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Weekend reading: Simply the best

Weekend reading logo

What caught my eye this week.

Remember when I said I was going to simplify the compiling of my Weekend Reading links?

Well this one is ridiculously long and took pretty much a day to pull together.1

Is it better for all this heft?

When I first started linking to other blogs like this back in 2008 or 2009, I’d include just a half-a-dozen or so and some well-wishes for the weekend.

Now you need to set aside some time just to read the list of potential articles to read!

I suppose it’s easier than browsing every site for all these stories for yourself. I’m equally sure some would prefer heavier curation.

But simplicity does not come easy to me.

Nearly a decade ago I advocated simplicity in investing as best for most people – yet for some reason I centered my argument around a lecture on anthropological research into child learning behaviours.

Yep, that’s the stuff that made Monevator into the household name it is today!

Simple does it

I’m pretty normal in drifting into over-elaboration. There seems to be a human tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be, whether we’re talking about smartphones, relationships, or investment portfolios.

I did however come across a really great – and simple – piece in praise of investing simplicity (via Abnormal Returns) this week.

On his Movement Capital blog, investment advisor Adam Collins writes:

It took me a while to realize that the solution to complexity isn’t managing it better – it’s avoiding it altogether.

So simple. Go read it!

From Monevator

How I trick myself into achieving financial independence – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Horizontal diversification – 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!2

UK businesses slip into deepest downturn since 2016 – Reuters

Natwest launches new digital business challenger bank Mettle [See also Bó below]ThisIsMoney

Marie Kondo is moving into selling stuff that ‘sparks joy’. [Discuss.]Fast Company

Guardian-powered ‘Who Is Rich?’ mini-special

Labour says £70,000 a year makes you rich… – Guardian

Bary Blimp of Bolton thinks he’s “not in the top 5%, not even in the top 50%” on £80,000 a year – BBC

…for the avoidance of doubt, yes, if you earn £80,000 a year you’re in the top 5%… – Guardian

…but the super-rich are on another planet… – Guardian

…or at least in London, where they are ‘rattled’, and seeking old-fashioned security – Yahoo Finance

Products and services

Funding Circle revamps its resale market in bid to improve liquidity – ThisIsMoney

NatWest’s new youth-focused, would-be Monzo-slaying digital bank Bó has launched –

Facebook and iTunes to cryptocurrencies — what happens to digital assets when you die? [Search result]FT

Explained: the state pension, and how the goals will shift in the future – Money Observer

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

Hargreaves hit by transfer backlog in wake of Neil Woodford crisis [Search result]FT

Nationwide’s restricted-access regular savings account is the last 5% payer left standing – ThisIsMoney

Should you get a ‘petnup’? – ThisIsMoney

Comment and opinion

Compare your progress to your plan, not to other people – Humble Dollar

It’s not how much – The Motley Fool via Twitter

It’s a great time to get a mortgage, but will rates ever be able to get back to normal? – Simon Lambert

Using first-order thinking to visualize spending decisions – The Simple Dollar

Pizza delivery is for millionaires – Mr Money Mustache

Review: Playing with FIRE documentary [Which is now on general release]Much More With Less

Are banks really magic money trees? [Paywall]FT Alphaville

Naughty corner: Active antics

Did computing power kill value investing? – Institutional Investor

Jim Simons’ Medallion Fund could have charged 50% a year and still beaten the S&P 500 – Of Dollars and Data

Are US stocks overvalued? – Ed Yardeni

My worst investment ever – UK Value Investor

[Political] regime change and valuation – Musings on Markets

Negative interest rates and the perpetuity paradox [Touches maths I mentioned in comments recently]Elm Funds

Politics & Brexit

EU citizens aren’t scrounging on the NHS, contrary to government claims [Data]In Facts

It’s not just Boris Johnson’s lying. It’s the media that let him get away with it – Guardian

Election debate: Conservatives criticised for renaming Twitter profile ‘factcheckUK’  – BBC

The Labour party manifesto in full [The second longest suicide note in history?]Labour Party

Brexit talks: the brutal reckoning that awaits the UK [Search result]FT

Three lions on a beach: a sculpture for the age of Brexit – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie & Associates – £0.99 on Kindle

The Wealthy Retirement Plan by Vicki Wusche – £0.99 on Kindle

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott – £0.99 on Kindle

RESET: How to Restart Your Life and Get F.U. Money by David Sawyer – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

The eight-hour workday is a counter-productive lie – Wired

Long read: how our home delivery habit reshaped the world – Guardian

Rituals and routines – A Wealth of Common Sense

Light pollution is ‘key driver of the insect apocalypse’ – Guardian

Extinction crisis: How can we end the illegal wildlife trade? [Search result]FT

The Google tax – Seth Godin

Forgotten gods – Indeedably

Greta Thunberg, time traveller – Guardian

And finally…

“About once every generation, the markets go barking mad. If you are unprepared, you are sure to fail.”
– William Bernstein, The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday!

  1. If this sounds crazy, consider that I vet everything. What’s more I read at least five posts or articles for every one that makes it here, and these days ever more of that reading is left until Thursday/Friday. []
  2. 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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{ 116 comments… add one }
  • 1 Matthew November 22, 2019, 10:46 pm

    It occurred to me that the not trusting experts side of brexit is a bit like the not trusting experts side of passive investing, we don’t have glowing examples of predictive skill from experts and economists.

    Career based fund managers are like career based politicians and the reputation that economists have, and the financial media sells on panic headlines like the political media does

    I would also like to say how many people actually need full fibre broadband? I could imagine some dole claimants with video games…

  • 2 C November 22, 2019, 10:47 pm

    While I always look forward to a Money Mustache posts, I’m beginning to think he is now moving into skinflint territory. The guy likely is now a multimillionaire. He can afford to treat his kid to an unhealthy pizza in an actual restaurant every now and again. Not every monetary saving is a real life gain. Not to mention the mental overhead of calculating how much money he’s saved with each smugly wise decision.

    With FIRE came the chance to ease up a little on cost control and surprise & delight those nearest and dearest to me – not double down on it.

  • 3 The Investor November 22, 2019, 11:21 pm

    @Matthew — I’d love not to get into politics again until we have another dedicated political Weekend Reading post/rant. 🙂

    @C — Hi! I think as this great real-time experiment of watching people document their journey to — and occasionally achievement of — financial freedom rolls on, it’s becoming ever more obvious that most people stay themselves.

    Industrious, busy, and frugal people stay industrious, busy, and frugal. People less so on at least some aspects of that spectrum comment on mainstream media articles about how FIRE is impossible.

    Meanwhile those who (day) dream of quitting work at 40 often seem to me the most likely to continue until their 70. Some have even gone back to work. Others of us have realized checking out altogether is not for them. Each to their own. 🙂

    Re: Mr MMM, I’m just looking in from the outside of course but I’m kind of in mild awe at how true he has stayed to himself. We swapped a few emails in the early days when his blog was small and he was finding his feet. It was obvious to me even then he had something (it took @TA a while to get past all the ‘punch in the face’ type stuff but he loves him now. 🙂 ) and what he had hasn’t really changed. As best I can tell the guy is true to his beliefs and he is infectious.

    I think the point of this recent post was that living that way wasn’t about saving $10 on this pizza on this day.

    It was about a way of life that is richer for setting things up through a different lens, which includes not defaulting to ordering pizza (and getting in the car, and going shopping etc etc). Also, he agrees multi-millionaires can have pizza delivered if they want, in his title. 🙂

    As for skinflint, well did you see he’s giving away another $100K?


    Some curmudgeons will no doubt smirk at that and claim they’d do the same in his place. Perhaps. I have my doubts. 🙂

  • 4 Andrew November 23, 2019, 12:23 am

    Re: MMM. Did no one else get a “coffee is for closers” feel from the post, without the douchery that scene brings?

    Regardless, massively in awe of how true MMM has stayed to his original vision despite the material wealth he’s gained since he began. Someone who is thinking about the long term in a lot of ways.

  • 5 Fremantle November 23, 2019, 2:22 am

    Barry Blimp sounds like he lives in the South East where £80k doesn’t feel “part of the top 5%”, and he’s probably right, going by these stats


    £80k gets you within the top 10%, but you’d need over £100k to hit the 5% territory.

    What these stats don’t tell you is what it takes to be in the top. 5% wealth category

    Well according to the BBC, you would need to have accumulated £670k to be in the top 10%, which is still a hefty sum.


    I’m not convinced that the average £80k earner has £500k+ stashed away.

    Obviously, they’d have a better chance if they lived by Monevator principles.

  • 6 C November 23, 2019, 4:40 am

    @TI Yes, I’m aware of MMM’s generosity to others and it is to be much applauded. And as you say, there is something admirable about his wider vision and refusal to submit to lifestyle inflation. I just have a little disquiet about a possible inability to spend money freely to benefit those nearest to him and the time spent on being frugal. This is a guy who apparently uses a bench vice to get the last bit of juice out of limes. I can only imagine what it must be like for MMM Jr to be wandering the streets listening to MMM rant about the wastefulness and expense of the world while enjoying a rare ice cream. Still, none of us are without fault.

  • 7 Matthew November 23, 2019, 6:51 am

    Would we say MMM feels guilty about spending on himself? I imagine guilt it a huge hurdle but also when you have been frugal a long time you’re aware of value more, but remembering that you no longer need to chase value is difficult too – we are institutionalised into (not only work) but into permanent frugality

    @ Ti – ok 🙂

  • 8 Matthew November 23, 2019, 7:33 am

    More thoughts on mmm – his identity as a blogger now depends on an image of frugality, his identity as s human might depend on his charity giving, and you also have to wonder that if someone shuns lifestyle inflation if they are judgemental of others? However I think we should not feel guilty if we feel the price is worth it since we need the wealthy to spend for our economy – the rich guy who buys a yacht is creating shipbuilding jobs, hiring staff, and these people all pay tax when they earn and spend

  • 9 JimJim November 23, 2019, 8:54 am

    MMM is the epitome of keeping it simple, and that is why he works on every level. And (trying to avoid politics and failing) @Matthew, “I would also like to say how many people actually need full fibre broadband? I could imagine some dole claimants with video games…” So the cities should be the only place to benefit from full fibre, drawing business to themselves with ever larger gravity and perpetuating a two tier economy??? If we left it up to the market, that is what would happen. I’m sure video games will be played uniformly across the land if on a per capita basis and that kill shot on COD will not be quicker 🙂

  • 10 Matthew November 23, 2019, 9:08 am

    @jimjim – putting infrastructure in before the market deems a need is kind of like building a motorway in the middle of nowhere and hoping houses and factories will build around it

    Wgat kind of businesses are we talking about that would need high bandwidth and decide it was compelling to set up in a remote place? Even if an individual business benefitted would it be profitable/worthwhile for the taxman?

  • 11 Foxy November 23, 2019, 9:38 am

    One for Monevator readers on building a more defensive portfolio (AQR). In short, add defensive stocks, trend-following and just own a smaller equity percentage. Avoid options due to cost. I also found interesting that trend-following zigs when private equity zags since 2011.

    @TI Glad you included Mettle in the weekly links. I built/building a good chunk of its functionality! 🙂

  • 12 The Borderer November 23, 2019, 11:10 am

    I’m not certain that nationalising fibre broadband is good investment. With the advent of 5G, and who knows 6G or 7G?, it will be possible to use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot and connect to that with the same high speed access. A bit like if we had nationalised steam train manufacturing companies in the 1960’s.
    Nevertheless, for people and companies in more rural areas existing broadband provision is simply dire, and as for ultrafast, have a look at https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2019/03/uk-finally-joins-2019-ftth-ultrafast-broadband-country-ranking.html

  • 13 Two Shillings and Sixpence November 23, 2019, 11:14 am

    Thanks for the weekend reading links

    “Facebook and iTunes to cryptocurrencies — what happens to digital assets when you die?”

    Definitely something to consider

  • 14 xxd09 November 23, 2019, 11:29 am

    Re Defensive Portfolios-it seems to me after a lifetime of investing and looking back over my shoulder that very few of us have the ability to outsmart the market
    Starting again with hindsight bias I would buy a World Equity Index Fund and World Bond Index Fund -2 funds only
    Low cost ,simple and easy to understand
    I don’t even think that if it’s 70/30 or 30/70 matters if you start young enough
    Then work hard at the day job and save as much money to then invest as you can
    That’s it!

  • 15 Fremantle November 23, 2019, 12:10 pm

    @The Borderer

    It has been a massive fail in Australia and 5G is overtaking it.

    People forget that the likes of Google and Amazon are built on the infrastructure installed during the dot com boom. All those fibres across the Atlantic and North America were built with private funds, many of which whose original investors lost their shirts. Those investments are voluntary, but in the end everyone benefited. Investors and companies went bankrupt, loans, shares written off.

    When the state invests in failed infrastructure, that debt doesn’t get written off. It sticks around, to be paid off by us, our children and grandchildren.

    The infrastructure inevitably either depreciates to nothing, or is privatised with the residual value benefiting private capital, a direct subsidy from the public to the private sector.

    I know which I prefer.

  • 16 Tony Edgecombe November 23, 2019, 12:26 pm

    It’s easy to see how Barry can fall into the trap of thinking he is an average earner, no doubt his friends and peers are doing similar work and have similar rewards. He opens his paper and sees footballers earning in a week what he earns in a year. He turns on the TV and sees people jetting off on exotic holidays.

    What he doesn’t do it go to the ONS to see what the real median wage is (£585 per week).

    We can criticise him but should realise the people posting here are the outliers, most people get this information from the media and if it turns out to be garbage then the criticism should fall on the media.

  • 17 JimJim November 23, 2019, 12:27 pm

    Living in the rural north, and having “superfast” BT (put in with government subsidies), (which took a lot longer than it should have) that runs at 14mbs if we are lucky, it drops out regularly and it is impossible to stream 4k video, and is lumpy at 1080p. The last mile and a half are old copper that is worse in bad weather. The “business” (Education) I work in has a gigabit connection and, when the whole thing runs it is not nearly enough.
    I would gladly pay for a faster connection, If B4rn ever get to my doorstep I will jump at the chance… https://b4rn.org.uk/about-us/ … Gigabit to premises, bring it on. Waiting for 5G is pie in the sky as we have not even got stable 3G here. Broadband is becoming an essential around these parts when looking for a house and this is slewing the market. Most people would put up with a sceptic tank and gas-in-a-bottle or oil heating, but not poor internet connectivity.

  • 18 GMRD November 23, 2019, 12:51 pm

    I can understand why Barry Blimp might feel like he’s not wealthy (comparison to his peers, the super-rich, etc.) but surely you must be quite out of touch to think £80k doesn’t put you in the top 50% off UK earners! If you want some global perspective – put your salary into here: [http://www.globalrichlist.net/]. If you want to see your position in the distribution of the UK for net household equivalised income, the IFS has a good tool: [https://www.ifs.org.uk/tools_and_resources/where_do_you_fit_in].

    @TI – I have voted both Conservative and Lib Dems in the past but this is the first time I’ve considered voting for Labour as an option (though I still need to put some time aside to read all the manifestos properly). I just wondered what your main concerns are with the Labour party policies?

  • 19 jim November 23, 2019, 2:01 pm

    Am I the only one that read the MMM post and related/enjoyed it. The guy is living his life how he wants to live it. He’s not having the “homemade” pizza to save money, its just easier and more convenient. I’m having an Asda stuffed crust oven pizza tonight. Love it, one night of the week where haven’t got to get loads of pots and pans out. Just bang this in the oven with some chips and is ready in 20mins.

  • 20 jim November 23, 2019, 2:04 pm

    @Matthew “@jimjim – putting infrastructure in before the market deems a need is kind of like building a motorway in the middle of nowhere and hoping houses and factories will build around it”
    Isn’t this called town planning. Surely this is what more modern countries do?

  • 21 Matthew November 23, 2019, 2:08 pm

    @jimjim – it sounds like the main issue for you is that they’re not providing what you’ve paid for, in which case i hope this helps, although you may’ve already done it;


    If you get that hopefully it’ll feel like enough, for most people anyway

    Could the school get a second line? Perhaps the internet demand of schools will cap out at some point, I cant imagine what, beyond youtube, would demand too much per user, and that it’s more about numbers of users?
    Or perhaps 3g used to help with the school network?

    Although i did find it slow to back up family videos to the cloud at 0.9mbs up (10mb down), although it’s not really a problem

  • 22 The Investor November 23, 2019, 2:11 pm

    @GMRD — As mentioned to @Matthew above, I’m enjoying the non-political comments about more personal finance matters this week and suspect others are, too. (Well I suppose Bolton Barry chat is sort-of political, in a meta-sense.) So I’ll just briefly clarify that my editorial comment in brackets re: Labour was a reference to Gerald Kaufman’s famous description of the very left-wing 1980s Labour manifesto that saw Labour unelected until Blair had brought the party back to the center. This is easily the most left-wing since that, and arguably more so.

    Perhaps I’ll relinquish and do a political Weekend Reading the Saturday before the vote and we can have a ding-dong about it then. But as I say, really keen to avoid several weeks of comments being election-related — some regulars enjoy this mud-wrestling (as do I) but I think it’s a turn-off to most who come to Monevator for more direct investing/PF related matters.

    Cheers! 🙂

  • 23 ZXSpectrum48k November 23, 2019, 2:12 pm

    I would argue a high-quality infrastructure for the flow of information is as vital to a 21st century economy as infrastructure for the flow of water, energy or goods/people (rail/road) was in the 20th century.

    BTopenreach is functionally a private monopoly in large swathes of the country, taking large subsidizes from the government. It’s crowding out competition from non-fibre technologies in rural areas. It already acts like a bureaucratic nationalized entity. BTopenreach is simply extracting rents from the rest of the economy at zero risk to itself. Either BTopenreach has to be nationalized or the market needs to be opened up.

    Realistically, it’s also very difficult for the private sector to build mass infrastructure. They don’t have the time horizon or cheap long-term funding. I cannot evaluate whether nationalizing BTopenreach is a good investment but it’s not implausible. On the asset side, you own a company that has an effective monopoly generating dividend streams. On the balance sheet side, the UK government can issue 50-year Gilts at 1.18%, well below the inflation rate, locking in a PV profit. Seems win-win.

    I have zero confidence in a Corbyn government and if he ever got a majority, I doubt Gilt yields stay low. It’s another reminder, however, that the Tories remain so ideologically obsessed with dismantling the state that they don’t even see that private monopolies are an issue. It underlines their constant preference for rentier capitalism vs. genuine free markets.

  • 24 Matthew November 23, 2019, 2:16 pm

    @jim – motorways (and other public services) are generally only built when there’s established demand (environment aside) – you start off with B roads/ copper wires

    As cities grow the supporting commuter belts will grow, and each city probably came to prominance for a geographic reason/ resources. I think when you are far from london, you get local capitals, like Bournemouth is bigger than you’d expect, and like in the USA/ other big countries you do get regional capitals where the main one is too far away

  • 25 JimJim November 23, 2019, 2:30 pm

    @Matthew, 14mbs will butter no parsnips in today’s world, you need 25mbs for 4k Netflix… https://smarthomeflow.com/netflix-4k-guide/
    I can only see the size of the pipe needing to be bigger in future. If you are happy with 10mbs bully for you, Google launched it’s fully online gaming platform this week… https://store.google.com/product/stadia?gclid=CjwKCAiAzuPuBRAIEiwAkkmOSMsBaVKI4IDSZKLgWRLnC2sBS2VzWPJI-8sZwcLHyYm5uKzk7TzH_RoC1q8QAvD_BwE
    This will need 4k… to be any fun… What do you think that the future holds for bandwidth???

  • 26 Vanguardfan November 23, 2019, 2:48 pm

    @matthew, I assume from your comments you haven’t spent much time in the rural outreaches of the country, otherwise I think you’d have a little more sympathy for JimJim.
    I live in a small market town about 25 miles from a decent sized city, and have to pay through the nose for the BT ‘superfast’ broadband, which mostly works, but not always. Mobile signal is even worse. And I’m not even in the rural hinterland. It may surprise you that businesses do exist out in the sticks, and many many people aspire to set up by themselves, particularly in remote places where there aren’t really many employers within a reasonable travel time. Clearly, markets aren’t going to work well in sparsely populated areas where costs are higher and demand lower. That doesn’t mean we should basically ignore everyone who doesn’t live in a big city.

  • 27 The Borderer November 23, 2019, 2:48 pm

    “…you own a company that has an effective monopoly generating dividend streams”.
    But I thought the idea was that broadband would be free for all – so no income nor dividend streams.
    From an ‘investment’ point of view, I think the question is – will the cost produce a comparable benefit? And what represents a ‘comparable benefit’ would entirely depend on your point of view. Maybe it would be better to invest in 5G and just give away mobile phones?

  • 28 old_eyes November 23, 2019, 2:52 pm


    I can’t agree with you. Fast broadband is not some luxury item in today’s world, it is a fundamental piece of infrastructure. We run two businesses from a rural location, both involve sharing large files with customers, and an increasing use of virtual meetings. After a fairly recent upgrade to fibre to the premises, it has been practical to expand our geographic reach and to spend less time on ‘trains, planes and automobiles’ for client meetings.

    This has increased our quality of life and our economic impact on our locality.

    If the current and future world is built on fast communications, failure to provide it means people who don’t have it lose the chance to participate. Yes we could all move aour businesses to big cities, but a) we don’t want to. and b) many cities have poor broadband as well. Just listen to the complaints from people on new estates in and around London who can’t get fast broadband because it is not seen as an economically critical utility.

    It is like much other infrastructure of societal benefit. The private sector might build it or it might not, but most countries have learned not to depend on private investment for mission critical infrastructure. For example, the economic advantages to the North of England of upgrading the East/West rail links are obvious (the so-called Northern Powerhouse). If it was economically viable for them, the private sector could invest in the upgrade, but they haven’t. Despite the overall benefit to the economy, we will wait a long time for private companies to invest because many of the benefits accrue elsewhere. We need Government commitment, investment and guarantees to make it happen.

    If we see fast broadband as a piece of critical infrastructure (and I do) then the same argument applies.

    @The Borderer – 5G and whatever comes next is essentially a ‘last mile’ solution. You have to get the signals to the masts and that needs fibre. And as we go to higher generations of mobile, the range of each mast comes down and we need more masts that need to be served with more fibre. So there is a big fibre infrastructure roll-out required for 5G anyway. In terms of absolute data capacity, fibre will always beat radio transmission. That’s why all of the world telecoms backbone is fibre. The decision on FTTP vs FTTC+copper vs mobile phone is one of cost to install and cost to operate vs capacity demand and customer price sensitivity.

    We are lucky. We got FTTP by some random accident of geography, public funding and Openreach engineering plans. We would have been happy for the moment with 30Mps from FTTC, but 1-2 Mps ADSL with frequent dropouts and total failure when it rained heavily was seriously cramping our participation in today’s economy and society. We don’t even have a decent 3G signal so mobile was out of the question.

    Believe me this stuff matters to the rural economy. The digital divide is real and needs to be addressed for the progress of the nation.

  • 29 Vanguardfan November 23, 2019, 3:04 pm

    @old_eyes, thank you. Much better put than I managed.

  • 30 JimJim November 23, 2019, 3:09 pm

    The word @Old Eyes… Keepin it real

  • 31 JimJim November 23, 2019, 3:28 pm

    @Old Eyes, it would be interesting to compare what BT are charging you for your bandwidth with the B4RN model I linked earlier… A social enterprise Vs a public company with a virtual monopoly and state aid?? https://b4rn.org.uk/

  • 32 Matthew November 23, 2019, 3:32 pm

    @old eyes – in the same way that infrequent busses are a problem for rural businesses I can appreciate that a lack of infrastructure limits business, but surely this is a consideration when deciding where to place/keep a business? You wouldn’t put a factory on a dirt track and the expect the rest of the country to pay for a road. Likewise you wouldnt put a farm in london and say that the land is too expensive – local factors factor into the decision.

    Its a good cause though to be sure, but the best cause? – the most efficient use of limited resources?
    Capitalism does sadly leave people behind but ultimately decides what is worthwhile, it could well be the case that government does see intervention as worthwhile/profitable, and does see the taxes it’ll get from your growth, like it thinks with HS2

    But I do think rural businesses should have the option to pay for what connectivity they do need, and expect the speeds advertised, perhaps regional pricing or breaking up openreach into regions would help somewhat

  • 33 ZXSpectrum48k November 23, 2019, 3:36 pm

    @Borderer. I’m not particularly enamoured by the “free broadband” pledge. Free services tend to create supply-demand imbalances (cough NHS cough). Nonetheless, I’m not a fan of private monopolies either, especially those being given state funded subsidies. Essentially, the UK economy takes the risk but BTopenreach takes the profits. That isn’t equitable.

    It would be better to open up the market and in some cases there is room to do that in non-fibre technologies. The problem is that where fibre is optimal (and it mostly is), it doesn’t make sense to have two or more fibre networks replicating each other.

    My preference would be to see the government take a stake in the fibre network provider. Not necessarily outright nationalization. The government needs to earn some return for providing what is effectively an implicit guarantee. This is not a private risk-taking company but actually a parastatal. It doesn’t follow that broadband should be free. We don’t get free network rail travel or free water, energy etc.

  • 34 JimJim November 23, 2019, 3:43 pm

    Agreed, we pay for road use, gas, electricity, water and as I have said, I would gladly pay for a decent service for fast broadband. It is a crucial service even at household level and how a business would run without it is beyond me. As is how any business would function without the road network, which is pretty much as you describe above.

  • 35 The Investor November 23, 2019, 3:46 pm

    I would have been more sympathetic to the “your choice” argument a few years ago I suspect. After all rural businesses are getting other advantages such as lower property costs and cheaper housing for workers so likely less pressure on salaries.

    However as has already been argued digital infrastructure is no longer a nice added extra. We are only in the first wave of how all this stuff will be deeply integrated into the structure of our societies. Eg. When all the roads are smart and ubiquitous autonomous cars are chatting to each other as they speed along at 200mph you don’t want a pileup on the edge of Cornwall because the internet blinked out. 🙂

    Secondly, if anything good came out of the benighted EU Referendum it was the demonstration/increased awareness that much of the country feels (and probably is) to some degree left out of the progress of the past 10-20 years. Tackling digital haves and have nots at least takes away one road block to more distributed economic development.

  • 36 Nigel Root November 23, 2019, 4:04 pm

    I’d like to take issue with Adam Collins’s portfolio of four ETFs. Having lived through the collapses of Icesave and Northern Rock banks, I’d advocate greater diversity to spread the risks along every link in the chain – brokers, investment houses (Vanguard, iShares etc., not wealth management!), regions of the world (probably covered by the four ETFs) and even investment wrappers (i.e. invest in unit trusts and investment trusts as well as ETFs).
    Regards, Nigel

  • 37 The Details Man November 23, 2019, 5:02 pm

    What ZX said.

    As a professional valuer, I’ve no issue with the nationalisation of Openreach. Set up an agreed process, keep the politics out of it and leave the experts/court/tribunal to agree the valuation. I’ve done this dozens of times, I’ve also valued plenty of expropriation cases. Of course, that’s wishful thinking. But deep down there’s no reason why such a process can’t be relatively painless and quick.

    Specifically, on utilities, I’ve also valued plenty of utility/infrastructure businesses. I don’t think there’s a clear cut case between private or public ownership. Both can work or not. Some are good, some are bad. I needn’t repeat the arguments as they’ve been covered above.

    With Openreach specifically, the lack of investment and a toothless regulator has been incredibly damaging. Simply put, without significant change, we will not meet fibre roll-out targets. BT have not invested enough and there’s a huge shortage of engineers. To give just one example, my brother-in-law is an Openreach engineer and has to cover a 50km area due to the severe shortage of manpower and resources. He spends more time driving than working and works overtime every week. A lot of that is down to the standard rent-seeking and monopolist actions by BT. But importantly, their investment in resisting Ofcom rather than investing in better service.

  • 38 GMRD November 23, 2019, 5:04 pm

    @TI (22) – Thanks for clarifying the editorial comment in brackets, I can fully see the comparison you were making. On the comments: I totally agree – it is great to have something other than B****t dominate the weekend reading thread!

    @Matthew (24) – You are right on the whole that most towns/cities grow ‘organically’, however there have been a dozen or so towns in the UK that were built over the last half century specifically as a result of the New Towns Act 1946 where essentially the road and rail was built first (or already existed) and then entire new towns were built and populations relocated (usually to the displeasure of existing residents).

    On the article about Marie Kondo – it does seem a bit hypocritical for her to be encouraging fans to buy more products (although I understand why she is trying to diversify the monetisation of her brand)! Surely her fans should be finding people, experiences, products, etc., that spark joy in them as opposed to buying products that spark joy in Kondo?

  • 39 Getting Minted November 23, 2019, 5:10 pm

    According to Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation: “You may need to earn only £80,000 to join the 5% club for earners, but that’s unlikely to ever be enough for you to join the top 5% club by wealth. To achieve that, you need housing or savings of almost £1m – which you’ll probably have to inherit or marry rather than earn. That’s the result of our stagnant incomes but soaring wealth of recent years.”
    I think many in the Monevator/FIRE community will disagree with that pessimism on wealth building. I think someone earning over £80,000 in income should eventually accumulate over £1 million in wealth from reasonable saving and investing.

  • 40 Fatbritabroad November 23, 2019, 5:37 pm

    @freemantle I’m an 80k plus earner have been for the last 4 years and at 39 my net worth is a shade over 500k. Take out my house equity and its 330k. That change has happened relatively quickly too So actually the majority of my wealth has been generated on less than 50k earnings. Based on conversations with my peers I would agree I’m a total outlier. Incidentally I still don’t feel wealthy I guess because most of thsy wealth (about 400k)is in pensions and my property so not readily accessible

  • 41 JimJim November 23, 2019, 6:19 pm

    @TI Is your web clock still on British summertime? all the post time signatures seem in the future?

  • 42 Bob November 23, 2019, 7:02 pm

    @Tony I agree he doesn’t present as a sympathetic character in the few moments he appeared on TV. But I wonder whether he may be articulating a real point?

    I was paid to that level, and owned my own house but I never felt secure or well off.

    Never a new(or even newish) car. My 1930s semi was in a lower market side street near Heathrow and we had no expensive lifestyle. The job, in both hours and atmosphere was pretty unpleasant.

    Governments of both colours were always changing the rules. Never for my benefit. It was hard to plan, for the future. By hard work and luck I got out at a reasonable age.

    I worked with or for some of the people now standing in the election, and I saw nothing that made me think they had the best interests of anyone except themselves.

    Maybe chummy on the TV is expressing the cynicism we all feel.

  • 43 Matthew November 23, 2019, 7:02 pm

    I see from what @TI says about the digital haves and have nots, its sort of an attempt to reconcile leave, and socialism is almost like a response to 2016 bearing in mind that 2016 was after austerity and the b word was a bit like a workers strike – restraining the supply of work for more pay… moving on!

    Regarding the extinction link – I don’t like harm to animals but also fon’t believe that preserving a struggling species is morally good – if a species is not well suited to this world life will be hard for it – and evolution has been going on for millions of years, and we suffer less today because our weaker ancestors sadly died off – are we preserving species just for something we can gawk at? Keeping them alive is one thing but I wouldnt force breed them

  • 44 Mr Optimistic November 23, 2019, 7:07 pm

    Infrastructure development can’t just be turned on like a tap. The companies needed to do the work aren’t sitting idly waiting. There’s the requirement specs to be drawn up, the response period, the procurement reviews etc. Then their might be legal precursors ( compulsory purchase etc). When it finally gets the go ahead ( against an unduly optimistic schedule) there’s also skill shortages, material lead times etc to be considered.
    Should have been put into motion years ago but….

  • 45 Tony Edgecombe November 23, 2019, 8:07 pm

    @Bob Even in London the median wage is well below that (£736 per week). You might have had it hard but most people were earning less than half of that.

  • 46 The Investor November 23, 2019, 8:28 pm

    If you earn £20K a year you’ll see half your income go on rent, you’ll borrow from your parents when the boiler fails, and you’ll say that life is hard.

    If you earn £40K a year, you’ll be frustrated your two young sons are still sharing a room when your daughter has her own, your car needs frequent repairs, you wonder how you colleague at the office can afford to take their family on another two-week trip to America, and you do not feel secure or well off.

    If you earn £80K a year, you wish your exhausted partner didn’t feel it was better that s/he worked while you are still paying the kids’ private school fees — but then again you can see the point about saving more so they don’t leave university with student debt — and you wonder if it was worth stretching yourselves to buy that holiday cottage in the lakes even if you do rent it out for 10 weeks a year, but still you’ll daydream about downsizing to go live in that cottage instead, and maybe you’ll appear on Question Time to say you’re not rich — heck, you’re probably not even in the top 50%!

    If you earn £150,000 a year you’ll know a bunch of people who earn £250,000 a year and you’ll doubt they work as hard as you — and they’re certainly not £100K more valuable! You’re annoyed because you can’t put as much into a pension anymore due to the taper so you fill your own and your partner’s ISAs to the max and invest in VCTs instead, and wonder what it’s all about while you watch your partners’ old university friends dancing with their kids at a New Year’s Eve party in Courchevel, thinking about how much it’s costing you.

    If you earn £500,000 a year then FireVLondon will write a post about how life in London is actually quite financially stretched for you.

    If you earn £1,000,000 a year you’ll shudder when thinking about the introduction of punitive wealth taxes, capital controls, and the devaluation of the US dollar and the pound.

    If you earn £100,000,000 a year then you’re paranoid your Head of State wants you assassinated or to split your company up, depending on your jurisdiction — but you calm yourself by inspecting your plans for a luxury nuclear bomb shelter in New Zealand.

    Round and round the wheel we go. 🙂

  • 47 Jonathan November 23, 2019, 10:06 pm

    I have generally got rather bored with MMM recently, but his pizza post struck a chord. I too make my own pizzas.

    He seemed to blur his motivation, he connected it to frugality but actually was it because he prefers it that way? For me it is lifestyle, I (and the family, happily) like my pizzas – if nothing else I am much more generous with the toppings than any restaurant – and I get the satisfaction of making them. When we do use restaurants it is for social reasons, going for a pizza is an acceptable meet-up which suits most people; and when we end up with a gang of teenagers round our place a take-away works well.

    But I can see the “wealth” aspect too: wealth of time. Until I retired, a pizza had to be a weekend meal in order to have the time for the dough to rise, now it can be any day.

  • 48 Richard November 23, 2019, 10:20 pm

    If we take ‘Barry’, say he lives in London and his age bracket is 40-49, the median full time salary is probably something like 50k (couldn’t find specific figures, but 40-49 earn around 25% more than the overall average). 80k is still very good, clearly above the 50% mark, but the gap is closing and it starts looking less extreme in this context (yes, totally out of touch to the country as a whole). As others have said, he is also probably confusing income with wealth. Most people don’t earn 80k when they start out (if ever), and if you have only been at that level for a few years say you may not have the assets/security behind you yet to feel you should be classed as wealthy. But you have a hell of an opportunity to build assets/security most can only dream of.

    Of course many people just don’t want to pay more tax….

  • 49 The Investor November 24, 2019, 12:23 am

    @Richard — Question Time Barry doesn’t live in London, he lives in Bolton (or at least he was in the Bolton Question Time, had a regional accent, and gave no indication otherwise, and Question Time I believe tries to curate a local audience, so I think it’s a fair bet).

    He was the epitome of a Barry Blimp in the short burst we saw of him — angry, almost shouting, yet doing well financially so why is he so indignant? Clearly far from stupid — he’s earning £80K — but oblivious to the reality he feels so strongly about. Completely confident he’s right and the opposition are “liars” (when in reality he was out by a factor of 10 as to where he sat on the income scale!) and most of all digging in when told otherwise.

    I think Labour are wrong to call people earning £80K the “super-rich” as they do in their manifesto. And as others have said, income and wealth are two different things. But that little vignette on QT was very illustrative I think, in myriad ways. But I’m straying into the zone I’ve asked others not to this week, so I’ll shut up! 🙂

  • 50 Kel November 24, 2019, 2:55 am

    Re. the free broadband for all. We all live in a bubble, and as such have been talking about the need for business and those who live rurally to have decent internet access.

    But while @Matthew gliby talks about dole claimants playing video games, from what I understand, in order to claim Universal Credit in the first place, you have to do it online. I’ve also read you have to input your job search diary online as well.

    So I would argue that those people who require Universal Credit and that don’t have decent internet infrastructure, or may not be able to afford internet, and who may similarly may be unable to travel for either medical or cost reasons, or indeed have no local library or internet cafe within a short distance anyway, would benefit enormously from having free broadband rolled out to all corners of our four countries.

    I’d also be happy with a regime change that got rid of these online only rules too. But that’s probably getting a bit political. Sorry @TI.

    Anecdotally, everyone currently living that I know, from young children to people in their late seventies, use the internet. The only person I knew who never used it personally was one of my late grandmothers. And even then, family would still show her content from the internet on their phones or tablets. I grew up before it was a thing (born late seventies), and can cope perfectly well if it goes out temporarily, but the reality is with how our current society works it is not only relied upon but needed.

    P.S. Sorry for the run on sentences. I can’t help myself.

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