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Weekend reading: Just the links, ma’am

Weekend reading logo

What caught my eye this week.

I was Zoom-ing all over the place on Friday, and in-between there was the awkward pantomime of a supposedly socially-distanced furniture delivery to contend with.

(Have you ever tried to hold one end of half-assembled five-foot long bookshelf at a distance of six-feet? It’s tricky.)

Short story shorter: let’s get cracking with the links.

Enjoy the weekend – and enjoy your own company and those immediately around you.

From Monday you could have more than furniture delivery men to contend with…

From Monevator

14 weeks and 12 numbers that have changed the investing history books forever – Monevator

From the archive-ator: How to build a risk factor portfolio – 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

Sunak looks to rebuild economy with plans for big job creation scheme [Search result]FT

Coronavirus furlough scheme to finish at end of October, says chancellor – BBC

Self-employed income support scheme extended for another three months – Which?

Fewer than 200 cars were built in UK factories during April lockdown; a 99.7% collapse – ThisIsMoney

[Click to enlarge, or visit the site via link below]

The road to recovery: which economies are reopening? – Visual Capitalist

Products and services

Number of 0% and balance transfer deals collapses in the wake of coronavirus – ThisIsMoney

Chargeback: the card protection banks don’t tell you about – Which?

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200 – Freetrade

Neil Woodford fund: investors still await final payout [Search result]FT

Nationwide likely to trim interest rates offered to savers – Guardian

Regulatory pressure forces fund managers to take action on funds deemed ‘poor value’ – Money Observer

Arts and Crafts homes for sale [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

Why is the market doing so well lately? – Oblivious Investor

Best route to wealth: Savings or earnings? [Debate]The Big Picture

The inflation bug – The Economist

More: Inflationary fears in a deflationary world – Topdown Charts

Could anyone have predicted Warren Buffett’s success? – The Evidence-based Investor

The dirty secret of asset management: it’s doing…okay? – Institutional Investor

Dichotomy – Indeedably

Green investment mini-special

Don’t invest in renewable energy – Finumus

On the other hand, do invest in renewable energy – DIY Investor (UK)

Naughty corner: Active antics

Why every stock is a vaccine stock – Marginal Revolution

This is the thing the bears hate most – The Reformed Broker

Monks investment trust: With change comes opportunity – IT Investor

The S&P 500 is back about its 200-day moving average, but hold the champagne… – Sentiment Trader

…not least because of the topsy-turvy S&P 500 earnings picture – Wisdom Tree

Covid-19 corner

UK Covid-19 antibody counts are coming in disappointingly low [PDF]Covid-19 Surveillance Report

Study finds 98% of a sample of previously Covid-19 infected hospital workers had antibodies – Bloomberg Quint

Why did so many die of Covid-19 in UK care homes? – Guardian

Colorado: The blue state that gambled on an early reopening [US but deep and worth a read]Politico

So, what can we do now? – The Atlantic

The peak – The New Statesman

Learning to live in the valley of Covid-19 uncertainty – NY Mag

NHS consultant: We’ve learned a lot about Covid-19, but UK hospitals face huge challenges ahead – Guardian

It’s safe to use physical cash, says ATM boss – ThisIsMoney

Kindle book bargains

Money: A User’s Guide by Laura Whateley – £0.99 on Kindle

Pig Wrestling: The Brilliantly Simple Way to Solve Any Problem by Pete Lindsay – £0.99 on Kindle

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity by Carlo Cipolla – £0.99 on Kindle

Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas Siebel – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Five ways to build resilience and conquer adversity – Mark Manson

The coronavirus has killed small talk – The New York Times

And finally…

“The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone. Say goodbye.”
– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike

Like these links? Subscribe 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”. []

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • 1 Xailter May 30, 2020, 12:21 am

    As a green tech enthusiast, I found the arguments of both Finimus and DIY Investor fascinating! I’d like to offer a third option however: homeowners themselves installing solar, batteries, solar diverters and getting an electric car and vastly reducing the electricity and gas they require from the grid.

    We have the panels, diverter and car and have reduced our electricity consumption by about 40% overall. With a big enough battery I reckon we could be nearly self-sufficient for 2/3 year! Hell, I charged my car up with over 100 miles of range the past couple of days – purely off solar! And let’s not even get started on Vehicle to Grid (V2G) and Virtual Power Plants (VPP).

    I delve into the financials more here (if TI doesn’t mind me linking): https://igniting-fire.com/2020/05/05/just-20000-to-save-the-world/

  • 2 Learner May 30, 2020, 6:33 am

    For a little context on the Colorado situation, the data is visualized daily on reddit, eg today: https://www.reddit.com/r/CoronavirusColorado/comments/gt7g5q/graphs_of_cases_hospitalizations_and_deaths/

  • 3 David May 30, 2020, 7:16 am

    Thanks for the links. Monevator seems to be the only place to get sensible unbiased coverage of Coronavirus at the moment. I’m especially grateful to @ Snowman and some of the others for the extra detail and links in the comments. And for the contributions of the souped up @ Speccie of course.

  • 4 Tom May 30, 2020, 7:45 am

    Long time lurker – had to respond to the green energy section as I’m afraid I strongly disagree with Finimus. The primary reason for not investing is because Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast something different to TRIG and others. Their forecast appears to be an outlier when cross-checking to multiple other industry sources (Afry, Baringa, Aurora, Cornwall-Insights to name a few). These market advisers generally forecast longer-term in the UK around £45/MWh in real terms (I use the UK to reflect the TRIG position). Even then, by the time a subsidised project gets twenty years into operations, it will have made its returns – the tail end is just cream on top.

    The only argument right now against investing in renewables funds is the relative quality of new underlying assets coming in to these funds. I will focus primarily on the UK as that is where my experience is greatest: looking at the likes of TRIG and Greencoat UK Wind, they have done an exceptional job of acquiring subsidised projects which provide projects with EBITDA margins >75% with consistent average sale prices of >£80/MWh (cited from own experience, this particularly reflects ROC projects) – however, their recent acquisitions have all been subsidy free as new onshore projects cannot access the subsidies of old (CfD, ROC, FiT).

    Does that mean you shouldn’t invest now? Up to you, but the projects the likes of TRIG and others have in their funds are ROC backed until 2037 and with Ireland now rolling out a new subsidy regime there will soon be an in-flux of new subsidised projects into these renewable funds.

    Disclaimer: all opinions here are my own, not those of my employer(s), and do not constitute advice or guidance.

  • 5 Gentleman's Family Finances May 30, 2020, 8:39 am

    As an investor in a range of green / sustainable investments I have been very pleased with their perfrormance to date.
    But I’ve been investing mainly in the utility side of renewables.and diyinvestor has some good examples of renewable technology companies that he has invested in which have been even better investments (the next bubble?)

  • 6 BBlimp May 30, 2020, 10:21 am

    @TI, having very kind explained why the news links are reducing, may I politely provide a little feedback… the naughty corner seems a little over weighted ;-). Don’t tear my head off I just support your (personal finance) project

    As for second waves… if 18pc of people in London have antibodies why would the second wave be worse than the first when 0pc did? I can understand why you wouldn’t get herd immunity at 20pc, but you’d think it’d slow the spread ? Especially if healthy people who’ve had corona don’t build antibodies because they shake it off so quickly… Then the proportion of unhealthy people with antibodies will be that much higher and the vulnerable people available for the virus to kill will be reduced as compared to the first wave

    ( as an aside I hope these figures will prove to be well on the underside)

  • 7 Jonathan May 30, 2020, 11:00 am

    My word that New Statesman piece is powerful. Thank you for linking it for us.

  • 8 ZXSpectrum48k May 30, 2020, 12:55 pm

    Yes a very powerful piece in the New Statesmen. “The lackadaisical UK government seemed to be ignoring the advice so the medics ignored the government. ”

    I’m thankful they did ignore the govt. I just wish I believed that the UK govt was just being “lackadaisical”. I think our govt was very deliberate in attempting to ignore the whole issue. It was only the fear of bad PR that moved them into action.

  • 9 Investor geek May 30, 2020, 1:54 pm

    Incredible New Statesman piece – thank you for highlighting. Had me in tears on a lovely Saturday morning.

  • 10 bloodonthestreets May 30, 2020, 1:56 pm

    @zxspectrum Yes I am inclined to agree with you. It has to believe it is down to pure incompetence that the government has got this so badly wrong. Everything, EVERYTHING, has been f***ed up. Too late into lockdown, not properly locking down, not procuring enough (any?) PPE, not sorting out testing (still not sorted after months now), ignoring scientific advice about locking down care homes (this is the most egregious example), easing lockdown against scientific advice, not quarantining at all until lockdown is eased (a real WTAF moment). My feeling is that certainly the PPE for hospital staff was a deliberate act, it is difficult to believe the BS stories that kept getting churned out. I think they were trying to turn the public against the medics by trying to force them to refuse to treat people without PPE. Look at how they have tried to demonise teachers over schools returning (again, against scientific advice)

    The worst part of all is that Johnson appears to have learned nothing from his near death experience and it utterly incapable of doing the morally correct thing.

    If Civil Servants have been careful and minuted and recorded all meeting with No 10 and in particular certain SPADs, I believe there will be a case for crimes against humanity.

  • 11 arty May 30, 2020, 2:04 pm

    That is so over the top it’s absurd. Crimes against humanity!

    Looking from the outside, the whole of the UK, not just the government appear to have collectively lost their minds.

  • 12 W May 30, 2020, 3:54 pm
  • 13 bloodonthestreets May 30, 2020, 4:47 pm

    Yet another example of how a government initiative is a total disaster. Even an incompetent government gets things right sometimes, like a stopped clock being right twice a day. Not this one though. It’s difficult to get away from the view that their absolute priority is to manage PR.

    Also it only takes one intemperate SPAD to say “how can we maximise deaths while giving the impression we are trying to stop them?” and for it to be on record for criminal case to be brought

    FWIW I was very much in the view that lockdown was overkill at the beginning. I’m not so sure now.

  • 14 The Investor May 30, 2020, 5:46 pm

    Also it only takes one intemperate SPAD to say “how can we maximise deaths while giving the impression we are trying to stop them?” and for it to be on record for criminal case to be brought

    I think this government are a bunch of chancers, jokers, opportunists, and liars, riding a wave of populism and their self-harming Brexit victory and mandate.

    But I don’t think they’re deliberately murdering the population, not least because it fails the simplest Occam’s Razer test. Incompetence is a far likelier explanation for what shortcomings are evident.

    While I appreciate tempers are running hot, it’d be more fruitful if we kept the conversation on this site (where it’s not on money/investing/the economy) to virus and policy specifics and pros/cons, please, rather than the comments turning into a political slanging match. Thanks!

  • 15 The Investor May 30, 2020, 6:02 pm

    p.s. Obviously I did some political slanging there. 🙂 But that was (a) to indicate to the original poster that I am not ‘defending’ this government from charges of murder for party political reasons and (b) to balance the comment books, so nobody else feels the need to. Let’s leave it there. 🙂

  • 16 BBlimp May 30, 2020, 6:03 pm

    I’m going to take a rough guess and say people raging about the govt didn’t vote Tory last time and would die in a ditch before they did this time ?

    Tory voters love him. There’s a big feel good stimulus coming… hopefully enough to not only stave off the worst of corona and the temporary disruption caused by leaving EU… but also to give Big Dom the cover he needs to break up the BBC and Civil Service

  • 17 BBlimp May 30, 2020, 6:05 pm

    Sorry TI had dinner on whilst composing my comment didn’t see your comment

  • 18 Can’t see the wood for the trees May 30, 2020, 7:43 pm

    The new statesman article is incredibly powerful and should be required reading for everyone. “What he and his colleagues would like most of all, though, is proper funding and a trustworthy government.“

    Appreciate this is an investing site about increasing wealth but without health, all the money in the world means nothing.

    Our nurses and doctors need more support and financial backing. Whatever it takes.

    This pandemic has hit me hard, my focus has shifted to the here and now, there’s really nothing to be gained from being the richest coffin in the graveyard and you simply do not know how much time you will have left.

  • 19 MrOptimistic May 30, 2020, 8:47 pm

    I’ll come back next week when hopefully normal service will have been resumed.

  • 20 Ruby May 30, 2020, 9:17 pm

    @ The Investor – some interesting links, thank you.

    Covid anecdotal – my local London park absolutely rammed today with picnics, ball games etc. I saw one group of (elderly) socially distancing picnickers but that was it, among 000’s of people. A young demographic around here so plenty of pda too – the goings on in gardens a bit later may be slightly contrary to the regulations I suspect…… The second wavers won’t need to wait long to see if what they predict comes about.

  • 21 Matthew May 30, 2020, 9:42 pm

    The government would of course not want lots of elderly tory voters to die off, I think they found it difficult as conservatives to clamp down on freedom and enlarge the state involvement in life.
    I do think theres a balance to be struck somewhere between being alive and living. Even under lockdown it’s tailing off so slowly that there’s never going to be a safe time for years, until there was a vaccine, if you can’t afford to wait till then, where do you draw the line?

  • 22 xxd09 May 31, 2020, 8:55 am

    One of the great things about being retired is that you have time to read and think especially where politics/news is concerned
    A great discovery is that all the news outlets slant their output without exception-fake news?
    It is very interesting to read across the. spectrum from Breitbart,Telegraph-in the middle the Times /Daily Mail to BBC,Guardian and out left the Independent
    New Statesman is left leaning
    With this knowledge reading news/politics from a particular source makes much more sense and allows for a balanced interpretation by the recipient
    I think our peace time government and medics have risen quite well to the crisis -I have children on the frontline in medicine, prisons and teaching
    Could do better of course
    War /Crisis time leaders are not the same as peace time ones
    Leaders like Boris,Trump etc area product of the current circumstances
    When we get back to”normal” is anyone’s guess -probably sooner rather than later
    It is a big reset moment which is causing lots of angst equally across the left /right spectrum into which our society appears to be divided 50:50!

  • 23 David May 31, 2020, 9:37 am

    @ xxd – Very true about the range of media biases. I find it quite depressing that most people read the same newspaper all the time and therefore reinforce their mindset without any attempt to look at the evidence or think for themselves – I’d call it Groupthink rather than fake news. Then people include a link to a Guardian article in blog comments or a Facebook discussion as if it “proves” a particular way of viewing the world. Don’t people realise that all newspapers are businesses trying to maximise page views by spinning a story along the lines their readers have come to expect? We’re hardly likely to see a piece in the Guardian telling us what a great job Boris is doing, or an article in the Telegraph congratulating the teaching unions for their cooperation around the re-opening of schools.

    For those (like me) who aren’t lucky enough to be retired yet, I highly recommend the weekly news publication called “The Week”. It includes a range of viewpoints in a nice summary of the previous week’s news which can be read in about an hour. I prefer the printed version, which is almost unchanged from the 1990s. I just wish I could resist the temptation to stop reading the rest of the news in between times.

  • 24 Matthew May 31, 2020, 10:36 am

    Reading the same bias of paper can be a reassurance in a world that sometimes disagrees with you that you’re not the only one to have that opinion, I think most people are aware of the biasses and view them through the appropriate lens, although of course the fear is that not everyone does.

    Although I don’t like the state subsidising the BBC i do appreciate it taking the work out of most of the bias filtering, and I’d consider subscribing to it or watching adverts, without some kind of neutral narrative it’d be easy to lose track of what was really happening. I suppose we have ITN and sky news which feel quite unbiassed to me too.

    I notice that most papers seem to focus their bias on a few articles in particular, and more generic stuff is more free from it

  • 25 Algernond May 31, 2020, 11:00 am

    xxd09 – re. your first sentence; this is one of the reasons why I am desperate to retire. There is so much to understand, and one just doesn’t have the time with a full time job that is taxing on the brain.
    Working in the tech industry, so many of my colleagues just spout what they’ve heard on the #MSM and what they’ve been taught in the left-leaning education system (e.g. ‘orange man bad’, ‘Socialism good’, ‘Capitalism bad’ , ‘Brietbart Racist’, etc…etc..).
    I do think it’s a problem that the average punter has to dig a bit deeper for some of the more right-leaning and capitalist viewpoint stuff.

  • 26 The Investor May 31, 2020, 11:26 am

    Hardly. Most of the mainstream press in the UK leans right including the best selling newspapers and (one of) the most visited media website(s). (Not sure if the Mail Online still is, but it certainly was…)

    As a solidly economically right leaning socially left leaning floating voter type I do have some sympathy with exasperation at the “capitalism is bad” bias in a chunk of the educated population more widely. Many of them don’t seem to understand their entire way of life revolves around it.

    But “won’t anyone think of the poor Brexity Tories?!” is itself one of the more myopic viewpoints IMHO.

    We really should be wary of going down party political lines in comments here though. I’ve seen numerous venues ruined by it. Appreciate I started it in some ways back in summer 2016 but that was (in theory at least) a non partisan issue.

    If the politically discussion gets too much here I’d start deleting it before I saw our comment culture ruined.

    At the moment I think it’s pretty civil and fairly balanced but just a heads up for anyone who feels aggrieved in the future!

  • 27 Algernond May 31, 2020, 11:48 am

    Hi @TI.
    So when you say “Most of the mainstream press in the UK leans right…”, I am thinking that actually means “…economically right leaning socially left leaning”.
    I can’t think of any #MSM which is socially right-leaning anymore in the way that e.g. Brietbart is, as lot of the socially right-leaning stuff is considered to close to the edges of the Overton Window to be discussed openly in public.

  • 28 Matthew May 31, 2020, 12:42 pm

    Perhaps the papers aren’t so much left/right as they are allied to a particular party – ie would they actually cricicise their own party if it did something politically opposite?

  • 29 two shillings and sixpence May 31, 2020, 12:46 pm

    35th is the World Press Freedom Index


  • 30 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 12:53 pm

    @TI, I suspect the articles about the Beckhams and Kardashians account for a lot of the DM online traffic but I guess it could be for the news.

    If your assertion is true, could it be because the bbc crowds out any for profit leftie liberal stuff ?

    I don’t see the Torygraph paywall being affected by people choosing the beeb instead. Tired of being told they’d changed their minds and we’re destroying the county I suspect. On the other hand what’s the point of reading the guardian ( even for free) when you can get the same opinion on a far bigger budget from the bbc

    I don’t have an issue with people watching the bbc – I just don’t want to have to pay for it

  • 31 The Investor May 31, 2020, 2:37 pm

    If your assertion is true, could it be because the BBC crowds out any for profit leftie liberal stuff ?

    The anti-BBC stuff is particularly blinkered and polarized.

    Throughout the last election my Facebook feed was FULL of my lefty friends calling for the BBC to be held account for its pro-Brexit, anti-Corybn bias, with Laura Kunesberg particularly vilified.

    I continually warned them that “the other side” was saying exactly the same thing — that the BBC was ultra left, and that it should be held account for it’s anti-Brexit bias — and linked to tons of right-leaning articles you’d nod along with calling for it to be held account.

    I warned them that by turning the institution into (more of) a political football, they were making one of the world’s most objective and neutral (not perfect, not always) media platforms vulnerable to ‘reform’ if they lost the war.

    Well, they lost the war (/election) and now we’ll see what happens.

    It’s hilarious to me that you obviously think the BBC is very left-wing, and some of my leftiest mates think it’s a capitalistic pro-elite* mouthpiece.

    None of you can seemingly see that you can’t both be right.

    Alternatively, perhaps you’re all very happy with everything getting ever more toxic and polarized across the spectrum.

    Be careful what you wish for. If I had money (which obviously I do) I’d be very careful about calling for a revolution.

    *Let’s not forget the elites actually have nearly all the money in all this discussion. Another ridiculous co-opting that the right has managed to pull off and maybe if people are so stupid as to think Johnson and Cummings are anti-elite they deserve what they get.

  • 32 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 3:17 pm

    I think sometimes there’s a sense that ‘brexit is over let’s go back to normal’. A substantial proportion of brexit voters ( I’d hazard half – so a quarter of the total voting population) who don’t feel like that. Yes we won, but that wasn’t because of winning in June 2016 we had to go on and win another three elections with supposedly neutral institutions stacked with remainers who tried to overturn the vote.
    whilst Dom will give what he gave to Bercow to the BBC, Supreme Court and civil service it doesn’t matter how many people they wheel out to make sightings up, we want change.

  • 33 W May 31, 2020, 3:31 pm

    Followed that link to the Press Freedom Index and I’m not surprised the UK is down at 35th place.

    But having also had experience with news in other countries ranked both above and below, what concerns me as much as freedom is lack of impartiality and the resulting bias.

    The press may be free, but it is also free to be biased, and often the bias is so well funded that it is then impossible, even with freedom, for alternative views to get heard above the noise level sufficiently to get traction.

    Even the BBC translate foreign politicians or spokespersons choosing words which are technically one possible translation but a native speaker could reasonably understand a different meaning, but it doesn’t fit the BBC or UK Government narrative. It happens more the last 10 years or so than it used to. That is worrying because so many people imagine the BBC is impartial, not just politically but even more importantly in terms of reporting global events; unfortunately it isn’t.

    The press in the UK and Europe will often misrepresent events with picture captions that mislead or translations of incomplete quotes. TV news coverage will crop or carefully frame camera shots to support the story. I could go on.

    In all cases the media claims to be speaking for democratic values. Many of the journalists and repirters are genuine in their belief that they are reporting the events freely and in the interests of democracy. But the democracy in question is so limited in scope and so resistant to change that it is, sadly, something of an illusion.

  • 34 The Borderer May 31, 2020, 7:12 pm

    @W #33
    I agree. One can look at headlines such as “MARTIANS BUILT THE PYRAMIDS”….. claims an archaeologist, and it’s easy to understand that newspapers need attention grabbing headlines to boost circulation. On the internet it’s ‘clickbait’. And on television news it’s heartfelt, searing exposes of hardship and suffering, seemingly crafted to earn the journalist a BAFTA.
    The purpose of news is to deliver news, not opinion. Opinion is for other venues such as magazine programmes.
    Sadly, the BBC seems to be losing its way. I remember during the Falklands war the BBC was criticised for calling our forces “British Forces”, and not “our Forces” – I wish they could return to that, more objective, journalism.

  • 35 Seeking Fire May 31, 2020, 7:45 pm

    I think it’s worth re-looking at that press freedom index post by two shillings and sixpence and reviewing where China is. We all know it anyway but startling again to see where the world’s second largest economy in nominal GDP is and the outlook in the coming years. There is so much criticism of the US (much of it warranted) – but compared to what – what’s your comparison – you want the other lot? Did China really test 11 million people in two weeks? Europe is fiddling around and inwardly focussed. UK will become increasingly irrelevant in the coming decades with a lack of capability to influence events and increasingly our own future – we will be price takers not setters and that will upset people. Our current crop of politicians are doing things to the best of their ability, it’s just that their ability isn’t very good. I do feel it has important implications for personal finance and preparations. I fully expect the UK to muddle through as a base case scenario but the tail risks have risen. Dealing with CV and EU negotiations and the day to day machinations of running a country would be more than enough for most cabinets – I doubt ours have the capabilities to do it properly. I saw some comments around shifting the BOE target from inflation to growth. I don’t like the outlook for the £ and whilst I feel the treasury’s response to CV has been good, I do feel making yourself more independent and robust to financial shocks should be a key objective of most people with financial means to do so. For me that means diversifying away from paper assets in the UK e.g. Gilts, holding a global index, hard assets, marketable human skills, I like leverage in £…the usual!

  • 36 Neverlaid May 31, 2020, 7:53 pm

    When The Investor kicks things off with i) Barry Does Brexit, ii) Day 21 in the Big Brexit House and iii) 5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Bug-Out Fund to avoid the forthcoming Borisapocalypse etc, I don’t think he can be surprised when other people get political in the comments. Do as I say, not do as I do?

  • 37 The Investor May 31, 2020, 8:31 pm

    @Neverlaid — That was (a) four years ago and (b) I was told I was overreacting and that the vote had happened, let’s all move on. So I feel pretty vindicated.

    As for the Bug Out fund, that was not party political. Corbyn and his acolytes were the flip-side of the same coin. Happily I can get behind Keir Starmer pretty easily. Perhaps Johnson will get bored one day and resign and what’s left of the Centrist Tory wing can reclaim the party, and then we can get back to not having to choose between factions offering different ways of shooting ourselves in the foot.

  • 38 Matthew May 31, 2020, 8:41 pm

    If labour got in under starmer, would that count as a mandate to reverse brexit? So the next election would be another referendum?

  • 39 The Investor May 31, 2020, 9:04 pm

    @Matthew — No. Pretty much everyone with influence now accepts that the Brexit self harm has happened and we’re out of the EU for at least a generation.

  • 40 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 9:15 pm

    @Matthew… Brexit is starmers biggest opportunity… until it happens he can’t get the Sun or the red wall back. He may never, effectively telling them they were so stupid we had to recheck their vote didn’t resonate well, as the hundred plus seats that changed hands from Labour to Tory and Tory remoaner to leaver demonstrate.

    but…I for one look forward to leaving on the hardest possible terms, watching us recover quicker than the ‘single market’ but disengaging and going back to being a non-voter.

    That’s when Starmer has a chance. There’s no chance he’d try to reverse brexit now after his defeat in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2019.

    He said he wouldn’t attempt to stay in telegraph ( paywalled)


  • 41 Neverlaid May 31, 2020, 9:17 pm

    “Perhaps Johnson will get bored one day and resign and what’s left of the Centrist Tory wing can reclaim the party, and then we can get back to not having to choose between factions offering different ways of shooting ourselves in the foot.”

    Can’t help thinking that sort of comment is not entirely apolitical.

  • 42 The Investor May 31, 2020, 9:21 pm

    Can’t help thinking that sort of comment is not entirely apolitical.

    You’re clearly as troll-y as your name sake. I didn’t say it was apolitical, did I? We’re clearly having a political discussion here, after the request that we drop it fell apart.

    May have to impose a non-political fatwa next weekend. There’s been no investing/money discussion this week. If people who find the British press not extreme and polarized enough for their tastes want to debate politics, there are other places on the Internet for it.

  • 43 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 9:33 pm

    @TI … I’m a bit confused here… you clearly seem deeply frustrated that people want polarised news… but you polarised this site and drove all the brexiteers from here years ago. I’m going to take a guess and check the analytics are down roughly 25pc on 25/06/2016? Certainly all of my crowd are gone.

    Are you sure you don’t want the news to be polarised ? Or is it you just want it to be all remainer liberal and have a deep frustration people would dare to think differently ?

    I think it’s sad you think I’m in a tiny minority who rationally think brexit is a good thing… you had a readership of hundreds of people that thought like that but you bullied them off. I hope Raab / Patel let all 3m HK people become British Citizens… be a real win for those of us who have been saying over and over brexit wasn’t about immigration

  • 44 Jonathan May 31, 2020, 9:47 pm

    @Seeking Fire: “Our current crop of politicians are doing things to the best of their ability, it’s just that their ability isn’t very good” is a succinct summary of where we are at. The current government is pretty much beyond embarrassment, with very few showing glimmers of competence. There is no obvious alternative within the Conservative Party, and the (mutedly) positively comments about Starmer here simply reflect that for the first time for a few years there might – just might – be a credible alternative.

    Sometimes, when things get tough and decisions are difficult the questions that should be asked are about the basic values we share. As a country, the institutions that define British values are the BBC and the NHS – it is difficult to see why they are attacked so vociferously. Yes, at this point in time a political party that has done its best over 10 years to undermine the NHS feels bound to praise it – but yet the BBC is still taken as a target. As @TI points out, the fact that both right and left feel that its balanced reporting is “biased” suggests that it is navigating a difficult task well. Quite rightly, there is never a “BBC viewpoint”. But the recent Maitlis controversy is bizarre, are people really imagining the BBC is biased for not giving an obvious lie equal credibility to the difficulties many thousands or millions are experiencing due to following social isolation rules?

  • 45 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 10:02 pm

    @Jonathan … we just don’t like the bbc. So when it attacks the one man who’s likely to break it up, we’re going to side with him. That simple, whoever lied when or about what. This might have been different but the bbc was telling us the public wanted to reverse brexit even after the Brexit party smashed the EU parliament vote… I suspect they weren’t lying they just didn’t know any brexiteers and that was the problem

  • 46 The Investor May 31, 2020, 10:24 pm

    Certainly all of my crowd are gone.

    Evidently not.

    I’m going to take a guess and check the analytics are down roughly 25pc on 25/06/2016?

    I couldn’t care less, I didn’t start my own blog to censor myself for traffic.

    Indeed in the heat of the moment in 2016 I actually said that I’d have installed a plug-in to block all Brexit voters if I could. I also conceded that I’d lose 25-50% of reasonable (by my definition) Brexit voters, and that would be a shame. Which it would have been / was.

    That said, I know for a fact plenty of Brexit voters do still read the site, leaning towards the more reasonable ones.

    But no, it’s not the best forum for discussing how great things are going to be in our new tarrif-y racism-enabling future. Plenty of places for that elsewhere, including all the other investing forums.

    I think it’s sad you think I’m in a tiny minority who rationally think brexit is a good thing…

    No, I said you’re among the tiny minority who think it’s “economically” a good thing.

    Clearly plenty of people voted for Brexit thinking it’s a good thing, and the sovereignty crowd are coherent at least, in that Brexit maximizes our technical self-determination (while reducing our genuine leverage, but anyone who doesn’t get that by now never will. And if you think it’s worth it for the sovereignty of Parliament then I genuinely think that’s fair enough).

    The others have reasons ranging from the misguided to the odious. But they all presumably thought it was a good thing.

    Although actually even as I type that I doubt myself, there’s plenty on both sides who just want to kick things over and have a fight nowadays it seems, and plenty who said afterwards they just wanted to ‘shake things up’ or ‘kick London in the arse’ or similar. Including you a few comments above.

    …be a real win for those of us who have been saying over and over brexit wasn’t about immigration

    You see, this is why I don’t think you’re a reasonable person trying to have a constructive conversation, and why I say things are polarized.

    In this comment alone, for instance, I’ve reiterated for the umpteenth time that I think sovereignty was a reasonable reason to vote Brexit. I attempt to at least see what the different sides are, even if I don’t agree with them.

    Whereas you play the wounded innocent about something like immigration, as if it’s some kind of Remain-y fantasy plot, when huge swathes of polling, interviews, and literally any Question Time for the past five years shows that for a huge segment (I think a majority but you can have ‘large minority’ if you like) immigration was a massive factor.

    It just makes your position seem facile. If I’d voted for Brexit I’d own all that crap, and hope we can detox the mission.

    E.g. Your Hong Kong comments are noted; personally if it was me I’d say “it will be a chance for us to show that it doesn’t have to be about immigration going forward and build bridges with globalist Remainers”.

    But that’s me. Very 1990s.

  • 47 Ana May 31, 2020, 10:58 pm

    BBlimp – please stop trolling this site

  • 48 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 11:08 pm

    @TI … oh, I’m polarised, certainly. When I said ‘my crowd’ I meant the John Redwood school of brexiteers, not just people who voted leave.

    And you’re right, I’m not looking for consensus building with the people who’ve tried to overturn the vote for three years. When Nissan chose Sunderland over the single market seven months after saying ‘no deal’ would kill the U.K. car industry I wasn’t hoping it’d get remainers on side.
    I was hoping for an apology from all those who said no deal is the end of the world. All those who listened to ‘experts’ the bbc trotted out with their Eu groupthink.

    No amount of economic good news will provide that I suspect. Just as no amount of increased immigration will shrug off the belief amongst Remainers that the these Leave.Eu Tories are pro immigration. None so deaf as those that won’t hear… on both sides

  • 49 BBlimp May 31, 2020, 11:11 pm

    @Ana … there we go, if you have a pro brexit pro Tory outlook ( and let’s face it Leave won a majority in a referendum and the Tories won a landslide election ) you’re ‘trolling the site’

    Brilliant that would come after various comments about polarisation

  • 50 The Investor May 31, 2020, 11:19 pm

    @BBlimp — Well I presume you’ve also noted that I’ve never said Brexit will be the end of the world (not even No Deal Brexit) nor that immigration will stop (of course it won’t, it’s been a boon for the country economically, as for instance Boris Johnson knows, which is why we had it).

    As I’ve said many times, but I’ll say it here again so I can conveniently point to it when you or others accuse me of saying something different, life will go on after Brexit. We’ll just be poorer, less influential, and probably culturally impoverished unless your vision of some sort of New York / Silicon Valley meets Singapore off the coast of France comes true, which doesn’t seem hugely likely given a large chunk of the contingency and motivation of those who voted Brexit among other things. But then again perhaps they’ve served their purpose I suppose.

    My guess is we’ll lose about 0.25% a year of GDP annualized indefinitely from Brexit, +/- a few basis points depending on what Brexit we actually get. Not a big deal for a year or two (certainly compared to this year). A huge difference over 20 years. The only way of avoiding this is indeed your Redwood-y Singaporean Brexit, where perhaps we can grow a bit faster in 10-20 years time after the initial hit, at the cost of at least a partial dismantling of the State, regulation etc.

    Which clearly you’re all for, but again hardly consistent with the £350m a week for the NHS nonsense on the tin, eh?

    Brexit has already cost us at least £150bn, although clearly it’s all going to get lost in Covid-19 noise now.

  • 51 The Investor May 31, 2020, 11:22 pm

    @BBlimp @Ana — It’s not your view, it’s the way you shape-shift and ignore counters etc. It is troll-lite, certainly. I haven’t 100% made up my mind.

    Also, I forgot to add:

    I was hoping for an apology from all those who said no deal is the end of the world.

    As you presumably know, we’re haven’t left the transition period after leaving the EU yet. We’re not trading on No Deal terms.

    We’re trading on being-in-the-EU terms with a pound that’s massively weakened because the markets have voted on the economic sense of Brexit.

    i.e. This is the ‘good’ bit.

    Edit: Corrected myself. We have left the EU itself, of course, in January. We haven’t left the trading arrangements.

  • 52 xxd09 May 31, 2020, 11:32 pm

    Must confess that I lean towards Brexiteerdom rather than the other way
    However I enjoy the cut and thrust of debate on this forum for which you need at least two polite and mannerly sides to function
    Preaching to the converted is no fun for anyone-very boring and we learn nothing
    As the politics have now been sorted let’s get on to the economics and how do we invest for the coming storm
    The storm was coming everybody knew -it was just in what manner it manifested itself
    Who would have guessed a pandemic and political upheaval all at once-a perfect storm!
    Back to the economics gentlemen and ladies-we sink or swim together

  • 53 Getting Minted June 1, 2020, 12:56 am

    The GB pound is down about 13% against both the US dollar and the Euro since February 2016 when the EU referendum was announced. I’m not sure I’d call that massively weakened.

  • 54 Sparschwein June 1, 2020, 1:54 am

    This Brexit debate is interesting. Quite surprising that there are still new angles.
    By the sounds of it, the “Singapore” version has been the Tory leaders’ plan all along…
    So the brexity masses have been duped with a bait-and-switch. Frustrated with the ruling elites, baited with nationalist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. And actually they get more immigration, less workers’ rights, a neoliberal paradise for the 1%…

    Personally we may actually do well out of this. It just feels so very wrong. And plenty of opportunity for unexpected knock-on effects. Uncertainty and tail risks seem to be increasing everywhere. The option we’ve got as proud Citizens of Nowhere, to up sticks and be gone in a heartbeat, looks more valuable than ever.

    That >10% drop in a supposedly stable, developed currency is rather bigly, as they say, and there is plenty more to come, as @TI has pointed out. At least we’ve been forewarned. I’ve learned my lesson about currency diversification, it was an expensive one.

  • 55 Snowman June 1, 2020, 6:40 am

    Interesting story from Italy that Carl Heneghan has linked to from his twitter account. ‘New coronavirus losing potency, top Italian doctor says’


    ‘The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago’

    The Spanish article in that thread is worth translating also although it doesn’t talk about viral load as such.

    I’m not jumping to any conclusions here. But interesting to see where this leads to or doesn’t lead to. Keep an open mind please.

  • 56 Neverlaid June 1, 2020, 7:39 am

    I think that TI is right to say that a desire to see immigration controlled and reduced was a big part of the reason why the 2016 referendum went the way it did.

    So Sparschwein raises a good point re “bait and switch”.

    Quite apart from the sheer impracticality and environmental damage done by having to build housing for 3m (or whatever number) extra new immigrants, it would surely be felt as a betrayal of the Leave vote if immigration went UP post Brexit. What would the subsequent backlash look like then?

  • 57 The Investor June 1, 2020, 7:49 am

    @Snowman — Did you see the interview with another Karl — Karl Friston — in The Guardian over the weekend? He’s a modeller on the Independent Sage panel. I think you’d be on a similar wave length.

    He is not too worried about an imminent second wave, going on his model, but the future is more uncertain.

    This gives a flavour of the way he approaches things:

    We’ve been comparing the UK and Germany to try to explain the comparatively low fatality rates in Germany. The answers are sometimes counterintuitive. For example, it looks as if the low German fatality rate is not due to their superior testing capacity, but rather to the fact that the average German is less likely to get infected and die than the average Brit. Why? There are various possible explanations, but one that looks increasingly likely is that Germany has more immunological “dark matter” – people who are impervious to infection, perhaps because they are geographically isolated or have some kind of natural resistance. This is like dark matter in the universe: we can’t see it, but we know it must be there to account for what we can see. Knowing it exists is useful for our preparations for any second wave, because it suggests that targeted testing of those at high risk of exposure to Covid-19 might be a better approach than non-selective testing of the whole population.


  • 58 BBlimp June 1, 2020, 8:55 am

    @TI, I’m not the only one to ignore counters -were you planning to respond to the comment about the pound losing so little of it’s value since Feb 2016? You’ve not made any comment about Nissan. That would seem a very unfair test for being a troll.

    As for the Singapore on Thames crowd taking the bulk of leave voters for a ride… It would seem unlikely given the scale of the project it could be enacted so that it could not be changed by 2024. By unlikely I mean absolutely impossible. The Govt need to take their new voters with them to get enough time to put the project in motion. Hence the infrastructure upgrades and etc etc which is coming…

    As for allowing HK people to live here a betrayal of leave voters ? I expect the highly educated, highly skilled, highly ambitious HK crowd would be in a different jobs market to people who currently hold the view immigration is bad. I don’t think the fact we don’t build many homes how is a good reason not to in the future… where there’s a will there’s a way

  • 59 The Investor June 1, 2020, 9:14 am

    @BBlimp — Alas, as the site owner I have hundreds of readers to respond to over time (including lots of comments that pop-up on older articles all the time) as well as emails etc, whereas you can just address me, and I’ve already replied to you lots of times on this thread alone. Which is a bit futile given you’re not going to change your mind about anything.

    Also it’s Monday and I need to get on.

    It’s certainly notable though that on this allegedly ‘Brexiteer banished’ site on this thread alone we have a bunch of comments from pro-Brexit readers, and very little engagement from our Remain-minded investing readers. It does suggest crowding out. Food for thought.

    Anyway, the idea that a significant core of the Leave vote would welcome hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens turning up is beyond ridiculous.

    I happen to agree with you though that it’d likely be a boon for the country, politics/optics aside, as well as morally (/soft power wise) the right thing to offer.

  • 60 Jonathan June 1, 2020, 9:24 am

    Thanks @BBlimp for the honest explanation: “we just don’t like the bbc”. It makes it very much easier reading your posts to know for sure that your position is based on prejudice rather than trying to identify a chain of thought.

  • 61 Factor June 1, 2020, 9:31 am

    “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups” – George Carlin

  • 62 ZXSpectrum48k June 1, 2020, 10:00 am

    @BBlimp. Total BS. How dare you claim Feb 16 as the point to look at the depreciation of GBP. It was a short-term low in an already clear downtrend. You also cannot look at it just vs. the US dollar.

    First, in Feb 2016, the USD started depreciating from a high (caused by the first Fed rate hike of 25bp in Dec 15) of around 7% vs. a basket of broad currencies (chart DXY) in a period of 6-9 months. Everything, including GBP, benefited from that depreciation. Second, the market had clearly perceived the risk of a Brexit vote in late 2015. GBP had already dropped 10% on a trade-weighted basis by Feb 16. In total it dropped over 21% by July 16. Even the ERM2 GBP collapse in 1992 only resulted in a 17-18% fall on TW basis. The only faster depreciation in the last 30 years was during the 2008 crisis.

    I don’t really want to revisit Brexit debates but I fear significant revisionist history. We know why people voted for Brexit and what their views were on many matters. I’ve linked to it before but Ashcroft did a sizeable poll of 12k people a few days after the vote. https://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/
    80% of Brexit voters saw “immigration as a force for ill”; 70-80% of Brexit voters saw multiculturalism, social liberalism, feminism, globalisation, the Green movement and even the internet as “forces for ill”. The data says it all.

  • 63 The Investor June 1, 2020, 10:13 am

    Solid fact-based reply. All sides have had their say; I’m closing comments here. Have a good week all.