We recently hosted a webinar, presented by our founder Jasmine Birtles, all about where investors should be putting their money right now!
With special guests Sam North and Ben Laidler, investment specialists from our kind sponsor eToro, Gordon Kerr from Cobden Partners, MoneyMagpie’s Investment Editor George Sweeney, who joins us from sunny Costa Rica! Investment expert Justin Urquhart-Stewart joins us in the final part of the webinar.
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If you missed the webinar, don’t fear! You can watch the full replay and read the transcription below.
So welcome, welcome. This is going to be a session on how to know where to put your money to make money. And I wouldn’t say have it necessarily safe, nothing is 100% safe. But two is to invest defensively in these tricky times. Now to help us with us with this q&a webinar, it is a q&a. Do ask any questions that you like of our experts. This is a time that you can save space knows no question is too dumb. You can either put up your hand and actually ask it or put it in chat. No problem.
The lovely Izzy from MoneyMagpie is going to be keeping her eye on the chat and telling me and I’ll keep an eye as well. So we’ll ask the questions. Oh, and I have to say this every time by the way, nothing in this webinar should be construed as financial advice, just take it as information and then you do your own research or speak to a qualified financial advisor. This is for information only. Now to introduce you to the team.
First of all, I have Sam North and Ben Laidler, who are investment experts at eToro. And eToro.com is sponsoring this event, which is why it’s free. So we thank you very much, guys for for that. Say hello, Sam and Ben.
Hi guys, thank you for having us on Jasmine.
Thank you, Ben.
Thanks very much. Great to be here.
Lovely to see you. We have George Sweeney, who is MoneyMagpie’s Investment Editor and George, where are you sitting at the moment? Whereabouts are you calling from?
I’m sitting in sunny Costa Rica right now. Just just woken up.
It’s a tough life. But sometimes we’re international at MoneyMagpie. And I’m hoping to get Justin Urquhart Stewart but I also have Gordon Kerr from Cobden Partners, Gordon say hello.
Great. Thank you. Now as you know, already, this webinar’s going to look at where new investors and experienced investors can put their money in these uncertain times. I keep being asked, for example, where can people put their savings and mostly they’re talking about savings accounts. And they’re saying it in bags now because inflation as we know is what headline rate is 7%? Personally, I think it’s actually into double figures in real terms.
But anyway, they’re saying 7%, your average savings account gives you naught point naught five? You know, very little, very little. So the big question is, where can we put our money? And I’m going to put this to you guys first, actually, this question. If someone wants to find an alternative to savings accounts, where they’re losing money, where should they look? What would you say are the ‘safer’, in other words, less volatile investments? I’ll start with you, Ben Laidler, what do you think?
I would say a couple of things. So one, this is sort of, we’re in a sort of new investment world. So maybe everything you’ve seen over the last few years, I don’t really think applies sort of anymore, right? There’s, you made the point about inflation, right, we’ve got more inflation now than we’ve had in a generation. Growth rates are coming down, inflation rates are going up. This is very, very different from the world we’ve sort of lived in, certainly over the last few years, and you can push it back even decades, if you really want to. Your question is very well taken.
No, diversification is absolutely the name of the game, you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket. That will be point one. And I think point two is to take the long view, you know, if we’re being brutally honest with each other, you know whether markets going to go up tomorrow, next week, even next month, is basically a coin toss. Right? That’s what the statistics tell you when you look back. But if you’re telling me you’re investing for the long haul, I can, you know, come pretty close to guaranteeing your positive return.
Right. So I think diversification and sort of taking that long view are very important. And the other point I would just say is, you know, now’s an interesting time. I mean, we were all worried about you know, things were too expensive, I’ve missed a rally, etcetera, etcetera. Hey, guess what? Markets are now sort of, you know, come off a little bit, and on my way to a whole different bunch of things.
But I guess to answer your question, so what are we like today? The two risks in markets are the valuations keep coming down, and growth keeps slowing. So how do you defend yourself against that, at the same time is trying to make some money, you own things which are very cheap. So the valuations, you’re running a lot less valuation risk that keeps you out of things like tech, which has done very well the last few years and it’s very expensive, and it pushes you into things that we all sort of forgot existed over the last few years.
Like commodities, like financials, like some of these defensive sectors, like consumer staples and utilities, and I think that’s the other sort of thing you need to look at, you know, what are the advantages of things like utilities and food and beverage companies and healthcare companies is that we’re still going to be using them, whether we’re in recession or whether economies are booming? So this sort of stability of cash flows, I think, is a real anchor to people’s portfolios. And the valuations are pretty good. We’ve all we’ve all been chasing tech stocks for the last five years.
Yeah, so you’re still talking stocks and shares, basically. So you’re saying that, because I mean, I have been saying this for a long time, with people talking about their savings, they’re often really talking about long term investments.
And I’m saying, well, you shouldn’t have you know, quite so much money in cash anyway. So but you’re saying so even for their savings accounts, they should really be moving a lot of them into stocks and shares.
If they’re taking the long view. I mean, again, you look at the long term numbers, you’re gonna get the best return over the long term out of shares, then you are in than you are in most other asset classes. Now, we’re only about talking about the here and now then, obviously, commodities, I think, is interesting. And there are some of the other asset classes, you know, crypto, obviously, with a much higher level of risk attached to it.
You know, there are other asset classes are out there, which have a place in people’s portfolios. Within the core of people’s portfolios that are looking to build wealth over the long term and those diversified fashion, equity should probably be the biggest portion of that portfolio.
Now, I’m just seeing in the chat, Andrew, Burhan and Alan are talking about gold and silver. And Gordon, I know that’s in your area, you’re very much a fan of gold and silver, what would you say to the answer? You know, about savings? Should we be moving our savings? Mostly, do you think to gold and silver?
Thank you. Yeah, I mean, I agree with much of what I’ve heard with the possible exception of the slight refusal for crypto, which I regard as kind of financial junk. But one thing I would say is I tend to focus more at the 30,000 feet level than on individual stock and share picking and so forth, I tend to put my personal money into funds into, in fact I’m here in St. James is at a conference of a hedge fund that I’m associated with right now. We just been discussing all day, just the same sort of issues they’ve been focused on.
I mean, they’re obviously the investment pickers and massive amount of research required to choose individual stocks, I wouldn’t necessarily think it’s makes a great deal of sense to just go for a FTSE tracker, because you look at the price earnings multiples now, same in the States, compared to I mean, I don’t even know what the price is, at least my position on the FTSE is probably something like 30 times, compared with Eastern European stocks, or three or four times, there does appear to be quite a price differential, especially with potentially levelling events such as wars, on the horizon.
But at the 30,000 feet level, the main thing I would urge your viewers to consider is the constant debasement of cash, particularly since the 2007/08 banking crisis, which think a number of people seem to have fallen for the spin that has kind of been fixed by central banking policies. And I think it has been, I think that if the central banks had been skilled with the techniques of Quantitative Easing or money printing in 2006, as skilled then as they are now, I don’t think there would have been a visible banking crash, you’d have ended up then with just one or two more like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, in zombification.
State still employing people still draining resources. And this is precisely why we’re seeing inflation, as you rightly say, Jasmine, way more than 7%. In the UK in particular, we have been around since the dawn of Retail Price Index derivatives. And we were debating heavily with the Bank of England at the time, the composition and clearly everything was going into constructing a basket of items whose values were perceived to have little chance of rising, which is why all housing costs were excluded.
Because housing has always been galloping away ever since the negative equity crisis of the early mid 90s, when our Chancellor put interest rates up to 16/17%, something like that, because those were the last days really led by Volcker in the US when there was any serious attempts at rectifying the kind of imbalances that drop out of unrestrained fractional reserve banking. And so I’d be cautious about anybody investing in bank stocks.
Now you see the rise of FinTech and companies like Monzo, which have valued at extraordinarily high levels, but of course has never made a profit and there any business plans and make a profit is to get into lending. Well, hey, how that’s isn’t that how banks are prompt in the first place because there’s too many chasing too little stuff. So yeah, of course, I certainly agree with the idea of picking good long term investments.
The idea of making money in the short term is is not the You know there, I also have quite close relationships with one legendary investor, marginal race. And you may have heard of him, he was behind the birther group Trocadero, without the new class of private equity stars from the 90s. Like he wasn’t, were inspired by an arms race famous more for his ownership of Saracens rugby club, the, the Manchester United of rugby. But he told me one of our private meetings that, you know, he stopped dealing with investment banks like Goldman Sachs, because they there was rang him up and said, Why don’t you buy Jones and Co and sell Smith and Co? And he says, Why would I sell Smith and Co? I don’t want to sell anything.
So I think the message is invest for the long term and be very careful about what risks you take and an understanding. But I’ve said enough, I think.
Like Warren Buffett. Yes. So, Sam, we’ve got, we’ve got a very good conversation going in the chat about gold and silver. And what do you think about you know, if somebody wants to move some of their money from from savings into something relatively stable, which used to be bonds, you know, we used to say, oh, put it in bonds, bonds are hopeless. Now, it seems to me, do you think that some sort of gold product, maybe an ETC, or actual physical gold would be a good, good place for some of it?
Well, yeah, I think like Ben mentioned at the beginning, and Gordon said, there, it’s good to good to be diversified, right. And the useful thing about being, or the good thing I should say about being a retail investor is that you don’t necessarily have to have a timeline, you don’t have to say, oh, I need to make these returns in three weeks or a month, it might be that you are looking to, you know, average into these products on a monthly basis or a quarterly basis.
And it might be that it is something that you look for, you know, for in retirement, and that could be 10, 20, 30 years, and yeah, I would recommend being diversified. I would have, personally, I do have some gold ETFs that I would invest in on like a quarterly basis. In terms of, of someone just trying to time, any market at one individual point. It’s going to be tricky.
I mean, if we had this, this webinar a couple of weeks ago, you know, NASDAQ would be on the higher the month, and everyone’s happy. We have it three weeks later today, and suddenly the NASDAQ is down 3%. Today, it’s down, you know, over 10% from its high, so timing is tricky. I think gold yesterday was down 1% at one point. So, you know, would I invest and have some of my money in in gold and silver in ETF trackers? For those? Yeah, I would bet it’d be more like, I would split those investments into something where I would invest every month or every quarter to try to try and navigate through that volatility, which we’re going to see is, well, gold isn’t guaranteed to go up over the next few months.
Because of you know, people consider it a safe haven, it might be that because interest rates are gonna go higher and higher than people might think that you know, the dollar is going to strength and then gold’s gonna come under pressure and gold moves lower. So it’s gonna be tricky, like Ben said, for a lot of markets is a coin toss right now.
But yeah, the approach of being diversified, having, you know, part of your, your portfolio allocated to gold or silver, whatever it might be. I’m all for that.
Excellent. And if I just go back to Ben, for a moment, you know, we’re talking so we’re talking really diversification, as I mentioned, it used to be that you’d say 67-70% in shares and other sort of quite volatile products 30-40% in bonds. But surely, you’d I mean, I personally wouldn’t touch bonds right now, that seems to me like complete waste of time. What what do you feel about? Are there any bonds that are worth putting in? And if not, how do you diversify your your portfolio? What would you say are the best sort of percentages?
So it’s a couple of things, I wouldn’t discount bonds entirely, right? They’ve, they’ve obviously had a tough time. And what we what bonds have lived through in the last three months, it’s basically been the worst three months of bonds has ever had. So just to put this in perspective, and the result of that is the bond yields have gone up. So prices have gone down bond yields have gone up. And I mean, depends which part of the world you’re looking at.
But bond yields are now on the cusp of giving you a real return on yields minus minus inflation. Now, you know, that’s not very much. And that doesn’t mean there’s not a bit more pain to come, but I wouldn’t throw them out of the Portfolio A because you’re now getting a better yield on bonds. And you don’t you have done for years and years one and two. You know, we’re talking about diversification here. And we want to manage volatility in the portfolio. We want to manage the level of risk in the portfolio. And bonds is a lower risk instrument has a low return, but it also has all sorts of low risk.
If we’re going to run lots of equities, or God forbid, crypto, or these other sort of higher volatile or riskier asset classes, you need something to offset that and I Um, you know, that can be cash, but I wouldn’t, you know, discount bonds, I wouldn’t discount bonds entirely. I just want to say one other thing, actually, just to pick up on what Sam said, especially because you know, markets are volatile right now. That can be, you know, that can be, frankly, terrifying for people.
And I think it’s worth just bearing in mind, you know, how you manage that. I think Sam talked about just dribbling money in over time, and you say, you know, what do you do if you have savings, you know, don’t put them all in today. You know, dribble them in, you know, a little bit a month over the next 12 months, because, you know, that will do two things for you that will help manage this volatility, you know, chances are, you won’t invest everything at the bottom, and you won’t invest everything at the top, but you’re gonna get a good price one, and two, you’re gonna be there when markets do go up.
And the one thing I can say with complete certainty is they are going to go up at some point. And so, you know, I often say, especially if you’re investing for long term, the biggest risk is not being in markets. It’s not being invested in markets, it’s not being in markets. And the problem is volatility like this as it keeps people out, you know, and market timing is a little bit of a fool’s game.
Even the best investors in the world, you know, don’t do it consistently, well, year after year, after year after year. So Gordon’s about to jump in and crush me on the zoom.
Sorry if we disagree on credit, but other than that, I agree with the vast bulk of what you say also Jasmine, as you know, as a dedicated fan of much of your other published work on TV and MoneyMagpie, I’m well aware of your concerns about the risks of central bank digital currencies, and maybe leading to a Britcoin abolition of cash.
You know, if you inherited, you know, a million pounds today, and it took serious money, you got a choice of buying some kind of 30 year index linked government bonds, yielding something positive, that might look very attractive if the Bank of England set rates to minus 8%. In five years time, have you abolished Sterling?
So it’s very difficult to to be too generalistic, about this sort of thing. And clearly with with bonds. The other issue here, of course, is that, you know, in the US, you’re seeing treasury bond yields going north of 2%, I think so forth. Europe is very different. The ECB, is making every noise in the last Thursday announcement that they are taking such a long term view of their inflation target that they’re going to do nothing, if in the next 50 years, they can see some kind of inflation rate of 1.8% that that justifies do nothing.
Now, in Europe, in particular, with a non federalized euro currency, which I think is really under immense pressure of cracking right now. The likelihood of rates going up at all is zero, I’ve put this in writing before the European sort of bank can raise rates. And therefore you’ll see situations whereby the markets expect the yield curve to rise up into go long term, but then the ECB is just going to set rates lower and lower and lower debt. Now we have this forgiving using a technical term, you have this negative real interest rate expectation in Euro land of minus 8%.
Or that what that means is that the ordinary saver, you know, with 100,000 pounds is going to end up with 92,000 pounds worth of value in a year’s time that makes holding cash extremely unattractive for any substantial sales, and also is evidence of financial repression, which is very similar to the way the Soviet era monobank operated for 75 years in Russia 45 years in the Eastern European Comic Con states with, you know, the natural result of a hyperinflationary collapse in 1980 1991.
So you’re saying that the way they’re running the finances in Europe right now is very similar to the way that the Soviets were running theirs?
There’s a book by Janice coronoid, published 1980, which was analysed in a brilliant paper by a French economist, Derek Magnin, and a Bulgarian chap, who’s a present governor of the Bulgarian central bank. Last year, I can send a link to to you to distribute to the participants if they wish afterwards. Where it draws enormous parallels with corners work the economics of shortage out, Soviet era monobank was determined to present its model as superior to capitalism. The way they did that was they set fixed and constantly depreciating prices of goods.
The technique for doing that was creating shortages. So allowing only 5000 loaves of bread to be sold in a town for 10,000 people creating huge queues. But you can say that our central banks, including daresay the Bank of England, are doing much the same thing with their techniques of financial repression, deeply negative real interest rates, huge money printing, which is the cornerstone of Soviet era monobank policy and creating financial repression in housing for young generation people.
It’s becoming very difficult for young people to ever imagine house prices failing to rise by 10% per annum at the moment.
Ben, what I’m going to go back to you I’m sorry, George, I will come to you in a moment. I’m wondering what you’re thinking about that as well.
So I’m not saying run out invest money in bonds, I’m just saying, you know, markets change and bonds used to be, you know, deeply unattractive. But given the performance and given where yields are going, they’re becoming somewhat less than attractive. But I do think I take the broader point, right, inflation is running at seven 8%. In the vast majority of the world at this point, the one of the biggest questions investors need to ask themselves is how do I defend myself against that?
Now, I think inflation is probably going to come down a bit, but it’s still going to remain, I think uncomfortably high for most people for an extended period of time. How do you generate that real return that investment return above inflation? Now, equities have historically been a pretty good place, especially as I said earlier, those sort of cheaper equities that have pricing power that have good cash flows, but commodities, if you go back to the 1970s, which the last time we had any real inflation, the best performing asset was commodities.
Now, gold was part of that. But you know, there’s the broader commodity complex as well. And therefore, I think it’s no surprise that global commodities dropped 30% this year. Basically, you’ve lost money in every other single asset class, apart from commodities. And stocks, I still think commodities interesting real estate, you know, as historic and other of those are hard assets, which gives you a positive return in access to inflation. And there are others but these are the types of assets I think you need to be sort of looking at, that can give you that sort of positive return over inflation for for an extended period of time.
Now, I’ll bring George in here because I have inside knowledge of what’s happening with MoneyMagpie, amazingly, and I do happen to know that George is working on an article about dare I say, cryptocurrencies and having a mixed portfolio of crypto. George, can you tell us what do you think now we’ve we’ve all said crypto is very, very volatile. Everything’s volatile at the moment, crypto in particular, but what what do you what have you found in your studies, what would you suggest to people to investors about possibly having, you know, their toes dipped into the cryptocurrency waters?
Yeah, so I guess I’m showing my age a little bit by being kind of interested in in cryptocurrency. But I think it’s just another kind of tool for diversification. I mean, a lot of people have been holding on to crypto, maybe in the last year have probably seen like a big boom. And I think there’s probably a lot of like portfolios for younger people that are like way out of whack now, where it’s gone from like a 10% Crypto holding to like a 50% like compared to everything else.
So I do think that it’s important to use it as a tool as part of the portfolio and not be throwing like everything into like cryptocurrency. And yeah, what I’m working on at the moment, is the idea of having a mini crypto portfolio within that so not having everything in Bitcoin or Etherium you’d say have about 5% of your overall portfolio in cryptocurrency and divide it in a few different ways.
Is that purely for diversification? I mean, personally like talking about like traditional kind of stocks to bonds are you recommended to my mum who’s like older than me, she wanted to invest and so I recommended to her that traditional portfolio I said 60% stocks 40% bonds, and she liked the idea that because it’s what she’s heard about, likes the idea of less volatility, but to be perfectly honest, if I would have just told her to invest how I’m invest then she’d be in a much better position than what I recommended her to do. Agent because she wanted more, more stability.
And it kind of goes back to that they’re good, you know, everyone is different. But I also do believe in kind of, if you do explain to people how you invest and then see if they liked that idea, because you know, I kind of recommended a strategy to my mum that I don’t actually use it well.
Well, I got a comment here from Andrew. He says I also have some ISO 2022 Crypto so you’ve got XRP, XLM, ALG. I don’t know that one XCD I don’t know that one. But yeah, interesting. I’ve got some XRP actually, and XLM. Yes. So these are these are the altcoins so you’ve got the the big one, obviously, is Bitcoin second biggest is Etherium. And then there’s some some altcoins. They’re all sort of jostling for position at the moment, which is interesting.
Actually, you you’ve mentioned, you know, stability, because the other thing in this country that we consider to be a stable investment is property and there is a sense that property never goes down. I think it’s going to at some point, Gordon, if I can go back to you because you have mentioned property going up and so I mean obviously we have the pressure of people just the the population increase in this country, small island, we’re living on our own a lot more. Apparently 50% of the households are single.
But you’re saying also it’s the money printing the quantitative easing that has increased prices. Does this mean that it’ll continue? Will will price increases? Continue? Is property a good investment if you’ve got the money?
Yeah, I actually first had dinner with Liam Halligan about 10 years ago. And I, although I first became aware of your good self judgement on this on this, on the money show on GB news. Of course, we didn’t meet through that we met through our mutual friend John Butler. But I know that Liam has specialised in house prices and written a book and like the IEA, and he’s a capitalist think tanks. They go on about supply and demand.
Of course, supply and demand has an impact if if there are forces at play, which are at play, which ensure that the government heavily subsidises housing for such a vast section of the population through housing associations and provisions for all kinds of deserving cases. There has to be some impact on house prices. But I don’t think that that is material thing. The reason why house prices are rising at such exponential levels I read yesterday, I think it was 2%. house price went up 2% In the last month. I mean, great.
So any normal person like me who’s got an ordinary house that they paid 100,000 pounds for, which is now worth a million? I just made 20,000 pounds in the last month fine. Why do I have to work and see Yeah, I think I have to work but now I’m not so sure i’ll just just borrow money against my use my house as an ATM.
But that’s exactly what happened in the US throughout the years 2005 to 2007/2008. It doesn’t seem to me that this central bank money printing press is a very good idea for the wider economy. And I think it’s the overwhelmingly most powerful driving force as to why house prices are increasing. So yeah, therefore go ahead. Use your money, buy houses buy diversified portfolio of buy to let’s but do you really think this will go on forever?
And, you know, will you see the signs and get out into clearly clearly they will be changed as house prices, at some point in realtors will fall house prices have to be linked to income in the capital of Outer Mongolia or lumber to you’ll find that, you know, a mud hut trades for three shekels and a yak. And that kind of relationship three times three times annual income of an individual or two and a half times a couple’s income.
That was the basis of mortgage lending throughout the 70s 80s when when there was a period when mortgage lending was rationing 70 year to apply for loan banks were only allowed to give so much money. younger generation won’t know this, the 73 to four times income made some sense now that people are applying for loans on the basis of choices and income purely on the basis of the market price. The issue should be we should focus on is the manipulation of the market price through financial repression, ultra low interest rates and money printing.
Absolutely. So Andrew says he thinks property could crash by 50 to 80%. Yeah, a good way. It may be it will. I mean, there has to be a point where people simply don’t have the extra cash because prices have everything’s going up. Sorry.
Sorry. I think the key point here is there is nothing in the nature of housing, which implies as an investment it should rise in value for 300 years between the years 1614 ish and the outbreak of World War One in 1914. The price of a standard mansion in Eaton square, Belgravia stayed exactly the same zero inflation for 300 years, because we had a sound money system, then we have two world wars, massive money printing. Here we are today.
Well, now, Grant says that and this is an interesting point the government won’t let property crash.
He’s right. That’s, exactly why they’re printing money. But, you know, the same approach of Von Havenstein in 1933. In Germany, the same approach of the Argentinians in the 80s/90s, the most natural resource rich country on the planet, you know, has a currency that became worthless in 2002.
Ben, what, what’s your what’s your feeling about properties and investment in this country? I mean, again, with, as you were saying, we’re talking long term long term investment. What do you think? Is it worth assuming a crash, but keeping going for the long term?
The more recent history of house prices, since the war is that they tend to hold their value. The draw downs were when they come tend to be fairly shortly and even if you go back to sort of, you know, more recently to 2008 crisis, but what I would say was, you know, everything in moderation, right. We’re talking about diversification here. That’s not put all our eggs in one basket and any problem with property. And I’ll get on to the advantages in a minute. But the problem with property is it’s generally one very big check to write.
So you’re on diversity By it’s illiquid, difficult to sell when you need it, it costs you a lot to buy it, the transaction costs are very high, you can go out and buy an equity on the stock exchange today for, you know, almost no transaction costs, or zero transaction costs, actually, if you want to do through eToro. But you know, we all know what your transaction costs and your moving costs are going to be if you buy a house, and then and then you got to maintain it, right.
So the cost of carry is pretty high. So there’s a lot of these sort of other costs, which you maybe don’t have with sort of traditional asset classes. Now, you know, the advantage of it is, and I disagree with Gordon a little bit here, right, it’s a hard asset in the sense that we know the chronic housing shortage we have in the UK, and and there’s no sign of that ending. So unless you think that, you know, we’re going to find more land, or government housing policy is going to dramatically change and we’re going to build on everything, then you’re still looking at an asset class, which is relatively under supplied.
And that’s what I mean, you know, that’s why I put property in the same bucket as things like commodities, these are sort of hard assets, which are, which, frankly, they’re on and off of them. And that basically means that we’re going to be reasonably defensive to things like rising inflation.
And now Andreas also made the point here that, you know, he has mentioned the possibility of interest rates going up to a realistic level. Not sure to be honest, what a realistic level is. I mean, it’s Gordon pointed out, back in the 70s, it wasn’t double figures. I mean, it didn’t it peak, I think about 20 21%. Finally, at the beginning of the 80s
Inflation peaked at about 23 25%. In the 73, Centre for all crash, interest rates peaked at about 16 17%. High in 1989 1990.
Okay, so 60 and 70. So, you know, as you say, under, you know, I’m not sure what realistic means, at the moment for interest rates. Personally, I would have expected interest rates in a normal situation to be in double figures right now, frankly, I think they all would, but you know, it’s, it’s a tiny, tiny level. So the question is, I think, will interest rates go up? And I’m going to bring Sam in here? I don’t know what you’re feeling about it, Sam. What are we going to see interest rates go up in order to bring inflation down? Or is Do you think our government and maybe other governments are just gonna go? No, that’s gonna cause a recession? Or it’s going to worsen a recession that will keep them low? And make sure it just just cope with a higher inflation?
Yeah, well, one thing I’m glad I’m not a central banker, I would say because a tough, tough job. And also, it depends where you are in the world, China are the only central bank that are lowering interest rates right now at the moment, which is incredible when you think about what’s going on in the world with the high inflation, but yeah, they’re lowering rates. Do I think, you know, here, we’re going to see higher rates? Yes. Do I think in the US? Yes, I think, you know, the next meeting, which is in eight days time, they’re, you know, scheduled to raise rates at half a percent. You know, I saw a bank today come out and say they see rates in the US getting to 6%.
I don’t necessarily see that. But, you know, I think one thing right now is trying to predict how high rates go at the moment is going to be tricky, and it’s going to be ever changing. You know, you had people in 20, back in 2020 2021, say, inflation is going to be transitory. And it hasn’t been in it’s been hard for for a long time. Some people think it will go higher, some people think it the peak. So I think I think rates are gonna go up definitely in the US in the UK, in Europe. Who knows? Because it’s going to be tricky.
One, maybe Pigs will fly before rates go up in Europe. But yeah, I do think so. It’s just to what extent, and the market I think maybe is getting a little bit ahead of itself in pricing in, you know, really aggressive rate hikes. But we’ll see, I think, in a couple of months time, maybe we’ll know in a bit more detail, you know, has inflation peaked? How are we starting to see that come down a bit? And then then we’ll have a better outlook on that horizon? I don’t know what you think then.
What would you feel about rate rises? Ben?
Yeah, they’re coming absolutely everywhere in the world. It’s just a question of how much to Sam’s point. I mean, we highlight China, because it’s the only central bank in the world, which is not raising interest rates. And we’d be shocked if they weren’t right with with inflation, seven 8% In most sort of developed parts of the world. to maybe take, you know, the other side, though, and maybe give a little ray of hope. And all of this, I don’t think we’re too far away from from sort of peak inflation.
I think the US is probably closer than the sort of UK, I think we have a few more bad months to come, certainly in the UK, but I’m a little bit more focused on, you know, where the top is, I don’t think we’re just gonna keep accelerating, you know, to the moon here. And I, you know, oil prices, I think have had their annual had their move economies, including the UK are going to keep are going to keep slowing here. I don’t think we’re going into recession. But I think there’s combinations of slowing economies, some some bits of the market, you know, car prices are, you know, I think we’ve seen the peak.
So I would sort of take the other side of this view that inflation is just going to keep rising out of control here, I may say I think we’re in a in a regime of inflation is probably going to come down a bit and remain on maybe uncomfortably high than we’d been used to, you know, basically what we’ve been used to we’ve got used to basically no inflation over the last decade or two. I think we’re going to end up settling sort of somewhere between that and where we are right now, but I don’t think inflation is going to keep rising to the moon here. So central banks, including the Bank of England, have gotta respond to that quite forcefully.
Gordon, I know you have to go soon. So I’d be interested to know what you think because what I’m also hearing I mean, to say the opposite Ben is that what we have at the moment is not true inflation. And we’ve got, we’ve got price rises because of supply chain issues. But the true inflation from quantitive easing, that’s still to come. What What What’s your view?
I think I think Sam made a great point to his contribution before last one, he says he was struggling to be on the debt, he has a lot of sympathy with the plaza central bank is faced with the pressure to raise interest rates. What do they do, if they raise interest rates, then clearly, there’s going to have a negative effect on house prices. And it’s also going to massively increase the cash bill for servicing the public debt.
There was a headline in the papers on yesterday evening standard about the record 150 7 billion the last 12 months just on debt service costs for the UK treasury. So for those reasons, I don’t think that they can raise interest rates here in the UK any easier than the ECB. And I certainly don’t think the ECB will ever raise interest rates, I’m happy to go on after that. Having said that my prediction skills I have to disclose have not always been impeccable. In 1986, I was forced to carry out a brick mobile phone around by Bank of America and I famously wrote an email to everybody saying these mobile phones will never become popular.
That’s good to know, to be the 80s. Grant said that during the 1980s, there was a property boom, yes, absolutely. While interest rates were in double digits, I was a kid at the time and was getting Wow, 12.75% on my NS and NS. And I have instant access Instant Access savings if you want to access it. Because you know that I think a lot of people, particularly retired people who live off their investments, they would be very happy with higher interest rates.
And there are actually more savers than borrowers in the country. So, you know, if interest rates did go up to well, you know, even 7%, even 7%, we’d, we’d have a lot. I mean, I wouldn’t have people asking me, Where can I put my savings? So they just shoved them straight into there, I think. Yeah.
Sorry. Could I just say thank you, and goodbye and pleasure to meet you, all of you, especially Sam and Ben, and thank you for your support. I’m sure eToros a great platform, and I’ll take a closer look at it. Put it all together now. So thank you very much. Nice to meet you.
Thank you, Gordon. That’s really it. That’s Gordon Kerr from Cobden Partners, who as he says he tends to take a 30,000 feet view of the economy. And actually come back to George Sweeney, the MoneyMagpie investment editor. George, what are you hearing from other investors or, you know, millennial investors, particularly millennial and Gen Zed investors, you were mentioning that a lot of them have probably more crypto holdings than they should. But are they focused on property? Are they focused? Are they wondering about pensions, et cetera? Where do you think they’re putting their money or wanting to?
Yeah, it’s a bit of a strange one. Because I think for a lot of people my age that have like a house to have property, they kind of make the mistake of not including that in their overall kind of pool. Oh, I think you’ve some people would like to think of it necessarily.
We’re losing you, George. Oh, well, in that case, I will move to Sam. Well, I’m just about you’re coming in and out. George. Are you right there? Well, I will ask Sam for it. Because, well, while you get your Wi Fi sorted. Sam, I know with eToro you have a lot of younger investors, you do very well on this. Where are you finding that they’re putting their money? Is it the tech stocks and crypto on the whole?
Well, only Ben can can talk about this this survey in a little bit more detail after but we did a retail investor beat survey or we do every quarter. And we actually found that crypto was the second most held asset class of all, which was quite interesting to see that, you know, think it was, you know, more popular than Well, obviously, was the second most popular one but more popular than say cash and commodities and so on.
So we’re seeing a rise there. For sure. The stats were quite interesting, as well as a very high percentage of people were happy with their portfolios as well. I can’t remember the exact number off the top of my head but, you know, from from, from my point of view, I’m seeing and speaking to more and more people who want you know, crypto in their portfolio, I did a podcast with someone called Anthony pomp Leon o who’s like a big on the sort of crypto Twitter well, and he’s like, you know, the 100% into crypto in his portfolio.
Our CEO is more 50% Crypto 50% stocks. Everyone’s gonna have a different balance for me, I’ve got around sort of 15-20% of my portfolio. So I still want to be diversified. As we’ve all sort of said, it’s, it’s very high risk, but with high risk can come that high reward and, you know, with eToro, there’s, you know, crypto portfolios, where you can diversify yourself, right?
So we’ve got these specific portfolios that people might want to invest in, rather than just investing in just a Bitcoin or just your theory, and you can spread that risk. But yeah, we from from the sort of the results we’ve seen, second most held, I think, is that there is right, isn’t it then second? Most?
Absolutely. You know, when you think about it, right, this is an asset class that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and more people own it than own basically everything else other than domestic equities. It’s, it’s, it’s dramatic, it is.
The other thing that you do with eToro, which I do, because, as you know, I have an account with eToro is copy trading, and which I love I actually copy J nemesis, who I I’m told is so popular now, you can’t actually invest in him. But the the most popular ones, I mean, he has quite a diverse portfolio. I mean, a lot of tech stocks, a lot of crypto but also Tesco, Lloyds, you know, all sorts. What are the most popular traders that are copied? What are they investing in on the whole the ones that are doing the best?
I mean, that from from what I see, it’s, it is mix. And I think from what a user can do, which is why I think corporate trader is great is they can see everything of these investors. They can see what they’re invested in, the percentage of their portfolio that they’re invested in. Like one account, one sort of stock or one crypto. So, you know, it might be, you know, you have in a certain period of the market where you think, you know, overall marks are gonna go up. I might want to go to someone who’s got who is a little bit riskier, who’s got more tech stocks, who’s got more crypto. You can see that straight away, you can see their history, how long they stay in investments, how long they stay in trades, as well.
So, yeah, it’s a lot of the people that do, I’ve got the most sort of copiers, if you like, you will probably be the people that have performed the best over the last few years as well. Because you can, you can say, Judge, but you can see, or you can sort through the popular investors by performance. So if I was to do it, I would look at who’s performed well, last few years consistently, rather than just you know, who’s had one or two good months, I want to see someone who’s performed well over a long period.
When markets don’t do that, well, how did they perform? Because let’s be honest, I mean, that the last sort of few months have been tricky. But there will have been some of these investors on eToro. That actually performed okay, because maybe they have been more defensive, they’ve moved things around. And that might be of interest. But again, if you’re long term, and, you know, you’re you’re looking to hold your investments for a long period, you know, do you care about one or two months? Probably not. And it might be okay. Well, let me have a look. See how they performed over a few, you know, few years?
We’ve just had a good note from Grant who says we haven’t lost George, we just suspended trading in him. Yes, we did. Well, we’re going to start trading in new again, George. George, one thing that we haven’t covered and we’re thinking about new investors as well as current investors, is index tracking funds. Now you’ve just written an article explaining index tracking funds, are they still a good starter for for in for investors? Because it’s something that I’ve been talking about for years, I’ve got index trackers, I like them. Do you think it’s they’re still worth going for, particularly for new investors?
So short answer. I mean, it’s nice. But yeah, like going back to kind of what I was trying to say was, like, a lot of people my age or feel, there’s a bit of a weird gap between you have really high risk investments like crypto, and then you have your house or your property, and kind of not much in between. So a lot of times from speaking to people that are kind of my age that want to kind of just get started with investing for like a really long period.
Like the easiest thing to say is like global like ETF tracker, start there while you’re thinking about what you want to do elsewhere, because some people kind of say diving too far in the deep end with like risky stocks, or like loads of crypto, and what can I say to people is like, it’s good to get started as soon as possible. And for the long term, that’s a great place to just get started. And then like as you learn, if you’re interested in it, you can kind of expand into other areas and do different things.
But it’s just like a great starting point, I think, and I personally like to say it’s go back to you know, what your expectations are, you know, interest rates are gonna go up. And it’s not inflation, but I think over All the world is going to be better off in 30 years time than it is now. So there’s nothing wrong with putting some money in an you know, an index ETF little tracker, I think I think they graded on a slight error. Fantastic.
Excellent. Interesting question from Grant. Again, well done Grant, you bring us a really good question. So what are the chances of crypto being allowed within ISAs and SIPPS? At some point, I’m gonna put this to Sam, my feeling is pretty slim, given given the approach of the FCA towards anything crypto, they just get crypto. What do you think, Sam?
I’d say slim, I’d say. But one thing I would say about about crypto, I think the lot of markets are lower right now. And I think we’re crypto as a whole what’s going to take that next leg for it to go to the upside is going to be further adoption, further regulation. So if we were to fast forward a few years, and that question is asked, it might not be there’s gonna be a very slim chance. So it right now slim don’t see it happening anytime soon. But if we get the regulation, we get the institutional adoption that we’re starting to see down the line. There may be the answer to that that changes but short term, I didn’t really see it.
I may just jump in there. So yeah, yesterday, you saw fidelity which is the largest pension manager in the United States announced that it would allow people to put Bitcoin in, in the US savings in the US pension savings account for 401 K’s so you know, it’ll come it’s just a question of when?
Oh, excellent. Oh, and we’ve got Justin here. It’s probably my fault that I probably told Justin that we’re starting later. Justin, are you here?
Justin Urquart Stewart.
Hello. Lovely to see you. Justin. I probably told you the wrong time, didn’t I? We’ve been here since six o’clock. But it’s been our lovely to have you now I’m going to come straight to you. Justin is Justin Urquart Stewart, founder of Seven Investments. I knew I’ve known him since Barclays stockbrokers days and now running regional, aren’t you Justin? Yes. Which is a fantastic one. Lovely to have you, Justin.
Justin Urquart Stewart
I’m just gonna go straight in with you, actually, because I’ve got two questions here. One from Kenneth saying, what about whiskey and wine? And I’m he’s talking investments here just cited there. And also Andrew is saying everyone should stock some long term foodstuffs, with extreme fertiliser prices and shortages. Food will double within 12 months. So I guess we’re talking commodities and you know, anything related to food? What what do you think about whiskey wine and food related investments at the moment?
Justin Urquart Stewart
But let’s separate those two as those questions did whiskey and wine. Remember, whiskey and wine market is completely unregulated. And terms of control market, the validation of you’re dealing with just to stop actually exist, because when you’re asked to buy wine in bond, go and have a look at it, you probably can’t. I was very easy anyway.
And also, it’s quite a small market. And if I said he was illiquid, that’s not a bad pun on the fact it’s wine illiquid on the basis that you may have some to sell, but no one actually wants to buy it. So be very careful of all that there also shocks other people who’ve been trying to push even wind funds. And there was a certain fund manager a few years back, let’s go back about 10 years, and used to actually barely run off or Cru crew. And it used to try and market itself as somehow connected to the wide industry. But you really didn’t know how. And I’m afraid it didn’t work either.
So be wary of those sorts of things. And also, if you’re by Ron, I do actually buy wine unless it’s free, but summers investment, and I only buy the best quality ones I can get out on the basis that you that’s a pretty good market and I can validate what it is otherwise, bargepole comes to mind.
So I’ve got a question here from Nigel Ryan. Now it’s a shame that Gordon isn’t here and I’m because because I know, Gordon would agree with this. Nigel says do any of the speakers anticipate the collapse of the current debt based banking system? I’m gonna get back to you, Justin first, for that, do you think that we’re going to see the collapse of the current debt based banking system?
Justin Urquart Stewart
You’re gonna see a huge change now in the way that actually we’re trying to operate all kinds of debt that will impact on the banks and their capital. The banks are very pretty well capitalised at the moment, so there’s no reason that you waited them should be collapsing. Although there are various bubbles around the place, actually, they have been very conservative over the past few years.
Remember, the key error that we’re actually losing heaps of money on was the investments, the management type, or the corporate advisory side. And when you start mixing up the old traditional Merchant banking side with the corporate Mirvac and more commercial High Street banking so they don’t mix together, we learned that from the 20s. We had to have Sarbanes Oxley there which is afraid of the two out.
And it was only when certain frightened president decided to actually say we don’t do that anymore. We’ll let them merge again. And they did exactly the same as before. They’re creatures that don’t change their stripes, I’m afraid. So are we ever going to see a collapse of the banking system? Do you got to see a radical change in the banking system as part of the ventricle, I should see them on the high street anymore because they barely exist.
But also the way we’re going about funding ourselves and new types of investments structure coming through, don’t just be in the likes of crypto stuff with Blockchain there all sorts of other variations going through which technology allows us to do, but just one of the I did mention the other side of that question you had start with about commodities, we have a series inflationary issue here. If you look at input inflation into manufacturing at the moment is running about 13%. That does not mean that we end up paying 30%
You could probably have that. But nonetheless, we’re seeing inflation, worryingly, almost becoming embedded. Now, the good thing about inflation, of course, it’s month by month, so the bad month, last year, when oil was going up very dramatically, will actually drop out. But you’re seeing inflation coming more embedded, embedded into salaries into also the cost of production.
And remember, it’s been all the papers, Ukraine is one of the largest exporter of wheat, bananas, sunflower and such like, along with Russia, Canada and America, and they had a rotten harvests last year, global warming to take it back. But that’s not the issue I that we’re going to be spending a huge amount more on inflation that doesn’t exist yet. This will be in the autumn going through the spring. But there’s another issue. That is those countries which are completely dependent upon Ukrainian exports of grain and such like those which are quite have got weak political structures. That will open to social disruption, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, let alone the basket cases of say, Lebanon and Eritrea and Yemen.
And if you start seeing further destabilise, yes, like that’s us, that’s pretty sad. See the likes of ISIS coming in and causing more problems? Does that affect us? Yes, it does. Because it affects the one word that runs any economy, whether it’s us in Ireland, domestic world, or internationally, confidence and confidence so far has been there. But you can see how this could get very easily rattled. So I’m very concerned over the forthcoming year, we end up with a recession or not remember, a session is only two quarters, a shrinking economy.
So it’s not that huge. But nonetheless, it could turn very nasty indeed. And with such a gaseous you’re happening in Eastern Europe at the moment, this is something that no one would have actually really foreseen, breaking out into such a conflagration and could potentially get significantly worse, as the more scale of scare mongering journalists around us will happily say,
Absolutely. But Andrew is saying, as a few other people are saying, it’s probably a good idea for us to be storing up some tinned food. Because this does seem to be going to hit the whole world. But as you say, in particular, Africa, Middle East, when when people can’t eat, then then we have big problems, Ben, you’re more pragmatic about things than Justin is. Do you agree with Justin or do you because you were saying that you don’t think that inflation is going to be so bad over the next year?
I mean, I as I said, at the beginning, I did instil a new wealth, right? This is a world that is going to have less growth, it’s gonna have less market returns, it’s going to have higher inflation, it’s going to have more market volatility. So you know, there’s sort of two kinds of given. But no, I don’t think we’re in a sort of hyperinflation environment where inflation is just going to keep rising, I think central banks in a part of the problem we have right now, and part of the reason that we’re talking, even talking about recession is because central banks are responding to this problem, central banks are starting to raise interest rates.
And they’re doing that so they can slow the economy down. They want a slower economy. Now, obviously, the trick is to do that without tipping us all into recession, and we’ll see whether that’s going to happen, we’ll get we’re going to happen or not. But you know, let’s not lose sight of what we’re trying to slow the economy so we can bring inflation down. So we don’t have hyperinflation and really what we’re talking about on this on this call is how do we protect ourselves from that, you know, inflation is going to come down, but it’s still going to be higher than we’ve had in a generation.
We need to, you know, to Justin’s point, is risk is certainly that it’s higher, rather than rather than lower. And that’s what you know, you need to be looking at these hard assets that protect you from that you need to be looking at commodities. You know, we all have different views, but we could always be wrong. I think we need to sort of recognise that and, and sort of run that sort of balanced portfolio that sort of protects us if we are wrong.
Justin Urquart Stewart
As long as central banks. They’ve got no absolute right. Central banks have tried to control it. It was interesting last week, you see, we didn’t move rates. And it’s a terrible high level central banks do I raise rates because currently they’re still at the emergency level almost. They were post banking crisis. They want to raise rates, quite rightly to try and control inflation, but they don’t raise rates too much. And he stopped the growth. So it’s the devil soup to try and actually work out which which way to go. So quite understand that they have the sympathy and stuff of how they make the decision. But I think rates should be going up. If only it could be really cynical about it, because I’ve got the ability to cut them again, when things slow down. But whether or not it’s quite difficult to cut them.
Yeah, well, exactly. And I do what I mean, Gordon Kerr is not here anymore at the moment. So but he was mentioning, you know, the the problems he sees in the euro zone particularly and because you’ve got various economies. I mean, as Spain, I think it has inflation at about nine and a half percent. Germany’s is about 8% or so it’s really high.
Justin Urquart Stewart
Sorry, Jasmine just wanted expand that a little further because Malta is four and a half percent. So how would you run a single currency when you’ve got that variation going on? The euro will fail eventually, not tomorrow, because the politicians make sure it won’t fail. But unless you have a harmonised fiscal taxation system, which you’re not going to get the month of Sundays, your free will to capital, most of the time and harmonised regulation. Yeah, that’s probably getting closer to it.
But fundamentally, you’ve got this fault line running through it. And you will never be able to resolve that in Britain, even though we have to put up with the crank’s love child, that is sturgeon. And she can have a certain element of tax raising powers, the fiscal system is very much the same. So we can run a single currency like that, because we have those disciplines in place. And so therefore, that’s why the euro will eventually fail. And it fails when the politicians give up on him.
Interesting. Well, Justin Urquart Stewart has spoken I think this is this is a really great way to finish work. But finally, I would like to finish. Well, before I do quite there’s a rather nice quote here from Grant regarding food shortages. There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy. That’s Alfred Henry Lewis in 1906. Very good one, I’m going to remember that thank you.
But um, just to finish off I’d love to know from from you guys. Finally, what is your biggest tip for investors right now to operate defensively, but that make money. Ben, could I start with you?
The very beginning biggest the biggest risk has been out of markets, not in market. And if you’re worried about volatility, and it’s completely natural to be worried about it now, just drove out to throw all that money in. As I said at the beginning, you know, making money in markets. The next week, day month is a coin toss, but I guarantee you’ll make money over the long term.
Nice, Sam, what do you think?
Yeah, short short term pain, long term gain, invest regularly. Diversify and think long term?
Great. George, let’s see if we can hear from you. What are your tips?
Yeah, so I think like people’s long term plans, this kind of stuff should’ve been factored a little bit into it. If it wasn’t you’d find yourself too overexposed in growth and crypto and risky stuff. Have a look at kind of like more like dividend stocks, investment trusts that pay in income, anything like that. Just to kind of like staple things down and get a bit of a return. It’s just to kind of balance things out. Your long term plan shouldn’t really change that much unless you were overexposed in the wrong areas.
Great, thank you. And finally, Justin, I’m just thinking, before I speak to you, I’m just remembering a friend of mine who said to me when I said where should you put your money? What should you buy in times of great volatility, and he said tinned food and weaponry? What are your views?
Justin Urquart Stewart
Well, there is certainly going to be a lot of demand. And certainly also tinned food as well. I have to say some of the quality of the corned beef slop somewhat boring. Your family will say quite rightly, it’s not timing the market, it’s time in the market. It’s not those nauseating things, but it’s actually true.
The only time I’ve really lost money in the market is not being in it. The greatest strength we have as an investment people is compounding. We have businesses that pay dividends. Now suddenly, some of can’t pay dividends or CUTLAND, which is always painful. But actually in this country we depend on dividends being paid for a lot of those pension funds.
So the likes of Shell banks and things like that. Regular appears they were less than before that compounding is your secret return. It may be sound dull, but in my life does quite good this year is fashion fad is next year’s tank top and I’ve got too many of those to answer to.
Thank you so much. Thank you, all of you, Justin Urquart Stewar,t been lovely to have you. Gordon Kerr who was with us. Benjamin Laidler from eToro, Sam North From eToro. MoneyMagpies very own, from Costa Rica, George Sweeney, thank you so much for all your help.
Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, none of what has been said today should be taken as financial advice. It is information and it’s good information. We are recording this it will be uploaded on to MoneyMagpie.com. So do have a look. We will be sending it out in the newsletter. Thank you to everybody who’s come along. It’s been really great to have you and hope to see you at the next webinar. Thank you.