The Full English Accompaniment – Idle Speculation

The effects of COVID-19 have extended into all walks of life. Most of us have been distracted by the stock market crash, bare shops, lack of social contact and the spectre of death stalking the land. In the meanwhile the housing market has also been shuttered, with BoJo & Co telling people to delay house moves and cancel viewings until after it’s all over (1, 2). In an industry that was already wounded, these effects may be the death knell for staggering companies. The post-COVID-19 probate boom looks a long way ahead. Not that any of this matters, since companies like Halifax/ Lloyds and Barclays are pulling their mortgage products (3, 4). Staffing rather than liquidity apparently. Though the use of repayment holidays and the inability to survey property for pricing is definitely going to feed into it (5, 6). Like most things in these uncertain times, we’re not going to know the truth of it until we’re out of the crisis zone.

In such times speculation reigns supreme. We turn to ‘experts’ for advice on the stock market (7). Misunderstanding, misinterpretation of the facts and conspiracy theories are spreading. During the first 4 weeks of January 2020 there were over 15 million Twitter posts on the topic (8). Those posts are unlikely to give a balanced view of the science. To quote Joana Gonçalves-Sá and her Nature Medicine commentary:

“Overall, it is possible that people sharing such misinformation overestimate their ability to understand very complex problems and might be experiencing a form of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that people are often more confident than they are knowledgeable. This may be exacerbated by a lack of trust in institutions, be they governments, the pharmaceutical industry, or the traditional media.” (8)

Our old friend the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The argument to explain Trump. We’re unaware of our overconfidence when we should be demonstrating intellectual humility. The world is full of cognitive blind spots (9).

Image Credit: (9)

Social media is the vector in the viral spread of disinformation (8, 10). I really love this tongue-in-cheek article on Medium, framing it as DKE-19 (10).

“Signs of DKE-19 generally appear 3–5 days after learning that the word “epidemiology” is not the study of skin diseases…

DKE-19 is in the same family of misinformation viruses as the one that caused the b00m3R-FB outbreak in 2016. It is transmitted person-to-person through a variety of means, including listening to/repeating bullshit while on the toilet (“feco-aural transmission”), and sharing dirty tweedles.” (10)

Image Credit: (10)

The amount of misinformation out there is frankly staggering, so don’t contribute to it. Engage social media distancing. Pick relevant and trusted providers. As a starter, try Richard Lehman’s weekly round up in BMJ Opinion (11). Tomas Pueyo’s excellent The Hammer and The Dance, with 10 million views, is a longer explanatory piece (12). As for day to day updates, if you really fancy pushing your knowledge meddit has a daily Megathread for COVID-19 discussing the latest science – here’s the 28th/29th (13). The subreddit is for medical professionals only and layperson questions/ comments will be deleted. It’s heavily moderated, and layered in medic-chat. You likely need a medic on tap just to wade through our acronyms/ slang/ approach, but the discussions of the latest science and data are detailed and there’s some amazing views from the frontline. Choose your sources wisely, and cut the crap.

Keep handwashing, and take care!

The Shrink

COVID-19:

Life goes on:

Comment/ Opinion:

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/26/housing-market-frozen-by-government-during-coronavirus-lockdown
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52051174
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/mar/26/halifax-withdraws-majority-of-mortgages-coronavirus
  4. https://www.financialreporter.co.uk/mortgages/barclays-withdraws-almost-all-mortgage-products-above-60-ltv.html
  5. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-8147909/Should-mortgage-hold-three-months.html
  6. https://www.ft.com/content/c08ec3d9-079e-40ff-baae-11388c650f6c
  7. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-8138239/What-investments-markets-fall-Five-financial-gurus-respond.html
  8. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0802-y
  9. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/1/31/18200497/dunning-kruger-effect-explained-trump
  10. https://medium.com/@noahhaber/flatten-the-curve-of-armchair-epidemiology-9aa8cf92d652
  11. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/03/23/richard-lehmans-covid-19-reviews-23-march-2020/
  12. https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56
  13. https://www.reddit.com/r/medicine/comments/fqkf3g/megathread_covid19sarscov2_march_28th29th_2020/
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/27/can-us-reopen-economy-coronavirus
  15. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/25/opinion/coronavirus-trump-reopen-america.html
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/27/trump-pollution-laws-epa-allows-companies-pollute-without-penalty-during-coronavirus
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52065140
  18. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/imf-chief-georgieva-says-the-world-is-in-a-recession-containment-will-dictate-strength-of-recovery.html
  19. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238578-uk-has-enough-intensive-care-units-for-coronavirus-expert-predicts/
  20. http://www.cardiffandvaleuhb.wales.nhs.uk/news/52357
  21. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-8157781/Stock-markets-fight-FTSE-100-16-5-3-days.html
  22. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/grow-food-coronavirus-urban-allotments-fruit-vegetables-a9431051.html
  23. https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2020/3/18/21182018/financial-independence-retire-early-fire-early-retirement-mr-money-mustache-pete-adeney
  24. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/21/100-years-on-another-great-depression-coronavirus-fiscal-response
  25. https://www.financialsamurai.com/fire-confessionals-in-a-bear-market/
  26. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2020/03/how-does-the-market-crash-impact-retirees/
  27. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2020/03/surviving-your-very-first-market-crash/
  28. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/03/coronavirus-impact-on-dividends.html/
  29. http://www.psyfitec.com/2020/03/anchors-weigh.html
  30. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/of-natural-beauty-and-interesting-markets/
  31. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/03/27/the-inestimable-advantages-of-having-a-plan/
  32. http://bankeronfire.com/finding-gratitude-in-challenging-times
  33. https://firevlondon.com/2020/03/21/the-worst-crash-in-history/
  34. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2020/03/21/ten-simple-living-ideas-during-covid-19/
  35. https://indeedably.com/predictive/
  36. https://indeedably.com/i-note/

Property Renovation Lessons III

A return to the Property Renovation series, picking up from where I left off in part II considering internal fabric and structure. Here I’ll look at room specific construction, layout and furnishings.

Dry Rooms

I am using this as a catch-all for lounge/ living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, offices, corridors… basically any room that doesn’t involve plumbing beyond central heating radiators.

The vast majority of fittings and furnishings in these rooms will be cheap to fix and replace. I’ve covered the walls and floors themselves in part II, but what about the added features. There’s a brief ‘Bluffers Guide’ to period features available here, which I’ll expand on in part (1).

Architrave

Is the wood panelling surrounding doors, windows and cupboards, which covers where plaster would crack over time through repeated movement. Fancier houses have fancier architrave. Cheap modern renovations or late 20th century houses often have very simplistic architrave. There’s actually very few styles and most have been around since the Victorian era, so it’s easy enough to replace and match. At worst, you can have a specialist company make a pattern and mill you some to match.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Ceiling Roses

Generally seen in older properties, ceiling roses first started appearing in the 1600s in affluent plastered homes as a ceiling decoration for chandeliers (2). They spread through the 18th and 19th centuries, gradually evolving in design such that you can use design elements to date a room if you’re a proper nerd. By the 1850s developments in plaster meant that a ceiling rose did not have to be sculpted by hand, but could be cast in a workshop and sold in large volumes. These days you can get them in polystyrene (why?), plaster or metal (even more why?) in various styles off the shelf. Ceiling roses only really suit a room (IMO) with a 12-foot plus ceiling, but can be a good way to add period features back in quickly.

Image Credit: Victorian Cornice Company

Corbels

In a similar vein, corbels were originally simple projections from walls which held up structures above. The Victorians took inspiration from medieval builders in designing patterned corbels, which became more decorative (3). They reached a point of being entirely decorative, often non-weightbearing and made of plaster. They can also be found on fireplaces and shelving.

Image Credit: Pinterest

 

Cornicing and Coving (and Friezes)

Cornicing is the decorative moulding found at the junction of wall and ceiling. Technically cornicing is actually any form of horizontal decorative element that tops a building feature, the word cornice coming from the italian for ledge, and so external decorative moulding is also cornicing (4). We use cornicing interchangeably due to classical description of internal cornice over a frieze, with an architrave below. Cornicing tends to therefore refer to more intricately patterned mouldings, whilst coving is simpler. Cornicing and coving both come in plaster, polystyrene (and GRP/ other plastics) and wooden forms. Repairing damaged plaster cornicing can be pretty difficult, so always worth checking the state of all rooms. In really smart houses, echoing their classical roots, you may find plaster friezes below the cornicing and above the picture rail. Again from the 1850s onwards these could be cast in complete lengths and then fitted on site. Many of these skills have now been lost, and heavy successive coats of paint can hide detail, so finding such features in good condition is a treat.

 

Image credit: The Victorian Emporium

Dado rails and picture rails

A dado rail sits at around 90cm from the floor, and was originally used in the Georgian period to protect the wall from chair backs during formal dances (5, 6). They fell out of fashion but then returned as a separator for friezes or anaglyptas.

Picture rails have been around since the 15th century, but again we have the Victorians to thank for their widespread use as the lowly proletariat added them to their parlours as a fashionable way of hanging pictures (7). That is still what they’re for. If you have picture rails, please use them, don’t then stick a nail in the bloody wall. As ceilings got lower so did picture rails. As such, there is no correct height, picture rails can be placed anywhere between coving to architrave, but are generally placed 30 to 50cm (12 to 20in) below the ceiling. Picture rails are a great feature for a period home, and painting above in a lighter colour can add to the feeling of height as well as lightening up otherwise imposing rooms (8).

Image Credit: VintagePropertyRestoration.co.uk

Skirting

Serves the same function as architrave, masking the gaps between edges of plaster and floorboards which are likely to move. Skirting began to be used in the Georgian period, but again became popular in the Victorian era (9). The more grand or ornate the house, the taller and more intricate the skirting, before gradually becoming smaller again up to the 1980s. Much like architrave, skirting now comes in plastic, softwood or metal forms, and can be made to order to match previous designs. It’s worth pointing out the difference with wood panelling, traditionally in the UK called wainscot, a much older technique pre-dating plaster. This dates from when buildings were stone, and wood panels were added to reduce draughts and keep the room warmer. Later they became decorative. Out of fashion currently, and you’ll need a carpenter to repair (10).

Image Credit: Pinterest

All of the above furnishings and fittings can be added back in with care and attention to detail (8, 11). The ’70s has a lot to answer for in terms of removal of features, but equally the current pre-occupation with Victorian features may well go out of fashion. We’ve viewed our position as custodians, and tried not to remove features of our property as we’ve renovated, even if we don’t like them.

Fireplaces and chimneys

For as long as there have been dwellings, humans (great apes) have had fireplaces. These developed from central cooking fires, to hearths, to the inglenook. These were enclosed hearth areas off a main room, which incorporated a cooking area, a main fire, and sometimes bread ovens etc (12).

Image Credit: Wikimedia

These enclosed hearths were gradually incorporated into the room while retaining the grate or back. Cast iron firebacks were used to retain and radiate heat. Decorative surrounding were added in the Louix XIV, XV and XVI periods, extending into the Georgian period with more classical plaques or motifs (13). In the Victorian period developments in mass metalworking allowed for cast iron insets for fireplaces (14). These, and stylistic developments are most commonly seen today. Due to the gradual development of styles over time it’s possible to date most fireplaces to a rough decade, like the Victorian one below (13, 14). Reclamation yards usually have a good selection of styles, and reproductions are available. 

Image Credit: FireplaceAntiques.co.uk

From the Edwardian era through the Art Deco period fireplaces were more commonly concrete and tile, and these can be harder to repair though replacements are available (15). The first electric fireplace came along in 1995 (just an overgrown electric radiation to me), and modern fireplaces are usually more about home interior design than serving as a traditional focal point. Make sure to match your new fireplace to the correct era. 

Image Credit: c20fireplaces.co.uk

A significant caveat and kicker when looking at properties to purchase or for renovations is around chimney breasts. These are the (usually) brick structures surrounding the fire and flue up to the chimney. They support the weight of the chimney above, and are often integral to the structural design of the property (16). Where fireplaces and chimney breasts have been removed for design or space purposes always check this has been done to regulations and by someone who knows what they’re doing. Because of the weight carried above it would be usual to take the whole chimney out, not just a ground floor section. If this is the case then permanent support for the chimney above will need to be inserted, usually designed by a structural engineer (17). Beware the cowboy!

Wet Rooms

Bathrooms

For some, the place to brush your teeth and shit, hopefully not at the same time. For others, a place of tranquil relaxation. Interior design styles with bathrooms seems to change yearly, so I’ll only briefly touch on things here. The Victorians, they obsessed with cleanliness, again kicked us off in the modern understanding of bathrooms once they mastered hot water, cast iron baths, plumbing and Mr Crapper added his flourish. Although I must admit, if I get the resources I’d go full caldarium/ frigidarium.

Image Credit: Hevac-Heritage.org

These spread after WW1, though your lowly commoner only really got indoor toilets and bathrooms post-WW2. Early versions had a water heater (often gas) next to the bath. During this period most fixtures were cast iron or ceramic, and decoration was often in the form of tiling. The claw foot freestanding bathtub began to disappear due to space constraints, and because they’re a pain to clean around (18). Matching sets became fashionable, and with the uptake of coloured plastics we reached the avocado bath era (see part 1). Finally, in the 90s and 00s everything went sanitary white, for that sterilised clinical slab look.

Badekar og varmtvannsbereder

Image Credit: Norsk Folke Museum

Lightweight plastics and modern manufacturing methods mean there’s a smorgasbord of choice. Modern style appears to be going more slimline – low rise freestanding showers and built in toilets. Not my personal taste as they can be a pain to DIY repair. Lots of classical designs are also being re-used or updated (19). Even the bloody avocado bath (20). So don’t rip it out just yet, the design world is your oyster.

Kitchens

Tied in with the hearth and central room for most of history, the spread of kitchens to the masses also came with the Victorians. This time as they cleared people from shared living slums to their own private homes. This coincided with wood or coal-fired stoves, which were much more efficient and quicker than open fires (21). These were developed to run on gas (1826) and electric (1912). Victorian kitchens were utilitarian workspaces, often with a Belfast or butler sink in a separate scullery (for wet cleaning work) and foodstuff stored in a pantry. The late C19th and early C20th saw these spaces opened up and incorporated (you can’t fit a scullery in a miner’s terrace). They’ve gradually become cleaner, sleeker and with more accoutrements as time has gone on. From a renovation point of view kitchens can soak up money, and you largely get what you pay for. A quick repaint and re-tile may be a few hundred, a second hand or cheap kitchen may cost you £1-3k, decent high end kitchens run to tens of thousands. Buyers choice.

Image Credit: John Desmond/ Veterans United

Renovation potential

How many thousands of articles are there on assessing renovation potential? Everyone wants the short cuts. So now you’ve read my rough guide to features here’s some tips:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Most people (I think) will at some point want to make a stamp on the property they own. A lot of these stamps are highly personal taste. What you think is renovation, updating or beautifying may not be what a buyer or renter wants to see. Know your target: is this your forever home, a five-year stepping stone, or a BTL. 

  • Know the local ceiling price

Leading on from the above, there’s no point buying a three-bed terrace and then throwing in a £30k kitchen, extension, basement and loft conversions if after all that it’s only worth £100k. (Caveat: does not apply if you consider it your forever home). Go on Zoopla or Rightmove and look at the sold house prices for a feel for maximum value (22). For BTLs there’s a good calculator at South St made by one of the r/UKPersonalFinance people (23)

  • The ugly work can add the most, but might add nothing

Before thinking about painting, that new bathroom, the six-burner rangemaster, do the shitwork. Make the house warm, dry, secure and free of damp. Structural defects may be hidden and can cost huge amounts to correct with no direct gain to property value. Central heating, rewiring and re-plastering are messy jobs, but will almost always add value. The jobs which need special skills and are the most difficult are often the ones that add the profit (22, 24, 25).

  • Know your limits

If you’ve never held a paintbrush then raising the roofline for extra head space in that loft conversion is probably a bit too much. Be prepared to leave stuff to professionals (26). One man with the right tools could do something in two days that would take you two weeks. Brickwork, structural work, roofing, plumbing, and electrics all require specialist skills and kit. Plastering, carpentry and painting are all better with experience. 

  • Get it certificated 

Linked to the above, tradesmen will be insured and appropriately qualified. Many property changes require certification. The sob pages of the tabloids are filled with stories about eejits wasting money (27, 28). Get multiple quotes. Get planning permission. Get it signed off and keep the certificate somewhere safe (29).

Final Points

Here’s three take homes if you can’t be bothered remembering all that:

  1. Know your worth – that overtime at your day job may be a better return on investment than DIY
  2. Know the value – of the local property, and how long you’re willing to hold it for to calculate cost/ benefit/ return on investment
  3. Get multiple quotes, use reputable traders, get the certificates

Hope that was useful!

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://www.houzz.co.uk/magazine/a-bluffers-guide-to-identifying-period-features-stsetivw-vs~79477800
  2. https://www.prickettandellis.com/period-features-a-rose-by-any-other-name/
  3. https://www.patterncut.com/history-of-corbels-medieval-modern-architecture.html
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornice
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dado_rail
  6. https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/advice/plaster-mouldings-and-dado-rails
  7. https://www.1900s.org.uk/1900s-parlour.htm
  8. https://www.vintagepropertyrestoration.co.uk/blog/55-picture-rail
  9. http://allenpartnership.co.uk/a-brief-history-of-skirting-boards/
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panelling#Wainscot_panelling
  11. https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/advice/plaster-mouldings-and-dado-rails
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inglenook
  13. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/how-to-choose-a-fireplace-and-identifying-historical-design/
  14. https://www.fireplaceantiques.co.uk/history-of-antique-fireplaces
  15. http://www.c20fireplaces.co.uk/rfpi
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimney_breast
  17. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/how-to-remove-a-chimney-breast/
  18. https://www.brownstoner.com/architecture/victorian-bathroom-history-plumbing-brooklyn-architecture-interiors/
  19. https://www.realhomes.com/design/traditional-bathroom-ideas
  20. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/interiors/avocado-bathroom-suite-now-back-fashion/
  21. https://www.johndesmond.com/blog/design/a-brief-history-of-the-kitchen/
  22. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/how-to-renovate-for-profit/
  23. https://south.st/test/
  24. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/20-sure-ways-to-add-value-to-your-home/
  25. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/renovation-assessing-the-potential/
  26. https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/diy-what-to-leave-to-the-professionals/
  27. https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/months-work-thousands-spent-added-13191459
  28. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6303067/Woman-forced-tear-dream-home-spent-150-000-renovating.html
  29. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/08/the-five-home-improvements-most-likely-to-blow-your-budget/
  30.  
 
 

The Full English Accompaniment – Is COVID-19 the crisis to heal Brexit divisions?

Ever since the swine-fancier-in-chief started on the Brexit linedance the UK has been divided. People were told their opinion mattered, and allowed to express it through a referendum. The voxpops mattered. 6-pints Ken in the pub mattered. Brexit was such a grey area, with so many fake statistics and hollow arguments, that just about any opinion could be aired without hindrance. Families were divided.

Ours was. Even now certain arms of our family won’t speak to each other. The use of the phrase “racist bigots” might have something to do with it.

In such a void battle lines were drawn, and programs like Question Time became copy-paste wars of words. Campaigners, politicians and ‘celebrities’ with nought but strong opinions rose to the top, froth on a slurry pit.

But in the last few weeks, something has changed. Fighting this Coronavirus, defeating COVID-19, requires us to work together. It doesn’t discriminate based on how you voted in 2016 (well…). Experts are called upon. Opinions are surplus to fact. United action across the world is required. There is suddenly a bigger enemy, a bigger battle. A reason to forget the artificial divisions and remember the reasons that bind us. We are all human.

People are reaching out to each other for support. Across borders, generations, timezones, opinions. Picking up shopping, refilling prescriptions, taking the dog for a walk (1, 2, 3). The sense of community that was lost is returning. Kindness, care and altruism will get us through this (4, 5, 6).

Keep handwashing, and take care!

The Shrink

Other News:

Positive news on COVID-19:

You may have missed:

A couple of weeks back the Competition and Markets Authority reported there was evidence of mis-selling and unfair contracts on the sale of new homes by developers (14). This was significantly stronger wording than anticipated, and has been considered a huge victory for leaseholders (15, 16, 17). With that stronger wording, the legal sharks left hungry after PPI dried up have smelt blood, and are already circling for mis-selling class action claims (18, 19).

Life goes on:

Comment/ Opinion:

References

  1. https://www.thecanary.co/uk/news/2020/03/14/city-residents-set-up-aid-group-for-people-struggling-with-coronavirus-measures/
  2. https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/amazing-things-people-greater-manchester-17947422
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/16/community-aid-groups-set-up-across-uk-amid-coronavirus-crisis
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51991566
  5. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29371/11-simple-ways-to-care-for-each-other-during-the-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/mar/21/like-an-emotional-mexican-wave-how-coronavirus-kindness-makes-the-world-seem-smaller
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/japanese-flu-drug-clearly-effective-in-treating-coronavirus-says-china
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095809920300631?via%3Dihub
  9. https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/18/who-to-launch-multinational-trial-to-jumpstart-search-for-coronavirus-drugs/
  10. https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/16/remdesivir-surges-ahead-against-coronavirus/
  11. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4332561-gilead-sciences-even-not-counting-covidminus-19-company-significant-potential
  12. https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hydroxychloroquine_final_DOI_IJAA.pdf
  13. https://www.independent.ie/world-news/coronavirus/irish-developed-kit-confirms-infection-in-15-minutes-39046582.html
  14. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2020-03-02/thousands-leaseholders-have-been-mis-sold-homes-unfairly-charged-developers
  15. https://thenegotiator.co.uk/leasehold-knowledge-partnership-victory/
  16. https://www.lovemoney.com/news/93583/cma-leasehold-buyers-being-taken-advantage-of-by-dodgy-developers
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51671363
  18. https://www.claimexperts.co.uk/mis-sold-leasehold-property-claims/
  19. https://www.smoothcl.co.uk/site/services/mis-sold-leasehold-claims/
  20. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/stock-market-dow-jones-index-trump-coronavirus-wall-street-1929-crash-a9412221.html
  21. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-8134443/Has-mortgage-rate-fallen-bank-rate-cut.html
  22. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/crash-shows-major-corporations-broke-no-1-personal-finance-rule.html
  23. https://ofdollarsanddata.com/lessons-from-coronavirus/
  24. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/03/14/our-hopes-and-expectations/
  25. http://bankeronfire.com/have-no-fear-surviving-and-thriving-in-a-recession
  26. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-lockdown-links-for-days/
  27. https://firevlondon.com/2020/03/20/manic-month-still-in-progress/
  28. https://southwalesfi.co.uk/2020/03/20/why-your-car-is-making-you-retire-5-years-later-or-longer/
  29. https://obviousinvestor.com/obvious-investor-covid-19-investments-update/
  30. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/and-they-say-timing-is-everything/
  31. https://www.madfientist.com/coronavirus-market-crash/
  32. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/03/20/victory-is-inevitable-part-2/
  33. https://averagemoneymanagement.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/what-is-a-circuit-breaker/
  34. https://www.finumus.com/blog/burn-down-the-disco
  35. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/fast-easy-recipes-with-few-ingredients-5-ingredients-or-less/
  36. https://medfiblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/baked-beans-and-shotgun-cartridges/
  37. https://www.foxymonkey.com/coronavirus-special-investing/
  38. https://awaytoless.com/a-way-to-less-one-year-blogging/
  39. https://indeedably.com/isolation/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Belated) Full English Accompaniment – Ways to skin a bear

Over the course of the next few months, as the news is dominated by ‘OMG CORONAVIRUS TERROR’, I’ll try and stay off the topic. I couldn’t fail to discuss the changes in markets this week though. It’s quite hard to actually get a long term graph to show the progress of the market, so here’s one I knocked up using every week end closing value for the FTSE 100 since it’s inception:

FTSE

At the start of last week, when I started writing this post, there was fear that we were in a correction, that there might be a larger drawdown. The market has moved fast, driven by anxiety. December 2018’s correction is suddenly a distant memory. There were plenty of potential threats, many detailed in SeekingAlpha’s article from last week (1). Everybody was already looking for a reason for recession, eyes peeled for the signs. What they didn’t expect was this viral black swan to come drifting serenely over the horizon before shitting all over the picnic (2, 3). That is the nature of the cause of a bear market; if it was predictable it could be expected and adjusted for. The cause will always emerge from the unknown unknowns.

What’s working now won’t always work

I’m not going to speak to the markers, numbers and hallmarks of a bear market. The figures and data used by investors are better discussed in that same SeekingAlpha article than I ever could (1). As it explains:

“Bull and bear markets are NOT defined by a 20% move. They are defined by a change of direction in the trend of prices.”

There have been times (see below) in the last decade where the long term moving average has trended downwards, but they have not resulted in a bear market. Quantitative Easing (QE) at those times has shored up the market and returned us to the Bull course. So what has changed? Looking at it from my stock and trade, I would have to say anxiety amongst the general public and uncertainty. When looking at data and analysis we often fall prey to cognitive biases; cherry picking evidence to support our decisions, applying selection bias (4, 5). We look for the news we want to see. When anxiety peaked previously amongst market investors the FED/ ECB/ BoE stepped in and applied QE. This reassured investors and dampened anxiety. Joe Public, for whom it was a blip on the road, were fairly nonplussed.

Image credit: Seeking Alpha/ Real Investment Advice

Was the market the boy that cried wolf too many times to central banks? That allegory was being touted last year, with the observation that the commitment from central banks to maintaining asset prices had left them unable to normalise policies without risking recession (6). At some point the propping up would no longer support the fall. This time, as the Fed/ BoE reached once again for the chequebook, it’s not worked. Instead it’s been called ‘misjudged’, and appears to have driven the markets further (7). Fear and anxiety has not been eased, it’s remained high. Anxiety amongst the general population, visible in panic buying and the general hysterical pitch of the news cycle, has infected the markets. The VIX, a measure of the stock markets expected volatility, shot up from a moderate baseline to the mid-70s last week, and is currently sitting around the 78 mark (8). That’s well into expected nosedive territory. 

vix

Is this a reversion to mean – Fed rate cuts usually accompany recessions because declining interest rates suggest wider economic deterioration. Hard nosed market timers have been scoffing at new normals (9).

Image credit: Elliott Wave International

‘All bull markets are the same, all bear markets are different’

So, as I write this on March 15/16/17th, the Fed has slashed the interest rate to 0-0.25% (10). It’s a hallmark of a bear trend, accompanying volatility. We’re seeing 4-12% swings daily. This market is the saw blade, whipping down through your investment logpile. But this market noise covers the underlying drivers; uncertainty and anxiety. The market thrives on certainty and predictable outcomes. COVID-19 is an unknown and can’t be priced into the efficient market. We’ve never had a virus driven recession we have data for (11). The Black Death, Smallpox and Plague of Justinian tell no tales. 

We don’t know when it will end or what the fallout will be. People try to provide structure and certainty by reflecting on what can now be expected (12). They tell themselves it’s cyclical, that we’re in a recession and will bounce back (13). This market is not a response to internal cyclical events, or broad economic fallacies. This is the result of a pandemic threatening millions of lives and requiring a global response. The market won’t be able to price in the outcome until we’re past the peak of the virus, and we’re only just getting started. Leave your speculation at the door. Keep calm and carry on investing (14)As TI/ TA on Monevator intone:

“DO NOT SELL.” (15)

We’ve all got bigger things to worry about.

Keep handwashing!

The Shrink

Thought for the week:
“It is a mark of a mean capacity to spend much time on the things which concern the body, such as much exercise, much eating, much drinking, much easing of the body, much copulation. But these things should be done as subordinate things: and let all your care be directed to the mind” – Enchiridion XLI, Epictetus

Other News:

Covid-19 mini-special:

The History of Pandemics by Death Toll

Image credit: The Visual Capitalist (16)

Capture

Life goes on:

Comment/ Opinion:

References:

  1. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4330865-technically-speaking-on-cusp-of-bear-market
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory
  3. https://monevator.com/investing-in-the-face-of-a-disaster/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias
  6. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fed-put-on-the-stock-market-may-expire-worthless-because-of-these-mistakes-stifels-bannister-2019-09-19
  7. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/03/04/feds-misjudged-pyrotechnics-may-have-brought-us-even-closer/
  8. http://www.cboe.com/vix
  9. https://www.forbes.com/sites/investor/2019/07/27/the-fed-is-going-to-cut-rates-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/#4ed414f560b2
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/15/federal-reserve-cuts-interest-rates-near-zero-prop-up-us-economy-coronavirus
  11. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-analyzed-bear-markets-back-to-1835-and-heres-the-bad-news-and-the-good-about-the-current-slump-2020-03-11
  12. https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmoore/2020/03/14/what-to-expect-from-this-bear-market/#4def34e661ff
  13. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/14/not-every-bear-market-is-accompanied-by-an-economic-recession-but-chances-are-high.html
  14. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/03/coronavirus-stock-market-crash.html/
  15. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-do-not-sell/
  16. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/
  17. https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/pandemics-timeline
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/05/even-as-behavioural-researchers-we-couldnt-resist-the-urge-to-buy-toilet-paper
  19. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/stock-market-news-today-indexes-plunge-oil-market-coronavirus-selloff-2020-3-1028978137
  20. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-cdc-1918-flu-pandemic-death-toll-symptoms-a9389171.html
  21. https://t.co/ZejfSQcO0Y?amp=1
  22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51825089
  23. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-51736395
  24. https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/better-business/2020/03/02/equity-release-is-heading-into-the-eye-of-a-perfect-storm-blackwell/
  25. https://www.ft.com/content/fa038361-1faf-4083-8128-257f83d4b2ed
  26. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-your-money-51841748
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/15/prepare-for-the-coronavirus-global-recession
  28. https://investornews.vanguard/a-message-from-vanguards-ceo-on-the-coronavirus/
  29. https://monevator.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-recession/
  30. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/01/millennial-millionaire-shares-what-he-refuses-to-spend-money-on.html
  31. https://metro.co.uk/2020/03/07/couple-ditch-jobs-retire-30s-live-greek-island-5000-year-12362827/
  32. https://ofdollarsanddata.com/the-worst-day-of-our-investment-lives/
  33. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/03/hunting-for-dividends.html/
  34. https://www.finumus.com/blog/covid-19-and-bonds-no-time-to-die
  35. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/03/asset-allocation-re-visited.html
  36. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/03/national-grid-portfolio-addition.html
  37. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2020/03/lenses.html
  38. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/03/thoughts-on-investment-portfolio.html
  39. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/03/lockdown-in-tenerife.html
  40. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/03/09/february-2020-month-end-accounts/
  41. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-february-2020/
  42. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/03/08/ravaged-dogs-of-the-ftse-and-random-shares-update/
  43. https://firevlondon.com/2020/03/10/feb-2020-buy-high/
  44. https://www.thefrugalcottage.com/my-updated-portfolio-march-2020/
  45. https://southwalesfi.co.uk/2020/03/13/innovative-finance-isa-pros-and-cons-ifisa/
  46. http://bankeronfire.com/pension-vs-isa-settling-the-debate
  47. https://pursuefire.com/playing-the-long-game/
  48. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/03/13/victory-is-inevitable/
  49. https://indeedably.com/prison-of-my-own-making/

The Financial Dashboard – February 2020

The goals for February were:

  • Set up standing order for investments
  • Rationalise credit cards
  • Repair or replace daily driver
  • Review pet and car insurance
  • Review progress towards long term goals

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets FebLiabilities Feb

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by a solid 3.61%, thanks to a best ever savings rate of 53.81%. No massive changes to my expenses, just a large payday due to some extra locum work. Surplus was used to top up my emergency funds and open a new investment holding in my ISA of Vanguard’s Emerging Markets Index Fund (Acc) (1). This was chosen due to it’s relatively low OCF (0.23%), wide EM exposure and the inclusion of Korea thanks to the MSCI index.

Goals:

Goal achieved: Set up standing order for investments

A nice easy win here, but one I’ve been meaning to do for ages. When I initially set up my ISA I intended to put in as much each month as I could afford. In practice I would dither deciding how much to invest, and it led to fluctuations and lack of consistency. Setting up the standing order to go out on the day I am paid makes sure I ‘pay myself first’.

Goal achieved: Rationalise credit cards

After clearing down my debt I was left with two credit cards with not inconsiderable credit limits but no promotional bonuses. I have closed both, and opened a new account with a 27 month interest-free purchase promotion. This will allow me to purchase a car or home improvements in the future with Section 75 protection and no interest.

Goal achieved: Repair or replace daily driver

I was fairly set on purchasing a new car, and the new credit card would have enabled me to. Attempts to sell my current daily driver met with minimal success. As the insurance loomed two weeks were spent travelling locally looking at cars. There was nothing worth putting myself back into debt for. Instead I spent a fairly hefty sum (>£500) on repairs and pro-active maintenance. The old daily has 135k on the clock, and the intention is to run it into the ground, saving further into my emergency fund for a (slight) upgrade in the future. Lifestyle inflation – not today!

Goal achieved: Review pet and car insurance

Our pet insurance came due and, frustratingly, our local vets won’t deal with quite a few of the cheaper insurers. Apparently they’re cheap for a reason. The usual price comparison sites turned up a solution for ~£8/month. Meanwhile I’ve also used the benefits of classic car insurance to get the project car insured with restricted mileage (5,000) including commuting at the useful sum of £180 for the year. Classic cars are definitely cheaper in fees, if not in wear and tear.

Goal failed(ish): Review progress towards long term goals

I’ve been mulling over my long term goals recently. When I first wrote some just under 18 months ago, I was deliberately vague in places, and didn’t include my state or NHS pension for various reasons. I’ve been back and updated my progress, but the goals themselves really need a hard look. Rather than posting that here, I’ve decided to do it as a seperate post this month.

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £169.83, last month £143.32
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £1143.33, last month £157.64
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £283.37, last month £195.80
  • Holiday – £150, spent £60, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £15.88/ £341.73
  • Loans/ Credit – £0/ £0/ £0
  • Misc – £50/ £94.59/ £27.89
  • Fees – £70 /£648.50/ £457 – further gristle for the GMC mill

In the garden:

Very little sadly. Just too busy.

Goals for next month:

  • Review progress towards long term goals
  • Review emergency fund accounts
  • Plan for 2020s ISA
  • Get the project car back on the road
  • Gardening

Happy March everyone,
The Shrink

References:

  1. https://www.vanguardinvestor.co.uk/investments/vanguard-emerging-markets-stock-index-fund-accumulation-shares

The Full English Accompaniment – Premium Bonds: The time is now?

One of the cardinal rules of financial security is to have an emergency fund. If you need to ask why, you’re in the wrong place, and I suggest you read Monevator’s excellent explanation (1). A big credit line isn’t enough. You need 3-6 six months of expenses in a liquid, easily-accessed account. For the basic rules and steps Monevator again has your back (2)

So far, so basic.

Beyond that the arguments start. What classifies as an emergency? How much is too much? Where do you put it?

High yield current accounts and instant-access savings accounts have long been the go-to. Which was fine when returns were 3% plus in the early noughties, but over the past decade interest rates on savings accounts have drifted down (3, 4). The best easy access accounts, including the once-vaunted Marcus, are now returning 1.3% (5). Meanwhile inflation hovers around the 1.3-1.5% mark (6).


So we’re left with a dilemma: do we accept our emergency fund will (at best) tread water or (at worst) lose money relative to inflation, or do we chase returns?

The latter has led to some very creative accounting by some authors, including the suggestion that your emergency fund spending should be built into your household budget (7). Which sort of suggests it’s predictable, and not an unforseen emergency.

Or you could be like a number of other FIRE bloggers (Early Retirement Now, Physician on FIRE), and go without an emergency fund, relying instead on lines of credit and your investments to bail you out (8, 9). This reduces your opportunity cost and improves your returns (10). It also tackles the behavioural problem with an emergency fund; the temptation to dip into it for that emergency TV or holiday. It’s much harder to impulse spend an investment. But do you risk crystallising losses during the inevitable downturn?

Step forward premium bonds; long-derided though the UK’s biggest savings product (11). They’re a psychological leap from an instant access savings account, yet improvements in IT means you can check results on your phone and transfer into cash within a couple of days (ticking that liquidity box) (12, 13). The prize rate has been cut, but it’s still 1.3% – the same as instant access savings (14). And given you’re reading this and into FIRE, you’re probably a higher rate tax payer. Here premium bonds sweeten the deal further, with no tax to pay on winnings (15).

You’re still not likely to see a win, as that 1.3% is practically lower due to the skewing effects on the average of the top prizes. But maybe now, in the days of rubbish cash returns, premium bonds offer a credible emergency fund safe haven.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

P.S. Couldn’t really get away without mentioning the Coronavirus outbreak could I? I’ve briefly mentioned my thoughts in the Reasons to be cheerful/fearful post, and for how I think it’s going to go see Scenario 5 of the Thought Experiment. Ultimately it’s going to be a difficult time for the markets. Due to the number of unknowns we’re dealing with, trying to price in predictions is near impossible. The efficient market is going to struggle with the level of uncertainty. We’ve been near a market top for a long time. No-one knows the future. Stick with your plan and be confident in your preparation.

Other News:

Covid-19 mini-special:

And elsewhere:

Opinion/ blogs:

References:

  1. https://monevator.com/its-an-emergency-fund/
  2. https://monevator.com/emergency-funds-the-ten-essential-steps/
  3. https://thistimeitisdifferent.com/uk-savings-interest-rates-feb-2018
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49752883
  5. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/savings-accounts-best-interest/
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51117888
  7. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2019/09/what-do-i-want-my-money-to-do-for-me/
  8. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2016/05/05/emergency-fund/
  9. https://www.physicianonfire.com/dont-bother-with-emergency-fund/
  10. https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/04/15/people-are-thinking-about-emergency-funds-wrong.aspx
  11. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/premium-bonds/
  12. https://moneyfacts.co.uk/news/savings/nsi-enhances-its-premium-bonds/
  13. https://www.yourmoney.com/saving-banking/premium-bonds-winners-can-now-be-notified-by-text/
  14. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/02/premium-bond-prize-rate-to-be-cut-to-1-3-/
  15. https://monevator.com/are-premium-bonds-a-good-investment/
  16. https://twitter.com/i/status/1230554753182003203
  17. https://twitter.com/andrewgregory/status/1233076394084720640?s=19
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51681620
  19. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2003762
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2020/feb/26/coronavirus-map-how-covid-19-is-spreading-across-the-world
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/15/coronavirus-black-swan-shadow-global-economy
  22. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/26/coronavirus-spreads-further-as-who-expert-warns-world-not-ready-for-pandemic
  23. https://www.ft.com/content/e0ca01ee-57cb-11ea-abe5-8e03987b7b20
  24. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/feb/17/uk-housing-boom-leads-to-2500-jump-in-asking-prices
  25. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/buytolet/article-8019811/Hundreds-thousands-landlords-sold-tax-relief-began-phased-out.html
  26. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/21/elon-musk-recommends-science-fiction-book-series-that-inspired-spacex.html
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/17/west-midlands-canals-help-heat-hospitals-homes-plans
  28. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/25/anti-greta-teen-activist-cpac-conference-climate-sceptic
  29. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51633458
  30. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-7978521/Is-worth-investing-space-stocks-Virgin-Galactic.html
  31. https://www.cityam.com/fintech-unicorn-klarna-posts-first-ever-annual-loss/
  32. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/qjd3p7/how-to-get-out-of-debt
  33. https://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/news/199513/fire-means-i-can-retire-at-41.aspx
  34. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/2b3f3f67-2338-4253-b7f5-a36192885492
  35. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-bring-me-sunshine/
  36. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2020/02/perspective.html
  37. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-end-of-world-as-we-know-it.html
  38. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/02/28/february-2020-plus-other-updates/
  39. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/02/sse-portfolio-addition.html
  40. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2020/02/diageo-share-price.html/
  41. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/02/28/bye-bye-aegon/
  42. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/resigned-to-my-fate/
  43. https://cashflowcop.com/so-near-and-yet-so-fi/
  44. https://theescapeartist.me/2020/02/28/sweat-those-assets/
  45. https://awaytoless.com/delaying-fire-to-enjoy-today/
  46. https://www.thefrugalcottage.com/february-2020-a-month-in-review/
  47. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/february-20-net-worth-and-monthly-update-18-525898-15143/
  48. https://thesavingninja.com/ficalc-ninja-mobile-application/
  49. http://bankeronfire.com/the-real-path-to-wealth?the-real-path-to-wealth
  50. https://www.foxymonkey.com/ir35-contract-market/
  51. https://firevlondon.com/2020/02/23/how-much-is-enough/
  52. https://indeedably.com/shedding-skin/
  53. https://indeedably.com/held-to-account/

The Financial Dashboard – January 2020

The goals for December were:

  • Continue to exercise 4x a week
  • Keep a record of all dietary intake
  • Sell 5 items
  • Fix my car

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets JanLiabilities Jan

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by only 0.83%, though my savings rate was 25.16%. This is because I’ve recalculated how I include our joint savings and also the worth of some my other assets. This measly percentage was still enough to take me over the 50k net worth milestone!

Goals:

Goal achieved: Continue to exercise 4x a week

Happy to report I kept this up, and it’s almost becoming a habit now. I’m paying through the nose for gym memberships to enable me to stay motivated, and it’s starting to grate. I’ll see how I feel at the end of the month, but I may drop one set of classes.

Goal achieved: Keep a record of all dietary intake

Success here too. I tried just noting stuff down, but was crap at it, so went for the high tech app option. Initially this was with an app called Nutracheck which was really good; you could search for food/meals by name or barcode and it would bring up the manufacturer and full calorie/ fibre/ protein breakdown. However, after a weeks free trial it demanded I pay a subscription. It got deleted and replaced with a similar app called Lifesum. It’s less polished, but still allows search by barcode and name, automatically assigns calories, and more importantly operates a freemium model. I’m happy enough with the free version and if someone wants to sell my dietary habits for advertising good on them.

Goal failed: Sell 5 items

This was intended to be part of my spring clean, but all the things I found weren’t worth selling and instead I took a car load to the dump and a car load to the charity shop. House is tidier and less cluttered.

Goal achieved: Fix my car

At the back end of last year my daily car developed an irritating coolant problem which didn’t prevent me driving it but meant it was using more costing more to run. I spent one dry evening in the middle of the month in the garage diagnosing the problem, and for the costs of a £12 part it’s working fine again. More issues remain and as I’m commuting a fair distance it’s probably time to replace rather than repair. Expect a big effect on my liquid cash some time soon!

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £143.32, last month £195.46
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £157.64, last month £242.95
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £195.80, last month £406.16
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £341.73/ £56.99 – Bought some new workwear
  • Loans/ Credit – £0/ £0/ £0
  • Misc – £50/ £27.89/ £25.50
  • Fees – £70 /£457/ £109.49 – The annual pound of flesh to be able to work

In the garden:

We’re still tidying and making ready. Potatoes were bought and are now chitting in a dark box. An apple tree was purchased from a local nursery and planted to provide some shade in one area and variety for wildlife.

Goals for next month:

  • Set up standing order for investments
  • Rationalise credit cards
  • Repair or replace daily driver
  • Review pet and car insurance
  • Review progress towards long term goals

Happy February everyone,
The Shrink