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Weekend reading: the death of active management will be long and slow

Weekend reading logo

What caught my eye this week.

Surprise! For reasons still not clear to me, The Investor has handed me his beloved babe – Weekend reading – for a special guest edition.

Before you collectively drop your monocle in your soup, have no fear. I’ll have a little joyride before safely parking back at Monevator Towers.

That old skool reference leads me to what caught my eye this week: the trends that may end with the baby boomers.

We’re not short of examples writes Ben Carlson of A Wealth of Common Sense:

Here are some other things that will likely go away for good with the older generation: photo albums, landline phones, cable boxes, cash, clipping coupons, wearing socks with sandals, the phrase “beer o’clock”, newspapers, restaurant pagers, keys, Yellow Pages, and checks.

Smoked

But Ben missed a big one: smoking. The baby boomers caught the end of the golden-era for big tobacco. Smoking being on a slow decline since the 70s.

Naturally that means us young’uns (sorry to break it to you, everyone over the age of 30 is an oldie to me) are less likely to smoke – to the point that I was shocked to recently discover a cabal of younger colleagues who enjoy a puff on a death stick. In fact, millennials seem less likely to do pretty much anything: drinkillegal drugs, drive, own a home, get pregnant, get married, get divorced etc.

Old habits die hard…

You might think that the trend line predicts curtains for bricks and mortar banks, big tobacco and landline phones.

But as anyone who has moved broadband providers can confirm, getting a deal without the bundled phone line you never use is a pain in the cable layer.

As Ben points out:

People these days love to predict the end of things but I’m not smart [enough] to know when preferences will shift for good. Many entrenched trends likely won’t go away forever but simply decline in prominence over time.

… businesses harder

This is pertinent for us armchair investors too. Active management is unlikely to die-off tomorrow. Neither will it go quietly. You need only look at how long it takes to rid ourselves of literally toxic products like cigarettes and lead replacement fuel (what have those pesky Europeans ever done for us?) to see how slow change can be.

As you’ll see in some of the links below, costly active management still has its cheerleaders. It’ll be a long time (if ever?) till “2 and 20” is put to bed.

Have a great weekend!

From Monevator

Why your pension won’t be plundered – Monevator

Thanks for all your comments on last week’s Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution pension transfers post. You provided me with much food for thought whilst I was trapped in foreign airports – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Why I don’t use the FIRE acronym for financial freedom – 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!1

UK braves US ire by pressing ahead with tax on tech companies [search result]FT

Annual fall in suspect share dealing occurring before takeovers, FCA report finds – City A.M.

FRC continues to find audit quality at substandard levels – Guardian

Deutsche Bank bosses fitted for £1,000 suits as thousands lose their jobs – Guardian

How the pension contributions annual allowance is crippling the NHS – MoneyWeek

£100,000 pensions gap for women who end up part-time – Professional Adviser

GDPR strikes: ICO set to fine British Airways and Marriott hundreds of millions – Guardian

Here’s how much the top CEOs of S&P 500 companies get paid (spoiler alert – no correlation with performance) – Visual Capitalist

Products and services

Investing in wine: has Burgundy’s bubble burst? [search result]FT

Principality Building Society launches Learner Earner account paying 4% interest for children savers – This is Money

Comparing traditional (market-cap-weighted) ETFs vs non-traditional ETFs – CFA Enterprising Investor

Sign up and invest £2,000 with Zopa by 20 July and you’ll get £100 – Zopa [Affiliate link]

Mental health matters when it comes to finances – The Times

Inheritance tax: what does the future hold? [search result] FT

I’m writing a will — how do I choose an executor? [search result]FT

Comment and opinion

Woodford affair has shaken the faith of DIY investors [search result]FT

Find a portfolio to love – Portfolio Charts

The price of admission: why avoiding volatility can be worse than stomaching it – Of Dollars and Data

Inseparable pairs: many key things in business and finance come in twos – Morgan Housel

Drivel is drivel: countering active investing myths – Henry Tapper

Three high yield bargains (or are they?) – UK Value Investor

The demise of British Steel will create a crisis for our railways – Independent

Generalise, don’t specialise: why focusing too narrowly is bad for us – Guardian

Blogger wisdom: what have you learned in the past year that genuinely surprised you? – Abnormal Returns

…and a second for good measure: will active ETFs stem the passive torrent? – Abnormal Returns

The Investor’s Brexit Corner

83% of UK CFOs believe Brexit will lead to a worsening economic environment in the long term – Deloitte

Sob story: Man who brought private prosecution against Boris Johnson faces ‘financial ruin’ over £200,000 debt – Legal Cheek

The withdrawal agreement is not a trade deal with the EU – Full Fact

Kindle book bargains

#StandOutOnline: How to Build a Profitable and Influential Personal Brand by Natasha Courtenay-Smith – £0.99 on Kindle

How to Give Up Plastic by William McCallum – £1.99 on Kindle

Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis – £1.99 on Kindle

More Time to Think: The Power of Independent Thinking by Nancy Kline – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

How Norway turns criminals into good neighbours – BBC

I don’t understand the world edition 569: ‘Siberian Maldives’ is actually a toxic dump, Instagrammers warned – Guardian

I don’t understand the world edition 570: Belle Delphine AKA Bathwater GamerGirl, the greatest troll on the internet – Rolling Stone

Staying on the social media theme: ‘You’ll miss me when I’m gone’: the murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch – Guardian

That giant asteroid of gold won’t make us richer – Bloomberg

The rise of the professional dungeon master – Bloomberg

And finally…

“Probability is not a mere computation of odds on the dice or more complicated variants; it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and the development of methods for dealing with our ignorance.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness

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{ 46 comments… add one }
  • 1 Adam July 13, 2019, 10:53 am

    Interesting article. Oldies over 30, lol. Here’s one you probably can remember. In the 90s (uk) you got a very good return in cash as good as equities, with zero risk. Times have changed with near zero interest rates cash loses money after inflation, so everyone has piled into stocks. Since 2008 stocks have boomed.

    Yes smoking drinking etc has been in decline which is obviously a good thing that people are more health conscious and environment conscious. Cheers

  • 2 dearieme July 13, 2019, 1:11 pm

    What are cable boxes and restaurant pagers?

    I am terribly tempted to revert to smoking a pipe. It’s a lovely, relaxing habit and, I suspect, enormously less risky than those foul coffin nails.

    “Deutsche Bank bosses fitted for £1,000 suits”: cheapjacks.

    Inheritance tax: I approve of changes that will (i) reduce complexity, and (ii) benefit us. Not too much to ask, surely?

    Abnormal Returns: “I’ve been ghosted professionally a number of times in the last year.”
    What does “ghosted” mean? And why do pompous people say “a number of times” rather than “several times”? Are they keeping secret the fact that their number might be 0 or 1? Or, if they are lawyers, might their number be (-1) meaning that they’ve ghosted someone else?

    Active vs passive: the only reservation I have about passive ETFs (or funds) is the question of whether they might run into liquidity problems in a crash. Obviously active funds can do that, crash or not. Would investment trusts be a more risk-averse choice?

  • 3 MrOptimistic July 13, 2019, 2:02 pm

    Investment Trusts? Well unlikely to be locked out but the discounts could widen horribly, akin to a widening spread – which would happen as well. If nobody is buying, how do you set a price? If the spreads on all the held assets have widened as well what is the nav?

  • 4 oz July 13, 2019, 2:26 pm

    Yellow pages?! I thought only yell existed now?

  • 5 The Details Man July 13, 2019, 3:07 pm

    @Adam – that’s spot on. Without wishing to plug, I looked at the data on my own blog. Cash provided cracking returns in the 90s. Even up to the GFC you could still get inflation busting rates. It’s no wonder savers have struggled to comprehend the miserly rates on offer since then – it was a dramatic change.

    @Dearieme – You’ve gotta get down wit da lingo! Ghosting is where you end a relationship, usually over intstant messaging (IM) and disappear – ignoring any further correspondence. I think by ‘cable boxes’ Ben is referring to our equiavelent of set-top boxes (and/or Sky). Restaurant pagers (at least over here, though happy to be corrected) are radio connected discs which buzz when your table is free at a resturant (i.e. you turned up and it was full, took a disc and went off to have a drink and wait). They became quite popular (god knows why) in London a few years ago but seem to thankfully be dying out.

    Completely with you on IHT, but sadly, like most tax things asking politicans to keep it simple and not make a pig’s ear of it seems a lot to ask (see the tapered annual allowance).

    With ETFs, I’d say it’s only potentially an issue with bond ETFs. The jury is out on their liquidity problems. There’s been a few market crashes where bond ETFs have help up OK (e.g. the Italian banking crisis). But we’ve yet to see if they hold up in a full-blown meltdown. I’d venture you would be safe with a broad bond ETF like the Barclays Agg. or one invested in a deeply liquid market like Gilts or T-bills. If you’re investing in Nigerian corporates maybe not… As MrOptimistic rightly points out, the problem with ITs is that the trust could run to a big discount if there’s a big mismatch in supply/demand. The great thing about ETFs are that they have internal supply/demand balancing through the redemption basket.

  • 6 ZXSpectrum48k July 13, 2019, 3:30 pm

    One common element in the recent issues for UK retails investors: the gating of Woodford’s fund, the collapse of mini-bond provider London Capital and Finance (LCF) and failure of P2P platform Lendy is a desire for income. All of these products were trying to provide a yield above the prevailing rates for their asset classes. It feels that many UK retail investors are too greedy for yield. This is possibly a side effect of the high real returns that could be had from cash depos in the late 80s through 2008.

    The financial services industry sees this ever growing demand for yield/income (due to demographics and persistently low policy rates) and creates yield-enhanced products. The result is that investors end up in poor products that are too risky and/or too illiquid but also make themselves vulnerable to mis-selling, fraud etc.

  • 7 Gentleman's Family Finances July 13, 2019, 7:30 pm

    As someone who is technically a millennial but feels a bit older (and wiser?) I see that the types if drinking and fun things like that are just not done by younger folk – certainly the uni students where i live seem to be perpetually in the library, gym or working to get by.
    Enough drink to get you merry is probably the same as a month’s gym membership and competition for jobs is fierce so no slacking off.

  • 8 dearieme July 13, 2019, 9:11 pm

    @MrOptimistic: surely the IT holder is better off? He has a choice: decline to sell while turmoil persists – then he’s in the same boat as the locked-in holder of a “fund”. Alternatively, sell for what he can get i.e. he’s got an option denied to the other chap.

    Anyway the fund/ETF I’d be interested in at the moment would invest in TIPS, so TDM has cheered me up.

  • 9 MrOptimistic July 13, 2019, 9:55 pm

    @dearieme. Indeed so. The OEIC is forced to sell assets to redeem units, the IT need not dispose of assets. However, in terms of available value, the retail investor will see an uncomfortable drop in immediate value magnified by both leverage/gearing and the widening discount, however with resilience ( faith?) they can sit it out. Still I am not comfortable with the new paradigm of lower discounts. It has been suggested this is because of the removal of trail commissions to advisors so this time it really is different. If discount control is claimed, the IT may still be forced to borrow or sell stuff if it wants to buy its own shares I guess. I don’t know enough really to be pontificating like this but, for example, the RIT premium makes me wonder about its defensive characteristics in a sharp downturn and whether the premium has compromised resilience.

  • 10 Lord July 13, 2019, 11:13 pm

    Cars as we currently know them are starting to look like a pretty old technology that will soon be made obsolete. I’m hoping that in ten or twenty years most cities will not have human driven cars in them and I’m pretty sure the next generation will view human driven cars the same way we now view cigarettes: utterly lethal and dangerous, especially in dense urban environments.

    It’s something I’m greatly looking forward to and I hope they make rapid progress on all the different technological, regulatory, and other issues that need to be resolved.

  • 11 The Borderer July 13, 2019, 11:50 pm

    @Lord (9)
    Although I think you’re vision is utterly laudable, I’m afraid that we won’t see it until Star Date 29.6.43

  • 12 JimJim July 14, 2019, 6:26 am

    @The borderer and @Lord
    This article may interest from last October-ish (from memory)
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45786690

  • 13 The Borderer July 14, 2019, 10:13 am

    @JimJim

    Beam me up Scotty!

  • 14 Lord July 14, 2019, 10:36 am

    @jimjim Thank you very much for posting a link to that article. A very succinct summary.

  • 15 ZXSpectrum48k July 14, 2019, 10:55 am

    I’m not sure it really matters whether it’s an OEIC, ETF or closed-end IT. It’s the assumption of liquidity that’s the real danger. Every regulatory change since the last crisis in 2008 has reduced liquidity in global markets. The imbalance between the huge buy-side (funds, retail etc) and small sell-side (banks, brokers) has never been this lop-sided. The sheer amount of intra-day punting of ETFs by US retail is quite out of control.

    When a genuine crisis hits, the resilience of even the “liquid” markets will be seen for the illusion it actually is. We went down 15-20% on the S&P in Nov-Dec on nothing substantial. The market found it impossible to even handle the forced selling in December out of 401ks and that won’t even peak for another decade or so.

  • 16 dearieme July 14, 2019, 10:01 pm

    Thanks, MrO: food for thought.

    And thanks ZX, be thee Mr or Mrs.
    Or none of the above.

  • 17 dearieme July 14, 2019, 10:04 pm

    I wonder whether forty or fifty years ago anyone wrote anything to the effect of:

    Bikes as we currently know them are starting to look like a pretty old technology that will soon be made obsolete. I’m hoping that in ten or twenty years most cities will not have humanly cycled bikes in them and I’m pretty sure the next generation will view humanly cycled bikes the same way we now view cigarettes: utterly lethal and dangerous, especially in dense urban environments.

    But then I’m so old that I was assured that when I became an adult we’d all go to work by moving pavement or gyrocopter.

  • 18 Chris July 15, 2019, 3:51 am

    @dearieme. The thing is bikes are almost none of those things. They are perhaps the most efficient form of transport known to man as well as being pretty safe and non-polluting. They are almost never lethal.

  • 19 JimJim July 15, 2019, 7:50 am

    @ Dearieme
    IMO
    We are actually throwing billions into the technology for self driving vehicles. This means that it will probably happen. People are fallible, as are A.I systems. When we get to a point when they are less fallible than us (and kill fewer people) we should adopt the technology.
    The only thing that has come along to replace the bicycle is the electric bicycle (it outsold normal bikes last year across most of Europe). Remember, the roads only became paved properly when the people started demanding a better ride for their bike! Cars were the preserve of the rich and were enabled by the cycling fraternity on the new roads. I also enjoy driving (cycling to work is a soggy affair most of the year up north) but if there were a safer cheaper alternative I would adopt it for all my journeys (as would most when strong market forces are applied.) People still keep horses. Bloody expensive things that, as the saying goes, are dangerous at both ends. I know no one who uses their horse for daily transport. Cars will probably still be kept by enthusiasts.
    If you could hail a self driving vehicle on your phone, get in it, have a beer, not be worried that you had to park it and pay less for it — would you?

  • 20 FitandFunemployed July 15, 2019, 11:34 am

    @Dearieme
    There have been a few memorable quotes about bicycles throughout the past century, but none (I’m aware of) along the lines you suggest:
    “”Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” – JFK
    “”Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” – HG Wells
    “‘Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” – Mark Twain

  • 21 dearieme July 15, 2019, 3:49 pm

    “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” – JFK

    Being JFK he was probably thinking of the Faculty bicycle.

  • 22 John B July 16, 2019, 6:24 am

    Given cars last 15 years, even if technology advances fast there will be a great lag unless there is a very expensive scrappage scheme.

  • 23 JimJim July 16, 2019, 7:00 am

    The debate seems to be shifting away from topic and for that I apologise for my contributions.
    The article by the BeeB I posted above I find persuasive, Reading the comments it provoked at the bottom of the article made me feel like an alien voyeur at a witch burning.
    The number that commented about “loss of freedom” and “Big Brother” was striking. It seems most don’t want to give up the “freedom” of owning a car! Personally I see it as a necessary evil that eats away at my having fun budget. (I’m with MMM on that one) The true cost of car ownership is disguised by the low interest rates we have currently. The rise in easy credit and lease plans has boosted new car sales and people have opted to let their future selves pay down the deal. How this relates to “Freedom” is beyond me. I here this word so often of late as the ultimate argument. It comes from across the pond as it is every Americans “inalienable right”.
    I see freedom for transportation a little differently than most perhaps but not paying as much for transport, being delivered right to the doorstep, not having to own a parking space or find one, not having to insure it, tax it, mend it, clean it, fill it with fuel or be a taxi service for my kids all seem like freedoms to me. Roll on the next transport revolution

  • 24 AAJ July 16, 2019, 5:26 pm

    @JimJim

    https://www.veltop.eu/en/models/veltop-models-weather-protection-rain-cold-bicycle-e-bike.html

    I am not sure there is a better alternative for the general populous considering cost, efficiency, size & health benefits. Hailing a self driving car seems like a sure way to congest the city streets.

  • 25 The Borderer July 16, 2019, 5:31 pm

    @JimJim(23)

    The problem is, as I see it, that people without access to good public transport and/or communications, including practically all of the North and in particular, the rural North, have no alternative.

    I for one cannot imagine cycling 5 miles to my nearest supermarket and bringing home the shopping, let alone 12 miles to my local golf club, carrying my clubs on my back!

    And maybe Uber or some similar disruptive technology with self driving cars will come along, but you can bet that it will come along to London first and the SE next, not Cumbria or Lancashire.

    So until that day, I’m terribly sceptical.

  • 26 Eugene July 16, 2019, 6:20 pm

    I can’t help thinking that electric cars are the future. As such I’m investing in companies that should do well out of electric vehicles. Companies like NG/ SSE/ Johnson Matthey.

    As it stands the UK doesn’t produce enough electricity for our own needs. A couple of million electric cars will require massive investment in power stations/ transmission etc…. Someone’s going to make money from it…

  • 27 JimJim July 16, 2019, 6:29 pm

    @ AAJ and @The Borderer… Cumbria, my home. Too much wind for a bike umbrella and yes, we may be last in line for cheap Uber travel, but once upon a time cars were the preserve of the city and the folk who could afford em. My 25 mile round trip hilly commute with the joy boys on country lanes is a thing of the past for me on a bike, did it and lost faith in the Audi and BMW boys to be sensible sociable and human. It will come, when is an issue but investing in it isn’t…
    Excuse the beery rant… here is some chill music to appease the mood.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZZlQqG7hEg

  • 28 JediMaf July 16, 2019, 11:36 pm

    I am with JimJim on this one. Self-driving cars naturally lead to the end of car ownership for the masses. Paying for a car sat parked 95% of the time isn’t going to make sense against one running 24/7 for a number of people (less the time it goes to recharge itself). The car companies will fight it tough and nail, but it will come. The companies providing the service will make the convenience penalty against owning your own car as small as necessary so the cost difference wins. I also think it will reduce congestion. Not having to park (which is a deliberately painful experience to “discourage car use” but in fact increases pollution and congestion) is a bonus and the pricing model will encourage wider commuting times (with offices adjusting accordingly). I am not saying it will be a utopia, but the economics will win in the end. People may have difficulty imagining it now, but it will be natural when it happens.

  • 29 JimJim July 17, 2019, 6:45 am

    A few links for self driving that have caught my eye…
    This week…
    https://www.wired.com/story/ford-vw-hitch-self-driving-efforts-together/
    Not on the road yet but…
    https://www.costain.com/news/news-releases/a14-project-team-begins-testing-self-driving-trucks-for-first-time-in-england/
    What may the future bring and are we getting ready already???
    https://www.costain.com/media/598623/enabling-connected-autonomous-vehicles_whitepaper.pdf
    May be we are???
    https://www.costain.com/news/news-releases/costain-awarded-connected-vehicle-technology-contract/
    As some may be aware, the share price of Costain is in the toilet after last month so don’t hold your breath unless you are brave… 🙂
    Jim

  • 30 The Investor July 17, 2019, 8:56 am

    I’m pretty confident most people will stop buying cars when cheap Uber for everyone is available. Car ownership is tremendously expensive in most scenarios — running a car for a year buys a lot of avocados on toast! 😉

    I believe in our lifetimes those typical urban streets of Victorian houses flanked relentlessly by cars on either side will seem as jarring as pictures of sooty children going up chimneys!

  • 31 AAJ July 17, 2019, 9:16 am

    @The Borderer

    “I for one cannot imagine cycling 5 miles to my nearest supermarket ”
    https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/18/get-rich-with-bikes/

    Personally, I can’t imagine driving 5 miles to a supermarket.

  • 32 The Borderer July 17, 2019, 10:30 am

    @AAJ (31)

    “Personally, I can’t imagine driving 5 miles to a supermarket.”

    Then you’re obviously not one of the 19% of the working age population, or 47% of the pension age population, who have a disability.

  • 33 Chris July 17, 2019, 1:09 pm

    A disability is not necessarily a barrier to riding a bike. In some cases, bikes are a good substitute when you are disqualified from driving a car due to disability.

    I wouldn’t expect others to emulate, but a year or so back – I was comfortably cycling with a broken ankle in a boot – even though I could only walk with the aid of two crutches at the time. Unlike walking or sitting, it was near pain-free.

    As someone who lives in the boondocks myself, I expect to be late to self-driving car party. But isn’t it always the case that new tech is rolled out to more populous areas first?

  • 34 JimJim July 17, 2019, 1:30 pm

    Being in the boonies could play out rather well at first, supply of used cars will probably exceed demand for them making them less of a financial burden upon boonyites, let’s hope that the taxes on fossil fuels are not geared towards early adoption, that could be terrible.
    I was in that there London a couple of years back listening to an activist espouse the banning outright of all Diesel cars as it made London a health hazard. He would not accept that the boonie dwellers would be the ones to pay for his fresh air… Much better to target taxes and bans locally.

  • 35 Fremantle July 17, 2019, 4:11 pm

    @JimJim

    “The number that commented about “loss of freedom” and “Big Brother” was striking. It seems most don’t want to give up the “freedom” of owning a car! Personally I see it as a necessary evil that eats away at my having fun budget.”

    Freedom doesn’t work like that. Freedom is you doing your thing and leaving the other guy to do his. Market forces can certainly play a part in what people choose to do with freedom, but state compulsion through either outright bans or through taxation/subsidy is not freedom. As owners of public roads, the state can determine who and who isn’t a legal road user, but they have to answer to the electorate.

    Personally I’d prefer driving licenses to be issued by insurers with road owners determining road usage on the basis of user pays and the prerequisite of being insured, but I don’t really care what type of transport is used.

  • 36 MrOptimistic July 17, 2019, 7:24 pm

    Well we are 3 miles from the nearest shop, 7 miles to the supermarket. Bus every 2 hours. Grass verge no pavement. No street lights, no super fast broadband, no gas, no mains sewage. It’ll be a while before car usage declines.

  • 37 Bill G July 18, 2019, 10:29 am

    Re the unsuitability of bikes; over 80% of the UK’s population live in urban areas where distances to the shops etc are well below five miles. That distance should not challenge the vast majority of those people. Add in delivery services and the need for a car, as opposed to the desire, diminishes ever further.

    While that still leaves a significant proportion of folk. (17% in 2018) living in rural areas where a car is far more useful, the urban majority will dictate policy by weight of numbers.

  • 38 Factor July 18, 2019, 11:08 am

    @MrOptimistic #36

    Very similar for me I’m blissfully happy to say, plus less than 3 hours by car to either set of grandchildren and at a time totally of my choosing in either direction, versus more than twice as long by a very limited and timetable shackled, train/bus/Shank’s pony combo.

    P.S. Can we have a VAR review of that dodgy free TV licence withdrawal please! It was definitely a foul ref!!

  • 39 MrOptimistic July 18, 2019, 8:54 pm

    @Factor. Steady. TI will be on here in a minute spluttering feathers. ‘ Havent you old lot got enough already……and you want more’ 🙂

  • 40 The Borderer July 19, 2019, 12:50 am

    @BillG

    “While that still leaves a significant proportion of folk. (17% in 2018) living in rural areas where a car is far more useful…”

    Not just ‘useful’, but utterly essential.

    Rural UK is seeing a net immigration effect as older people migrate to the country whilst younger (particulary qualified) people migrate to the cities.

    Just over 60 per cent of the population living in rural village and dispersed in a sparse setting are aged 45 years and over.

    (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/782163/Rural_population_and_migration_February_2019.pdf).

    It follows that an ageing rural (albeit increaingly wealthy) rural population is less able to don lycra and cycle 5 miles here and 5 miles back to pick up the milk.

    Uber, or whoever, will not target dispersed rural populations with self driving cars or drones or whatever may be next as it will not be economicaly viable.

    And unless future governments are prepared to target electric charging stations in rural areas, then for the countriside e-cars are a bust too.

    Given their track record on high speed broadband in rural areas, I for one will not be holding my breath.

  • 41 Rosie July 20, 2019, 10:10 pm

    And Uber subsidise both drivers and passengers and make a big loss. Until there is a profitable model, we’ll see.

  • 42 Lord July 21, 2019, 2:11 am

    Interesting to see how the thread evolved on the topic of cars and automated driving. Just to add that on the distances to supermarkets in rural areas and so on, alternative technologies should also be considered.

    For instance, already there is some piloting of the potential of drone technologies for deliveries; automated driving will mean automated delivery – the whole process of shopping – the ordering, receipt, sorting, packing and delivery of the food etc can be automated with little or no need for human involvement (our ordering will be mostly set by AI based on our prior purchase history and statistical predictions of our needs – seasonality, birthdays etc). Combine these with new storage technologies such as cooled boxes etc for the receipt of deliveries etc and it’s not difficult to envision a very different kind of future. All the different technologies are complementary – 5G, automated driving, drones, robotics, AI, IoT …. one of the key issues to resolve will be the human interface for these technologies – cycling alongside or separate from automated cars (but probably so much safer than now), safety of drone deliveries, what we do with our time, employment concerns, safety of AI ….

    Generally, I’m really looking forward and optimistic about how technology has the potential to substantially improve quality of life.

  • 43 Jif July 21, 2019, 11:09 am

    Perhaps this article I read at the weekend may readjust people’s timelines about electric cars.

  • 44 Jif July 21, 2019, 8:52 pm
  • 45 JimJim July 25, 2019, 6:28 am

    @Jif
    This has been an issue for longer than anyone cares to do anything about it. Before he tragically died, David Mackay was our own home grown energy advisor, A Cambridge Prof with a mission. To make people aware of the future needs and requirements of electricity, including the move away from fossil fuels (which most see as essential ecologically). He wrote a book. Free to download on this website… https://www.withouthotair.com/ Where he set out demand and potential for all U.K. energy sources in lay-persons terms in the front section, and with data to back it up in the appendices. He also left it open to argument and would gladly change anything if his data could be proved unreliable. (Unfortunately he did not survive to alter much or to take account of recent developments in technology). It is worth reading as a second and British viewpoint. It confirms some of what you see in the article you posted, but also gives some wider perspective. If electric cars are to become a thing, which they already are ( https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-electric-car-sales-2019 ) , We should have already done something about it. The government knew about this potential demand long ago. Since then it has failed to act decisively. Potentially this could lead to energy shortages until supply/demand equilibrium is achieved.
    Regards, Jim

  • 46 Jif July 25, 2019, 11:51 pm

    @JimJim
    Thanks for the link, it looks like an interesting book and I look forward to reading it.

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