Tuesday 28 September 2021

Australia getting back to 'Covid normal'

After keeping close to 'zero Covid' for the first half of 2021, and therefore not worrying too much about the slow rollout of Covid vaccines compared to some other parts of the developed world (eg. UK, Europe, USA and Canada), the two most populous states (NSW and VIC) suffered a rapid spike in Covid-19 cases in the past couple of months due to the more contagious 'delta' variant getting loose in the general population.

Fortunately relatively strict 'lock-down' provisions have managed to keep the daily infection numbers (and hence the rate of hospitalisations and deaths) reasonably low while the vaccination roll-out ramped up with a new sense of urgency (and some extra supplies of Pfizer vaccine for the younger cohorts where side-effects from AZ vaccine were more likely to outweigh the benefit of vaccination - at least until the chance of catching Covid increased dramatically).

At the start of the latest outbreak there was a media outcry regarding the slow pace of vaccination in Australia compared to European countries and US states. For example on 'Planet America' a few weeks ago they were comparing Australian vaccination rates to those in the US, and our most vaccinated states (NSW, VIC  and ACT) would have been close to the very bottom of the ranking of US states.

But there has been a remarkable decrease in 'vaccine hesitancy' in NSW and VIC (and the ACT) as the delta variant saw daily cases climb into the hundreds (in NSW and VIC) and a daily death toll which included some younger age groups.

We have now reached the stage that NSW and VIC have a greater percentage of their adult population having had their first vaccination that any of the US states (85.7% 'first dose' in NSW, 77.9% 'first dose' in Victoria, compared with 77.5% having at least one dose in the most vaccinated US state, Vermont), and even in terms of being fully vaccinated NSW is already on par with the 12th most fully vaccinated US States (60.45% in NSW, 60.40% in Washington State). and Victoria is on par with the 40th most fully vaccinated US State (47.72% in Victoria, 47.60% in Missouri).

Within a couple of weeks both NSW and Victoria will have a greater percentage of their adult population fully vaccinated than any state in the US, and current 'lock-down' restrictions will be eased substantially by mid-October, and back to 'Covid normal' by mid-November.

Based on current rates of vaccination, both Sydney and Melbourne (and Canberra) could see 90%+ of the adult population fully vaccinated by Christmas. It seems unlikely that any state in the US will end up with much more than 80% fully vaccinated - probably due to a combination of cost (vaccination is completely free in Australia) and the natural 'vaccination hesitancy' rates being amplified by politically inspired 'anti-vaxxer' movements being more prevalent in the US than in Australia.

While there have been a few snafus in Australia's handling of the pandemic (such as the early outbreaks in aged care facilities and cruise ships, and the latter delta variant outbreaks that managed to spread from quarantined international travelers into the general population), and some false economy regarding initial vaccine order quantities (in hind-sight, ordering enough of every prospective vaccine for the entire Australian population and then donating the surplus as foreign aid would have been a lot more cost effective than ordering smaller quantities of several vaccine offerings spread over a longer time frame, given the huge economic cost of protracted 'lock-downs') our handling of the pandemic overall seems to have been reasonably effective (probably made a lot easier being an island continent). The ultimate final per capita death toll from Covid-19 in Australia will probably end up being one of the lowest in any of the OECD countries.

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Sunday 19 September 2021

Diet week 5

My macronutrient daily averages for week 5 were:

fibre            15.6 g
fat              18.9 %
protein          85.8 g
sodium         2630.1 mg
energy         1978.9 kcals
carbohydrates    63.2 %

My average weight for week 5 was 107.6 kg, a slight increase of 0.3 kg. In theory I was consuming less than my basal metabolic requirement, so I should have lost a small amount of weight rather than putting weight on, but I had started a bit of body weight exercise and slightly more walking, so perhaps I lost fat and replaced it with lean mass instead. According to my bathroom scales my body fat % hasn't decreased, but I know from previously tracking data that the body fat % reading isn't very reliable or consistent. I do need to cut out having the occasional 'dessert' snack after dinner, as that should ensure I actually lose weight rather than just 'flat line'.

My average daily step count last week increased slightly (2,251 steps/day), as I went for a lunchtime walk four times last week. Need to add an evening walk to my routine as well. I also need to do 5BX every evening, rather than just doing a bit of resistance training whenever I 'feel like it'.

I also need to arrange for our pool pump to be fixed next week, so I can get the pool ready for 'swimming season' to commence.

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Thursday 16 September 2021

Australia finally plans for an effective sub fleet

In a shock outbreak of intelligent decision making, the Australia government today announced that they would scrap the trouble-plagued deal to build a fleet of vastly expensive, and probably ineffective, conventional submarines in Adelaide, and instead shift to building much more capable nuclear-powered subs in conjunction with the US and UK.

While this always seemed the obvious best solution for replacing our trouble-plagued fleet of Collins class conventional subs, I was shocked that such a rational decision has actually been made. Usually anything with the word 'nuclear' in it gets blocked in Australia (they even renamed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance imaging (NMR) as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to cater to radiation-phobes). Hopefully costs don't blow out too much by trying to build as much as possible in Adelaide (this usually turns out to  be a very expensive way to buy local jobs), but at least the end result should be an effective submarine fleet at a reasonable life-cycle cost per unit, compared to the conventional French-designed sub that had seen costs blow out from the initial estimates.

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Sunday 12 September 2021

Diet week 4

My macronutrient averages for week 4 were:

fibre            12.7 g
fat              17.5 %
protein          61.7 g
sodium         2360.9 mg
energy         1745.1 kcals
carbohydrates    68.0 %

My average weight for week 4 was 107.3 kg, a decrease of -0.7 kg, which was close to what I expect at my current BMI when I stick to my diet plan of around 1,800 kcals/day. I could do with a bit more fiber and protein in my diet though - probably more vegetables and fruits would be good.

My average daily step count last week was still a lot less than I should be doing (averaging just 933 steps/day), and I didn't really have any excuses last week, just lacking self-motivation. I just need to make sure I go for a brisk walk every day and get back into the habit. It was a lot easier when I was going to the office, as I walked quite a bit just going to work by bus and train, plus I would go for a walk during 'lunch hour' most days. Working from home I can go for a walk at any time, which means that I tend to keep putting it off and never get around to it.

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Tuesday 7 September 2021

Diet week 3

My macronutrient averages for week 3 were:

fibre            16.1 g
carbohydrates    65.1 %
fat              18.1 %
protein          85.2 g
sodium         3480.7 mg
energy         2118.1 kcals

My average weight for week 3 was 108.0 kg, an increase of 0.2 kg. I had expected my rate of weight loss to slow as my metabolism adjusted to the reduced caloric intake, but due to consuming slightly more calories than planned, my average weight for week 3 was actually slightly higher than in week 2. Fortunately my weight started to decrease again by the end of week 3.

My average daily step count last week was also less than I had intended (averaging just 850 steps/day), probably due to the rainy weather. I'll have to make sure I do more regular walks from now on.

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Thursday 2 September 2021

Net Worth: AUG 2021

My monthly NW estimate has been updated in NetWorthShare for the end of August. Chart is in the side-bar.

Stocks and managed fund investments increased this month, up $7,499 (2.33%) to have $327,379 net equity in my geared share portfolios. But this figure includes using $9,500 from my home equity 'portfolio' loan that I used to purchase the 2002 S-type Jaguar. I have included the purchase price (8,000) as an asset under 'cars' so it doesn't affect my overall net worth.

Our estimated house price for August (my half) increased by $18,822 (1.94%) to $986,861. For some reason the realestate.com.au pages where I normally get the average sales price data for our suburb has stopped displaying any data, so I used the more general corelogic house price index for the whole of Sydney and used the change since last month in that index to adjust our estimated house price.

The value of my retirement savings rose during August, to $1,523,170 (up $38,338 or 2.58%).

The value of my precious metals (gold and silver proof coin collection) decreased slightly during August, to $24,487 (down -$24 or -0.10%). My unallocated precious metal holdings with the Perth Mint online depository are included in the geared share portfolio net value.

Overall, my estimated NW reached $3,169,406 by the end of August - up by $72,857 (2.35%).

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Wednesday 1 September 2021

End of AUG 2021 "12% solution" portfolio changes

For the end of August the emailed trading signal is to invest 60% in QQQ and 40% in TLT. As this is the same allocation as last month, I don't need to do any trades this month, which will help reduce trading costs.

My current IG trading account balance is A$14,054.53. In addition to the "12% solution" holdings I have A$519.00 invested in the ASIA (Betashares Asia Technology Tigers) ETF which results in my IG account not tracking perfectly the "12% solution" benchmark.

According to the monthly newsletter, the 2020 performance for this model was +40.6% and for 2021 YTD performance is now +20.7%. My YTD performance is 27.56%. The performance difference is a result of trade timing differences, buy/sell spread, trading costs, not having an exact 60:40 asset allocation (due to rounding down to the nearest tradeable quantity) and the fact the my '12% solution' portfolio is on my IG trading account which also includes some ASIA (Betashares Asia Technology Tigers ETF). There is also an impact from AUD/USD currency movements some months, as my portfolio result is reported in AUD terms, whereas the '12% solution" model portfolio reports returns in USD terms.

So far the "12% solution" trading signals seem to result in market timing that might actually add to long term performance (compared to a simple buy-and-hold with annual rebalancing strategy). For anyone that wanted to invest a significant portion of their financial investments to this strategy I'd suggest tweaking the 60:40 "risk-on":"hedge" ratio to match your personal risk tolerance (eg. a more risk averse investor might want to adjust it to 50:50, while a more risk tolerant investor may move to  70:30 allocation). One concern is that this is a US-centric model portfolio, so it may underperform in periods when US equities underperform non-US global stock market returns.

Personally I only have 0.42% of my NW invested in my IG trading account used to follow this strategy, so it's performance won't have a material impact on my overall wealth.

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