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Weekend reading: Stuck in the middle with you

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What caught my eye this week.

The lockdown continues, with the predictable result that the global economy has fallen off a cliff in barely a fortnight.

I’ll repeat again – we cannot take many months of this.

I continue to have doubts about how we’re approaching this crisis, whilst conceding most policy makers are striving to do the right thing with incomplete data and faced with horrible choices. It’s easy for pundits with blogs to speculate about alternative approaches. Rather different if you hold people’s lives in your hands.

Anyway, the links below – offering several different perspectives – cover where we’re at.

To be honest, social distancing rather suits me. I know others are finding it very tough going. Extroverts have owned the world for 30 years, and being asked to sit in a quiet room alone is alien. And nearly all of us could do with putting an arm around a friend again.

I thought the Farnham Street blog had a nice take on making the best of things:

What’s important is that you find an activity that lets you move past fear and panic, to reconnect with what gives your life meaning.

When you engage with an activity that gives you pleasure and releases negative emotions, it allows you to rediscover what is important to you.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful dividend from disaster, even as cash dividends are cancelled?

The markets continue to do their thing. While the plunge was heart-stopping, I don’t think many shares are at bargain basement levels. With rates at zero and only a year’s worth of profits definitely set to be eviscerated, maybe they shouldn’t be? I’m not worried about most of my investments on even a medium-term view, let alone the long-term.1

This weekend will be hard. The sun will be out. Doctors and nurses will again be going into the trenches while most of us hide it out safe behind the lines.

Whatever one’s personal feelings about the universal lockdown strategy, it’s the path we’re on. Let’s hang tough.

I’m pretty confident in a year we will be talking about defusing capital gains tax and filling our ISAs, just so long as the economy isn’t utterly derailed.

Happy quarantine!

From Monevator

What has changed and what has not – Monevator

From the archive-ator: How talking about money is like French kissing – Monevator

News

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

Economists warn of ‘unprecedented’ recession as PMI hits record low [Search result]FT

950,000 apply for universal credit in first two weeks of UK lockdown – BBC

UK banks banned from requesting personal guarantees for loans – Guardian

One in 15 people in London may already be infected with the coronavirus [Search result]FT

Loan and credit card payments to be frozen for three months in UK – Guardian

Coronavirus crisis: your financial rights [Search result]FT

Global lay-offs surge as 6.6m Americans file jobless claims – FT

Products and services

Six things you need to know if you’re applying for Universal Credit – ThisIsMoney

Robo-adviser results: Nutmeg and Wealthify vs Vanguard year 2 – Much More With Less

Surge in investment account openings on UK platforms [Search results]FT

Beware of Google ads for ‘bonds’ touting mouth-watering returns – ThisIsMoney

Victorian gothic homes [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

When dollar-cost averaging matters the most – A Wealth of Common Sense

The majority of Vanguard investors are holding steady during the crisis [Data]Vanguard

Recovering from the coma – Investing Caffeine

Was that the bottom? – Of Dollars and Data

Barry Ritholtz: Maybe the coronavirus didn’t end the bull market? – Yahoo

This too shall pass – Humble Dollar

Rebalancing Vs taxes Vs expenses Vs life – Retirement Investing Today

Simon Lambert: Why are the airlines making it so difficult to get coronavirus refunds? – ThisIsMoney

Financial Independence and the virus mini special

They all retired before they hit 40. And then this happened – New York Times

The implausible millennial movement to save, invest, and quit the workplace – Vox

Naughty corner: Active antics

Dabbling with discounts – IT Investor

Which way now? [PDF]Howard Marks

Terry Smith: my scepticism of value stocks was proven correct in market sell-off – Money Observer

Developing a buying policy for the bear market – Simple Living in Somerset

The limits to lessons from past bear markets – Validea

COVID-19 corner

Just how deadly is the virus, really? – BBC

Why death and fatality rates differ – BBC

Test and trace with Apple and Google – TechCrunch

The math behind social distancing – Visual Capitalist

With this virus, a majority of ventilated patients are not coming off the machines / are dying – NPR

How NHS Nightingale was built in just nine days – BBC

The cost of compassion: Every life saved sees the US foregoing $1m in economic activity – Mr Money Mustache

Tim Harford: How do we value a statistical life? – FT

The real reason epidemiologists and economists keep arguing – Bloomberg

Why it’s so freaking hard to make a good COVID-19 model… – FiveThirtyEight

…although with that said… in praise of models – The Atlantic

We may be underestimating the COVID-19 death toll – Bloomberg

Will the economy ever get back to normal? – The Reformed Broker

Submariners likely unaware of global pandemic – Associated Press

Kindle book bargains

Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried – £0.99 on Kindle

Tin Can Cook: 75 Simple Store-cupboard Recipes by Jack Monro – £0.99 on Kindle

Side Hustle: Build a Side Business and Make Extra Money by Chris Guillebeau – £0.99 on Kindle

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance – £1.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Why time has slowed – Morgan Housel

Will the coronavirus kill AirBnB? – NY Mag

Live for today, plan for a better business tomorrow – Michael Katz

The Zoom privacy backlash is only just getting started – WIRED

And finally…

“Without us, Earth will abide and endure; without her, however, we could not even be.”
– Alan Weisman, The World Without Us

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  1. This future is unevenly distributed among different companies. Also you need to factor in some disruption impact for everyone. And if we get into a 3-6 month long lockdown like today’s and with it a depression, all bets are off. My belief is that politicians (and the public) will demand the economy is switched back on before that happens, rightly or wrongly from a medical point of view. []
  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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