Striving to eliminate ESG from my portfolio and my life!

I am no longer a Series 7 registered representative, so I am not making a recommendation.

But I am a private investor, and my personal Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) portfolio improvement today is focused on the energy sector.

Sell: State Street Global SPDR XLU

Buy: Strive Asset Management DRLL

Rationale: Move my personal funds out of ESG-infected funds.

Have a great day! 🇺🇸

Joe G.

I’m just your average Joe money coach striving to eliminate ESG from my portfolio and my life!

 

 

ESG: It’s Toasted.

Client meetings could not be more tense than the one between the Sterling Cooper ad execs and the honchos from Lucky Strike. 

The good old days were over. The FTC was on a rampage, forbidding big tobacco from advertising their product as healthful. It was clear to the Lucky guys that the mass media’s propaganda had manipulated and misled the public into believing their product was linked to…”certain fatal diseases.”

Their competitor could no longer say “More Doctor’s Smoke Camels,” but neither could Lucky Strike, and while that may have leveled the playing field, the principal problem remained: How do we sell more cigarettes than the other guys?

Through thick clouds of smoke, they coughed and complained about their new reality. The problem seemed insurmountable, and it was apparent the ad men walked into this pivotal client meeting without a campaign. 

Awkward silence and paper shuffling punctuated the coughing fits. Ambitious and eager to advance, Pete, the inexperienced Sterling account man offered an idea so lame that it caused the men from Lucky to rise from the table and turn their backs on the ad team.

They marched to the door, clearly thinking about hiring a new agency, one that still knew how to sell a pack of smokes.

And then, it happened. A thunderbolt of inspiration. As the tobacco boys were about to leave, Don, the ace creative director resuscitated the conversation, positioning himself to toss a Hail Mary from deep in their end of the field.

The campaign that would infect a million lungs was born.

Don Draper: This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want. How do you make your cigarettes?

Lee Garner, Jr.: I don’t know.

Lee Garner, Sr.: Shame on you. We breed insect-repellent tobacco seeds, plant ’em in the North Carolina sunshine, grow it, cut it, cure it, toast it.

Don: There you go. There you go. Lucky Strike. It’s Toasted.

Lee Garner, Jr.: But everybody else’s tobacco is toasted.

Don: No, everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strike’s is toasted.

ESG is like cigarettes were in the 1950’s, a cancerous product marketed to have you believe its a healthy and virtuous alternative to dangerous, world-destroying capitalist strategies like, you know, the ones that have continually advanced civilization.

The difference is, there are no current government officials or agencies able or willing to stop the ESG charade, and in fact, many are 100% on board, because the ESG grifters have been empowered to force policy around social issues that the federal government legally cannot.

ESG is about money. Theirs, not yours, to be clear. You will be along for their profitable ride, and you may even make a few bucks, but sound investing isn’t the point. The point of ESG is about using your hard-earned money to advance somebody else’s social agenda.  Those somebodies are called “stakeholders”.

ESG takes money from workaday shareholders, and through their transformative magic they transfer it to stakeholders. This is called wealth transfer. This should be called a crime.

Will ESG Reform Capitalism or Destroy it?

You see, capitalism works. It’s always worked. Millions upon millions of workaday American’s lives have been enriched by straight up capitalism. Why? Because they had the guts to put skin in the game. Their skin.

Shareholders have skin in the game. Stakeholders do not.

“Stakeholder” is a made up concept designed to separate you from your money.

Companies exist to benefit their shareholders, people who despite having no guarantees, still took the risk to capitalize the enterprises and industries that have industrialized and improved our planet. Shareholders have earned the right to increase their wealth by participating in risk taking and the capital formation process. Stakeholders have not.

If you have been conned into believing that companies can become more valuable and profitable by adhering to the strict limitations of ESG standards, increase value to the shareholders, and raise their own “social goodness” scores in the bargain, I’ve got this bridge I want you to see.

But Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum, Larry Fink, Blackrock, State Street and Vanguard, and too many others, are all working together to advance “the greater good” by forcing ESG on an unsuspecting public. ESG is designed to infiltrate and control your existence, and you will pay a steep price if your own social goodness score remains too low.

ESG is no more about advancing the greater good than giving free cigarettes to ten year olds.  It’s not about saving the world from the so-called ravages of climate change, and it exploits issues like race, gender and inclusion, using them as effective manipulations to achieve their real goal: the money.

Social issues, both real and imagined, have been reduced to sales blurbs, and many people will buy the lies in order to escape the shame and name calling if they don’t. You will be well to remember the sticks and stones philosophy.

ESG may possibly be one of the worst and most dangerous ideas to come from the global elites. It has become fashionable in recent decades for elites and other social warriors to label the industries they want to villainize as Big, like Big Oil or Big Auto or Big Meat. You will be well to remember ESG as Big Fraud.

ESG promoters are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and I apologize to the wolves for saying so. They are the bag men who will collect your hard earned money, launder it in their sea of sanctimonious platitudes, throw the stakeholders a few bones and laugh all the way to the banks they control.

ESG is not about having money do good. 

ESG is about its hucksters making good money

The Heritage Foundation: Explaining the ESG Pushback

 

 

Your Average Joe Economics: Yeah, it’s a recession, so get in gear and build a financial fortress.

REVISED JUL 28 2022: Yes, Biden Administration, we are in a recession. We are negative GDP for two consecutive quarters. That’s called the “definition of recession,” no matter how you try to spin your way out of it.

There’s a lot of talk about recession these days.

As of today, June 30, 2022, we are probably in a recession, based on the technical definition, which is two consecutive quarters where GDP growth is negative.

  • 1Q22 Gross Domestic Product was just revised downward. It did not grow at all. Instead, it declined at a 1.6% annualized rate. 
  • 2Q22 GDP number will be out very shortly, and its not looking very promising.

More importantly, it feels like we are in a recession.

With inflation at a forty year high (and still rising), mortgage rates on the rise, regular gas over $5 a gallon, homes selling at record highs, car prices through the roof, and food prices skyrocketing, it’s no wonder that a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs survey finds that 85% of Americans believe we are on the wrong track. 

Yeah, you don’t have to wait for the numbers to feel like we are in a recession.

Nobody likes recessions, since they bring wage declines, unemployment, stock market corrections and a feeling of malaise and worry. Right, not pretty. Stuff happens, and so do recessions. But like spring follows winter, recessions are eventually followed by another phase of the CYCLE called recovery. That’s why its called a business CYCLE.

Business CYCLE phases include boom, slowdown, recession and recovery.

Boom times are marked by expansion of GDP. The workforce is growing, production is high, sales are soaring and paychecks are getting bigger.

But all good things come to their natural end, and soon we will slow down and then peak, and inflation (rising prices, weaker dollar) creeps in like a thief. GDP slows, sales drop off, demand wanes and pretty soon, we are in a recession, a period of economic decline that lasts at least two successive quarters. This can have long-lasting effect on wages, the stock market, and the population as a whole.

If things worsen from there, then we face a full on depression. Depression is to recession what a migraine is to a headache. If you are “analogy challenged,” a depression is a really, really bad recession. The Great Depression was the worst economic decline in the modern, industrialized world. A real character builder. It started with the 1929 stock market crash and lasted for ten years. Millions of people were wiped out. Depressions are not a frequent part of the CYCLE. Thank God.

How can we prevent recessions?

We don’t control the weather, we can’t prevent snow, and it’s the same with recessions.

However, even though recessions are part of the normal business CYCLE, the effects can be minimized. At times like this, our country’s leadership must exercise intelligent fiscal, monetary and energy policies for us to have a chance to make it to the other side unscathed. Today, 85% of American’s don’t believe that our current fiscal, monetary and energy policies forecast a bright future.

BUT…

But now is not the time to panic. Instead, take the time to prepare.

They say that in a recession, “cash is king.” No, it’s queen. Having a PLAN is king, just as you should for every phase of the CYCLE.

But to prepare for the recession phase, here are two handfuls of tips:

  1. Tune up your financial plan to anticipate and prepare for all phases of the business CYCLE. Financial planning is an all weather process, and must include short- and long-term solutions, including how to deal with eventual economic downturns. You should always have a plan, but if you don’t, getting a plan together now is the smart move.
  2. Reduce risk in your portfolio. No, don’t dump everything. Look at your holdings and see where you can trim off some market risk. Allocating away from growth stocks and toward dividend stocks is one way to stay invested and reduce risk. Remember, you don’t go broke taking profits, so when markets are at historic highs, take them! And what if the market goes higher after you sell? Who cares? We aren’t fortune tellers, take the profit, and live to reinvest another day.
  3. Reduce your return expectations. Interest rates will probably go down, so returns on cash accounts will suck. That’s okay. You will not lose principal, and you will be protecting liquid assets that can be reinvested into the market at lower prices after its eventual correction. It’s about winning by not losing.
  4. Increase cash in the bank. Cash means covering emergencies. Cash means capitalizing on opportunities that will appear as the markets decline. Be in a good cash position. Sure, the rates will suck, but cash is queen in a recession.
  5. Short term treasury bond rates suck, but they are safe. Consider short maturities if you don’t need all that cash laying around.
  6. Consider hard assets. Precious metals like gold and silver tend to do well in recessionary times. They can provide a good hedge to the rest of your financial assets in declining markets. Gold and silver coins, rounds and bars are easy to buy, easy to store, and easy to sell.
  7. Cut dumb spending. You will live without Starbucks. As God as my witness, you will live! Better: McDonald’s, any size for a buck. Best: travel mug. Get it? Every dumb spend has a series of smart alternative solutions. Cut dumb spending habits before a recession. Make a habit of your new smart habits in all phases of the CYCLE.
  8. Cut dumb debt. That means credit cards. Revolving credit is dumb. Khakis on credit is a dumb idea.
  9. Reduce or eliminate leveraged debt like a mortgage which helps you finance an appreciating asset, like your home. Khakis don’t appreciate in value. Target adjustable rate loans for refinancing, whose rates seem to climb even when rates are falling. How do they do that? Refinance old leveraged debt (mortgages and credit lines) to new lower fixed-rate debt.
  10. Work more hours, save more money. Get some differential OT coming your way, or start a side hustle. Employers get very choosy in a recession, so unless you are continually “employee of the month,” or playing squash with the boss, watch your backside. Trade your TV time for a side hustle, and be your own boss.

So, in summary, we are either in, or headed into a recession. The facts and clues are too persistent and too many to deny. But armed with this intelligence, talk with your advisor or planner and take the necessary steps to build a fortress around your finances.

Low Cost Diversified Stock Portfolios perform better than individual Stocks. Again.

Dimensional Fund Advisors posted an article on May 11 that every investor should read: Singled Out: Historical Performance of Individual Stocks.

The authors,Bryan Ting, PhD, Researcher, and Wes Crill, PhD, Head of Investment Strategists and Vice President make a fact-based, if not frightening account of how diversification will beat the performance of many, many individual stocks over various time periods. They observe that, “Single stocks have a wide range of returns. Only about a fifth of stocks survive and outperform the market over 20-year periods.” The Exhibit 1 chart in the article tells the whole story.

That’s a stunner, and should cause you to evaluate what you want from your portfolios and how you are going to manage it based on your individual personal goals.

Stocks are the engines of personal wealth. No argument there, but the decision to own stocks brings up many more decisions that must be made before dropping your dollars into something you may not really understand. For instance: Which stocks? Which industries? What is the right time to buy? The right time to sell? Should it account for 1% of your portfolio or 100%? What research did you perform? Are you buying on a hunch? And so on, and so forth, and on and on and on.

Diversification is one of the best risk-management tools that an investor can use, that does not inhibit the ability to capture market returns over time. Its not a tool for those interested only in potentially outsized short-term gains; it is, however, THE tool for patient, thoughtful and serious investors.

And one of the simplest and most efficient ways to be the market and achieve proper diversification is to use low-cost exchange traded funds to build an effective long-term portfolio.

Read the full article here.

PS-WealthKeep is not affiliated with Dimensional Fund Advisors or the authors, and receives no affiliate fees for our readers accessing the article through the links provided.

Your Average Joe Economics: Inflation will ruin your plans. Plan ahead for rising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is about to raise interests rates in a very meaningful way. They are a bit late to the party, in my humble opinion. Finally, 2022 will be the year of fighting back on inflation by using a more aggressive monetary policy, that is, raising interest rates.

So what now? Don’t panic. Prepare.

  1. Tune up your financial plan to anticipate and prepare for all phases of the business cycle. Financial planning is an all weather process, and must include both short- and long-term solutions, including how to deal with eventual economic downturns, market volatility and federal monetary policy. You should always have a plan, but if you don’t, getting your plan together right now is the smart move.
  2. Reduce risk in your portfolio. No, you are not a market timer, so don’t dump everything. Look at your holdings and see where you can take some long-held profits and trim off some market risk. For instance, allocating away from growth stocks and toward defensive physical assets may be a relevant protective approach for you. Remember, you don’t go broke taking profits, so when markets are at or near historic highs, take some profits! And what if the market goes higher after you sell? Who cares? We aren’t fortune tellers. Take the profit, and live to reinvest another day.
  3. Be realistic about your return expectations. Interest rates are going to go up, but with inflation at a forty-year high, fixed rates will still put you underwater. If you earn a fixed 2%, but inflation is at 7.5%, then you have lost 5.5% of your principal.  Get it?
  4. Cash in the bank. Cash means covering emergencies. Cash means capitalizing on opportunities that will appear as the markets decline. Be in a good cash position. Sure, the rates will suck, but cash is queen as interest rates rise.
  5. Short term treasury bond rates will still suck, even after rate increases, but they are safe. Consider short maturities if you don’t need all that cash laying around.

    …inflation is literally stealing money from you with every transaction you make…


  6. Consider hard assets. Precious metals like gold and silver tend to do well in recessionary times. They can provide a good hedge to the rest of your financial assets in declining markets. Gold and silver coins, rounds and bars are easy to buy, easy to store, and easy to sell. And commodities, like timber, agriculture, copper, oil, and so forth, will prove good stores of value and offer profit potential.
  7. Count your pennies and cut dumb spending. You will live without Starbucks. As God as my witness, you will live! A better choice: McDonald’s, any size for a buck. Best choice: travel mug filled with home brew. Get it? Every dumb spend has a series of smart alternative solutions. Cut dumb spending habits in all phases of the business cycle, especially as prices jump and wages fall.
  8. Cut dumb debt. That means credit cards. Revolving credit is dumb. Khakis on credit is a dumb idea. Starbucks on a credit card is a super dumb idea (I admit it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it :)).
  9. Reduce or eliminate leveraged debt like a mortgage which helps you finance an appreciating asset, like your home. Khakis don’t appreciate in value. Aggressively search for opportunities to refinance old leveraged debt (mortgages and credit lines) to historically low rates before they rise.
  10. Work more hours, save more money. Get some differential OT coming your way, or start a side hustle. Unless you are continually “employee of the month,” or playing squash with the boss, watch your backside. Trade your TV time for a side hustle, and be your own boss.

So, in summary, while it is always good to plan ahead with your money, it especially important when rates are rising and inflation is literally stealing money from you with every transaction you make. Start today and build solid habits that will prepare you for every phase of the business cycle.


-Another bite-sized economic lesson from Just Your Average Joe!

If my country were my client…

If my country were my client, I’d tell her its time to fix her family finances, before it’s too late.

I’d tell her it’s long past time to put together a serious budget.

I’d tell her to stop spending foolishly, as if she was able to print an unlimited supply of money down in the basement.

I’d tell her to stop borrowing, cut up her credit cards and pay back who she owes.

I’d tell her that throwing serious money at childish charades and flights of fancy is not “investing,” it’s dangerous.

I’d tell her it was time to play the long game with financial determination so fierce it would ensure the future of her grandchildren’s grandchildren.

And finally, I would advise her to stop hiring dishonest and unskilled employees who will deliberately destroy her standing in the world economy.

She has problems beyond money, but she’s strong, and brave, and good, so I give her my best advice with due respect, loyalty and love for her and her whole family, because they deserve better.

I can dream, can’t I?


Fix the money. Fix the future.

What a prediction from Iconic Economist!

Milton FriedmanI think the internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that’s missing but that will soon be developed is a reliable e-cash.

–Milton Friedman, economist

Milton Friedman died in 2006. Bitcoin was launched in 2009.