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by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 5:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Are Bond ETFs a bad idea?
Replies: 43
Views: 2667

Re: Are Bond ETFs a bad idea?

Many would suggest that high yield and international bonds are asset classes that should be avoided altogether. If you are going to invest in them for the long term, I don't think ETFs are all that bad. For a short-term investor, the large bid/ask spreads of some of the ETFs would be a significant p...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 4:40 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Most effective wifi upgrade for range/speed?
Replies: 26
Views: 1841

Re: Most effective wifi upgrade for range/speed?

If you haven't tried it already, you might be able to improve the situation by moving or reorienting the base station antennas or selecting a different channel. I presume you already have at least 802.11n on the router. If so you could try the low-cost option of just using an 802.11n USB adapter on ...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 3:13 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Emerging market bond funds
Replies: 14
Views: 1242

Re: Emerging market bond funds

[quote="MN Finance"]I dont know why you are comparing EM debt with the us stock market. Thats intersting but doesnt imply any ... anything. EM debt is not a free lunch. You are gaining systemic risk in EM markets. You are better off with a position in EM stocks and high quality short term ...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 2:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why not overweight international?
Replies: 37
Views: 3341

Re: Why not overweight international?

Sure, but--any number of asset classes are touted as "inflation hedges." In fact, almost every asset sorta-kinda has a tendency in the sufficiently-long-run to hold real purchasing power EXCEPT for local currency and nominal bonds. The claims for all of them are weak. And all of them are ...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 12:37 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why not overweight international?
Replies: 37
Views: 3341

Re: Why not overweight international?

While certainly not all encompassing, there's plenty of quick lists of the risks: https://personal.vanguard.com/pub/Pdf/p113.pdf?2210091577 U.S. investors who invest abroad will encounter risks not typically associated with U.S. companies because foreign stock and bond markets operate differently f...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 12:34 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why not overweight international?
Replies: 37
Views: 3341

Re: Why not overweight international?

... is this partial currency exposure a serious enough risk to outweigh the reasons given in favor of overweighting foreign stocks? I've yet to see any persuasive reason to except the additioanl risks and expenses holding an international portfolio entails for a U.S. investor. There's lots of theor...
by patrick
Sat May 23, 2015 12:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Emerging market bond funds
Replies: 14
Views: 1242

Re: Emerging market bond funds

Forget the hyperbole. How much did it outperform it's benchmark by? Does that I% or so performance include what you will net, after all fees and taxes? Also consider that to do you any good it has to out perform the correct index, after fees and taxes, in the future. so, if the manager is realpy on...
by patrick
Fri May 22, 2015 8:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why not overweight international?
Replies: 37
Views: 3341

Re: Why not overweight international?

Currency risk. The "bias" is built into our personal currency transactions. For a U.S. investor, it makes dollar-denominated investments fundamentally different from baht-denominated investments. Currency fluctuations are an additional layer of uncertainty that is independent of the busin...
by patrick
Fri May 15, 2015 5:16 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: passport card faster than passport?
Replies: 32
Views: 1994

Re: passport card faster than passport?

I sent in my passport for non-expedited renewal in the middle of March, getting both the book and card. I got back the new passport book in slightly less than 4 weeks including mailing time. The passport card (sent by regular mail) came a couple of days later than the passport book (sent by priority...
by patrick
Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:51 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International Stock Poll: Emerging vs Developed Ratio
Replies: 55
Views: 2798

Re: International Stock Poll: Emerging vs Developed Ratio

My only international fund is Vanguard Total International so I am at market weight ... whatever that is ...
by patrick
Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:32 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What were your biggest financial emergencies?
Replies: 45
Views: 7170

Re: What were your biggest financial emergencies?

If an emergency means a large unexpected expense that must be paid in cash, I have never had an emergency. Even if you include a checking account is cash, the only large payments I have to make with cash are rent and health insurance, neither of which is unexpected. Every other significant expense, ...
by patrick
Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:03 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Will Saudi Arabia be added into Total International Stock?
Replies: 14
Views: 1675

Re: Will Saudi Arabia be added into Total International Stoc

Vanguard Total International uses the FTSE Global All Cap ex US index, which includes both developed and emerging markets but not frontier markets. Their classification is described here: http://www.ftse.com/products/indices/country-classification The highest income country on the planet, Qatar, is ...
by patrick
Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:41 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Poll: do you own individual international stocks?
Replies: 25
Views: 1782

Re: Poll: do you own individual international stocks?

stlutz wrote:The Fidelity commissions are in local currency. So 3000 yen not dollars.


Even so it still comes out to 25 dollars, a fairly high commission.

I'll also note that many foreign stocks can be purchased on US exchanges for the same commissions (as low or high as they may be) as US stocks.
by patrick
Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:18 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Has Anyone had a Credit Card Cancelled for not Using It
Replies: 51
Views: 3922

Re: Has Anyone had a Credit Card Cancelled for not Using It

It's happened to me several times. If I recall correctly, Target, First National Omaha, US Bank, Citi, HSBC, and WaMu all cancelled my cards at various points over the years, in some cases without notice and usually after more than a year of inactivity. It's not really a problem since I still have o...
by patrick
Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:11 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: protecting passport from damage
Replies: 23
Views: 1669

protecting passport from damage

I just renewed my passport. The last one had gotten a bit worn over the years. Could you suggest anything convenient for carrying the passport while keeping it safe from any damage?
by patrick
Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:08 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Cloud Storage
Replies: 44
Views: 4828

Re: Cloud Storage

Let's assume we all have something we want to stay private. Like Leeraar's genealogical data, Livesoft's oatmeal recipe, Victoria's personal musings on her pilgrimage, or Caduceus's homemade sex video (just kidding ...). So we encrypt it and send it into the cloud. But surely this encryption will b...
by patrick
Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Ad Blockers
Replies: 34
Views: 2001

Re: Ad Blockers

I've been using AdBlock (just plain AdBlock, nothing else in the name) on PC for Chrome. The running total it keeps is quite interesting: 655,488 ads blocked so far. I never knew I was getting that many!

On my smartphone I use Adblock Edge (based on Adblock Plus but no whitelist) for FIrefox.
by patrick
Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:53 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Indexed Universal Life
Replies: 6
Views: 695

Re: Indexed Universal Life

For starters, consider the following: 1. As with all cash value life insurance, you have to keep it in force until death in order to avoid paying income taxes (at ordinary income rates!) on the gains. Assuming you have any gains, that is. 2. As with universal life insurance in general, there is a &q...
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International increase in Target Retirement & LifeStrategy
Replies: 233
Views: 22858

Re: Who should be concerned?

Even after the increase, the international stock holdings are still below market weight relative to US stocks.
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:42 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Account internet security
Replies: 27
Views: 1666

Re: Account internet security

A bad guy might have your cellphone, or might have your computer. There's a very low probability the bad guy will both "know" the login password and "have" the cellphone. If the bad guy has control of your computer, that is enough to get into your account. He just has to wait fo...
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:57 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How Do You Watch Television?
Replies: 81
Views: 6347

Re: How Do You Watch Television?

If you sign up for several different streaming services it may well cost as much as cable. However, Netflix alone has much more content than basic cables packages, and with no ads!
by patrick
Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:24 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: External Hard Drive?
Replies: 44
Views: 2774

Re: External Hard Drive?

I have never had a USB flash stick fail on me, but then again I do not use them very aggressively. I have however noticed another risk. Their extremely small physical size makes them very easy to lose.
by patrick
Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:37 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Laptop: Windows based vs. Apple
Replies: 86
Views: 6748

Re: Laptop: Windows based vs. Apple

This. We made the switch to a MacBook Pro 6 years ago and love it. We still own the same laptop after 6 years and it's running strong. Since that time, we've purchased iPhones, Apple TV, iPad, and a Time Capsule, and yes, they all really do work seamlessly. We've owned several different Windows lap...
by patrick
Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:07 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Do you still use currency or have you gone all-plastic?
Replies: 47
Views: 3432

Re: Do you still use currency or have you gone all-plastic?

I think it's been at least a year since I used cash for anything other than a taxi. Does using credit cards mean that I end up spending more? Perhaps, but I still manage to save more than half of my income. If I really would end up spending less with cash, that's a good reason to stick to credit car...
by patrick
Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:32 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Mutual Funds or Variable Annuity?
Replies: 11
Views: 910

Re: Mutual Funds or Variable Annuity?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Of course it is good for the "advisor" who will get lots of money at the relative's expense. The problem with the annuity is that it almost certainly doesn't guarantee 5% a year in the normal sense. In the normal sense, guaranteeing 5% a ye...
by patrick
Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:14 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Where to purchase Windows? What version?
Replies: 32
Views: 2359

Re: Where to purchase Windows? What version?

I was in a similar boat with my wife's Dell computer. I found several good reinstall videos on youtube, one specifically for Dell computers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4ECjkiGFYM Another option is to get the iso binaries from Microsoft. http://www.techverse.net/download-windows-7-iso-x86-x64-...
by patrick
Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:25 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Seeking Advice - 457s, Fund Choices, Simulations, and More!
Replies: 3
Views: 446

Re: Seeking Advice - 457s, Fund Choices, Simulations, and Mo

There is a possible advantage to staying in the 457 plan. There is no penalty for early withdrawals from a 457 plan, but once you roll over to the IRA then there is a penalty (with various exceptions) of 10% of you withdraw the money before the year you reach age 59.5. However, in this case it looks...
by patrick
Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:46 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?
Replies: 117
Views: 5403

Re: Why not use inflation-adjusted SPIA?

The insurance company can absolutely buy TIPS. And therefore are just as safe if inflation "takes off" as Social Security, since both Social Security and TIPS are in the end guaranteed by the Government of the United States of America. An insurance company can take 100% of assets collecte...
by patrick
Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:23 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1657

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

The mindset seems to be: a) Nobody seriously expects 40-year-old media formats to be readable today. b) Nobody seriously expects there to be any real problems reading current media formats 40 years from today. In the case of mass market formats, (a) is not true. Phonograph records and audio cassett...
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:52 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Wealthy cardholders prefer cash-back rewards
Replies: 33
Views: 4414

Re: Wealthy cardholders prefer cash-back rewards

Although I'm hardly wealthy, I also prefer cash back over the alternatives. The reason is the flexibility. I had a hotel rewards card many years ago but ended up never redeeming any of the rewards because there just too many restrictions on when and where they could be used.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:47 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How do you watch TV differently after "cutting the cable"?
Replies: 23
Views: 2354

Re: How do you watch TV differently after "cutting the cable

I stopped subscribing to cable a bit over 3 years ago. I watch Netflix far more often than I ever watched cable, and I almost never watch broadcast TV now. As for the background noise, I never missed it.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:45 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International value: worth the fees?
Replies: 24
Views: 2165

Re: International value: worth the fees?

There are some other options that might be worth considering: 1. iShares has foreign dividend-focused funds that ETFs 0.49% for emerging markets and 0.50% for developed. These are free to trade at Fidelity. 2. Wisdomtree has foreign small-cap dividend funds that ETFs 0.58% for developed and 0.63% fo...
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:39 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: VUL - what should my course of action be?
Replies: 8
Views: 1114

Re: VUL - what should my course of action be?

The original post is actually a few years old. However, there is one thing I can't help but reply to:

Everything I am learning about VUL is that it is the worst of the so-called permanent life insurance policies.


I have to disagree with this. Equity Indexed Universal Life Insurance is worse.
by patrick
Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:07 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: International value: worth the fees?
Replies: 24
Views: 2165

Re: International value: worth the fees?

As an active fund, VTRIX holds stocks that the active manager considers to be value stocks. These don't necessarily correspond well with those that were consider value in the research about the value premium which is instead usually based on price to book ratio.
by patrick
Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:46 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: interest rate increase looming. what you gonna do ?
Replies: 65
Views: 6660

Re: interest rate increase looming. what you gonna do ?

Celebrate! If you are investing for the long term (longer than your bonds' duration) you are better off in the end if interest rates increase now.
by patrick
Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:19 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why is there more (real) money in the market?
Replies: 8
Views: 1228

Re: Why is there more (real) money in the market?

I would agree that interest rates have something to do with it, but here are some other things to consider: Stock market capitalization is a total immediate price of stocks, while GDP is the amount of production over a certain period of time, usually a year. If you calculate that market capitalizati...
by patrick
Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:36 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1657

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

The storage media themselves may or may not fare well over the decades, but the ability to run the software applications for our older computer and media files remains a huge question mark. Losing the ability to read common media files would take a lot more than a change to one application. It woul...
by patrick
Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:43 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: What percent Emerging Mkt in Total Int'l Stock Index?
Replies: 22
Views: 2199

Re: What percent Emerging Mkt in Total Int'l Stock Index?

Different sources have different ideas of which countries count as emerging markets. For instance, Taiwan is emerging accord to the index Vanguard follows, but it counts as developed in some classifications.
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:39 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Foreign Currency Hedge for Vacation
Replies: 14
Views: 1312

Re: Foreign Currency Hedge for Vacation

I would agree that it is probably not worth the trouble to hedge this -- especially if the hotel is prepaid. But if you wanted to, the simple solution of going ahead and exchanging for CHF cash now would probably have no higher cost than doing so later, assuming you were going to exchange cash at al...
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:21 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Poll: Increasing international equities
Replies: 70
Views: 5570

Re: Poll: Increasing international equities

I'm not making any change, but I will note that people who are increasing international allocation do not seem to be following the standard market timing behavior. People usually seem to move into what's done well over the last few years, but international has actually underperformed.
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:19 pm
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: REITs and Bonds, Little tax advantaged space. Var annuity?
Replies: 10
Views: 665

Re: REITs and Bonds, Little tax advantaged space. Var annuit

If you own a significant amount of rental property directly you already have a significant amount of real estate exposure even without buying any REITs. So you probably could manage to skip them (or just have them in the 2% tax advantaged account) and still have plenty of real estate as a fraction o...
by patrick
Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:06 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: "Americans Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement"
Replies: 41
Views: 5071

Re: "Americans Aren't Saving Enough for Retirement"

Beliavsky wrote:Unify the 401(k) and IRA contribution limits so that people with poor options in their 401(k) plan can simply open IRA accounts.


Unfortunately, most people who would take advantage of this would probably use it as an opportunity to put more money in high-cost IRAs instead of high-cost 401(k)s.
by patrick
Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:48 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Archival CD - MDisc
Replies: 25
Views: 1657

Re: Archival CD - MDisc

None of us have 1000 year old MDisc media to test, so we are left with hypothetical estimates. I suspect many people underestimate the life of ordinary media. I've recently gone back through old media in my personal possession and had generally good results. The vast majority of decade-old optical d...
by patrick
Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:20 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How to Invest in Gold
Replies: 70
Views: 5144

Re: Why not Tungsten?

So if you wanted $1 million in a fungible, divisible, physical asset, that you could carry on your back, own anonymously, that has maintained its buying power for thousands of years all over the world, that would allow you to walk into virtually any town or city in the world and get close to spot p...
by patrick
Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:47 am
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Oil ETF?
Replies: 9
Views: 899

Re: Oil ETF?

I don't expect OIL to be much, if any, better than USO. OIL tracks a futures index and thus should be expected to perform similarly to the USO fund which also uses futures, and from the historical results it seems that OIL has indeed performed very similarly to USO since inception back in 2006. Note...
by patrick
Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:14 am
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Poll: Largest fraudulent charge to your credit card(s)?
Replies: 49
Views: 2861

Re: Poll: Largest fraudulent charge to your credit card(s)?

I had voted "No fraudulent charges, lucky me" but it turns out my luck had just run out. I just now detected a fraudulent charge on my card for the first time ever. Time to change my vote! The largest individual charge is $40 but they made a bunch of charges totaling over $300. And the fir...
by patrick
Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:36 pm
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What do you think of Fidelity's retirement benchmarks?
Replies: 14
Views: 2240

Re: What do you think of Fidelity's retirement benchmarks?

The vast majority of Americans retire with much less than recommended yet somehow they manage to make do. There is also an issue with changes in salary. If your salary increases dramatically then your retirement readiness would seem to have gotten much worse. Likewise a big pay cut swould make it lo...
by patrick
Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:01 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: How do you invest in Frontier Markets?
Replies: 51
Views: 2863

Re: How do you invest in Frontier Markets?

Since the original post the MSCI reclassification of Qatar/UAE from frontier to emerging has completed. The FM ETF no longer includes these countries, and as a result it has less concentration in the Middle East than it used to. Currently, less than 40% of FM is in the Middle East, primarily in Kuwa...
by patrick
Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:49 pm
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: external hard drive - Windows 8 - need assitance
Replies: 20
Views: 1461

Re: external hard drive - Windows 8 - need assitance

The interface for USB drives is generic. All recent operating system have generic support for it, so you shouldn't need to install a special driver. Even if the device doesn't officially support Windows 8, that shouldn't matter either -- I am using Windows 8 but can still use USB drives that are a d...
by patrick
Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:22 pm
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: UGA: Locking in the Current Price of Gasoline
Replies: 15
Views: 1372

Re: UGA: Locking in the Current Price of Gasoline

UGA offers commodity exposure without using a commodity futures account," but darn it all, that does not make sense. They say clearly that they are investing in futures contracts, not gasoline itself, and it seems to me that they must be using a commodity futures account. I presume this means ...

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