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Weekend reading: Triggered

Weekend reading: Triggered post image

Good reads from around the Web.

Well it wasn’t a long-game April Fool. As we all know Britain has triggered Article 50, and the process of giving up a lot for a little has begun.

I don’t intend debating the pros and cons again today. Regular readers know my views. Some old regular readers never forgave me them and left the website, which is fair enough.

The PM Theresa May made a good fist of trying to promise everything to everyone. That’s probably the only sensible strategy at this point, although it might bite us back down the line.

But I preferred President of the European Council Donald Tusk’s statement, obviously:

“There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels nor in London.

“After all, most Europeans – including almost half the British voters – wish that we would stay together, not drift apart.”

Yes, nearly half. That’s not something you hear much around our part of the world, eh?

A friend summed up her feelings with the following photo. Some of you can have a snigger at the back if you want to. I’ll delete anything nasty in the comments.

Source: A friend.

It will be interesting to see if triggering Article 50 does lead to any concrete changes in the UK economy. So far we’ve been running on the powerful momentum we had despite, you know, being shackled to Europe and all that, but juiced by the low pound. (And, I suppose, by many households made cheery by what they see as a brighter future, and spending more.)

Like most investor types, I was wrong-footed by the UK’s strength following the vote, though I’d argue I realized and admitted it sooner than most.

Normally uncertainty derails markets. At the least I expected inward investment to fall (which matters because as a nation we’re funded by the kindness of strangers) and the London property market to roll over (which matters because we’re probably in a house price bubble).

Neither occurred. Was it a Wiley Coyote moment due to the delay with Article 50 (which David Cameron had said he’d trigger right away) or has the invisible hand divined things won’t be so bad for Britain?

The crash in Sterling suggests the jury is out, and ordering pizzas and coffee.

Here are a few quick takes on the investing consequences from around the Web:

  • Article 50: Reactions from The City – Financial News
  • Basically the same trawl, but with a few additional voices – Independent
  • What does it mean for UK investors – Money Observor
  • What now? [More passive-minded]Nutmeg
  • What triggering Article 50 means for investors – FT Advisor

Elsewhere, hope your boat – or goat – wins!

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

  • James Montier: 6 impossible things before breakfast [PDF]GMO
  • Are we neck deep in a bull market or not? – All Star Charts
  • Is Judges Scientific a miniature Berkshire Hathaway? – Richard Beddard
  • Nice interview with Brent Beshore, private equity investor – Morgan Housel
  • The secrets of startup guru Gil Penchina – Startup Grind
  • Hedge fund investors favour names with gravitas [Research]SSRN

Other articles

Product of the week: They’re not inclined to throw money around in God’s Own Country, so perhaps there’s a catch – but Yorkshire Building Society now provides the highest paying easy access savings account, according to The Telegraph, at 1.15%. You have to open the account by post or in person, and you can only withdraw money on one day of the year. Which isn’t my definition of ‘easy access’, but then this is Yorkshire we’re talking about, we’re grading on the scale. Note some current accounts pay more. You can get 1.5% (with a bit of effort) from Santander, for instance.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • The conventional wisdom of active fund management – Vanguard Advisor
  • Matt Levine: Equity fund management is a solved problem – Bloomberg
  • Blackrock ditches expensive stock pickers – Value Walk

Active investing

  • Some parts of the world are cheaper than others – Telegraph
  • Americans are scarily optimistic about stocks [Graph]Bloomberg
  • Buy, sell, or adapt [Podcast, search result]FT Alphaville
  • How the Yellen Fed got religion over stock market and policy – Bloomberg
  • Actually, is it time to bonds? – Yahoo Finance
  • Investment trust discounts are close to 15-year lows – ThisIsMoney

A word from a broker

Other stuff worth reading

  • The new Residence Nil Rate Band for inheritance tax is here – Guardian
  • How George Osborne might cope with the pensions taper [Search results]FT
  • You can get a mortgage when you’re self-employed – Telegraph
  • Karen Millen bankrupted by a tax avoidance scheme gone wrong – Express
  • Mortgage tax relief cut doesn’t add up for buy-to-let landlords – Guardian
  • Global house prices [With interactive affordability tool]The Economist
  • When others die, tontine investors win – New York Times
  • The top 50 rural areas of the UK for quality of life – ThisIsMoney
  • George Osborne picks the perfect date to launch new fashion brand – Guardian

Book of the week: Are you a stock picker? Don’t worry, you can whisper it here. Long time UK financial writer Phil Oakley is a fellow traveler, and he is now taking pre-orders for his new book, How To Pick Quality Shares. Oakley will suggest a three-step process to selecting the best long-term investments, and also debunk the variously-stepped processes of others. I kid, but not unkindly. Personally I treat all these books like a five-year old enjoys a roast dinner. Have a ponder, stir with your fork, devour the bits you find tasty – and bin the rest.

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  1. 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”. []
{ 59 comments… add one }
  • 1 hosimpson April 1, 2017, 10:40 am

    That passport will end up being his last with “European Union” on its cover. And maybe even the last with United Kingdom on it too, depending on what the Scots do, eh?

  • 2 European April 1, 2017, 10:43 am

    Take care & good-bye, Brits. Shame to see you go, but everyone gets what they deserve.

  • 3 Tyro April 1, 2017, 10:48 am

    I preferred a different bit of Tusk’s statement: his final comment, which was that the EU won’t be punitive towards the UK, because Brexit is punishment enough …..

  • 4 FI Warrior April 1, 2017, 11:40 am

    New brilliant negotiating technique: ”If you don’t give me back the cake I just ate, I’ll shoot my other foot, hop to it and don’t try mess with me, you know I mean it, cos you’ve seen me do it before, so go on, you bloody foreigners !!!”

  • 5 Sara April 1, 2017, 11:53 am

    Yes – I kept hoping someone would turn around and say “look, this was all a big mistake and we’ve changed our minds” but NO. So we now have to live with the consequences.
    I don’t know how May can say with a straight face that she wants to make it an exit good for everyone when 48% of the population think it’s the craziest thing we’ve ever done!
    Still all those car engineers and public services staff can get minimum wage jobs in the hotel industry and be oh so much better off now all those pesky foreigners went home. [BBC Breakfast yesterday]
    But all I really want to know at the moment is where to put my CASH ISA – do I go for 3 year fixed in hope that interest rates will rise by then or for the better rate 5 year fix which just might keep my head above inflation(maybe).

  • 6 Tyro April 1, 2017, 12:03 pm

    @Sara – why not go 50/50? Then you can stop agonising about it.

  • 7 Tyro April 1, 2017, 12:13 pm

    @Sara, er … trigger-happy typing in my last comment I’m afraid! Have just realized why 50/50 won’t do. Personally I’d go for the 3 year fix because (a) with the 3 year you get a certain low rate for 3 years and a possibly higher or possibly similar rate after that (I’d think it very unlikely rates will go lower after 2 years), so the risk is to the upside as they say, whereas 5 years is a long time to commit to what is a certain low rate; (b) if you’re prepared to tie up your money for 5 years why not put it into corporate bonds or some dull but dependable income-paying equities (e.g. National Grid) and get a better rate with a bit but not massively more risk?

  • 8 MarkT April 1, 2017, 12:43 pm

    A question I always ask remainers is ‘What would you and the EU have given to Leave if the result was reversed?” If, as I suspect, the answer is nothing then why do you expect something now?

  • 9 Lee April 1, 2017, 12:55 pm

    But there is also news that savings ratios are touching new lows not sen in 60 years.


    That, plus higher inflation, plus below inflation wage growth, plus high levels of household debt, could suggest some worrying things ahead.

    Still, they voted to be poorer. Brexit is giving them what they want. It’s a shame others also have to suffer….

  • 10 hosimpson April 1, 2017, 1:28 pm

    @Lee – “Still, they voted to be poorer.”
    Never mind that, it was worth it for the sake of straight bananas (or was it bendy bananas? Oh, whichever). And if all goes well, in two years’ time we’ll be allowed to shit on our beaches again.

  • 11 Mathmo April 1, 2017, 2:17 pm

    Having cancelled my Saturday off this week (natch) I was going to read all the links and perhaps even chuck in a side-sniping Brexit /Remain comment and wonder at the absence of Merryn’s “Isn’t there something more imortant to worry about” article. But then I read TEA’s film-blog and I’m left standing and applauding. Outstanding stuff. Something for everyone, and a few absolute favourites in the mix. Ultimately not enough Bond (surely there’s an entire post in FI from Bond quotes — M doesn’t mind you making a little money on the side…) but can there ever be? I am reminded of the time I went to a screening of Up In The Air for platinum flyers — they laughed at all the right bits…even as they were the butt of the joke…

    I can’t help suspecting we had the same boss.

    Meanwhile, I’m just going to read the rest of the links and maybe follow FIRE v London around until he goes to the cashpoint…

  • 12 Yami April 1, 2017, 3:09 pm

    Nothing has happened yet – we’ve signalled our intention but all intents and purposes we are still in the EU and will be a for a while. The rise in the market is thus par for the course as it has been rising for years.

    Our trading relationship with Europe will be worse post-brexit, it must be as we will not have the unfettered access we now have. The thing is, our trade in 2020/2021 with Europe might still be better than it is now in 2017 (and thus appease brexiteers) but it will not be as good as it would be if we were still in the EU in 2020/2021.

  • 13 Learner April 1, 2017, 4:05 pm

    The Economist’s property price chart toy is fun.

    Naturally, the default countries shown are the big Western (English-speaking) powers.. plus one tiny but extreme case (slow clap for New Zealand – #1 in every category)

    Interesting to have a browse through the country list on the right and toggle on a few other lines to keep things in perspective, say: Germany and Ireland.

  • 14 Fly By Night April 1, 2017, 4:08 pm

    @MarkT – my answer would be reform…I voted remain – I don’t think the EU is perfect – it needs to change – we could have used our influence to make it better for all…the EU want us in the club – we’d have all found a way to make it work…

  • 15 Gregory April 1, 2017, 5:25 pm

    I don’t know but if there won’t be Frexit (Le Pen) European stock market will soar.

  • 16 William III April 1, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Only in Oxford can we find authors claiming that climate change (and all the systemic issues driving it) is not a priority due to the attention it’s already getting. Such an elementary mistake in priority setting

  • 17 The Escape Artist April 1, 2017, 6:31 pm
  • 18 SurreyBoy April 1, 2017, 7:47 pm

    This comment is intended in a non partisan way, before anyone starts railing at me.

    If the remain side of the vote had such massive establishment support, and if leaving genuinely is such an act of hare brained lunacy unheard of in the history of the world etc, why dont people get politically organised to stop it or simply begin the mission to rejoin?

  • 19 Sean April 1, 2017, 7:48 pm

    Hope we leave as quick as possible and then we can start tackling the bigger issues. In my world and I know it’s different from yours we can tackle the lack of skills ,robotics and other technologies that will shape our future. Being poorer in the future is a choice for an individual because I know I won’t be,I won’t be looking for some politician to solve my problems. Still think it’s funny that both sides have such contempt for each other and both feel morally superior when they are both so nauseous.

  • 20 Faustus April 1, 2017, 9:09 pm

    Lord Heseltine make a good point in conceding that Britain relinquished more power and influence on Wednesday than on any other day in his peacetime lifetime. Perhaps the loss of India came close, but economically the dismantling of the empire made sense in a way Brexit cannot. We are left with a divided and possibly terminally broken country; I really hope it does not lead to even more of the xenophobia and anger that accompanied the referendum campaign.

    Returning to investing, it is tough to know what to do with the new ISA allowance. So much uncertainty, not just in Europe but also in the US as traders try to second guess what the impacts of Trump and Brexit will be. Assets everywhere seem expensive. Perhaps if Macron wins the French presidential election (as seems likely) and Merkel or Schultz win the German federal elections European stocks will surge this year as confidence grows that the populist right is in retreat.

    Enjoyed the piece about George Osborne’s new fashion house – if it wasn’t April 1st one could almost believe it.

  • 21 The Investor April 1, 2017, 9:43 pm

    @SurreyBoy — Well obviously I will sound like a moaner and so on — and I had decided I’d probably just let everyone talk politely among themselves this week 🙂 — so I hesitate to answer. But with that risk acknowledged, I think the speed with which May etc moved into Brexit (and a hard Brexit at that) is probably only explained in a partisan way.

    The whole EU question was never a hot topic for a *majority* of people, it WAS a hot topic for a sizeable but minority section of the Conservative party, and also a minority section of the electorate (UKIP got 12.2% of 2015 General Election, though I accept that’s imperfect measure in our first past the post system, although then again UKIP had more in its manifesto than UKIP-ing, so a wider appeal, too, most notably on immigration).

    So I think it’s pretty widely accepted that the Referendum was designed not to heal a division in the country (I cannot remember Europe ever coming up as a major issue in an a General Election in my lifetime, for instance) but a division in the Tory party. If (and I accept it wouldn’t have) the Referendum had been held under a different political administration — perhaps even the Coalition — then maybe the close result that we’re being brainwashed into thinking through repetition was “overwhelming” would have been seen as a mandate for the softest possible Brexit, or possibly even just to put a brake on further integration with Europe, etc, and maybe ask again in five years. But again for party political reasons the Conservatives went into survival mode, a 3% margin of victory became “the clear will of the British people” (despite the repeatedly evidenced contradictory motivations) and that was that.

    Strategically I blame David Cameron, tactically a plague on all our houses (including mine — I regret not going political before the Referendum, I didn’t want to annoy/split readers of an investment blog, and didn’t believe we’d be [dumb, bold, insane, brave, short-sighted, nasty, far-sighted, ignorant, determined as the reader prefers] to vote Out), morally the Leave campaign had indefensible elements [Rees-Mogg etc the high ground, Farage not so much], spiritually Remain was lacking. And the 3-4% margin of victory is almost noise.

    I agree that the all-powerful Liberal Elite doesn’t seem particularly powerful, does it? Funny that. It’s almost enough to make me (try to read through) Ayn Rand again.

  • 22 The Investor April 1, 2017, 9:47 pm

    p.s. This bit is surely ironic:

    Why dont people get politically organised to stop it or simply begin the mission to rejoin?

    I had many readers tell me *the week* of the Referendum that I should “get over it”. I’ve lost plenty of readers for discussing this. If I post anything to Facebook — where I’d estimate 90-95% of my friends voted Remain — sooner or later someone will say “Stop moaning, it’s boring, let’s get on with it”. Politicians like Clegg and Fallon are “the enemies of the people”. Judges who uphold the sovereignty of Parliament are “The Enemies of the People”. Etc.

    So for the average person, that’s probably why. Culturally the likes of me will be impoverished (if I stay in the UK) through Brexit, but financially most of us in London/the South East will probably end up better off if they go down the Singapore-with-benefits route.

    Maybe the average person wants a quiet life.

  • 23 FI Warrior April 1, 2017, 10:31 pm

    @ TI, ‘Maybe the average person wants a quiet life’ – definitely – bread and circuses, the matrix, comfortably numb, (a la pink floyd) the majority don’t want to think, because that’s scary scary, too real. This is nothing new though, historically, religion served the role of opium for the masses, giving hope to those who couldn’t cope with reality. The enlightened today find this hard to accept because we have an amount of information at our fingertips that is unprecedented in the history of our species, so they intuit that we have to be smarter than your average primate.

    But it seems that our brains can’t evolve that fast, so we are diverging into two discrete populations, the miniscule elite who have just enough of an IQ advantage to rule over us, then the rest who form a sea of plankton, with little control over their lives. It’s lonely to be one of the few who are not of the elite, but understand how the system works, because we are the one-eyed in the valley of the blind, not accepted to the elite, so not benefiting from parasitising the masses, while resented by both sides for different reasons.

    Most people don’t see the govt. as just an interface, like you go to a website to interact with a company for example. They are simply a collection of individuals, like actors, paid to tell us a simple story we can understand and find palatable, like a fairy tale for a toddler at bedtime. In this way, we receive our orders subliminally, so timing out our little lives within the limits of the parameters of our designated castes, hamsters on the wheel, while our invisible rulers in their parallel lives notice us, if at all, only for our gullibility. When you are eventually given the opportunity to make a choice, you can be sure it’s not real, whether that is between 23 supposedly different types of washing powder in the supermarket that turn out to be manufactured by the same conglomerate or a referendum on you future. Knowledge it transpires, hasn’t changed a thing since antiquity, now that really is astounding as well as of course desperately, desperately sad; we are truly living in the cretinaceous period.

  • 24 Mathmo April 1, 2017, 10:42 pm

    @TEA – would be funny if it weren’t true… Perhaps one of the films should have been The Firm. Thanks for the post – your blog is always worth reading.

  • 25 Richard April 1, 2017, 10:49 pm

    The issue with getting politically organised is there will be plenty of people on the other side who will do the same. Plus they will claim legitimacy as they won the popular vote.

    I am actually surprised by the number of leave voters, which for me makes the few percent difference a lot more significant. If that many people got out of bed to change the status quo and jump into the unknown even with all the fear and potential disaster and respected expert testimony against it….. Would this make leaving inevitable eventually even if remain had won?

  • 26 FI Warrior April 1, 2017, 11:31 pm

    Our world is ruled by money, which in turn is a claim on resources, which are finite. The anglosphere in particular worship money and it’s indisputably a huge tool in exercising power. So, the masses have the majoritarian vote and if they believe they have reversed evolution (and history) by bringing back the glory days of the British Empire, they’ll be feeling ecstatic. Judging from their gloating since their epic yuge victory, (that’s irony, it was by less than 2%, something even repetition can’t erase via cognitive bias) it seems so.

    The good thing about that then is that they’ll rush out and buy as many things as they can. Facts and the derided experts point to consumer debt spiraling into the danger zone again, so logically, most of these people who think everything is going to be awesome from now on will be sh*t broke sooner or later. Once poor, they’ll soon find that in the soulless society they sanctioned, they wont be able to afford their rights.

    Then they can reap their reward, their new democratically elected leader helping them out with some sort of social safety net for when you fall on hard times, like being sick, not finding a job, not affording a home. The sort of things that can befall anyone in life regardless of their political affiliations. Having taken back control, they can feel safer in that their own will take care of them, as opposed to foreigners like those who own more and more of the infrastructure and fabric of the country that needed to be taken back. I wonder who sold it out to those foreigners?

  • 27 Duncurin April 2, 2017, 12:14 am

    One rather gets the impression the Theresa May is the only person suggesting that Leavers and Remainers should be reconciled. It can’t be pleasant being accused of being thick duped xenophobes, but Leavers seem unwilling to show magnanimity in victory. One suspects they are anxious that the cup may yet be dashed from their lips.

    And their anxiety may be justified. I gather that about a third of the population are keen Leavers, a third are keen Remainers, and a third think we should just get on with it. Result: two thirds of the country thinks Brexit should proceed. But as Harold Wilson almost said, two years is a long time in politics. One can imagine that after a year of rising prices, increasing austerity, and constant news reports of NHS crises, labour shortages, job losses, worries over Scotland Ireland and Gibraltar, the Government unable to cope with other crises because they are occupied with Brexit, and other events, dear boy, events; the middle third might get rattled. We could then find ourselves in a position where the Brexit negotiations are entering the extremely difficult final phase, but two thirds of the population now think that Brexit shouldn’t go ahead. Which would be interesting.

    Who knows? In the meantime, it would be helpful if influential blogs like this one continued to point out the problems with Brexit.

  • 28 Naeclue April 2, 2017, 1:05 am

    Ironically I suspect that Brexit could result in more financial hardship amongst many of those who voted Leave than those of us who voted to stay. I can understand the resentment felt by people who say they have not benefited from our EU membership, but this really was not the best way to make things any better.

    From a practical point of view, I cannot think of a better time to follow the advice of Lars, Buffett, Accumulator, et al and to own a globally diversified portfolio of index trackers, bonds and cash. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the UK and Europe over the next few years, least of all those who think they do, so I will stay invested here and everywhere else in the world just as usual.

  • 29 Stefan April 2, 2017, 7:23 am

    @SurreyBoy “why dont people get politically organised to stop it or simply begin the mission to rejoin?”

    We’ve just had a referendum. If you campaign against it you’ll be called anti-democratic.

    Concerns about Brexit are voiced frequently in the media and by politicians but few go so far as to suggest reversing the decision to leave the EU. Not many have dared. Only Tony Blair has come out to raise support. He has a lot of baggage and from what I can tell his appeal went nowhere.

    The “stop Brexit” effort has to wait until the terms of Brexit become clear. Then they can make a last ditch effort by pointing out the actual cost of leaving the EU.

  • 30 The Investor April 2, 2017, 9:24 am

    @Stefan — That’s a better answer to that question than mine. Hopefully we’d be more accurate with our estimates at that point, too. I do understand why Leave voters would feel skeptical of economic forecasts, given the outcome so far post-Referendum versus consensus. (Notwithstanding the delay in triggering Article 50, which I feel is pertinent).

  • 31 britinkiwi April 2, 2017, 10:25 am

    Interesting discussion – and I’m possibly in the minority in suggesting that Brexit is an opportunity to get away from an incompetent administration (immigration, defence, Euro and S Europe), complete with a democratic deficit and long standing corruption and profligacy (when were the accounts last signed off by an auditor?). I also realise that I’m on the sidelines being in NZ but I have 20% of my stocks in the UK plus what happens to global trade will impact on my savings.

    Just like everyone here.

    I’m not here to put my perspective forward but in/out of the EU seems far more finely nuanced than many commentators understand – and whereas there may be short term fiscal pain (just not yet, of course) predicting the future economic vitality of the UK or any other trading nation/bloc is pretty much beyond anyone’s competence.

    No one knows, and we will never know, given the multitude of uncontrolled future scenario’s, of what might have happened versus what will eventuate.

    Of course, the UK government has form in screwing things up (just think Cameron) and I’m with you all in hoping that what could be an unholy mess is responsibly sorted out by both sides but, being in New Zealand, recognise that there are a whole bunch of arguments which are just laughably false around the UK’s position in world trade. (Given NZ has a trade agreement with China and the EU does not, for example) or Health and Safety legislation, or equal pay or women voting….(Switzerland! Unbelievable)

  • 32 HK Expat April 2, 2017, 4:33 pm


    Like you looking from a bit afar, but having lived in HK for 30 years and seen what free trade actually does (plus less of a social security system which is very bad at the worst end but drives self reliance at the otherwise would be better off on benefits end) I am watching with great interest. I hope that after a short, sharp, shock the UK (probabily excluding Scotland given the SNP) realise what they can do in the world and just how much being recognised as the seat of democracy gives the Uk itself a seat at the big table!

  • 33 Walter @ Walbrock Research April 2, 2017, 4:37 pm

    With Brexit and Donald Trump, the West can’t lecture China and other non-democratic nations on democracy, given the outrage.

    I feel the people made the decide about leaving or staying in the EU and we should respect it. The protests can be dangerous because now politicians can restrict our democracy because there is too much division. And that shouldn’t happen.

  • 34 paulm April 2, 2017, 4:50 pm

    I know its water under the bridge and all that but I try to correct this assertion that ‘just over half UK voters want us to leave the EU’. As a matter of simple arithmetic it is a much lower proportion!

    There are 46.5 million voters in the UK. 17.4 million voted to leave. That means over 29 million did not vote to leave. More than 62% not in favour of leaving!

  • 35 dearieme April 2, 2017, 5:07 pm

    So more than 66% not in favour of remaining. That sounds pretty conclusive to me.

  • 36 The Investor April 2, 2017, 5:10 pm

    @paulm — I don’t think we can say that, and I’m as skeptical of the whole affair as they come. On your numbers, I think the most we can say is only 37% *did* vote to Leave. But we don’t know how the non-voters would have voted. It’s speculation.

  • 37 PF April 2, 2017, 6:47 pm

    @The Investor “But we don’t know how the non-voters would have voted”. It should be neither here nor there. We know that they didn’t vote for the change set out in the referendum.

    The vote was about making a change to the status quo, and 62% didn’t vote for it.

    @dearieme “So more than 66% not in favour of remaining” and @paulm “More than 62% not in favour of leaving!”

    The vote was about leaving, not remaining.

    Taken together, these two statistics are no proper basis for any change.

  • 38 Richard April 2, 2017, 7:30 pm

    I would say if you didn’t vote you were indifferent to the result and happy to take the outcome of those that did vote. No one could have escaped the enormity of their vote in the referendum. So extrapolating up the % difference to the whole voting population seems reasonable to me.
    I voted remain, mainly out of fear of being poorer. Am I that bothered by Brexit? I would say not really (at least not yet). In fact I am finding the whole thing quite exciting – certainly more interesting than the status quo. Would I vote leave if given the chance again – I don’t think that I am quite there yet, but would say I feel closer to doing that than I did when I first voted.

  • 39 paulm April 2, 2017, 7:30 pm

    Yes its difficult to know what those who couldn’t be bothered to get off the sofa and vote want. It is my submission however that the majority of them were not desperate to leave the EU, probably they were quite happy as they were – on the sofa in the EU.

  • 40 Steve April 2, 2017, 7:44 pm

    Do not worry too much. After months of despair, I feel pretty sure that we will not end up leaving the EU or that we will rejoin after a “transitional” period. The reason for this perhaps surprising view is my belief that voters are only now beginning to understand what they voted about in June. If you set aside short-term reluctance to admit a mistake, I am increasingly confident that there is a majority in the UK for staying in. “All” that needs to reverse matters is some serious political representation.

  • 41 John B April 2, 2017, 7:56 pm

    Straight majority referendums are a bad thing, as there is always the neverendum argument that the vote should be re-run. I don’t think you can insist on a %age of the electorate, but you should insist there be a, say, 10% difference between the votes to justify a change to the status quo.

    I particularly dislike May’s view that Remainers should shut up. The whole point of politics is that if you don’t like something, you campaign, over and over, until you get it. To do otherwise is to abandon democracy.

  • 42 Richard April 2, 2017, 8:20 pm

    True, they probably would have been happy on the sofa and in the EU. But without rules to protect against this being clearly laid out in the referendum act, what are the government supposed to do? Not only that, but spending the weeks in the run up saying this vote matters, if you vote out we are out.

    Oh, sorry, you may have won the popular vote and I know we said we would leave if you did. But because a load of people couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and vote, and the act is not legally binding anyway, we have decided to just ignore it. I mean, what was the point in the referendum? That position is clearly untenable.

  • 43 John B April 2, 2017, 9:25 pm

    A big problem is that Brexit cuts across party lines, so the number of people wanting the Tories to administer Brexit, rather than, say Labour, is a smaller fraction of the electorate. And the number wanting May to do it is smaller still, givem she was a Remainer. And every Leaver has a different view of what their negotiation terms will be. One approach would be for each party to prepare their Brexit manifesto, and May to call a general election to get a mandate, not merely for Brexit but its terms. And I”d hope each party would only put forward candidates who actually believed in their policies, unlike the position now where Corbyn and May have whipped in people who don’t believe in it, but equally haven’t the courage to put their jobs on the line in by-elections. The whole affair has destroyed my confidence in British democracy.

  • 44 Steve April 2, 2017, 11:11 pm

    John B:

    Damage has for sure been done to democracy by the Brexit affair; nearly half the country as measured at June has been left without effective representation in Parliament. One thing our leaders have traditionally tried to be careful about is to avoid “a tyranny of the majority” – where a large minority of people who do not agree with a majority view have their lives turned upside down by that majority view. In the context of a narrow result, by choosing an extreme option and calling it the “will of the people”, I am sorry to say that May has failed a basic test of statecraft.

  • 45 Richard April 3, 2017, 6:39 am

    Tyranny by the majority should have been taken care of when the referendum act was put through Parlement. Did they honestly think that by making it non-binding that would have been enough to protect against a leave vote? And every MP expect the SNP voted in favour of it.

    Though I didn’t think we had yet choosen an extreme option. We have invoked article 50 which still leaves many flavours of Brexit on the table. Lots of tough man retoric as we start negotiations for sure. But what is a less extreme version of Brexit? Other than remain?

  • 46 FI Warrior April 3, 2017, 8:09 am

    These are the ugly truths: Germany rules Europe and as their recent gratuitous crucifixion of the Greeks made crystal clear, they will be utterly merciless. Most of the rest are too small to make a difference, too indifferent, or happy to sell out. That is precisely why it was important to be in the biggest, most powerful club in the world, conveniently situated a stone’s throw away. (out of the whole globe) The more countries involved, the more balance could be achieved to prevent a sociopathic bully prevailing, even if yes, the price of that is slow movement because agreement is needed, but that’s the point of democracy.

    So, most likely, there will eventually be (as the Greece drama showed and continues to) a fudged deal because the UK has to be dealt with anyway given it has to be a neighbour; but it’ll be far inferior to what was kicked away. Switzerland and Norway are incomparably better run and economically sound, yet still decided inferior deals were better than isolation from the massive neighbour. As such, with a much inferior hand to play, you can guess the deal a rump UK will get, Spain has already indicated it has withdrawn it’s intention to block Scottish EU accession.

    The UK will now decline faster by isolating itself at the worst possible time, the US is unstable and has turned inwards, while the former empire unlike the brexiteers doesn’t have fond memories of their former master’s several hundred years of pillage and their humiliation. The few anglo-centric former colonies such as Canada, Oz and New Zealand hardly make up the weight of what was thrown away and as for new friends to be found in the rest of the world, well, lets just say I wouldn’t bet my own money on that result after the appointment of Boris to such an extremely sensitive diplomatic role. (someone actually best known for enjoying insulting foreigners) The seasoned Westminster mandarins must still be reeling at the horror of the willful vandalism of letting a bull loose in a china shop. This single act alone signals to the world that the UK doesn’t even take itself seriously, let alone anyone else; like electing a Berlusconi to represent you.

  • 47 The Rhino April 3, 2017, 9:55 am

    my goodness, the quality of the monevator debate falls dramatically when the subject matter moves from finance to politics. So much confident conjecture!

  • 48 The Austrian April 3, 2017, 11:15 am

    Read the GMO doc, all very interesting but comments like ‘This would be a 6-standard-deviation event .. and strikes me as another near impossible thing…’ surely fill you with post-08 fear. As the dollar has been vastly devalued in recent years, here’s another way to look at whether stockmarkets are really overvalued:

  • 49 Kraggash April 3, 2017, 2:30 pm

    I were negotiating Brexit, I would:

    1) Go in talking up the hardest form of Brexit, saying ‘well I hope it will not come to this, but we can live with it if it does”
    2) refuse to guarantee a vote on the result of the negotiations (but also refusing to rule one out completely)
    3) Get the best possible deal, then bring it back for a vote (HoC or referendum) on either taking the terms on the table or staying in as was/is.

    Any other strategy (eg planning for a vote, going for ‘soft’ brexit etc) would completely undermine my negotiating position, and I would get worse terms.

    I hope that is what she is doing, anyway….


  • 50 Dean Sharrock April 3, 2017, 2:56 pm

    Perhaps I’m being slow, but I don’t get the photo. A UK passport on an EU flag, with what looks like a piece of tape or ribbon across it. What does it mean?

  • 51 The Investor April 3, 2017, 3:10 pm

    @Dean — It’s meant to be an armband.

  • 52 Simon April 4, 2017, 10:13 am

    I really don’t agree with this decision to leave the EU and will do all I reasonably can to reverse it, whether that happens now or in future years; many of the people who voted Out are near the end of their earthly span and if we are steadfast then there will be many opportunities to throw their works back into the bin of history where they belong. Now I am not asking people to like folk who voted to leave; after all, their decision showed a side to being English which I am sorry to say has always been there, which is unpleasant, and which huge attempts at further education have simply failed to improve, let alone eradicate. While falsely claiming “patriotism”, they have made being English into something of an international embarrassment. But we should nonetheless try to forgive them while doing all we can to reverse the result.

  • 53 The Investor April 4, 2017, 8:40 pm

    Good graph from The Economist reinforcing my point above about just how much of a non-issue the EU was in Britain until a small band of Tories and ex-Tories made it into a national crisis:


  • 54 The Rhino April 6, 2017, 1:37 pm

    off-topic but anyone thinking of getting a LISA?

    They don’t look very attractive to me, i.e. already owns house, has a SIPP on the go..

  • 55 The Investor April 6, 2017, 1:46 pm

    @TheRhino — I am hoping to do a post on this for next Tuesday. (Never enough time! 🙂 )

  • 56 The Rhino April 6, 2017, 2:29 pm

    @TI good idea, very timely. MSE has gone to town on it with some nice guides/resources etc.

    I’m just smashing in this years ISAs as we speak. I’m pretty sure LISAs aren’t for me. If I were a year older they definitely wouldn’t be for me.. getting old..

  • 57 Dean Sharrock April 7, 2017, 12:48 pm

    That graph is like showing a spike in interest in football during the World Cup, and saying that it’s all Gary Lineker’s fault.

  • 58 GRG April 8, 2017, 10:53 am

    @Simon I am one of those nearly at the end of my earthly span who voted to stay and I am furious with the younger generation who were too idle to get off their backsides and vote. If they had voted in the same numbers as the older generation it would not have happened. So look to yourselves and stop blaming everyone else.

  • 59 Kraggash April 8, 2017, 3:15 pm

    @GRG The % of young voting was reported, initially, incorrectly. It was about 64%.


    That was about the same as the rest of the population, apart from over 65s.

    I asked a relative (over 70 y.o.) why he voted Leave. He said he did it for his children and grandchildren’s sake. Who (I think) voted remain…..


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