Tuesday 25 February 2020

Looks like the markets might finally be reacting to the possible impact of COVID-2019

After doing some 'rebalancing' on 6 Feb in response to the developing corona virus outbreak, it appears that 'Mr Market' has finally reached the same conclusion as me - that while the economic impact of the corona virus is still uncertain, there appears to be considerably more downside risk than any upside potential, so why not play it safe and go 'risk off'? For the past two weeks I had been wondering if the bull market was going to completely ignore the corona virus outbreak, but it turns out that it had already run off a cliff and was just taking a while to notice -- a bit like Wile E Coyote in a road runner caroon!

I had managed to shift our ~$1.5MM SMSF investment in the Vanguard 'high growth' index fund to a mixture of the Bond index fund and the Conservative index fund (having to mail in a signed paper switching form meant that it took several days to implement the decision I made on 6 Feb), and I also liquidated my $250K investment in the Colonial First State (CFS) geared share fund and my $100K investment in ETFs and used the proceeds to pay down most of my 'portfolio loan' (that had been used to fund the ETF purchases early in 2019, and my $100K deposit and $42K stamp duty for the investment unit purchase at the end of last year). I'll now be able to fund a large part of the 'settlement' for the investment unit using my 'portfolio loan' when construction is finished in 2023, and will only have to take out a relatively modest mortgage (around 50% LVR).

I had also intended to sell off my ~$50K investment in the CFS and ~$100K Vanguard International Index Fund and High Growth Fund investment but as these were 'collateral' for a couple of my margin loan accounts it turned out that I also needed to mail/upload redemption forms for those requests (the phone/online redemption requests I made on 6 Feb weren't actioned). As the market is currently already down by about 5% from the recent highs, I've decided I'll now just leave these investments 'as is' and avoid the headache of having to do additional capital gains tax calculations when I do this year's tax return. In any event, having paid off my margin loan balances there at least isn't any risk of getting margin calls and being forced to sell out of these positions at an unfavourable time (at least I learned something from the GFC!).

For the next 6-12 months I'll be keeping an eye on how severely COVID-19 affects the global and Australian economies, and the next decision will be trying to pick a suitable time to shift our SMSF investments back towards a 'growth' weighting, and when/if to utilize my available margin loan facilities to make geared investments in the stock markets. These things typically seem to take at least six months to 'wash through', but it could be a lot longer if the impact turns out to be a global recession (and possibly Australia could finally break its record run of economic growth and enter its first recession of the 21st Century).

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1 comment:

mOOm said...

We should watch what the Fed and RBA do. When they are done with cutting rates and the yield curve is quite steep is the time to go long stocks...