Civil War II – The Cost of Trading Down

by | Oct 21, 2020 | Archives

Over the last 52 years I have been involved in global economic activity, mostly while residing either on US or British soil.

During that time I  have never seen quite as much polarity in the USA or in the UK.

It’s like Civil War II.


boris johnson

Boris Johnson

Donald trump

Donald Trump

Could it be hairdos?

The hair is probably not the point nor should it be.

The fact that mainstream media focuses on the hair and looks and other irrelevant information is more the issue.

In both the US and Britain, huge tensions are being based around emotions created by unimportant information rather than on issues.  This makes Winston Churchill’s quote about voters all too correct.

Churchill said:  “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Sadly politcans think this is true and try to lead through distorted stories.

Author Yuval Noah Harari, in his missive 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, clarified an important point:  “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.”

This creates a problem.  Politicians think that voters have to be told a simple story, so they dumb down important, complex messages so they don’t get across enough of the tale.

I saw a prime example of this in NPR’s coverage of the recent Supreme Court hearings when one speaker spoke about the issue of allowing felons to vote.  He started off talking about how Democrats wanted to let murders and rapists vote.  That theme remained throughout the speech.  There was no mention of the fact that a majority of felons are not murders or rapists and huge numbers are solid citizens caught up in drug problems.

I felt insulted that anyone would think I would buy into such a distorted story!

I believe that one root of these tensions both in the US and UK is “Trading Down”.   Brexit and Trump are popular with the disenfranchised middle class who have seen the quality of their lifestyles erode as politicians and big businesses work together to make a few people, who prey on the middle class, rich.

One of many examples why the middle class should be angry is zero interest rates on her investments and savings.

Banks like JP Morgan Chase, pay nothing on middle class savings.  But they still charge really high interest on credit cards.  The middle class lifestyle is being whittled down by losses on their savings and high payments on their debts.  Even though banks like this have been shown (and fined billions) to cheat their customers again and again, they have been given billion dollar bailouts of public money during hard times.  The CEOs in charge are still on the job.  What is worse is they are paid huge sums that seem to increase yearly.

This trading down of values is true on the political scene as well.  Take Harry S. Truman as an example.  President Truman stated that he would never involve himself in “any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.”

After his term, he lived modestly so he could get by on a $112.56 monthly Army pension and his savings.  It is said he saved as much as 20 or 25 percent of his $75,000 annual compensation (from April 1945 to January 1949, and $100,000 thereafter).

Truman’s net worth was estimated to be $750,000 so only his prudent retirement planning and modest living habits provided for an adequate retirement.

The Clinton family on the other hand who had a negative net worth when Bill Clinton left the presidency (due to legal fees related to the Monica Lewinsky affair) make tens of millions a year.

When middle class Americans (or British) see those who should be serving them, taking advantage; they become angry, especially when the middle class lifestyles are being eroded.

“Trading Down” is a great unsettling change.

The Brexit and Trump arguments are symptoms of such a change in the Western World that we could call it Civil War II.   I nor anyone knows how it will turn out, but there are practical ways to make sure that we are not ruined by the battle.

One of the most important steps is to seek value.  For example the UK and US political struggles have the potential to bring bad and good.

However the UK Stock Market reflects the risk where as the US market does not.  Look at these figures from a recent lesson about value investing in our Purposeful investing Course (Pi).

Both the US and UK face many unknown factors.  The UK market reflects these risks.  Look at the fundamentals.  According to the analysis of Keppler Asset Management shares in the US market are selling at a premium of 3.96 times book value.

The UK market is selling at 1.41 times book value.  The average dividend yield of the US market is 1.63%. The UK is more than double at 3.90%.

Compare the US and UK, as of Sep. 30, 2020 below.


Both markets offer great long term opportunity with short term risk.

The UK has a good risk reward ratio.  The US does not.

Is one guaranteed to rise more than the other? 

No one knows but the Top Value strategy we research in our Pi course shows that investing into a diversified equally-weighted combination of top value markets during times of turmoil and tension offers the highest expectation of long-term risk-adjusted performance.

This is the best way to protect against risk and increases the odds for profit.


Coronavirus and the Stock Market Round Two

Coronavirus and the stock market.  Round Two is coming.

This virus and the market faced off in the spring.  The market won.  As the chart below shows, after a huge March 2020 collapse,the DJIA is almost back to its December 2019 level.


The market’s back up, but history suggests that we’ll see volatility in the ten years ahead.

Here is a chart of the Dow Jones Index for the past three decades.  The .dotcom bubble burst just before the beginning of the 2000 decade.

The market then went nowhere from 2000 to 2014.   Finally it started reaching new high levels.

Such decades long sideways movement after a severe correction is nothing new in the stock market.

So everything’s in order… except the pandemic.  The ravages of the coronavirus dramatically increase the unknown and this uncertainty is the greatest purveyor  of weakness that a stock market can have.

Such delays have profound implications for older generations who may need to cash in equities for income.  How do we maximize the return on your savings and investments during this extremely dangerous time?

For the past five years, my strategy, to protect against the next stock market crash and yet gain income and appreciation from rising share prices is to invest in an equally weighted portfolio of the value based country ETFs.

We track 46 stock markets around the world in our Purposeful Investing Course (Pi) to determine which markets offer the best value so we can be in a perfect position to take advantage of stock market corrections all over the world.

Since no one knows what the future will bring, investing in value makes the most long term sense.

Our Purposeful Investing Course (Pi) teaches an easy, simple and effective approach to zeroing in on value because little time, management and guesswork is required.  You are investing in a diversified portfolio of good value indices.

Sticking to math based stock market value and country ETFs eliminates the need for hours of research aimed at picking specific shares.   Investing in an index is like investing in all the major shares of the market.  You save time because all you have to do is invest in the ETF to gain the profit potential of the entire market.

To achieve this goal of diversification the Pi portfolio consists of Country Index ETFs.

Country Index ETFs are similar to an index mutual fund but are shares normally traded on a major stock exchange that tracks an index of shares in a specific country.  ETFs do not try to beat the index they represent.  The management is passive and tries to emulate the performance of the index.

A country ETF provides diversification into a basket of equities in the country covered.  The expense ratios for most ETFs are lower than those of the average mutual fund as well so such ETFs provide diversification and cost efficiency.

Here is the Pifolio I personally held at the beginning of 2019.  Now I am updating my plan to decide when it’s best to invest more.

70% is diversified into developed markets: Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.

30% of the Pifolio is invested in emerging markets: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.

iShares Country ETFs make it easy to invest in each of the good value markets.

The ETFs provide incredible diversification for safety.  For example, the iShares MSCI  Japan (symbol EWJ) is a Country Index ETF that tracks the investment results the Morgan Stanley Capital Index MSCI Japan Index which is composed mainly of large cap and small cap stocks traded primarily on the Tokyo Stock Exchange mainly of companies in consumer staples, financials and materials. This ETF is non-diversified outside of Japan so an investment in the ETF is an investment in hundreds of different Japanese shares.

iShares is owned by Black Rock, Inc. the world’s largest asset manager with over $4 trillion in assets under management.

There is an iShares country ETF for almost every market.

You can create your own good value strategy.

I would like to send you, on a no risk basis, a 130 page basic training course that teaches the good value strategy I use.   I call this strategy Purposeful Investing (Pi).  You learn all the Pi strategies, what they are, how to use them and what each can do for you, your lifestyle and investing.

When you subscribe to Pi, you immediately receive a 120 page basic training course that teaches the Pi Strategy.   You learn all the Pi strategies, what they are, how to use them and what each can do for you, your lifestyle and investing.

You also begin receiving regular emailed Pifiolio updates and online access to all the Pifolio updates of the last two years.  Each update examines the current activity in a Pifolio, how it is changing, why and how the changes might help your investing or not.

You also receive a 100+ page PDF value analysis of 46 stock markets (23 developed markets and 23 emerging stock markets).  This analysis looks at the price to book, price to earnings, average yield and much more.

This year I will celebrate my 52nd anniversary of global investing and writing about global investing.  Our reports and seminars have helped readers have better lives, with less stress yet make fortunes during up and down markets for decades.  This information is invaluable to investors large and small because even small amounts can easily be invested in the good value shares we cover in our seminar.

Those five decades of experience have taught me several incredibly valuable lessons.

The first lesson is that there is always something we do not know.

The second lesson is that stock market booms and busts always eventually return to value.

Third, the only sure way to succeed is to use time not timing.

Time is your friend when you use a good value strategy.  The longer you can hold onto a well balanced good value portfolio, the better the odds of outstanding success.

A 45 year portfolio study shows that holding a diversified good value portfolio (based on a  good value strategy) for 13 month’s time, increases the probability of out performance to 70%.  However those who can hold the portfolio for five years gain a 88% probability of beating the bellwether in the market and after ten years the probability increases to 97.5%.

Subscribe to the first year of The Personal investing Course (Pi).  The annual fee is $299, but during the pandemic to introduce you to this online course  I am knocking $124.50 off the subscription.


Enroll in Pi.  Get the basic training, the 46 market value report and access to all the updates of the past two years.

I guarantee you’ll learn ideas about investing that are unique and can reduce stress as they help you enhance your profits through slow, worry free, easy, diversified investing.

If you are not totally happy, simply let me know in the first two months for a full no fuss full refund.

You have nothing to lose except the fear.   You gain the ultimate form of financial security as you reduce risk and increase profit potential. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have cut the subscription to $174.50.  You save $124.50!

Then because this global recovery is going to take years, we’ll maintain your subscription at just $99 a year rather than $299.  Your subscription will be autorenewed in 2021 at $99, though you can cancel at any time.

Click here to subscribe to Pi at the discounted rate of $174.50

Subscribe to Pi today and you get a year’s subscription to Pi now, get the 130 page basic training, the 120 page 46 market value analysis, access to over 100 previous Pifolio updates, plus begin receiving regular Pifolio updates throughout the year.