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Weekend reading: 2020 hindsight

What caught my eye this week.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a suitably anti-climactic New Year. But there is something firmly transitional about that strange two weeks, isn’t there?

A friend sent me Private Eye’s video recap [1] of 2019, and it already seems incredibly out-of-date. Jokes about Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri? So last decade.

However a relic of 2019 that I’m not yet completely over yet (bar the ‘B’ word!) is the recent debate I had with the rest of the band about financial independence and early retirement.

Partly that’s because you guys have delivered some excellent follow-up comments to continue the conversation. (Link below!)

But it’s probably also because it’s been a while since I mentally visited some of the wider themes – living for today versus tomorrow, how to best spend 8am to 11pm, and on – and despite my rhetorical posturing for debate purposes, the pushback from The Accumulator gave me plenty to think about.

If you’re still kicking it over, too, then there are two relevant reads in The Guardian this week.

First off [2], Oliver Burkeman asks whether you’re living too much in the future at the expense of now. He has wider themes than just saving for retirement in mind, but it’s still a relevant read:

The problem with treating every year (or week, or hour) as something you’re supposed to put to use is that you end up living permanently focused on the future.

The more strenuously you try to get something out of life, the more emotionally invested you become in reaching the point at which you’ve succeeded in doing so – which is, necessarily, never now.

One of my arguments was that some FIRE-seekers seem too happy to slog through a bad existence now because they’ve pinned their hopes on a far-flung retired future. There are counterarguments in our debate so I won’t rehash it, but I will flag up this second interesting article [3] on learning to love the job you have now:

There are simple steps we can take to start rebalancing this relationship with our workplace.

Researchers have found that even the most miserable job can be redeemed by taking back a little control.

That word ‘control’ is key. Several people in the comments to our five-part barny said they were all-in on early retirement because they don’t want to be told what to do.

I can fully understand that.

My own solution was long ago to become my own boss, and to work generally out-of-office. As I’ve written before [4], you don’t have to go nuclear on working for a living.

The one thing we all agreed on is that pursuing the financial independence part of FIRE is almost a no-brainer, whatever your future aspirations. And we plan to chip in over 2020 (and beyond…) with more articles and insights on Monevator as to how to best achieve it.

Happy new decade!

From Monevator

Debating FIRE: The believer vs the sceptic vs the drop-out (Round 1) – Monevator [5]

The struggle for the soul of FIRE (Round 2) – Monevator [6]

The elephant’s revenge (Round 3) – Monevator [7]

Breathing FIRE (Round 4) – Monevator [8]

The final conflagration (Round 5, including poll!) – Monevator [9]

Also check out the excellent comment thread from readers – Monevator [10]

News

Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1 [11]

Living standards grow at slowest rate since World War 2 [Search result]FT [12]

UK house prices enjoy a December bounce – ThisIsMoney [13]

[14]

Click to enlarge

2019 joins JP Morgan’s asset class quilt of annual returns – Nate Geraci via Twitter [15]

Products and services

Will ‘marriage-lite’ civil partnerships for all really protect couples’ cash? – ThisIsMoney [16]

Making a will: 10 things you should know [Search result]FT [17]

HSBC’s £175 bank account switch bribe is back – ThisIsMoney [18]

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter [19]

Will savings rates continue to fall in 2020? – ThisIsMoney [20]

Homes for renovation projects [Gallery]Guardian [21]

(Anti) forecasting mini-special

The psychology of prediction – Morgan Housel [22]

No asterisks – The Reformed Broker [23]

Will UK house prices rise or fall this year? – BBC [24]

Forecasting follies 2020 – Above the Market [25]

10 things that will happen in the next decade – Klement on Investing [26]

About those Wall Street forecasts – Crossing Wall Street [27]

Comment and opinion

Five lessons from ‘The Witch of Wall Street’ – Morningstar [28]

Return on investment [Spending on experiences]Humble Dollar [29]

Let the roaring 2020s begin – Mr Money Mustache [30]

“I’ve sold my house, and now I’m down over £500,000”FireVLondon [31]

Tourist prices – indeedably [32]

I used to be silly with money, but with Hare Krishna I’ve learned self-control – Guardian [33]

Passive guru Allan Roth gives ESG funds the cold-shoulder… – Allan Roth [34]

…while Robin Powell says that at the least ESG fans should keep costs low – Humble Dollar [35]

Negative interest rates aren’t such a departure, after all – Bloomberg [36]

The death of [US] stock brokerage fees was 50 years in the making – Yahoo Finance [37]

The simple explanation for the under-performance of value investing – Evidence-based Investor [38]

Naughty corner: Active antics

The active future for asset owners – Alliance Bernstein [39]

How tortoises can compete with hares – Morningstar [40]

Five behavioural resolutions for investors in 2020 – Behavioural Investment [41]

Asset classes and their fundamental drivers [Read through for a cool graphic]CFA Institute [42]

Brexit, politics, blah

Dominic Cummings is hiring and I admit it’s one of the most appealing job adverts I’ve ever read – Dominic Cumming’s blog [43]

Kindle book bargains

Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – £1.99 on Kindle [44]

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein – £1.99 on Kindle [45]

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo – £0.99 on Kindle [46]

Off our beat

Coolest things learned in 2019 – Dave Perell [47]

Ten reasons to cheer the progress of the last decade – Reasons to be Cheerful [48] [h/t Abnormal Returns [49]]

Vogue Italia drops photoshoots from January issue in green statement – Guardian [50]

And finally…

“My own experiences in the business world suggest that an ethical approach, far from being a potential barrier to profits, is actually the secret to success.”
– Julian Richer, The Ethical Capitalist [51]

Like these links? Subscribe [52] to get them every Friday!

  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”. [ [55]]