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Weekend Reading: Two podcasts on the possible future

Weekend Reading: Two podcasts on the possible future post image

What caught my eye this week.

Long-suffering readers may recall how I failed to follow-up my musings about market regime change with a post on possible investing responses.

It wasn’t through a lack of trying. I have a 3,000-word draft in the Monevator vaults. That version was itself revised several times, too.

The trouble was addressing whether you should shift allocations to equities, bonds, and other asset classes in the face of then very rapidly-shifting expectations for rates, inflation, and economic growth proved impossible in a single blog post – at least for me.

To be honest I felt myself bumping up against my pay grade.

Then a war broke out!

So I put the article on ice.

Despite this outbreak of humbleness, my pondering did prove personally fruitful. It helped me rejig my own portfolio (albeit to mixed result so far).

But I wasn’t ready to give a take to you guys. Especially as the Monevator audience bifurcates dramatically between the majority of passive investors who would (rightly) demand pretty solid reasoning to change anything, and a lovably picky minority of mavens for whom no amount of caveats and other-hands wrapped around necessarily uncertain musings would be enough.

Bridgewater over troubled waters

Happily I felt myself getting off several hooks this week, as I listened to a brilliant Oddlots interview with Bridgewater’s Greg Jensen.

In this podcast the famed hedge fund’s co-chief investment officer surveys the shifting landscape.

At the same time, he also underlines how uncertain current conditions are.

And if Bridgewater isn’t ready to make confident pronouncements, no wonder I was struggling.

That said, an articulate “we don’t know” can be just as valuable at a time like this.

Spiller material

While Jensen frames his take around Bridgewater’s notorious ‘money machine’ view of the global economy, there’s still lots to digest for those of us without a company stuffed with brilliant quants to test and execute our hunches.

But as a companion podcast, you could do worse than follow up with Citywire’s interview with Capital Gearing Trust’s Peter Spiller. (Or to the almost identical one he gave to the Investor’s Chronicle.)

Spiller sees the likely future similarly to Jensen – essentially higher for longer inflation, whatever central banks say, mostly to deal with outsized global debt.

But the legendary UK manager is more old school in his portfolio responses.

Smart plugs

I concede it might have been more helpful to hear these views in February. Taking action on the back of what’s already happened – or been priced in – is rarely a stellar idea.

Moreover these views of the how things will unfold could well be wrong. Spiller in particular doesn’t prevaricate much.

Still, you could do much worse than get your AirPods on this weekend if you’ve been wondering why this year’s volatility has provoked more soul-searching than usual. (Besides the fact that US markets have been on their longest losing streak since 2001 – the Dow since 1923 – before rallying this week.)

Also do take a ride on Crossrail if you live in London.1 It’s well worth the wait.

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

From Monevator

The student loan: how the government provides low-cost career insurance to graduates – Monevator

The best global trackers, and how to choose between them – Monevator

From the archive-ator: A mortgage is money rented from a bank – 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!2

US markets finally snap a two-month losing streak – CNBC

Populist government in Hungary slaps a $2.5bn windfall tax on companies… – Yahoo Finance

…and Britain’s populist government follows suit with a £5bn tax on energy firms… – Guardian

…the UK’s levy will help fund a multi-billion pound package to ease the cost of living crisis – Sky

…but do the Chancellor’s sums add up to a promised £37bn in relief? – BBC

What are the cost of living payments, and how much can you get? – Guardian

A striking U-turn to alleviate the UK cost of living crisis [Search result]FT

Salaries for newly-qualified lawyers in London are now well into six-figures – Legal Careers

Tens of thousands of people leaving Hong Kong as democracy dissolves – CNBC

It’s bad that Bitcoin is down, but worse that it’s now correlated with tech stocks – Morningstar

Products and services

Nine pensioner perks and benefits to boost your income – Which

Number of equity release plans available triples in a year – ThisIsMoney

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

What’s happening to house prices? – Which

Premium Bond prize rate increases to 1.4% – Be Clever With Your Cash

Mass buying of bunting and other disposable crap ahead of platinum jubilee – Guardian

Tourists headed to South West urged to consider ethics of second homes – Guardian

Which insurers will cover your electric car? – Which

Even the share trading boom has been clobbered by the inflation surge – ThisIsMoney

Homes near cricket grounds, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

You can probably time the market – Fortunes & Frictions [Also: There are no bananafish]

Cost of living crisis add to the woes millennials faced before the pandemic [Search result]FT

The five biggest money decisions of your life – Banker on FIRE

Understanding banking and ‘inside money’ [Video] – Cullen Roche on YouTube

Mortgage reform the key to unlocking UK home ownership [Search result]FT

The krone stops here – Humble Dollar

Is it okay to leave all your money to a dog shelter? – Slate

A short history of minimum wage research – Klement on Investing

Financial advice for those who will never have children [US details, but relevant]WSJ

The economy in one episode [Podcast]The New Bazaar

[US] bear market mini-special

Finally, a stock market crash! – Mr Money Mustache

Bull market rhymes – Howard Marks

How not to panic – Of Dollars and Data

Don’t over-emphasize volatility – Novel Investor

An eight-step plan to tackle the bear market – Morningstar

Serenity now – Savant

Every bear market is different – Compound Advisors

Crypt o’ crypto

How crypto disappeared into thin air – The Atlantic

Next month should see a big advance in upgrading the Ethereum network – Fortune

Naughty corner: Active antics

Growth trap snaps shut [PDF]GMO

Conservative investing stands the test of time [Research]Robeco

How inflation affects dividend stocks – UK Dividend Stocks

Some hedge fund strategies that could benefit from higher short-term rates – CAIA

Is private equity still overrated and overvalued? – Verdad

Why active investors should love it if they do it – TraderFeed

Kindle book bargains

Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard – £0.99 on Kindle

The Great Mental Models Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry, Biology by Shane Parrish – £0.99 on Kindle

Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through: The surprising story of Britain’s economy from boom to bust and back again by Duncan Weldon – £0.99 on Kindle

Why You?: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again by James Reed – £0.99 on Kindle

Environmental factors

What would a flying-free world look like? – BBC

How to solve the problem of plastic packaging – Wired

The WeWork dude wants to put carbon credits on the blockchain – Vox

Off our beat

The workers quitting over return-to-work policies – BBC

Endless uncertainty – Morgan Housel

Can positive thoughts really help you live longer? – GQ

The normalization of ‘working through Covid’ – Culture Study

Faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps – BBC

Kylie Minogue, uncorked [Search result]FT

And finally…

“As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live.”
– Richard Branson, Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday! Note this article includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon and Interactive Investor. We may be compensated if you pursue these offers, but that will not affect the price you pay.

  1. More than a third of you do! []
  2. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []
{ 22 comments… add one }
  • 1 Aron May 27, 2022, 11:35 pm

    “Populist government in Hungary slaps a $2.5bn windfall tax on companies… –

    …and Britain’s populist government follows suit with a £5bn tax on energy firms…”

    Very good. Made me laugh.

  • 2 MW May 28, 2022, 12:34 am

    I think the Housel post is entirely on your beat. Thanks again for some great curation and comment.

  • 3 Bernie May 28, 2022, 6:40 am

    Finally got round to listening to the Morgan Housel podcast that was posted a couple of weekends ago. It was excellent.

  • 4 far_wide May 28, 2022, 8:17 am

    Interesting Morningstar article re: correlation of BTC/Tech stocks. I made exactly the same observation on a forum at the same time (5 days ago), and weirdly enough since that very point BTC has diverged. Probably not in the way enthusiasts would like though, as NASDAQ is +7% and BTC -1%.
    The ‘lame version of QQQ’ performance disappointing institutions could be the reason it’s departed entirely this week, or it could be some insidery shenanigans. Or perhaps simply people are tired of the whole premise? We’ll see, always interesting to watch.

  • 5 Jim May 28, 2022, 8:36 am

    @bernie which one was that got a link? I listened to a Tim ferris one a couple of months ago.

  • 6 Pinkney May 28, 2022, 9:27 am

    I listened to the Peter Spiller interview yesterday and was struck by the honesty and clarity of it. Taking a look at the CGT portfolio is an interesting thing to do as well. Obviously lots of short term inflation protection in bonds but some interesting mid term plays in investment trusts and longer term private equity trusts. For sure the next few years are going to be interesting even through it feels like we have already had enough events recently to last a life time. A 10% increase in uk pensions along with upcoming pay reviews for nurses, train drivers etc will be one to watch along with alot of db pensions being capped at a 5% max increase. Plenty to unfold as the compounding destruction of inflation gets to work over the next few years.

  • 7 Jim McG May 28, 2022, 9:28 am

    I’m always on the lookout for good podcasts. I listen to Moneyweek with Merryn Somerset Webb, often just to hoot at the BS bingo fest some of the fund managers spout as they try to infer that they actually know what they’re talking about. I suspect one of my favourites, London Calling with James Delingpole and Toby Young, would wind up many who post here. Yes, they are awful, but I like them. I always find Sam Harris interesting on his Making Sense podcast, but not quite as interesting as Peter Beardsley’s wife Carol when she makes an appearance on Athletico Mince. She never fails to brighten my day, if not Peter’s.

  • 8 Nathan May 28, 2022, 10:14 am

    For the passive investor, a nice calm measured data dive on inflation and portfolio performance over on Portfolio charts. Highlights some interesting divergences and commonalities in US/UK portfolio performance.


  • 9 Ben May 28, 2022, 11:10 am

    Hi @TI, I’d like to request an article on commodity investing. Like OJ’s book “if I did it”. What’s the cheapest way to do it that’s somewhat broadbased

  • 10 The Investor May 28, 2022, 11:30 am

    @Nathan — Oops, must have come out after I compiled. Thanks for the link, Portfolio Charts is always great!

  • 11 ZXSpectrum48k May 28, 2022, 12:44 pm

    “Mortgage reform the key to unlocking UK home ownership”. Got to love the idea that the way to solve falling home ownership is to make lending standards more lax!

    What about just allowing prices to fall? Simples.

  • 12 The Investor May 28, 2022, 2:15 pm

    @all — Thanks as ever for the thoughts!

    @MW — Yes, Housel could go anywhere in the links most weeks. I usually pop him down there because he’s often telling a truth beyond just money and investing. 🙂

    @Aron @Bernie — Cheers!

    @far_wide — I think the easiest answer is a lot of people into high growth stocks (maybe because they work in tech, too) are into crypto. Also BTC is incredibly tightly owned, for all the talk of solving inequality and bringing world peace. And the amount that is actually traded is still low I believe, with all the HODL-ing. I’d bet this will one day be seen as yet another drawdown on the way to higher prices for Bitcoin, but no idea on timeframes. (Disclosure: Still long my 1 BTC haha).

    @Pinkney — I am one of those stick in the muds who still thinks most of the inflation is transient, though I accept it’s now getting a bit embedded after Ukraine and China’s lockdown turned over the board again. (I always thought our own lockdowns would cause more fits and starts than some anticipated, but equally I thought the machine would be humming again by now. I don’t believe that one year of fiscal stimulus (governments more or less sending out cash) in the middle of what would otherwise have been a deep recession changes the direction of inflation after four decades (especially re: technology). Any growing de-globalization might though. Still, these podcasts are persuasive that an indefinite 3-4% might be more likely than I’d thought.

    @Ben — Strangely enough me and @TA were just talking about this. It’s a thorny-ish subject, especially for passive investors. (Basically in theory there’s a diversification benefit, in practice it’s hard to efficiently capture. I’d probably just own some gold). Anyway @TA will perhaps do a deep dive soon-ish.

    @ZXSpectrum48k — I’m sympathetic to the supply/demand argument of course, but I do believe there’s also an issue here of *who* exactly gets to buy. For many years I was paying rent that easily would have covered a mortgage, but I wasn’t able to borrow a sufficient sum. Okay I was a special case with my wacky employment profile, but I’ve seen many lower-paid friends in this situation too. They were basically outbid by landlords for years.

    The changes to buy-to-let taxation has I suspect helped a lot in this department, but there may be a bit more to be done at the margin. Personally I’d prefer a large owner/occupier sector to a larger landlord-renter sector. I know some economists argue high home ownership drags the economy by hitting mobility etc but equally home ownership is a proven wealth generator on an individual level (if only through forced savings) and, equally importantly, a great majority of people would rather own than rent. (Landlords who argue otherwise in my experience invariably own their own home, one exception that proves the rule perhaps being Rob off the Property Podcast!)

  • 13 Bernie May 28, 2022, 10:19 pm

    @Jim it was on the weekend reading on 6th May, in case link below doesn’t work

  • 14 ZXSpectrum48k May 29, 2022, 9:53 am

    @TI. If, socially, you decide you want to favour owner occupiers over BTL landlords (I’d agree with that), then easing lending restrictions for owner occupiers is the wrong approach. Instead, tighten lending for BTL landlords.

    Our regulatory lending framework (Basel etc) favours residential property over all other asset classes for no logical reason except that the public wants it that way. If, instead, we treating BTL property lending just like any other secured business lending, then lending rates would rise making BTL far less attractive. Just make BTL loans 100% or 125% RWA and, boom, job done.

    It’s as easy to make BTL a nasty negative carry position. We could hit BTL landlords with further taxation (LVT please). We could make BTL loans mark-to-market by securitizing them, making landlords vulnerable to margin calls.

    There are many ways we can make BTL lending far less attractive vs. owner occupier lending instead of just making it always cheaper to leverage by relaxing lending standards. Cheap leverage never favours the first time buyer. It just requires the public to want it. They don’t. They just want higher prices.

  • 15 The Rhino May 29, 2022, 12:19 pm

    I wonder what percentage of the population would remain employed if they followed Bransons advice? A triumph of idealism over pragmatism perhaps? If you were to draw a Venn diagram of cultural expectation, talent and desire, he would prob be in the 0.00001% of people where the three circles overlap and fun resides? For everyone else, well something has to give..

  • 16 ermine May 29, 2022, 1:23 pm

    @the Rhino on Branson

    after reading the comment I followed the link to ‘blatherings of some rich twat on how success is so easy anybody could do it”, and from the blurb

    Today we are increasingly aware of the effects of our actions on the environment, and I strongly believe that we each have a responsibility, as individuals and organisations, to do no harm.

    Hmm. wasn’t Branson instrumental in greatly increasing leisure travel, which is perhaps not one of the most harmless things to do given what we know now? I am almost beginning to warm to the sociopathic narcissist Elon Musk who opined that

    It has been raining money on fools for too long. Some bankruptcies need to happen.

    Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad 😉

    @TI > I thought the machine would be humming again by now.

    Ever read E.M.Forster’s The Machine Stops?

  • 17 Tom-Baker Dr Who May 29, 2022, 5:25 pm

    @TI – You’ve briefly mentioned Bridgewater’s brilliant quants above, I think most people would agree that in quant investing today, nobody can beat Renaissance’s Jim Simons.

    Long before anyone knew what a quant was though, there was one remarkable person who pioneered many of the quant ideas that we now take for granted, including discovering and using for trading the Black and Scholes equation well before the famous paper was written: Ed Thorp. Thorp invested some of Buffett’s money in the beginning of Buffett’s career. He built the first wearable computer with Claude Shannon to calculate the most likely numbers for a given run of a roulette wheel. Thorp invented an algorithm that allowed him to win repeatedly at Blackjack in Las Vegas until he was banned from entering casinos. He discovered the Madoff ponzi scheme well before it all collapsed.

    Most interesting is his view on having enough and on the withdrawal rate for perpetual growth of a portfolio. Tim Ferris interviewed him this week. I think it is a fascinating interview not to be missed. If anyone is interested, here is the link:

  • 18 Al Cam May 30, 2022, 1:11 am

    @Tom-Baker Dr Who (#17):
    Excellent interview.
    Alternative version with video and an annotated timeline is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNvz91Jyzbg

  • 19 The Investor May 30, 2022, 10:58 am

    @TheRhino — I read both Branson’s biographies a few years ago. I enjoyed them and I think they influenced me. Which, to your point, is probably why I am typing this on a Monday morning in my shorts in a flat in Zone 3 of London rather than in a swishy office continuing to move up the corporate ladder in town somewhere *but* equally to his point is perhaps a contributing factor as to why I’m typing this in my shorts etc etc 😉

    @ermine — I have not, I’ll give it a Google. Musk is great, in the way characters in Greek legends are great. 😉

    @TBDW — Well I mentioned Bridgewater’s quants because the guy in the podcast is from Bridgewater. 🙂 Their quants are plenty good measured by ordinary mortal terms. I read the Ed Thorp biography a few years ago, and was a bit disappointed. Not because he wasn’t a brilliant innovator, as you suggest, but because he was basically demonstrably brilliant. There wasn’t much I felt I could really take from it, being at best someone who has good days…! 😉 A bit like the Simmon’s biography last year or the year before.

    I’ll check out the podcast though, cheers. I think Ferris is a great interviewer, I was one of his first podcast subscribers (basing that on the fact I was subscribed within days of him launching) but I sort of burned out on him after a few years. Perhaps egged on by jealousy at his Uber billions if I’m to be unstintingly and unflatteringly honest about myself 😐

  • 20 Jim McG May 31, 2022, 7:09 am

    Thanks for the link to the Tim Ferris podcast. I did like Thorp’s musings on having “enough” until I googled his net worth and found it was £800m. I’m sure life on Newport Beach will be quite fulfilling when you have that in the bank! I’m another Ferris fan who lapsed, feeling that he could do with a good editor on many of his podcasts (like Joe Rogan). However, when he has a good subject, his format is hard to beat.

  • 21 Seeking Fire May 31, 2022, 8:30 am

    really interesting podcasts.

    I’m just a casual observer and I’m well engrained in the view that no-one know what’s going to happen in the short term, despite what they are paid to say (!) but I’m increasingly of the view that inflation is going to be far more sticky than we think particularly in the UK. Govt nominally pretending to be fiscally astute casually notes that benefits and state pension will rise by inflation this year. We read minimum wage needed of £15 and one can only assume wage negotiations for public sector will be on the basis that workers are looking for double digit increases. And why not. Can’t blame them / not criticising but it feels an improved environment for sustained inflation.

    I continue just to largely buy $TIPS (unhedged), Global Equities and Gold having enough cash reserves to last me for a while.

    I also liked the Thorp podcast without too much actionable but I loved his comment on independence. Nice comment Jim MG on enough (!). I still think his comment on independence works very well at much much lower levels of course.

    Branson – screw just do it royally irks me as does anyone who witters on about climate change and then regularly travels the globe by flight.

  • 22 Al Cam May 31, 2022, 7:19 pm

    @Tom-Baker Dr Who (#17):
    The idea of a perpetual portfolio (or endowment, if you prefer) is very important; but it seems to get very little air time in the UK. I know of quite a few papers/studies from the US – but nothing from this side of the pond. Are you aware of any UK-based work in this area?

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