The Full English Accompaniment – Sticking my head in the sand

What’s piqued my interest this week?

As per the last Full English (wow it’s been some time) I’m pretty fed up with the news. It’s just one long tirade of the world going to hell in a handbasket. I guess because doom sells much more than positivism. Everyone’s a critic. I also try to keep this blog fairly free of market commentary or news analysis, but it’s hard when everything currently seems to be dominated by Brexit. The whole situation leaves me teetering between tearing my hair our in frustration and a sort of savage karmic justice. Just in the news in the last fortnight we’ve heard that house prices have stalled due to Brexit, Brexit has decreased living standards by more than the last recession and we’ve watched the pound tank as investors start to actually take No Deal seriously (1, 2, 3). Almost as if the experts in ‘project fear’ knew what they were talking about.

The rise of populism, and popular, non-expert opinion political decisions is going to have consequences. We’re leaving our level-headed reputation behind (4). Sarcastic/ sardonic responses to ineffectual elected officials are everywhere:

Plus we’re left with a pretty weird field of economic play (I’ve been listening to a lot of Test Match Special). The pound offers little source of cheer, and it seems unlikely to stop falling in the short-term, but it’s long term direction depends upon… Brexit (5). The FTSE100 will likely go up due to global holdings increasing returns on a weaker pound, but long term… who knows? The wider FTSE might tank if the economy stalls, but… who knows? The global markets, driven mainly by the FAANG stocks (and otherwise largely treading water) could falter; there’s lots of calls and warning signs out there about the longest ever bear market, but… who knows? We live in exciting/ perilous/ infuriating times.

Now if you’re a good investor, wise to behavioural mechanisms and carefully plodding on with your long-term plan this should make no difference. You will buy wide and ride the rollercoaster. It’s only your physical life that will be stuck yo-yo-ing in the current political/ economic climate. The pound in your pocket, not in your platforms, is the one that leaves you wondering if sterling/ economy collapses and it’s going to be pulses for dinner for the forseeable. FIRE theoretically will allow you to ride it out, but that’s no consolation if you’re not there yet.

And why the savage karma? Well the No Deal course is properly uncharted territory. The great economic tides that have carried UK finance are turning. UK prosperity has risen with high waters of international plunder (straight up colonialism), international plunder through companies (East India Co etc), global industrial powerhouse, and most recently global financiers. I have a dark optimism that, like some bedraggled phoenix, the UK might rise from the ashes in decades to come. Our national culture values creativity and inventiveness. But just as the 50s-70s saw thousands lose jobs as the economic juggernaut was set on a new path, so No Deal offers a gaping chasm of redundancies and poverty as the track is laid. And No Deal offers it on a scale that dwarfs the miners’ strikes and Three Day Week. At least there was a plan then. Who suffers most in that scenario? The less-educated, less-wealthy and less-informed. Who voted for Brexit?

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/15/house-prices-stall-brexit-hits-buyers-confidence-summer-10312534/
  2. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/brexit-economy-uk-living-standards-household-income-recession-a9007821.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvref-8e74wIVS7TtCh33LwBvEAAYASAAEgIBUPD_BwE
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/dfab58d2-b512-11e9-bec9-fdcab53d6959
  4. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/schools-not-even-out-and-the-silly-season-is-well-underway/
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/jul/16/for-the-pound-there-is-little-or-no-short-term-cheer
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/15/jaguar-land-rover-offered-500m-loan-to-develop-electric-cars
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48995511
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/16/true-cost-of-cheap-food-is-health-and-climate-crises-says-commission
  9. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/bitcoin-price-crash-latest-usd-prediction-value-facebook-libra-a9007761.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvref-8e74wIVS7TtCh33LwBvEAAYASAAEgIBUPD_BwE
  10. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/long-term-savings-rates-raised-n08jb9f0h
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/17/renting-millennials-homelessness-crisis-retire
  12. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pcp-car-buyers-in-negative-equity-3j0drpq9c
  13. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scotland-wind-power-on-shore-renewable-energy-climate-change-uk-a9013066.html
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/25/uk-solar-power-pioneer-solarcentury-profit-grows-860-in-a-year
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7305237/Virgin-Money-launches-Brexit-proof-15-year-fixed-rate-mortgage.html
  16. https://moneytothemasses.com/news/best-sunday-papers-money-sections
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/jul/25/cobhams-demise-could-herald-a-flood-of-private-equity-takeovers
  18. https://www.reddit.com/r/UKPersonalFinance/comments/ceaqne/zoopla_estimates_how_accurate_are_they_an_analysis
  19. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/24/millionaire-retired-30s-kristy-shen-bryce-leung-fire
  20. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/fire-is-for-the-few-not-the-many/
  21. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-7240513/Should-fake-divorce-wife-split-pension.html
  22. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-how-are-you-setting-your-table/#more-46828
  23. https://monevator.com/scared-by-a-share-split/
  24. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/07/20/estate-planning/
  25. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/07/18/op-loaded-getting-rich-in-the-military/
  26. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/07/31/living-low-cost-in-a-high-cost-city/
  27. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/08/refire-and-2019-half-1-review.html
  28. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/07/31/rising-equity-glidepath-4-percent-safe-withdrawal-rate-60-year-retirement/
  29. https://youngfiguy.com/working-to-work/
  30. https://cashflowcop.com/avoid-failure-to-launch-into-adulthood/
  31. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/how-to-go-green-thrifty-lifestyle/
  32. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/07/my-concerns-about-investing-in-fossil.html
  33. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/07/greencoat-uk-wind-portfolio-addition.html
  34. https://firevlondon.com/2019/07/24/why-the-markets-about-to-drop-and-what-im-doing-about-it/
  35. https://firevlondon.com/2019/07/30/angel-investing-1-10-top-tips-for-a-virgin/
  36. https://firevlondon.com/2019/08/04/july-2019-3rd-best-month-yet/
  37. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/07/20/adjustments-to-my-investment-strategy/
  38. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/08/02/july-2019-other-updates/
  39. https://ditchthecave.com/cheap/
  40. https://firehub.eu/bloggers-on-fire-dr-fire/
  41. https://drfire.co.uk/july-2019-report/
  42. https://www.msziyou.com/using-housesitters/
  43. https://www.msziyou.com/portfolio-july-2019/
  44. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-july-2019/
  45. https://awaytoless.com/all-change/
  46. https://awaytoless.com/a-frugal-engagement/
  47. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-july-2019/
  48. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/july-2019-a-month-in-review/
  49. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/29/back-to-airbnb/
  50. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/month-end-accounts-july-2019/
  51. http://thecannycontractor.com/passive-income-quarter-2-2019/
  52. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/08/02/july-review/
  53. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/07/19/Difficult-early-retirement-question-%E2%80%93-what%E2%80%99s-next
  54. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/07/26/Early-retirement—whats-next-Take-2
  55. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/08/02/Early-retirement-costs-targets—July-2019
  56. https://firethe9to5.com/2019/07/22/things-i-havent-done-since-i-retired-early-and-a-few-i-have/
  57. https://indeedably.com/retirement/
  58. https://indeedably.com/on-the-margin/
  59. https://indeedably.com/a-very-british-fire/
  60. https://youtu.be/rzmOYU5Wpdk
  61. https://www.jackwallington.com/google-is-the-best-plant-id-app-and-it-will-only-get-better/
  62. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-45-salad-harvest-colourful-potatoes-and-rainbow-tomatoes/
  63. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/07/28/the-new-kitchen-garden/
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The Full English – Media narratives

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Recently I’ve pretty much stopped listening to/ watching the news. This is not just down to the ongoing spin-doctoring in the Tory leadership election/ geopolitical elite, which frankly makes me so disenfranchised I feel like burying myself in soft peat.

No, what’s really getting my goat, is the descent of the media into a selection of soundbite opinions amongst a race to be first on the scene to a news story. This is even at the expense of editorial correctness or narrative structure. There’s a few exceptions to this: certain broadsheets (The Guardian, The FT, The Independent) appear to still be pursing the long read investigative journalism route. On the whole, and with finger squarely pointed at the BBC, the media seems to constantly be chasing a story first circulated on Twitter/ Reddit. In the days of social media, everyone is the first reporter on the scene. They share online, and whatever gets shared gets picked up, even if it runs counter to the print media’s planned direction. The print media then has to sprint to keep up, and has to include irrelevant people’s opinions to appear relevant to the common man. What does the common man think about this niche piece of technical news of which he has no understanding?

Case in point one: The NHS and Doctors’ pensions.

I’ve written about this before, as it hits close to home. Mr YFG did a far better job at explaining the technicalities, and the ins and outs of the Lifetime Allowance (1, 2). The nub of the issue is that many consultants are breaching the LTA when working extra shifts to make-up for the shortfall in NHS staff. Yes they’re paid well, but because these extra shifts, which the NHS requires in order to meet targets like the 2-week-wait for cancer referrals, are over the LTA the effective tax rate can be >100% for the shift. They’re effectively paying to work extra hours. Rather than working the extra hours they’re opting out. So the NHS is short-staffed. Which it has been for years, partly due to the hostile working environment created by the current government (despite their rhetoric). The Financial Times has been reporting very clearly on this for months, and within the health service Doctors’ reps (e.g. the BMA) have been banging on about it all year (3, 4). So why can’t the Guardian get its head round it? The article they’ve put out in the last week is titled something about “working to rule”, with a tagline:

“Doctors warn health services in danger of meltdown and facing ‘existential threat’” (5)

They can’t seem to decide where to take the piece. How do they make it relevant? Oh, I know, lets make it about the Tories dooming the NHS… ish. With a bit of confusing information about potential solutions for good measure. They can’t just report it with explanations. There has to be an angle. And they can’t compete with the likes of the Daily Mail, who appear to be on a one-way crusade against those vicious, spiteful, mean doctors. After all ‘waiting lists have doubled in three months as doctors refuse to work’ (6). How could they refuse to pay to work, to pay to take on responsibility for people’s lives (7). See here; Steve the welder from Leeds interviewed as a bloke off the street stating doctors should be forced to work. Why hell does Steve’s opinion matter?

Case in point two: PCP contracts on cars

I included two links to this last week. My god it does my nut. If you can’t afford a fancy car with simple maths, why the hell do you expect to get one when the maths is more complicated? Despite this there’s a slew of whinging Karens’ in the media, complaining that they were sold things they can’t afford (8). That they didn’t understand their contract (9, 10). Why is that anybody’s responsibility other than your own? A fool and his/her money are easily parted.

Ohh righhtttt, people don’t like being told they’re fools. Especially when sharks wearing lawyer suits are telling them that they’re owed compo, backed up by tit-rags (11). Because as the PPI gravy train ends those sharks are looking for a fresh meal, and they follow idiots to mis-selling like blood to an injured baby seal (12). They’ve already missed out once, when they waited with baited breath for the FCA to adjudicate mis-selling (13). All they got was tighter regs. Now they’ll be damned if they can’t find another way to that mis-selling cold-call (14). Never mind the fact it’s just people being idiots. I’ve talked before about how I think PCP is the next financial bubble, despite whatever wonky statistics the car industry share (15). In my opinion, the mouth-breathing hordes clamouring for compo because they can’t afford their finance deal are just the storm-clouds on the horizon. The fact the media follows their narrative of misery is just one more reason for my loss of respect.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

P.S. A bit late getting this out, what a day of sport!

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://youngfiguy.com/nhs-pension-scheme-and-doctors/
  2. https://youngfiguy.com/the-lifetime-allowance/
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/e6d3e03c-4e12-11e9-b401-8d9ef1626294
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/08/nhs-faces-existential-threat-as-senior-doctors-work-to-rule
  5. https://www.hsj.co.uk/topics/pensions
  6. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7223053/Hospital-waiting-lists-DOUBLE-three-months-doctors-refuse-overtime-NHS-pension-reform.html
  7. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/07/nhs-waiting-lists-soaring-consultants-refuse-work-overtime/
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-your-money-48776454
  9. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-7140919/Can-modify-car-finance-dangers.html
  10. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-4469742/Why-won-t-car-finance-let-hand-PCP-vs-HP.html
  11. https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/8673492/drivers-owned-compensation-car-finance-deals/
  12. https://www.gladstonebrookes.co.uk/blog/2019/03/29/pcp-compensation-new-car-buyers/
  13. https://www.am-online.com/news/finance/2018/09/13/ppi-lawyers-ready-to-react-to-fca-s-verdict-on-pcp-car-finance
  14. https://www.confused.com/car-finance/finance-options/car-finance-mis-selling-scandal
  15. https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/new-car-buy-consumers-finance-on-credit-diesel-registrations-drop-income-a8246106.html
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48926232
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48941011
  18. https://www.investing.com/news/stock-market-news/futures-push-higher-on-rate-cut-optimism-1922051
  19. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7241921/Trump-fires-broadside-Facebooks-online-currency.html
  20. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7240443/Lookers-shares-tumble-25-car-dealership-warns-profits-reverse.html
  21. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48954323
  22. https://monevator.com/why-your-pension-wont-be-plundered/
  23. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/07/3-high-yield-bargains.html/
  24. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/07/10/how-to-own-the-world-and-how-to-move-the-world/
  25. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/07/pf101.html
  26. https://cashflowcop.com/financial-freedom-by-making-decisions-like-a-police-commander/
  27. http://earlyretirementextreme.com/preliminaries-to-retiring-in-5-years.html
  28. https://indeedably.com/the-red-pill/
  29. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/schools-not-even-out-and-the-silly-season-is-well-underway/
  30. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/07/12/Is-normal-life-better-than-FIRE
  31. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/why-lending-to-people-who-need-to-borrow-is-a-bad-idea/
  32. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/11/a-12-year-review-of-zopa/
  33. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/ski-holiday-2020-booked-fire-snow/
  34. https://www.msziyou.com/appeal-quits-working/
  35. https://www.msziyou.com/enough-funds-retire/
  36. https://thesavingninja.com/the-10-commandments-of-fire/
  37. https://thesavingninja.com/update-a-thought-experiment-about-happiness/
  38. https://drfire.co.uk/june-2019-report/
  39. https://ditchthecave.com/work-less-hard/
  40. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/07/12/a-vacation-and-other-june-2019-expenditures/
  41. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/07/12/timing-of-fire/
  42. https://lovelygreens.com/blackcurrant-rum-infusion-recipe/

The Full English – Sparking joy

What am I blathering on about this week?

We’ve been watching a lot of Marie Kondo on Netflix in our house. If you’ve not seen it, it’s a bit of a weird sell. A tiny japanese woman with a penchant for organising sorts out hoarders houses. Here she is (1):

Now she’s made a profession (and massive cash) out of perfecting tidying up. She’s sold millions of books, and sparked plenty of knock-offs (2). Her key points are fairly simple, and revolve around attacking things in a certain order, with a future goal in mind, and only keeping items which ‘spark joy’ (3). There’s no point having 20 photo albums you never look at. Keep one or two collated versions somewhere you can see them regularly, etc…

This floats pretty close to minimalism for me. It’s an easy to digest, more accessible, less elite version (4). After all, minimalism aims to:

  • Eliminate our discontent
  • Reclaim our time
  • Live in the moment
  • Pursue our passions
  • Discover our missions
  • Experience real freedom
  • Create more, consume less
  • Focus on our health
  • Grow as individuals
  • Contribute beyond ourselves
  • Rid ourselves of excess stuff
  • Discover purpose in our lives (5)

It’s a counter-cultural push against the consumerism of general life (6). And as such it sits well with the FI community, in the general ‘buy less shit’ stakes. I’ve always liked the idea of minimalism. It fits a Manhattan loft/ bourbon and grubby nightclubs life-direction which is never likely to be achieved. I’m just fairly shit at it. I own a lot of stuff. Much of the stuff is fairly tatty. We’ve lived like students for 10 years and many items have been bought as ‘do-fers’; they’ll do for now. 5-10 years on they’re still doing. I’ve been de-cluttering over the last six months, but I’m still left with a sense that a lot of stuff with remain. I will never be minimalist. Marie Kondo tells me it’s okay if my stuff sparks joy. So my garage full of tools which spark joy when I have the right tool for the job is okay. The ‘do-fers’ don’t spark joy, so they’ll be replaced with items which do. Ultimately I think that boils down to an intentionalism approach to items, as we try to be more intentional with the choices we make in our lives. Why fill your life with shit that makes you miserable.

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” -Epictetus

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

 

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Kondo
  2. https://konmari.com/
  3. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/organizing/a25846191/what-is-the-konmari-method/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism
  5. https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/
  6. https://www.becomingminimalist.com/what-is-minimalism/
  7. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-7140919/Can-modify-car-finance-dangers.html
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/26/uk-economy-cliff-edge
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48820573
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/05/bury-bodies-along-uks-motorway-to-ease-burial-crisis-expert-suggests
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-your-money-48776454
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48776125
  13. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/hargreaves-lansdown-just-removed-nick-085637525.html
  14. https://www.cityam.com/freetrade-to-close-7m-in-second-crowdfunding-round/
  15. https://monevator.com/passive-fund-of-funds-the-rivals/
  16. https://monevator.com/defined-benefit-to-defined-contribution-pension-transfers/
  17. https://monevator.com/the-slow-and-steady-passive-portfolio-update-q2-2019/
  18. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/07/selling-vodafone-lessons-learned-from-one-of-my-first-defensive-value-investments.html/
  19. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/06/ftse-100-ftse-250-valuations.html/
  20. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/06/25/why-capitalism-is-better-for-your-pet-dog-than-communism/
  21. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/06/26/does-a-4-percent-withdrawal-rate-survive-a-60-year-retirement/
  22. https://cashflowcop.com/when-to-buy-a-house-if-you-have-student-loans-debt/
  23. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/how-to-drastically-cut-expenses/
  24. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/06/aquila-european-renewables-trust-new.html
  25. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/07/half-year-portfolio-update.html
  26. https://indeedably.com/independence/
  27. https://indeedably.com/indeedably-meta-redux/
  28. https://indeedably.com/inflection-point/
  29. https://firevlondon.com/2019/07/01/doubling-party/
  30. https://firevlondon.com/2019/07/03/june-2019-q2-review/
  31. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/07/07/june-2019-other-updates/
  32. https://ditchthecave.com/30s-and-40s-financial-independence/
  33. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/june-19-net-worth-and-monthly-update-11-514218-9687/
  34. https://thesavingninja.com/twelve-months-later-savings-report-12/
  35. https://www.msziyou.com/true-love-never-smooth/
  36. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-june-2019/
  37. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/cashback-success-saving-30-100-on-car-insurance/
  38. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/wild-strawberries-and-wild-gardens/
  39. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/month-end-accounts-june-2019/
  40. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/07/investment-review-june-2019.html
  41. https://financeyourfire.com/2019/07/02/portfolio-update-june-2019/
  42. https://financeyourfire.com/2019/06/28/adventures-in-cryptospace/
  43. https://www.earlyretirementguy.com/summer-2019-networth-update/
  44. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/07/05/Early-retirement-costs-targets—June-2019
  45. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/07/02/june-review-and-spending/
  46. https://www.1500days.com/uk-chautauqua-fi-peeps-scarce-sleep-and-lots-of-sheep
  47. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/07/07/allotment-jobs-for-july/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Full English – Tech bubble or Tech revolution?

What am I buggering on about this week?

This week we’ve seen Slack join ranks of tech startups on the stock market (1). It’s price surged immediately after listing and remained up, a distinct difference to the Uber IPO in May and the Lyft IPO in March (2). Perhaps due to the state of Uber and Lyft’s respective balance sheets (3, 4). Perhaps due to the methodology of the listing, with Slack following in Spotify’s footsteps in utilising a direct stock listing rather than an IPO. This model means that current investors are allowed to list their stock for sale, but no new stock is offered, and the positive uptake of Slack and Spotify is spurring other companies to consider this model (5, 6).

It’s been a big year for new tech listings, with Pinterest, Zoom, Beyond Meat and Fiverr also coming to the market, and AirBnb, WeWork, Palantir Tech and Peloton all touted to be in the pipeline (7, 8). This is inevitably raising the spectre of the last time we had lots of tech companies listing… the late 90s (9). So what’s to set the current market apart from the dot-com bubble, and what comparisons can we draw (10).

The Similarities

These are fairly obvious:

  • Loss-making tech companies making well over valuation at initial IPO. Promising dot-com companies that make millions going public but never turn a penny profit was a hallmark of the dot-com bubble, and we’ve yet to see Uber or Lyft make money…
  • Linked to the above, 84% of companies going public last year were not turning profits, the highest % since 2000 (11)
  • A market that is (depending on your measure) over-valued (12)
  • Economists are predicting a recession, as they did in fear of the millenium bug
  • Investors are chasing returns through new startups as the traditional markets slow

The Differences

A defining trait of humanity is it’s ability to learn, so you would hope we’ve learnt from the dot-com bubble and won’t repeat the mistakes. Let’s not do a Nathan Barley (a Charlie Brooker masterpiece) (13).

Looking at the recent tech listings there are some differences:

  • The internet is more mature

The internet in the nineties was still a thing of wonder. It’s potential seemed limitless, so valuations naturally followed. It wasn’t yet clear how this could be translated into a money-making machine, and that was a partial cause of the downfall. The internet has matured in the intervening 20 years, and the FAANG stocks in particular have demonstrated how to capitalise on it. They now dominate the market with eye-watering profits. Their growth may be slowing but they’re unlikely to collapse given their hoarded cash reserves (14).

  • Companies funding streams are more complex, but also more transparent and under greater scrutiny

Many of the companies being listed are not the fully VC-backed start-ups of old, selling a fairly unspecific dream. Companies are staying private for longer, with pressure for their finances to be under public scrutiny. Others are utilising P2P/ crowdfunding streams like CrowdCube and Seedrs. You can’t just pitch any old crap with a domain name!

  • Companies are disrupting traditional models (IMO)

Arguable this one, but I think many of the companies that went bust in the dotcom years were basically trying to take a traditional economic model and translate it to an online format with minimal idea on how to gain market presence or be profitable; see Pets.com and eToys.com. Compare this to the current round of stock offerings.

The global tech revolution

Here’s where I see the real difference. Amazon, Netflix, Google etc are massive global players, making profits around the world. They developed their own markets. AirBnB, Spotify, Slack, Uber etc are all doing or have done the same. Their founders have identified a niche or a gap, and placed a product which is a natural fit. Why else would they become so ubiquitous if they were not so obvious. Improvements in the infrastructure of technology has made this possible, and will continue. Starling and Monzo, which I talked about last week, are also disruptive, but banking still has further to go.

We’ve seen wholesale changes in almost all aspects of our lives. There are apps for pretty much everything you do; shopping, leisure activities, work, investments and loans, sleep, music, etc. What hasn’t changed? Banking and central economics. Governments and central banks still set interest rates, still co-ordinate and oversee financial structures and currencies. Which is where Libra, the new cryptocurrency backed by Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber and Facebook comes in (15).

There’s plenty of arguments against Libra (I’m looking at you Ermine), not least security and the prospect of having Facebook digging through your earnings (16). But it’s backed by lots of major players, and could be truly disruptive. Like all blockchain cryptocurrencies it’s decentralised, beholden to no central bank (17). This has got the regulators in a right tizz; if it’s globally decentralised who can/ would regulate it (18). How will government lobbyists get their greasy mitts on it?!?

The clever move that puts Libra over and above Bitcoin and other blockchain cryptocurrencies (beyond it’s big industry support) is asset-backing (19). Backing with physical assets (probably cash/ bonds, but interestingly also could be equities) removes the wild price swings seen with Bitcoin. If it’s globally backed then you suddenly have a currency which tracks global inflation automatically, can be accepted in any country, and allows you to purchase across borders without incurring currency conversion costs. No wonder Mark Carney reckons it could be ‘systematically important’.

We live in the age of a global economy. Corporations are multinational, straddle borders and look to leverage international differences to increase earnings (moving jobs offshore for lower wages for instance). I don’t think central governments/ banks are about to relinquish their stranglehold on economic policy, but Libra offers a window into a future where this might be the case. Where your earnings are paid in a global currency by a global company, wherever you are. Where geoarbitrage becomes the norm, forcing international parity. Where interest rates on your loan are not set based on a baseline from central government, but by global market inflation, or a combination of your credit score and what a credit union of your Facebook contacts are willing to lend. Governments and global banks (Rothschilds etc) have long held a hegemony on money. Now there’s a chink in their armour.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48707622
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47741990
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48451339
  4. https://marketrealist.com/2019/05/why-lyft-stock-has-declined-21-since-its-ipo/
  5. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-21/with-slack-sitting-pretty-its-bankers-eye-more-direct-listings
  6. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/slacks-direct-listing-bill-gurley-says-startups-call-morgan-stanley-2019-6-1028298641
  7. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/slack-listing-comes-during-banner-year-for-tech-ipos-despite-uber-and-lyfts-troubled-debuts-2019-06-20
  8. https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/6/20/18650993/tech-ipo-tracker-uber-lyft-slack-zoom
  9. https://www.barrons.com/articles/chewy-fiverr-and-crowdstrike-ipos-recall-the-dot-com-bubble-51560553067
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble
  11. https://www.vox.com/recode/2019/6/20/18650993/tech-ipo-tracker-uber-lyft-slack-zoom
  12. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/06/17/goldman-sachs-says-technology-stocks-overvalued/1483689001/
  13. https://www.digitalspy.com/tv/tube-talk-gold/a399600/nathan-barley-is-10-looking-back-at-charlie-brookers-debut-tv-series/
  14. https://marketrealist.com/2019/01/the-tech-sector-is-finally-slowing-down/
  15. https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2019/06/22/libra-could-make-or-break-bitcoin/
  16. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/all-you-cash-belong-to-zuck/
  17. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/facebook-libra-startup-privacy-analysis
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48688359
  19. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/20/lorraine-kelly-theatrical-artist-tax-tribunal-judge-rules
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/19/consumers-being-badly-advised-on-pensions-says-regulator-fca
  21. https://www.cam.ac.uk/employmentdosage
  22. https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/help-to-buy-house-prices-loans-first-time-buyers-savings-a8958056.html
  23. https://indeedably.com/marriage-of-ultimate-doom/
  24. https://indeedably.com/ownership/
  25. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/playing-with-fire/
  26. https://monevator.com/visualizing-investors-emotions/
  27. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/06/royal-mail-dividend-yield-is-13pc-but-i-still-wouldnt-invest.html/
  28. https://cashflowcop.com/best-guide-to-selling-on-ebay/
  29. https://cashflowcop.com/maternity-leave-for-men-tips-for-dads/
  30. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/06/sipp-drawdown-year-7-update.html
  31. https://firevlondon.com/2019/06/17/ive-paid-for-my-dream-home-in-less-than-4-years/
  32. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/06/20/crowdfunding-road-trip/
  33. https://ditchthecave.com/may-2019-update/
  34. https://thesavingninja.com/what-is-fire/
  35. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-april-2019/
  36. https://www.msziyou.com/bros-scared-me/
  37. https://awaytoless.com/a-way-to-less-what/
  38. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/my-updated-porfolio-june-2019/
  39. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/green-money-greencoat-uk-wind-share-offer-success/
  40. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/hard-lucks-and-let-down/
  41. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/21/booze-and-babies/
  42. https://www.earlyretirementguy.com/summer-2019-networth-update/
  43. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/06/21/My-early-retirement-or-midlife-crisis
  44. https://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/06/interview-urban-foraging-whiskey-cocktail-making-john-rensten-bushmills/

The Full English – The Sam Vimes Boots Theory

What am I buggering on about this week?

I’m really enjoying my Starling bank accounts features, so it was good to read an article in The Verge this week about the touted move by Monzo into the US (1). Much of The Verge article is fawning which is unsurprising given the readership overlap between The Verge and the challenger banks. However the US market is ripe for the taking, struggling to even move to chip and pin payments or any sort of account switching service (2). A good time to be invested in one of them.

One of the features I’m really enjoying is the ‘goals’ or ‘spaces’ feature of my Starling account. After keeping my accounts last year I’ve been able to set accurate budgets, and the spaces allows me to put money aside without it ‘appearing’ in my balance. This has meant I can build up money for professional expenses, without having to dip into my credit card. I’m also, for the first time ever, putting money aside each month for clothes and holidays, meaning I don’t try to find the cash as and when I need it to replace holey shoes.

Putting money aside every month for predictable expenses, alongside having an emergency fund, is a cornerstone of good financial stability. The Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness is a great way of explaining why. If you’ve not heard of the theory, it’s taken from the late great Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms (3, 4)Captain Samuel Vimes thought process goes that “the reason that the rich were so rich… was because they managed to spend less money”. An example:

“Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

A good theory is often one that is obvious once it’s pointed out. This is one of them. I’ve fallen into this trap so many times. I’ve continued to live like a student, buying cheap clothes when my current threads wear out. I’m now trying to buy better quality (when it’s on sale of course), with the intention things will last longer. The Barbour jacket and flat cap isn’t far away.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/13/18663036/monzo-starling-mobile-banks-uk-report
  2. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-card-beware-monzo-is-bringing-its-bank-of-the-future-to-the-us/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Vimes
  4. https://moneywise.com/a/boots-theory-of-socioeconomic-unfairness
  5. https://citywire.co.uk/investment-trust-insider/news/what-is-board-of-flagship-woodford-patient-capital-doing/a1237314
  6. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7121795/Backlash-hits-UKs-largest-investment-platform-Hargreaves-Lansdown-investors-flee.html
  7. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7124605/Majority-UK-homeowners-expect-house-prices-grow-despite-property-market-slowdown.html
  8. https://www.timeout.com/london/news/this-new-website-will-help-you-find-your-nearest-zero-waste-shop-and-save-the-planet-060619
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/12/worlds-biggest-sovereign-wealth-fund-to-ditch-fossil-fuels
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47643456
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/mild-but-windy-winter-was-greenest-ever-for-uk-energy-use
  12. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/climate-change-breakdown-arctic-frost-thawing-canada-environment-a8959056.html
  13. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7139695/British-pensioners-run-money-10-YEARS-die-senior-economists-warn.html
  14. https://www.evidenceinvestor.com/neil-woodford-a-lesson-in-humility/
  15. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2019/06/teslas-travails-curfew-for-corporate.html
  16. https://monevator.com/trust-life-assurance/
  17. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/06/12/whos-the-bitch-in-this-relationship/
  18. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/06/back-to-powerful-fi.html
  19. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/06/12/my-thoughts-on-small-cap-and-value-stocks/
  20. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-what-i-wish-i-knew/
  21. https://cashflowcop.com/introvert-make-extra-money-working-from-home/
  22. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/06/14/half-a-century/
  23. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/perfection-is-the-enemy-of-happiness/
  24. https://ditchthecave.com/unpopular-opinions/
  25. https://drfire.co.uk/unpopular-opinion/
  26. https://indeedably.com/against-the-tide/
  27. https://awaytoless.com/thought-experiment-6-miss-way/
  28. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/06/14/saving-ninja-thought-experiment-6/
  29. https://thesavingninja.com/unpopular-opinion/
  30. https://www.msziyou.com/dating-and-fi/
  31. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-net-worth-report-12-may/
  32. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/06/14/Early-Retirement—our-net-worth-investing-journey-1
  33. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-43-priorities-supports-and-progress/
  34. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/06/09/i-love-big-butts/

The Full English – Student Loans Review

What am I buggering on about this week?

Lately I’ve been watching lots of finance videos/ podcasts. One of my guilty pleasures is The Dave Ramsey Show. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a highly successful call-in show based in the US, where Dave dishes out financial and often plain common-sense advice, which is syndicated and streamed on YouTube. It’s also sometimes akin to Jeremy Kyle, and I watch with morbid curiosity. Dave, being in the US, takes a fairly aggressive approach towards student loans as part of a drive to get rid of debt (1, 2):

But here across the pond we have a very different student loans structure. I did have to take a loan for my education, but luckily it was Plan 1. The current interest rate (1.75%) is less than the RPI. In practical terms my debt is reducing in value even if I don’t pay it off. I also had a maintenance grant with no expectation of repayment. These have since been scrapped. The student loans system in the UK functions more like a graduate tax. You only pay once you earn over a certain threshold (dependent on your plan), and then you pay a nine percent of those earnings. There’s lots of useful resources to guide you on this, including the government website (3, 4, 5). Another podcast I’m enjoying, Meaningful Money, explains it really well (6):

I’m very thankful I’m not on Plan 2, the current scheme. It’s significantly more painful than my scheme. The interest rates are significantly higher (3):

Student Loan rates

Six bloody percent! And because of the structure of it you only pay 9% of your earnings over the threshold, so your actual repayments are fractional. It just sits there, accruing until you reach the 30-year post-graduating threshold when it gets wiped. The only people who stand a chance of clearing it are the higher earners (>£50k), but if you’re just over that mark it will act as a continuous drain on your monthly takehome pay.

Now cleverer bods than I have clocked the coming hole in government funds. Hence the recently commissioned government review. It reported last week, and the findings have prompted much discussion (7, 8). They include such progressive ideas as reducing the maximum from £9,250 to £7,500, and reintroducing means-tested grants. They counteract this by bringing the repayment threshold down, and extending out the cancellation deadline to 40 years. The net result is that the highest earners will still pay more than the rest but less than under the current system. Middle earners will pay more, and more will pay off in full. Lowest earners are better off (9, 10).

Lifetime student loan

The whole system seems ponderous, and designed to confuse. The treasury would be happier with the proposed scheme (one suspects), as more people will pay it off in full. Ultimately these are all by-products of the attempt to commercialise higher education under the guise of widening access and equal opportunities. Beware of greeks bearing gifts.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-pay-off-student-loans-quickly
  2. https://youtu.be/CodCjMrYB1Y
  3. https://www.gov.uk/repaying-your-student-loan/what-you-pay
  4. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/repaying-student-loans
  5. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/student-loans-tuition-fees-changes/
  6. https://youtu.be/08NVnDG7UlY
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48451474
  8. https://inews.co.uk/news/education/slash-tuition-fees-and-student-loans-interest-government-review-to-recommend/
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48459910
  10. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cut-university-tuition-fees-to-7-500-and-slash-interest-on-student-loans-review-n8lbkhz3s
  11. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/newcomer-vanguard-knocks-hargreaves-off-the-top-spot-g08jx50w9
  12. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/investing/funds/blackrock-launches-rival-vanguard-lifestrategy-funds-should/
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48433692
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/30/renewable-energy-jobs-in-uk-plunge-by-a-third
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/may/31/uk-house-prices-slump-as-confidence-remains-subdued-says-survey
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7090137/UK-house-price-growth-falls-0-2-consumer-confidence-remains-subdued.html
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jun/03/neil-woodford-blocks-investors-from-pulling-cash-from-flagship-fund
  18. https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/no-way-to-stop-it-millions-of-pigs-culled-across-asia-as-swine-fever-spreads/ar-AACtx3M?ocid=spartanntp
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48553193
  20. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-7102797/Casual-investors-blocked-investing-10-P2P-firms.html
  21. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-coal-power-energy-renewables-new-record
  22. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trump-uk-visit-penis-stansted-airport-protest-climate-change-real-essex-a8941271.html
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/jun/06/nicky-morgan-must-ask-questions-of-regulator-after-neil-woodford-saga
  24. https://citywire.co.uk/funds-insider/news/david-stevenson-beware-the-risk-of-uk-stock-market-bias/a1232783
  25. https://monevator.com/life-expectancy-for-couples/
  26. https://monevator.com/blackrock-mymap-fund-of-funds/
  27. https://monevator.com/index-funds-versus-superstar-investors/
  28. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/06/sainsburys-discounted-share-price.html/
  29. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/06/05/the-inestimable-advantages-of-paying-yourself-first/
  30. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/06/back-to-powerful-fi.html
  31. https://cashflowcop.com/should-i-charge-my-child-rent-the-pros-and-cons/
  32. https://cashflowcop.com/the-morning-brew-vs-finimize-financial-news-summarised-for-busy-people/
  33. http://earlyretirementextreme.com/the-danger-of-lifestyle-consumption.html
  34. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/06/tr-property-final-results.html
  35. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/05/capital-gearing-final-results.html
  36. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/06/07/investing-mistakes/
  37. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/06/01/may-2019-other-updates/
  38. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/caravan-psychology-and-economics-101/
  39. https://ditchthecave.com/break-the-routine/
  40. https://drfire.co.uk/may-2019-report/
  41. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/may-19-net-worth-and-monthly-update-10-504531-69688/
  42. https://thesavingninja.com/im-now-a-property-investor-savings-report-11/
  43. https://littlemissfire.com/the-importance-of-side-hustle-diversification/
  44. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-may-2019/
  45. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/month-end-accounts-may-2019/
  46. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/whats-woodford-good-for/
  47. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/waspi-hypocrisy/
  48. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/green-money-greencoat-uk-wind-share-offer-update/
  49. https://financeyourfire.com/2019/06/04/portfolio-update-may-2019/
  50. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-each-way-betting-report-11-may/
  51. https://obviousinvestor.com/p2p-lending-portfolio-update-for-may-2019/
  52. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/06/01/Early-Retirement-Couple—Part-2
  53. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/06/07/Early-retirement-costs-targets—May-2019
  54. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/06/07/may-spending/
  55. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/an-engineering-cameo-at-the-royal-bath-west-show/
  56. https://indeedably.com/gone-awry/
  57. https://indeedably.com/midlife-crisis/
  58. https://lovelygreens.com/when-to-harvest-potatoes/
  59. https://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/05/wild-bees-natural-hive-attract-allotment-gardeners/
  60. https://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/05/wormwood-making-vermouth-vermut-el-bandarra/
  61. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/05/26/first-harvest/

The Full English – Evolving radicalism vs Thanatos

What am I buggering on about this week?

We, as a society, are crap about talking about death. We don’t like to talk about it. It’s not polite conversation. It’s morbid. It’s uncomfortable. Yet we should talk about it. Getting old is part of life. Dying is part of life. You start off in nappies, get taller, get smarter, achieve your potential, then get smaller, ending up back in nappies. That end nappy part may be an uncomfortable thought, but it needs to be considered. Firstly because, as I’ve said before, that sort of care is expensive. Secondly, as The Accumulator at Monevator pointed out this week, longevity risk is a significant sword of Damocles over your portfolio that we’re increasingly error-prone at calculating (1).

I’m a pretty morbid sort on this blog. I suspect it comes from spending most days discussing suicide. But why as a society are we so bad at it? Fear of death is innate and hard-wired after millions of years of predation. Our ancestors evolved senses to not only hunt, but not be hunted. After all, you can’t procreate if you’re someone’s dinner. The awareness of this fact is intrinsically to the concept of ego and self-awareness, and has therefore been around for as long (2, 3). The logical step from ‘I think therefore I am’. You become aware of your identity, a self. An argument states the pressure of death anxiety led to the formation of early religions, as a way of placating anxiety at the extinguishing of the self and the maintenance of ego.

Death is therefore something the classical psychoanalytical types spend a lot of time on. Freud’s Todestreib (death drive) was in opposition to Eros, the life instinct/ drive (4). It is sometimes referred to as Thanatos. It was the drive and deep-rooted instinct towards destruction in opposition to the life instinct, which pushes us towards creation and fertility. All life had an innate drive to not exist; to return to a non-conscious state. Melanie Klein took this further in her description and psychoanalytical approach. As part of object-relations theory, Klein would suggest that elements of anxiety and fear are deep-rooted at an early stage, as part of a fear of death (5). In general I find Freud and Klein too contrived, too derivative and too full of collective assumption, without practical observation.

I much prefer Erik Eriksons’ explanation – it’s easier to understand and relate to. As part of the Psychosocial Stages of Development a person reaches a stage in their life called ‘Ego Integrity vs Despair’ (6). Conventionally it could be understood as a point where a person is a wise elder. If we accept our life cycle is our one and only chance, and we feel we have been successful, we are inherently satisfied. If feel guilt, we felt we have been unproductive or we did not accomplish our life goals we become despairing. Erikson said this applied from age 65+, but I feel this is much more flexible, and people’s ego states can move in or out.

Why am I talking about this? Well I think a lot of articles base their word count on this very contrast. I’m not just talking about that Guardian article about millenials smashing avocado (7). I’m talking about a huge quantity of the opinion pieces that litter written media. I was prompted to write this by an article, “How the baby boomers sold out”, that was in last weeks New Statesman (8).

Every generation has a hill it dies upon in it’s youth. As the radical fire is burnt out it becomes indentured. It develops Stockholm Syndrome for the capitalist society that props it up and provides it’s creature comforts. Erikson defines this as “Identity vs Role Confusion”, as part of defining the self and one’s political/ social/ moral beliefs (6). If you extend that out across a generation you see how each successive group of teenagers seeks to define itself against it’s elders. Thus every generation, in the course of normal self-development, will be in conflict with those older than it and their expected societal margins. You can see it now in the school strikes. It has existed since the concept of self. The old have always complained about the young in turn. Aristotle said:

“They [Young People] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things — and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning — all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything — they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.”  (9, 10)

So next time you read an article which complains about the young, or rails against the boomers, remember your own life course. This is the path we all tread. Reflect on what you were radical about, and enjoy this new generations radicalism.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://monevator.com/why-your-life-expectancy-is-much-longer-than-you-think/
  2. https://sites.ualberta.ca/~jennyy/PDFs/13713823.pdf
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_anxiety_(psychology)
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_drive
  5. http://www.melanie-klein-trust.org.uk/paranoid-schizoid-position
  6. https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/15/australian-millionaire-millennials-avocado-toast-house
  8. https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2019/05/how-baby-boomers-sold-out
  9. https://proto-knowledge.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-is-wrong-with-young-people-today.html
  10. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171003-proof-that-people-have-always-complained-about-young-adults
  11. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7066265/Stagecoach-launches-second-legal-action-Government-block-rail-bids.html
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48306172
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/19/google-huawei-trump-blacklist-report
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48347711
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/23/zero-recycling-to-zero-waste-how-ljubljana-rethought-its-rubbish
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/21/belgian-monks-grimbergen-abbey-old-beer
  17. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/
  18. https://seths.blog/2019/04/the-avocado-principles/
  19. https://www.vox.com/platform/the-goods/2019/5/14/18563375/zero-waste-products-straws-jars-tote-bags
  20. https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/opinion/3076069/renewable-energy-is-now-a-commercially-attractive-investment-opportunity
  21. https://monevator.com/will-the-passive-investing-revolution-eat-itself/
  22. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/05/cranswicks-low-dividend-yield.html/
  23. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/05/22/dont-be-a-nice-guy-be-a-good-guy-part-2/
  24. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/05/17/green-money-greencoat-uk-wind-share-offer-may-2019/
  25. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/05/22/how-to-lie-with-personal-finance/
  26. http://earlyretirementextreme.com/why-do-so-many-people-hoard-so-much.html
  27. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/05/vanguard-lifestrategy-60-year-4-update.html
  28. https://firevlondon.com/2019/05/26/holding-up-the-mirror-to-my-own-trading-behaviour/
  29. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/05/24/drink-whisky-look-at-stars-make-maple-syrup/
  30. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/05/26/serious-investing/
  31. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/home-comforts/
  32. https://ditchthecave.com/love-your-job/
  33. https://thesavingninja.com/thinking-about-the-future/
  34. https://littlemissfire.com/springmount-gin-has-launched/
  35. https://awaytoless.com/productivity-systems/
  36. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-net-worth-report-11-april/
  37. https://pursuefire.com/meet-the-bettors/
  38. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/05/24/Early-retirement—life-as-a-247-couple%F0%9F%A4%B7%E2%80%8D%E2%99%80%EF%B8%8F%F0%9F%A4%A6%E2%80%8D%E2%99%82%EF%B8%8F%F0%9F%99%84
  39. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/05/26/treat-yourself/
  40. https://indeedably.com/flying-money/
  41. https://indeedably.com/ennui/
  42. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/05/an-interview-with-medwyn-williams-veg-growing-ace/
  43. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/05/10/allotment-jobs-for-may/