Hello again from Albania!
After a wonderful time in Portugal, I’m back in Saranda, Albania. I was here last summer as well and noticed many Ukrainian and Russian tourists, but my friends here in the tourist sector sadly don’t expect any of them to come this year. This example is only one of the many side effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
My thoughts on the war
I honestly didn’t expect this would actually happen. In 2017 I visited Kyiv and even made a trip to the Chernobyl site and the abandoned city of Prypyat, so it feels absolutely unreal what’s going on there now. The nuclear power plant in Chernobyl is now in Russian hands and at the moment of writing, Kyiv is bracing itself for the approaching Russian troops. The absurdness of this invasion makes me really angry. Thousands have already lost their lives and millions of Ukrainians fear for their lives and future so I’m 100% standing with Ukraine on this. My thoughts are with the victims and I strongly hope this madness will end soon.
The expected economic impact
Although it feels so much less important than the lives of millions of people, I still feel that I need to address the economic implications and my thoughts on dealing with this as an investor. First, here’s a quick recap of the situation:
- Russia and Ukraine have had a tense relationship for many years, but this has worsened since Ukraine elected a pro-western president who’s intentions are to join the EU. Putin felt threatened by the possibility that Ukraine might also apply to join the NATO and made a smart use of ongoing tensions in pro-Russian wantaway regions to build a case against Ukraine.
- After first announcing the recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk Russia went on with an invasion of Ukraine and is marching on to it’s capital Kyiv to dethrone the government.
- Since Ukraine is not part of the NATO or EU, Europe and the US have stated they will not send any troops in order to avoid a direct confrontation with Russia and a further escalation into a new world war.
- The EU, US and many other countries have condemned the invasion and are helping Ukraine with humanitarian help and some countries are also delivering weaponry.
- Public opinion has turned massively against Russia and in favor of Ukraine, while many Ukrainians are forcefully fighting to defend their country.
- Governments of many, mostly western countries, have decided to impose very harsh and drastic sanctions against Russia in order to send a strong message to its government and to damage their economy, including:
- Flight bans;
- Cut-off of several Russian banks from the international payment system SWIFT;
- Sanctions against government officials and people with ties to the Kremlin;
- Ban on state controlled media to prevent propaganda.
- Public opinions, demonstrations and other acts of support have become so strong in favor of Ukraine that more and more international companies have announced their retreat from Russia, to stop trading with Russia or cut their ties with the country in other ways.
- International sports events including the Champions League final and the Formula 1 have been removed from Russia and Russian teams and athletes are being banned from international competitions and tournaments.
- Lucrative sponsorship deals with Russian state-owned companies are being ripped apart.
I’ve never seen such a fierce and unified response to any conflict before and it seems that Europe and the wider western world has only gotten more united rather than divided. It also seems that the general public is willing to accept far-going (economic) consequences in an attempt to bring back peace. Since everything is developing so rapidly it doesn’t make too much sense to speculate or discuss many scenarios on how this will all evolve, but there are a few general expectations I have regarding the (macro) economic consequences:
- Energy prices are going up: Energy prices have already gone up like crazy because many countries rely on oil or gas from Russia and these supplies might be subject of further sanctions or boycotts. The outcome will depend on how long the situation with Russia will last and how far countries and people are willing to go when they see their energy bills hike up to unprecedented hights. High energy prices will also have an enormous inflationary effect on other products as the production and transportation of goods will also become more expensive.
- Governments increase their spending: In times of war, governments care less about their budgets and are more likely to overspend. Although currently only Russia and Ukraine are at war with each other, this has been a true wake-up call and several countries, including the UK, Germany and the Netherlands have already announced an increase in their budget for military and defence forces.
- War fuels inflation: The solution for government overspending is usually money printing, which devaluates fiat currencies. But during war times, supply chains also get disrupted, which could hike up prices of certain goods, like we’ve seen throughout the covid pandemic as well.
- Inflation is here to stay: Money printing seems to have become the most addictive drug ever invented and it has become the solution to every problem since governments started bailing out banks during the financial crisis in 2008. The ongoing war makes also it less likely for central banks to raise their interest rates to attempt to tame the inflation so I don’t believe inflation is going away any time soon.
- Profitability of affected companies under pressure: Any company that is doing business in either Russia or Ukraine is in some way affected by the war. This could be a supply chain issue, rising costs due to increased energy prices or a loss of target market, which could all affect profits and therefore also potentially affect dividend payments.
- “Russian stocks become uninvestable”: This is actually a quote from the investment service provider MSCI. The Russian stock market has already taken a large hit, but this could get worst when more foreign investors are pulling back. This will also affect ETFs that are exposed to Russian markets and there are already signs that some ETF providers want to completely remove Russia from their index tracking ETFs.
How I’m adapting my investment strategy
My main goal remains to keep the returns on my investments beyond the inflation levels so my portfolio not only keeps its purchasing power, but I can also continue to build a passive income stream that I can potentially fall back on to live from.
I always kept a significant part of my portfolio in cash with the idea that I would once buy some property, but since I started my nomadic life last year I know that won’t happen anytime soon and I started reallocating some of that cash into P2P lending and dividend paying value stocks and ETFs. In the lights of the current inflation rates I will continue to do so and I worry less about the turbulence on the stock market, because any dip will only make it cheaper to buy stocks that increase my passive income.
I’m also planning to reallocate a part of my precious metals (which I keep in the form of mining stocks) by taking profit. These stocks have a very low dividend yield and the purpose to keep them overlaps with crypto, which has done much better in recent years. This way I can continue to buy some stocks or ETFs every month and everage out the price, without worrying about trying to time the market and even though I don’t have much of the income from my own business to spare (yet).
When it comes to my P2P investments I already announced in my previous updates that I stopped investing in new loans from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey but now I’ve also removed Moldova from my list. Although Moldova is not (yet) directly involved in the conflict with Russia, the country also has a want-away region with pro-Russian rebellions, which is called Transnistria. As soon as Russia officially recognized the independence of the Ukrainan regions Donetsk and Luhansk, the rebellions in Transnistria requested Russia to do the same with them. Although this didn’t happen, after the irrational invasion of Ukraine I’m not ruling out anything anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if Putin would go after Transnistria or even Moldova entirely, so I’m rather preparing for the worst.
Nevertheless I’m still exposed with significant investments in earlier loans in those countries, and especially those loans in Russia and Ukraine have now become problematic. It’s very hard to oversee the exact implications as it pretty much depends on how the situation evolves and how long it takes, but I’m not ruling out that the sanctions on Russia will last for months or even years.
Regarding Russian loans, the payback is being affected by Russian banks being cut-off from the international payment system SWIFT, which means that the loan originators can’t transfer any money to banks in the EU where the P2P platforms are located. The last thing I’ve heard about this is that the platforms are looking at alternative solutions, but European polititians are also warning that there might be fines for attempts to circumvent the sanctions. Another issue is the devaluation of the Russian ruble, which already lost significant value, which is causing large pressure on the profit margins of the lending companies. The repaiment ability of Russian citizens might also be affected by the extreme inflation caused by the devaluation of the ruble. Since the situation is so fluid with news on a daily basis, it’s very hard to make any meaningful predictions. My advise is to keep a an eye on the updates from the P2P platforms on their blogs and social media channel to stay uptodate on this.
My take on it is that I support the sanctions, even if it is at my (financial) loss. I have a roof above my head and I can continue to enjoy my life even I have to incur some losses. My biggest hope is that the war will stop soon and the Ukrainians can go back to their homes safely, and that’s far more important in my opinion.
In my last update I shared that I’m taking a more critical look at my Mintos strategy and I’m currently still working on a new list of loan originators and autoinvest settings. In the meantime I’ve paused my autoinvest, so I can withdraw some of my funds for reallocation, as I believe Mintos currently has a too large share in my P2P portfolio considering the quality of loan originators and the level of interest rates.
On EstateGuru I received €84,01 in interest in February.
In January I noticed a drop in interest rates and a lack of loans of 10% interest or more on EstateGuru. I still don’t know if this has anything to do with the new autoinvest solution and the lowered minimum investment per loan of €50, but since I turned on my autoinvest strategy with a minimum interest rate of 10% I’m not facing any cash drag. So far so good I would say.
From Bondora Go&Grow I received €27,49 in February, slightly less than normal because of the shorter month.
On IUVO Group I earned €29,16 in interest in February.
On PeerBerry I received €26,25 in interest in February and I deposited the €1000 I withdrew from Mintos. I’m planning to further increase my stake in PeerBerry and I’m also considering to go for the Silver Loyalty Status, which requires a minimum of €10.000 in active investments, as this gives an additional 0.5% in interest.
In February I received €16,10 in interest on Viainvest.
My returns on RoboCash are now finally growing since I started late last year and I received €11,34 in February. I also added €500 and I now managed to set up separate autoinvest strategies for each loan originator.
Overview Of My P2P Lending Portfolio
In total I received €308,01 in interest from my P2P investments and I also added another €500 so at the end of the month my portfolio looks like this:
P2P bonus offers
Do you want to invest in the P2P platforms that I discussed above? Make sure to check which platforms currently offer a bonus for new signups. You’re not only doing yourself a favor but by using my links you are also supporting my blog so I can continue to create more valuable content.
Stocks & ETFs
In February I received €194,15 in dividends from the following stocks and ETFs:
|Procter & Gamble||€6,49|
|SPDR S&P Global Divividend Aristocrats (ETF)||€109,99|
Similar to January this is seasonally low, but still a large year-on-year increase from the €78,41 in February last year.
The sanctions on Russia form an interesting case around the use of Bitcoin as an decentral and borderless currency. The value jumped 20% on the situation, but it’s hard to say what will be the long-term effect. When zooming out the increase is nothing more than a small wrinkle on the long-term chart of this volatile asset.
My Total Passive Income in February
All-in-all my passive income in February was €538,72. Mainly due to seasonality in dividends this is still lower than in previous months, but I’m expecting this to go back up in the next months.
Year-on-year my income is still up which makes that the 12-months trailing average still keeps rising, and is now at €648,10. This means that I’m at 43% of my goal of €1500 in monthly passive income.
That’s it for now. I’m monitoring the situation with Ukraine on a daily basis but above all I wish all the best for the Ukrainian people. Myself I will stay here in Albania for the next months so I’ll definitely share a bit more of this beautiful country in another update.
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