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Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy

By The Contender @The__Contender

Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy

Original Photo by: Kheng Guan Toh

Welcome Fight Fans well THE.CONTENDER has got himself into a pickle. He is unsure of his next move. 
THE.FUTURE as ever is not following the script. Its tactics constantly change. What is CoNTeNDeR to do? Change his tactics, change his training routine, change the game plan?
Are the financial markets FUBAR (F***** Up Beyond All Recognition)? Are there any "safe" places to put our capital to ensure financial independence for the Tribe? This post goes through some thinking on the challenges ahead and lists a few books that could shed some light on THE.FUTURE
Financial independence \ Downshifting update
Mrs C has resigned and we are definitely taking some time out as a family in the South of France. We will be renting a property for a period of time to check out the location and make sure we are happy before fully committing to France.
We will apply for residency and buy a house with whatever our investments are worth in THE.FUTURE.
A year ago we were on track to live off our income portfolio indefinitely WITHOUT considering our pension schemes. This is no longer the case. What has happened and what are we doing about it.
Easy come easy go......
Tribe investments
The latest investing mistake of the Tribe was to underestimate how schizophrenic the markets can be when the US Federal Reserve "speaks".
They say "actions are worth a thousand words" however in the case of the Fed the opposite seems to be true!
The mention of the word taper has dramatically hit our protection portfolio value - the precious metals component (but we have the gift of time). Our Growth and Income portfolios are also down a little this year.
Unfortunately even cash, also known as un-backed fiat paper money, is not safe as its purchasing power is being quickly eroded by global QE.
So even though we have been paid good dividends and income from Mrs C's work the total portfolio is down for the year. Just when we have both stopped working. Bad Bad Bad?
So what is the Fed up to? Where do they want us to park our money and what are their plans for it? 
Do these really align with our goal of financial independence or does work beckon faster than we anticipated?Tribe Options
  1. Keep investing in dividend stocks - at least we get the income - a stock market crash would wipe out more of the capital but the stock market always goes up right?
  2. Sell everything and hold lots of cash ready to "by the dip" in the stock market - buying more income for our bucks.....Stock market could keep on rising......
  3. Get into property rentals. This would require leverage and debt. Again property always goes up...
  4. Work until we are very comfortable with our assets. How much cushion would we want and how many years of extra saving would we need.
  5. Do nothing and "wait-and-see"
Are these some of the questions going through a lot of peoples mind at the moment?
In THE.PAST we could be fairly confident with cash and bonds. We used to get interest greater than the rate of inflation and there were no monetary "experiments" such as "QE".
Confidence in the value of "Cash" base was a sound base for businesses to invest in machinery and hire people - growing their businesses in the process and returning some profits back to shareholders. 
People expected a pay rise each year and were very comfortable to go out, spend and invest.
A virtuous circle all round.
From personal experiences since 2001 productivity in the Contender's work places resulted in a 10% reduction in the work force every 5 years or so. This has reduced the number of quality jobs available in the economy (average monthly wages are falling). The jobs that are left require the person to work harder and longer to hold onto the job. Company profits are up but pay levels stay the same for the mid-level management employees.
Personal debt has skyrocketed so debt repayments are taking a significant part of a households' income. Asset prices such as housing have shot up.
Interest on cash and bonds is no longer generating a positive income (after inflation). People have returned to the stock market in droves in search for yield.
Buy to let is seen as a way of funding retirement. This results in making the housing supply for first time buyers (in the UK) shrink and prices rise.
Debt serfdom in the form of an extremely high mortgage payments is becoming the norm. This is leaving less disposable income to invest and spend.
This is causing a destructive process in the middle class. We are middle class and we are being squeezed just like everyone else. Someone is benefiting - those with significant assets.
So how long can this continue for?
Will we get some form of debt jubilee with the top 1% taking a hit for once? Will assets such as housing re-set to historical average prices allowing people to buy their own home at a fair price?
Would this return confidence to businesses? will they expand and create jobs? Will confidence be restored in the financial industry causing people to be confident about the preservation of capital? They can then use their cash in instead of squirrelling it away doing no one any good. A new virtuous circle starts.
General policies around the globe are in favour of maintaining the status quo with large deficits and money printing. While this can probably last for longer than we suspect it cannot last forever. 10 Trillion.... 20 Trillion... 30 Trillion when will the "Faith in Fiat" be lost and everyone heads for the exit door of hyperinflation?
Will the deficits be solved? Will market manipulation stop? Will Fed propaganda end? Will destructive capitalism do its work and clear away the dead wood in the system for REAL GREEN SHOOTS to appear?
One thing is that IT IS IN NO ONES INTEREST for hyperinflation or depression to last. Both are very bad. It IS in EVERY ONE'S INTEREST to maintain the status quo.
Perhaps this is why 'believing in money printing to paper over the problems and save the day' is so  persuasive, desirable and hence a supportable blind faith solution. It will probably last longer than we are lead to believe with limited consequences.
What is the Tribe to do?
Dividend Stocks - Our little tribe is taking the following approach. We are making sure we get the income we require as we will not be working for a while when we head to France in September. We continue to invest in companies with real tangible needed assets (such as water companies) ideally with a history of growing dividends and share price over many years.
Providing a growing income comes in from the stocks we are not really interested about the capital value. It can go up and down providing we are not forced to sell them.
Protect Portfolio - The Tribe had to sell some precious metals but they still remain a core holding. We will wait and see if this was a good idea or not. 26/06 - They are selling off heavily again today.
Growth Portfolio - Again the Tribe sold down and the funds have been converted to income stocks. We still hold some diversified funds. These have to be sold before we become resident in France due to French tax rules / implications and to purchase a property. This portfolio will be 0% of our net worth when we buy a property in France.
It is our impression from the UK that the French finance industry is less developed than the UK and the State taxes wealth much more. In THE.CONTENDER's opinion France cannot continue on this route. It is anti-business. It is forcing enterprises and entrepreneurship out of the country. The result is a much larger State and current account deficit.
France will go bust if it is not reformed. Yet we are still moving there??!!!Ahhhh the French food, weather, scenery, joie de vivre... 
Pensions - The Tribe's pension contributions are all invested in company schemes (mainly global funds) - we will wait and see what they are worth on the future.
Work - If things do not work out as planned we still have our labor :) wonder what we'll end up doing in rural France. Financial and life planning perhaps?
Living with a FUBAR financial system
In the past few years several "alternative opionion" books have been written advocating changes to the system as well as guessing what will happen in THE.FUTURE here are a few that have caught the contenders attention:
Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy
Currency Wars by James Rickards
James Rickards talks through a military financial war game around a financial war scenario. This is a rare insight into the inner working of the military and the difficulty getting all of the right people in the game (government military and civilian). He then discusses likely outcomes of currency \ financial war (e.g. countries looking to destroy the Dollar) and what the US could do to re-set the system in its favour.
Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy
Game Over by Stephen Leeb
This book covers several themes from the over complexity of society the cost this causes and mal-investment decisions. He outlines several ideas for investments for the future and gives specific industries and companies as recommendations.
Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy
The Real Crash by Peter Schiff
Peter Schiff's latest book describes and promotes the benefits of hands off government and free market capitalism. Be liberal and let people decide how to run their own lives?
Other books of interest:
Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy
The Aftershock Investor: A Crash Course in Staying Afloat in a Sinking Economy
Financial Independence in a FUBAR Economy
A new book Transforming Economy by Zeus sounds interesting - Interview on E461 of the Kaizer Report around 12 minutes in
Other books are listed in the book section of this blog.
Until next time peace, prosperity and happiness to all
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