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Weekend reading: First that, now this

Weekend reading: First that, now this post image

The first to die was Protesilaus
A focused man who hurried to darkness
With forty black ships leaving the land behind
Men sailed with him from those flower-lit cliffs
Where the grass gives growth to everything
Pyrasus Iton Pteleus Antron
He died in mid-air jumping to be first ashore
There was his house half-built
His wife rushed out clawing her face
Pordacus his altogether less impressive brother
Took over command but that was long ago
He’s been in the black earth dead now for thousands of years

Like a wind-murmur
Begins a rumour of waves
One long note getting louder
The water breathes a deep sigh
Like a land-ripple
When the west wind runs through a field
Wishing and searching
Nothing to be found
The corn-stalks shake their green heads

Like a wind-murmur
Begins a rumour of waves
One long note getting louder
The water breathes a deep sigh
Like a land-ripple
When the west wind runs through a field
Wishing and searching
Nothing to be found
The corn-stalks shake their green heads

– From Memorial, by Alice Oswald

Given my views about what drove Brexit, it’ll be no surprise to hear I thought Trump would probably win. Surely everyone by now understands there are bigger themes at work? If you still want to argue, I presume you’re on-board with them.

Please don’t tell me it’s all about economic inequality. See the exit polls in the links below. Trump voter average incomes skew higher than Clinton’s.

(Also, for the umpteenth time, you personally might have voted for UK sovereignty. Fine, I respect that. But that wasn’t why your side won the referendum.)

I know some loyal readers hate these political asides. Unfortunately for them I want to speak out more than I want to keep them happy. Please skip to the links below for vanilla personal finance.

Sure, my hope is populism starts to recede as this pressure valve is released. That the extreme end of liberal thinking looks up from its personal political navel and re-engages with wider concerns. That Trump moderates in the White House. That the checks and balances work.  That things don’t turn out as badly as they can do once his sort of rhetoric is legitimized.

But if so, it won’t be because people who were appalled by it all just bury their heads, hold their tongues, and shrug.

It will be partly because they shouted it down, however modest their platform.

For now, regime change is in the air. Politically and in the markets.

Have a good weekend.

Hail President-Elect Trump

“Our suspicion: the civilizing forces that make rich countries rich are quite fragile.

The big economic worry about a Trump presidency therefore isn’t that it might kick inflation up a notch or reduce manufacturing productivity by limiting import competition.

The thing to be worried about is that the elevation of a man who doesn’t seem to respect some of the most basic values of an open society could contribute to the corrosion of America’s institutions.

The impact might be subtle at first, and could even be masked by a period of strong growth thanks to fiscal profligacy. But eventually we would all end up much poorer than we otherwise would have been.”

– Subscriber-only content, FT Alphaville

  • Why America elected Trump [Video]Guardian
  • Trump victory is our post-crisis political reckoning [Search result]FT
  • 7 takeaways from the victory of Donald Trump [Search result]FT
  • Trump and Brexit: Why it’s again not the economy, stupid – L.S.E.
  • First Brexit, now Trump – Simple Living in Suffolk
  • The election exit polls [Note higher-income Trumpers]New York Times
  • Trump and Brexit: Demographic voting data, side-by-side – BBC
  • Simon Schama: Accepting the result, not staying calm [Search result]FT
  • Win has “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry”Harry Reid
  • Markets buy certainty – The Reformed Broker
  • Also: Off the lows – The Reformed Broker
  • Trump and the markets: Six impossible things [Search result]FT
  • What does Trump mean for markets? [Hint: Up]Pragmatic Capitalism
  • Also: The failing pursuit of the truth – Pragmatic Capitalism
  • More on the potential for a Trumped up stock market bubble – AWOCS
  • Goldman Sachs and ‘Gandalf’ bullish on US stocks, too – Bloomberg
  • Trump will help kill 30-year bond rally [Search result]FT
  • Bond rout underway, yields could jump ‘bigly’ – MarketWatch
  • Trump win sparks emerging markets sell-off – The Australian
  • Markets are indulging in make-believe [Search result]FT
  • Never sell everything like this guy did, whatever you fear – Bloomberg
  • Gold sales went “absolutely bonkers” on Trump win – ThisIsMoney
  • Trump’s win yields investing wisdom – Barry Ritholz
  • Jeremy Siegel on the stock market’s reaction [Podcast]Wharton
  • Volatility tends to decline after US presidential elections – Vanguard
  • Will Trump now go after Apple and Amazon? [Podcast]The Verge
  • Overconfidence and the scout mindset – Abnormal Returns
  • Globalization and the liberal economic consensus in full retreat – IFA
  • US national security officials consider the future under Trump – Guardian
  • The German for Barry Blimp is “Wutbürger” [PDF]Oaktree Capital
  • President Trump: How and why [Video, NSFW]YouTube
  • Michael Moore’s 5-point plan – Good.is
  • ACLU’s open letter to Trump – Twitter

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: After the sudden spike in bond yields, could the long march down in fixed-rate mortgages come to an end soon? For now TSB has dropped the rate on its five-year fix to a new low of 1.89%. You need to be looking to remortgage with 40% or more equity in your home, and the £995 fee means HSBC’s 1.99% fee-free rate remains slightly cheaper all-in.

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

  • MoneyBox interview with Vanguard founder Jack Bogle [Podcast]BBC
  • Some index funds are better than others – Morningstar
  • Interview with Larry Swedroe about factor-based investing – Mutual Funds
  • Why the maths behind passive investing might be wrong [Hmm…]WSJ

Active investing

  • ETFs attract more than $3.2tn to pass hedge funds [Search result]FT

A word from a broker

Other stuff worth reading

  • Japan is calling time on the great monetary easing – Bloomberg
  • How economic gobbledygook divides us – New York Times
  • Regulator wants it to be harder for self-employed to get a mortgage – ThisIsMoney
  • Can a wood-burning stove save you money? – ThisIsMoney
  • ONS to switch to CPIH inflation measure, includes housing costs – ThisIsMoney
  • RIP Leonard Cohen – Rolling Stone

Book of the week: Passive investing guru Larry Swedroe did a few interviews this week for his recently published The Complete Guide to Factor-Based Investing. Have you read it? Give us a quick review below! Swedroe’s tome is subtitled ‘The way smart money invests today’, so please don’t be humble…

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  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”. []

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{ 80 comments… add one }
  • 51 ermine November 14, 2016, 5:29 pm

    @ Factor citing TI > “Again, the likes of me hears that and thinks ‘move!!’ ”

    Me too, indeed I left London many years ago for precisely that reason 😉

    On a more general observation, why is it such a great thing to force people to get on their bikes and move? Life is about more than work, and the fact that we are creating a society that forces people to move all the time or work in London, which the Torygraph described as a workhouse for the young isn’t to be celebrated.

  • 52 Mark November 14, 2016, 5:47 pm

    @Ermine, agreed. In the mid-1980s, I remember minibuses full of guys from Liverpool, Newcastle and other disindustrialised Northern cities travelling down to London on Sunday nights to build and convert what are now iconic Docklands apartment buildings. Ironically, they were making homes for the Masters of the Universe whose good fortune drove the strong Pound, which was the downfall of their previous employers.

    Today, the direction of travel is West rather than South as workers from low-income parts of the EU head for the UK instead.

    This kind of migration is easiest for the very young and for men with career-free wives or partners. It’s no way to build a cohesive and equal society.

    The root cause, I believe, is financialisation, and the solution is to weaken banking and related professional services as a proportion of the UK economy. Not only would this weaken our currency – temporarily, we’re seeing its benefits now, as markets price in disinvestment due to Brexit – but it would also divert more of our brightest minds from this rent-seeking sector and start to diminish the economic chasm between London and the rest of the UK.

  • 53 Richard November 14, 2016, 7:17 pm

    I do also worry that we are seeing a resurgence of Victorian type attitudes of the well off. The poor are poor because they are lazy or because they won’t move or because they don’t try hard enough or some other failing of theirs. For some this may be true, but is it really that straight forward? As Mark says for the young and single probably but once you start to have a family, aging parents etc it suddenly because much harder.

  • 54 zxspectrum48k November 14, 2016, 10:04 pm

    @Mark: you might want to “divert … our brightest minds from this rent-seeking sector [finance]” and “diminish the economic chasm between London and the rest of the UK” but what else are they to do exactly, why would they ever want to work in the regions? Other than tech start-ups, what can compete with Goldman? I left Oxbridge with a PhD in Theoretical Physics, almost 20 years ago, and my choices were a) a good post-doc at MIT in the US (I wasn’t doing one in the UK since it paid a miserable £10k/annum b) a £15k/year job in a dying UK engineering company with no future career progression or c) £40k/year starting salary+ 100% bonus at a US investment bank. I took the IB job and have only been paid six/seven figure sums since. I do think constantly of leaving finance and doing something “useful” but what has better working conditions than a hedge fund? I never work weekends, work one/two days from home, and never have to deal with crap like management, HR, employee reviews etc. Just a percentage of what I make at the end of the year. Finally, I love globalization, so it’s London or another major world city; why would I ever want to work in Newcastle …

  • 55 Mr optimistic November 14, 2016, 10:59 pm

    @Mark. Yup. I was surprised by the strength of the leave vote in the north. Dave C dreams up a referendum to shoot UKIP’s fox to stem losses in the election and look what happens. Oh, the he bails. Cheers Dave.

    The EU does have a smite image problem though. Who rejoices in the UK for the splendid investment in infrastructure thanks to EU support in country x ? When you hear about domestic politics in France, Germany etc it is still framed in the internal politics of that country. No tradeoffs across borders. What’s the youth unemployment in Spain, 20% plus. Greece, who knows. How about Lincoln or Newcastle for that matter. If the EU isn’t seen to be acting to help all you are left with are negatives. So you hear foreign accents in the town, rumours that it’s no good applying there unless you are of a particular nationality, resentment. And then someone asks your opinion by referendum.

  • 56 Mr optimistic November 14, 2016, 11:09 pm

    Sorry to double post but the issue of locations with high immigration voting remain. What counts is proportion of population. Perhaps check on Slough, Boston, Peterborough, Northampton?

  • 57 FI Warrior November 14, 2016, 11:17 pm

    Divide and rule, it never fails because it targets our achilles heel, self-interest, if we stuck together and retained the empathy that distinguishes humans from basic primate behaviour, we wouldn’t have to only be able to live well via financially approved occupations. This was possible only a generation ago and everything is related, life in Newcastle would be fine if everyone had this attitude so that it wouldn’t have to be a choice between joining the 1% living well in London vs ‘bare survival’ in a wasteland of poverty or mediocrity beyond the M25. (Half of all the kindnesses I’ve had in my life have come from Geordies and considering I never lived there and they’re a fraction of the population of the UK, there’s a message in there somewhere; it’s not just about money)

    I’m with the Ermine on having to move to survive, context is all, for sure you should move for your dream job IF that’s a real choice, (I did) but why should you have to leave the town you were born in wherever that is, only because corrupt leadership allowed speculative spiv developers to price you out. Why should non-dom/non-taxpayers for example, (same native ethnicity to be clear) be able to have a second home in a nice place so a local who is a nurse, teacher or anything else useful can’t afford to live where they came from? That’s what this misdirected backlash is all about; unfortunately the ruling elite are still laughing because whichever way the vote goes, the hands controlling the different puppets lead back to the same master.

    But you never get to know who is attritionally degrading your future, because they hide behind a highly paid army of professionals, that second home is owned by a shell company registered in a tax-haven. So who is easier to take the frustration out on? The sh*t-poor Eastern Europeans picking vegetables in winter on isolated farms while living in freezing caravans, because they’re robbing the locals on that experience they really, really wanted. Please.

  • 58 Mark November 14, 2016, 11:26 pm

    @zxspectrum48k, I think you just made my point for me. Your choice of a career in finance in London rather than, say, engineering in Newcastle is highly rational given the economic incentives. Same goes for your support for globalisation.

    Trouble is, not everyone can get a seat at Goldman or a hedge fund. And the rest of them (us) lose out as a result of the fortune experienced by you, and others like you, since the industry drives up the exchange rate, bids up London property prices – freezing out less remunerative occupations – and, as you’ve experienced, buys up talent that could have benefited other sectors.

    I stress that I imply no criticism of you personally; you may well be brilliant, hard-working and entirely ethical. But anyone who has dealt with misconduct in your industry, as I have, knows that any correlation between those merits and rewards in investment banking and the hedge funds is imprecise, or perhaps somewhat inverse.

    So I think one of the messages of both Brexit and Trump is that participants in the real economy want to rebalance in their favour and at the expense of financialisation. I just hope that special pleading by the City doesn’t result in us trading labour movement controls for passporting. At least the loathsome Osborne is off the scene, so there’s a chance…

  • 59 Mr optimistic November 14, 2016, 11:35 pm

    The real danger isn’t here yet. Two years of negotiations, 26 ? foreign leaders to deal with. Harsh words, aggressive stance, a f’u UK you left of your own volition we are not going to make it easy. Reported in the UK press, attitudes harden. The main responsibility is with the EU. My guess is they’ll blow it and try a Greece Mk2 approach. In 18 months a blog like this may not be wise!

  • 60 The Rhino November 14, 2016, 11:39 pm

    @zx what would constitute something useful from your perspective, and what would it take to tilt you in that direction?

  • 61 zxspectrum48k November 15, 2016, 2:23 am

    @Mark. You won’t get any complaints from me about reducing the dependence of the UK on financial services or about rolling back the excesses of neoliberal capitalism. What I don’t like, however, is the negativity toward service industries and the constant desire to rebalance the economy back to manufacturing. With the exception of some areas of precision engineering, most bulk manufacturing is poorly paid. You’re not going to get strong wage growth when it is effectively capped by a) offshoring or b) automation. We should be designing widgets, but we don’t want necessarily to be manufacturing them. I’m from a old industrial northern city and I remember what it was like in the early 80s when I was a child and it was s**t. It’s far better now with all the manufacturing gone. Standards of living are better, the jobs are far safer; yet still people somehow pine for working in the steel mill! (if they had seen what it did to my uncle’s lungs they might not).

    As I said in an earlier comment in this thread, we have entered a post-scarcity era for human labour. The rise of emerging market labour pools, women in the work place and technology, all create huge aggregate labour supply without the corresponding aggregate demand. Human labour becomes either obsolete or commoditized, driving down real wage levels. Yes, the UK has created many jobs since 2008 but most a relatively poorly paid and productivity has fallen due to low skill levels. Anti-globalization/anti-immigration policies may slow the trend (and at a huge possibly cost) but technology is eventually going replace many jobs.

    Instead, we need to move away from the idea that work somehow defines a person and embrace the idea that unemployment/underemployment is normal, and even good. We need to stop putting “hard working families” on a pedestal because there is nothing positive about having to flog your guts out (my dad did 80-100 hour weeks as an unskilled worker and it did him no good at all). The social contract between citizens and the nation-state needs to be redrawn, probably with a universal living wage. The minority who earn the large sums and the corporates need to pay for it. Problem is that it sounds more like something the EU would do than the new ultra-right wing Brexit Britain.

    What we can’t do though is try to recreate the 20th century. The nation-state… it wasn’t that great in the first place.

  • 62 Richard November 15, 2016, 7:09 am

    @zx – but what is anyone not earning large sums supposed to do about it? How does your utopia of a citizen wage come about? Labour tried to solve this problem by sending everyone to university so we would all have amazing jobs. This failed as there just weren’t the jobs so you have people with degrees and lots of debt in 0 hour contracts in MW jobs. The corporates and those earning the large sums threaten to up and leave to some other major city (as they love globalisation and don’t have any real connection with the rest of the nation state) whenever the idea of taxing them more comes up. The political elites appear to bring in policies that reduce wages and create unemployment, appear to bail out / let off the hook one group of privileged people but let other groups (usually poorer workers) go to the wind, allow unlimited immigration that is seen as ‘stealing’ other people’s jobs. So how do these poor left behind people affect change? Through the ballot box. But no one is promising this utopia. Trump / Brexit promise a return to the good old days (rose tinted for sure). Clinton / remain promise more of the same. Do you blame them voting for what they believe will be real change?

    One hope from Brexit is that the powers that be will start to wake up. Indeed, the rhetoric to date has all been about embracing free trade and globalisation while forcing cooperates and high earners to take on more social responsibility. Whether this actually goes anywhere is yet to be seen but maybe it is moving in the right direction. Assuming people like you don’t just up sticks to some other majar city 🙂

  • 63 Neverland November 15, 2016, 9:47 am


    You seem to be explicitly relaxed about you and other UK citizens becoming somewhat poorer in the short and medium term in order to leave the EU?

  • 64 FI Warrior November 15, 2016, 10:03 am

    @zx, you make some good points and articulate them very well, I agree with all you say, a race to the bottom for brain-dead, dangerous jobs is the farthest thing from the answer. As to how to pay for a decent enough income for all from far less labour, I believe it is possible and not even difficult. What is difficult is the absence of political will to do it and changing a mindset born of a lifetime’s brainwashing; the answer is to reverse that step-by-step, kids could be educated from school already to manage their money just as this site does for us, it should be a part of basic maths.

    Then business taxes should be laddered based on profits, but also to produce the effect that the small companies pay the least and the corporates the most; sure some might then leave in a huff, but what all have you really lost? (Some junk food in the shops, rip-off services? we’ll survive) Since corporates tend to headquarter in Lichenstein so pay no local taxes, SMEs and small independents who having been out-competed before due to having to pay taxes, can now flourish. The fruits of local productivity then stays in the area and makes it a place people actually want to live in, this is what they’re trying to do with the Bristol £ for example.

    Small companies are easier for families to own and operate, as used to happen until just recently and these formed the backbone/strength of strong countries, families tend to look after their own, employing the vulnerable instead of getting a machine to do some things. This meant fuller employment and more taxes, the opposite of a burden for the state to pay for an army of skivers. As for playing the ‘who’ll pay for it all’ card, it never fails to make me laugh that there’s always endless ‘whatever it takes’ funding for prestige/pointless wars, white elephant projects or indirect subsidies to the corporates. (like in-work benefits which wouldn’t be necessary if people could live off their wages)

  • 65 John November 15, 2016, 10:06 am

    @Richard – It all sounds rather appealing but the evidence just isn’t there. It’s easy to claim “The political elites appear to bring in policies that reduce wages and create unemployment” but based on what? It isn’t just the 1%ers who are vastly better off than they were in the 80s as a group for example.

    We have a huge amount of revenue from selling pharmaceuticals, financial services, and technology to other parts of the world. In order to facilitate that trade we’ve had to accept that poorer parts of the world can mine, produce consumer goods etc far more cheaply than we can. It is nothing more than a quaint fiction to imagine that we’d be better off if we pulled back this low skilled work as it would a) massively increase prices and b) be virtually entirely automated and in return; and that’s before you account for the devastating impact any reciprocal trade restrictions on our high value industries.

    And ironically given why some people voted this way what’s the most likely result of Brexit with regards to trade? That we aggressively pursue free-trade with less worker protections than the EU would. The kind of trade deals that will make it even less likely that we’ll bring manufacturing back from abroad.

  • 66 hotairmail November 15, 2016, 10:40 am

    Whilst there are a number of steps suggested already, many are highly contentious, but certain initiataives need not be so, to start turning the tide of our economy towards a higher value added economy on average.

    The tax credit/housing benefit system has had the unfortunate outcome of generating low value jobs – hand car washes, strawberry picking etc. etc. and reduced the drive to automation including supermarket checkouts and the like. When we expanded to the east, we also seemingly had access to an unlimited number of people to fill these countless low value jobs generated. The trouble is, value added of such jobs is simply not sufficient to pay for the sorts of services in the society we would all like to dwell in. QE and low interest rates have often been fingered as being the problem, but whilst it no doubt contributes to zombification, it is not the sole cause.

    If we decide to roll back these tax credits (perhaps for non citizens only) etc, you may well say, well “who is going to pick those strawberries left rotting in the field”? I say ‘no one’. Leave them to rot. If it was worth growing them here where land and labour is expensive, they would be picked. But it simply does not make sense subsidising the gangmaster economy (that includes you Tesco). Doubly so when the labour leaving eastern europe has left many of their fields barren. Poland has had to import vast numbers of Ukrainians to undertake this work there.

    The effect is to press wages overall towards the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage ensures more and more people are at that level which leaves many unhappy. Wage differentials are important for people as social animals.

    Changes to these items could be phased in relatively quickly and vastly reduce the pressure on this country as a whole (housing, schools, roads, health) whilst raising average gva to pay for the services we all want and demand.

  • 67 Richard November 15, 2016, 10:40 am

    @John true but who needs evidence? When I say ‘appears’ I mean the perception these people have of our rulers. For me, it all stems from the 2008 crash, austerity and the types of articles the media produce. While everyone felt well off things were fine. But when things started to go down hill, when people were getting 0% pay rises (or being made redundant) while the cost of living increased they started looking for answers and solutions. The issue with the financial service, pharmaceuticals and technology is that I don’t think it employs enough people on its own to reverse the issues of austerity for the population as a whole.

    While I agree these votes are often self defeating, what other options do people have if they don’t agree with the status quo?

  • 68 The Rhino November 15, 2016, 11:26 am

    @TI – ermine reminded me recently of the following FSF quote:

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

    As you mentioned, this comment thread has been a notch or two better than previous

    Maybe its time for you to write a pro-brexit article?

    I think there’s the raw material here to get you started.

    You may have to get on the couch and regress 20 years to a pre-london pro-socialist younger self? Could be cathartic?

    Hell, If Boris can do it you should have no problems.

    It would be deeply impressive if you could make it convincing..

  • 69 Mark November 15, 2016, 2:37 pm

    @zx, I accept there’s a model of the future in which a few people earn (or rather receive) huge salaries for working in investment banks, hedge funds and the professional services firms that serve (and protect) them, a few people (mainly recent migrants) toil in the service sector in roles that can’t be automated, while the rest of us sit on benefits watching Jeremy Kyle. Indeed, we travelled a long way down that path under Blair and Brown.

    Most rich people don’t like being heavily taxed and most poor people don’t love being dependent on handouts. So a better quality of life ensues for all if we can cut down on the rent-seeking at the top and improve the opportunities and pricing power at the bottom.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not advocating a return to unskilled mass manufacturing. I recognise that automation and offshoring are killing those types of jobs. All I’m calling for is diversification away from finance. We Brits are great at the creative industries, biotech, software, luxury brands and more. Yes, we may offshore some of the grunt work, but the value-adding part is done well here.

    We should be managing down the finance sector and with it our currency, allowing market forces to pare remuneration in that industry and with it, London housing costs, while encouraging our brightest and best to consider other occupations.

  • 70 hotairmail November 15, 2016, 2:55 pm

    I could be double posting as Mark. It is a peculiarly British, perhaps London centric view, where the perceived wisdom is that “we cannot do manufacturing anymore”. It is fairly easy to counteract that argument by pointing to Germany, Holland et al. Even France. What you’ll notice is that the productivity per head and gva is markedly greater in these countries than our own. Manufacturing and technical advancements are increasing this process rather than lessening it.

    It is also a false dichotomy to talk about either-or. Either manufacturing or services. The best services to be involved with are those related to where you are in greater control of the real side too. When you lose that and financial services becomes an end its own and fails to perform its lauded role in the capitalistic process, it is then drawn to the shadows – the skimming and scamming and the rent seeking that is effectively destroying what is left of the rest. It is also very questionable whether in the long run, without all sorts of subsidies and assistance of various kinds, how profitable the financial sector really is beyond its proponents who walk away with their wages and bonuses leaving a hole behind.

  • 71 ermine November 16, 2016, 12:29 am

    @hotairmail re manufacturing as a percentage of GDP, Germany is higher at 23% to our 11%, yes fair enough. Re Holland and France the World Bank begs to differ. I was surprised that it is as high as 11% of GDP in the UK. Of course it doesn’t employ loads of people like it did in the past as it’s presumably high value add, zxspectrum’s design rather than manufacturing like ARM’s fabless IP ‘products’ (OK ARM isn’t British anymore, but was in 2014) rather than say the Bristol lot bashing out transputer chips in the 1980s.

  • 72 MrMoneyBanks November 16, 2016, 8:57 am


    …and what exactly is wrong with accepting that we take a short term him for a longer term gain. One of the issues during the Brexit debate is that it was framed as a decision that had impacts over the next 15 years. This was wrong. The decision had a long term, generational impact. You weren’t voting just for your future, you were voting on behalf of your children and your children’s children etc. How can you weigh your short term pain against the long term futures of multiple generations. If you believe that the UK would have been better off in several decades time then the answer is you must prioritise future generations over your own.

  • 73 The Investor November 17, 2016, 1:42 pm

    This is a good TED video from earlier this month about what’s going on, and why it really IS so different from the dichotomy of the 20th Century:


    The chap being interviewed, Jonathan Haidt, is strong at understanding both sides of the divide.

  • 74 The Rhino November 17, 2016, 2:53 pm

    @TI thanks for that link, he is good. I have a few of his books on the shelf. I would argue that the ‘Righteous Mind’ is required reading for everyone.

    I agree with his thesis that the authoritarian/liberal divide is perhaps currently the biggest challenge hiding in plain sight. Its effects have become very negative and damaging.

    Reminds me of your line – ‘Nah, I know who I am..’ – maybe thats not the problem, its knowing who everyone else is too that’s the tricky bit? Even when they disgust you? But being disgusted by half your country isn’t a sustainable position if you have any aspirations of living the Socratean ‘good-life’. At least I don’t think it is?

    Disgust is probably too strong a word here – I just lifted its use from that TED discussion as my vocabulary didn’t offer up a more appropriate alternative..

  • 75 The Investor November 17, 2016, 3:25 pm

    @TheRhino — If you go back to my first post on Brexit — which was undoubtedly influenced by hurt and anger, I don’t deny that — it was *almost* as much about how I thought that the under-performing provinces had voted against their own interest as that they’d voted against mine. I may or may not be right about that, but my point is I’ve followed and tried to understand their grievances for years. Triply so in the case of this identity talk gone wild type stuff. I’m far (far) from the “if you’re rich then you’re clearly hardworking and right” or “if you’re poor then you’re a victim” polarities.

    Still, I have become aware over the past few months post-Brexit that I was still bringing my own biases to these discussions. I’m seeing some evidence in these discussions that others have done a bit of self-reflection. Other regular commentators, not so much. I see repeatedly on Facebook people talking about discussion and understanding, but we all want the other side to be the ones who understand! 😉 The trouble perhaps is that the stakes feel like they’ve been raised so much by the hideous rhetoric / echo chambers of the past few years it’s doubly hard to back down.

    I appreciate my critics over the past few months may not agree, but I genuinely feel I sit towards the middle of the spectrum. I have voted for four different political parties since 2000. I’m the archetypal floating voter election decider, and far from tribal.

  • 76 The Rhino November 17, 2016, 3:49 pm

    well thats a sensible position to hold

    As a general rule of thumb, its probably not good to take a strongly partisan position on an issue that splits a large group, i.e. a country, roughly 50/50. It will make you miserable, as lack of empathy always eventually does.

    As an avid MV reader, I will confess that I must have mis-construed your brexit pieces as exhibiting a degree of negative partisanship (to coin Haidt’s term). But really, this a massively widespread problem we all seem to be suffering from to such a degree that it’s getting pretty unhealthy.

  • 77 The Investor November 17, 2016, 4:09 pm

    @The Rhino — As I just acknowledged, my Brexit pieces were influenced/coloured by anger and hurt, especially the early ones, and the past few months has brought me a bit more awareness than in the week following the Referendum. I’m not trying to unsay anything here.

    But even in that first post I said I could see a way to get say a 30-40% reason to vote for Brexit (I forget the exact figure I used, and haven’t time to look up on my phone! 🙂 ) And as I’ve said before I’ve used words like “cultural” and “xenophobia” where possible, as opposed to say “racist”, for the reasons Haidt cites (i.e. For the reason that such feelings are not always racism).

    But racism does exist, and I believe it has been empowered by the Brexit vote and now the Trump vote. Understanding more why someone feels alienated doesn’t undo that.

    Similarly, and more controversial, my Barry Blimp shorthand describes a real type of angry 50-something well-off British male who I believe is under-documented, just as much as one can talk about campus feminists sheltering in safe rooms because the University Film Society put on a showing of an old Carry On… film. It’s probably not 100% perfect to talk about stereotypes, but blogs exist to discuss ideas and opinions, and to be read.

    Also I think there are (or were, I think I’ve driven many of them away from here) a very disproportionate number of Blimps versus Crazy Pixie Girls in the investing sphere, which was probably a further factor as to why the Monevator take seemed/seems so at odds with what investors are reading on other investing forums day after day about Brexit. Something like ADVFN is a Brexit bastion.

    What truly made me cross about both Brexit and Trump is the manner of how those victories were won – through distortion and ugly alliances – and the aftermath. Without the distortion and the more extreme views, Brexit didn’t win. I’m not sure re: Trump, but I can believe that if he hadn’t spent years saying Obama wasn’t American and more recently that he was going to throw “crooked Hilary” in jail that her popular majority might have turned into sufficient electoral seats.

    It’s giddy when people see votes going their way to the extent that they can be happy to overlook how they’re winning, but these are dark forces. For instance, the Daily Mail at al condemning the judiciary as “the enemy of the people”. That sort of talk by Britain’s most popular daily newspaper is really dangerous, history is littered with examples. (Incidentally, and as evidence of my balance, I’m currently having a debate in Facebook with my left-wing friends who are sharing an article condemning the BBC as “doing the far-rights work for them”, and suggesting they might be biased).

    I have to say I’m seeing negligible soul-searching on the “winners” side, to be frank. But perhaps that’s understandable for now given the winning.

  • 78 The Rhino November 17, 2016, 4:33 pm

    But how to undo it all? I’m not sure I like the implication of Haidt’s that we need a good war to bring us all back together. Could we just administer half a gramme of Soma?

  • 79 The Investor November 17, 2016, 4:49 pm

    @TheRhino — There’s a great line in one of the Fitzgerald novels from the 1920s where a couple of US types are looking at a World War 1 battlefield a few years after Verdun and The Somme etc and wondering how it came to that… One of them says it took 100 years of relative prosperity and progress and going to church on a Sunday and so on — i.e. that the war was built on the back of them having had it good for so long.

    I think something like that is true today.

    In broad terms (not every voter to the limit, as it seems I have to explicitly state every time! 🙂 ) the Blimps and Trumpets are angry, despite, respectively, the UK doing relatively amazingly in Europe and the US being by far the world’s richest country and the world’s one global superpower. Meanwhile the left have spent the last few years being preoccupied with identity politics despite the (Western) world never having been more equal, especially with respect to gender, and with capitalism being supposedly bankrupt despite it pulling literally billions out of poverty over the past 30 years (among many other benefits).

    When we couldn’t even be happy let alone celebrate the gains… hard to be optimistic. I do think the WW1/WW2 experience provided a measure of vaccination for the West against extremism. But I think/fear our herd immunity has run out. 🙁

  • 80 PC November 17, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Thanks for the TED link.

    The next link it auto-played is good too – from 2008 about Bush v Gore – but a very similar theme of openness and ideology and the “moral matrix”

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