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Weekend reading: Guys? Guys?

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

A quiet week on the blogs. Maybe too quiet, as they say on the front line.

Where has everyone gone?

Is it Black Friday fatigue, Christmas party exhaustion, or the miserable British weather (yesterday felt like the first time we’d seen the sun in a fortnight) that has kept bloggers away from their laptops?

One UK personal finance blog – UnderTheMoneyTree – seems to have expired entirely! At the time of writing there’s nothing but the web host’s holding page in situ asking if you’re the site owner and some Google adverts to peruse.

STOP PRESS! Under The Money Tree is online again, posting about traders who are knackered with losing money.

I’m relieved, and will have to put away my “I blame the kids” gag for next time.

But his revival doesn’t excuse the rest of them for resting. (And, um, it’s too late for me to rethink my editorial spin for this weekend. Sorry.)

Short cut

At least Hollywood still has its work ethic. The second trailer for The Big Short movie is out, and I can’t wait for the full kahuna:

That said, I preferred the first trailer. It made me feel smarter.

According to Rotten Tomatoes the film looks to be a winner either way, with an 87% aggregated review score so far.

And if it’s rubbish?

Well, there’s always Star Wars.

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: Want to get into buy-to-let before April’s Stamp Duty hike? ThisIsMoney flags up some eye-catching deals from Virgin Money offering £750 cashback. But while Virgin’s buy-to-let rates – including a two-year fix at 1.99% and a five-year fix at 3.15% – are competitive, there are big fees that will devour the cashback perk.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • Vanguard’s gain is Wall Street’s pain – Bloomberg
  • Ignore liquidity at your peril – ETF.com
  • Could robo advisers disrupt index funds? [US but interesting]Futures

Active investing

  • How John Lee turned £150,000 into a £4.5m ISA2 [Search result]FT
  • In defense of closet index funds – Morningstar [And this riposte]
  • Top 10 buys and sells of the ultimate stockpickers – Morningstar
  • [It’s so selfish of these mediocre hedge funds to give up on us]Bloomberg
  • Apple is getting more bang for its R&D buck – Bloomberg
  • Gold keeps falling: Why do these funds still own so much? – Telegraph

A word from a broker

  • From Uber to AirBnB, disruption is now mainstream – TD Direct

Other stuff worth reading

  • As I’ve lamented for years, everyone hates IHT [except me]  – Guardian
  • The king of all strategies – Motley Fool (US)
  • You’ll need £164,000 p.a. to buy 2-bed in Clapham by 2024 – Telegraph
  • Government’s State Pension calculator “worse than useless” – Telegraph
  • Strippers told to bare all by HMRC – Guardian
  • Private equity paper tigers – Fortune
  • Felix Salmon: Is Al Gore’s ethical fund firm really all that? – Fusion

Book of the week: Everybody I meet who is deeply interested in investing seems to be reading Superforecasting these days. I wonder if the authors saw that coming?

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []
  2. But lagged his benchmarks, I suspect… and I’m a fan! []

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{ 28 comments… add one }
  • 1 Jim McG December 5, 2015, 1:02 pm

    I watched the trailer and thought of another Michael Lewis book, “Flash Boys”, because that’s how they all look.

  • 2 Getting Fired December 5, 2015, 1:17 pm

    TI, I’d like to put forward my blog for consideration if it was of benefit going forward. If not though I completely understand. It’s more a personal journey.

  • 3 ermine December 5, 2015, 3:00 pm

    I’m still shellshocked about TI talking about gold. I’d already started to think about how I might do some of that what with valuations etc while looking around and hoping nobody notices the heretical thinking and brushing off Harry Browne Portfolios etc and suddenly I discover I’m in good (bad?) company!

  • 4 Neverland December 5, 2015, 3:56 pm

    Thing is saving for early retirement is more about several decades of consumer denial and regular savings; its not that really fascinating to read about

    You can post an occasional rant about inheritances taxes/property prices/black Friday/daily telegraph personal finance articles….but thats about it

  • 5 MyRichFuture December 5, 2015, 4:22 pm

    @Neverland. I’d respectfully have to disagree.

    I’ve got a huge list of article ideas, from the off-beat to the more basic, just waiting to be added to my site.

    There is no reason why personal finance can’t be entertaining to the casual reader. This website is testament to that.

  • 6 magneto December 5, 2015, 6:01 pm

    Thought one of the more newsworthy items this week was the travails of Neil Woodford and his problematic investment in a US Biotech company. Suspect the hype is overblown and that normal service will be resumed in due course. The biotech company concerned has an interesting and very important sphere of work, so maybe will recover one day. If so a better investment at today’s lower price perhaps, than a few months back.

    Illustrates how even the best investors can sometimes falter. Lot of mumbling about failure of due diligence. What chance is there then for any of us in the stock picking arena !!!

    Haven’t spotted any mention of this item previously, but if this is a duplication then please feel free to delete.

  • 7 David December 5, 2015, 6:03 pm

    I also disagree with @ Neverland. I come up with ideas for articles almost every day and I don’t even have a blog. If you want a mainstream life and only meet your needs and wants with money then the topics are quite limited. If you broaden your horizons a bit the world is full of exciting possibilities, or “special arrangements” as MrMoneyMustache calls them.

    I do agree with @ The Investor about the kids though – that’s probably the main reason I don’t have a blog yet!

  • 8 Roger@The Chicago Financial Planner December 5, 2015, 9:59 pm

    Thanks for including my post on rebalancing among all of these other excellent pieces. Have a good weekend.

  • 9 Financial Samurai December 6, 2015, 10:09 am

    Tons of great reads. You’re not looking hard enough! 😉

  • 10 The rhino December 6, 2015, 6:13 pm

    @neverland why are there no ed bunker books in any library I can find? I’m going to have to ask Santa to help me out

  • 11 The Investor December 6, 2015, 8:03 pm

    @Jim — Yes, definitely a glamorous spin on the hedgie de jour. Rowan Atkinson and Mackenzie Crook must have been unavailable at casting time… 😉

    @GettingFired — Enjoyed a quick spin through your blog on the train today. It’s hard for me to get a new blog on ‘rota’ (I forget them until established, despite trying hard to support good new blogs (as I’ve consciously done with SexHealthDeathMoney and UnderTheMoneyTree for example)) so if you do write something that you think has a wider general interest (ideally fact-based/instructional, but it can be some sort of philosophy etc) please do feel free to drop me a suggestion via the Contact box above, with a clear subject line saying something like “Weekend Reading Link Idea” and perhaps remind me of this comment! 🙂 This goes for anyone else reading, too, who has a blog. No promises mind, but I do try to hunt about.

    @ermine — Come on, you know me better than that. 🙂

    http://monevator.com/never-say-never-again/

    It’s true I’m strategically and deliberately biased towards trying to be optimistic about equities because I’ve observed *so many* people miss out through bearishness — both in reality and in my readings of past history — but I’m basically an investing omnivore. With my active hat on though, valuation and sentiment matter, especially with non-equity assets.

    @Neverland — Fair enough, but for a man with such views you leave an awful lot of comments on this one and others. Perhaps the boredom is some kind of relaxation therapy for you? 😉

    @magento — I read the story, yes. There’ll be loads of cases in the years ahead like that now Woodford is speaking his mind more and also investing in early stage companies via the trust. Not that it wasn’t interesting, but I don’t think it’s that’s broadcastably interesting. But this reading list is pretty subjective, I freely admit. 🙂

    @Roger — You’re welcome!

    @Financial Samurai — Hah, I was really thinking about UK personal finance and investing bloggers, of who there are few, and fewer still who have updated since mid-November. (I did include you here a few weeks ago, as it happens! 🙂 )

  • 12 Financial Samurai December 6, 2015, 8:08 pm

    @Monevator – Appreciate it!

    Is the reason why there are less UK pf bloggers b/c there are simply less people? Or, do you think maybe folks in the UK care less about money (more care free) and therefore write less about money? Something interesting to think about!

  • 13 Neverland December 6, 2015, 8:23 pm

    @ rhino

    You can pick up no beast so fierce for just under £3 on abebooks including postage. It’s the first and seminal ed bunker novel

  • 14 The Investor December 6, 2015, 10:20 pm

    @Sam — You’re welcome! Always a pleasure when I get a chance/prompt to catch up on your site. Regarding the UK, I think the whole scene here was crowded out by MoneySavingExpert — the 100lb gorilla in the room. Plus we’ve a smaller population, I suppose. It’s true we don’t talk about money as freely, though, that’s quite astute.

  • 15 Financial Samurai December 6, 2015, 10:24 pm

    @Monevator – Very interesting. I’ve never heard of MSE. And I just checked out the site and it has ZERO personality, and written by a bunch of staff writers.

    Does one person own it? If so, I guess they are a very wealthy person!

  • 16 The Investor December 6, 2015, 11:29 pm

    @Sam — Well, it has straight-up articles which are pretty comprehensive, though I agree it had more personality in the old days. It also has insanely popular forums. The founder Martin Lewis sold the site for £87m a few years ago (so $130m?). It’s now owned by a comparison website company. Lewis rubs some people up the wrong way but I’ve been pretty impressed with his acts on/after selling:

    http://monevator.com/charity-and-money-martin-lewis-moneysavingexpert/

  • 17 Under The Money Tree December 7, 2015, 9:50 am

    You caught me [slacking]…well almost. I’ve been so damned busy I failed to spot that ‘you domain is about to expire’ email until I went to make a post on Friday evening and the site was missing….doh!

    Feel free to blame the kid. I heard a fellow father describe his baby as a ‘time sponge’ the other day…seems a reasonable description based on my experiences to date.

  • 18 SemiPassive December 7, 2015, 10:09 am

    Funnily enough I tried a hand at blogging several years back and made the mistake of leaving a URL in my first (and last) post on one of the MoneySavingExpert forums.

    It resulted in a torrent of self righteous abuse from some of his fan boys and an instant ban and blocking of my IP address for a genuine mistake at not having read the Soviet terms and conditions.
    Never really warmed to the place after that. For flips sake I thought, we’re all on the same side, its not like I was a PayDayLoan spambot or something.

  • 19 The Rhino December 7, 2015, 1:12 pm

    @neverland – many thanks for the heads up on abebooks, i’ll get myself a copy.

    A step up from peoples book reccomendations is to ask what their ‘favourite’ book ever is, then go and read it. I’ve been doing this for about a year with anyone who knows and will tell me. Its good fun and you end up reading stuff way out of your comfort zone.

    On a tangent, just been reading talebs antifragile. It seems to be his longest yet and his style only gets more grating the more you read. Still I persevere though as he does have some interesting things to say if you can wade through his petty insecurities (to be fair his petty insecurities are intermittently amusing)

    The most annoying thing about taleb is the gap between his ideas and the ability to be able to act/profit from them. he comes the closest yet in antifragile though with his 90/10 ultra safe/ultra risky portfolio. My question is could this actually work for a private, non professional (passive) investor. What would you actually have to buy and then do? I’m not at all convinced.

    In a nutshell – his thesis is that black swans are what will f**k you over, they’re impossible to predict, unless you’re him (or his two thinly veiled alter-egos nero tulip and fat tony) in which case you’ll predict them precisely enough to make 9 figures off the back of them.

    At least he claims a stoic so he’s not a complete lost cause.. by rights, his hellenistic leanings should lead to him maturing at some point in his older age into a benign grandfatherly dan kahnemann type figure. i can’t see it though – that would be a monumental black swan event

  • 20 Neverland December 7, 2015, 1:50 pm

    @semi-passive

    The Money Saving Expert forum is a scary glimpse into the dark heart of modern Britain

    I read it sometimes, my fave for a laugh is “old style money saving”

    To take the temperature of a nation:

    – 7 fora on loans and debt
    – 1 forum on savings and investment plus another on pensions
    – one forum on tax credits and benefits…
    – one forum on “matched betting”, wtf is that even?

  • 21 The Rhino December 7, 2015, 2:00 pm

    @neverland i *think* matched betting is some way to make very small sums of money through very time consuming effort by exploiting the fact that online betting sites have special offers to tempt you in

    its a bit like current acccount tarting.

    i aggregate these past-times under the banner of ‘pareto-pointless’. large no.s of these activities are discussed over at MSE, and as you rightly point out, it is scary.

  • 22 The Investor December 7, 2015, 3:50 pm

    @the rhino — Ha, your comments about Taleb made my smile. I’ve also struggled through everything after the superb Fooled by Randomness, and it’s not because I don’t think he has some excellent insights. Re: Matched betting, I’ve been pondering this independently as I keep seeing ads for a free Apple watch that looks trivial to offset at a rival firm. Haven’t looked into it at all though; no doubt these guys have!

  • 23 The Rhino December 7, 2015, 4:08 pm

    @TI yeh, I don’t regret reading them, he is a genius, but he’s also a wanker (very common combination). Although he vehemently denigrates them, *all* his books would have benefited greatly from a very much stricter copy editor

    All that said, I think he would be good value for a night out on the town.

  • 24 Neverland December 7, 2015, 6:15 pm

    @rhino

    The uk has preppers and they have their own thread at MSE

    Nuff said

  • 25 The rhino December 7, 2015, 7:02 pm

    Well I didn’t even know what that term meant until one google search ago..

  • 26 Mathmo December 8, 2015, 1:01 am

    Thanks for the links this week, TI. Thin pickings, but some nuggets in there (if you’ll forgive the pun about your latest paramour). It must be the time of the cycle for the celeb-bashing. Buffett, the hedgies…

    I really liked the FT article by John Lee. I lapped up his tale, his method, his results. And wow. Those results. However, in common with most autobiographical works, it lacks a truly critical view. Was he good, or did he get lucky. Worth re-reading with that question in the back of your head. I can’t help feeling that the attitude (long term, commitment) would have gone well (and badly with some investments) and netted out as the consistent 12% (back of envelope) returns he saw.

    We’re all geniuses in retrospect. Particularly the lucky geniuses.

    I too struggle with Taleb, and after a closer look at how the MSE army marches, that site. Can’t fault it’s founder on his execution of his idea, however, and resultant success. Hats off.

    I also enjoyed the “emperor of all strategies” — I’m reminded of a tour of the CRC facility where their new immuno-therapy work was being explained to us. The doctor stopped partway through and candidly said that he could get rid of a third of all cancers simply by stopping smoking. The simple solution needs a cheer-leader as much as any other solution.

  • 27 Jim December 8, 2015, 4:28 am
  • 28 Lee December 9, 2015, 1:52 pm

    I have also been reading Superforecasting. It wasn’t always clear to me what the timescale was that he was referring to, but I got the impression that it is mostly pretty short-term (10-20 year type foresight insights. I think the basic idea of continual updates, revising opinions, research etc. is good enough to go on.

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