On Sunday, 18 September 2016 at 16:13:55 UTC, Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
On 9/18/16 11:44 AM, jmh530 wrote:
On Sunday, 18 September 2016 at 12:39:25 UTC, Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:

Thanks all for answering! Well there is a relatively low-risk option to make some 5%-7% annually by investing in marketplace lending, see https://lendingclub.com/. (Individuals may do the same, too, btw - look into it!) I've been using them since 2013 with moderate amounts. Right now the portfolio's return rate is 5.06% - not to sneeze at. The issue is liquidity, i.e. your principal and interest are returned on a monthly basis over 3-5 years. The monthly schedule is actually nice for the Foundation because it matches the way operations are paid for.

I would advise against investing the whole sum with the Lending Club (some smaller amount, say 5-25%, I have less of an issue with). 5-7% is what people earn investing in dollar-denominated sovereign bonds from
Emerging Markets. That's the kind of risk your taking on.

Wouldn't that be risk from the unsecured personal lending business, which although numerically similar has a different dynamics?

You think it's
low risk because you don't see the risk: unemployment is low and has been falling since 2013, so there are few defaults. What happens when there is a recession? There will be higher defaults, slower repayments. And you can't exit the position because you've locked up the investment
for 3-5 years.

I've been looking at their historical numbers. Their accounts didn't lose money even during the trough of the recession. At that time they were one of the best places to invest out there. There are challenges in the world of marketplace lending, but as far as I understand it sure is a solid choice.

Regarding the stock market, IB is quite attractive, and has an
incredibly low margin rate.

Frankly, this comment makes me cringe.

s/cringe/curious to know more/

The basic idea here is to have a buffer for short-term borrowing. For example, for DConf we'd need to plop down some money for renting a conference hall until proceeds from registration roll in. The notion of being able to take a 1.60% APY for that is quite attractive. Sadly, I've looked at IB since and they don't offer any checking or general banking. I'm not 100% sure, but I assume they'd lend money only for investing; they wouldn't allow you to transfer cash on margin into your bank. Does anyone know exactly what the case is?



IB offer a trading account only. You can wire money to your organisation's bank account, and that's it.

I think the suggestion from others to be cautious about asset allocation is a sensible one. Keynes did quite well in the end for King's College, and more recently Dave Mittelman and Maurice Samuels did rather well for Harvard. But those were established bodies that had plenty of cushion financially and prestige to carry them through the downs that come with the ups. Nobody was going to refuse to donate to Harvard because they disagreed with its investment policy.

If tech and the corporate sector keep doing well, that should be pretty good for being able to raise funds in coming months and years. If things are more difficult, then it's going to be harder to raise money, and at the same time there will be more opportunities to spend money to further the aims of the foundation (since you can actually hire good people to help you in a downturn). So at least the needs of the foundation are more pro than counter cyclical.

I don't think there is a good case for having a margin account at all. First there may be increased credit risk because of different custody treatment (I forget,and the rules have changed in any case). Secondly to be a hundred percent fully invested is already taking an awful lot of risk, and cash needs ahead of a conference are something you can plan for when setting maturity of your investments. Yes, you can borrow against stocks and wire money to the organisation account, but should you?

Re lending club, if you invest a little, then it's not enough to matter, and if you invest a lot, then you do have credit risk on the whole notional. The nature of credit risk is that you're short convexity - you can only gain the coupon, but defaults can often surprise. And short term historical data doesn't tell you what you need to know, because the really major events aren't ergodic. (you obviously don't have long term data for lending club, but you can look at data for past two centuries for a much better idea). It's not the probability, but the magnitude and consequences of loss.

Theres a whole set of expectations and lore regarding what one should do as a fiduciary. Not my area, and others will know better.

It's a very strange time - when rates are low people tend to pile into anything to get a return. Understandable, to be sure, but not always prudent. That's how the credit bubble began post 2001, and episodes like the present don't necessarily end well.

Cash isn't without risk either, particularly if inflation should start to pick up in coming years. (something that's not necessarily good for all asset prices). But on shorter horizons capital gains and losses dominate inflation surprises, and my guess is that for the time being you will spend capital raised in the course of a few years.

So there's no easy option, and I am also not able to give investment advice. But definitely worry about the return of your capital first, and the return on it next rather than the other way around.

Reply via email to