UK economic history.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Buying a House... (aka taking out a 25 year loan)

Buying a house, or more specifically, taking a 25 year mortgage (which is what most people need to do to buy a house), at the present moment is like taking a bet on interest rates. This is not a bet I feel comfortable making.

Take a look at the following graph:

It shows UK interest rates since 1694. There's something distinctly odd about the graph on the right, where we are now...

Taking a 25 year loan, which in the UK is generally only fixed for 2 years at a time (you could fix for up to 10 years, but the penalties for needing to repay early or remortage can be hefty) is equivalent to betting that the following will happen:

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Excellent muscle gain article...

Just found this on Lyle's site.

It's an excellent article on the effect of different rep and set ranges.

I've always been a fan of lower rep ranges (5 to 8); lower set ranges (2-3) and higher rest periods (3-5 mins). The article shows nicely that this is still a good choice for both strength and size gains, but with the warning that lower reps with higher sets tends to stress the nervous system and lead to injury and fatigue.

I'm currently experimenting with fine-tuning my rep and set ranges based on how each muscle group responds to reps in the range of 5 - 15. I think I've settled on my "optimal" reps and sets based on the following protocol:

For several weeks, I trained each exercise with a set of 5 reps, then 10 reps, then 15. As always, when I was able to lift a weight for the assigned number of reps, I would increase the weight the following week. After several weeks I could then determine what the maximum weight I could lift for each exercise and each rep range. Being a total spreadsheet and graph nerd, I produced the following:

It shows a best fit curve for all of the exercises that I do (Leg Press, Deadlift, Weighted Chins, Weighted Ring Dips, One-Arm DB row, DB Bench).

Three important things stick out from this graph:

1) DB Bench quickly suffers loss of strength as the reps increase.
2) DB Row maintains a good weight through all rep ranges.
3) All other exercises behave similar to each other - suffering only slight losses in strength as reps are increased.

This probably indicates that, at least for me, the biceps contain more slow-twitch / endurance-type muscle fibres and the triceps contain more fast-twitch / strength-type fibres.

As a result, I have modified my sets and reps slightly to the following routine:

Workout A:

Leg Press / Squat
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 30 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 50 kg)
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 100 kg)
10x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 90 kg)

Weighted Chins
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +35 kg)
11x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +25 kg)

DB Rows
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 10 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 20 kg)
10x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 40 kg)
15x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 36 kg)

Workout B:

DB Bench
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 12 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 22 kg)
5x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 45 kg)
8x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 40 kg)

(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 50 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 70 kg)
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 140 kg)

Weighted Ring Dips
6x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +30 kg)
8x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +20 kg)

I've found each workout takes around 1 hour, which is ideal for me. I'll do Workout A, then rest the next day, then do Workout B. Thus, I'm going to the gym every other day and hitting each muscle group every fourth day.

Note that there's only one set of deadlifts. I've found this an intense exercise and that one set is all that is needed. (Having recently set a record for my weight category in a drug-free powerlifting competition, the evidence seems to back this theory up too!)