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Trump Didn’t Kill the Global Trade System. He Split It in Two.
This article is taken from the Wall Street Journal written about nine months ago and sits behind a a paywall, so I decided to copy and paste it here. This article explains Trump's policies toward global trade and what has actually happened so far. I think the article does a decent job of explaining the Trade War. While alot has happenedsince the article was written, I still think its relevant. However, what is lacking in the article, like many articles on the trade war, is it doesn't really explain the history of US trade policy, the laws that the US administration is using to place tariffs on China and the official justification for the US President in enacting tariffs against China. In my analysis I will cover those points.
When Trump entered the White House people feared he would dismantle the global system the US and its allies had built over the last 75 years, but he hasn't. He has realign into two systems. One between the US and its allies which looks similar to the one built since the 1980s with a few of quota and tariffs. As the article points out
Today, Korus and Nafta have been replaced by updated agreements(one not yet ratified) that look much like the originals. South Korea accepted quotas on steel. Mexico and Canada agreed to higher wages, North American content requirements and quotas for autos. Furthermore, the article points out Douglas Irwin, an economist and trade historian at Dartmouth College, calls these results the “status quo with Trumpian tweaks: a little more managed trade sprinkled about for favored industries. It’s not good, but it’s not the destruction of the system.” Mr. Trump’s actions so far affect only 12% of U.S. imports, according to Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. In 1984, 21% of imports were covered by similar restraints, many imposed by Mr. Reagan, such as on cars, steel, motorcycles and clothing. Protectionist instincts go so far in the US, there are strong lobby groups for both protectionist and freetrade in the US.
The second reflects a emerging rivalry between the US and China. Undo some of the integration that followed China accession to the WTO. Two questions 1) How far is the US willing to decouple with China 2) Can it persuade allies to join.
The second is going to be difficult because China's economic ties are greater than they were between the Soviets, and China isn't waging an ideological struggle. Trump lacks Reagan commitment to alliance and free trade. The status quo with China is crumbling Dan Sullivan, a Republican senator from Alaska, personifies these broader forces reshaping the U.S. approach to the world. When Mr. Xi visited the U.S. in 2015, Mr. Sullivan urged his colleagues to pay more attention to China’s rise. On the Senate floor, he quoted the political scientist Graham Allison: “War between the U.S. and China is more likely than recognized at the moment.” Last spring, Mr. Sullivan went to China and met officials including Vice President Wang Qishan. They seemed to think tensions with the U.S. will fade after Mr. Trump leaves the scene, Mr. Sullivan recalled. “I just said, ‘You are completely misreading this.’” The mistrust, he told them, is bipartisan, and will outlast Mr. Trump. both Bush II and Obama tried to change dialogue and engagement, but by the end of his term, Obama was questioning the approach. Trump has declared engagement. “We don’t like it when our allies steal our ideas either, but it’s a much less dangerous situation,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute whose views align with the administration’s more hawkish officials. “We’re not worried about the war-fighting capability of Japan and Korea because they’re our friends.”
The article also points out unlike George Kennan in 1946 who made a case for containing the Soviet Union, the US hasn't explicitly made a case for containing the Soviets, Trump's administration hasn't, because as the the article explains its divided Michael Pillsbury a Hudson Institute scholar close to the Trump team, see 3 scenarios
New Cold War with drastically reduced economic ties
China resolve their tensions, integrate and run the world together
Transactional US-China relationship of the sort during the 1980s
Pillsbury thinks the third is most likely to happen, even though the administration hasn't said that it has adopted that policy. The US is stepping efforts to draw in other trading partners. The US, EU and Japan have launched a WTO effort to crack down on domestic subsidies and technology transfers requirement. US and Domestic concerns with prompted some countries to restrict Huawei. The US is also seeking to walloff China from other trade deals. However, there are risk with this strategy
Other countries like Japan and South Korea to dependent on China. Too integrated.
Raise objections to Belt and Road. But no alternative
My main criticism of this article is it tries like the vast majority of articles to fit US trade actions in the larger context of US geopolitical strategy. Even the author isn't certain "The first goes to the heart of Mr. Trump’s goal. If his aim is to hold back China’s advance, economists predict he will fail.". If you try to treat the trade "war" and US geopolitical strategy toward China as one, you will find yourself quickly frustrated and confused. If you treat them separately with their different set of stakeholders and histories, were they intersect with regards to China, but diverge. During the Cold War, trade policy toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc was subordinated to geopolitical concerns. For Trump, the trade issues are more important than geopolitical strategy. His protectionist trade rhetoric has been fairly consistent since 1980s. In his administration, the top cabinet members holding economic portfolios, those of Commerce, Treasury and US Trade Representative are the same people he picked when he first took office. The Director of the Economic Council has changed hands once, its role isn't as important as the National Security Advisor. While State, Defense, CIA, Homeland Security, UN Ambassador, National Security Advisor have changed hands at least once. Only the Director of National Intelligence hasn't changed. International Trade makes up 1/4 of the US economy, and like national security its primarily the responsibility of the Federal government. States in the US don't implement their own tariffs. If you add the impact of Treasury policy and how it relates to capital flows in and out of the US, the amounts easily exceed the size of the US economy. Furthermore, because of US Dollar role as the reserve currency and US control of over global system the impact of Treasury are global. Trade policy and investment flows runs through two federal departments Commerce and Treasury and for trade also USTR. Defense spending makes up 3.3% of GDP, and if you add in related homeland security its at most 4%. Why would anyone assume that these two realms be integrated let alone trade policy subordinate to whims of a national security bureaucracy in most instances? With North Korea or Iran, trade and investment subordinate themselves to national security, because to Treasury and Commerce bureaucrats and their affiliated interest groups, Iran and the DPRK are well, economic midgets, but China is a different matter. The analysis will be divided into four sections. The first will be to provide a brief overview of US trade policy since 1914. The second section will discuss why the US is going after China on trade issues, and why the US has resorted using a bilateral approach as opposed to going through the WTO. The third section we will talk about how relations with China is hashed out in the US. The reason why I submitted this article, because there aren't many post trying to explain US-China Trade War from a trade perspective. Here is a post titled "What is the Reasons for America's Trade War with China, and not one person mentioned Article 301 or China's WTO Commitments. You get numerous post saying that Huawei is at heart of the trade war. Its fine, but if you don't know what was inside the USTR Investigative report that lead to the tariffs. its like skipping dinner and only having dessert When the US President, Donald J Trump, says he wants to negotiate a better trade deal with other countries, and has been going on about for the last 35 years, longer than many of you have been alive, why do people think that the key issues with China aren't primarily about trade at the moment.
OVERVIEW OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE ORIENTATION
Before 1940s, the US could be categorized as a free market protectionist economy. For many this may seem like oxymoron, how can an economy be free market and protectionist? In 1913, government spending made up about 7.5% of US GDP, in the UK it was 13%, and for Germany 18% (Public Spending in the 20th Century A Global Perspective: Ludger Schuknecht and Vito Tanzi - 2000). UK had virtual zero tariffs, while for manufactured goods in France it was 20%, 13% Germany, 9% Belgium and 4% Netherlands. For raw materials and agricultural products, it was almost zero. In contrast, for the likes of United States, Russia and Japan it was 44%, 84% and 30% respectively. Even though in 1900 United States was an economic powerhouse along with Germany, manufactured exports only made up 30% of exports, and the US government saw tariffs as exclusively a domestic policy matter and didn't see tariffs as something to be negotiated with other nations. The US didn't have the large constituency to push the government for lower tariffs abroad for their exports like in Britain in the 1830-40s (Reluctant Partners: A History of Multilateral Trade Cooperation, 1850-2000). The Underwood Tariffs Act of 1913 which legislated the income tax, dropped the tariffs to 1850 levels levels.Until 16th amendment was ratified in 1913 making income tax legal, all US federal revenue came from excise and tariffs. In contrast before 1914, about 50% of UK revenue came from income taxes. The reason for US reluctance to introduced income tax was ideological and the United State's relative weak government compared to those in Europe. After the First World War, the US introduced the Emergency Tariff Act of 1921, than the Fordney–McCumber Tariff of 1922 followed by a Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930. Contrary to popular opinion, the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 had a small negative impact on the economy, since imports and exports played a small part of the US economy, and the tariffs were lower than the average that existed from 1850-1914. Immediately after the Second World War, when the US economy was the only industrialized economy left standing, the economic focus was on rehabilitation and monetary stability. There was no grandiose and ideological design. Bretton Woods system linked the US dollar to gold to create monetary stability, and to avoid competitive devaluation and tariffs that plagued the world economy after Britain took itself off the gold in 1931. The US$ was the natural choice, because in 1944 2/3 of the world's gold was in the US. One reason why the Marshall Plan was created was to alleviate the chronic deficits Europeans countries had with the US between 1945-50. It was to rebuild their economies so they could start exports good to the US. Even before it was full implemented in 1959, it was already facing problems, the trade surpluses that the US was running in the 1940s, turned to deficits as European and Japanese economies recovered. By 1959, Federal Reserves foreign liabilities had already exceeded its gold reserves. There were fears of a run on the US gold supply and arbitrage. A secondary policy of the Bretton woods system was curbs on capital outflows to reduce speculation on currency pegs, and this had a negative impact on foreign investment until it was abandoned in 1971. It wasn't until the 1980s, where foreign investment recovered to levels prior to 1914. Factoring out the big spike in global oil prices as a result of the OPEC cartel, it most likely wasn't until the mid-1990s that exports as a % of GDP had reached 1914 levels. Until the 1980s, the US record regarding free trade and markets was mediocre. The impetus to remove trade barriers in Europe after the Second World War was driven by the Europeans themselves. The EEC already had a custom union in 1968, Canada and the US have yet to even discuss implementing one. Even with Canada it took the US over 50 years to get a Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA was inspired by the success of the EEC. NAFTA was very much an elite driven project. If the Americans put the NAFTA to a referendum like the British did with the EEC in the seventies, it most likely wouldn't pass. People often look at segregation in the US South as a political issue, but it was economic issue as well. How could the US preach free trade, when it didn't have free trade in its own country. Segregation was a internal non-tariff barrier. In the first election after the end of the Cold War in 1992, Ross Perot' based most of independent run for the Presidency on opposition to NAFTA. He won 19% of the vote. Like Ross Perot before him, Donald Trump is not the exception in how America has handled tariffs since the founding of the Republic, but more the norm. The embrace of free trade by the business and political elite can be attributed to two events. After the end of Bretton Woods in 1971, a strong vested interest in the US in the form of multinationals and Wall Street emerged advocating for removal of tariffs and more importantly the removal of restrictions on free flow of capital, whether direct foreign investment in portfolio investment. However, the political class embrace of free trade and capital only really took off after the collapse of the Soviet Union propelled by Cold War triumphalism. As mentioned by the article, the US is reverting back to a pre-WTO relations with China. As Robert Lighthizer said in speech in 2000
I guess my prescription, really, is to move back to more of a negotiating kind of a settlement. Return to WTO and what it really was meant to be. Something where you have somebody make a decision but have it not be binding.
The US is using financial and legal instruments developed during the Cold War like its extradition treaties (with Canada and Europe), and Section 301. Here is a very good recent article about enforcement commitment that China will make.‘Painful’ enforcement ahead for China if trade war deal is reached with US insisting on unilateral terms NOTE: It is very difficult to talk about US-China trade war without a basic knowledge of global economic history since 1914. What a lot of people do is politicize or subordinate the economic history to the political. Some commentators think US power was just handed to them after the Second World War, when the US was the only industrialized economy left standing. The dominant position of the US was temporary and in reality its like having 10 tonnes of Gold sitting in your house, it doesn't automatically translate to influence. The US from 1945-1989 was slowly and gradually build her influence in the non-Communist world. For example, US influence in Canada in the 1960s wasn't as strong as it is now. Only 50% of Canadian exports went to the US in 1960s vs 80% at the present moment.
BASIS OF THE US TRADE DISCUSSION WITH CHINA
According to preliminary agreement between China and the US based on unnamed sources in the Wall Street Journal article US, China close in on Trade Deal. In this article it divides the deal in two sections. The first aspects have largely to do with deficits and is political.
As part of a deal, China is pledging to help level the playing field, including speeding up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15%. Beijing would also step up purchases of U.S. goods—a tactic designed to appeal to President Trump, who campaigned on closing the bilateral trade deficit with China. One of the sweeteners would be an $18 billion natural-gas purchase from Cheniere Energy Inc., people familiar with the transaction said.
The second part will involve the following.
Commitment Regarding Industrial Policy
Provisions to protect IP
Mechanism which complaints by US companies can be addressed
Bilateral meetings adjudicate disputes. If talks don't produce agreement than US can raise tariffs unilaterally
China uses joint venture requirements, foreign investment restrictions, and administrative review and licensing processes to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.
China deprives U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations.
China directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets to generate large-scale technology transfer.
China conducts and supports cyber intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks to gain unauthorized access to commercially valuable business information.
In the bigger context of trade relations between US and China, China is not honoring its WTO commitments, and the USTR issued its yearly report to Congress in early February about the status of China compliance with its WTO commitments. The points that served as a basis for applying Section 301, also deviate from her commitments as Clinton's Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky paving the way for a trade war. Barshefsky argues that China's back sliding was happening as early as 2006-07, and believes the trade war could have been avoided has those commitments been enforced by previous administrations. I will provide a brief overview of WTO membership and China's process of getting into the WTO. WTO members can be divided into two groups, first are countries that joined in 1995-97, and were members of GATT, than there are the second group that joined after 1997. China joined in 2001. There is an argument that when China joined in 2001, she faced more stringent conditions than other developing countries that joined before, because the vast majority of developing countries were members of GATT, and were admitted to the WTO based on that previous membership in GATT. Here is Brookings Institute article published in 2001 titled "Issues in China’s WTO Accession"
This question is all the more puzzling because the scope and depth of demands placed on entrants into the formal international trading system have increased substantially since the formal conclusion of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations in 1994, which expanded the agenda considerably by covering many services, agriculture, intellectual property, and certain aspects of foreign direct investment. Since 1994, the international community has added agreements covering information technology, basic telecommunications services, and financial services. WTO membership now entails liberalization of a much broader range of domestic economic activity, including areas that traditionally have been regarded by most countries as among the most sensitive, than was required of countries entering the WTO’s predecessor organization the GATT. The terms of China’s protocol of accession to the World Trade Organization reflect the developments just described and more. China’s market access commitments are much more far-reaching than those that governed the accession of countries only a decade ago. And, as a condition for membership, China was required to make protocol commitments that substantially exceed those made by any other member of the World Trade Organization, including those that have joined since 1995. The broader and deeper commitments China has made inevitably will entail substantial short-term economic costs.
What are the WTO commitments Barshefsky goes on about? When countries join the WTO, particularly those countries that weren't members of GATT and joined after 1997, they have to work toward fulfilling certain commitments. There are 4 key documents when countries make an accession to WTO membership, the working party report, the accession protocol paper, the goods schedule and service schedule. In the working party report as part of the conclusion which specifies the commitment of each member country what they will do in areas that aren't compliant with WTO regulations on the date they joined. The problem there is no good enforcement mechanism for other members to force China to comply with these commitments. And WTO punishments are weak. Here is the commitment paragraph for China "The Working Party took note of the explanations and statements of China concerning its foreign trade regime, as reflected in this Report. The Working Party took note of the commitments given by China in relation to certain specific matters which are reproduced in paragraphs 18-19, 22-23, 35-36, 40, 42, 46-47, 49, 60, 62, 64, 68, 70, 73, 75, 78-79, 83-84, 86, 91-93, 96, 100-103, 107, 111, 115-117, 119-120, 122-123, 126-132, 136, 138, 140, 143, 145, 146, 148, 152, 154, 157, 162, 165, 167-168, 170-174, 177-178, 180, 182, 184-185, 187, 190-197, 199-200, 203-207, 210, 212-213, 215, 217, 222-223, 225, 227-228, 231-235, 238, 240-242, 252, 256, 259, 263, 265, 270, 275, 284, 286, 288, 291, 292, 296, 299, 302, 304-305, 307-310, 312-318, 320, 322, 331-334, 336, 339 and 341 of this Report and noted that these commitments are incorporated in paragraph 1.2 of the Draft Protocol. " This is a tool by the WTO that list all the WTO commitment of each country in the working paper. In the goods and service schedule they have commitments for particular sectors. Here is the a press release by the WTO in September 2001, after successfully concluding talks for accession, and brief summary of key areas in which China hasn't fulfilled her commitments. Most of the commitments made by China were made to address its legacy as a non-market economy and involvement of state owned enterprises. In my opinion, I think the US government and investors grew increasingly frustrated with China, after 2007 not just because of China's back sliding, but relative to other countries who joined after 1997 like Vietnam, another non-market Leninist dictatorship. When comparing China's commitments to the WTO its best to compare her progress with those that joined after 1997, which were mostly ex-Soviet Republics. NOTE: The Chinese media have for two decades compared any time the US has talked about China's currency manipulation or any other issue as a pretext for imposing tariffs on China to the Plaza Accords. I am very sure people will raise it here. My criticism of this view is fourfold. First, the US targeted not just Japan, but France, Britain and the UK as well. Secondly, the causes of the Japan lost decade were due largely to internal factors. Thirdly, Japan, UK, Britain and France in the 1980s, the Yuan isn't undervalued today. Lastly, in the USTR investigation, its China's practices that are the concern, not so much the trade deficit.
REASONS FOR TRUMPS UNILATERAL APPROACH
I feel that people shouldn't dismiss Trump's unilateral approach toward China for several reasons.
The multilateral approach won't work in many issues such as the trade deficit, commercial espionage and intellectual property, because US and her allies have different interest with regard to these issues. Germany and Japan and trade surpluses with China, while the US runs a deficit. In order to reach a consensus means the West has to compromise among themselves, and the end result if the type of toothless resolutions you commonly find in ASEAN regarding the SCS. Does America want to "compromise" its interest to appease a politician like Justin Trudeau? Not to mention opposition from domestic interest. TPP was opposed by both Clinton and Trump during the election.
You can't launch a geopolitical front against China using a newly formed trade block like the TPP. Some of the existing TPP members are in economic groups with China, like Malaysia and Australia.
China has joined a multitude of international bodies, and at least in trade, these bodies haven't changed its behavior.
Trump was elected to deal with China which he and his supporters believe was responsible for the loss of millions manufacturing jobs when China joined the WTO in 2001. It is estimate the US lost 6 Million jobs, about 1/4 of US manufacturing Jobs. This has been subsequently advanced by some economists. The ball got rolling when Bill Clinton decided to grant China Most Favored Nation status in 1999, just a decade after Tiananmen.
China hasn't dealt with issues like IP protection, market access, subsidies to state own companies and state funded industrial spying.
According to the survey, 39 percent of the country views China’s growing power as a “critical threat” to Americans. That ranked it only eighth among 12 potential threats listed and placed China well behind the perceived threats from international terrorism (66 percent), North Korea’s nuclear program (59 percent) and Iran’s nuclear program (52 percent). It’s also considerably lower than when the same question was asked during the 1990s, when more than half of those polled listed China as a critical threat. That broadly tracks with a recent poll from the Pew Research Center that found concern about U.S.-China economic issues had decreased since 2012.
In looking at how US conducts relations foreign policy with China, we should look at it from the three areas of most concern - economic, national security and ideology. Each sphere has their interest groups, and sometimes groups can occupy two spheres at once. Security experts are concerned with some aspects of China's economic actions like IP theft and industrial policy (China 2025), because they are related to security. In these sphere there are your hawks and dove. And each sphere is dominated by certain interest groups. That is why US policy toward China can often appear contradictory. You have Trump want to reduce the trade deficit, but security experts advocating for restrictions on dual use technology who are buttressed by people who want export restrictions on China, as a way of getting market access. Right now the economic concerns are most dominant, and the hawks seem to dominate. The economic hawks traditionally have been domestic manufacturing companies and economic nationalist. In reality the hawks aren't dominant, but the groups like US Companies with large investment in China and Wall Street are no longer defending China, and some have turned hawkish against China. These US companies are the main conduit in which China's lobby Congress, since China only spends 50% of what Taiwan spends lobbying Congress. THE ANGLO SAXON WORLD AND CHINA I don't think many Chinese even those that speak English, have a good understanding Anglo-Saxon society mindset. Anglo Saxons countries, whether US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland are commerce driven society governed by sanctity of contracts. The English great philosophical contributions to Western philosophy have primarily to do with economics and politics like Adam Smith, John Locke, David Hume and Thomas Hobbes. This contrast with the French and Germans. Politics in the UK and to a lesser extent the US, is centered around economics, while in Mainland Europe its religion. When the Americans revolted against the British Empire in 1776, the initial source of the grievances were taxes. Outside of East Asia, the rest of the World's relationship with China was largely commercial, and for United States, being an Anglosaxon country, even more so. In Southeast Asia, Chinese aren't known for high culture, but for trade and commerce. Outside Vietnam, most of Chinese loans words in Southeast Asian languages involve either food or money. The influence is akin to Yiddish in English. Some people point to the Mao and Nixon meeting as great strategic breakthrough and symbol of what great power politics should look like. The reality is that the Mao-Nixon meeting was an anomaly in the long history of relations with China and the West. Much of China-Western relations over the last 500 years was conducted by multitudes of nameless Chinese and Western traders. The period from 1949-1979 was the only period were strategic concerns triumphed trade, because China had little to offer except instability and revolution. Even in this period, China's attempt to spread revolution in Southeast Asia was a threat to Western investments and corporate interest in the region. During the nadir of both the Qing Dynasty and Republican period, China was still engaged in its traditional commercial role. Throughout much of history of their relations with China, the goals of Britain and the United States were primarily economic, IMAGINE JUST 10% OF CHINA BOUGHT MY PRODUCT From the beginning, the allure of China to Western businesses and traders has been its sheer size I. One of the points that the USTR mentions is lack of market access for US companies operating in China, while Chinese companies face much less restrictions operating in the US.
China uses joint venture requirements, foreign investment restrictions, and administrative review and licensing processes to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.
China deprives U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations.
Trade with China has hurt some American workers. And they have expressed their grievances at the ballot box. So while many attribute this shift to the Trump Administration, I do not. What we are now seeing will likely endure for some time within the American policy establishment. China is viewed—by a growing consensus—not just as a strategic challenge to the United States but as a country whose rise has come at America’s expense. In this environment, it would be helpful if the US-China relationship had more advocates. That it does not reflects another failure: In large part because China has been slow to open its economy since it joined the WTO, the American business community has turned from advocate to skeptic and even opponent of past US policies toward China. American business doesn’t want a tariff war but it does want a more aggressive approach from our government. How can it be that those who know China best, work there, do business there, make money there, and have advocated for productive relations in the past, are among those now arguing for more confrontation? The answer lies in the story of stalled competition policy, and the slow pace of opening, over nearly two decades. This has discouraged and fragmented the American business community. And it has reinforced the negative attitudinal shift among our political and expert classes. In short, even though many American businesses continue to prosper in China, a growing number of firms have given up hope that the playing field will ever be level. Some have accepted the Faustian bargain of maximizing today’s earnings per share while operating under restrictions that jeopardize their future competitiveness. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. Nor does it mean they aren’t acutely aware of the risks — or thinking harder than ever before about how to diversify their risks away from, and beyond, China.
What is interesting about Paulson's speech is he spend only one sentence about displaced US workers, and a whole paragraph about US business operating in China. While Kissinger writes books about China, how much does he contribute to both Democrats and the Republicans during the election cycle? China is increasingly makING it more difficult for US companies operating and those exporting products to China.
Looking for suggestions to secure my family’s financial future. (~$100K to allocate, earning ~$50K/yr after taxes)
Edit: TL;DR - wall of text explaining my current finances, also asking if it’s the right time to enter the housing market (and how I might protect myself if I do so). I’m very cash-heavy and looking for ideas to diversify and grow into retirement, while ensuring my wife and kid are taken care of as well. I realize there are many different options for how to save and plan for retirement. I think I’ll be just fine, but I also recognize that I have a lot of room for improvement. More than my own personal security, I want to provide as much as possible for my wife and child, both of whom I expect to outlive me by many years. Now, I would never share this kind of detail with someone who knows who I am irl, hence the throwaway. As far as non-immediate family and acquaintances know, I’m living paycheck to paycheck, and I’d like to keep it that way. Some background information about me: I’m 35 years old, serving on active duty in the US military, and I’ve been in for a little over 12 years. I’ll be eligible to retire in about 8 years, and a rough conservative estimate is that I’ll receive about $2,000/month retirement pay starting in my early-mid 40s. The plan is to continue working after I separate until, well... until I’m ready to stop. Who knows when I’ll feel too old to work? 55? 65? 85??? The idea is to have the financial freedom to “officially” retire when I’m ready to so, no sooner and no later. I’m married and I have one kiddo. The wife makes a pretty decent paycheck atm, but she’ll soon be looking for work when we relocate to our next assignment. She has about $15K saved up right now. I transferred my Post-911 GI bill to the kid to help offset the cost of college, and because Uncle Sam already so generously paid for my own education while I’ve been on active duty. It would be a waste to use the Bill for myself. Still, I’d like to set aside at least enough to match it or fill the gap up to a Doctorate (just in case the kid wants to pursue that level of education- no pressure lol). The GI Bill should cover a substantial part of the first 3 years, beginning sometime around the year 2030, but I could potentially be paying as much as half of the cost of a 4-year degree, and likely most of any education beyond that. Student loans aren’t all bad, but if I can put my kid through college without having to take out a loan, that would be fantastic. So here’s where my finances sit right now: I’ve calculated my compensations for the next year, and a conservative post-taxes estimate is that I’ll bring home about $50K. I don’t expect that figure to change whole lot over the next 4 years at least. I’m sure my wife will find gainful employment again after we move, but I don’t have enough information to forecast what her earnings will be, so I’ll simply leave it out for now. I’ve done a lot of research into the cost of living at our next assignment, and I keep pretty solid records of spending. Based on our current expenses, and a conservative adjustment accounting fo the location change. I expect to reliably save an average of $1,800 per month out of my paycheck. That’s about a 40% decrease in annual savings compared to the last 2 years, during which time I received some special pay and a bonus. My family budget plan for 2018 allows for about $29K in expenses total, which sounds tight for 2 adults and a child (and it is tight), but I also know it’s easily doable. I’ll adjust that target as we settle into the new place over the next several months, and go from there. Whatever the wife is able to earn after we move, can go straight to the bottom line. I hesitate to forecast my capital gains from investments based on past performance, because it really has been an exceptional few years. Besides, I have yet to ever withdraw from my brokerage account. All dividends and gains from closing positions has gone right back into the pot. Investments: I have $46K in my brokerage account. Roughly 50/50 cash and stocks (individual stocks and ETFs/ETNs etc). Here’s my current portfolio if anyone cares: MO, AAPL, WFC, AMD, BND, IAU, WMT, ARNC, SPY, XIV- roughly equal parts for all of those. They’re a mixture of speculative short-term and div-yielding long-term holds. The half I have sitting in cash is so I can quickly sell calls/average-down/BTFD whenever the next market correction/crash/recession comes. I’m adding about $1K/month to this account via automatic deposit, which I typically split between cost-price-averaging into my longs, and into my cash reserve. I balance my holdings mostly by adding to underperforming positions when I expect a rebound, and not by selling stock unless I’ve held the shares for more than a year. I also try to keep my cash balance roughly equal to the market value of my stocks for the reasons mentioned above (and so I can act if I see an opportunity for a nice swing trade). I have a little over $20K in an interest-earning checking/debit account. This is where the majority of my paycheck lands, and it’s where the majority of my bills come out. I have $15K in USD hard cash. That’s more than I need, to be sure. It’s mostly leftovers from when I sold one car and bought another. I’ll eventually deposit it into a bank I suppose lol. I also have $11K in another checking account which I feed through a credit card, paying the balance off monthly. I’ve been using the credit card to buy gas and pay for other travel expenses. I don’t need a cc to do that, but it’s an easy way to build up my credit score and it helps whenever I need to rent a car or something. Then there’s the $6K sitting in a credit union Roth IRA I opened and sort of forgot about. It barely earns interest at all and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use it. I own exactly 1 BTC I bought on a whim this summer. It’s hard for me to watch, because it moves around so much in value. Worth about $4.5K today. Other assets I can think of off the top of my head: ~ $4K in physical gold/silver. I guess it’s my hedge against society collapse or whatever lol. I have one of those 50g combi-bars that can be broken into smaller ingots and then a bunch of 1oz silver coins. ~ $2K in various foreign currencies, mostly Sterling. This was left over from when I spent some time in the UK pre-brexit vote. I’m sort of bag-holding it until I can exchange it back to USD for less of a loss. On top of that, I have exactly zero debt. If I were forced to liquidate all of my assets not mentioned above, I’m confident I could come up with another ~ $40K (That’s if you figure a >50% emergency sale depreciation... I have 4 cars, 3 of which would be considered collector’s items and about another $15K in Snap-on tools + all the other random shit I own) I realize my money allocations don’t make a lot of sense right now, but I’m an aggressive saver and the cash tends to pile up quickly. That’s a nice problem to have I guess. One concern I have, is seeing my un-invested money take a big hit from inflation. I’m also a little worried about my bullish stock portfolio, but my plan is to build/hold it for another 15 years or so, and then slowly increase my exposure to bonds as I get into my 40s and 50s. Assuming I can stick to my long-term investing strategy, I’m hoping to be able to ride out any major correction or recession. A major goal of mine is to buy a house. Thanks to the military lifestyle living overseas and frequent relocations though, I haven’t really been in a position to do so. Soon I’ll be moving to a stateside base, but looking at the housing market there, I’m frankly scared to buy right now. Houses in the local area have nearly doubled in just a few years, and I’d rather not spend the next 2 decades upside down in a mortgage if things suddenly take a turn for the worse. The valuations just don’t make sense to me compared with the rental market, and I suspect many of the land owners are deeply indebted in a market that feels pretty hot imo. So there you have it. My personal finances in a nutshell. Not that I’m in financial trouble or anything, but I would love to hear any suggestions or pointers you smarties might have to offer. I suppose some specific questions might include:
How would you rate my stock portfolio and strategy? Are there any big glaring red flags? Am I being too aggressive by having nearly 20% of my net worth invested in those symbols? Am I not being aggressive enough?
Am I being overly paranoid about entering today’s housing market? If not, what are some ways I can hedge against a market value decline without literally shorting the market and getting slammed with fees and commissions. Aside from a potential drawdown in property values, should I be more concerned with rising interest rates? How much might one type of loss cancel the other out? Should I buy now to get a better interest rate, or wait for a “dip” that might not come for a very long time?
To recap my holdings:
brokerage $24K invested $22K dry powder
personal property $40K
home equity $0
annual net income $50K
projected monthly savings $1.8K
approximate family net worth $160K
Any/all ideas and criticisms are welcome. Thanks for reading!
DEMYSTYFYING CRYPTOCURRENCIES, BLOCKCHAIN & ICO IN SIMPLE ENGLISH – REFLECTIONS AND WAY FORWARD FOR 2018
DISCLAIMER: The authors of this article by no means are advocating, advising or persuading anyone to invest in Cryptocurrencies, ICOs or any other form of investment. Investments are subjected to market risks and you must do your own research before investing and seek financial advise and help from qualified personnel. Any businesses or companies quoted in this article have not paid us financially or through any other means for profit or gain. The authors also do not intent to challenge, disrespect or disobey any specific government, institution or personnel of authority including Banks, Financial regulators, governing bodies and laws of the land. All viewpoints in this article are our own and does not relate to any company, partner, employment or body that we are associated with in our day to day life. THE HEADLINE: As we reflect upon on 2017, it is probably fair to make a bold statement that it has been a phenomenal leap forward for the trio of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and the ICO. Here is why: • Bitcoin (the most popular cryptocurrency and once defamed as a ‘hyper-coin’) hit another all-time high passing $8000. Today, Bitcoin is worth about $50 billion and has been accepted under the law and tax frameworks of Canada, Australia, and Japan. • Ethereum network (platform) and its own fuel ( coin) Ether has appreciated more than 2,800% since it was launched in 2015. • Underlying Blockchain technology is no more a hype, it is disrupting every industry through its secure public ledger • ICOs have raked in over 3.6 Billion Dollars, the largest ICO in 2017 has been Filecoin raising over 257 Million Dollars. This is the just beginning of the ICO revolution where IPOs and traditional stock exchanges are going to become a thing in the past. Let’s admit it. We either have a tribe of people who love the whole concept of decentralized and autonomous Peer to Peer network completely secure and away from the control of the regulators and bureaucrats OR you still belong to the other tribe, you think Cryptocurrencies are dark alleys and ‘good’ people should stay away lurking in these areas. We respect views on either side and we would like to just attempt to demystify few basic practical concepts here that one should know if you are new to this so called “Crypto Tribe”. EVOLUTION OF CRYPTO AND BITCOIN The first internet currency, known as DigiCash, was created by David Chaum and is said to have its origin from Netherlands. This was arguably the first attempt, but the idea failed and the company went bankrupt in 1998. Keeping up with the trend PayPal ( one of the global leaders in Payments Industry) was next to follow-up and became highly successful, but did not create an actual cryptocurrency. So history was made when the first real cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was invented by someone went by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and went online in 2009. There has been several failed attempts to identify this person. This ground breaking and revolutionary makes it possible to take to replace central authorities, government, watchdogs bureaucrats and politicians with the decentralized blockchain, and take power away from Wall Street. Bitcoin has already broken its own records several times since it started. The chart below will obviously blow your mind if you have not tracked Bitcoin recently. In less than 8 years Bitcoin has given over 8000% return. From 0 to 8000 USD per coin. And ofcourse there are talks of the next bubble and market for Bitcoin crashing down anytime. Really? Let’s address them a bit later in this paper. The legacy of crypto goes back to the days of World War II when cryptographic systems were devised to securely transmit messages between various parties. All has happened is the technology and evolution has progressed since with the advancement of Computer systems and underlying hardware and software. We hence now have a very powerful system on the network for anyone to harness. WHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN? A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way not in citation given. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority. And that is the latest Wikipedia definition for you. However, in layman terms, what is the best way to explain it? Let’s think of a used-car for a purpose of illustration. The new buyer would like to ensure that the car is genuinely owned by the seller, that the car servicing history is fully up to date and any major issues has been picked up transparently in the car service history. In real world that may not be possible always. Let’s take another example. We go to our regular family doctor ( GP). Their computer has full history of our health records from illness, diagnosis, medicines and treatments. If we go to another city, it would be very important that the new doctor has full information as well. Sometimes things do not work that way. And this is where the power of Blockchain comes into play. Blockchain is like a decentralized and distributed computer or electronic database existing on multiple computers at the same time ( but not owned by any big company specifically atall). The database keeps growing continuously as new sets of key information, or ‘blocks’, are added to it. Each block contains a very important information - timestamp and a link to the previous block. These then actually form a chain, everyone in the network gets a copy of the whole database but the database is not managed by any particular body, person or corporation. Entire old block are preserved forever and new blocks are added to the ledger irreversibly, making it next to impossible to manipulate by faking documents, transactions and other information. And yes, hackers know this and they have no interest in this area as they cannot manipulate here. They will most likely to continue to pry on large private businesses and public sector for ransom not Blockchain for a very long time or may be forever! It is also worthwhile mentioning here that since Blockchain runs on a public network, there are concept of ‘mining’ and rewards to the ‘miners’. In simple terms, people are rewarded for allowing their computers to be used for harnessing the ‘processing power’ of Block execution. Every new transaction on a block ofcourse needs to be executed. Now that you have got a bit of history of the whole Cryptocurrency and Block chain technology mumbo-jumbo, you may be thinking what about another term ICO which everyone keeps talking at the Pub and every now and then on various websites and journals. What are ICO really? Let’s get that out of way as possible. THE DAWN OF INITIAL COIN OFFERING ( aka ICO) You are probably already familiar with the traditional stock market and the concept of Initial Public Offering ( IPO), so we will not go too deep into it. But in a nutshell, until recently businesses have raised money from the public by listing their businesses on the famous stock exchanges. Ofcourse, it is not possible for Mr. John Smith from a little village selling his home made secret strawberry jam globally until he has deep pockets. Neither he can even dream of getting his business listed on a stock exchange to raise cash from public. Hence listing businesses and raising cash has remain the forte of the big and bold with the backing of Venture Capitalist firms, Private Equity firms and the Brokers. And ofcourse there has been the means of the “Angel Investor” who would give cash by taking significant equity stake in a business started by the entrepreneur with their blood and sweat. Then emerged the concept of “Crowd Funding”. Online project funding websites like kickstarter, crowdcube, seedrs emerged. They allowed entrepreneurs to request for funds from the public. But these methods have raised limited funds, grossly regulated by the local authorities and not everyone could raise money from here. So you may ask what IPOs and Crowdfunding has anything to do with Blockchain technology and ICOs? Well what if we say that there are investors out there who believe in the disruptive nature of Blockchain Technology and are also early adopters of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin. Then there is whole liberal aspect of the unregulated market which makes the whole world shift towards a very different perspective. Now an entrepreneur could actually raise money for building their business from very early stages ( sometimes from just a concept level) and accepting the money not in traditional currency ( aka Fiat currency) but Cryptocurrency. And further, each of these new projects could even release their own version or token of an underlying cryptocurrency or digital currency. Now that’s sexy and awesome isn’t it? Well, we are not going to down the route here to inform the readers it is good or bad practice in this paper. We will leave that opinion formation to yourself. Now that you got a high level understanding of ICOs, the next thing you may want to know is that it is pretty straight forward to invest into an ICO ( we will cover more in this paper later). But you need to understand is ICOs just like an IPO are for short duration. Usually they last for few weeks (typically 4 weeks). You get bonus Tokens or the crypto coin to invest early. Once the ICO minimum target is reached ( Softcap) the coins gets listed on the CoinExchange and they start trading. Coinexchange? What are these then? Quite simple, just go back to the analogy between a traditional stock and traditional stock exchange. Very simple concept really. How you buy, sell and do the nitty-gritty just differs. Since there are no brokers or regulators involved here. The whole process is really simple and quick. It may worthwhile sharing a quick snapshot of the ICO market worldwide: It is mind boggling to see that new businesses in really concept stages are raising more money than traditional businesses in just few hours of ICOs getting listed. Obviously this is really bothering lot of people in high ranking posts. We are not here to again debate who is right or wrong here. What we essentially want you to understand is some of these ICOs are really shaping the next wave of revolution. How many of you believed that a Smart Phone with a so called ‘mobile app’ would be worth billion of dollar? Look at Uber, Alibaba, Airbnb, Facebook. Why no one complains about their valuation? May be because these businesses have backing of very large venture capitalists, Private Equity firms? But who runs these VCs and PE firms? Do you really need 70 Billion Dollars to run a Taxi mobile app? We honestly do not know. But what we know for sure is disruptive technologies and businesses built on top of them always have an edge. And then you combine the technology and handover its power to the people you create a social eco-system that is so strong and powerful that it can override and form its own status. And that is what is happening with the ICOs. People are investing into their trust and belief. Now that’s more powerful than any single bank, government or institution ! If you have followed this paper so far, you should have started to get an idea of what is really going on here about the trio – Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrencices and ICO. However, I am sure you still have may have zillion questions about how you do certain things. Let us try give you answers to some of the most common questions asked by those who really want to get involved. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Question 1: I am interested in buying and investing into a Cryptocurrency. Should I buy Bitcoin? Answer: Bitcoin is one of the most popular cryptocurrency. We can not advise you anything specific as you need to do your own research. The number of cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of 6 November 2017 was over 1172 and growing. A new cryptocurrency can be created at any time. By market capitalization, Bitcoin is currently (2017-08-19) the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple and Litecoin. Question 2: I am interested in investing into a ICO that what research and due-diligence I need to do ? Answer: We are glad that you mentioned the two magical words “research” and “due-diligence”. That is the most important golden nugget that we want you to take-away from this paper. Never-ever invest into a ICO unless you have researched it for how long it takes to build a strong opinion. Here is a good article that gives some really good tips. One quick tip from us would be ensure that Team is really strong and they are genuine people. http://mashable.com/2017/10/25/survive-ico/#CDVyGFJOiiqF Question 3: How do I find out about upcoming ICOs and useful related news and press releases? Answer: There are plenty of websites now that can give you early headsup and keep you well informed. Our favourites are ICOBENCH, COINDESK, ICOALERT. Question 4: Where can we buy and sell ICO and cryptocurrencies? Answer: If you are newbie, it may be a good idea to ask someone in your close network to guide you. There are lots of information and instructional video available on Youtube and other social media network and blogs. Sometimes too much information leads to confusion. You may also want to look into tutorials and training available at UDEMY.COM. But please steer away from self-proclaimed gurus. Do not buy any quick rich scheme related courses and scams. We have found that for beginners https://www.myetherwallet.com/ or https://parity.io/ are good starting point for Ethereum Blockchain related transactions. Question 5: When is a good time to invest in Cryptocurrency? Answer: We wish we had the crystal ball to give you the answer. If we had this crystal ball in 2009 ( when Bitcoin started), we would be very rich people right now. But with a bit of research and education, you can master this. You need to make your own decision when is the right time for you. Question 6: ICO and Cryptocurrency are all hype and dodgy? Answer: We are assuming you are a beginner, you do not know enough about Blockchain technology and how it works, you possibly have not spent enough time learning and tracking about cryptocurrencies. There is also a possibility you have never invested in a cryptocurrency or ICO. Or possibly you invested in a ICO that was a scam. You possibly could be a sophisticated investor in property, traditional shares, gold, forex and much more. But may be you do not want to know any more about Digital currencies or Technology as it is not your “comfort zone”. So the question is how much of homework you have done to assess if this whole concept for you is really interesting or completely ruled out? The decision end of the day is yours. AUTHOR: Avijeet Jayashekhar: Has over 20 years of entrepreneurial, management consulting , Technology leadership in UK Financial Services Industry. He also has a long successful property investment business in UK. In his last stint, as Vice President of Barclays Bank UK, he managed large Technology Programme in next generation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process automation and Digital Payments including Blockchain. He has track record of setting up 3 successful global Technology businesses. Integrally part of the London Fintech and PropertyTech businesses, he is a popular mentor and speaker. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic and Computer Science, a Business Management Qualification and Project Qualification from Stanford University. He is a British Citizen of Indian origin and lives near London with his family. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/avijeetjs/ REFERENCES: https://icobench.com/statshttps://www.coinbase.com/https://www.icoalert.com/https://www.coindesk.com/information/what-is-a-distributed-ledgehttps://tokentarget.com/the-evolution-of-the-ico-2017-and-beyond-2/http://www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/the-basics-of-cryptocurrency/http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/cryptocurrency/https://themerkle.com/top-10-cryptocurrency-icos-throughout-2017-to-date/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchainhttp://mashable.com/2017/10/25/survive-ico/#CDVyGFJOiiqFhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptocurrencieshttps://en.insider.pro/tutorials/2017-09-04/what-blockchain-laymans-terms/
Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the profit when you sell (or ‘dispose of’) something (an ‘asset’) that’s increased in value. It’s the gain you make that’s taxed, not the amount of ... UK tax implications are equally as concerned with how you approach your trading activities as to what it is you’re trading. The instrument is just one factor in your tax status. However, case law and regulations have settled on breaking trading activity into three distinct categories, for the purpose of taxation. Private investor is someone whose profits and losses are subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Forex trading income under UK tax law: instrument types. The tax on forex trading in the UK depends on the instrument through which you are trading currency pairs: you can fall under spread betting or you can trade contract for difference (CFD). What instruments are you trading? Spread betting - it's tax free as an individual anyway, so don't do anything. CFDs - you are prima facie charged to capital gains tax: if you were to trade as a limited company, you will be charged to CT then income tax on extraction.. Any offshore company would still be considered UK tax resident due to its strategic decisions being carried out by UK ... Tax will rarely be the sole motivation for trading in CFDs over any other form of investment, but nevertheless as an advantageous aside it’s worth noting that CFDs do offer a discount against share dealing. CFDs are subject to the usual tax on capital gains, but are exempt from stamp duty – even when the underlying asset is a UK security ... M y understanding that is UK trading is free of tax for all, ... gambler and some consider financial spread betting as a shelter in which you can stick speculative investments to avoid Capital Gains Tax. So if you bet on forex (trade) via a spread bet company with your own money and on your own behalf with no financial interest from any other party, then currently you will not be liable to tax ... Unfortunately you will need to pay Capital Gains Tax if you make over a certain amount of profit in any particular tax year. Currently this is £11700 IIRC. It gets quite complicated depending on your current tax rate etc... and you are also able to offset any lose too. It sounds like you won’t be hitting that limit yet but if you start looking at trading seriously you may begin to. Ta P . 0 ...
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