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Weekend reading: Reading the last rites on 2018

What caught my eye this week.

And just like that it’s Christmas. Not sure if I should blame Brexit, the flu, the unseasonably warmish weather or the unseasonably bearish market, but it’s sprung up on me this year.

Even the spammers have stopped bombarding the website and sloped away to buy their Christmas turkeys. Time for me to do the same – after one last links post of 2018, of course!

Most years I suggest a few books before I take my annual Yuletide break. With just four sleeps to go until Santa, it’s hard to spin these books as gift ideas this year (although if you hurry Amazon might still manage it).

Oh well, the best presents are the ones you buy for yourself. So knock yourself out with one or two of these 2018 page-turners, to cheer yourself up if it’s socks again from the family on Christmas Day.

Thinking in Bets [1] by Annie Duke

Nothing wildly original in this great read from a former poker star, its charm is that it’s an excellent entry-level introduction to probabilistic thinking and banishing black and white, all or nothing certainty from your investment approach.

Mastering the Market Cycle [2] by Howard Marks

Mark’s The Most Important Thing [3] is one of my favourite investing books, so I was disappointed to learn the other day he’s sold 500,000 copies. There goes another of my delusions of edge. This one isn’t in the same league, but everyone needs to understand that economies and markets are cyclical. Why not get a refresher from a man whose made billions from it?

Keeping At It [4] by Paul Volcker

Must admit I haven’t yet read this! It’s in my ‘Save For Later’ shopping basket though. It seems appropriate to hear from the man who killed off high inflation at a time when its return – or not – has the market running in circles.

Bad Blood [5] by John Carreyrou

It feels like only yesterday I was sending uplifting media stories about the female-led biotech Theranos to friends concerned about the ‘bro-fest’ of Silicon Valley. That – well, relief almost – at finding a good story to share about a young female Steve Jobs type is one reason Theranos got an easy ride. This tense, gasp-inducing expose of a multi-billion dollar scandal picks apart the rest.

Buying books for kids? Be sure to peruse Maria Popova’s selection of The Loveliest Children’s Books of 2018 [6] (h/t Zude [7]).

The publishing event of 2019

While we’re feeling bookish, make sure you also set aside a few pennies ready for our Monevator book. It is definitely coming next year.

Oh yes it is!

We now have a near-complete draft ready for editing. How much longer can it take? (Okay, don’t answer that.)

Once our book is out and you’ve all bought a copy, we can hope to see @TA back on-site every week, too.

What larks pip! Maybe next year will be the year the world starts to emerge from the darkness? Well, maybe.

Until then have a great Christmas and New Year – and thanks as ever for stopping by! 🙂

From Monevator

Vanguard readying its Personal Pension – Monevator [8]

From the archive-ator: Stress test your plan with a Monte Carlo sim – Monevator [9]


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 [10]

London property slump drags down UK house price growth – Guardian [11]

UK consumer confidence hits five-year low – Retail Gazette [12]

Business investment in longest slump since 2008 – BBC [13]

HMRC’s out-of-date letters risk “confusing” taxpayers [Search result]FT [14]

British Gas owner Centrica challenges energy price cap – Guardian [15]

SEC charges two US robo-advisers with false disclosures – SEC [16]

Why hasn’t Australia had a recession in almost 30 years? – The Atlantic [17]

Wagamama staff get bonuses up to £2,000 as chain is sold – ThisIsMoney [18]

Anti-expert toll grows: Measles in Europe at a 20-year high due to the anti-vaccine movement – Guardian [19]


There was nowhere to hide in 2018 [US dollar terms]Pension Partners [21]

Products and services

Bitcoin could be overseen by UK’s financial regulator – Guardian [22]

Gatehouse Bank launches table-topping 2.1% one-year deal – ThisIsMoney [23]

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter [24]

Savers are barely rewarded for locking cash away for two years – ThisIsMoney [25]

Credit card made from biodegradable PVC coming in 2019 – ThisIsMoney [26]

Comment and opinion

Investing ideas that changed my life – Morgan Housel [27]

Passive attack: the story of a Wall Street revolution [Search result]FT [28]

Once more, without feeling – AQR [29]

The Instagram influencer side-hustle is hard to break into – New York Times [30]

Three reasons you’ll never be financially satisfied – The Reformed Broker [31]

Physician retires early and is met with scorn – Physician on Fire [32]

How passive investing could change capitalism [Podcast]Bloomberg [33]

Not even hindsight could have helped you make money this year – Bloomberg [34]

18 signs you were an institutional investor in 2018 – Institutional Investor [35]

A momentum-driven Bitcoin strategy delivered a 500-fold gain – Elm Funds [36]

You have to be in the game – Oddball Stocks [37]

Why dividend investors should look at free cash flow – UK Value Investor [38]

Volatility is the only asset class [Podcast, one for geeks like me]Meb Faber [39]


That moment in a movie where the evil second in command has taken control and is screaming “Yes we’re going to storm the fortress armed with sticks of celery!” and about half the cast is about to get it in the neck: Treasury preps for no-deal Brexit – HM Treasury [40]

Firms told to prepare for no-deal Brexit – BBC [41]

Leave or Remain? The Brexit holiday dilemma [Search result]FT [42]

How a no-deal Brexit could affect British travelers – Guardian [43]

A brief history of [the myriad] second referendums – BBC [44]

How I became a Brexiteer: Merryn Somerset-Webb [Search result]FT [45]

30% fall in house prices on chaotic Brexit “implausible”, says RICS – ThisIsMoney [46]

Kindle book bargains

The Barcelona Way: How to Create a High-performance Culture by Damian Hughes – £1.09 on Kindle [47]

The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott – £2.99 on Kindle [48]

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster – £0.99 on Kindle [49]

Off our beat

Hyper-realistic scenes the cut from Cats: The Musical that they should have put in the movie – New Yorker [50]

Dad and the Egg controller – Pentadact [51]

Ex-NASA scientist’s glitter-bomb vs Amazon package thief – via YouTube [52]

Confessions of a soulless troglodyte – Quillette [53]

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial – BMJ [54]

And finally…

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol [55]

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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”. [ [59]]