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Weekend reading: May the force be with us

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

The speedy installation of Theresa May into 10 Downing Street and the self-assurance she displayed in reshaping the Cabinet to fit her agenda made the past week was a good one for Great Britain PLC.

Obviously, we almost certainly still face years of heightened uncertainty as a result of Brexit.

But in avoiding an extra two months of front-loaded angst while the world and its money wonders who is even in charge is akin to avoiding initial fees on an investment fund. We’ve dodged even more pain for absolutely no gain.

That it’s May in charge – and not a cabal of unknowns – dampens some of the tail risks, too. Theresa May has her pros and cons, but she’s probably not going to drive us into a cliff out of ideology or inexperience.

Of course, as the The Economist points out, getting a cabinet in place and the optics sorted is only one step on our journey to Brexit:

“These things matter, of course.

But they melt into insignificance compared with the geological scale of the mountain the country must now climb.

In its continent, Britain must now rewrite its relationship with its largest trading partners, extricate itself from four decades of treaties, laws and conventions and negotiate painful trade offs.

Farther afield, it must reconfigure its role in the world and its relations with other countries.

This is not some hermit state, but one of the most globalised and internationally interdependent economies on the planet.

It rises and falls on its relations with the outside.”

I suspect it will be many months – if not years – before we’re even sure what kind of mountain we’re climbing.

Hammond time

Before then, Phillip Hammond, the new Chancellor, might have rocked a few of our apple carts

If May and Hammond are to be taken at their word, this new incarnation of the Tory government has different ideas about the UK economy – certainly post-Brexit – and perhaps, under Hammond, about our personal finances, too.

Wisely in light of how the Brexit vote broke down, May says she wants to govern for everyone. But it’s impossible to please everyone at the best of times, and these are not such halcyon days.

The commitment to an austerity timetable has gone at a stroke. That can only mean higher borrowing. Fine while gilt yields are low – but will they stay low, given the additional borrowing, likely higher inflation, and our huge current account deficit?

Interesting times.

Meanwhile, will Hammond do anything different on the personal finance front as part of this new purportedly inclusive agenda?

If George Osborne had kept the job, I would have expected him to swiftly cut corporation tax and possibly do something radical like suspend capital gains tax and stamp duty in an attempt to encourage investment. It’s not inconceivable he would have abandoned the goal of balancing the books by 2020, too, but I suspect any dividend he gained would have probably gone on cutting income taxes, in an attempt to cheer our animal spirits and keep the country spending.

This kind of Osborne-style agenda sounds far better for the wealthy than the poor though, which seems incompatible with May and Hammond’s stated goals.

Hammond told BBC Breakfast: “It’s not about making the fantastically rich richer”. He went on to pledge rising prosperity for “ordinary people”.

What might that amount to?

I can’t see him ramping up spending on benefits in a significant way. We already have a minimum wage. And he literally can’t afford to be too generous to the masses – there’s masses of them, and the country is still in debt.

Perhaps infrastructural investment biased to the regions is logical choice, but it’ll take years to get going and make a difference.

No, I find myself speculating that in any abandoning the effort to balance the books in favour of trying to rebalance inequality – even a bit – there’s going to have to be a carrot and stick approach to make it politically palatable.

That suggests halting spending cuts, higher taxes on the wealthy, no changes to the likes of capital gains tax or stamp duty, and perhaps an accelerated end to higher-rate tax relief on pensions.

It seems unlikely that they’ll jack up the highest rate of income tax again – perhaps to 50% – when they’re trying to prevent an exodus of City workers, but who knows? (Answers on a postcard in the comments below!)

Back on the front

Finally, to those who – when not swearing – have told me in the past three weeks to “can it”, “shut up”, “stop Remoaning”, or “go back to writing about passive investing or I’m going to stop reading” I say: Do what you like.

Really. Not to be antagonistic, but that’s certainly what I will keep on doing.

I haven’t run this website for eight years to let unhappy strangers start dictating what I write about.

Especially when a sizeable proportion (though definitely not all) of the complainers are of the Barry Blimp sort.

Life is to short to cater to these people – unless you’re one of them yourself.

For example, one of the Blimps’ traits is they can’t seem to handle nuance or uncertainty. They are convinced they are right, but if they are proved wrong then they blame unforeseeable factors for derailing their vision or calculations. (I’ve mentioned before that many seem to have an engineering background – in my experience one of the reliably worst flavours of private active investor. Perhaps there’s a connection, to do with left brains or similar.)

Now, judging by their annoyance at my Brexit posts, I suspect some of them will accuse me of just the same steadfast intransigence.

“Wait and see, you’ll be embarrassed in 10 years when Brexit is proved a huge success!” more than one has said.

But really I won’t be – I’ll be surprised, but not astonished – because I’ve repeatedly talked about uncertainties and probabilities.

In every post I’ve written about Brexit, I’ve allowed that there may be a net positive outcome from the vote to Leave. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a possibility.

If you don’t think in those terms – as their blind certainty suggests many don’t – then perhaps you can’t read it in others.

Alternatively, uncertainty for some seems to mean: “Hey, it’s happened, get over it. Come back in five years when there’s certainty”.

In other words, they believe it’s at best futile and at worst confrontational to think about a range of possibilities, especially one where most of your range sits on the wrong side of their own axis of rightness.

Deliberately not speculating about the future like this is a fine approach to bring to your passive investing strategy.

But it’s a terrible way to invest actively (which is what I do for my sins) and to a lesser extent it can be bad for your personal finances.

And it’s a futile way to critique a blogger who is trying to wrap his (inadequate) head around the potential consequences of a nation-shaking event. You might not want to do it but I do, and I am not going to replace my methods with blind faith in people whose reasoning I doubt.

I see a range of possibilities, and as I said at the start, the odds will keep changing.

This was a good week. Theresa May in, Andrea Leadsom not, and a version of Brexit which essentially amounts to “burn the ships” has become much less likely.

For some of you this is blindingly obvious.

I hope you keep reading! 🙂

Brexit containment facility

  • Brexit and the power of wishful thinking [Search result]FT
  • Theresa May’s Brexit nightmare – Politics
  • Anger at JP Morgan’s unhelpful Brexit warnings [Search result]FT
  • Blindsided by Brexit bias – The Psy-fi Blog
  • How technology disrupted the truth – The Guardian
  • Brexit shakes up the Bordeaux market [Search result]FT
  • Down the rabbit hole – Simple Living in Suffolk
  • UK exhausted by arguing with Brexit f*ckwits – The Daily Mash

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: I get quite a few emails about ethical investing (especially the options for passive investors) but carbon-free banking is a new one on me. You’d expect to read about it in The Guardian first, and I did. The paper points readers towards the Co-Operative Bank’s Smile account and has other suggestions as to where to put your eco-friendly savings.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • Many lousy investors don’t even know it – Wall Street Journal
  • Eugene Fama and Richard Thaler debate market efficiency – CBR
  • The case for multi-factor ETFs – Barrons

Active investing

  • The trouble with active share – Morningstar
  • Interview with Morgan Stanley’s EM expert Ruchir Sharmar – The Hindu
  • Is Japan cheap? – WisdomTree and ETF.com
  • A profile of eccentric Aussie fund manager John Hempton – Bloomberg
  • “Pressured” hedge funds may fall back to a 1.5-and-20 fee model [!]CNBC

A word from a broker

  • Amazon to Starbucks: Who to watch this US earnings season – TD Direct
  • Supergroup touts special dividend after strong year – Hargreaves Lansdown

Other stuff worth reading

  • 1945-2016: Here’s what happened [US but relevant]Motley Fool US
  • Charity to “accelerate” home ownership for renty-somethings – Telegraph
  • Homebuyers with small deposits beware new credit crunch – ThisIsMoney
  • The great mortgage divide: Some pay 0.99%, some 5% – Telegraph
  • Would a work-free world be so bad? – The Atlantic
  • Jason Zweig: Gold is still a pet rock – W.S.J.
  • Learning to deal with imposter syndrome – New York Times

Book of the week: I was fortunate to see a presentation recently by Ruchir Sharma, the author of The Rise and Fall of Nations. As head of global markets and chief global market strategist at Morgan Stanley, Sharma travels the world collecting experiences and data that underpin his method for deciding which countries are poised to prosper. (Spoiler: Sharma tips Eastern Europe over the likes of Brazil, and says that post-Brexit the UK went from having an “average” outlook to an “ugly” one. Ouch!)

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  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”. []

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{ 38 comments… add one }
  • 1 TT July 16, 2016, 11:41 am

    Re “It’s not inconceivable he would have abandoned the goal of balancing the books by 2020”

    He already did
    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/osborne-abandons-pledge-to-balance-the-books-by-2020-wslxtn3rg

  • 2 PC July 16, 2016, 12:00 pm

    Still reading 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • 3 SB July 16, 2016, 12:20 pm

    “I suspect it will be many months – if not years – before we’re even sure what kind of mountain we’re climbing.”
    As far as I can tell from the surroundings, it’s more likely that we’re walking up a creek.

  • 4 Faustus July 16, 2016, 12:28 pm

    Good analysis – Leadsom was a terrifying prospect, although time will tell whether May’s judgment in promoting BoJo was flawed. I’m not at all persuaded that at a time of serious crisis we want a man who has insulted half the world promoting the UK’s interests when serious negotiations lie ahead with those same countries.

    The impacts on personal finance are interesting to consider. Agree that Hammond could be less inclined to help private investors (whether for pensions or FI) than Osborne was, not least because in this populist age we are seen as some kind of ‘elite’. On the other hand, Hammond is extremely financially literate, so we are unlikely to see measures that haven’t been carefully thought through.

    One of the many things that makes this blog so great is your reasoned and sensible approach to investing and world events. Try not to get too irritated by the Brexit fanatics, as intensely annoying as they are – in my experience they are often as impervious to reason as to respectful dialogue and basic courtesy. Life is too short…

  • 5 Gregory July 16, 2016, 2:30 pm

    GOLD – Some argue that gold is bulletproof investment. They don’t know the lesson from US: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02525/PF-gold-confiscati_2525827b.jpg

  • 6 Cathy July 16, 2016, 3:04 pm

    Re BoJo, if he and the others come up with a brilliant plan to lead the UK forward into the “sunlit uplands”, then May looks good for having put them in charge, and all will be well. If, however, BoJo falls flat on his face and it turns out we can’t really construct a compelling case for leaving after all, BoJo will be the one who is to blame, and it will be his career that goes down the pan. So a good many have been saying, anyway.

    I’m glad she sacked Gove.

  • 7 The Investor July 16, 2016, 4:36 pm

    I forgot to say in the post that I hugely admire and appreciate engineers, and think they’re among the more unsung heroes of the modern world (although less unsung than a decade or two ago). Many of my good friends etc, too.

    I do believe I’ve spotted a pattern when it comes to them and investing. But it is just anecdotal.

  • 8 Matty July 16, 2016, 4:37 pm

    When we talk about Hammond potentially taxing the rich more – can we clarify if you mean on income or wealth? I hope we get some form of wealth tax rather than income of capital gains increases. I am relatively wealthy by income but absolutely not by wealth, as us under 35 have not benefitted from house prices rises. And importantly, in order to encourage social mobility lower income taxes should be encouraged as this is the way that the poorer become wealthier compared to those who may have inherited and now do nothing…

  • 9 Faustus July 16, 2016, 4:58 pm

    @Matty
    Wholly agree that the tax base needs to be changed to reduce the burden on working people’s incomes and increase it on wealth (including property) and unearned gains. If this Government is in any way serious about reducing inequality (and I have my doubts) reversing the concessions on inheritance tax would be a good start. It is worth remembering that Hammond was a property developer (with Castlemead) before he entered Parliament and is extremely wealthy himself. Not sure therefore whether we can expect him to be sympathetic to shifting the tax burden in the way described.

  • 10 Marked July 16, 2016, 5:18 pm

    Ok, thinking out the box and probably hated for it but my view is the chancellor should abolish personal allowance reclaim at the 100k mark.

    Why? People who earn between 100k and 122k are charged 62% tax. That’s 70’s style taxation, so almost everyone I know stuffs it in a pension. This means rather than the Exchequer getting their mitts on it now they have to wait for the individual to retire and even then it’s drip fed back. To me it’s one of those confounding taxation strategies that reduces tax take opposed to increasing it. And…. It was Darling with the eyebrows that invented it!

  • 11 FI Warrior July 16, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Good on you for standing by what you feel, your house, your rules, brah. I just met a couple of friends for a coffee today who voted different ways and they could barely make eye contact; the ironies abound. They’re both European by blood, but the one who now also has a Brit passport voted out and was absolutely closed to the other’s (who has an MBA) explanation of the consequences.

    Mr MBA was fighting to control himself and explained how his transnational employer (pharmaceutical industry) was already registering their European employees, so felt persecuted. At the same time, his employer was looking at the options to move to a European country as the laws governing practice may soon be different, while customers also wouldn’t understand why they are not geo-politically in Europe if they are supposed to be representing the European market.

    The saddest irony of all, was that the Brexiteer is newly unemployed because his company had a cashflow problem following the exchange rate collapse and is oblivious of the connection. His now former employer told him straight up that to balance the books, headcount had to go down, so consultants having the shortest notice period were first for the chop. There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see.

  • 12 Planting Acorns July 16, 2016, 6:38 pm

    Three weeks after the referendum result and there’s a new government with a new mandate in place…thank goodness. It’s not often I’ve that much good to say about them but I’ll join you in congratulating them on not stringing it out until October! Let’s just hope they can keep the momentum up and get to a point where we, and business, know what’s what.

    This is an incredibly exciting time for our country!

    There is a world beyond the EU and hopefully Davis and Fox can get out there and grasp the nettle…

    I’ve no doubt there will be short term pain, but even German reunification was painful.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Boris, with Dept’s for Brexit and International Trade what’s he actually got to do? There is no appetite for war, so I should hope he’ll be stuck in a cupboard somewhere wondering where his career went.

    As for Hammond… it’s his job to ensure the choice of location for companies who will have to start paying tarrifs is the UK. I expect huge cuts in corporation tax, and possibly even employer NI, investment in roads/rail/ tube, R&D support, state aid for auto industry.. With all this companies may decide the tariffs are worth paying…

    I cant see him having the time to get personal allowances , or the mess that is NI, sorted out but let’s keep our fingers crossed for a good outcome !

  • 13 Neverland July 16, 2016, 7:01 pm

    @planting acorns

    The UK bond market is currently pricing in 20 years of economic stagnation, so I assume you mean “This is an incredibly exciting time for our country!” in a Stalingrad type sense?

    http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2016/06/29/brexit-version-downfall-take-us-inside-boris-johnsons-bunker/

  • 14 Steve July 16, 2016, 7:04 pm

    Investors should be looking at depressed prices and anomalies that the surprise result has given us instead of constantly moaning.
    I have bought a j mucklow commercial property as a result of this,should give a good yield until the depressed state of Londoners has passed.

  • 15 Planting Acorns July 16, 2016, 11:29 pm

    @Neverland…

    …brave call, 20 years into the future.

    I mean, four years ago no-one predicted there’d be a referendum on EU membership, four weeks ago no-one predicted a “leave” vote.

    20 years ago today, we were pre-Blair. If you’d told me then gays would be on the way to getting married and accepted in the mainstream I’d have looked at you like you had two heads. Lot can happen in 20 years.

    Nearly everyone on here has more experience of the markets than me, but what I’ve already learnt is ;
    -markets hate uncertainty
    -markets over-react in both directions

    That, I think, is what gives investors the edge over traders…

  • 16 hariseldon July 17, 2016, 12:43 am

    I would be cautiously optimistic about the future, if not optimistic then less pessimistic ! BREXIT is not good for economic progress, if nothing else had changed but as we have seen, in just a few weeks we have seen a dramatic change in the government , personnel and approach to the economy.

    The situation pre June 23rd was causing a build up of pressure, the EU, immigration, globalisation … was seen by a sizeable chunk of the population as an issue and if we had not had a referendum, the pressure would have continued to build and rather like lancing a boil or blister the pressure is released and may well have prevented a much more disruptive situation in the years to come ?

    I would say continue to write about it, and as a remain voter, I would not be surprised to find the outcome less painful than you fear and possibly positive because of the changes we have already seen, combined with a likely fudge in the years to come.

    The EU has proved to be incredibly resilient and ‘flexible’ in the past. Losing the UK it loses a large chunk of GDP, roughly equivalent to the bottom 20 members of the EU by GDP. Its not business as usual, look at the effort to keep Greece on board.

    We are where we are and need to make the best of it.

  • 17 johnmadeira July 17, 2016, 2:06 am

    I’ve never written before but have subscribed to your newsletter for years. I just felt I had to say I like your articles on the referendum, and am pleased that someone else feels the same as I do. The only word that fits my mood now is bereavement. In the years that lie ahead will there be regrexit?

  • 18 Mroptimistic July 17, 2016, 6:45 am

    Well I reluctantly voted to Remain. I voted to join the Common Market but then it was 8 countries I think. The expansion to 28? has exposed strong cultural and economic gradients which are socially very disruptive as demonstrated across the continent. We should have altered our welfare state arrangements to cope, but we didn’t. I don’t think it’s that big a deal: how do you think people felt in 1939 by comparison ( not that I was there)? We have been very reluctant Europeans anyway, don’t think they will miss us culturally but they sure need our market.

  • 19 Maric July 17, 2016, 9:11 am

    With the increased possibility of an upcoming interest rate reduction, this link is an interesting read.

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/Pages/overview.aspx

  • 20 William III July 17, 2016, 9:36 am

    Great reads, thanks for sharing! Fwiw the most insightful analysis on brexit I’ve seen is:
    Jonathan Haidt on the failure to assimilate: http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/07/10/when-and-why-nationalism-beats-globalism/
    Dani Rodrik on the rise of nationalism: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/anti-globalization-backlash-from-right-by-dani-rodrik-2016-07
    And Jeremy Grantham who warns for the dire consequences of inequality and immigration: https://www.gmo.com/research-and-commentary/strategies/asset-allocation?docId=3193272e-8b9d-6433-9213-ff0000a1a898

    As my portfolio is highly tilted towards human capital at the moment, I’m going short inequality (UK) and long equality (continent), voting with my feet. I will very much miss the Shakespeare globe, the clove club and bocca di lupo, Sunday lunches, Hertfordshire and Northumberland and Oxford, and the amazing open minded and intelligent people here in London.. hmm, actually, sounds like I’ll be back!

  • 21 dearieme July 17, 2016, 12:52 pm

    The Reformed Broker was in good form, but didn’t draw the obvious conclusion, namely that a 50:50 portfolio of stocks and bonds is a fair bet. It’s not the bet I’d make, but he does seem unwittingly to have made a case for it.

  • 22 magneto July 17, 2016, 4:03 pm

    @dearieme
    Read as tongue in cheek?
    This too shall pass?

  • 23 Martyn July 17, 2016, 5:22 pm

    Your going to be wrong, UK will flourish post BrExit.

    Right now apart from the fall in the pound which is really moving it a little way towards fair value the only ything that happened was we (as investors) got a lot richer. Didn’t we?

    When I looked at things before the vote I figured it 50-60 likely we’d be better off, this is now 99%. The powers that be, sold us apocalyse, war and famine if we left. Now we have and it’s pretty unlikely much if anything is going to happen they risk their credibility being shredded. They therefore need to do things, like inflate the economy. Then when things are OK they can nod sagely and say well it would very bad had we not stepped in and saved the day.

    So smile, the economy will grow and asset inflation is coming your way and you’ll all be richer.

    When I was look at the bonus payments, I always made sure I was in the same scheme as the finance director. Never saw a drop in all my employment years. Same game here.

  • 24 dearieme July 17, 2016, 6:46 pm

    @magneto: well if bonds are his recommendation for capital gains, and equities for income, I dare say 50:50 would suit many people.

    What he hasn’t said is that, presumably, bonds and precious metals have behaved in roughly the same way over the past weeks. Odd, innit? Or maybe not, since both yield approx zero income.

    Maybe the Harry Browne Permanent Portfolio is a good bet for people who can hold their nerve. Except it seems to me that all financial assets are pricey. What can that presage? If I were holding the HBPP I suspect I’d diversify my precious metals over at least two, gold and silver, and my cash over several currencies. My equities I’d presumably hold passively with someone such as Vanguard. Whether I could really persuade myself to buy Fixed Interest I rather doubt. TIPS, maybe?

  • 25 Peter July 17, 2016, 10:38 pm

    > I’ve mentioned before that many seem to have an engineering background – in my experience one of the reliably worst flavours of private active investor. Perhaps there’s a connection, to do with left brains or similar.

    @TI Mighty curious – what has been the best flavour of private active investor in your experience? Would make a fun subject for another post..

  • 26 magneto July 18, 2016, 10:26 am

    ARM Holdings agreeing to takeover by SoftBank (Japan).

    Philip Hammond welcoming as vote of confidence in UK, leading to doubling of ARM UK workforce!

    Is this really such good news?
    With sterling weakness does this presage a clutch of similar takeovers of good UK companies?
    And does that matter?

  • 27 Neverland July 18, 2016, 10:56 am

    I was just reading today about trade negotiators

    Canada has about 600. The EU has about 800. The UK currently has 20…

    As far as I can tell the EU is currently negotiating about eight trade deals (Canada, US, China, Canada, Japan, India, South America and the Caribbean). So I’m guessing you need maybe a team of 50-150 to do a deal

    Could someone explain how we are not going to be trading based on WTO rules with large blocks of the planet two years after we apply to leave the EU

    We simply don’t have the capability to hire enough people to agree enough trade deals…

  • 28 John B July 18, 2016, 11:08 am

    There is an awful lot of froth in the newspapers about “company X doing well in spite of Brexit” as they announce their annual results, which is of course daft. Similarly takeovers will have been mooted months ago, I just suspect that Softbank just tweaked their offer in terms of “new pounds”. Only after a year will we see the real impact on us as investors of the decision.

  • 29 The Investor July 18, 2016, 11:25 am

    @all — Cheers for the thoughts, and also for the personal thumbs-up for the post-Brexit coverage. I’ve had a few over email too, and it is heartening to hear from those who have appreciated the coverage, given the tendency we all have to complain more if we don’t like something than to applaud it when we do.

    Too many comments to comment on all. Just a few followups:

    @Matty @Faustus — As you perhaps recall I am fully behind you on Inheritance Tax. But as we’ve discussed many times, nobody wants to see it, not even the lower middle classes for want of a better phrase. People prefer to tax people who are working and companies who are successful then kids who are lucky. Bizarre to me, but there you go.

    @Steve — These things aren’t mutually incompatible. I’ve done plenty of trading/investing post-Brexit, including some short-term trades in companies I think will do poorly but were over-sold IMHO. But the fact that I made a few quid from unnecessary turbulence and shock is beside the point from the bigger picture.

    @hariseldon — I agree this is the positive angle. I’ve written before about the growing pressure of income inequality in the UK/US, and wondered how it would be released. (http://monevator.com/consequences-of-income-inequality/). Brexit is the release, it seems. I’d have preferred a different route by far (we’ll be addressing inequality partly by making us all poorer than we would have otherwise been, I suspect) but it is a potential silver lining if it really is on the agenda.

    @Martyn — Classic Brexiter comment. Such certainty. You presumably haven’t read the many articles on how — no — you didn’t get richer, except in UK terms. You’re poorer in global terms. So far it’s all currency froth. And as I said in the piece, I do assign a possibility to the fact that the UK may be a net economic (perhaps even cultural) winner from Brexit — I just see it as a low probability. So I can be wrong about that probability assignment, but not wrong in my framework. On the other hand you, with one outlook (“will flourish”), are very likely to be wrong, IMHO.

    @magneto — Exactly. It’s a great company going cheap because our currency is listing. That said the inward investment that has been detailed in the offer is promising for UK plc.

    @Neverland — At the very least it’s going to be hugely expensive, and add to the migrant roll by say 500-1000 expensive people just to build the department.

  • 30 The Investor July 18, 2016, 11:34 am

    @Peter — Sorry, missed you! Well, as I say it is anecdotal, and it’s majorly informed by 15-20 years of online bulletin boards, which probably were biased towards having far more engineers than standard, especially in the early years. In addition, I find engineers (and maths/scientists) have a tendency to declare their status as a way of rhetorically bolstering their argument, whereas if you studied say French at University you probably wouldn’t do. So that may bias things too.

    Most private active investors come across to me as pretty terrible, so it’s hard to say. If I had to plump for one I’d say maybe those who studied history or similar? But that’s a very hazy anecdotal, even flakier than my engineer-investor impressions.

    Again, I think engineers are great, and we should do more to encourage them and more to join them. Just not into investing. 🙂

  • 31 The Investor July 18, 2016, 1:21 pm

    @William III — Oops, meant to reply to you too! Sorry to see you’re going (and thanks for the GMO link especially — will include next week). Also thanks for the restaurant tips, that Italian looks gorgeous! 🙂

  • 32 Meglinson July 18, 2016, 1:33 pm

    They’ll be no real change in immigration and no return to 50’s Britain. At best it will be Brexit ‘lite’, if at all. They’ll be some new EU agreement that will try and keep most happy but not the extreme ends of either side.

  • 33 Fremantle July 18, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Based on your certainty with regards to engineers, I can safely predict that you will be wrong 🙂

    …but I might be suffering bias considering that I currently ply my trade as a ginger beer…

    As for inheritance tax, you could achieve similar results by taxing land rather than inheritance.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax

  • 34 Corvid July 18, 2016, 4:34 pm

    Will definitely keep reading – and not just because I agree with your comments on Brexit 🙂

  • 35 Bob July 18, 2016, 5:28 pm

    I loved the graphic at the bottom of the Irrelevant Investor link – really struck a cord. Thanks for posting a link to the article.

  • 36 Martyn July 20, 2016, 12:14 am

    @The Investor

    Just got my bonus letter, it’s very good, still in the same scheme as finance director.

    I’ve devoured eveything modelled it to death and always I arrive a the same answer we’re going to be better off.

    So we’ll look at this again in a year or so, how do you like your hat? Roasted or grilled?

  • 37 The Investor July 20, 2016, 12:50 am

    @Martyn — Indeed! Interesting times. 🙂

  • 38 Martyn July 20, 2016, 9:20 pm

    @The Investor – It’s not BrExit I worry about, almost a non-event, despite the hot air expended on it. It’s the Italian and German banks. Arguably (actually definately) some have solvency issues and I’m not getting a warm feeling the EU/ECB will deal with it well.

    If any pop the colateral damage will be felt very widely indeed.

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