What caught my eye this week.
Very interesting news this week from Belgium is not a phrase that has grown stale from overuse.
But as the world gropes towards a better post-pandemic work-life balance I read:
…workers in Belgium will soon be able to choose a four-day week under a series of labour market reforms announced on Tuesday.
The reform package agreed by the country’s multi-party coalition government will also give workers the right to turn off work devices and ignore work-related messages after hours without fear of reprisal.
“We have experienced two difficult years. With this agreement, we set a beacon for an economy that is more innovative, sustainable and digital. The aim is to be able to make people and businesses stronger,” Belgian prime minister Alexander de Croo told a press conference.
Ten years ago you sought financial independence to get out of a stifling office culture. It was about finding a better balance between making ends meet and the freedom to control what you did and when.
Capitalism co-opts and exploits – one big reason it’s so successful. What was rebellious in the 1960s was mainstream youth culture by the 1990s, for example.
4% for all
While it’s hardly a serious prospect, some have wondered: what would happen to economic growth if FIRE1 went mainstream?
They’ve even couched the less productive population that might result as morally irresponsible.
But while it’s an equally unlikely prospect, I wonder: what would happen if it was the other way around, and the mainstream went FIRE?
Could more of us end up – whisper it – happy at work?
Quantitative tightening and you – Monevator
What is the cause of high inflation? – Monevator
From the archive-ator: Stocks and shares ISAs: Everything you need to know – 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
UK wage growth lags rising cost of living – BBC
Rents rising at fastest rate for five years [albeit only 2%…] – Guardian
Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland to close these 56 branches in 2022 – Which
Covid bounceback loan or grant on record could cost you a mortgage – ThisIsMoney
Developers face ban on building new homes if they don’t pay to deal with cladding – Which
MoneySupermarket expecting zero revenue from energy switching due to lack of any meaningful choice for consumers – ThisIsMoney
Basic income: Wales pilot project offers £1,600 a month to care leavers – BBC
Government’s 5% mortgage guarantee scheme has been a damp squib – ThisIsMoney
The looming threat of long financial Covid [Search result] – FT
Products and services
How to be a savvier shopper at the supermarket – ThisIsMoney
NS&I doubles the rate on Green Savings Bonds to 1.3% – Moneyfacts
Is it worth taking the Open University’s free ‘midlife money MOT’? – ThisIsMoney
Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor
Will insurance cover Storm Eunice and how do you claim? – Guardian
Can smart meters really drive down energy bills? – ThisIsMoney
Power of Attorney in desperate need of overhaul – Which
How (and why) you might invest in forestry funds – ThisIsMoney
Homes for those inspired by the Winter Olympics, in pictures – Guardian
Comment and opinion
A down-to-earth story of striving to financial independence by 33 – Humble Dollar
The psychology of the meme stock ‘revolution’ – Spencer Jakab
Boomer mathematics: why the old can’t understand the young – New Statesman
Facade – Indeedably
Larry Swedroe: market declines are normal – Advisor Perspectives
Here’s why diversification rarely feels good – Peter Lazaroff
Nine reasons why active investing is difficult – Banker on Wheels
10 lessons learned from 10 years pursuing financial independence – Aussie FIRE Bug
FIRE RIP – Tawcan
Progress in economics – Klement on Investing
More on inflation mini-special
Why are inflation-protected bond funds losing money? – Morningstar
The inflation hedges haven’t hedged – Morningstar
Why the stock market doesn’t like high inflation – A Wealth of Common Sense
Crypt o’ crypto
When you count users instead of dollars, the NFT world is tiny [Search result] – FT
Why proof-of-work staking offers eye-popping returns – Business of Business
Regulators have cryptocurrencies in their sights [Search result] – FT
Legendary VC Sequoia’s new $600m active coin/token trading fund – The Block
Naughty corner: Active antics
Leaving the casino: how active investing can mess you up – Calvin Rosser
Revaluing the mega tech behemoths – Musings on Markets
Will this truly, finally, be ‘the year of the stock picker’? [Search result] – FT
Covid etc corner
The trouble with one-way masking – Slate
So can I eat on the bus again? And other post-pandemic concerns… – Guardian
…though sadly not everyone can get out and about now – Guardian
Kindle book bargains
Real Life Money by Clare Seal – £0.99 on Kindle
The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy – £0.99 on Kindle
The Joy for Work by Bruce Daisley – £0.99 on Kindle
The Perils of Perception by Bobby Duffy – £0.99 on Kindle
Can going green (with renewable energy ITs) fight inflation? – ThisIsMoney
Merryn S.W.: divesting fossil fuel stocks is so last year [Search result] – FT
More than eight million trees were lost in the UK this winter – BBC
Off our beat
A reminder of why I too sometimes delete comments on Monevator:
The problem with unmoderated online spaces is that a few people will always ruin them. Most conflicts between Reddit can be traced to a handful of active users with a history of angry comments. A mere 0.1% of all Reddits generate 38% of attacks on others, and 1% accounts for 74%. pic.twitter.com/yMbZLFAs78
— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) February 5, 2022
[The comment policy on Monevator is there isn’t one. This is a dictatorship. I delete comments on my whim. Almost always the comment will be troll-ish or abusive but maybe I got out of bed the wrong side. Who knows? That’s the policy. I typically only delete one or two comments a week. Thanks to the 99% of posters who make our comments a great discussion forum!]
The thing about a gold rush – Seth’s Blog
Your next job interview could be with a robot – Axios
Seven habits that lead to happiness in old age – The Atlantic
The man who really feels your pain – BBC
An ancient language has defied translation for 100 years. Can AI crack the code? – ROW
“The ease of online dealing makes many people act as if investing was positively scored, but the arithmetic of compounding dictates that it is really negatively scored. Success in investing consists mainly of avoiding big mistakes.”
– Guy Thomas, Free Capital
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