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Weekend reading: Weather or not

Weekend reading

A short hallelujah to the weather, followed by some choice reading from around the web.

Incredibly, it’s sunny in London. What a difference it makes after all the snow, slush, and arctic blasts of what seemed a six-month winter.

Like health, you can’t really buy the weather. Yes, you can buy an aspirin, and yes you can emigrate to Australia. But you can’t dial up the sun on demand like a Domino’s pizza.

One quick way of re-appreciating your good fortune, weather-wise, is to visit a loved one in hospital. A person who can’t leave, ‘ideally’ (as in ideally for this experiment to work, not for your unfortunate acquaintance).

I’ve noticed long-term hospital residents often stare out of the windows when it’s sunny. Or at other times they turn their back on it, and seem unable to bear what they can’t enjoy. The more fortunate are wheeled to sit in some sunny spot besides the bins and the smokers on crutches, to feel the warmth on their skin. It’s a foreign holiday for them.

The incurable and the dying seem to inhabit windowless, weather-less rooms – I’ve seen this more than once in NHS hospitals. Perhaps there are logistical reasons. Perhaps it’s cruel. Or perhaps it’s some long ago learned wisdom about how best to let go.

This is a blog about money. But the best things in life really are free, if only in the sense that they can’t be bought with money.

From the money and investing blogs

Mainstream money media

  • A flat £140 a week UK state pension from the UK state – DWP
  • 70 or bust: Pension revamp not radical enough – The Economist
  • RBS is readying a UK small cap index tracker – The Motley Fool
  • Why investors shouldn’t care about the economy – Business Insider
  • Twitter predicts the performance of stocks – Venturebeat & BBC
  • German judge rules rich lists are in the public interest – WSJ
  • I’m turning my back on boring Buffett- Merryn/FT
  • The many delusions of risks and returns – FT
  • Savers urged to snap up new ISAs – FT
  • Hidden stars can shine just as brightly – FT
  • Gold reaches an all-time high of $1,457 per  ounce – Telegraph
  • What’s the cost of beating the NHS waiting list? – Telegraph
  • Drop in mortgage lending since last year – Telegraph
  • Take years off your mortgage – The Guardian

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • 1 Moneycone April 9, 2011, 12:34 pm

    Nice roundup M! The Forbes fictional rich list was very unique!

  • 2 Len Penzo April 9, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Wise words, as usual, Investor. Enjoy the sun while it’s still out. There are still more than a couple months ’til summer.

    For what it’s worth, Southern California has had an unusually cool winter too — although the sun was never in short supply. 🙂

    All the best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com

  • 3 Alex April 9, 2011, 8:29 pm

    1. Hi TI, as ever, thanks for this.

    2. That FT article, “Hidden stars can shine just as brightly”, is disappointing. I do wish the FT wouldn’t promulgate the all-pervasive cult of the ‘star’ fund manager. Here the FT should be much more sceptical (in my opinion).

  • 4 The Investor April 9, 2011, 9:45 pm

    @Alex – Thanks for your thoughts. You are of course right – The Sunday Times is the worst for about a 20:1 ratio of active fund comment to passive articles – but equally I put the link in the reading list here, which reflects, well, my occasional deviation from the one true way.

    Whereas my fellow blogger The Accumulator is a pure indexer, I do dabble with the darker side with a portion of my portfolio – fully expecting divergent returns from a pure passive strategy, with those returns potentially being negative! (And let’s not even talk about risk adjusted…)

    @Len – Yes, though in the UK we can’t rely on summer by the calendar. In retrospect, this warm weekend will probably be our lot!

  • 5 ermine April 9, 2011, 11:57 pm

    > I do dabble with the darker side with a portion of my portfolio

    I would be a bit disturbed to see you dabbling as far as active funds 😉

    I’ve never seen a windowless room as a visitor to a hospital. Always thought that was considered bad form…

  • 6 The Investor April 10, 2011, 10:16 am

    @ermine – The furthest I go with my dabbling is quoted investment trusts. (e.g. I hold RIT Capital Partners). I’ve been watching Nick Train’s trusts (mentioned in the FT) for years but missed my chance to buy on a discount.

    Train’s trust is expensive compared to a tracker but by the measure of active funds it’s not too bad. The big generalist investment trusts are far better again – they usually have TERs down around 0.5%, which is enough to see The Accumulator reach for his ice bucket, but which I consider a reasonable fee for dabbling. (Compare with 5% initial plus 1.5%+ on active OIECs). Watching certain managers also informs some of my active share trading.

    Usually my buying of an IT is more about asset exposure than the manager, all that said. If the manager has a consistent style over the years, the distinction becomes somewhat moot.

    RE: The hospital rooms, the one I am particular thinking of had windows out to a corridor (nurse desk etc) but not to the world. It had extremely old / terminal looking patients in it. I visited the room next door a couple of years ago, and the thought still haunts me.

  • 7 Alex April 10, 2011, 4:38 pm

    1. Your Jan 2009 post on RIT Capital Partners is instructive. There you rightly say that the then TER of 1.38% is not cheap.

    2. However, now it’s even worse: 1.80% (source: the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) website). In fact, RIT Capital Partners currently has the third highest TER of the 30 ITs in the Global Growth AIC Sector.

    3. That said, I notice it’s trading at a premium (3.9%) right now – so you can’t be the only fan! RIT Capital Partners is one of only four trusts in that sector on a premium – indeed, its premium is the highest of those four.

  • 8 The Investor April 10, 2011, 9:21 pm

    @Alex – It’s also beaten the FTSE 100 since then if I recall correctly, though that’s not a particularly comparable index and I suspect would largely represent the discount closing to that premium.

    I love all this esoterica, I could never bear to hold just four trackers and a gilt ladder, let alone love it enough to blog about it. Love won’t necessarily equal profit, and I understand those who are happy to round down and delete ‘necessarily’ from that statement!

  • 9 Obelia April 13, 2011, 12:30 pm

    A good while ago, I spent some time as a patient on an Intensive Care Unit and really wished I could look out of the window. You’re right, it makes a big difference.

    However, it’s not all doom and gloom. A few years later, the hospital where I was working (St Mary’s, London) refurbished its ICU, and I noticed that all its beds were capable of being turned round to face the window. Not only that, but for patients who for some reason couldn’t be turned round or couldn’t see out, the TV screen above the bed had the option to be tuned to a webcam showing the view out of the window! I thought this was a great idea.

  • 10 The Investor April 14, 2011, 12:10 am

    @Obelia – Thanks very much for sharing your experiences, and I hope you’re enjoying better luck now. I’m very glad to hear about those bed options!

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