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Yeah, Brexit, then the rest of the week’s good reads.

The news is not good but it is official: at midnight 31 January 2020 an armistice is in effect between the forces of Remain and Brexit.

The four-year long war is over. Remain lost.

The terms of the armistice agreement – or ‘surrender deal’ as many will call it – will be tough to swallow for Remain’s exhausted troops.

But given the decisive victory for the Brexit Barmy Army in the climactic 12 December 2019 battle, fighting on was hopeless.

The key concessions granted from 31 January:

  • British citizens and their children give up their birthright to live in any of the EU’s 27 member countries.
  • British citizens and their children also lose their automatic right to travel and work in any of the 27 countries.
  • Britain will pay £33bn to our former ally, the EU, over the next four decades.
  • UK companies can no longer be assured of access to the EU’s ongoing market of 450 million consumers and its £13.5 trillion economy.
  • British companies can no longer assume they can recruit vital and skilled workers from the EU.
  • Britain will exclude itself forever from the trade and political deals made between the EU and its fellow superpowers the US and China, and will have to acquiesce to innumerable rules and regulations imposed by Brussels without our input.

After four years of bitter struggle, this is tough to read.

And nothing can bring back the £130 billion the Brexit War has already cost the UK.

Some who fought in key skirmishes such as The Battle of the Enemies of the People will never forget the blows to our institutions in the fighting.

Historians will dissect the conflict for generations. After all, when a million people marched for Remain compared to the barely 300 that muddled about for Brexit, it seemed the tide was turning.

But whether by winning hearts and minds or by bamboozling brains, the forces of Brexit triumphed.

Blitzed spirit

Of course an armistice – a cessation of hostilities – is not a peace treaty, let alone a Marshall Plan.

With Brexit’s leaders struggling to articulate a strategy that fits the facts on the ground, it’s difficult to be optimistic about Britain’s potential to make great gains from here.

One Brexit commander, Michael Gove, is already briefing UK business that it will indeed be impossible to secure friction-less trade with the EU, under the government’s own vision of Brexit.

But this is the same side that said we’d pay not a penny to the EU – compared to £33bn – so who knows what other reversals lie ahead.

Even more than money, one wonders about the long-term consequences of the conflict and its ramifications on the social fabric.

A campaign to raise money to have ‘Big Ben Bong for Brexit’ raised a feeble £273,000 and received only 14,000 donations (£50,000 of that from one key Brexit backer), underscoring the lack of euphoria across much of the nation.

Indeed many Brexiteers still seem incredibly angry despite their victory, frothing and waving Union Jacks as they marched out of Brussels.

This contrasted with our former allies in the EU singing Auld Lang Syne to wish us a fond farewell.

Barry Island

Set against all that, Britain is a wealthy nation.

Admittedly its economic output is but a fraction of the mighty EU perched off our shores.

But we will muddle through. Poorer, almost for sure, and more isolated by definition. But not broken, as Barry would no doubt stress.

Perhaps our leaders will look to the example of post-WW2, when the ruined nations of Europe came together – barely a decade after killing millions of each other – to form the European Union.

The formation of the EU ushered in a golden age of peace, prosperity, and cooperation the likes of which we’d never before seen.

Let’s hope we’re so lucky.

From Monevator

How much wealth do I need in my ISA versus my SIPP to achieve financial independence? – Monevator

Getting hands-on with your budget with Money DashboardMonevator

From the archive-ator: Review: How To Make A Million – Slowly, by John Lee – Monevator

News

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!1

UK house price growth at 14-month high, says the Nationwide – BBC

UK interest rates held as economy shows signs of picking up – BBC

MPs’ report calls for inheritance tax to be replaced by 10% tax and a death allowance – ThisIsMoney

London stock traders push to shorten their day by 90 minutes – Bloomberg

Portugal set to curb tax breaks for wealthy foreigners [Search result]FT

(Click to enlarge)

What happened to UK house prices over the past 174 years? – ThisIsMoney

Products and services

The best deals on interest-free overdrafts [Search result]FT

The best apps to get fit with your friends: from Fitbit to StravaGuardian

RateSetter will pay you £20 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest just £10 for a year – RateSetter

Disgraced Neil Woodford’s smaller Income Focus fund will reopen on February 13 –ThisIsMoney

Homes with unusual roofs [Gallery]Guardian

We both get a free share if you open an account with FreeTrade and fund it with £1 – FreeTrade

Fintech mini-special

Vizualising the current landscape of the fintech industry – Visual Capitalist

Every company will be a fintech company – Angela Strange/a16z

Comment and opinion

Why market timing can be so appealing – Of Dollars and Data

Buffett’s bet against hedge funds revisited – Humble Dollar

Do recessions need to happen? – Cullen Roche

“I made headlines as a personal finance guru. Within months, I was drowning in debt”Guardian

Putting the next market downturn into perspective – A Wealth of Common Sense

Art as an asset class: Evidence from John Maynard Keynes [Research, PDF]Oxford Academic

The hidden risk [not all…] FIRE investors miss – Movement Capital

Nobody wants your shit – Abnormal Returns

The investment impact of an ageing population – The Evidence-based Investor

Naughty corner: Active antics

Stop worrying and learn to love momentum – Klement on Investing

Pondering power prices and premiums – IT Investor

Politics and Brexit

The seven stages of Remainer grief – UnHerd

Martin Wolf: Britain after Brexit will not be alone, but it will be lonelier [Search result]FT

Why one left-wing Brexiteer won’t be celebrating Brexit Day – UnHerd

Can you still live in the EU after Brexit Day and other questions answered – BBC

Kindle book bargains

[Note: These prices will expire end of Friday 31 January.]

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth by Tom Burgis – £0.99 on Kindle

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo – £0.99 on Kindle

Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang – £1.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

The two key questions that will determine if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a pandemic – Vox

Different kinds of easy – Morgan Housel

Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time – BBC

Stay quiet and get to work: Why you shouldn’t share your goals – Art of Manliness

And finally…

“Looking for a manager who will beat the market for you over the next 20 or more years is like looking for a needle in the proverbial investment universe haystack.”
– Tim Hale, Smarter Investing

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  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”.

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