I May Add More Short Posts

I may start adding more shorter posts soon.

I would like to write longer posts. It makes me look smart. But I do not have as much time to devote to this as I would like. Or watching television. Or lots of other things.

But the urge for self-expression remains. I have a lot of small comments in text files that have been piling up for years. I would like to clean up some part of my life. I do sometimes read articles online at work and jot down notes and thoughts; sometimes they are enough for an entire post. But I do have a backlog that I would like to clear up.

Also I could react to things more quickly. However, there still might be some posts about events from a few years ago.

Also it would be a chance to look at more artwork. I try to find a painting or illustration for each post (usually they have nothing to do with the content). I have been doing some research into art from centuries ago, and I would like to keep looking into it.

Plus, I can’t let Joshua Spodek use up all the good words.

Big Jim has a lot of stuff to talk about.

Image from the Syriac Bible of Paris, dated to the 6th or 7th century, file on Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

2019-05 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for May, 2019.

The monthly dividend income came out to $150.95. The yearly income total for 2019 through the end of the month was $2006.71.

The income for May, 2018 was $44.66, and the yearly income for 2018 through the end of May was $1321.55.

I have sold some of my Vanguard ETFs and replaced them with State Street ETFs. I sold six and bought three. I hope they will all pay in C months and make my income more predictable.

As I was looking, I took a look at some of the iShares ETFs. I thought their expenses were rather high, considering how big they are. Then again, some of the State Street ETFs have high expense ratios as well. Higher than the unpredictable Vanguard. I wonder how expense ratios are calculated. Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund has an expense ratio of 0.13%, 33 holdings, $2.927 billion in assets, and 80.3 M shares. State Street’s other US real estate fund, SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF has an expense ratio of 0.25%, 96 holdings, $2.373.3 billion in assets, and 24.1 M shares. (RWR has a higher dividend, so I think the higher expense ratio is worth it.) So their assets are not that far off, the more expensive one has more holdings, but the cheaper one has more than three times as many shares. Does a high share count lower the expense ratio?

I am looking at putting some REITs into my brokerage account. A couple that I am looking at pay monthly dividends. STAG Industrial has a lot of warehouses, which are becoming more important with online delivery. Blackstone just bought a logistics and warehouse company. LTC Properties, Inc. has a lot of seniors housing and health care properties, but their dividend has not increased since October 2016. Welltower is also into senior housing and health care, but they pay quarterly and they have also frozen their dividend. Ventas is also into senior housing and health care, they pay quarterly, and they have been increasing their dividend for nine years.

Another REIT that I am looking at is Easterly Government Properties, Inc. They buy buildings that are leased to federal agencies. They seem to like law enforcement. Rethuglicans always talk about cutting spending, but they never do it.

I am also looking at Gladstone Land Corporation. I am a bit on the fence about this one; I will have to look more into it. They buy farmland across the US, and they say they are still in acquisition mode. I hope so, because frankly it looks like they are doing it wrong. Their site says, “All our farms have abundant water sources”, yet they have a lot of farms in California, and two in Arizona, which are very dry, and a lot in Florida, which is Hurricane Central. They have only two in Michigan, and no others in the Midwest. For all the years I lived in Illinois, there were not that many tornadoes, and it has a lot of water. Right now I cannot access their investor relations page, so I cannot look at filings or listen to conference calls. I will try again later.

But seriously, farming in Arizona? Are you crazy?

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each May from 2011 through 2019:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2019-05 $2006.71 $150.95 $592.51 $638.08
2018-05 $1321.55 $44.66 $398.51 $542.66
2017-05 $2346.62 $531.68 $553.90 $530.30
2016-05 $2059.52 $436.85 $479.79 $477.37
2015-05 $1803.11 $361.99 $411.92 $402.51
2014-05 $1411.19 $280.01 $304.77 $306.30
2013-05 $1141.24 $242.65 $260.91 $288.11
2012-05 $1268.97 $258.15 $257.13 $270.51
2011-05 $1114.84 $266.55 $233.03 $194.61

Here are the securities and the income amounts for May, 2019:

  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF: $40.47
  • Vanguard Total International Bond ETF: $10.71
  • Money Market: $99.77

Big Jim likes predictable income.

“Adoration of the Magi” by El Greco (1541 – 1614), file on Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Look At Global Aristocrats Index

The international index that I have picked is the S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats Index. Its ETF is the SPDR S&P Global Dividend ETF, WDIV.

The Global Dividend Aristocrats Index is based on the S&P Global BMI (Broad Market Index). Stocks in the Global BMI must have a market cap of at least USD $100 million, must meet liquidity standards (at least 20% of a stock’s market cap should be traded in a twelve-month period for stocks based in developed markets, 10% for emerging markets), be in a developed or emerging market, have at least 50% of their shares available for public trading, and it only includes common stocks (no fixed-dividend shares, closed-end funds, investment trusts, convertible bonds, unit trusts, equity warrants, mutual fund shares, limited partnerships, business development companies (BDCs) and no preferred stock with a guaranteed fixed return).

The S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats Index is weighted by yield. The criteria are:
– The stocks are taken from the S&P Global BMI (Broad Market Index)
– It includes stocks with market caps of at least USD $1 billion.
– Stocks have a maximum payout ratio of 100%, or not have a negative EPS
– Max yield of 10%
– The goal is for the index to contain 100 stocks (there are rules for what happens if less that 100 meet the criteria)
– No more than 20 stocks can come from one country (right now, US and Canada each have 20)
– Stocks must have increased or at least maintained their dividend for at least 10 years (since the index is weighted by yield, I do not know if a dividend grower would take priority over a dividend maintainer)

I assume one reason they include dividend maintainers is that raising dividends may not be as common in some countries. In many countries, companies do not pay a set amount every quarter like American companies do.

There is an S&P International Dividend Aristocrats Index. It is the Global Aristocrats Index without any US stocks. Its ETF, FID, has a high expense ratio of 0.60%. I find it odd that the ETF page on ETFDB does not have a link to the actual ETF. Even though it has a high ratio, the website looks cheap and does not inspire confidence. I find it odd that index providers do not license their indexes (or at least related indexes) to one firm. Or at least reputable firms. Frankly, I don’t trust anybody from Wheaton.

“S&P”, “Dividend Aristocrats”, and possibly a few other terms are trademarks of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC.

Big Jim will invest his money with companies he thinks he can trust.

“Behold The Bridegroom” by Γύζης Νικόλαος (Nikolaos Gyzis) (1842 -1901), on exhibit at the National Gallery in Athens, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

2019-04 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for April, 2019.

The monthly dividend income came out to $483.26. The yearly income total for 2019 through the end of the month was $1855.76.

The income for April, 2018 was $50.88, and the yearly income for 2018 through the end of April was $1276.89.

I have looked at the indexes used by some of the funds I invest in, and I am selling some of my funds. I am moving my domestic funds to the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF, SDY, which follows the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index I might put the money that was in international ETFs into SPDR S&P Global Dividend ETF, WDIV, which follows the S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats Index It has some of its assets in US firms, but most of it is in other countries.

These funds have their assets in fewer firms than the ETFs that I am selling, but they still have money in more companies than I owned when I had my money in individual stocks.

I am also thinking about moving my money market fund into Realty Income, the Monthly Dividend Company Getting monthly dividends sounds nice. They are part of the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index (1.45% of SDY). I know Wolf Street has been blogging about the retail apocalypse (remember kids, it’s not just because of Amazon; private equity is also a big factor), but Realty Income has their quarterly calls available on their site. If I keep track of it, things might work out okay; as Andrew Carnegie said, the way to get rich is to put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket carefully. They still increased payouts during the Great Recession, so I am sure they will do fine during the next downturn.

Besides, a lot of people who predict disaster all the time never see any good news anywhere, and never seem to reflect that they might be wrong when they see their predictions not coming true.

I find it a bit odd that index providers will license their indexes to different firms. It is pretty frustrating that many of the providers do not provide a list of constituents on their index pages. Some of them give the top ten, but not the whole list.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each April from 2011 through 2019:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2019-04 $1855.76 $483.26 $588.35 $629.22
2018-04 $1276.89 $50.88 $405.77 $583.24
2017-04 $1814.94 $324.66 $532.02 $522.40
2016-04 $1622.67 $270.38 $461.86 $471.14
2015-04 $1441.12 $261.30 $409.21 $395.68
2014-04 $1130.58 $196.43 $323.64 $303.18
2013-04 $898.59 $179.23 $262.82 $289.40
2012-04 $1010.82 $218.56 $274.05 $271.21
2011-04 $848.29 $203.10 $216.30 $179.46

Here are the securities and the income amounts for April, 2019:

  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF: $208.52
  • Vanguard REIT ETF: $130.79
  • Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF: $41.37
  • Vanguard Total International Bond ETF: $11.08
  • Money Market: $91.50

Big Jim prepares for the future, but not at the expense of awareness.

Painting of the Annunciation by Guido of Siena (13th Century), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Look At Dividend Aristocrats

My look at dividend indexes brings me to the Grandaddies of all dividend indexes: The S&P Dividend Aristocrats and the S&P High-Yield Dividend Aristocrats.

The S&P Dividend Aristocrats is a subset of the S&P 500, and the S&P High-Yield Dividend Aristocrats of the S&P Composite 1500, which is a combination of the large-cap S&P 500 (stocks with market capitalization of $6.1 billion or more), the mid-cap S&P 400 (stocks with market caps between $1.6 billion to $6.1 billion) and the small-cap S&P 600 (stocks with market caps between $450 million and $1.6 billion).

The S&P Composite 1500 index has the following criteria:
– The stock must be for a US-based company (filing a 10-K, having a plurality of its assets in the US, or traded on a US exchange
– The stock must be traded on one of the following exchanges: NYSE, NASDAQ, Investors Exchange (IEX), a Cboe exchange (BZX, BYX, EDGA, E)
– Only common stocks and REITs are eligible
– At least 50% of the shares outstanding must be available for trading (not held by insiders, private equity or venture capital firms or sovereign wealth funds; presumably they would buy and sell on private markets)
– The stocks should have positive GAAP earnings for the most recent quarter, or averaged over the most recent four quarters
– The stocks should have adequeate liquidity (such as trading 250,000 shares a month)

The Dividend Aristocrats Index has the following criteria:
– Stocks must be part of the S&P 500.
– Each stock must have a history of increasing dividends for at least 25 consecutive years.
– Each stock must have a market cap of at least $3 billion as of the rebalancing reference date. The S&P 500 has a minimum cap of $6.1 billion; I am not sure why there is a discrepancy.
– Each stock should have a daily trading volume of at least $5 million for the three months prior to the rebalancing reference date.
– The index should have at least 40 members. Hands will be waived if the number is below 40.
– No sector should constitute more than 30% of the index.

The Dividend Aristocrats Index is an equally weighted index. It currently has 57 stocks.

The High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index has the following criteria:
– It includes stocks that are part of the S&P Composite 1500.
– Stocks must have raised their dividend every year for at least 20 years.
– Stocks should have a market cap of at least $2 billion on the rebalancing reference date.
– Each stock should have a daily trading volume of at least $5 million for the three months prior to the rebalancing reference date.
– No stock should make up more than 4% of the index.

The High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index is weighed by yield, so higher yielding stocks make up a greater proportion of the index. It could have stocks with low yields, they just wouldn’t make up much of the index. Perhaps “High Yield” is a misnomer. It currently has 111 stocks.

Out of all of the indexes I have looked at, I think I like these two the best. There are no proprietary eligibility criteria, there are no analysts estimates or consensus; it is all data and rules driven. Yes, it looks backwards, but I prefer that over someone’s guess about the future. We cannot argue about whether the past happened, just about what it tells us. And no buybacks. It is all about the payouts, baby.

The Morningstar US Dividend Growth Index eliminates stocks whose yield puts them in the top decile, I do not think it is a necessary step for a dividend growth index. I think a couple of decades of dividend increases will make disaster less likely to happen.

The fund for the Dividend Aristocrats, NOBL, has an expense ratio of 0.35%. The fund for the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index, SDY, also has an expense ratio of 0.35%. SDY has a nice yield. I will read the prospectus and perhaps sell my shares in VIG and VYM and get SDY.

“S&P”, “Dividend Aristocrats”, and possibly a few other terms are trademarks of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC.

Big Jim is looking at the tried and true.

Painting of the Visitation by Giotto di Bondone (1267 – 1337), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Look at Another Dividend Growth Index

One fund I am thinking about buying is the iShares Core Dividend Growth ETF (DGRO) (ETFDb page here, iShares page here).  It tracks the Morningstar US Dividend Growth Index.

You can get the methodology docs for Morningstar indexes here. I do not think you can get to their index page from their main page or vice versa. I had to google to find it. Their methodology documents have some graphics summarizing the base criteria, and are probably the easiest methodology documents that I have gone through so far (out of the three firms’ documents).

The Morningstar US Dividend Growth Index is a subset of the Morningstar US Market Index. The Morningstar US Market Index has the following criteria:
– It includes mostly common stocks, REIT, or tracking stocks which trade on one of the three major U.S. exchanges: The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, or the NYSE Market LLC. It may include ADRs if there is no corresponding stock.
– Each security must have no more than 10 nontrading days in the prior quarter
– Each security must be in the top 75% of remaining companies based on liquidity score, determined by trading volume over the prior six months.

The Morningstar US Dividend Growth Index takes the Morningstar US Market Index, and includes stocks with the following criteria:
– It only includes stocks that pay qualified income as dividends (so REITs are out)
– A stock’s dividend yield must not be in the top 10% of the parent index (so companies with super high yields are excluded)
– A stock must be currently paying dividends and have at least five years of uninterrupted annual dividend growth
– “Security must have a positive consensus earnings forecast and a payout ratio less than 75%.”
– If a stock does not raise or decrease its dividend, but does execute a share buyback, it can remain in the index

There are a few things that I like about this index, and a few things that I do not like.

Obviously, I like the fact that it is a dividend growth index. Five years is a short threshold, but it’s better than none. I also like that they exclude stocks with the highest yields. Sometimes a high yield can be a sign of trouble. I think more dividend indexes should do this, particularly those (like the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index) that are not dividend growth indexes. This exclusion becomes less necessary with a higher threshold.

I do not like that it considers buybacks as some sort of equivalent to dividend increases. A lot of people say that buybacks “return cash to shareholders”, but that is not true. It’s just another example of the Greater Fool Theory. Dividends are actual cash to shareholders, not “I hope somebody will buy it for more than I did”, which does not always work. And as we say during the Great Recession, will probably not happen when you really need it to happen. I think buybacks are a plague on the financial ecosystem. We got along fine without them until 1981, I think we should go back to that. After all, it is the “Morningstar US Dividend Growth Index”, not the “Morningstar US Dividend Growth Or Something That Only Stupid People Think Is Close Enough Index”. Either a company increases its dividend, or it does not. End of story. If I wanted to deal with the stupidity of buybacks, then I would find a buyback ETF.

I am also leery of this criterion: “Security must have a positive consensus earnings forecast and a payout ratio less than 75%.” First off, whose consensus? I do not like the idea of someone’s guesses forming the basis of my retirement. And I am not too sure about the payout ratio criterion either. While a lower ratio is better, sometimes companies have to go into debt to maintain their dividend, and have better ratios when things turn around. For example, I did not buy shares in Old Republic International (ORI) when I started looking at DGI stocks because although they were increasing their dividend, they were losing money. But now they seem to be doing fine. How will this index do in a recession?

How this index would do in a recession is a concern to me. The methodology document states: “The inception date of the index is April 7, 2014, and the performance inception date of the index is December 19, 2003, when the first back-tested index value was calculated.” However, I have not been able to find any performance data for this index going back to 2003. Plus, since they are using consensus forecasts, it is not truly rules-based, so backtesting may not be too useful.

So far, I think I like the NASDAQ US Broad Dividend Achievers Index (DAA) index the best, but its ETF has pretty high costs.

“Morningstar” and other terms with the word “Morningstar” (like the names of their indexes) are trademarks of Morningstar, Inc.

Big Jim thinks that an index should not rely on someone’s opinion.

Painting of the Resurrection (“Noli me tangere”, aka “I’m too sexy for you”) by Giotto di Bondone (1267 – 1337), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Too Damn High” image from ImgFlip, based on “The Rent Is Too Damn High” meme, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Look at High Yield Index

One of the funds that I am invested in is the Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM).  Another one is the Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI). They both track the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index, with VYM holding companies that are based in the USA or trade on American stock exchanges, and VYMI holding stocks from the rest of the world. The FTSE High Dividend Yield Index is a subset of the FTSE All-World Index. All of the dividend indexes are sub-indexes of general global or national stock indexes.

They have a lot of rules about what happens when there is a stock split, or a merger, and how often the stocks are rebalanced. I am not going to go into too much detail about any of those rules since they are generally the same, and not too relevant.

The FTSE All-World Index has the usual requirements about longevity, market cap and liquidity as other world indexes. It excludes MLPs, LLPs and LLCs. For developed markets, at least 5% of the voting shares have to be owned by “unrestricted shareholders”, which I think means entities not associated with the company. The companies have to have a free float of at least 5%. The company, exchange and country should have few restrictions on foreign ownership. The liquidity threshold is that at least 0.04% of a company’s shares should turn over every month.

The FTSE High Dividend Yield Index excludes REITs and any companies that are not forecast to pay any dividends over the next 12 months, and ranks what is left by yield. The stocks in the index are weighted by “investable market capitalisation, i.e. after taking account of free float and foreign ownership restrictions”. (Forecast by whom? I am not too clear.) It calculates the dividend yield using “the most recent I/B/E/S forecast DPS value”. I think I/B/E/S refers to Institutional Brokers’ Estimate System (IBES) It is made by Thompson Reuters.

In section 5, it says: “The FTSE All-World High Dividend Yield Index aims to contain the highest yielding stocks accounting for 50% of the investable market capitalisation of the Eligible Securities as defined in Section 4.” I guess this means they take the stocks with the highest yield and go down the list until they get enough stocks to make up 50% of the total market capitalization.

Like the pages about IBES linked above say, it uses analysts’ estimates. Why should I base my retirement on analysts’ estimates? Why not just use past data like other indexes? I know that past performance is guarantee of future results, but neither is someone’s guess. Besides, we are dealing with publicly traded corporations. Why not just use the publicly available data?

If a company increases its dividend for a decade, it is probably in pretty good shape. Why rely on someone’s guess on companies that do not increase dividends?

The use of estimates over historical data is one reason that I am thinking about selling these funds. Another is that they are not really dividend growth funds. I admit, I got them to juice performance a bit, but I am starting to reconsider that. Another thing that bothers me is that they just take all stocks that have a yield. As any good investor knows, a yield can be too high, even a sign of trouble. Some indexes exclude stocks whose yield puts them in the top decile in terms of yield. Granted, if a fund has a few hundred stocks, then any fallout from bad stocks would be minimized.

Nevertheless, since these funds are not true DGI funds and use analysts’ estimates as opposed to historical data, I am considering replacing them. Honestly: Did Vanguard get all the crappy indexes? Is that why they are so cheap?

FTSE refers to the FTSE Group.

Big Jim has decided to be more focused with his ETF investments.

Byzantine icon of Mary Magdalene, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

A Look At Dividend Appreciation Index

One of the funds that I am invested in is the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG). It has stocks in the NASDAQ US Dividend Achievers Select Index. The index has the symbol DVG, although you cannot trade the index directly. There is no stock or ETF with the synbol DVG.

All of the dividend indexes are sub-indexes of general global or national stock indexes. They have a lot of rules about what happens when there is a stock split, or a merger, and how often the stocks are rebalanced. I am not going to go into too much detail about any of those rules since they are generally the same, and not too relevant. There are also a lot of rules about how the daily prices of the indexes are calculated.

The NASDAQ US Dividend Achievers Select Index is a subset of stocks that are in the NASDAQ US Broad Dividend Achievers Index (DAA). The NASDAQ US Broad Dividend Achievers Index itself is a subset of the NASDAQ US Benchmark Index (NQUSB).

As far as I can tell, the NASDAQ US Benchmark Index (NQUSB) is covered in the document “NASDAQ Global Index Family Methodology” (go to https://indexes.nasdaqomx.com/Resource/Index/Methodology and search for “Global”).

Section 2 gives the basic criteria:

  • Must be listed on an Index Eligible Stock Exchange (section 2.2.1). Generally, an exchange is eligible if it does not put too many restrictions on foreign ownership.
  • Must be an eligible security type (section 2.2.2). Common shares are eligible, as are preferred shares, REITs and depository receipts. Generally, ETFs, preferred shares, closed-end funds, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and pass-through entities are not eligible.
  • Must have a minimum worldwide market capitalization of $US 150 million (section 2.2.3)
  • Must have a minimum three-month average daily dollar trading volume of $US 100 thousand (section 2.2.4)
  • Must have a minimum free float of 20% (or in some cases 5%) (section 2.2.5)
  • Must have “seasoned” for at least three months on an eligible stock exchange (section 2.2.6)
  • Must be in a country classified as Developed or Emerging (sections 3.1 and 3.2)
  • Must not be issued by an issuer currently in bankruptcy proceedings (section 6.2.1). I guess in some countries a bankrupt company can still be traded; I am pretty sure in the USA bankrupt companies are delisted.

So I guess the NASDAQ US Benchmark Index (NQUSB) has stocks that are eligible to be in the NASDAQ Global indexes and trade on US exchanges.

The NASDAQ US Broad Dividend Achievers Index (DAA) is comprised of US accepted securities with at least ten consecutive years of increasing annual regular dividend payments. Index eligibility is limited to specific security types only. The security types eligible for the Index include common stocks, limited partnership interests, shares or units of beneficial interest and shares of limited liability companies.

To be eligible for inclusion in the Index a security must meet the following criteria:
– be included in the NASDAQ US Benchmark Index (NQUSB) except for limited partnerships;
– limited partnerships must be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market® (Nasdaq®), the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE American, or the CBOE Exchange;
– have a minimum three-month average daily dollar trading volume of $1 million;
– have at least ten consecutive years of increasing annual regular dividends based on ex-date;
– one security per issuer is permitted. If an issuer has multiple securities, the security with the highest three-month average daily dollar trading volume will be selected for possible inclusion into the Index;
– may not have entered into a definitive agreement or other arrangement which would likely result in the security no longer being Index eligible; and
– may not be issued by an issuer currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

The NASDAQ US Dividend Achievers Select Index (DVG) is comprised of a select group of securities with at least ten consecutive years of increasing annual regular dividend payments. DVG only includes common stocks.

To be eligible for inclusion in the Index a security must meet the following criteria:
– be included in the NASDAQ US Broad Dividend Achievers Index (DAA) excluding limited partnerships and REITs; and
– additional proprietary eligibility are applied.

So it is interesting that limited partnerships are not in the general US index, allowed in the DAA, and excluded again in the DVG.

One thing that really bugs me about DVG is the “additional proprietary eligibility” criteria. What are the additional proprietary criteria? Am I wrong to get hung up on this? I would like to know how my golden years are going to be funded. But they won’t tell me. Besides, “proprietary criteria” sounds like active management, not indexing.

I have downloaded the holdings for the indexes, and DAA has oil and gas companies and more utilities; DVG has one oil company and a few utilities companies. For telecom, DAA has AT&T, Inc., Telephone & Data Systems, Inc and Verizon Communications, Inc., while DVG only has Telephone & Data Systems, Inc. Lots of profitable stuff is not in DVG, and I think it is due to the mysterious “additional proprietary eligibility”.

You can only download this information from the NASDAQ site during standard business hours. I would prefer being able to get this info 24/7, since I am at work during standard business hours. You can get the annual reports for the ETFs anytime.

So between the lack of information about the holdings from NASDAQ, the lack of a few profitable companies and industries from DVG and the “additional proprietary eligibility”, I am starting to sour on DVG. I will look at other indexes. I like the fact that Vanguard has super-low cost, but I don’t like getting a low-cost black box. I really do not like the “additional proprietary eligibility” part. If I wanted that, I would go with an actively managed product. Maybe all the good indexes were taken by the time Vanguard decided to make some dividend growth ETFs.

Some of the material in this post was taken from material for the NASDAQ indexes. Some of the terms used in this post are NASDAQ trademarks. Generally any phrase with the word “NASDAQ” in it.

Big Jim likes his indexes to be transparent.

The Immaculate Conception” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (March 5, 1696 – March 27, 1770), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

More Thoughts On Assange

So Julian Assange was arrested this week. I cannot say I am surprised.

From what I have heard, he was not an easy house guest: arguing with staff, not bathing, smearing feces. He was getting on their nerves. And leaking documents about the president of Ecuador (also see here). And leaking documents about the Vatican. And commenting on the Catalan independence movement. He was staying in an embassy. Diplomats are supposed to keep their mouths shut and stick to business. Preferably their own. Diplomatic norms do not go out the window because some jackass thinks his cause is just.

Meanwhile, Russia still gets a pass from Wikileaks. Assange is not objective.

Maybe Ecuador President Moreno is totally corrupt. I don’t know; the INA Papers site is in Spanish. But what people need to understand is that while freedom and privacy and transparency are nice, they are not as important as intelligence. And Assange does not seem to have much of it.

He came to the government of Ecuador for help. They were keeping him out of jail. If you had a house guest acting the way Assange did, would you put up with it? If someone is keeping you out of jail, do not make them upset. Do not bite the hand that feeds you. He put himself at their mercy, and he did not seem to realize it.

Freedom doesn’t do you much good if you are stupid.

And to keep our freedoms, we need the people standing up for our rights to not be stupid.


So I have done a bit more digging, and it only confirms my thoughts that Assange is really really stupid.

It looks like he is being detained for helping Chelsea Manning obtain military documents. Not for publishing the documents. But for being involved in getting them.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo addressed this in a blog post. If someone gives you the documents, you are clear. If you are involved in getting them, you are not. (I do not know if the drop has to be anonymous.)

He is being indicted in the UK, and charged in the US. But as far as I can tell, his lawyer is Australian, and practices in the UK. Can she practice in the US? Maybe he should get American counsel, since he is being charged by the American government. Just a thought.

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have both entered the US since Russian spy Edward Snowden gave them classified documents. So no problem. (I know Greenwald’s husband was detained at Heathrow by the Unwanted Kingom; my only comment is: different country, different laws.)

We cannot replay history and try something different, but Wikileaks was already pretty famous in 2010 when all this happened. Perhaps Manning (or someone else) would have gotten the documents eventually anyway.

It is up to Assange to know the law. I am not a lawyer, so I do not know if you have to be a journalist to get these protections for document drops. But I think that Assange should have known better. I say to Assange and his defenders the same thing I say to Russian spy Snowden and his defenders: You do not deserve to be taken seriously if you go around claiming you are smarter than everybody else, and then insist you could not have done things any other way.

Big Jim says we should fight for our freedoms ourselves, and not rely upon or defend idiots with their heads up the GRU’s butt

Mongolian manuscript at the Art Institute of Chicago, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

 

Thoughts On Brexit

Here are a few thoughts on Brexit. I now I am a couple of days late and the original deadline was the 29th, but it looks like the Unwanted Kingdom got an extension.

It is irritating to hear English people go on and on about their “sovereignty”, when they ran an empire from an island they invaded. They never cared about anybody else’s sovereignty, so why should anyone care about theirs? Plus, let’s not forget, while in the EU, people in the Unwanted Kingdom still get to use their own currency and speak their own language. They got a lot of breaks from the EU. Not bad for them.

On the other hand, when your quest for “sovereignty” is guided by Russia, how sovereign are you really?  I say to the Brexiteers what I say to Republicans in the USA: The Russians are not doing this for you.

Conservatives (in the US and the Unwanted Kingdom) like to think they are pragmatic realists, git-r-done types who know how the world works and run all types of organizations. (Sometimes it sounds like a fixed mindset; they cling to this image regardless of the results.) They have been wanting to leave the UK for years. They triggered the referendum. They have had two years to work things out. Yet they seemed to be voting a couple of times a day up until the March 29th deadline. This should have been smoother. The “git-r-done” chaps should have had a plan. For something they wanted. It is kind of like the votes for ACA repeal and the circus attempt at repeal and replace here in the USA. It is hard to tell if they appear incompetent because they just say what voters want to hear and can’t deliver when it’s time to put up or shut up, or if they overestimate the complexity of things and it’s all just raw, natural stupidity. (Parliament recently had to adjourn due to a leaky roof in the House of Commons building.)

I have read a few comments on different sites predicting that ten years after leaving the EU that the Unwanted Kingdom will have a stronger economy than today, and the EU will stagnate. I do not know what will happen or how the EU will do, but I predict that stagnation is probably the best-case outcome for the Unwanted Kingdom. They cannot manage something that they initiated and is totally predictable. And I doubt that other countries will give them a break on trade deals. They are intentionally causing a lot of people unnecessary work, and they want everyone to think they are doing us all a favor. (BTW, that is also a good definition of an asshole.)

Part of the problem is the Brexiteers have been lying from the beginning. They said the Unwanted Kingdom would be able to save millions of pounds a week and put it into the National Health Service. They later denied saying that. The were acting like bozos during the negotiations, telling the British public that “we are going to give them nothing that they want, and they are going to give us everything that we want, and they are going to like it.” That was the first year. Then the second year they all acted like those meanies in Brussels were kicking the UK out of the EU.

The rot started from the very beginning, with David Cameron. He started the referendum to appease the UKIP. He was a Tory, so he should know that if you give a conservative an inch, they will act entitled to a mile. Plus, he initiated a referendum for a change that he did not want. The Scottish independence referendum failed, which put the Scottish nationalists in the position of not getting what they wanted, but not being any worse off. They pushed for a change that they wanted. Cameron got a change that he did not want.

And then he promised to be bound by the results of the referendum, even though it was legally non-binding. Mistake number two. Another structural flaw is that it did not require a supermajority. Maybe a change this big should require a bigger percentage than 51.89%. All the Brexiteers keep going on about freedom, and democracy, and the will of the people, but this barely squeeked by.

And just like the USA, rank and file conservative voters are going against their own self-interest, voting for rich conservatives who do not care about them at all. And if you are all sooooo concerned about globalism and sovereignty, maybe you should do something about the City Of London. Brexiteers are ranting about the globalists in the EU, but London is the real ground zero of globalism. Technically it is the City of London Corporation, but the phrase “City of London” does not refer to all of London. Just the onshore tax haven part. One could call it The Worshipful Company of Liars, Cheaters and Thieves. They do not care about rural England anymore than they care about rural anywhere else.

Josh Marshall pointed out that some Brexit campaigners said that “[t]he world hungered for a strong Britain on the global stage.” Again, this is total delusion. Granted, a lot of speak their language, but not by choice. Nobody loves them, nobody respects them. Never did. Never will. If you want to go through life thinking you are special, you can do that, but nobody is obligated to agree with you or accommodate you.

Another good article is at here on the antipope site.

Big Jim does not like people who intentionally cause problems for other people.

“The Annunciation”, El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614), in a private collection, assumed allowed under Fair Use.