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What caught my eye this week.

This year has already had more groundhog days than a count among my peers of the top five Bill Murray movies of all-time – but the last few days have really ladled it on.

It was all so six months ago! Johnson at the dispatch box like a kabuki Churchill. Rishi Sunak promising unprecedented state support to applause from the center, anger from the left (not enough!) and anger from the right (far too much!). An eye across the Channel for a sneak preview of what’s up next. R higher (a little) and the market down (a tad).

Like you I have opinions about this miserable virus, and where we’ve come since March. We may look at the same data and profoundly disagree. Covid-19 has something for everyone – a Rorschach test that can make differences over Brexit seem like a lover’s tiff. Unlike Brexit, however, we’ll only know what was the right decision in retrospect.

[Badum tish!]

A difference engine

I was interested in Sunak’s admission that the economy isn’t going back to exactly how it was. Not that it should be a big surprise to anyone. To paraphrase Boromir, one does not simply walk in and out of a 20% recession. Things will break along the way.

Indeed putting epidemiology and macro-economics aside, I have slightly shifted my view on what has changed because of this virus.

I still don’t think capitalism is finished or passive investing is broken or we’ll have to wait 20 years for a positive return from equities or any of the worst fears from the corona-crash. As my dad used to say: “Don’t be silly now.”

But I have come to believe most of us are being affected on a psychological level.

At first I resisted such talk as premature – fodder to fill opinion columns. But I keep seeing friends and family doing strange things or making atypical decisions. Heck, I’m behaving out of character – and I’m a Poundshop Sheldon Cooper.

Reports keep coming in of an exodus from the big cities, a rise in marriage proposals, a surge in the savings rate…

2020 hindsight redefined

Recent generations tended to get named before they’d barely put a foot into Big School.

But the Depression Babies and the Greatest Generation and even the “god damn hippies” earned their epithets after events had done a bit of transpiring.

Will all of us living through this be named like that? The Covid kids? The corona casualties?

If not yet then what about after another six months of restrictions? Or another year of two steps forward, one foot back? Or five years?

I was on the tube last night to visit a friend suffering a nervous breakdown (not wholly unrelated to the virus, incidentally) and everyone was wearing masks and it didn’t seem odd any more at all.

What will this shock do to how we save, spend, and invest? As with everything Covid, the answers probably go both ways.

When I was a teenager I was involved in a life-threatening motor accident and so was one of my closest friends.

I edit a blog focused on saving and investing for your future self. He’s barely saved a penny ever since and lives like Indiana Jones dodging murderous pendulums.

This pandemic is changing us all, at least a little bit. But how?

From Monevator

Should you use cash to bridge the gap between your ISAs and your pension? – Monevator

From the archive-ator: Tax avoidance versus tax evasion versus tax mitigation – 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

Rishi Sunak’s winter plan – here’s how will it affect you – Guardian

Has Sunak done enough for small businesses and the self-employed? – ThisIsMoney

Thousands of traditional retail jobs ‘unviable’ after lockdown, Next boss warns – BBC

UK public finances continue on path to record peacetime deficit [Search result]FT

UK car production slashed almost in half in August on weak global demand for new motors – ThisIsMoney

More than £200m lost to bank transfer fraud in the first half of 2020 – Which

[Click to enlarge]

The Financial Times has added an economic recovery tracker to its data suite – FT

Products and services

Marcus Bank cuts its easy-access rate to 0.7% – ThisIsMoney

NS&I also set to slash savings rates and Premium Bonds prizes – Guardian

Metro has acquired RateSetter; portfolio now to be run-off – Peer2Peer News & RateSetter

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200 – Freetrade

No more £2 and 2p coins to be minted for a decade – Which

How to make your home green and add value to it – ThisIsMoney

Homes for sale by a canal [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

There’s still no such thing as a free lunch – The Financial Bodyguard

When are you going to retire? [Search result]FT

A sceptical look at ESG [Deep dive]Musings on Markets

The end of ‘big weddings’ — and why I won’t be weeping [Search result]FT

Put your portfolio on autopilot and enjoy the ride – Portfolio Charts

How much lifestyle creep is okay? – Of Dollars and Data

The game has changed – The Irrelevant Investor

How benchmarking impacts your decisions – A Wealth of Common Sense

Ultra-low interest rates and QE ‘broke 4% drawdown rule’ – Professional Pensions

Leaving early – Humble Dollar

Naughty corner: Active antics

Was ‘value’ just a hot hand thing? – Albert Bridge Capital

Egregious founder shares. Free money for hedge funds. A cluster***k of competing interests. Welcome to the Great 2020 SPAC Boom – Institutional Investor

Worldwide Healthcare Trust: everybody’s getting old – IT Investor

The realities of growth investing – Valididea

Coronavirus corner with a politics chaser

New local lockdowns in Cardiff and Swansea – Guardian

UK’s Covid-19 R rate could be as high as 1.5 as London is placed on watch-list – Daily Mail

Sadiq Khan urges PM to ban household visits in London to tackle Covid – Guardian

Opinion: Could Sweden have got it right? – BMJ

Four scenarios on how we might develop immunity to Covid-19 – StatNews

Universities should be two-thirds empty to avoid Covid spikes, says expert – Guardian

The core lesson of the Covid-19 heart debate – The Atlantic

Like a Thames whale, Boris Johnson has got stranded at Westminster – Guardian

Kindle book bargains

You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero – £0.99 on Kindle

Radical Uncertainty: Decision Making for an Uncertain Future by Mervyn King – £0.99 on Kindle

The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory by Stephanie Kelton – £0.99 on Kindle

How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis – £0.99 on Kindle

Beliefs, opinions, and stories mini-special

A few rules – Morgan Housel

The spiral of silence – Farnam Street

Dancing with belief – Seth Godin

Off our beat

Why Netflix keeps cancelling shows after just two seasons – Wired

And finally…

“If you survive until tomorrow, it could mean that either a) you are more likely to be immortal or b) that you are closer to death.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Black Swan

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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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