I had the weekend off from planned Walker Fire events which left me time to do a lot of reading. Here's some of what I read.
The picture is from our Sunday hike.
1. America was in an early-death crisis long before Covid
The Atlantic took a grim look at the current health of Americans, how the US is not keeping up with the world in increasing lifespans and why that may be. We are dying "because of gun violence, car accidents, or heart disease and other metabolic disorders, or drug overdoses, suicides, and other deaths of despair."
I have no faith that they are ever going to be able to fix it. Too many people are waiting around for someone else, like the government, to fix their problems. It's not going to happen. It is up to us to prevent/solve our own problems. Many of our health problems, maybe all of them, can be tied to eating too many carbs and processed foods and not exercising enough or effectively. Cut carbohydrate consumption, cut seed oil consumption and lift weights.
2. The Wall Street Journal craps all over a new investment product
There are a lot of ETFs coming to market that will offer up to 2x leverage on individual stocks and also ETFs that will offer 1x the inverse of individual stocks. These are potentially complicated and definitely can be used in such a way as to increase risk and volatility. Additionally the process by which they reset daily creates the possibility that over a longer period they won't do what they're "supposed" to do.
There is potentially a way to use them that might lower capital exposed to risk. Instead of putting $10,000 into Paypal, an investor could instead put $5000 into the 2x Paypal ETF and put the other $5000 into a T-bill. They'd have less money exposed to risk assets. Quite a few of these have been trading on the LSE for a while and while I haven't looked at all of them, they seem to generally track what investors would hope they'd track for the longer term. Not always, generally. Below is a link where I write about this in more detail but the products are not inherently bad but they have their own set of risks and plenty of people will use them incorrectly.
The WSJ link https://www.wsj.com/articles/single-stock-etfs-leverage-11658502932?st=lbuzc3qw298krm8&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink
My blog post https://t.co/6RFqQhSsj0
3. Here’s What It’s Like to Own Just 134 Items in the World
This is an article on minimalism written by a "nomad" who has almost no possessions. Owning nothing like that, does not appeal to me nor do I find it intriguing beyond how to pack for a trip but I'm sure most of us could stand to declutter and scale down a bit. Reading articles like this can provide a helpful nudge to maybe donate clothes we're never going to wear again and other ways to hold on to unnecessary things.
I went through an interesting exercise during the Crooks Fire that threatened our area back in April. We were evacuated. As fire chief, I stayed behind but we packed up both cars and my wife took them (with our stuff) and our dogs out of the area for about 10 days. Included was my small baseball card collection most of which is on display in my treehouse/office. I took down most of what was displayed to send with my wife but not all. I realized in real time that the ones that I left behind were ones I could live without. Very few of the cards have any value, like the time spent to mail them may not be worth it as the nearest mail box is a 40 minute round trip. I'll figure it out as I would like to thin it out some even though the collection is very small.
4. How I found freedom in an unfree world
This is a book written by Harry Browne that I just picked up and am about 50 pages in. Browne ran twice for president as a Libertarian but before that he devised The Permanent Portfolio which allocates an equal 25% to stocks, long bonds, cash and gold. While that exact portfolio is not something I want to copy, the thought process underlying it has influenced how I manage client accounts, his portfolio is something I've blogged about many times.
I'm curious to see what, if any, connection there is between his ideas on freedom and how the portfolio was devised. So far, the book is mix of confirming my priors and things that don't resonate with me at all. I also see a little bit of Ayn Rand influence where some of what he's talked about seems like determinism as I interpret it from Rand.