Saturday, July 6, 2024

Illiquid Liquidity

The term may sound like an oxymoron, but what I meant is the pool of cash that cannot be withdrawn or spent easily due to regulatory reasons. With this reasoning, one of the first things that come to mind for a local would be one's Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies, and the next would be the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) funds.



Picture generated by Meta AI


But these pools can be invested, though subjected to selected financial instruments and for CPF, quantum quotas. Currently CPF is paying at least 2.5% for the Ordinary Account (OA), and 4.08% for the Special Account (SA).

 

Whilst for my case I would not use the SA for investing given the relatively high and almost riskless rate, the 2.5% yearly returns for OA can be statistically surpassed depending on the duration and type of assets invested, though with an element of risk. Similarly for SRS, which are typically under the prevailing bank savings account rates (now is less than half a percent), the impetus to invest it is even greater.

 

As the saying goes, make money work harder for you. Granted that placing them as they are (i.e., inside OA and the SRS account) would still bring the dough albeit on a safer side, I would like to have more by taking on some risk and volatility. This is for getting a higher amount when OA (at least from age 55) and SRS (for me from age 62) turned liquid, which in turn increase the funds to supplement our step-down/retirement phase of life.

 


Related post:

 

Should I (Really) Invest My CPF? (Part 1)

 

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Are You Mentally Prepared For Investing?

Having enough capital to start off the investing journey is one thing, but whether one is mentally prepared to undertake the road is another. In my opinion it is important to ready up one’s psyche before jumping into the fray, as this mental strength is needed throughout; falter and the whole thing will unwind itself.

For this blog post, I will provide a simple three-step guide on whether one is ready for the long arduous investing road ahead.



Picture generated by Meta AI


Step #1: Why Are You Investing?

The first thing one needs to know is why he/she is investing. Planning for retirement? That is a good one. Saving up for a kid’s university education? That is another good one, too. Never mind how detailed it will be (i.e., calculating the future value, etc.) as this can be worked along the way. The main thing is to have a goal in sight.

If one starts off without any clear coherent aim in mind, or just doing what others are doing, or as a means to get rich quick, these are red flags, and it is better to be hands-off from investing until the above are resolved.

 

Step #2: Acknowledge And Embrace Risk

As I had said many times, risk is one must live with in investing (and trading). The need to acknowledge that these risks exist forms half of the picture here and be able to embrace them forms the other. By embracing, one must learn that risks are just the possibility and probability of them occurring and these are to build into the mindset.

Not all risks are created equal; the possibility of being knocked down by a vehicle is there, but the probability is lower for a person who looks out for traffic while crossing the road than one whose ears are stuffed with earbuds playing loud music and just jiggle across the street. Similarly on the investment front, the possibility and probability of a company’s share going to zero is more likely than a brokerage firm absconding the funds away. If one is totally risk adverse, or even if not, allocate the possibilities and probabilities of all risks equally, would need to take a step back.

 

Step #3: Perceiving Opportunity Costs

The adage of “only invest with money you can afford to lose” holds true to a certain degree. While it is ideal not to lose money, there will be times when an investment did not go as planned in terms of losses. If the thinking then was “I should have gone for the other financial instrument as the returns over the period are far better than this losing one”, this is okay as one is perceiving the opportunity costs in a professional manner.

However, if the thinking was “I could have one month’s worth of my meals in my losses there”, that would be, in my view, a sign that one is not mentally prepared. The separation between our daily lives and investments is important as we do not want to spill the element of emotions into the latter, which is ill-advised and at times, dangerous. This may result in an early termination of an investment plan, and worse off, a complete abandonment of the markets and never to come back.


Saturday, June 22, 2024

How We Organise Our Portfolios Via Brokerages

We had talked about investment strategies, methodologies and styles, but we seldom delve into the intricacies of the administrative part, which are brokerages. Before we jump into the deep end of the market pool, we need to plan and equip ourselves properly first, like having a float of some sorts and a good swimming attire.

For our portfolio multiverse, we use a multitude of brokerages to keep our holdings. Definition-wise, the term “brokerage” used here denotes any agent or platform that we use to execute trades with for our portfolios.

Being brand-neutral here, I will anonymise the brokerages with alphabet letters.



Picture generated by Meta AI


The Bedokian Portfolio (Main Portfolio)

Brokerage A, Brokerage B, both CDP (Central Depository)-linked, under my name

I use CDP-linked brokerages to hold individual counters listed in the local Singapore Exchange, primarily because I want to have better control on corporate actions and events, as well as the attendance of annual general meetings without the hassle of notifying custodian brokerages. I mainly use two brokerages so that I can have contingencies for each other.


Brokerage C, CDP-linked, under my spouse’s name

Besides the reasons above, the other reasons for this account are: it provides my spouse an avenue to familiarise with trading platforms, and an additional application for initial public offerings and fixed income instruments (e.g., treasury bills).


Brokerage D, Brokerage E, both custodians, under my name

These two custodian brokerages are used for holding local and foreign exchange traded funds (ETFs), and foreign individual companies, since CDP is not eligible for foreign-listed counters. I am OK to keep local ETFs in custodian as there are very few corporate actions to begin with. Why two? Brokerage diversification, of course.


The main guideline that I follow here is that a counter would not be split between the different brokerages (e.g., out of 10,000 shares of 123 Company, 3,000 is at Brokerage A, 3,000 in Brokerage C and 4,000 in Brokerage D). This is to prevent the incident of short selling, facilitate a quick transaction (especially sell orders) and not to confuse myself what is at where.


CPF And SRS Portfolios (Own And Spouse’s)

Brokerage A, Brokerage B, under my name; Brokerage C, under my spouse’s name

We use the same CDP-linked brokerages for our CPF under the 35% stocks limit, and SRS portfolios. Also, cross-brokerage ownership of the same counter is allowed (i.e., 123 Company shares are present in my CDP Bedokian Portfolio, and in my spouse’s CPF portfolio), where in this way, we can attend the AGM together.


Brokerage F, roboinvesting platform, under my name and my spouse’s name, separately

Based on my previous writings, I think you could guess which roboinvesting platform we are using. 

 

Trading Portfolio

Brokerage G, custodian, under my name

This platform is purely used for trading purposes with no long-term holdings inside, save for covered-call ETFs. Sometimes I would use Brokerages D and E for trading, too, depending on circumstance (e.g., I need to execute a trade but there are insufficient funds in Brokerage G, hence using others).


Brokerage H, crypto platform, under my name

I would like to categorically state that Brokerage H is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. I also use a cold wallet to safekeep cryptos that are not designated to be traded often.

 

Hope the above tips assist you in your own brokerage organization.

 

Related post:

Of Custodians And Ringfencing

 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Race Among The Top Three

Forget the Euros which is happening right now or the Olympics next month; we have a new competition going on and it is called the market capitalisation (or market cap) race. Akin to the English Premier League table, we saw the world’s largest companies (not intentionally anyway) jostling for the top three positions, and so far, the current ones in the leaderboard are Microsoft, Apple and Nvidia.


Picture generated by Meta AI

The last couple of weeks saw quick positional changes, with Nvidia pushing Apple from second to third.  Then just a few days ago after their announcement of new operating systems and Apple Intelligence, the fruit symbol climbed back up to first after a price spurt, reclaiming the top spot from Microsoft. As of the end of trading on Friday, the ranking was, in order, Microsoft, Apple and Nvidia.

It is kind of exciting to see these things happening, and finance news channels make a big hoo-ha over them (and maybe some market frenzy, too, in these counters). But the real question is, are the market cap rankings useful in our investing decision?


The Numbers Game

To recap, market cap is calculated by the current share price multiplied by the total company shares outstanding. With a huge market cap, and deducing from the mathematical formula, it could mean that:

  • The number of outstanding shares is high, or
  • The price is high, or
  • Both.

Let us look at market cap first. Though having a high number of shares outstanding is part of the market cap equation, it does not really matter in our three examples above; from the financial website Finviz as of the end of Friday, top spot Microsoft has only 7.43 billion (bn) outstanding shares, as compared to Apple’s 15.55 bn and Nvidia’s 24.64 bn (granted that the latter had just gone through a stock split).


Price Is What You Pay…

In the markets, the price of a share/stock is the function of its demand, supply and the accompanying market sentiment. The last component of sentiment is what drives prices to outlandish highs, or unbelievable lows, because it is fuelling the demand and supply part along with other traders/investors not hyped up to it.

With price, there is also the concept of value, and that is, is the price worth the share/stock that I am paying for? Hence the famous adage by Buffett on “price is what you pay, value is what you get” comes about.


Sustainability

Hypes (or fads in my terminology) do not last long. We have counters like GameStop and AMC charging up the market cap rankings due to the inflated prices, only to fizzle out after the meme had died down. Fundamentals play an important role of whether the company can sustain its profitability, and in turn their prices and market cap ranks. The current top three are not there for nothing, and time has proven the sustainability of these companies (of products, services, etc.).

However, that does not mean they would be there forever. Before 2010, oil companies such as ExxonMobil and PetroChina, and General Electric dominated the top positions (yes, and Microsoft, too). Though Microsoft still hangs around, proving its resiliency, the other mentioned ones were not even in the top 10 going into the 2020s (save for one occasion by ExxonMobil in Q4 2022).


Is Market Cap Ranking Still Important?

The short answer is, not really, but it does provide a quick look on the health of the long-term trends of a company. We still need to go back to the fundamentals on learning about the company’s financials and guesstimating its future positioning. Deterioration takes time and does not happen overnight, so there is some time in re-evaluating before making the decision to either add, keep or sell.

A final point that I want to make is that there are other good companies around which are not in the top 100. If time is affordable, you can prospect for them using screeners and dive in further on the selected companies before making a choice. This is value investment play, looking at counters whose prices are below their intrinsic values.


Disclosure

The Bedokian is vested in Apple and Nvidia directly, and SPY ETF which includes Microsoft, ExxonMobil and components of General Electric.


Disclaimer


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Fundamental Analysis Is Relatively Easy Until…

Fundamental analysis, or FA, is the analysis of a company’s financial statements, the said company’s environment (including strengths and competitors) and the whole economy in general. Hence, for The Bedokian Portfolio, FA is done over three levels that consisted of the company at the lowest, followed by environmental factors, and then economic conditions at the highest.


There are many financial sites providing the latest figures and ratios of a company. There are a few places where one could look up on market data of the sector/industry where the company is in. Also, there are country data showing the latest economic information such as gross domestic product, interest rates, etc. Usually in an FA, some, most or all these numbers are gathered, crunched together, and the results interpreted to make the decision of whether to go into the counter.


Yet, the biggest challenge comes not from the above, but rather the greatest unknown factor of all, the future. Sure, we can get leading indicators such as consumer confidence indices, yield curves, etc. to predict, but we cannot precisely pinpoint the exact outcome.


However, if done right, past and current results do somewhat reflect the potential performance in the future, though it is not indicative (hence, past performances are not indicative of future results, a phrase which is commonly encountered in investment literature). What I meant is to guesstimate (portmanteau of the words “guess” and “estimate”) by using available data, plus a judgement call on the trends of the future, to decide. We need to know that we do not know exactly what will happen, but at least we are making a call with the highest probability of the outcome that we wanted happening.


An example would be the news of inflation happening around. With inflation, by textbook economics central banks with interest rate policies would try to raise rates to combat it. This in turn would bring some stimulus to the banking sector, but also meant that it would hurt companies with huge debt/leverage. Also, we need to identify which sector/industry and companies, besides banks, benefitting from all these potential goings-on. Yes, it is not a simple example, but these were what went through my mind back in 2022, among others, but I still consider myself slow as other people had also anticipated and acted earlier than me.


A simpler way would be to go the Buffett-ish style of going for wider-moat, resilient companies with a strong and healthy balance sheet and cash flow. Yes, we can go almost no wrong on these as their future are somewhat safe at least for the next five to ten years or so (barring any black swan event, which is a we don’t know what we don’t know thing).


The conclusion here is there is no right and wrong method of FA especially looking at things that have not occurred. We try not to get exact answers but justify ourselves by trying to get as close to it as possible to increase the chances of profitability.


Sunday, June 2, 2024

Investing Is Boring, Trading Is Fun

Yes, most of us know it, which is why we love to go for individual stocks/shares, speculative plays and assets, and going for the latest flavour of the moment. And admittedly, I am guilty of that, too.


Though the words ‘investing’ and ‘trading’ are used interchangeably by many, the main distinctions between them are the methodologies used and time horizons; in investing, we have different styles such as passive, active, value, dividend, etc., and the time horizon is long (at least 10 years for my definition), whereas for trading, signals, trendlines and indicators are usually used for decision making, and the duration between a buy and sell transactions are at most one year.


Due to the long duration nature of investing, and if we do not really have many hobbies and non-monetary preoccupation, the tendency and temptation to go for “quick bucks” are there. Since we have the knowledge of the financial markets and their instruments, why not make use of it to do some punts and bets?


At least one investment book had acknowledged this risk-taking aspect of humans. In The Permanent Portfolio, there is a chapter dedicated to this1, where they described that the trading portion (dubbed The Variable Portfolio) is made up of funds that one can afford to lose, not be replenished from the main investment portfolio, and the losses cannot exceed the initial capital allocated.


Adopting what the book had suggested, we had created a trading portfolio mentioned a few times in our other blog posts, to separate speculative plays from our primary investment methodology, thus setting the stage of our portfolio multiverse concept. Mental accounting, in a positive form, is at play here where we see the monies in the various portfolios differently based on their aims, nature and methodologies. Yet, we also acknowledge that they are working in tandem to complement one another in the overall building of wealth, with capital being transferred across one another in an objective and responsible way. Putting it simply, differentiate, then integrate.


Some examples of instruments that we have in our trading portfolio are cryptocurrencies, covered call ETFs, recovery plays that we do not intend to hold long term, forex, etc. And overall, the trading portfolio made up around 5% of our portfolio multiverse.


If you are wondering whether The Bedokian Portfolio eBook contains a chapter on the trading portfolio, the answer is no, as it is primarily meant for beginners and investing. However, I do not rule out the possibility of including it as a chapter in future editions, or perhaps coming out a companion publication for it.

 

1 – Rowland, Craig & Lawson, J.M. (2012) Ch16: The Variable Portfolio. The Permanent Portfolio: Harry Browne’s Long-Term Investment Strategy. John Wiley & Sons.


Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bedokian’s Lessons And Learning Points

Since starting on my journey of trading, and subsequently investing, I have had made a few mistakes, misjudgments and of course, misses. In this post I will share some of these as lessons and learning points for you to take home.


Trading Instead Of Keeping: Apple

Apple was the very first foreign counter that I had purchased since I started my trading back in 2009, where I bought it at USD 158.23 in August 2009. Around seven months later, I sold it for USD 225, making a 42% return, and was very proud of it then.

Well, looking back, if I had kept those Apple counters, it would have become a 30-plus bagger by today, which means per share without split would be around USD 4,430. My next purchase of Apple did not arrive until 2014, and I have been holding that since. For good quality companies, it is, in my opinion, better to hold than to trade, as their growth would be advantageous if your investment runway is long enough.


Beware Of Forex: Citibank

Again, on my trading days, I went into Citibank at USD 4.78 and USD 4.88 in August 2009, with that time the USD/SGD exchange rate was about 1.44. Subsequently, however, the exchange rate went down to as low as 1.20. Even with a reverse split, Citibank’s price did not really improve much, and even though at moments where it went above my buy price, I still made paper losses on forex. Eventually, I liquidated Citibank in November 2011 with a 13.4% loss.

The main conclusion is, beware of forex losses, thus for overseas counters, it is better to look for those whose growth would outpace potential forex losses, e.g. Apple.


Price Action Gone Wrong: Singtel

I bought Singtel during the transition from trading to investing. The first time I got into it was in December 2013 at SGD 3.57, exiting in August 2014 at SGD 4.03, almost 13% gain. Ironically, I bought back a year later in August 2015 at SGD 4.03, after observing that the price of Singtel hovered around SGD 4-ish for the past one year or so. At that point, using my price action model, I had set reentry at around SGD 3.50-ish, thus I had further made entry points in January 2016 (SGD 3.51), December 2017 (SGD 3.57), February 2018 (SGD 3.48), March 2018 (SGD 3.32) and June 2018 (SGD 3.18), with the last two being averaging down acts.

The learning point is that price can go drastically down beyond the range of one’s price action model. At the turn of 2020, even before COVID19 was full blown, Singtel’s price had dropped below SGD 3.00, and had been remaining there ever since. I did go into Singtel again a couple more times for averaging down, but that is all. At this moment the average price stood at SGD 3.015.


The One That Got Away: Meta

When Meta’s price was shot down due to its poor earnings in October 2022, I had smelt blood, but I did not act on it. The few reasons of hesitation were that I had not research enough into the company, and during that time I was looking at other asset classes and counters (e.g., bonds and Alphabet). Till now, within a time span of 20 months, Meta had recovered 430%.

The lesson here is when one of the market leaders had suffered a drastic fall, it is worth to spend some time looking at it. I did not have a position in Meta then (and still do not have now), and was not actively prospecting, therefore I did not really undertake, which by reckoning would have been just a few hours’ effort


Monday, May 20, 2024

Respect, Not Idolize

There is always a GOAT (greatest of all time) or several legends in any field; we have Lionel Messi in football, Albert Einstein in physics, Napoleon Bonaparte in tactical warfare, etc. Other than those mentioned above, you may have your GOATs and legends in your own field of expertise and interest. In investing we have a few greats, too, such as Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Peter Lynch, and many others. 

These people are/were at the top of their game due to several reasons. Perhaps they have some skills or “powers” that others do not possess, or their contributions were recognized and impactful, or probably a combination of the former two reasons. Whatever it is, these greats would, in the eyes of those who appreciated them, have a strong sense of charisma, and surrounded by a huge field of positive aura. With this, the phenomenon known as fandom emerges and thus, we see so many people supporting their GOATs and legends.

While it is natural that these positive emotions on a person or a group of people may evolve into idolatry, it is perfectly OK to be like this as we humans are emotional creatures. Although we may like them, it is not advisable to go overboard to the point that one’s life is being dictated by them. Things like stalking or doing drastic things when an idolized great is doing what was not expected of them, are extreme acts one could go to if uncontrolled and unchecked; to put it mildly, an obsession.

In the realm of investing, such obsessions are a definite no-no. We all know that it must be approached with an objective, business-like attitude. The greats are there to learn from, such as the methodologies, the analyses, the rationales and reasonings, and with all these, their success stories. Sometimes, you may have heard of people fawning over the famous investors to the point of following their trades, quoting their quotes (much often without context) and so on, to the point of idolizing them. This is not good.

The great investors, or sometimes called super investors, are just like you and me, normal human beings. We make mistakes, and so do they. They might have “predicted” (read: guesstimated correctly) the fragility of the sub-prime markets back in 2007, or they knew the stock price of a certain electric car company will rise n-fold over a few years, etc. but they do not get it right all the time, yet we have people treating their words and/or actions as the gospel truth or future. This is dangerous, for the only person who is right every time is a certain “Mr. Market”.

Hence, we respect these investment greats for what they had done and taught us, not to idolize to the point of being obsessive and without critical thinking.

Related post:

Do They Know Something That We Don't?


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Berkshire Hathaway: The Future

There was a notable absence of a familiar face in this year’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) annual general meeting (AGM); he was Charlie Munger, who passed away in late November last year. Seeing Warren Buffett sitting without Munger on stage looked a little weird, as the two investors, whose names were almost synonymous with the company they were (and still are) running, were seen as inseparable. 

Realistically and morbidly speaking, everyone will get to meet their maker sooner or later; and this means Buffett will not be on the stage of the AGM forever. No doubt we would want him to continue (and earn us shareholders huge returns), but we knew this is impossible. Fortunately, succession planning was already in the works, with Greg Abel named as the successor to BRK.

Expectations

Successors are usually judged with the standards and achievements of their predecessors, and naturally they will feel the heat especially if the ones before them were greats. People would expect them to the same, if not, better than their upperstudies. We may be judgmental by comparing between the two, often for the worse as we prefer things that we were accustomed to. 

The tendency to cling on to nostalgia is there, but it is important to know that change is the only constant around. We need to be realistic with our expectations; no matter how much the disciples learnt from their masters, there will always be a hint of difference or deviation between them. The important thing is whether that difference/discrepancy is for the better or for worse, and this must be determined not just within one or two investments over a few weeks or months, but rather over several investments over at least a few years.

Furthermore, expectations are varied from person to person, so on a same issue one could find it better while the other may find it worse. In this case, it is up to the individual investor to decide whether to stick around or to exit his/her investments. 

Going back to BRK, would you think it is still a worthwhile company to invest in post-Buffett period? I would think so, at least for probably another two to three years or so. We need to give them a chance to prove themselves.


Disclosure

The Bedokian is vested in BRK.B.

Disclaimer


Saturday, May 4, 2024

“The Emperor Is Not As Forgiving As I Am”

Star Wars aficionados will know this line, uttered by Darth Vader to Moff Jerjerrod, who was overseeing the construction of the second Death Star, at the beginning of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

The whole dialogue started when Vader arrived at the still-building Death Star, with Jerjerrod greeting him. Vader cut him off with the latter’s greetings and went straight to the point, demanding that the Death Star be completed in quick time, even though it was still on schedule. Despite Jerjerrod’s protestations, it stopped when he was told that the Emperor was coming, and he instantly acknowledged it, with Vader ending the conversation with the above quote.

For those who had watched Star Wars for the first time, before this scene, it was known that Vader would not hesitate to punish incompetence severely, usually with death. The utterance of this line had shown that if crossed, the Emperor would be a worse case in consequences than Vader himself, thus leading to viewers to speculate on what and how the Emperor as a character was.

After so much on Star Wars, what is the investment message that I am conveying?

The Market Is Not As Forgiving

The market is the dimension where we conduct our investing and trading actions in it. It binds and surrounds our portfolios, providing them with returns, like a friend. But it is also a dangerous adversary where risks are abound, and if one is not careful it may swallow your portfolios whole. For the latter point, it will not hear your grievances and knows no sympathy; in other words, it can be unforgiving.

Which is why we should always adopt a business-like approach to investing and trading. This can be hard as we are humans and capable of having emotions, but we really need to be mindful of our feelings when engaging the market. When the market goes north, do not jump on the exuberance bandwagon; when the market goes south, do not follow the fear crowd. Instead, step back, assess objectively and then contemplate the next move.

May the Fourth be with you!

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Platinum for Commodities?

With gold and silver rising (and taking a breather) recently, there was talk among my various channels on another overlooked precious metal: platinum.

Platinum is a silver-grey metal which is non-reactive and highly resistant to corrosion, like gold. Platinum has been used for centuries as jewellery, although not as extensive as gold.  Perhaps it is best known for its modern use, that as a catalyst in a catalytic converter in vehicles that still utilize internal combustion engines.

 

Platinum’s performance, at least in price, did not really conform with its precious metal siblings gold and silver. While gold and silver historically were somewhat positively correlated with each other, for platinum, that held true for a while until 2016 or so when it started to diverge (see Figure 1).



Fig.1: Platinum prices (blue) vs gold prices (orange) from 1985 to present. Grey columns denote recession periods. Source: Macrotrends.


Despite platinum being scarcer and costs more to process than gold, there were a few reasons why platinum prices had dropped, and mostly these were vehicle-related; in the universe of catalytic converters, there is another metal that is competing in their use, which is palladium. Also, platinum is used mostly in diesel engines while palladium is in petrol-powered vehicles. With the statistics (based on a few studies) of diesel vehicles emitting more CO2 than petrol ones, the heightened awareness of climate change, and the accelerated adoption of electric vehicles, platinum had seen its functions reduced.

 

Now comes the question: does platinum earn a place in The Bedokian Portfolio’s commodities portion?

 

Going Back To The Basics


The basic premise of having different asset classes within The Bedokian Portfolio is the reduction of risks, and this is achieved via diversification and its related concept, correlation. The commodities asset class, as described in my eBook, is good to own in times of high inflation or hyperinflation, and a safe haven during economic crisis due to its low or negative correlation with equities and bonds, thus as a form of insurance.

 

With this, let us have a look at the correlations between platinum and the other commodities for The Bedokian Portfolio (gold, silver, oil), and other asset classes using their respective ETFs (see Figure 2):


Name

Ticker

PPLT

GLD

SLV

BNO

VT

BND

VNQ

CASHX

abrdn Physical Platinum Shares ETF

PPLT

1.00

0.56

0.70

0.35

0.37

0.02

-0.05

0.19

SPDR Gold Shares

GLD

0.56

1.00

0.86

0.04

0.20

0.57

0.06

0.32

iShares Silver Trust

SLV

0.70

0.86

1.00

-0.02

0.19

0.32

-0.17

0.13

United States Brent Oil

BNO

0.35

0.04

-0.02

1.00

0.17

-0.30

0.19

0.06

Vanguard Total World Stock ETF

VT

0.37

0.20

0.19

0.17

1.00

0.48

0.54

0.12

Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF

BND

0.02

0.57

0.32

-0.30

0.48

1.00

0.50

0.04

Vanguard Real Estate ETF

VNQ

-0.05

0.06

-0.17

0.19

0.54

0.50

1.00

-0.15

Cash

CASHX

0.19

0.32

0.13

0.06

0.12

0.04

-0.15

1.00

 

Fig.2: Correlation (based on annual returns) between platinum, gold, silver and oil, equities, bonds, real estate investment trusts and cash, using their respective ETFs PPLT, GLD, SLV, BNO, VT, BND, VNQ and CASHX, Jan 2011 to Dec 2023. Jan 2011 was selected to be the start date as PPLT was incorporated in 2010. Source: Portfolio Visualizer.



Looking at platinum’s correlation with the other major asset classes, the numbers were low with reference to equities, bonds and cash, and negative to real estate, so it qualifies to be a diversifying asset in a portfolio, like gold, silver and to a certain extent, oil. 

 

It Is All About Exposure

 

Truth be told, platinum was hardly seen by many investors as a hedge against inflation nor a safe haven, judging from the price movements over the years. If you had read enough financial news headlines, in times of crisis, gold was always mentioned first, as over the times it had been associated as such. The price movements of platinum were obvious; in Figure 1, during the Great Recession in 2008/2009 and COVID-19 in 2020, the price of platinum suffered huge drops, only recovering in the latter part of those periods.

 

Platinum prices going up in the later stages of a recession period was a typical characteristic of basic metals, like copper, which signalled the beginning of the next boom cycle. Although one could argue that silver and oil could have that characteristic since they also have industrial applications, for platinum 59% of its use were in just two fields: automotive (41.08%) and jewellery (18.12%)1, and with the limitations stated in the first section of this post, they further exacerbated its use cases. 

 

On the other hand, silver’s uses were more spread out, and recent news had shown that it was the next go-to precious metal after gold. Same goes for oil with many uses and it is dominating the headlines recently.

 

Is Platinum Still Feasible?

 

Platinum is purportedly rarer than gold, as one source puts it that there are 30 times more gold than platinum on Earth, so by logic the price of gold would be subservient to platinum’s (at least for the most part as shown in Figure 1). However, the points highlighted above had seen the disadvantage of platinum over gold. Perhaps when the markets (and cultures) realise its rarity and begin a paradigm shift towards platinum, then that may be the time to consider it as part of commodities in one’s Bedokian Portfolio. As for now, I would not include it.

 

 

1 – Distribution of platinum demand worldwide in 2023, by end use sector. Statista. 19 Apr 2024. https://www.statista.com/statistics/271231/use-of-platinum/ (accessed 30 Apr 2024)