Yeah, Brexit, then the rest of the week’s good reads.
The news is not good but it is official: at midnight 31 January 2020 an armistice is in effect between the forces of Remain and Brexit.
The four-year long war is over. Remain lost.
The terms of the armistice agreement – or ‘surrender deal’ as many will call it – will be tough to swallow for Remain’s exhausted troops.
But given the decisive victory for the Brexit Barmy Army in the climactic 12 December 2019 battle, fighting on was hopeless.
The key concessions granted from 31 January:
- British citizens and their children give up their birthright to live in any of the EU’s 27 member countries.
- British citizens and their children also lose their automatic right to travel and work in any of the 27 countries.
- Britain will pay £33bn to our former ally, the EU, over the next four decades.
- UK companies can no longer be assured of access to the EU’s ongoing market of 450 million consumers and its £13.5 trillion economy.
- British companies can no longer assume they can recruit vital and skilled workers from the EU.
- Britain will exclude itself forever from the trade and political deals made between the EU and its fellow superpowers the US and China, and will have to acquiesce to innumerable rules and regulations imposed by Brussels without our input.
After four years of bitter struggle, this is tough to read.
And nothing can bring back the £130 billion the Brexit War has already cost the UK.
Some who fought in key skirmishes such as The Battle of the Enemies of the People will never forget the blows to our institutions in the fighting.
But whether by winning hearts and minds or by bamboozling brains, the forces of Brexit triumphed.
Of course an armistice – a cessation of hostilities – is not a peace treaty, let alone a Marshall Plan.
With Brexit’s leaders struggling to articulate a strategy that fits the facts on the ground, it’s difficult to be optimistic about Britain’s potential to make great gains from here.
One Brexit commander, Michael Gove, is already briefing UK business that it will indeed be impossible to secure friction-less trade with the EU, under the government’s own vision of Brexit.
But this is the same side that said we’d pay not a penny to the EU – compared to £33bn – so who knows what other reversals lie ahead.
Even more than money, one wonders about the long-term consequences of the conflict and its ramifications on the social fabric.
A campaign to raise money to have ‘Big Ben Bong for Brexit’ raised a feeble £273,000 and received only 14,000 donations (£50,000 of that from one key Brexit backer), underscoring the lack of euphoria across much of the nation.
Indeed many Brexiteers still seem incredibly angry despite their victory, frothing and waving Union Jacks as they marched out of Brussels.
This contrasted with our former allies in the EU singing Auld Lang Syne to wish us a fond farewell.
Set against all that, Britain is a wealthy nation.
Admittedly its economic output is but a fraction of the mighty EU perched off our shores.
But we will muddle through. Poorer, almost for sure, and more isolated by definition. But not broken, as Barry would no doubt stress.
Perhaps our leaders will look to the example of post-WW2, when the ruined nations of Europe came together – barely a decade after killing millions of each other – to form the European Union.
The formation of the EU ushered in a golden age of peace, prosperity, and cooperation the likes of which we’d never before seen.
Let’s hope we’re so lucky.
How much wealth do I need in my ISA versus my SIPP to achieve financial independence? – Monevator
Getting hands-on with your budget with Money Dashboard – Monevator
From the archive-ator: Review: How To Make A Million – Slowly, by John Lee – 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
UK house price growth at 14-month high, says the Nationwide – BBC
UK interest rates held as economy shows signs of picking up – BBC
MPs’ report calls for inheritance tax to be replaced by 10% tax and a death allowance – ThisIsMoney
London stock traders push to shorten their day by 90 minutes – Bloomberg
Portugal set to curb tax breaks for wealthy foreigners [Search result] – FT
What happened to UK house prices over the past 174 years? – ThisIsMoney
Products and services
The best deals on interest-free overdrafts [Search result] – FT
The best apps to get fit with your friends: from Fitbit to Strava – Guardian
RateSetter will pay you £20 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest just £10 for a year – RateSetter
Disgraced Neil Woodford’s smaller Income Focus fund will reopen on February 13 –ThisIsMoney
Homes with unusual roofs [Gallery] – Guardian
We both get a free share if you open an account with FreeTrade and fund it with £1 – FreeTrade
Vizualising the current landscape of the fintech industry – Visual Capitalist
Every company will be a fintech company – Angela Strange/a16z
Comment and opinion
Why market timing can be so appealing – Of Dollars and Data
Buffett’s bet against hedge funds revisited – Humble Dollar
Do recessions need to happen? – Cullen Roche
“I made headlines as a personal finance guru. Within months, I was drowning in debt” – Guardian
Putting the next market downturn into perspective – A Wealth of Common Sense
Art as an asset class: Evidence from John Maynard Keynes [Research, PDF] – Oxford Academic
Nobody wants your shit – Abnormal Returns
The investment impact of an ageing population – The Evidence-based Investor
Naughty corner: Active antics
Stop worrying and learn to love momentum – Klement on Investing
Pondering power prices and premiums – IT Investor
Politics and Brexit
The seven stages of Remainer grief – UnHerd
Martin Wolf: Britain after Brexit will not be alone, but it will be lonelier [Search result] – FT
Why one left-wing Brexiteer won’t be celebrating Brexit Day – UnHerd
Can you still live in the EU after Brexit Day and other questions answered – BBC
At last we hear from everyday Leave voters the compelling reasons for Brexit [BBC video] – James Felton via Twitter
Kindle book bargains
[Note: These prices will expire end of Friday 31 January.]
The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth by Tom Burgis – £0.99 on Kindle
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo – £0.99 on Kindle
Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – £1.99 on Kindle
Off our beat
The two key questions that will determine if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a pandemic – Vox
Different kinds of easy – Morgan Housel
Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time – BBC
Stay quiet and get to work: Why you shouldn’t share your goals – Art of Manliness
“Looking for a manager who will beat the market for you over the next 20 or more years is like looking for a needle in the proverbial investment universe haystack.”
– Tim Hale, Smarter Investing
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