What caught my eye this week.
There are always a bunch of stories in The Financial Times worth including in Weekend Reading. Unlike most of the online media landscape – see the mini-special in the links below – the subscriber-funded FT goes from strength to strength.
Of course like anyone who believes their favourite outlet is unbiased, I guess the FT confirms all mine.
Free but regulated markets: good. A social contract and welfare state: fine too.
This stuff should be obvious by now, but apparently it’s not.
Brexit bad, obviously. But even better the FT isn’t signed up to the omertà code that apparently prevents others admitting the whole thing is a costly crock, whether out of fear of annoying Blimp-ish readers, politicians, proprietors – or all three.
A wolf with teeth
Here’s veteran economics commentator Martin Wolf on fine form this week on the bitter lessons of Brexit [search result]:
In sum, this supposed liberation has greatly curtailed the freedom of many millions of people on both sides.
Whose freedom has it increased? That of British politicians. They can act more freely than they could when bound by EU rules.
What have they done with this freedom? They have lied about (or, worse, failed to understand) what they agreed over the Northern Ireland Protocol. They have threatened to break international law. They even proposed eliminating thousands of pieces of legislation inherited from EU membership, regardless of the consequences.
These people have, in sum, destroyed the country’s reputation for good sense, moderation and decency. All this is a natural result of the classic populist blend of paranoia, ignorance, xenophobia, intolerance of opposition and hostility to constraining institutions.
Take that, Torygraph.
Whose history is it, anyway
But the main reason I love the FT – and I’m a paid-up subscriber – is its business and markets coverage. Not perfect, but at the least not reliably clueless like the competition.
In large part that’s down to its specialist journalists. A species that’s in danger of becoming extinct.
The world is moving to a model where we hear directly from sector experts for information and opinion, without any savvy writer as an intermediary. (Clue is in the word, eh?) Think X/Twitter, YouTube, blogs. This has pros and cons, but so did having a professional writer work the same beat for decades.
On that score I enjoyed John Plender’s lessons from a lifetime in investment yesterday [search result].
When I started learning about investing I read about Ross Goobey – the guru who transformed the Imperial Tobacco pension scheme – all the time. I wonder how many have heard of him now? Plender writers:
So great were the returns that Imperial enjoyed pension contribution holidays for years.
Other institutional investors followed suit by dropping gilts in favour of ordinary shares. Ross Goobey was credited with founding what came to be known as ‘the cult of the equity’.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter. The article’s point is partly that markets change. The globalisation of history and perspective has been part of all that.
Still it’s a bit of a shame that investing lore in the UK has become so American-ised.
Holy Taxman, Batman!
Finally, the FT has fun as only insiders can do, through its FT Alphaville blog-like section.
This week’s romps included a deep dive into HMRC vs action figures: the face off [search result] – a battle about what constitutes a human.
The language wouldn’t be out of place in an absurdist drama:
Are the people in Game of Thrones people?
It’s a question most of us probably don’t ever think about, but that might just come up if you’re a judge.
It quickly gets bonkers – “The character is a powerful mutant who is able to control magnetism through which he manipulates metal objects. This is a superpower which human beings do not have. The figure represents a non-human creature” – but I don’t want to overdo the quoting.
Will we pay for it?
As per the mini-special in the links below, the media landscape is imploding.
Ads long ago ruined websites via the incentive of clickbait desperately stirred up to try and tempt crumbs of traffic away from social platforms. Google, Meta, and TikTok take most of the money anyway. People under 30 mostly watch video.
Again, does it matter? I guess we’ll soon find out.
I suspect it does, and even that there’s becoming almost a moral case for paying for at least one or two media outlets you’d like to see survive. I’m biased – we have our own dog in the game – but I’ve also put my money where my mouth is with the FT and others and I’m rarely disappointed.
Have a great weekend.
Freetrade UK Treasury bills: what’s on offer, is it any good? – Monevator
From the archive-ator: Adrift in the darkness en route to FIRE – Monevator
Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view click through to read the article. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing to sites you visit a lot.
Rents outside London hits record £1,280 a month – This Is Money
Scottish government admits freeze caused rents to skyrocket – Scottish Express
Net inflows plummet at St James’s Place [Search result] – FT
Netflix subscribers surge to 261m after password sharing crackdown – Sky
Where have all the tech unicorns gone…? – BBC
…London A.I. firm with 29-year old founder achieves $1bn valuation – E.S.
China fears are driving a new ‘A.I. industrial complex’ – Axios
Wise and Skype founders raise $436m to build tech giants in Europe – CNBC
Adding even a little Bitcoin dramatically alters a portfolio – Morningstar
Products and services
Biggest cuts to one-year bond and ISA rates in 15 years – This Is Money
Government considers ‘radical’ approach with 1% deposit mortgage – FTA
Sainsbury’s Bank to withdraw from the market – Which
Nationwide fuels mortgage war with lowest rates in eight months – Guardian
Paying monthly makes car insurance even pricier – Which
A guide to supermarket loyalty schemes – Be Clever With Your Cash
Energy-efficient homes for sale, in pictures – Guardian
Comment and opinion
How you average matters – Fortunes & Frictions
The three types of investing mistake – Behavioural Investment
Identity economics – Money With Katie
Can you afford to live to 100? – Which
New all-time highs for the US stock market – A Wealth of Common Sense
Some friendly advice for would-be retirees – Humble Dollar
It’s time to bury the 4% rule for good… – Think Advisor
…and, if you agree, some alternative strategies – Morningstar
An M2 (money supply) primer [Geeky, interesting] – Carson Group
China is a basket-case mini-special
Dropping China – Humble Dollar
China’s GDP from 1992: $500Bn to $18 trillion. Its market? 0% – Cullen Roche
Naughty corner: Active antics
FTSE 250 valuation and forecast – UK Dividend Stocks
The investment trusts paying 5%+ dividend yields – This Is Money
Equities not priced for recession, says Personal Assets Trust – Trustnet
The IPO window is re-opening in the US… – Axios
…with Reddit seeking an IPO in March – Reuters
…but alas for the atrophying UK stock market [Search result] – FT
Bloomberg’s first generative AI tool hits the terminal – Institutional Investor
Coinbase is at the nexus of Bitcoin risk and reward – Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance
Kindle book bargains
The Good Enough Job by Simone Stolzoff – £0.99 on Kindle
What They Don’t Teach You About Money by Claer Barrett – £1.99 on Kindle
Factfulness: 10 Reasons We’re Wrong About The World by Hans Rosling – £0.99 on Kindle
Make Your Bed: Feel Grounded and Think Positive by William McRaven – £0.99 on Kindle
Plastic bag bans work, study finds – Semafor
Renewable power set to surpass coal by 2025 – Scientific American
Underground hydrogen find in France sparks clean energy hopes – Guardian
The sea horse black market is bustling in Brazil – Hakai
How Tesla’s Model Y became Europe’s first electric bestseller – This Is Money
Written media is dying mini-special
Platforms killed Pitchfork – Platformer
Soon a day will come that none of this exists – Discourse
The prestige recession – Yancey Strickler
The glory of Sports Illustrated – Joe Blogs
At least 8,000 journalism job cuts in UK and North America in 2023 – Press Gazette
Off our beat
UK citizen army: Preparing the ‘pre-war generation’ for conflict – BBC
The forgotten genius who changed British food – Guardian
Why the Davos smart set sound so dumb – Politico
The tremendous yet troubled state of video games in 2024 – Mathew Ball
Decoding ‘story’ – Seth’s blog
He sold staples – Humble Dollar
Why is LinkedIn so cringe? – Satpost
Bank of America sending warning letters to home workers… – Guardian
“Gunning for average is your best shot at finishing above average.”
– John C. Bogle, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
A walk down memory lane, followed by all the latest money and investing reads…
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