Investment opportunity for the risk neutral

byDenkenberger3y25th Jan 201635 comments

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Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser and you need to do your own research.

I won't repeat this good article on investing for effective altruists: https://80000hours.org/2015/10/common-investing-mistakes-in-the-effective-altruism-community/ . But one of the key ideas is if you are investing for yourself and you are young, or if you are investing for charity, temporary falls in value should not worry you. Taken even further, if there is a big payoff, but some chance of losing all your money, this can still be a good idea. This means that you are risk neutral, and just care about the expected (probability weighted) outcome. If you are like this, then I have an investment opportunity you may be interested in.

It is three times leveraged Russia. The Russian stock market has fallen precipitously, and it has fallen even more so from the US perspective because of currency changes. If it recovers to fair market value (mean reversion) over seven years, the value of your investment would be about four times as much. However, with three times leverage, even taking into account that you need to pay interest on the implicit loan, one would expect more like 50 times the money. Now there are impacts of volatility that I do not fully understand that could reduce this. But I have seen a 3X leverage produce 15 times as much money as the initial investment in 5 years and it was not quite as good an opportunity as Russia.

The downside of Russia is not just the normal potential for temporary loss of money. It is also possible that there could be a forced sell out of foreign assets, freezing of assets, or even seizing of assets, depending on international relations. So this is definitely not for the faint of heart.

But if you are risk neutral like I am, you may want to give it a try. The ticker is RUSL. I just put a significant fraction of my portfolio into it today.
 
Also, one could even argue that helping out Russia when it is worst off could prevent Russia from doing desperate things, so there may be global catastrophic risk benefits.

Update: March 17, 2016:

If you decided to invest when I did, congratulations - you have made 80% on your money in less than two months! This now means that the expected long-term return is significantly lower. Then when you include the volatility drag (see discussion below), it is not clear that this leveraged investment is better than just unleveraged Russia. So it might make sense to start phasing out of leveraged Russia and buying ERUS, especially if it is a large percent of your portfolio. On the other hand, if you think that oil price will continue rapidly reverting towards the long-term marginal cost of production, since Russia is highly correlated with oil price, you may want to stay in leveraged Russia longer.