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Weekend reading: Always last to the dance floor

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What caught my eye this week.

I was going to ramble semi-eloquently about how it feels to finally catch Covid, two and a bit years and three vaccination shots on from when this journey started.

Perhaps I’d reflect on our early speculation and debate about the virus and the economic costs and consequences of trying to contain it, the euphoria at the initial vaccine promise, and lately the long shadows cast by the pandemic. Weigh it all up while I’ve such a deep personal interest.

But honestly, while I’m basically fine – like a terrible flu the first day, followed by a couple of days of a shape-shifting cold – just pulling together the links I collected has sort of zonked me out.

The fatigue is real!

A friend of mine described having Covid at this point in the pandemic as like tripping over a rock on the way home from the war. Funny, but unfortunately this war isn’t over.

My immune system beat off several confirmed close encounters, but this latest overwhelmed my presumably de-escalated defenses. I guess a pattern that will continue for all of us for years.

I’m thankful that from that first rotten day I had faith that I just had to buy time for all that pre-loaded virus-killing weaponry to spin-up again.

Fancifully, I could almost feel it happening!

And so here I am, on day four with just a sort throat and a clogged nose. Tired but touchwood nothing worse.

Please let’s not have another year like 2020 – of blind shivering in the dark – for a couple of generations.

And if you are able to get out and enjoy some Victoria sponge with a slightly boring neighbour this weekend, haven’t we at least all learned not to take that for granted?

From Monevator

FIRE update: one-year anniversary  – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Sad story stocks – Monevator


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

Deadline to use the Help To Buy scheme brought forward by two months – Which

Investors seek millions from Woodford fund collapse – BBC

Travel chaos risk as government rules out emergency visa for aviation workers – Guardian

Sterling faces an ‘existential threat’, compared to emerging market currency – ThisIsMoney

Eurozone inflation jumps to a new record at 8.1% – Politico

US firms added more jobs than expected in May – BBC

Royal Mail to expand Sunday delivery to compete with rivals – ThisIsMoney

Omicron subvariant drives Covid cases and death spike in Portugal – Guardian

UK credit card borrowing rises at fastest annual rate for 17 years – Guardian

Products and services

‘Confirmation of Payee’ to be rolled out to 400 more firms to fight scams – Which

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

Can buy now, pay later survive the cost of living crisis? [Search result]FT

Premium Bonds turn 65. Here’s 65 random facts about them – ThisIsMoney

Pre-paid funeral plan regulation is looming – is your provider ready? – Which

How to choose the best travel insurance – ThisIsMoney

Homes for sale in Jubilee cities, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

Why you’re checking your portfolio’s value far too often – Rational Walk

Would Jack Bogle regret also pioneering growth/value index funds? – Morningstar

Rallies to the bottom – Of Dollars and Data

Different kinds of BS – Morgan Housel

Widow brain: what to expect after a spouse dies and how to cope – Kindness FP

More than ever – Humble Dollar

The only way to become a better investor – Banker on FIRE

Easy money is money easily lost – A Wealth of Common Sense

On financial ‘variolation’ as a cure for speculation – Rational Walk

Resignation day [and swearing] goals – Fungbunger via Twitter

The Bogleheads talk about ESG investing [Podcast] – via Apple

Why robo advisors haven’t displaced humans yet [Nerdy]Kitces

Crypt o’ crypto

Crypto just had its Lehman Moment. What’s next? – Institutional Investor

Naughty corner: Active antics

Larry Swedroe: Generating alpha sows seeds of own destruction – Evidence-based Investor

Managing risk when credit spreads rise – Verdad

Mental tension and the value of falling stock prices – John Huber

Rather randomly, Berkshire’s Ted Weschler talks to Berkshire’s furniture mart [Podcast]I Am Home

Kindle book bargains

The Dealmaker: Lesson’s From a Life in Private Equity by Guy Hands – £0.99 on Kindle

Think Like A Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol – £0.99 on Kindle

Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman – £0.99 on Kindle

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – £0.99 on Kindle

Environmental factors

Sunak’s oil subsidy could have insulated two million homes, says think tank – Guardian

Why the Ukraine war may power Asia’s shift from fossil fuels – BBC

Aggregate ESG confusion [Search result]FT

Global heating is turning the white alps green – Guardian

The Hail Mary hatcheries – Hakai

The financial cost of carbon [Research, PDF]SSRN

Off our beat

Moneyball for the movie industry – Klement on Investing

Tim Harford: Even when you do succeed, sometimes it pays to try again [Search result]FT

The two choices that keep a midlife crisis at bay – The Atlantic

Pounds, ounces, pints! Johnson is offering a bushel worth of phoned-in gibberish – Marina Hyde

The Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine – BBC

What dinner will look like in the next 100 years – Bon Appétit

Increasing moderate activity could cut stroke risk by 40%, study finds – Guardian

And finally…

“The law of demand doesn’t always hold up. In a few cases increasing the price of something makes people want more of it.”
– Rupa Patel and Jack Meaning, Can’t We Just Print More Money?

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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • 1 xxd09 June 4, 2022, 10:28 am

    Sorry to hear of your predicament-throw away the test kits and rid yourself of the bogey man!
    Never done a lateral test myself-grudged anything (isolation) that confined me to the house(live deep in the country)
    (Did however live quietly till first vaccination was rolled out so quickly -thank you Boris!)
    Unless you are hospitalised with an illness where knowing you have Covid is important to the docs- assume each and every “cold/flu” will probably be Covid
    Time to move on
    Historically usd to get a serious cold quite often when London grand kids visited country grandparents !
    Hope you are better soon

  • 2 AtlanticSpan June 4, 2022, 10:46 am

    I remember my *ex-financial adviser* attempting to push me into Neil Woodford’s funds when this very successful fund manager left Invesco in 2014 to start his own company. I was relatively new to investing at the time,and so I plucked up the courage to challenge my IFA, and queried whether it was a prudent thing to do,given that the funds were brand new. My question appeared to greatly incense him.He waspishly remarked that I was paying him to make financial decisions on my behalf,and if I wasn’t happy with them,I could take my business elsewhere. I didn’t do that,instead I bought a copy of Tim Hale’s ‘Smarter Investing’ and haven’t looked back since !

  • 3 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 4, 2022, 11:18 am

    @ TI – Sorry to read that you’ve just ‘tripped over a rock on the way home from the war.’

    There’s definitely something out there now. My son also caught it on Wednesday at university just after finishing his last exam. He’s much better now after four days.

    I hope you get better from the tiredness soon.

    Best wishes,


  • 4 Ben's Dad June 4, 2022, 12:17 pm

    Hoping you recover quickly
    I and my partner both caught it and it was a bad as your experience. I am sure I caught it during my daily visit to the pub. We were so knackered that for about 5 days all we could manage to “cook” was salad sandwiches. Thank god for Coop deliveries.
    What caught us both out was the havoc it caused to our chests. Took around about 3 weeks to stop coughing up phlegm.
    Thank you for providing this site and the newsletters

  • 5 John Kingham June 4, 2022, 1:50 pm

    Our family had covid about six months ago. I had a headache for a few days but was otherwise fine (didn’t do a covid test so not 100% sure it was even covid). My 11yr-old son had a cough for a few days and tested positive. My wife was quite seriously ill and now has long covid. It’s really a case of roll the dice and see how it affects you.

    Apparently two million people in the UK now have long covid, so it will be interesting to see what sort of drag that has on the economy over the next decade. Unfortunately, it seems the war against covid is far from over.

  • 6 JDW June 4, 2022, 2:00 pm

    Wishing you a speedy recovery @TI.

    Nothing really more important than health in the grand scheme of things. Currently have two close family members with long term health conditions, one long covid/POTS (34 year old sister), another in the early stages of recovery after a recent stroke (my 65 year old, recently retired father). Certainly both have put the financial side of things on a back burner recently and also inmany ways underlined my desire to FIRE to enjoy freedom while I can. (Not sure if that’s a contradictory statement!).

    Take care and thanks again for the updates and links.

  • 7 Hariseldon June 4, 2022, 7:37 pm

    Hope you recover soon, I had a sore throat for one day but my 35 year old daughter had long Covid /POTS (@JDW) a few months on it has eased, but still needs a couple of naps each day and chiropractor helped ( who knows why ? ) it appears to be very random…but who knows what the underlying factors that contribute to the severity.

  • 8 The Investor June 4, 2022, 9:07 pm

    Thanks all. I’m feeling a lot better, even since yesterday. The range of personal experiences people have is surely another thing that’s made this pandemic so ultimately controversial.

    I’m pretty surprised by my bad flu-y first day, to be honest, and that I’m still not well after four days. I can’t recall the last time I had proper flu — it must have been 20 years ago. I’m healthy, workout one way or another every day etc. Clearly a myriad of fluctuating factors.

    (In my case apart from the last booster being over six months ago I am thinking maybe initial viral load because I got it off a date…! No dodging that exposure. 😉 )

  • 9 Learner June 4, 2022, 10:08 pm

    Long covid and Brexit, the gifts that keep on giving! I have a handful of unavoidable flights coming up over summer including a long one back to UK for a week. Thoroughly adapted to masking now (and being the only one in a given situation) but still a bit of a gamble.

    Hoping for a swift and complete recovery TI. Enjoyed the _bear market recoveries_ rt btw – fetch the popcorn.

  • 10 Weenie June 4, 2022, 11:10 pm

    Hope you have a speedy recovery, TI.

    My ‘illness’ lasted about a week, but the fatigue (and an annoying cough) dragged on for a while. It was several weeks before I had the energy to go to the gym; I was getting wheezy just walking round the block.

    I still have a few testing kits and if I ever felt ropey again, I would test myself as would hate to pass it on to anyone, never mind just friends or family.

  • 11 xxd09 June 4, 2022, 11:51 pm

    Such an interesting bunch of comments
    Have a daughter who is a GP in a poorer part of the NE
    Covid is the least of their problems
    Middle classes -Monevator readers?- notice because the virus breaks through our previously comfortable shell?
    She knows plenty of docs with “Long Covid” -recurrent exposure?
    On a more reassuring note -just back from a month in Puglia ,S Italy-no masks,no paperwork-so far so good!

  • 12 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 5, 2022, 12:14 pm

    A few unsolicited thoughts on Covid, as we’re mentioning it (please feel free to dismiss if it irritates you):

    Not having caught this plague yet, despite everyone else in my household having had it by now, makes me sometimes wonder if I might be one of those never-covid people virologists suspect are out there. I would rather not find out I’m not one of them the hard way though.

    Also, I don’t think I would be able to sleep so well at night if I thought that I could be passing Covid to some of the vulnerable people out there. So my approach has been basically to keep wearing those masks when I go into shops, theatres, cinemas, any where indoors that is not home but not outdoors unless it’s crowded. I really don’t understand why most people don’t like wearing those masks. Wearing a mask doesn’t bother me at all. Not an issue at all. Couldn’t care less. I really don’t get what is all the fuss about. We should just try to learn from those people in the far East. They’ve been living with respiratory plagues worst than Covid and know a lot more about how to deal with it. Natural selection shows that you either adapt to the changes in your environment or you get selected. IMHO, it’s not a good idea to do your best to get the Darwin award 😉

  • 13 ZXSpectrum48k June 5, 2022, 12:22 pm

    Re: Sterling faces an ‘existential threat’, compared to emerging market currency – ThisIsMoney

    Utter trash as usual from the Daily Wail. First, the actual BoA piece is far more moderate. It argues (correctly) that GBP has EM currency characteristics, not that it is an EM currency. Second, it notes (correctly) that most of the depreciation is due to the strong dollar. Third, it does blame GBP weakness on something beginning with B. It’s the slow puncture that is Brexit.

    Amazingly the Daily Wail fails to mention Brexit or dollar strength at all. Instead it tries to blame it all on the BoE. The BoE is hardly covering itself in glory but I think the blame lies more with the citizens. Any country where the Daily Wail is one of the most popular sources of news is truly f***ed.

  • 14 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 5, 2022, 12:35 pm

    @ZXSpectrum48K (#13) – Bravo, sir! It’s comments like yours that make the Monevator comment section worth reading. An oasis of clear thought and sanity compared to the typical comment section of your average Daily Wail website 🙂

  • 15 Factor June 5, 2022, 1:17 pm

    Glad to learn on the Royal Mail parcels link that Hermes is now re-branded as “Evri”, and is intent on improving. Not before time.

    It has notoriety in our village for its “chuck it over the wall and leg it” delivery style, leaving good-hearted villagers to try to identify and locate the actual addressee!

    On the other side of the coin I am always impressed by Amazon and DPD, whose delivery service I have nothing but praise for. Also, a “shout out” for the Amazon locker delivery option at my local Morrisons, which I find ideal for smaller items.

  • 16 Al Cam June 5, 2022, 1:18 pm

    @Tom-Baker Dr Who:
    Re your comment #17 in last weeks weekend reading:

    IMO, the idea of a perpetual portfolio is important; but it seems to get very little airtime in the UK. I know of a few papers/studies but these seem to largely be from the US. Do you know of any UK-based work in this area?

  • 17 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 5, 2022, 6:09 pm

    @ Al Cam (#16)- Sorry I missed this question in the other weekend Reading.

    I don’t know many studies either. Mostly US. But have you looked at the Portfolio Charts link posted by Nathan (#8) that weekend in the comments? I mean this one:


    There’s a section towards the end where he ranks various portfolios during the late Seventies-Eighties high inflation period. For the US the Golden Butterfly and some other famous portfolios are the best performers and Harry Browne’s permanent portfolio is among the worst. For the UK, on the other hand, the permanent portfolio is the best performer!

    Tyler claims that this is mostly due to the poor performance of small cap value in the UK during that period whereas they performed really well in the US.

    I came across once a study about one of the main components of the permanent portfolio: gold. It compared US, UK, Germany, Australia, and Canada, I think. I think it found that gold has been an even better diversifier in the UK than in the US. I will try to find that paper again. If I do find it, I will send you a link.

  • 18 Al Cam June 5, 2022, 7:58 pm

    For me, the attraction is: near certain income without having to give up your pot. Furthermore, in theory, at least, no “special soup” [allocation choice] is required; you just have to use the correct withdrawal rate and approach!
    A good summary US link is:
    Within this paper – and a lot of the other [often academic] literature I have read – is an implicit dig at how the Yale endowment, and its like, are run! I personally found this a tad ironic given that the lead author of the linked paper was a founding partner of LTCM.
    IMO, portfolio charts is a great resource, but it’s data sample is just too short; and, the apparent magical properties of gold are well known and have often been discussed at MONEVATOR. If you download ERN’s SWR toolbox you can play around with a much longer – but considerably less varied – dataset.

  • 19 G June 7, 2022, 5:08 am

    It feels a little tone deaf to imply (long) covid is a middle class disease as one poster seems to be doing – especially when it’s tended to be poorer sections of society which have died from it. I guess they no longer worry about it.

    My own omicron experience was pretty grim lasting a good six weeks (inc waves of nausea, fatigue and even loss of sensation in the lower half of my fingers), and was followed shortly by a terrible cough that made it possible to sleep for nearly two weeks (I had to sit upright all of the time to avoid provoking another attack which would sometimes leave blacking out for a few seconds). I am not quite back to normal even 3 months on. I still need the occasional daily nap. The missus, however, has had nothing at all.

  • 20 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 7, 2022, 4:15 pm

    @ Al Cam (#18)- Thanks for the interesting link. IMHO It’s worth finding out more about how endowment funds work.

    I’ve found a site with some historical data on a UK permanent portfolio:


    There’s also an interesting piece there on the historical performance of an Icelandic permanent portfolio during the Iceland-banks-collapse crisis:


    I also found this:

  • 21 Al Cam June 7, 2022, 6:06 pm

    Thanks for the links – I will take a look.

    Some references for your study:
    1) Coiner, Michael. (1990) The Lognormality of University Endowment in the Far Future and its Implications. Economics of Education Review Vol 9 No, 2 157-161
    2) Dybvig, Philip H. and Qin, Zhenjiang, How to Squander Your Endowment: Pitfalls and Remedies (October 11, 2021). Available at SSRN:https://ssrn.com/abstract=3939984
    3) Garland, J 2004, The Fecundity of Endowments and Long-Duration Trusts, Economics and Portfolio Strategy, Peter L. Bernstein, Inc
    4) Waring M B, Siegel L B. “Where’s Tobin? Protecting Intergenerational Equity for Endowments, A New Benchmarking Approach.” SSRN 2022

    I could not locate 1) on the web, but the synopsis that is available is pretty clear. The others should be easy enough to locate.

    IIRC, you have spent a lot of time trying to manage volatility in your pot – which would particularly pay dividends (pun intended!) in an endowment approach.

  • 22 Tom-Baker Dr Who June 19, 2022, 1:40 am

    @Al Cam (#21) – Thanks for the papers. I definitely agree with you that it’s worthwhile having a deeper look into endowment investment strategies.

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