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Weekend reading: The best money and investment reads from around the web

Weekend reading: The best money and investment reads from around the web post image

What caught my eye this week.

Out of sympathy with those who can take no more of the national pantomime, I decided to run my Brexit-themed introduction as a separate article this week.

(There’s a pretty good conversation developing in the comments, so you might take a look if you only tend to read us via email.)

Fewer than six weeks to Christmas!

From Monevator

House prices, mental accounting, and leaky buckets – Monevator

Navigating the #BrexitShambles – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Rich friends, poor friends


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

Warning over property peer-to-peer defaults [Search result]FT

Bellwether estate agent Foxtons closes six branches in ‘challenging’ London market… – Guardian

…but prices in the Midlands are rising 6% a year – ThisIsMoney

Tesco and WWF partner to halve environmental impact of UK food shopping – Which?

Banks urged to justify ‘staggering’ level of branch closures [Er, smartphones and the Internet?]Guardian

Beware this TV licensing email scam – ThisIsMoney

Austerity has inflicted ‘great misery’ on UK citizens, says UN – Guardian

Most people give up on non-fiction books halfway through [PDF]Kobo Report (h/t Michael Batnick)

Products and services

Megatrends: How to align your ETF portfolio with global developments – JustETF

Should taking out 50 Wonga loans make getting a mortgage difficult? [Um…]ThisIsMoney

Investment trusts see beauty in small companies [Search result]FT

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

New investors increasingly look to robo advisers [Search result]FT

Many popular Black Friday products are cheaper at other times of the year – ThisIsMoney

Homes in former train stations [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

A brief history of investors being duped by market manipulators – Jamie Catherwood

How I track my investment returns [Very pretty spreadsheet!]Young FI Guy

The secret of marital bliss? Credit Scores. – Humble Dollar

12 investment contradictions – Behavioural Investment

What FIRE gets right – Rad Reads (h/t Abnormal Returns)

A Corbyn government, unlike New Labour, would tax the rich properly – Guardian

We’ve known for 85 years that financial forecasters can’t forecast – Evidence-based Investor

Fund managers are holding a lot of cash right now [I read it as they are more bearish about bonds than shares]The Fat Pitch

Expensive businesses and high debt combined is a cause for concern – The Value Perspective

Why WH Smith could be a buy for dividend growth [PDF]UK Value Investor

Once the world’s most valuable company, does smashed-up General Electric have a future? – Musings on Markets


Gordon Brown: To calm the Brexit storm, we must listen to the UK’s views again [Search result]FT

New Brexit divide line is between pragmatists and players – CapX

Jo Johnson: the inside story of Brexit and where it all went wrong [Search result]FT

The Brexit wreckers are slinking away from the rancid mess they’ve made – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again by James Reed – £1.99 on Kindle

The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Maths Genius and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich – £1.99 on Kindle

Tiny Budget Cooking: Saving Money Never Tasted So Good by Limahl Asmall – £1.09 on Kindle

The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia Montgomery – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Study warns we’re headed towards a humanity killing 5-degree rise by 2100 – Clean Technica

Everything on Amazon is Amazon – New York Times

The old gods and the new – Of Dollars and Data

Are we really in the middle of a global sex recession? – The Guardian

And finally…

“Be aware that the market does not turn when it sees light at the end of the tunnel. It turns when all looks black, but just a subtle shade less black than the day before.”
– James Montier, The Little Book of Behavioral Investing

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • 1 Vanguardfan November 17, 2018, 10:43 am

    Good set of links as usual, thanks.
    How about a climate change article sometime? Or perhaps it would be even more depressing than Brexit 😉

  • 2 The Investor November 17, 2018, 11:10 am

    @Vanguardfan — You’re welcome, cheers!

    Re: Climate change, I’m no expert, just a depressed observer. It’s difficult to do an investing article because of the wide range of outcomes, again like Brexit. And anyone who really wanted to invest with climate change at the top of their agenda would need to construct a very off-benchmark portfolio!

    I do have some investments that play directly to the theme. E.g. I have held shares in Tesla for 5+ years that I consider long-term buy and hold on ‘hopefully change the world’ grounds, and I’ve been considering this month a small investment in the alternative investment manager Abundance on a money I can afford to lose view. (It’s very richly priced, more here if anyone is interested: https://www.seedrs.com/abundance-investment).

    My general perspective (more emotional than practical) I outlined back in 2010:


    I judge things have mostly got worse since then, on most environment measures, even as humanity has made great progress on others such as global poverty.

    The best good news of late is birth rates are collapsing around the world (though I have friends who inexplicably to me spin this as a “problem”).

    Also the much improved economics of solar.

  • 3 MrOptimistic November 17, 2018, 11:17 am

    With an aging and declining population is the world doomed to deflation: all us pensioners selling stocks to buy index linked stuff and public investment declining?
    On a happier note, does anyone have any feel for the proportion of global economic activity that is available to the public through exchange traded stocks?

  • 4 Vanguardfan November 17, 2018, 11:30 am

    @TI thanks for the thoughts. I suppose I kind of think climate change is an elephant in the room, when I get too caught up in Brexit etc I realise it is really fiddling while Rome burns, literally. For me none of this helps with investing, where I’m essentially the personification of a passive knows-they-don’t-know investor. I just plod on, occasionally fretting about UK bias and currency risk, and wondering what it will feel like when it all goes tits up again.

    Birth rates falling? While on the one hand, human resource use is clearly the underlying problem, but I can’t help but think that falling birth rates are conceptually analogous to deflation. At a very macro level it seems to me that ageing populations stagnate while youthful ones provide an engine for progress. And back we are to Brexit and migration…

  • 5 MrOptimistic November 17, 2018, 11:44 am

    Indeed so. Have we lost our hope in the future and our belief in progress? Climate change and sustainability worries must, perhaps inadvertently, act against the idea that growth is good. Investment and growth fuelled our prosperity. I don’t pay much heed to the back testing Monte Carlo models which claim all life is there: as they say, past performance is not a sound guide to the future.

  • 6 The Investor November 17, 2018, 11:55 am

    @Vanguardfan @MrOptimistic — I’m very gloomy about the environment. Mostly because I am somebody who believes strongly we’d be better with say 500m max people on Earth and great wildernesses surrounding capital cities linked by high-speed monorails above the fauna and flora. That would reflect much better on humanity than essentially the denuded polluted and poorly cared for farm with a few corners of nature clinging on at the edges, which is where we are now.

    I think the future is the same, perhaps less polluted eventually but fewer scraps of nature. And very possibly toasting.

    Re: Humanity and deflation, I’m less gloomy. Remember every other article last year was about AI and robots. These have come along so coincidentally with declining birth rates that it makes you wonder if it’s some kind of natural law of evolution we’d know about if could survey 100 intelligent alien species (or even a “blind watchmaker”?!)

    I see little to fear in an orderly retreat from 7bn down to 1-2bn. (These numbers assuming we don’t go off-world anytime soon, and hence have elsewhere to exploit/grow). Global GDP may fall but median standards of living could increase dramatically. Probably the biggest impact is fewer people mean fewer ideas/innovations, but I’m not even sure about that given that much of the world is clearly still not able to exploit their full mental capacity due to differentials in wealth/education/access to capital/local customs (e.g. if they’re women and can’t study/work) etc.

    Equally, I think there’s a fair shot two generations from now we’re spending 16-24 hours a day in virtual realities, at which point all extrapolating bets on both the environment and the economy are off!

    (You see why I don’t write so much on this. 🙂 )

  • 7 Tony Edgecombe November 17, 2018, 6:25 pm

    I don’t care how attractive WH Smith looks financially, I can’t bring myself to invest in such an appalling business.

    A shrinking population is an interesting problem, didn’t wages take off after the Black Death. I think there was even a law introduced to try and block wage rises although it was widely ignored.

  • 8 Ben November 17, 2018, 8:06 pm

    That scatter graph on book reading.
    Am I missing something, because to me it suggests that no one reads to the end of any book. The cluster around 80% suggests to me people are skipping indexes and such? (who gives up 80% of the way through a book.)

    Re the Wonga article. I was expecting a more or less well reasoned article on whether payday lending should count against someone for other lending. Instead I’m reading an article who rejected an offer which seemingly got them what they want, but they held out for more and their gamble didn’t pay off.
    Also they needed £40k* in loans to bridge the gap between finished uni and starting work?

    *artcle doesn’t give details, its possible this could have compounded from loans but I don’t think that would support the articles thrust as much. So I’m doubting that’s the case.

  • 9 A beta investor November 19, 2018, 10:10 am

    The interesting point is that a falling birthrate causes populations to rise.

    Read Factfulness by Hans Rosling.

  • 10 Ben November 19, 2018, 10:35 am

    @A beta investor
    Do you want to expand on your comment a little bit?
    I cant think of a good reason why falling birth rate would cause population rise. And googling around that book didn’t help.

  • 11 A beta investor November 19, 2018, 11:42 am

    In 1800 women had an average of 6 children but 4 died before becoming adults leaving just 2 surviving. In 2017 they had 2.5 most of which will survive. As a consequence longevity is increasing so, for example, in Bangladesh life expectancy has risen from 52 in 1972 to 73 now. It’s all in the numbers, not the sensationalist headlines.

  • 12 The Investor November 19, 2018, 11:57 am

    @A beta investor — Interesting! Still, it would be a one-time adjustment.

  • 13 Ben November 19, 2018, 12:50 pm

    @A beta investor.
    Ok, I would take issue with
    “falling birthrate causes populations to rise”. That’s increasing life expectancy/ falling infant mortality causing populations to rise.

    Did you mean that populations could rise /despite/ the falling birthrate. But as TI said that would be a one time thing.

    I did see an interesting TED talk that I now can’t find, that said we had already reached/passed peak child. The increases in population now are basically due to these larger cohorts moving their way through the system ( at the moment we have a small proportion of older people and a large proportion of younger people, eventually the proportions will equal out)

  • 14 A beta investor November 19, 2018, 1:17 pm

    Yes, but it has taken from 1900 when the population was 1.5 billion to 2000 when it was 6 billion. In that time 2 parents produced more than 2 children who survived to become the next generation. A new balance has been achieved and the expected growth to 2060 will be from adults who are already children now.
    The UN predicts a further growth of 1 billion by 2100 as life expectancy increases by a further 11 years.
    By then the “fill up” effect will have lasted for 3 generations and will be complete.
    Stockpickers can have a field day with selecting companies that will benefit, or suffer, from those demographic changes.

  • 15 Little Miss Fire November 19, 2018, 3:13 pm

    Some great reads on here as usual! Your site is the best way for me to keep up to date with everything I need to know!

  • 16 The Weasel November 19, 2018, 4:46 pm

    That Guardian article about taxes does rile me quite a bit. The idea that anyone on 80K plus is rich is a bit daft. Any figure needs context.

    I’m above that threshold but because I’m the only breadwinner in my household (kids, etc) I’m already 7k plus worse off than a couple where each partner earns 40K.. On top of that pay increases are much less enticing… Bust my arse for a 10K increase just to give back 4K to the government… Uhm….

    And for more context this is in London so we are already taxed via higher property prices, more expensive services, transport. My point not all pounds are equal, and, from where I stand, I think I contribute enough already and Labour can stick their tax raises where the sun don’t shine.

    Rant over.

  • 17 The Borderer November 20, 2018, 12:17 am

    @A Beta Investor
    Not sure if this will clarify, but it’s worth watching because it’s so brilliant.


  • 18 Russell Byrne November 20, 2018, 8:41 am


    Read the book too, it was excellent and positive.
    The quiz at the front of the book was worth the price alone.

  • 19 dearieme November 20, 2018, 10:16 am

    “we are already taxed via higher property prices”: false analogy.

  • 20 Scott November 20, 2018, 6:22 pm

    @ The Weasel – (being flippant) re your taxation: boo hoo!

    If you’re on £80k you are financially rich, though. It’s a relative measure, and even with a non-working spouse you’re streets ahead of the vast majority of the country.

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