[A quick update on Brexit thoughts for those who want to reasonably discuss it. For those who don’t, please feel free to skip to the links.]
Imagine having anticipated something for 30 years, finally getting the freedom to do it, and then making a car crash out of it.
But enough about my progress as a mid-life singleton. I’m thinking here of the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party.
You know – those 40-odd guys who can’t muster up enough votes to unseat the UK’s most ineffectual leader since Hugh Laurie’s Prince Regent in Blackadder the Third, and yet who’ve somehow managed to send 63 million of us towards an apparently imminent impoverished future.
You might think the World Class farce we’ve endured over the past 30 months would see me smiling.
After all a second referendum is looking ever more likely, if still not odds-on.
But unfortunately, I continue to read and hear abundant evidence that most of the Leave voting contingent still doesn’t get it.
And that means despite the demographic challenges of that faction (i.e. its original margin of victory is literally dying) it’s quite possible Leave could win again.
Especially if the Remain side sticks to the previous policy of dull facts over bus-splattering
No wonder Leave voters seem almost as angry as Remainers:
I’ve seen a parade of #Brexit leaders on news programmes today. Their position boils down to this: We are absolutely sure voters knew exactly what they voted for and, as soon as we manage to agree among ourselves what that was, we will inform voters what it was they voted for.
— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) December 6, 2018
A second referendum is a horrible solution to a stupid problem, with plenty of downsides.
However from my perspective it has the minor virtue of being less terrible than all the other alternatives.
Whose Brexit is it, anyway
Can we not stop this death march? Absolutely no one seems happy with the direction of travel.
Not even the Leave voters, that’s the most galling – if unsurprising – thing.
Blogger Ermine came close to capturing this contradiction at the heart of the Leave vote with a graphic this week. Leavers are represented here by the two Mickey Mouse ears on top of the smug metropolitan elite mug:
What @ermine’s Venn diagram is missing though is the set of people who voted either Leave or Remain to make us poorer.
Perhaps that’s because it doesn’t exist – despite even the Government admitting that’s what we face.
True, a tiny set of Brexiteers have belatedly conceded that a No Deal Brexit will hit us in the national nads.
That, they now say, is a price worth paying for sovereignty / blue passports / the right to negotiate trade deals with Madagascar and Kazakhstan.
But all the leading Leave-supporting players continue to lie to the electorate.
Theresa May herself rounded off her Deal Debate Dodge by harking back to the supposed ability of Brexit to reduce the inequalities and insecurities she spoke of in the aftermath of the vote – despite almost every single analysis of Brexit showing a net negative impact, economically-speaking.1
If you want sovereignty or fewer immigrants from Brexit, fair enough. Own that. Don’t claim the tooth fairy too.
But sadly, the very few Leavers I come across in real-life are still saying things like “The EU needs us more than we need them.”
The same EU that has run rings around us in negotiations.
The EU that has stuck firmly together, despite all forecasts to the contrary, and strangely believes more in its vision of togetherness than in the fantasies of Brexiteers.
The roughly 450 million of them versus the 63 million of us.
The UK vs the EU is a negotiating position that only looks attractive to Tories of a certain class raised to see greatness in the self-destruction of The Charge Of The Light Brigade.
“C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre; c’est de la folie”.3
What I missed when I created Barry Blimp – the archetypal Home Counties Leave voter of not inconsiderable means and more than a few years – was his zealotry.
Because I now see a big chunk of the Leave cohort want Brexit no matter what.
In fact I rather think some would enjoy it if we had ferries piled up outside Dover and food rationing at Tesco.
Obviously I feel vindicated when I think back to the insults hurled at me when I ventured my opinion on my own blog that many Leave voters didn’t know what they’d started, or that this would drag on for years.
But that’s about as satisfying as telling the person in the seat next to you that yes, you were right that the 747’s engine sounded a bit funny as the Captain shouts “Brace, brace!” over the tannoy.
There seems no good solution to this mess now. Revolutions have started over less.
(That may sound melodramatic if you don’t know your history. I suggest you Google the origins of the French Revolution, the English Civil War, or the American War of Independence before you jab your finger in my chest.)
To be clear I’m not predicting revolution – let alone hoping for it, from any perspective – but there’s got to be a non-zero chance.
Currently we are just living through a nationalist coup, and that’s bad enough.
The irony is for many on the right, Jeremy Corbyn is a revolutionary Marxist.
Politics has abandoned the center ground. As a result, lots of people are going to be very unhappy, however this turns out.
Our politicians need to get a grip, fast.
Money is power – Monevator
From the archive-ator: The characteristics of an entrepreneur – 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!4
UK economy slows as car sales fall – BBC
Property market at weakest since 2012 as Brexit takes toll, says RICS – Guardian
ECB ends €2.5tn eurozone QE stimulus programme – BBC
Luxury goods inflation running at nearly 6%, says Coutts – Guardian
Richest parts of London generate 30x cash of poorest parts of UK – ThisIsMoney
Scotland freezes threshold for higher-rate income tax – Guardian
Crowdcube investors threaten legal action after Emoov goes bust – ThisIsMoney
Check out the collapse in the price of solar powered energy – Vox
Products and services
Are real or fake Christmas trees better for the planet? – Guardian
Small energy providers keep going bust. Is switching too risky? – ThisIsMoney
Investors flock to venture capital funds [Search result] – FT
Britain to force broadband providers to tell customers their best deals – Reuters
Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter
Examining the risks and rewards of securities lending for funds – Morningstar
Investec’s new notice savings account allows 20% withdrawals – ThisIsMoney
Questioning the $1million retirement maths special
$1 million isn’t enough – Fat Tailed and Happy
The hardest problem in finance – The Irrelevant Investor
$1 million? Meh. [US but relevant] – The Belle Curve
Comment and opinion
Stellar take on the savings-versus-investment-returns debate – Get Rich Slowly
Situational spending – Seth Godin
Index-investing critic takes aim, fires, misses – Bloomberg
Rational versus reasonable – Morgan Housel
Financial planning – Indeedably
Three investing maths mistakes to drive you nuts – The IT Investor
The current danger for stocks: Fear itself – Morningstar
Why you need a money mentor – The Cut
The reason many billionaires aren’t satisfied with their wealth – The Atlantic
The wonderful Portfolio Charts has had a makeover – Portfolio Charts
How to measure a company’s growth rate – UK Value Investor
The best investing white papers of 2018 [For nerds/pros] – Savvy Investor
Crypto corner (December 2017 nostalgic edition)
Four days trapped at sea with crypto’s nouveau riche – Breaker Mag
Yes Bitcoin was a bubble. And it popped… – Bloomberg
…but is it time for believers to buy back into Ethereum? – AVC
Prices are down more than the ‘fundamentals’ [My quotes] – Chris Burniske
The EU rebuffs Theresa May on Brexit — six takeaways [Search result] – FT
Lord Heseltine nails it on Brexit [Video] – via Facebook
“This was the second failed attempt to unseat May in three weeks, for a bunch of guys who’d be picked last for paintball and are led by rejected Paddington villain Jacob Rees-Mogg.” – Guardian
EU leaders scrap plans to help Theresa May pass deal after disastrous meeting in Brussels – Independent
Sir Ivan Rogers on Brexit [Full speech] – University of Liverpool
How Ireland outwitted Britain on Brexit – Bloomberg
Don’t know why people see a nasty, racist fringe to the Leave vote… – via Twitter
Kindle book bargains
The Barcelona Way: How to Create a High-performance Culture by Damian Hughes – £1.09 on Kindle
The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott – £2.99 on Kindle
James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster – £0.99 on Kindle
Off our beat
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement – Farnham Street
Population mountains [Striking 3D maps of global populations] – The Pudding
KFC debuts fried chicken-scented fire logs ahead of Christmas – Fox News
We need academic conferences about robots, love, and sex – Slate
“For half a century the competition to produce the fastest stock price-printing machine was almost as frantic as the pursuit of the stocks and the shares. Indeed for many, the two were inseparable.”
– Selwyn Parker, The Great Crash: How the Stock Market Crash of 1929 Plunged the World into Depression
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- Yes, a couple of things might be made better for a tiny subset of the population. But as we’ve discussed before, almost every serious economist believes those benefits would be grossly outweighed by the economic negatives. They’d be far better addressed directly via redistribution or government investment. [↩]
- Or 18%, in a certain light. [↩]
- “It’s magnificent, but it’s not war; it’s madness” – General Pierre Bosquet. [↩]
- 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”. [↩]