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Monevator is an investment site, whatever the weather

Fear and greed index showing extreme greed at the time of posting

This is a testing time for everyone. As we begin to isolate ourselves and the economy is put into a coma to try to save the patient, it may seem like an existential threat.

So I understand why at Monevator we’ve received such a diverse range of feedback on our articles over the past few weeks.

As recently as mid-February, some readers ostentatiously shrugged and said “what crisis?” when I wrote about the virus threat to their portfolios.

But soon enough, as the scale of the challenge was realized, others complained it was not the time to talk about money.

I was several times accused of not caring about people – only about my portfolio.

This despite clearly stating in my articles that I understood that anyone dying was a tragedy for all concerned.

It’s hard to write that statement in less than a few  hundred words without sounding ridiculously glib. That’s because it really goes without saying.

My own mother is well over 70, and we got her isolating early. Time will tell.

Other readers have said they have a vulnerable daughter, or a son risking daily exposure as a doctor, or that they themselves have some kind of extra-susceptibility to the disease.

They have often coupled this with questions or opinions asking why – at a time like this – we are writing about the likely economic hit from the virus or the lockdown, or why we’re discussing whether to sell your shares or to buy more.

Don’t we understand people are going to die?

Yes, we do.

Resistance

As I said, I understand it’s a tough time. You can’t argue against people’s feelings, and I don’t blame anyone for being fearful or single-minded.

But let me be clear.

Monevator is an investing blog. We are here to help people manage and grow their personal wealth. We’ll do that through booms and busts, bull markets and bear markets.

This doesn’t stop because people are getting ill or dying. It doesn’t stop because we’re all hunkering down and fearing for our jobs. It doesn’t stop because our retirement portfolios have dropped by a quarter in the space of four weeks.

On the contrary, for exactly those reasons and others we will continue to talk about money, investing, and the economy.

And continue and continue.

Bluntly: however many people die.

Because that is what this site does. Doing what we do will be our tiny contribution to the bigger picture of keeping the world turning and getting through this horror show.

What else do people expect? For the Monevator home page to redirect to the World Health Organization? Should that also apply to the BBC’s weather pages?

Is it frivolous that people are watching movies in self-quarantine when they could be reading about the daily misery unfolding in Italy and potentially on our doorstep?

Of course not.

Whether you’re feeling anxious about your portfolio or your pension or you couldn’t give two hoots about it is up to you.

I’m not here to say what should matter to you.

If you think it’s distasteful to write, as I did a few weeks ago, of the likely unintended consequences of shutting down the economy – including plenty of bad non-virus related health outcomes, incidentally – and you’d prefer to read another social media post demanding someone do something, anything, then by all means go read those instead.

We’ll still be here when you get back.

That’s the whole point.

Recovery

Monevator will keep writing about personal finance, investing, and the economy in the weeks and months ahead. This will be our overwhelming focus.

If you think that’s wrong and our site should be turned over to a daily roll call of the dead then please do take a break for a while.

I honestly wouldn’t blame you. There are many things far more important than money, and your loved ones are top of the list.

By all means ignore the financial aspect of your life for the next six months. If you can afford to do so then it may well be the best thing for you. There’s more than enough else to worry about.

But discussing personal finances, investing, and the economy is what we do.

We’re just a couple of guys working on this website in our spare time, and 99.99% of the world couldn’t care less what we write about even in the good times.

But some people have generously told us over the years that we’ve made a difference to their financial lives. That matters to us.

I don’t think a reader fretting about their finances and turning up at Monevator to find our last post was a ‘Good Night and God Bless’ from February on account of the virus would do anybody any good.

Quite the contrary.

So we’ll keep on doing what we do, writing about money and investing, for anyone who wants or needs our site, for whenever you’re ready to read us.

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{ 75 comments… add one }
  • 1 DevonshireDozer March 17, 2020, 11:17 am

    Well said. The world seems to be awash with people who spend their lives looking for things to take offence at. All you can do is ignore them. As my late Dad once said; “Never argue with an idiot, because people watching soon lose track of which is which”.

  • 2 DevonshireDozer March 17, 2020, 11:23 am

    Counterparty risk . . . .

    I have been looking at my portfolio (thank a god for stop losses) and wondering about those ETFs that indulge in ‘Securities Lending’ (SL). The investments underneath the Vanguard Life Strategies funds do. VWRL does. Using the justetf screening tool, I’ve found some alternatives that don’t (eg. ACWL instead of VWRL), but they probably carry other risks.

    It seems to me that in the present panic – and the next one, say 2-3 weeks away, counterparty risk of several kinds could bite people badly in the arse. Any thoughts on what steps to take?

  • 3 Catilina March 17, 2020, 11:25 am

    As someone who can’t afford to ignore the finances, whatever happens, I’m grateful for what you do!

  • 4 marked March 17, 2020, 11:43 am

    It’s a tough one! Lots of unintended consequences for whatever decreed by our PM and his 2 Scientists. I am angry with that we didn’t use the month that China bought us more effectively though. I see the PM as a gambler, and his health minister as a Yes man (if you go back see how Matt Hancock pivots depending on who the PM is and has no honour – at least Javid walked away…finally).

    My biggest concerns are the following (in order)

    They are talking about schools being shut for 13 to 16 weeks. If that’s the case postponing to May 1/2 term is probably prudent so you count the 6 week summer break in it. I see the logic of postponing since if you have the parents still working or the Nurseries on lock down then who looks after the kids? The Grandparents who are in the at risk category. HOWEVER, can someone explain the maths to me? Why 13 to 16 weeks?

    Also I am appalled that NHS England aren’t looking after their staff and testing them when the staff want it. In the early stages you don’t know what you’ve got – flu or Coronavirus, particularly being an NHS staff member possibly in contact with a whole host of bugs, so they have to self isolate for two weeks, but not allowed a test as they don’t meet the criteria for testing – that is being in hospital. So the upshot is if it’s a common cold they are out of commission for a further week when they could be working. How dumb is that? Yet if you’re a politician or a football star you can get a test.

    And Ventilators. This shows the amateurness of the government – true gamblers. They tweet for company’s help to manufacture them wanting you to email or phone them. They didn’t even have blueprints originally. They also think they have 5000 and will need 20000. Really? 20000? Hmm, I suspect more, potentially a lot more. But the biggest issue is why NOW? Why not a month ago? ~Why by tweet? Why not have your blueprints and supplychain sorted now. This will come back and bite as we’ve outsourced so much to China. Hats off to the manufacturers in the UK that can build and deliver these. Those companies collectively need OBE’s for stepping up if and when they can.

    I can’t believe the total lack of investment in the NHS despite population growth from 55Million in 1980’s to 67million now.. Apparently 2.5 beds per 1000 of the population. I can’t find another advanced economy with less (the USA even have more despite being insurance based).

    Finally I applaud the supermaket Iceland. They are doing a 1 hour slot per day just for the older and vulnerable. I hope other supermarkets/pharmacies copy them and potentially extend to 2 hours or so. I would think little ideas like this the government would adopt and mandate. Seems very bright to do.

    Good Luck Everyone and Stay Safe!

  • 5 Rui N. March 17, 2020, 12:32 pm

    Hear hear. Keep up the good work.
    (Like marked #4 above, I can’t for the life of me understand why we haven’t – and by we, the western world in general, not only UK – start to make as many ventilators and we could many weeks ago)

  • 6 SemiPassive March 17, 2020, 12:35 pm

    Well I totally agree that concern for investments and concern for people dying don’t need to be mutually exclusive. People making the wrong calls now may in extreme cases end up having to work for an extra decade or two before they can retire. So it is important to keep rational, and this site provides a valuable service.

    In response to comment above by marked, one irony of the current situation is the Conservative government may be forced into commandeering private hospitals, their staff and equipment for the national good, something even Corbyn would have struggled to do under normal circumstances.
    And otherwise empty hotels may also be needed as the sick pile up, in an aid for beds deal.
    Don’t forget in the Falklands War the government commandeered the QE2 and SS Canberra as troop ships, so this is a very likely development.

  • 7 Penelope March 17, 2020, 12:47 pm

    I for one would like to know why Mr Boris Johnson and his useless cabinet haven’t been personally hand-building ventilators for at least the last 6 months. See my 2019 book “How To Make Your Own Ventilator” (available from all good bookstores) for details. With my 20-20 hindsight, I knew it would come to this.

  • 8 marked March 17, 2020, 12:51 pm

    #SemiPassive

    The irony here is I think there’s probably a good many manufacturers that supply the car industry in their Just-in-Time economics with plastic mouldings, etc that will easily be able to step up to the plate and help. The question is why not managing that a month ago? And I suspect once you’ve got the manufacturing set up it won’t take too long to create them like Gi Joe dolls if the blueprint is robust (hoping not the cheapest design , not the most expensive design , but the goldilocks design 🙂 ).

    I agree with commandeering the private hospitals too , Spain just did that too.

    There is no doubt we’ll get through this as a nation, but some better and faster decisions could have been made. I suspect the higher ups in government were gambling this was like Bird Flu or Sars1 or Mers and could be contained “over there”. The difference this time is the virus itself is optimally built for transmission. Death rate was small enough to keep it under radar for a while, its duration in the host maximises host to host transmission whereas the others had a truly horrific death rate for everyone and whilst highly infectious the host knew it early after transmission.

    But China and others have it under control (I’m surprised numbers not coming down in Italy yet) . The key is testing, and particularly drive throughs in conurbations. As the WHO said, test test test!

  • 9 weenie March 17, 2020, 12:58 pm

    Keep writing the good stuff.

    I’ve decided that I’m only going to tune in to the PM’s daily update, the rest of it is just noise I can do without.

    Two weeks of self-isolation for me now as member of my family has a temperature/fever. Could be a bad cold, could be more.

    Investments-wise, I’m holding and buying when I get the cash.

    Keep and stay safe, all!

  • 10 Tony March 17, 2020, 1:05 pm

    Monevator shouldn’t have to defend itself. It’s self-evident this is both a health and economic crisis, and an utterly significant and serious one. People have died and people will lose their jobs. Companies will fail. You continue to do an excellent job pursuing the aims of the website and raising economic and investing awareness. There is no “fat cat” mentality on display here.
    “….some people have generously told us over the years that we’ve made a difference to their financial lives. That matters to us.”
    I can only strongly endorse that. I used to gamble on shares. Got lucky until more often I got unlucky, including this time around. I didn’t realise I was gambling. Made every mistake in the book. This site and Lars Krojers have educated my thinking immensely. The sad thing is so many remain unaware.

  • 11 Edward March 17, 2020, 1:08 pm

    I note from a colleague that Singapore is essentially over it. Only a couple of hundred cases, no deaths, and now all quarantine in the country is essentially lifted.

    Contrast that to the chaos of countries that refused to close their borders and quarantine arrivals from China. I’m sure Boris has some good advisers on health matters, but this has not been handled well at all.

    I watched the Orange Man’s presser yesterday too and he’s utterly clueless. Why do serious journalists even ask him questions?

  • 12 The Investor March 17, 2020, 1:12 pm

    There is no doubt we’ll get through this as a nation, but some better and faster decisions could have been made. I suspect the higher ups in government were gambling this was like Bird Flu or Sars1 or Mers and could be contained “over there”.

    No doubt this is true, but it was hardly a singular government failing. The capital markets — our best and most efficient prediction-making machine in existence — still had US shares at all-time highs four weeks ago. That reflected the best guess of all the smartest investors in the world.

    Certainly there were behavioural biases in that, but the point is nearly everyone was the same, to a greater or lesser degree.

    @all — Thanks for the comments guys, appreciated.

  • 13 FI Warrior March 17, 2020, 1:46 pm

    @TI, Why do you still get sensitive when strangers test you with hissy-fit accusations? Humans are deeply flawed and you will never please most of them most of the time, so ignore them, if they have a problem with your free service then they can stop using it and guess who’ll be worse off?

    On the UK’s handling of the situation vis-a-vis the rest of the world, well the countries who elected clowns might now realise the costs to that. As for the economic hit, the virus of the day will pull the pin on the brexit grenade that in turn will exacerbate the explosion of the everything bubble that was always inevitable. You can’t taper ponzi schemes like central bank money printing and the distortions they give rise to in the real economy. Reality’s knocking on our front door now.

  • 14 AtlanticSpan March 17, 2020, 1:53 pm

    Mate,you do a first class job on here, you don’t have to justify your actions to most of us. If you didn’t have people’s best interests at heart,you wouldn’t spend the time and effort writing this blog. You’ve made me more money with your sound advise than my last two (and dispensed with) IFA’s put together. Thanks for all your help over the last 9 years. Take care of yourself.

  • 15 Jenny March 17, 2020, 1:57 pm

    I look forward to your emails dropping into my inbox and giving me the strength to keep holding on whilst the numbers are plummeting. Your work here is great and this article sums it all up perfectly. Thank you.

  • 16 jon March 17, 2020, 2:05 pm

    @TI, please please carry on.
    You certainly changed my life when I first stumbled on your article https://monevator.com/try-saving-enough-to-replace-your-salary/ back in Feb 2008.
    Still one of my all time favourites, which I print out and staple into my notebook start of each year. Led me to think about cash flow and FI so that I can now spend all of my time looking after my family during this crisis.
    Kind Regards, Jon

  • 17 FireSoon? March 17, 2020, 2:19 pm

    Your site is superb, a beacon of clarity in a world of vested interests. You get the tone right every time. All I can say is keep up the (very) good work.

  • 18 mousecatcher007 March 17, 2020, 2:22 pm

    @TI – I applaud your robust statement of intent. Keep up the good work!

  • 19 Dawn March 17, 2020, 2:39 pm

    Well said

  • 20 Adam March 17, 2020, 2:43 pm

    I don’t normally comment on blogs/articles but felt the need to respond to this. I’ve been visiting your website for years. It is an interesting and informative read. I’m a healthcare professional (eyes) and am fully aware of the reality of the health aspects of the current situation. I’m also a hobbyist investor (some active positions) and a passive investment fan. Professionally I am constantly aware of the health situation. I visit this website for the financial information/opinion you provide. I would echo the sentiments of a lot of your loyal devotees – keep doing what you’re doing. You do it well and we appreciate your efforts. If someone doesn’t like what you do then they can sod off somewhere else – no one is forcing them to visit this website.

  • 21 Dave March 17, 2020, 2:50 pm

    I don’t ever comment on websites and I signed up specifically just to support you and wholeheartedly agree with your stance. Keep up the great work and hopefully those readers will appreciate your sage advice at a time like this.

  • 22 Jen March 17, 2020, 2:56 pm

    I’m boggled that enough people apparently had enough of an issue with your posts that you had to write this. Of course it is a tragedy for many people, but not talking about finances out of some kind of misguided attempt to be respectful towards those that are ill doesn’t make the outside world stop. Nor does it change the fact that people need to plan for themselves and their families to mitigate any financial damage in the future.

    I personally knew someone who made the wrong panic-based financial decisions during 2008/09 and wound up committing suicide because couldn’t provide for his family. His kids were 6 and 9 years old at the time. With the prospect of job losses and another uncertain financial period on the horizon I would think that Monevator is more important then ever to help people avoid more situations like that. People who contract the virus are certainly not the only ones at risk during this situation.

  • 23 Marco March 17, 2020, 3:00 pm

    Love you man x

  • 24 Alex March 17, 2020, 3:05 pm

    Bravo!

    Reading your blog provides me with some much needed respite in these unprecedented and worrying times, so keep up the great work… and wash your hands.

  • 25 miner 2049er March 17, 2020, 3:06 pm

    as per Adam.
    “If someone doesn’t like what you do then they can sod off somewhere else – no one is forcing them to visit this website.”

  • 26 MrOptimistic March 17, 2020, 3:10 pm

    Yep, please carry on and anyway what else are you going to do in lockdown ( apart from finish that book of yours obv.) ?

  • 27 nibbbler March 17, 2020, 3:19 pm

    Clocked up 10+ years of reading monevator and find I need it even more right now! Keep on keeping on.

  • 28 Neverland March 17, 2020, 3:39 pm

    Hmm you kind of muddied the waters for the last four years with all the anti-Brexit articles?

    (Which I happened to to agree with.)

  • 29 Neverland March 17, 2020, 3:43 pm

    @Semipassive

    You haven’t seen nothing yet

    The government will conceivably have to pick winners and losers in terms of which consumer facing businesses to support and whether to prevent evictions of tenants in the private rental sector with children unable to pay their rent

    Not very invisible hand of the market

  • 30 Greywolf March 17, 2020, 3:44 pm

    Ignore all the noise from the self-righteous.

    This sorry state of affairs will leave 000’s jobless, and plenty of family’s suffering or left behind, the fall out will be far reaching!

    But….the world is not going to end, be sensible, protect the vunerable as best we can and carry on working, earning and investing. Striving for a better life it’s all that keeps us going.

    You keep doing your bit, we are all greatful!

  • 31 madflier March 17, 2020, 3:47 pm

    Hear Hear.

    As one of the many medical staff going to work today to deal with the rising panic and chaos that is being generated, I couldn’t agree more.

    I’ll ignore the politics and the health strategy.

    At some point, this too shall pass. When it does, things will suddenly flick back, perspectives switch very fast. We will have an awful lot of day to day life to pick up from the floor. Reading your website helps me to remember that life goes on. And this is what you are superbly good at. Do your job. I’ll go do mine.

  • 32 Neverland March 17, 2020, 3:52 pm

    @marked

    “I suspect the higher ups in government were gambling this was like Bird Flu or Sars1 or Mers and could be contained “over there””

    Nope, they were gambling that the number of deaths in the UK from most people catching the virus would be small enough to be acceptable and then on Monday this week they reran their models and found out they were wrong

    It didn’t escape my notice that one of Boris’ pet experts cut his teeth on virus outbreaks in Africa – no one notices when tens of thousands of Africans die because the experts are wrong

  • 33 AJP March 17, 2020, 3:54 pm

    That should be pretty obvious but I guess there are always people who don’t understand or just want to complain. Keep up the great articles and thanks!

  • 34 AlwaysLearnin March 17, 2020, 4:09 pm

    Don’t let the buggers get you down. This site is excellent, and very much appreciated (by the vast majority at least). Keep up the great work.

  • 35 PassiveNoob March 17, 2020, 4:13 pm

    Massive, evangelical fan here… many thanks, and keep it up!

  • 36 Dave March 17, 2020, 4:14 pm

    Well said! Grateful!!

  • 37 Learner March 17, 2020, 4:48 pm

    > People making the wrong calls now may in extreme cases end up having to work for an extra decade or two before they can retire.

    Came here to say exactly that. The difference between retiring at 70 vs 80 is vast and the health and welfare implications are just as serious.

  • 38 Nige B. March 17, 2020, 4:54 pm

    Monevator reader since 2010.

    First time I’ve commented. If there was ever a need for your excellent perspectives on passive investing & investment behaviour, it’s now. Thanks for guiding me to a solid FI.

    Keep up the great work!

  • 39 Barn Owl March 17, 2020, 5:13 pm

    This is a great blog. Please keep doing it! It has certainly made a big difference for me.

    If someone has send adverse comments, that’s really tough on you. However, understandably, there are a lot of worried and upset people just at the moment. My advice is to try and let it flow by.

  • 40 ermine March 17, 2020, 5:14 pm

    Sorry to hear you were taking flack. I’ve appreciated your work on here, it made a material and very positive difference to my life. Virtual hugs and keep on keeping on!

  • 41 C March 17, 2020, 6:17 pm

    Long time reader, rare commenter. Keep doing what you are doing, TI. This is definitely a economic as well as a health crisis.

  • 42 xxd09 March 17, 2020, 6:37 pm

    Well said-keep the good work!
    Too many people about now with too little to do or hair trigger sensitivities or both
    It’s time the tail stopped wagging the dog!
    xxd09

  • 43 The Borderer March 17, 2020, 7:38 pm

    Without question, the best FIRE (and little bloke) investment blog on the web. Don’t you dare lose heart because of some muppet comments. Keep calm etc etc.

  • 44 Barny March 17, 2020, 7:39 pm

    When I have toothache I go to the dentist,
    When my appendix goes wonky I’ll go to the doctors,
    When I want objective financial information I’ll go to Monevator.

    History confirms that successive UK governments have never put citizens first. But rest assured that when you reach eighty years, you will get another 25p added to your pension, and three years later you may have enough to buy a second class stamp. Provided that you haven’t frittered it away.

  • 45 Snowman March 17, 2020, 7:58 pm

    Ignore the critics TI, you’ve got the balance spot on between talking about the financial aspects while not forgetting the human tragedy.

    But have to agree with Mr Optimistic, this really is the opportunity to get the monevator book completed!!

  • 46 DMS March 17, 2020, 8:35 pm

    As a person who avidly awaits your musings every week and whose future-self is very financially grateful, please do keep doing what you do best!

  • 47 DaveDatum March 17, 2020, 8:53 pm

    In 2012 my boss said to me very excitedly,’DaveDatum! I’ve just consolidated all my pensions into a SIPP!”
    I said, ‘Oh’, and thought, ‘What’s a SIPP?’
    I typed it into Google, Monevator came up on the first search page.
    My eyes were opened, and now I have am very likely to become FI before the average person (well……. sometime after the next Bull market’s been running a few years).
    Thank you, and hope you can keep it up. These times will be testing, and personal finance education can’t help but make a positive contribution to a great many people’s wellbeing.

  • 48 flotron March 17, 2020, 8:55 pm

    Been reading your site since almost the very beginning and although i’ve only made a few comments in those 12 years, i’m still an avid reader, even if i miss the slightly more active posts.
    The site is quite different from those early days, and from my perspective it is quite usual that you would get a reaction like that, as the larger you become as a group, the greater likelihood of there being idiots within that group who will try to bait you. I’ve seen it all to frequently, and it’s not surprising that it happens during a time of turmoil where they can convince themselves that they have the moral high-ground.
    Keep doing what you’re doing! You’re an invaluable resource and I’m completely sure you’ve changed many lives for the better!

  • 49 Anonymous March 17, 2020, 9:28 pm

    What an eloquent and inspiring post. We must all keep on keeping on.

  • 50 The Investor March 17, 2020, 9:40 pm

    Thanks very much for all the comments everyone, both here and on email. It’s inspiring.

    I want to be clear that in nearly all cases I don’t think the comments were malicious or mean-spirited. They were from I believe people who really are feeling this crisis very deeply, and responding in the way that seemed best to them. As they see it talking about money right now does seem irrelevant, and perhaps even offensive. Fair enough.

    This post is my attempt at explaining why I disagree, and it’s great to have so much support for pushing on. Thank you.

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