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  • FIRST POST
    • switch76
    • By switch76 15th Oct 16, 12:10 PM
    • 107Posts
    • 24Thanks
    switch76
    FTSE 100 and other trackers
    • #1
    • 15th Oct 16, 12:10 PM
    FTSE 100 and other trackers 15th Oct 16 at 12:10 PM
    I'm interested in buying a FTSE 100 tracker and wondered if you could recommend one. I'm looking to get a better return than locking away money in a bank.

    What are the differences between a fund and an ETF? I would like the dividends reinvested so do I need an accumulation fund? What other things should I look out for?

    Is putting the money in over several months the best idea?

    Is the FTSE 100 expensive or cheap at the moment compared to it's usual P/E?

    Do you have ideas for other trackers that might be useful? I was thinking about tracking things like the S&P100 but thought that it wouldn't be a good idea because of the exchange rate and the chance that the pound will eventually strengthen against the dollar.
Page 3
    • ColdIron
    • By ColdIron 17th Oct 16, 1:11 PM
    • 2,580 Posts
    • 2,841 Thanks
    ColdIron
    What are the differences between a fund and an ETF? I would like the dividends reinvested so do I need an accumulation fund? What other things should I look out for?
    Originally posted by switch76
    The OP has come a long way since his original post
    • Linton
    • By Linton 17th Oct 16, 1:18 PM
    • 6,957 Posts
    • 6,550 Thanks
    Linton
    .......

    You dismiss the UK because it has underperformed. You dismiss the US even though it outperformed. You have focused on the negatives only. Why is there not a 50/50 chance of there being positive news?
    Originally posted by switch76
    Sensible investing considers the downside at least as much as the upside. Suppose you need a house deposit of £50K. Would you rather have £50K or a 50/50 chance of nothing or £100K, or even a 60% chance of £100K and a 40% chance of nothing?

    With fund investments the ups and downs are asymmetric. If you are invested in a focussed sector fund over sufficient time at best you can make many times your original investment but you can never do worse than lose all of it, and even that is virtually impossible. But you dont know which small number of sectors are going to do very well. Therefore it makes sense to invest in all of them as you are certain to get a very good upside if one is available. The smaller the range of sectors you hold the more you are leaving it to chance whether you strike gold. By investing in the FTSE100 you are making a positive decision not to invest in particular sectors. For example you would have missed out on the massive rise of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc as the FTSE100 has very little exposure to that sector.

    Another differentiator between indexes is company size. The FTSE100 only invests in large companies . Over the past 20 years UK small companies have in general performed more than twice as well as large ones, who knows whether this will be true in the next 20 years. Again by investing broadly you minimise the risk.
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 1:37 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76
    Bowlhead, you could say everyone needs to do more research because they don't have the perfect strategy.

    You seem to be coming from a glass half empty point of view while you could also think of it as glass half full. I don't understand dunstonh's comment "you will likely underperform in the long run". One reason for a FTSE or US tracker would be lower fees that might tip the odds 51/49 in my favour.

    I am happy to hear your opinions. I'm just not convinced that having fewer sectors covered necessarily leads to a worse performance. It is likely to be more volatile but not necessarily worse.
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 1:49 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76
    Sensible investing considers the downside at least as much as the upside. Suppose you need a house deposit of £50K. Would you rather have £50K or a 50/50 chance of nothing or £100K, or even a 60% chance of £100K and a 40% chance of nothing?
    Originally posted by Linton
    I don't need the money for a specific purpose so I can take some risk. I would take the 60/40 chance because the odds are in my favour.

    With fund investments the ups and downs are asymmetric. If you are invested in a focused sector fund over sufficient time at best you can make many times your original investment but you can never do worse than lose all of it, and even that is virtually impossible. But you dont know which small number of sectors are going to do very well. Therefore it makes sense to invest in all of them as you are certain to get a very good upside if one is available. The smaller the range of sectors you hold the more you are leaving it to chance whether you strike gold. By investing in the FTSE100 you are making a positive decision not to invest in particular sectors. For example you would have missed out on the massive rise of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc as the FTSE100 has very little exposure to that sector.
    Originally posted by Linton
    I feel that the range of sectors is large enough. I don't feel like having all of them would make much difference.

    Another differentiator between indexes is company size. The FTSE100 only invests in large companies . Over the past 20 years UK small companies have in general performed more than twice as well as large ones, who knows whether this will be true in the next 20 years. Again by investing broadly you minimise the risk.
    Originally posted by Linton
    Whichever tracker I go for it will be large companies.
    • Linton
    • By Linton 17th Oct 16, 2:07 PM
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    • 6,550 Thanks
    Linton
    You seem to believe that it really is 50/50 above and below the average at each time step - ie that things will balance out in the long term. Unfortunately that is not the case. There can be long term trends that will ensure that particular subsets of the world market diverge. Sadly you dont know what these trends will be in the future, but experience has shown that they exist. So investing in small (as a % of global) indexes like the FTSE100 doesnt merely add to volatility, it increases the chances that you will have seriously suboptimal performance by the time you need the money.

    For example (numbers read off graph so not exact):
    Index/%total return 1996-2016
    Nikkei225/0%
    FTSE100/240%
    FTSE Europe/330%
    FTSEWorld/350%
    Hangseng/390%
    • Linton
    • By Linton 17th Oct 16, 2:15 PM
    • 6,957 Posts
    • 6,550 Thanks
    Linton
    I don't need the money for a specific purpose so I can take some risk. I would take the 60/40 chance because the odds are in my favour.
    Originally posted by switch76
    But ultimately you will need the money for some purpose. The pleasure of having too much doesnt match the tragedy of having too little. If you wont need the money what you are doing is gambling for pleasure. Fine, nothing wrong with that, but it's not investing.


    Whichever tracker I go for it will be large companies.
    I thought you were chasing the possibility of high returns whilst accepting extra volatility. Small Companies give you that.
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 2:20 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76
    You seem to believe that it really is 50/50 above and below the average at each time step - ie that things will balance out in the long term. Unfortunately that is not the case. There can be long term trends that will ensure that particular subsets of the world market diverge. Sadly you dont know what these trends will be in the future, but experience has shown that they exist. So investing in small (as a % of global) indexes like the FTSE100 doesnt merely add to volatility, it increases the chances that you will have seriously suboptimal performance by the time you need the money.

    For example (numbers read off graph so not exact):
    Index/%total return 1996-2016
    Nikkei225/0%
    FTSE100/240%
    FTSE Europe/330%
    FTSEWorld/350%
    Hangseng/390%
    Originally posted by Linton
    That list is far from complete. You say you don't know what the trends will be. Why are you suggesting that most of the subsets will diverge to the downside when they could equally diverge to the upside?
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 2:28 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76
    I am investing rather than gambling because what I buy will not be all or nothing like your example.

    I meant the options discussed so far are all large cap.
    • bowlhead99
    • By bowlhead99 17th Oct 16, 3:40 PM
    • 5,146 Posts
    • 9,076 Thanks
    bowlhead99
    That list is far from complete.
    Originally posted by switch76
    Well clearly, but the point is to demonstrate that the returns diverge significantly , with the disparity between good and bad being in excess of 100% of your invested capital over the period reviewed. That could be done with 2 indexes, but 5 indexes helps to show the variety of returns.

    Once you can see that there is a very wide variety of returns in just a handful of indexes there is little point in Linton going and finding the comparable figures to list another ten indexes for you. I already gave you 10 US industry sector indices on a pretty PDF link to demonstrate the exact same point.

    You say you don't know what the trends will be. Why are you suggesting that most of the subsets will diverge to the downside when they could equally diverge to the upside?
    All of the subsets are much more likely to diverge to the downside than settling for some mid point. You are right of course that they are also more likely to diverge to the upside than they are to hit the mid point. They are unlikely to hit the mid point because the mid point is a one in ten shot which you are much more likely to hit if you buy the whole market and much less likely to hit if you buy a subset.

    You wonder why the focus is on the risk of underperforming to the downside. Well, most people prefer that their returns don't fall short of their expectation or needs.

    Your contention is that you don't mind if your returns fall short of your expectations or needs, because you don't really have any expectations or needs anyway, so it is just play money and you are indifferent to whether you get a lot less than the market return if it gives you the chance to get a better than market return. So if your selection of a single specialist fund delivered 0% gain or 240% gain rather than 350 for the middle one or 500 for the top ones, you would just shrug and not really care because you didn't really need the returns and this 10% of your wealth was only invested for a bit of a laugh.

    Most people don't have that approach to investing.

    To think about it another simplified way:

    Say a particular class of assets which each have similar risks has a disparity of returns which might average out so that the midpoint of returns is 7% in real terms a year (double your money in a decade, quadruple in 20 years)...but the top performer in the class over the particular period under review is 6% higher (13% a year on average) and the low performer is 6% lower (1% a year on average).

    If your personal goal and critical objective is that you definitely need to beat cash by 1%, over the 20 years, but don't actually have any needs or goals beyond that simple aim, and cash delivers inflation+0% each year. You would say this class of investments seems fine for you, pick any fund at random from this class and worst case scenario the history books say you'll get 1% real terms if left long enough, which is fine.

    However, to get there, you are investing in assets which are way way more risky than you need to.

    You are investing in a class carrying the risks and rewards of investing in assets that deliver 7% a year on average (risk free rate plus 7%) which might go up to 13% which you really don't need, or down to the 1% that you really do need. That puts you in a pretty risky set of investments to achieve a modest goal, and the reason it puts you in this high risk asset class is that you are haphazardly picking only one specialist fund from the class and you have to prepared for it to be the bottom performer and still be as much as the 1% you really do need, if left long enough. So you have to use a class that takes the risks to get 7% average or 1-13% extreme.

    Alternatively if you would take the approach of investing more broadly across an asset class, to get the average return rather than potentially getting the return of an outlier, you don't need to invest in something so risky where the midpoint is 7% and the bottom outlier is 1%. You could instead invest in something where the midpoint is 1%.

    If the goal is 1%, then picking a low volatility asset class targeting a mid point of 1%, and buying that midpoint within it, is a much much lower risk than picking an asset class targeting a midpoint of 7 and then buying a small random bunch of sub-sectors within it with the aim of getting at least the 1% return after a lengthy wait through the ups and downs over two decades.

    Generalising if you don't need 7%, don't buy assets that produce 7% with high volatility and risk of loss. Buy assets that target the easier hurdle of lower returns. If you *do* need 7%, buy the mid point of the 7% asset class to make sure you get it.

    But you seem to be a bit different from the average investor because you don't really need the money (can afford to lose it or underperform massively vs the average) yet you still want to invest in relatively high risk assets in specialist volatile funds.

    It would be boring if we all thought the same way but I hope you understand where we're coming from, even if you don't agree.
    Last edited by bowlhead99; 17-10-2016 at 3:44 PM.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 17th Oct 16, 4:10 PM
    • 85,148 Posts
    • 50,158 Thanks
    dunstonh
    I was just putting a rebalance together on 9 fund portfolio (no emerging markets on this one as its low/medium). The research report shows th last 5 years discrete performance to on 30th Sept basis (i.e. 12 months to 30th Sept).

    The US tracker was top performer in just 1 of those 5 years.
    2016 was 34.41% compared to 41.31% Pacific exc Japan
    2015 was 2.30% compared to 13.40% UK Long Dur Gilt
    2014 was 18.59% - top performer
    2013 was 17.76% compared to 31.76% Japan
    2012 was 22.38% compared to 22.59 UK 250

    If I was to look at cumulative growth over 5 years, then the US fund was the best. However, we need to remember it was coming off a bad period in the previous cycle. The contrarian investment strategists did well in that period.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 4:40 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76

    All of the subsets are much more likely to diverge to the downside than settling for some mid point. You are right of course that they are also more likely to diverge to the upside than they are to hit the mid point. They are unlikely to hit the mid point because the mid point is a one in ten shot which you are much more likely to hit if you buy the whole market and much less likely to hit if you buy a subset.

    You wonder why the focus is on the risk of underperforming to the downside. Well, most people prefer that their returns don't fall short of their expectation or needs.

    Your contention is that you don't mind if your returns fall short of your expectations or needs, because you don't really have any expectations or needs anyway, so it is just play money and you are indifferent to whether you get a lot less than the market return if it gives you the chance to get a better than market return. So if your selection of a single specialist fund delivered 0% gain or 240% gain rather than 350 for the middle one or 500 for the top ones, you would just shrug and not really care because you didn't really need the returns and this 10% of your wealth was only invested for a bit of a laugh.

    Most people don't have that approach to investing.
    Originally posted by bowlhead99
    I thought the first rule of investing is not to invest money you can't afford to lose. After that it is trying to get the best returns at a level of risk you are comfortable with.

    I have to make a decision and buy something. In 5 or 10 years time, I might find some other investment has beaten it. That's only with the benefit of hindsight.

    To think about it another simplified way:

    Say a particular class of assets which each have similar risks has a disparity of returns which might average out so that the midpoint of returns is 7% in real terms a year (double your money in a decade, quadruple in 20 years)...but the top performer in the class over the particular period under review is 6% higher (13% a year on average) and the low performer is 6% lower (1% a year on average).

    If your personal goal and critical objective is that you definitely need to beat cash by 1%, over the 20 years, but don't actually have any needs or goals beyond that simple aim, and cash delivers inflation+0% each year. You would say this class of investments seems fine for you, pick any fund at random from this class and worst case scenario the history books say you'll get 1% real terms if left long enough, which is fine.

    However, to get there, you are investing in assets which are way way more risky than you need to.

    You are investing in a class carrying the risks and rewards of investing in assets that deliver 7% a year on average (risk free rate plus 7%) which might go up to 13% which you really don't need, or down to the 1% that you really do need. That puts you in a pretty risky set of investments to achieve a modest goal, and the reason it puts you in this high risk asset class is that you are haphazardly picking only one specialist fund from the class and you have to prepared for it to be the bottom performer and still be as much as the 1% you really do need, if left long enough. So you have to use a class that takes the risks to get 7% average or 1-13% extreme.

    Alternatively if you would take the approach of investing more broadly across an asset class, to get the average return rather than potentially getting the return of an outlier, you don't need to invest in something so risky where the midpoint is 7% and the bottom outlier is 1%. You could instead invest in something where the midpoint is 1%.

    If the goal is 1%, then picking a low volatility asset class targeting a mid point of 1%, and buying that midpoint within it, is a much much lower risk than picking an asset class targeting a midpoint of 7 and then buying a small random bunch of sub-sectors within it with the aim of getting at least the 1% return after a lengthy wait through the ups and downs over two decades.

    Generalising if you don't need 7%, don't buy assets that produce 7% with high volatility and risk of loss. Buy assets that target the easier hurdle of lower returns. If you *do* need 7%, buy the mid point of the 7% asset class to make sure you get it.

    But you seem to be a bit different from the average investor because you don't really need the money (can afford to lose it or underperform massively vs the average) yet you still want to invest in relatively high risk assets in specialist volatile funds.

    It would be boring if we all thought the same way but I hope you understand where we're coming from, even if you don't agree.
    Originally posted by bowlhead99
    I understand that you want to reduce uncertainty if you have a fixed target.

    The goal is to maximise the return I can get at a level of risk I am comfortable with. If one investment is 0-2% and the other is 1-13%, I'd rather go for the second one.

    The assumption in your example is that there is a symmetrical spread around the 7% mark. It's my opinion that there is a currency risk around foreign trackers so a FTSE 100 tracker would skew the odds in my favour. I could get a range of 2-14%. There are also slightly lower fees for the FTSE 100 and US trackers which would skew the odds in my favour.
    • badger09
    • By badger09 17th Oct 16, 4:46 PM
    • 4,266 Posts
    • 3,480 Thanks
    badger09
    Why can't I get the words "horse", "water", and "drink" out of my mind
    • Linton
    • By Linton 17th Oct 16, 4:49 PM
    • 6,957 Posts
    • 6,550 Thanks
    Linton
    [QUOTE=switch76;71467673
    The goal is to maximise the return I can get at a level of risk I am comfortable with. If one investment is 0-2% and the other is 1-13%, I'd rather go for the second one.

    [/QUOTE]

    If you want higher risk with a chance of higher return why the FTSE100??? Surely EM, Frontier Markets, Asia Pac, Tech/Biotech, Small companies and similar would be more appropriate.
    • switch76
    • By switch76 17th Oct 16, 5:31 PM
    • 107 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    switch76
    If you want higher risk with a chance of higher return why the FTSE100??? Surely EM, Frontier Markets, Asia Pac, Tech/Biotech, Small companies and similar would be more appropriate.
    Originally posted by Linton
    If you have some tracker funds in those categories to recommend, I'll have a look into them.
    • coyrls
    • By coyrls 17th Oct 16, 5:45 PM
    • 598 Posts
    • 550 Thanks
    coyrls
    If you have some tracker funds in those categories to recommend, I'll have a look into them.
    Originally posted by switch76
    There are quite a few tracker funds for small companies and emerging markets, if you want something more exotic, you'll need to look at ETFs. You can search by sector here: https://www.trustnet.com/exchange-traded-funds/price-performance?univ=E

    However, I too would suggest a global multi-asset passive fund but I realise that I would be banging my head against a brick wall.
    • bowlhead99
    • By bowlhead99 17th Oct 16, 7:09 PM
    • 5,146 Posts
    • 9,076 Thanks
    bowlhead99
    I understand that you want to reduce uncertainty if you have a fixed target.

    The goal is to maximise the return I can get at a level of risk I am comfortable with. If one investment is 0-2% and the other is 1-13%, I'd rather go for the second one.
    Originally posted by switch76
    OK sure, you want the likelihood of bigger returns so the second is better than the first.

    But is there genuinely no preference between going for 6-8% and 1-13? The latter just seems to be accepting a lot more variability for no overall advantage. You might outperform but you might just hit the 1s for several years in a row which is way lower than you want and surely to be avoided.

    If higher risk higher reward is the desire, then specialist sectors like venture capital, frontier and emerging markets, high-tech /biotech might float your boat rather than messing around with this "mainstream" broad largecap tracker stuff. A massive company which has cornered half the market doesn't have space to quadruple its market share unless the market doubles in size and it takes over the entire market. Smaller companies or developing markets can potentially supply that sort of growth in spades (if you are the type of person who's happy to ride out large ups and downs.

    The assumption in your example is that there is a symmetrical spread around the 7% mark. It's my opinion that there is a currency risk around foreign trackers so a FTSE 100 tracker would skew the odds in my favour. I could get a range of 2-14%.
    Well, currency risk always goes both ways. Certainly this year it has been best not to be in sterling as the indexes denominated in foreign currencies converted back to GBP are up significantly YTD while this is diluted in a UK index which only has part of its income flows denominated in foreign currencies. The FTSE100 does not have some natural advantage over foreign indices which is guaranteed to give greater returns over the next decade. Your 2-14 could easily be 0-12 or -3 to 9.

    The pound is falling because forex markets believe that the UK will become a slower growth economy. This conforms to the widespread (though not universal) view among forecasters before the referendum that leaving EU would reduce UK growth in long term. The UK's attractiveness to foreign investors pre referendum had led to big demand for UK assets on the world stage and had pushed sterling pre-referendum (in opinion of some Nobel laureate economist last week) to 20-25% above its equilibrium level.

    As such, just because pounds are worth rather fewer dollars today than they were at Christmas, it doesn't mean they should flip back the other way during your investment time horizon. The forex market is not saying they should flip back, and many commentators are seeing $1-1.10 as being a level the pound could go to without much trouble. Few are suggesting 1.40-1.50 as realistic.

    There are also slightly lower fees for the FTSE 100 and US trackers which would skew the odds in my favour.
    As mentioned earlier the difference from one sector to the next can be 30%+. Linton's examples showed hundreds of percent difference over the longer term. So, a token extra 0.2% "edge" from fees by only going into two markets is nice, but it's a couple of percent after a decade, not a couple of hundred percent.

    Imagine if you had got a Japanese tracker because of some clever new software making the management fee tiny so it was the cheapest at 0.01% instead of 0.10%, and you bought on grounds of price - but then over 20 years it gave you 40% instead of 400%. An "edge" of a small fraction of a percent is nice mathematically but next to useless in the real world if it skews you to an imbalanced portfolio.


    If you have some tracker funds in those categories to recommend, I'll have a look into them.
    Originally posted by switch76
    The point of tracker funds is that they should all do the same job so you don't need a recommendation, you can largely buy on price and tracking error and reviewing the prospectus and manager credibility for whatever risks you normally screen for when selecting your funds.

    Personally if I was getting an ETF for emerging markets I would lean towards, say, an iShares Core MSCI one instead of the db x-trackers one, because the former uses optimised physical replication of the index constituents and is $4bn in size, while the latter uses synthetic replication and is under $2bn. Liquidity and counterparty risk can make a difference when you are a small DIY investor. However in this case the iShares one is also cheaper too. Vanguard likewise have an EM ETF at the same 0.25% but theirs follows FTSE Emerging instead of MSCI Emerging, and the constituents will be different, for better or worse.

    If you wanted an OEIC rather than ETF for emerging markets, Vanguard do an MSCI tracker at 0.27% OCF or an active managed one at 0.80% (lots of other choices if you went active of course).

    For frontier markets there is an iShares index tracker product but has not been going many years and seems to have significant tracking error from a couple of charts I saw. Personally I prefer active to passive for that sector, you could do worse than checking out Aberdeen Frontier Markets Investment Company Limited or Blackrock Frontiers Investment Trust. They have two different approaches to portfolio construction with the former having a more concentrated portfolio.

    A far cry from a FTSE100 tracker in terms of potential range of returns, however. Like other specialist funds they are designed to be held as part of a broader portfolio.
    Last edited by bowlhead99; 17-10-2016 at 7:14 PM.
    • fairleads
    • By fairleads 17th Oct 16, 9:25 PM
    • 553 Posts
    • 137 Thanks
    fairleads

    What are the differences between a fund and an ETF?
    Originally posted by switch76
    In a nutshell, a fund such as a unit or investment trust is actively managed by a human in a bid to out perform the market whereas the ETF has a computer driven portfolio that aims to follow the market.
    Further, and maybe even more important is the difference in the method of purchasing funds and ETFs and the way we can hold them.
    Suggest you research those aspects first before investing your cash.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 17th Oct 16, 10:22 PM
    • 85,148 Posts
    • 50,158 Thanks
    dunstonh
    What are the differences between a fund and an ETF?
    A unit trust/oeci fund can be managed or passive. An ETF is passive.

    Funds get FSCS protection. ETFs do not. ETFs have dealing charges. Funds do not. Charges are broadly similar nowadays.

    ETFs have different ways to reflect the index they are tracking and some of these methods are higher risk than the actual investments they should have but may not actually hold.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
    • bigadaj
    • By bigadaj 18th Oct 16, 11:28 AM
    • 7,861 Posts
    • 4,796 Thanks
    bigadaj
    At best some of your posts on this forum are pompous, at worst they are patronising !
    Originally posted by Straight Shooter
    Don't see a lot wrong with dunstonh post there, what are your responses?
    • Glen Clark
    • By Glen Clark 18th Oct 16, 12:00 PM
    • 3,456 Posts
    • 2,499 Thanks
    Glen Clark
    A unit trust/oeci fund can be managed or passive. An ETF is passive.
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    Try googling 'Actively Managed ETF'

    eg: There are now dozens of actively-managed ETFs offering exposure to a number of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, and currencies.
    http://etfdb.com/2011/complete-list-of-active-etfs/
    For society to function well, people generally need to feel that they have a fair chance of success through their ability and efforts. The more entrenched hereditary elites we have, the less likely people are to feel that way
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