Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

I was woken this week at 2am by a Metropolitan police helicopter circling overhead. Quite annoying, considering what a feat it was to get to sleep in the first place in the heatwave.

Fear not, dear reader! The fuzz wasn’t about to rappel into my garden, kick down my back door, and bust open my piggy bank on suspicion of my having stashed an undeclared and surprisingly tiny Russian oligarch in there.

No, the helicopter was in pursuit of a stolen vehicle, as well as searching “nearby open spaces” for one of the thieves who’d bailed.

I know this because of MPSintheSky, the improbably named Twitter account where London’s airborne finest report what they’re up to.

And it’s surprisingly effective. The Twitter account, I mean.

Before Twitter, these helicopters circling overhead had seemed one step from the capital becoming a Mega City One of Judge Dredd’s worst nightmare.

But when you read that a human being is up there looking for a missing person or even a mugger, it’s easier to fall snugly unconscious again.

Where did all the criminals go?

Do the Met’s choppers also cut crime? I’ve no idea, but it’s possible – because something has.

In another stick in the eye for grumpy 50-something middle-class men who think everything has gone to pot – many of whom read Monevator, so I stress my baiting is in their own best interest – crime has been sharply falling across the Western world for years.

Check out this illustration from The Economist this week:

Red area is crime now, blue is crime in 1997.

Red area is crime now, blue is crime in 1997.

Crime has crashed, with the exception of homicide, where I presume a majority of victims know their murderer, and hence you’ll probably learn as much from Shakespeare as you will from CrimeWatch.

Bump offs aside, nobody is quite sure what’s caused the incidence of other crimes to fall so far, so fast, particularly in the UK – and that gives everyone a chance to ride their own hobbyhorses.

The Economist runs through the laundry list, from better policing and improved private security to an aging population, more young people in education, wider access to abortion, and more prisoners behind bars.

Strangely it doesn’t make much of the long economic boom that proceeded the bust in the UK. Nor does it really delve into New Labour’s redistribution efforts, which even I think is worth a nod.

I don’t really have an investing angle, I just thought the graphic was pretty stark. If you can think of a way to make money from the trend then let us all know below.

It’s nice to have some good news to report. Shame the newspapers don’t do so more often.

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: The Guardian reports that a new project to train ex-offenders by renovating derelict houses is to raise money via a bond. The Midlands Together bond offers an eye-catching return of 14%, and has the backing of the specialist Triodos Bank. But that 14% is after tax relief, there’s a minimum investment of £20,000, and it’s not a true retail bond so you’ll be stuck holding it for the full five-year term.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

Active investing

  • Are emerging markets worth the bother? [Search result]FT
  • An investor’s greatest enemy: Overconfidence – Motley Fool
  • ‘Strange, diverse’ frontier markets doing well [Video]CityWire
  • Nationwide’s shares lifeline – Peston/BBC
  • What returns can you expect from the US stock market? – Swedroe/CBS

Other stuff worth reading

  • How to minimise inheritance tax [Search result]FT
  • £500 punt on 1980s privatisations is now worth £4,270  – Telegraph
  • Undercover in the ‘learn to trade’ market – The Guardian
  • House prices tipped to rise 18% by 2018 – Telegraph
  • How to fearmonger about the Fed in two easy steps – The Atlantic

Book of the week: You can pick up the Kindle version of Mebane Faber’s Shareholder Yieldfor free this weekend. This book – which looks beyond dividends to all the ways that companies can return cash to shareholders – is aimed at the US market, but most of the principles hold everywhere. And you can hardly go wrong with free!

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  1. Reader Ken notes that: “FT 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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