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Edition: 346

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Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 346

It is times such as this outbreak of coronavirus which test whether a portfolio is properly positioned for a person's risk appetite. A major hurdle to investor success is the urge to do something in reaction to news, especially as market experts are issuing lists of companies which will suffer from the lower activity caused by the virus. We don't yet know how widespread and sustained it will be, and investors take a risk selling out of high-quality companies and then not investing again. The S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Index fell almost 10% last week and the S&P500 is 12% down from recent highs. Consider how investors jumped out of Apple years ago when a quarterly sales figure did not quite meet target.

Kunal Kapoor on different paths to investor success

The Morningstar CEO on democratising investing, why saving in your youth is crucial, and why most investors care more about paying off their debts than comparing their results against benchmarks.

What is the likely effect of COVID-19 on the Australian economy?

Our close links to China mean the impact of the virus could tip the local economy into recession and certain sectors such as resources, education and travel will be harder hit than others.

Do sin stocks really give your portfolio the edge?

Should sin stocks, those companies who engage in activities that are considered unethical or immoral, be excluded from a portfolio, or would this compromise potential performance?

Poor pricing of life insurance products and the impact on Australians

The use of discounted pricing by insurers to attract new business is unsustainable and leaves existing policyholders on higher premiums for what is essentially the same product.

Spotting signs of trouble in a retirement portfolio

Do you risk paying a lot of tax in accumulation phase? Or, if you're in retirement phase, do you face the risk of outliving your asset pool? Two key things to consider in the low-rate world of today.

Media worth consuming - February 2020

Links to dozens of global media articles that often do not receive mainstream coverage in Australia. It's sceptical, fun and revealing, often challenging consensus and accepted wisdom.

Poll results: Equity manager cash allocations

Last week's poll on whether equity managers should be holding large allocations of cash had more than 400 responses. Disclosure is the key to keeping investors happy.

Most viewed in recent weeks

House prices surge but falls are common and coming

We tend to forget that house prices often fall. Direct lending controls are more effective than rate rises because macroprudential limits affect the volume of money for housing leaving business rates untouched.

Survey responses on pension eligibility for wealthy homeowners

The survey drew a fantastic 2,000 responses with over 1,000 comments and polar opposite views on what is good policy. Do most people believe the home should be in the age pension asset test, and what do they say?

100 Aussies: five charts on who earns, pays and owns

Any policy decision needs to recognise who is affected by a change. It pays to check the data on who pays taxes, who owns assets and who earns the income to ensure an equitable and efficient outcome.

Three good comments from the pension asset test article

With articles on the pensions assets test read about 40,000 times, 3,500 survey responses and thousands of comments, there was a lot of great reader participation. A few comments added extra insights.

The sorry saga of housing affordability and ownership

It is hard to think of any area of widespread public concern where the same policies have been pursued for so long, in the face of such incontrovertible evidence that they have failed to achieve their objectives.

Two strong themes and companies that will benefit

There are reasons to believe inflation will stay under control, and although we may see a slowing in the global economy, two companies should benefit from the themes of 'Stable Compounders' and 'Structural Winners'.

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