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Weekend reading: Subterranean baking blues

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What caught my eye this week.

There are so many unanswered questions at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 crash:

  • How many people in the UK have already had coronavirus? (I suspect huge numbers, but what do I know…)
  • Will Boris Johnson be a better or worse PM giving orders over Zoom?
  • Can we let Rishi Sunak have a go instead?
  • Where is Warren Buffett and why hasn’t he declared he’s buying?
  • Just how long will the population put up with lockdown life?
  • Just how long will my new-ish girlfriend put up with lockdown life with me?

Apologies, I’m not in a very serious mood. Perhaps I’m already going a little stir crazy.

Loafing around

This week like the last six has been mildly manic for me. Especially considering that most of it was played out in a 2.5 bedroom London flat with – thank heavens – a garden.

Besides work (I’ve still got plenty to do, for which I’m grateful) I did well over 100 trades in March alone, dusting off my old playbook from the financial crisis.

(Tentative playbook title – Rearranging Deckchairs on the Titanic: Tactical Trading In A Time Of COVID-19).

Meanwhile my sensibly staunchly passive co-blogger has been smothered by his job despite self-isolating away from it. But when it comes to his portfolio he’s sticking to the plan. He’s not selling. And he’s only buying what his long ago automated set-up does for him.

He’ll inherit the earth, that one.

Meanwhile some of you are going a bit nutty too.

For example long-time reader TheRhino has been in contact. He tells me – and supplied evidence – that he’s been knocking out Monevator-branded artisanal sourdough loaves:

When we said our site was about “making dough”

How I’d love to be having friends over to break bread with… but of course that’s a relic of what already seems 100-years ago. I’m a natural self-isolator by day, but I do miss mixing at night. I mean not over Skype, of course. You know, real mixing where you might catch something you’d be ashamed of.

I miss just going for long rambling walks far from home.

Like most of us in London I’m instead only venturing out once every day or two, half-surprised to see houses still standing and a car drive past. All the cherry and magnolia trees are in bloom, petals falling to the floor, mostly unseen. Almost nobody is drinking coffee on the street and obviously not in the now-closed cafes. It reminds me of the London I arrived at in the early 1990s. It seems so bizarre now.

I wave my M&S reusable plastic bag about as I hustle along, so everyone knows I’m on a government-sanctioned outing.

Barely started

This bear market hasn’t been bad for me so far, touch wood. I’m well ahead of my benchmarks – though decidedly down, of course. I’m over the shock and back into the swing of things – and getting used to metaphorically being punched in the face every day.

But the lockdown? It’s a bummer. And we’re barely two weeks in.

As for the deep economic drawdown – it hasn’t even gotten going yet.


Still, have a great weekend, whatever room this finds you in. 🙂

From Monevator

The coronavirus crash, as told by the Monevator community – Monevator

From the archive-ator: The hidden benefits of financial freedom – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus – BBC

Chancellor is now also giving support to millions of self-employed individuals… – GOV.UK

…but some, such as one-person limited companies, fall between the cracks – Guardian

US weekly initial unemployment claims increase to 3,283,000 [Unprecedented rise]Calculated Risk

Housing market frozen by government during coronavirus lockdown – Guardian

Income investors face ‘dividend drought’ [Search result]FT

S&P warns that bond default rates will surge, perhaps as high as 10% – Institutional Investor

[Click to enlarge the suffering]

Why food delivery apps are struggling even under UK lockdown [Search result]FT

Products and services

How to get refunds for school fees, season tickets and much more [Search result]FT

Barclays and Halifax withdraw the majority of mortgages – ThisIsMoney

Leaky Lockdown: Are you allowed to call a plumber out to fix a broken boiler? – ThisIsMoney

Tesco limits online to 80 orders per customer to speed up deliveries – Guardian

How are P2P lenders responding to the coronavirus pandemic? – Peer2Peer Finance News

At least ten cruise ships are still stuck at sea as a result of the pandemic – Guardian

Comment and opinion

Asset allocation in the most painful month – Portfolio Charts

Here’s why you should rebalance your portfolio – Morningstar

Anchors a-weigh! – The Psy-Fi blog

The property market where people can’t leave their house? – ThisIsMoney

The greatest investment quotes of all-time – Of Dollars and Data

Surviving your very first market crash – A Wealth of Common Sense

Is it too late to de-risk? – Morningstar

Inflation, deflation, confiscation & devastation: The Four Horsemen of Risk – Wade Pfau

How the crisis nearly blew up one of the world’s safest trades [Podcast] – OddLots via Overcast

Of natural beauty and interesting markets – Simple Living in Somerset

Stock index weights are [post-crash]… different – Klement on Investing

Lower share prices mean that 10-year expected returns are well up – Vanguard

Naughty corner: Active antics

NYE professor Aswath Damodaran has been writing weekly crisis pieces that are worth your time – Musings on Markets

Data showing the dramatic de-rating of US stocks, especially small caps [but beware ‘E’ collapse in P/E]Meb Faber

Blizzard, Winter, or Ice Age? – Patrick O’Shaughnessy

The potential impact of the coronavirus on dividends – UK Value Investor

Merryn Somerset-Webb: Some rare coronavirus good news – equities are cheap [Search result]FT

The worst crash in history: A view from the front seat – FireVLondon

A deep dive into Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, post-crash – Rational Walk

COVID-19 Corner

What to make of headlines that 50% of the UK population may have had COVID-19? – Wired

The four possible timelines for life returning to normal – The Atlantic

How the UK got coronavirus testing wrong [Free to read]FT

A deep dive into the economic cost of social distancing – McKinsey & Company

Wounds heal, scars last – Morgan Housel

Italian scientists investigate possible earlier emergence of coronavirus – Reuters

The Ibuprofen debate reveals the danger of COVID-19 rumors – WIRED

Compaq and the coronavirus – Stratechery

Please, let’s stop the epidemic of armchair epidemiology – Slate

Kindle book bargains

The 80/20 Principle: Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch – £0.99 on Kindle

How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis [Will have to dust this off given the bear market!] – £1.99 on Kindle

One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch – £0.99 on Kindle

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

Off our beat

Jonathan Pie is in lockdown [Video] – via YouTube

A crisis is a time to build momentum, not lose it – Rad Reads

Are serial entrepreneurs really smarter – or just lucky? – Fast Company

And finally…

“Visions of unavoidable collapse have been in the ascendant.”
– Vaclav Smil, Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years

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{ 68 comments… add one }
  • 51 Grand85 March 29, 2020, 3:04 pm

    @TI @TA,

    Would now be a good time to re-visit those posts you wrote on the different type of investment premiums – Quality, momentum, low volatility, etc.

    Have a good weekend all and try not to get corona’d ?(like myself).


  • 52 MJCROSS March 29, 2020, 6:29 pm

    Interesting to see several references to IWDG (inc.) but none to IGWD (acc.) which is where 90% of my own equities are stashed. Am I missing a trick here?

    PS: @Grand85 – if that means you’ve got it, then do take it easy and I wish you a speedy recovery. If it’s any consolation, one of my close colleagues and his wife contracted it about ten days ago, and are now up and about and feeling a lot better – if a little tired.

  • 53 ermine March 29, 2020, 6:55 pm

    @MJCROSS I have IGWD but note with disappointment that the TER is 0.55% compared to IWDG’s 0.3%. I hadn’t come across IWDG. I could use the income, so I will switch out of IGWD and get a welcome reduction in TER…

  • 54 MJCROSS March 29, 2020, 7:34 pm

    @ermine: good point!
    Indeed, according to the justetf screener, IWDG has returned about 2% more over 3 yrs than IGWD.
    That said, I don’t think I’ll be switching horses any time in the near future. Need to bear in mind the buy/sell spread when switching or reinvesting dividends too, I guess.

  • 55 PendleWitch March 29, 2020, 8:24 pm

    The amount of active trading taking place above is quite shocking! 😉 I’m sure @TA is very disappointed.

    I’m a do-nothing. Lost my gains from the past 3 years, but the regular pension and monthly DD have just gone into the market as normal. Sitting on reasonable cash though, due to being middle aged. (natch)

    @factor. Well, I bought hair clippers several years ago, based on MMM’s advice. Husband would have none of it. Changed his tune now though…!

    Thanks to @TI, @TA and all contributors and commenters for keeping us going through this, and stay safe everyone.

  • 56 The Investor March 29, 2020, 9:00 pm

    @all — Cheers for all the comments guys, and especially to the medics on the front line who have added their thoughts here. Good luck in the weeks ahead and thanks for all the work you’re doing!

  • 57 Factor March 29, 2020, 9:32 pm


    Perhaps you could zoom here on your broomstick when my next trim is due 🙂

  • 58 Jim brown March 29, 2020, 10:33 pm

    The chancellor did the right thing. However we are heading for austerity 2.0.

    Higher taxes surely and I can see less generous pension perks. What’s the odds of 20% tax relief across the board ?

    Will he be able to resist the inevitable demand for higher wages for NHS employees during austerity 2.0?

    As for me I am staying invested. Not selling not buying; apart from my monthly pension contributions.

  • 59 Hospitaller March 30, 2020, 11:00 am

    Now here is a tale. A tale which may be repeated thousands of times through the land before this matter ends. I live with Mrs Hospitaller. As I have noted before, our order is famously permissive , observing neither chastity nor poverty. My daughter, son-in-law and completely adorable granddaughter (a toddler) live 17 miles away. Mrs Hospitaller and I cannot truthfully claim to be young. We were very seriously self-isolating (what an ugly word). Last Saturday, son-in-law falls ill, with usual cv symptoms. Yesterday, daughter (7 months pregnant with Number Two) falls ill, with usual cv symptoms. Immediate chaos. Now, one cannot leave a toddler tied to a tree, as it were; it is simply not legal. And so, we now have a toddler racing around our abode, who is utterly gorgeous and is almost certainly a superspreader. What comes next? We well know what comes next. But, as they used to say in the Sopranos, whatya gonna do?

  • 60 Brod March 30, 2020, 12:38 pm

    @Hospitaller – oh my, not good juju. But what can you do?

    But remember, nothing is guaranteed.

    Good luck!

  • 61 Naeclue March 30, 2020, 4:26 pm

    One week after lock down started with 2 of our kids and their partners and so far so good. No arguments and has been a good time for catching up. All been like an extended public holiday really.

    I have been looking at the C19 stats and am feeling optimistic. New cases appear to be plateauing, even in Spain, so current measures do seem to be working. It would have been tragic if that had not been the case. At least we should now have bought some time to better ramp up equipment, etc. for the NHS and care homes, to gather more data and better plan the way forward. We will continue to do our best not to catch and spread the virus.

    ETF dividends will be arriving soon, probably little impacted, but it will be interesting to see how much these fall away in future quarters as companies seek to hold on to cash.

  • 62 Hospitaller March 30, 2020, 9:21 pm

    @Brod That is very kind of you. I thank you. May God have mercy on us all.

  • 63 David March 31, 2020, 2:45 am

    Having a quiet read while on the front line of the nhs, everyone is worried but trying to remain stoic and bullish in front of family but there is real fear among us that we may have cut the lawn for the last time. What perplexed me is how far we have fallen from our perch compared to Germany in our health care. WHY?. and what to do to remedy it. Pay more taxes but will the masses revolt when this is over. In a previous post months past, the headline read “people forget that people forget”

  • 64 The Rhino March 31, 2020, 10:51 am

    I had a rye smile to see my hot buns staring back at me from the MV centerfold – fame at last! Maybe my hipster sourdough exploits will go viral and I can pivot into being a master-baker? A lot of my friends already refer to me as a master-baker, or something along those lines..

    Big love to all those on the NHS front-line and assorted essential services – also to anyone who’s suddenly found themselves on the ropes financially.

    Spare a thought for the kneady and help out where you can. Tough times, but we’ll pull through. History tells us we’re a bunch of resilient bastards..

  • 65 Marco March 31, 2020, 11:56 am

    Great advice.

    Only thing to do is keep investing in your predetermined asset allocation global equities:global bonds

  • 66 Mousecatcher007 March 31, 2020, 12:16 pm

    Monevator, have you been hacked? I’ve received a phishing email supposedly from BetFred sent to an email address I have previously given your site and which includes the moniker I use on this site.

  • 67 The Investor March 31, 2020, 12:58 pm

    @Mousecatcher007 — Eek, not that I’m aware of!?

  • 68 Mousecatcher007 March 31, 2020, 2:40 pm

    Well, if it’s only me who’s had the email it seems you’re safe and secure!

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