The Full English Accompaniment – Cognitive biases in crowdfunding

Continuing my current theme looking at crowdfunding, and in advance of some behavioural finance pieces I’m putting together, this week I’m pointing out some of the ways crowdfunding websites use cognitive biases to convince you to invest. For examples, I’ve pulled two pitches from Seedrs and CrowdCube which were at the top of their lists (1, 2).

Seedrs

Crowdcube

Crowdcube rewards

In my opinion, some of the main cognitive methods that these sites use are:

  • Bandwagon effect/ Confirmation bias
  • Overconfidence effect
  • Illusion of scarcity
  • Denomination/ reciprocity effects/ present bias

Bandwagon effect/ Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the internal yes-man, that disregards data that contradicts your opinion and suggests that ambiguous information supports your opinion (3). Your search for, remember and interpret information subconsciously to prove you are right. The bandwagon effect refers to the tendency of people to follow others, regardless of whether it’s a good idea (4, 5). It stretches into and is allied with groupthink and herd behaviour. It’s common in politics and consumer economics, and was also seen in the Dotcom bubble. Here confirmation bias and the bandwagon effect work in tandem, people will invest along with others thinking that it is evidence that they are making the right choice.

Crowdcube Bandwagon

Seedrs Confirmation

In the two examples chosen, you can see (circled in orange) that the number of investors and their commitment to a theoretical goal valuation are given pride of place in the ‘pitch’. Both websites aim to convince you that it’s a good idea, as many others are doing the same. Others must have done the research (social loafing), and they’ve committed (sunk cost fallacy), so you should too.

Overconfidence effect

Tied into confirmation bias, the overconfidence effect is the subjective belief that a persons ability is greater than the objective results would suggest (6). This should be well known to anyone who has read Smarter Investing etc, and is the basis of the active investment mindset. It’s also the whole basis of the Crowdfunding system, offering a variety of ‘pitches’ which you then evaluate, thinking ‘I have the edge others do not’. It’s worth noting in this that. Adding to this, optimism bias makes you think you are less likely to have a negative outcome (like a company failing) than others.

To help you on your way in your overconfident selection, the websites use the framing effect (7). Information is presented in a positive manner. These are, after all, advertising pitches. Every page will play-up it’s ongoing good points. Causes of concern are never mentioned (except perhaps in the discussion section). To look at the company financials often requires an investment or access request, inhibiting due diligence.

Illusion of scarcity

Scarcity, in human psychology, boils down to the fact that we as humans place greater value on things which are rare than those which are common (8). The scarcity heuristic is the mental shortcut we do when we say, ‘this thing is rarely available, therefore it must be worth more’. Salespeople employ this to great effect as the basis for mark-down discounts, Black Friday, and the perpetual DFS sale. Scarcity can come from quantity, rarity or time. For quantity, our innate reaction to finding out there is a limited quantity of something is to believe our choice to have that something is threatened, and therefore we want it more. For rarity, we place value on items we perceive to be unique. In companies this is often played on with pro-innovation bias, where we will favour innovation over the status quo and ignore flaws in the innovation (9). Such a pitch could be ‘look at our innovative unique idea, set to change the world’. For time, the scarcity heuristic is simple; time is running out, you don’t have time to do the complex thinking, the short cut answer is to buy, buy, buy.

Crowdcube Scarcity

Seedrs Scarcity

Once again these methods are front and centre of our two chosen pitches. You have limited time left to choose (time scarcity). There’s a limited quantity of available investment (quantity scarcity), at odds with the over-funding concept. Ask yourself why the data is being presented in this way?

Denomination/ reciprocity effects/ present bias

Denomination effect is a cognitive bias in currency where people are more likely to spend an equivalent value in small denominations than in large denominations (10). I see this alot, as MrsShrink will actively avoid spending big sums, but £<10 in Tesco on tat twice a week is not an issue. You are more likely to buy multiple small crowdfunding investments than one large investment, which also fits with diversification bias, the tendency to opt for a selection which gives you options or variety in the future (11).

Crowdcube rewards

Crowdfunding sites pitch your investments in small amounts. They also offer rewards, which works on reciprocity effects and present bias. Reciprocity is responding to a positive action with a positive action, leading to positive regard from both sides (12). If the company rewards you for an investment, you are more likely to see it in a good light. You are also more likely to pick a company which rewards you for an investment due to present bias (13). This incorporates hyperbolic discounting, but essentially can be said that if we are offered £100 tomorrow or £100 in a month, we’re more likely to choose tomorrow. If we’re offered £100 tomorrow or £110 in a month, the choice will depend on the person and how much they discount the worth through time delay. As all crowdfunding investments are essential gambles set for an uncertain future, a present day reward sways our choices.

TL:DR

These are just a few of the methods that crowdfunding websites use to part us from our hard-earned. There are many, many more, and I encourage everyone to read up on behavioural finance and understand when cognitive biases may be at play. The post may come off as harsh, so know that I invested in the last month on one of these crowdfunding platforms. It’s all about doing your homework and looking beyond the sales pitch. If you can be bothered.

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.seedrs.com/anna-money/sections/investors
  2. https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/justpark-1/pitches/bk7Aeb
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
  4. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bandwagon-effect.asp
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandwagon_effect
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overconfidence_effect
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_effect_(psychology)
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarcity_(social_psychology)
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-innovation_bias
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denomination_effect
  11. https://humanhow.com/en/list-of-cognitive-biases-with-examples/
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(social_psychology)
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_inconsistency
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49884247
  15. https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/30/chancellor-sajid-javid-raises-national-living-wage-10-50-10834020/
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49849484
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49891141
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49919189
  19. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7535061/Recession-fears-hang-global-economy.html
  20. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-7541673/Cautious-Treasury-loses-Sirius-Minerals-millions-failing-company.html
  21. https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3082227/new-gbp120m-low-carbon-greenhouse-project-set-to-deliver-one-in-10-uk-tomatoes
  22. https://www.getrichslowly.org/early-retirement-extreme/
  23. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-we-ditched-the-fire-movement-and-couldnt-be-happier-2019-09-30
  24. https://monevator.com/10-year-retrospective-what-a-decade-of-returns-tells-us-about-passive-investing/
  25. https://monevator.com/qa-thursday-with-lars-kroijer-session-1/
  26. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/month-end-accounts-september-2019/
  27. https://drfire.co.uk/september-2019-report/
  28. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/september-2019-a-month-in-review/
  29. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/dividend-income-september-2019/
  30. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/10/investment-review-september-2019.html
  31. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/10/01/september-review/
  32. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/10/04/saving-for-the-future/
  33. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-september-2019/
  34. https://thesquirreler.com/2019/10/02/september-2019-update/
  35. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-15-getting-a-job-at-google/
  36. https://playingwithfire.uk/october-update/
  37. https://monethalia.com/monthly-savings-report-september-2019/
  38. https://awaytoless.com/monthly-spending-september-2019/
  39. https://firevlondon.com/2019/10/05/sep-2019-q3-review/
  40. https://gettingminted.com/reviewing-the-situation/
  41. https://grizgalonfire.com/do-i-need-a-personal-pension/
  42. https://indeedably.com/backwardation/
  43. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2019/10/01/how-to-successfully-merge-finances-without-breaking-up-over-it/
  44. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/10/the-hidden-debt-of-lease-obligations.html/
  45. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/10/itm-power-finals-key-partnership.html
  46. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/10/human-being-and-2019-q3-review.html
  47. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/oct/03/always-cooking-the-same-thing-try-a-weekly-food-box

The Half English

Unfortunately I’m away/ busy this weekend, so it’s the abridged links only.

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.cnbc.com/2019/09/24/theory-suggests-retiring-baby-boomers-could-spark-stock-dark-period.html
  2. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7500027/Overpay-mortgage-beat-rock-bottom-savings-rates.html
  3. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24332493-100-ancient-grains-are-misnamed-and-their-health-benefits-are-unconfirmed/
  4. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/property/article-7352931/Swapping-buy-let-short-term-holiday-let-prove-profitable.html
  5. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7507989/Neil-Woodfords-Patient-Capital-shares-fall-amid-fresh-writedowns.html
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-49648109
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/27/bank-of-england-hints-at-interest-rate-cut-even-without-no-deal-brexit
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/28/uk-needs-billions-a-year-to-meet-2050-climate-targets
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/sep/29/i-sold-our-house-and-gave-away-our-stuff-the-minimalists-doing-more-with-less
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/24/global-economy-trump-china-iran-brexit-argentina
  11. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2019/09/runaway-story-or-meltdown-in-motion.html
  12. https://monevator.com/something-to-lose/
  13. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/09/29/building-blocks-of-a-wealthy-society-2-democracy/
  14. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/09/nextenergy-solar-portfolio-addition.html
  15. https://www.msziyou.com/uk-fire-bloggers-directory-2019/
  16. http://bankeronfire.com/seven-popular-misconceptions-about-investment-bankers
  17. http://bankeronfire.com/junior-isa-is-it-as-good-as-it-seems
  18. http://fretfulfinance.co.uk/is-saving-and-investing-only-for-the-middle-class/
  19. https://www.foxymonkey.com/fi-getting-real/
  20. https://www.foxymonkey.com/gemfinder-q3-2019-doom-gloom/
  21. https://www.onemillionjourney.com/peer-to-peer-lending-risks/
  22. https://thesquirreler.com/2019/09/29/mcr-fire-meet-up-27th-september-2019/
  23. https://awaytoless.com/how-we-cut-our-food-shopping-bill-in-half/
  24. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/aiming-to-save-50-of-our-income-4-years-on/
  25. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/holiday-a-window-to-the-future-or-a-mirage/
  26. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/09/27/Early-retirement-travelling-again—is-this-why-I-retired
  27. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/09/27/the-power-of-positive-thinking/
  28. https://indeedably.com/rejection/
  29. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/sep/27/are-oysters-vegan-kitchen-aide
  30. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-46-tomatoes-edamame-apples-raspberries-and-sunflowers/
  31. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/09/22/reap-what-you-sow/

The FIRE Cemetery

Here lies a list of blogs now deceased, moved on to fairer lands…

On life support (>3 months since last post)

  • 3652 Days – Fairly infrequently updated, this has slowed down
  • The Finance Zombie – Last post in February 2019, infrequent prior
  • Early Retirement Guy – First post 2014, most recent June 2019, and that was a six month update
  • Sparklebee – First post June 2014, last in May of this year. At that point their work had been making them ill, so I hope they’re well and taking time.
  • Fire in London – First post in Nov 2016, last in December 2018
  • Deliberate Living UK – First post 2017, last from Wephway was in December 2018

In the morgue (dormant for >1 year)

  • Financially Free by 40 – Huw at FB40 last posted in mid-2018
  • Sex Health Money Death – Jim first posted in August 2015, and the last post was August 2018. At that point he was close to retiring, so he may well have blogged his last.
  • Under The Money Tree – One of the original few, now dormant since December 2017

Dead and buried

 

If you can think of any more please leave a comment below, and I’ll periodically return to update.

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/

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 Accompaniment – Blogroll and some updates

What’s piqued my interest this week?

A bit of an odd Full English this week, as I’ll round up and catch up a few things.

Blogroll

First off, I don’t keep a proper Blogroll on my site. I posted a condensed list last year, but some have come, some have gone, so here follows a list of those I check at least monthly and I include when composing the Full English. I generally favour posts of ‘substance’, tending to shy away from SEO optimised material. I also only tend to share UK blogs, though I read others. The blogs can be split into broad categories, but with lots of crossover between them:

Information, guides, advice and motivation:

Personal experience and progress:

  • Firevlondon – full fat investing from a high net worth blogger
  • The Frugalwoods – the homesteading FIRE dream from the US
  • Quietly Saving – Weenie has been documenting her progress for 5 years, providing motivation for many a FIRE convert
  • The Fire Starter – Has also been going many years and has lots of links to resources as well as blogging his financial journey
  • Ditch the Cave – The Caveman is a professional in his 40s and has been saving for some time, but only started blogging this year, following his progress and thoughts
  • Dr Fire – Another blog started in the last year, interesting to me because of the shared academic background
  • FI UK Money – Fu Mon Chu is in his 40s and tracking his FI journey
  • The Saving Ninja – Blogs his own financial progress, but also lots of advice and the author of the popular ‘Thought Experiment’ series
  • Ms Zi You – Has been going about as long as I have, and alongside blogging about feminism and travel, runs the UK FI Podcast
  • Little Miss Fire – Blogging her progress, recently moved from their wordpress across to a dedicated site. No updates in a couple of months so may have dropped off the radar now
  • A Way to Less – New to the scene, professionals in their 20-30s documenting their progress
  • The Frugal Cottage – More frugal finance than FI blog
  • Gentlemans Family Finances – GFF blogs their progress but also tips on his process
  • The Finance Zombie – Has been tracking his saving and goals for many years
  • Where eagles fear to perch – The eagle does a bit on investment and a bit on gardening
  • Finance Your Fire – Offers his own experiences but also links to charts and lots of info
  • Early Retirement Guy – Periodically updating with his progress
  • Financially Free by 40 – Huw achieved FI at 34. His blogs been quiet for about a year, but I believe he’s still about on forums and at events
  • Pursue Fire – Dan at Pursue Fire has been going for about a year, blogging his monthly net worth and his matched betting
  • The Canny Contractor – Information on P2P, tools for contracting and quarterly income reports
  • The Obvious Investor – Blogs his growth and P2P portfolios
  • The English Investor – Quarterly reviews, company looks and general opinions pieces about the market
  • I Retired Young – David retired three years ago, and offers expenses and drawdown numbers as well as experiences from the other side
  • A simple life with Sam – thoughts, tips, habits and monthly spending reports
  • The FI Fox – previously Frugal Foxes I think – only recently started following

Finance and philosophical opinions:

  • Simple Living in Somerset – Opinions and sass from the learned Ermine
  • Indeedably – To be honest, Indeedably does a bit of everything, tracking his progress, offering charts and financial info, but I mainly follow for the philosophical reflections
  • FIREthe9to5 – Has left the working life behind now, but still gives their thoughts
  • Sexhealthmoneydeath – Lots of thoughts and reflections here, but no updates since last August means they may too have retired

Gardening:

  • Life at no 27 – Annabelle blogs about her allotment experiences and sharing the wellbeing benefits with others
  • Real Men Sow – Jono at Real Men Sow blogs about growing your own veg, and kept a financial track of money saved. Sadly no updates since last autumn
  • Lovely Greens – Tanya blogs about gardening frugally, sustainably and organically
  • Two Thirsty Gardeners – Gardening tips, along with homebrew, booze and restaurant reviews
  • Jack Wallington – An RHS qualified gardener, sometimes heard on GQT on R4, who blogs about his own allotment and garden
  • Sharpen Your Spades – Richard at Sharpen Your Spades posts tips, advice and experiences
  • Paul’s Patch – Paul blogs about growing in his small patch
  • Agents of Field – Period growing updates and advice from Sophie and Ade, who can also been seen in various media spots

I’ve probably missed some, so I may well come back and add more in the future!

Updates

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

The Right Way to Keep Chickens – Virginia Shirt – Another guide to our new pets.

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.mrmoneymustache.com/
  2. https://monevator.com/
  3. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/
  4. https://theescapeartist.me/
  5. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/
  6. https://earlyretirementnow.com/
  7. https://youngfiguy.com/
  8. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/
  9. https://cashflowcop.com/
  10. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/
  11. https://firevlondon.com/
  12. http://www.frugalwoods.com/
  13. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/
  14. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/
  15. https://ditchthecave.com/
  16. https://drfire.co.uk/
  17. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/
  18. https://thesavingninja.com/
  19. http://www.msziyou.com/
  20. https://littlemissfire.com/
  21. https://awaytoless.com/
  22. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com
  23. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/
  24. http://www.thefinancezombie.com/
  25. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/
  26. https://financeyourfire.com/
  27. http://www.earlyretirementguy.com/
  28. http://financiallyfreeby40.com/
  29. https://pursuefire.com/
  30. http://thecannycontractor.com/
  31. https://obviousinvestor.com/
  32. https://theenglishinvestor.com/
  33. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/
  34. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/
  35. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/
  36. https://indeedably.com/
  37. https://firethe9to5.com/
  38. https://sexhealthmoneydeath.com/
  39. https://lifeatno27.com/blog/
  40. http://www.realmensow.co.uk/
  41. https://lovelygreens.com/blog/
  42. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/
  43. https://www.jackwallington.com/
  44. https://sharpenyourspades.com/
  45. https://paulnelson90.wordpress.com/
  46. https://agentsoffield.com
  47. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47852589
  48. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/21/the-zero-waste-revolution-how-a-new-wave-of-shops-could-end-excess-packaging
  49. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6952181/Save-planet-cash-20-little-changes-2-500-extra-year.html
  50. https://twitter.com/HBP_Surgery_CHS/status/1117720690759753730?s=09
  51. https://www.moneyobserver.com/news/nhs-doctors-to-reduce-working-hours-unless-lifetime-allowance-changed
  52. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-capital-gains-tax-receipts-are-soaring-a-good-bad-problem/
  53. https://inews.co.uk/news/business/britain-entering-golden-age-inheritance-baby-boomers-leave-assets/
  54. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/20/an-isa-with-824-fixed-interest-a-year-is-that-simply-too-good-to-be-true
  55. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48015613
  56. https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/half-of-england-is-owned-by-less-than-1percent-of-the-population/ar-BBW2oP3?ocid=spartanntp
  57. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/17/house-prices-rise-at-slowest-for-six-years-as-brexit-drags-on-growth
  58. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47969528
  59. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1118865/state-pension-uk-how-much-is-state-pension-forecast-2019/
  60. The bull market continues because of the Fed
  61. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/04/interest-only-mortgage-crisis-how-can-older-borrowers-repay-their-loan/
  62. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/playing-with-fire-the-london-premiere-tickets-60671084848
  63. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47956891
  64. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/19/so-what-are-the-chances-of-getting-300-off-mastercard
  65. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/23/us-stock-market-boom-us-china-brexit
  66. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/16/why-went-viral-after-talking-about-evicted-sky-news
  67. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/apr/16/teacher-live-back-van-personal-story-anonymous
  68. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/in-praise-of-the-flexible-isa/
  69. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/04/orsted-new-addition.html
  70. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/what-i-learnt-from-my-dads-early-retirement-aged-60-part-1/
  71. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/sweet-nectar-money-saving-with-amex-updated/
  72. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/im-a-millionaire-but-dont-look-it-part-1/
  73. https://thesavingninja.com/a-weird-month-savings-report-9/
  74. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/04/02/march-spending/
  75. https://monevator.com/how-to-improve-your-sustainable-withdrawal-rate/
  76. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/04/11/the-real-benefit-of-being-rich/
  77. https://ditchthecave.com/paying-tax-personal-polemic/
  78. https://ditchthecave.com/money-buy-happiness/
  79. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/hey-kids-whos-for-wallyworld-this-year/
  80. https://thesavingninja.com/how-to-increase-your-savings-rate/
  81. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/the-egg-hunt-is-just-as-enjoyable-as-the-chocolate/
  82. https://indeedably.com/exposed/
  83. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/04/living-with-paroxysmal-atrial.html
  84. https://cashflowcop.com/financial-independence-score-directory/
  85. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/03/29/Some-small-and-random-things-I-like-about-my-early-retirement
  86. https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/how-to-create-an-easy-sustainable-garden/
  87. https://lovelygreens.com/building-raised-garden-beds/
  88. https://lovelygreens.com/how-to-divide-grocery-store-basil-into-healthy-individual-plants/
  89. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/04/growing-spuds-in-a-massive-sack-maris-piper-vine-rituals/
  90. https://paulnelson90.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/over-wintering-abundance/

The Full English Accompaniment – Watch the population slump, and then the economy

What’s piqued my interest this week?

In the allocations section of my Investment Strategy Statement I mentioned that I favour emerging markets (a generalisation) because of changing demographics. Events of the past few weeks have prompted me to flesh my thought process out. I have a hunch/ theory/ feeling in my waters that long term stock market movements correlate to changing demographics (so far so normal), particularly the ratio of 20-40 year olds to other demographics. This has long been muted, but is difficult to prove, partially (I think) because it depends on where and how you define the demographics and stock market changes, and how you look at dependants (1). It should be noted by the passive investor because if you invest in a national index now you want to be sure that that same index is going to keep going up.

The Japan Problem

Japan is the canary in the coalmine. People have been noting for some time the relationship between Japan’s relatively stagnant growth and its ageing population. This has improved somewhat under Shinzo Abe, averaging around 1% growth over the past decade despite the significant headwind of a falling population. With the highest life expectancy in the world and a fertility rate of 1.4, Japan’s population is getting older, with the expectation the proportion of those >65 will go from 3 in 10 to 4 in 10 in the next 40 years, with the population shrinking by 25% (2, 3). By 2025 it will have an aged dependant per worker ratio of 75% (3).

This is a huge challenge for a social security system, as more people rely on pensions and the healthcare system than the funds that are coming in (4, 5). Public debt increases or the numbers of workers increase, or both.

Europe

The problem I see is the EU isn’t that far behind. There’s a big post-boomer bubble coming, made up of those born 1955-75 (6). Shock! Millenial not slating the boomers.

We’re already starting to see one sign of the problem, as companies struggle under the weight of increasing pension debts. It’s one of the things that’s dragged down BHS, Debenhams, HoF, and look at the ongoing saga with private railway company operators. Stagecoach and Virgin don’t want to be on the hook for the Railways Pension Scheme deficit (7). As the working population reduces and the dependant population grows this chasm in the unfunded public sector pension schemes will yawn wider. Executives are looking down the barrel and running for the hills, to mix metaphors. This is across Europe. Germany and Italy have expanding dependant populations, Bulgaria has a birth rate of 1.5 and has seen its population fall by 2 million in 30 years, Poland is closing schools due to the lack of children (8, 9). Some countries though, like Sweden, are bucking the trend through immigration.

The Global Picture

Look wider and there are notes of caution but also reasons to be cheerful. Globally birthrates are falling, the low levels in the developed world balanced by high birthrates in India, the Philippines and Africa (8). Emerging market populations are growing faster than the developed markets are shrinking, so the population will keep growing, but at a slower rate (9). This is good news for the planet, which can’t sustain the current growth rates indefinitely, but bad news for those who dislike immigration, as migration will be required to maintain labour forces in the developed economies with shrinking populations. Or will it?

Before I move on it’s worth focusing on three more countries: India, the US and China (9, 10, 11).

Things are looking peachy for India, which has an expanding population likely to drive greater growth even as it modernises and develops (although this is not without its issues). The US is in better shape than most of the developed world, with forecasts for a relatively flat or increasing population before you even take migration into account (12). This is one of the reasons, combined with global corporate and technological monopolies, that I don’t believe the NYSE is about to undergo a crash when the boomers call time and cash their retirement cheques. But what happened to China? The single child policy. We’re past its peak, and now China is looking at a reduction in its working age population of 212 million by 2050 (10). 212 million less people working. That’s the current population of Brazil. That’s what state top-down planning gets you.

‘Abenomics’ and ways out

So how do we get out of our slump? Well we could open our borders to a motivated migrant workforce, but that would just be too sensible and easy. Some authors look back to Japan for the way out of this population pickle. Shinzo Abe has sustained growth in the face of a falling population primarily through recruiting more people into work who previously were not, alongside technological productivity developments (13). Japan in many ways is a deeply conservative country. The perceived social norm continues to be men go to work all day, women are home-makers. In 2013 Abe introduced ‘Womenomics’ (there’s a theme here), increasing female participation in the labour force through a number of methods (13, 14). I don’t feel this would necessarily translate to western European cultures, where women working is the norm. I think efforts in our economy to bring those out of the labour market for whatever reason into work, like zero-hours contracts, have been less successful. There’s more people in work, but productivity and earnings aren’t necessarily increasing.

Technology and automation, on the other hand, probably are solutions. Automation enables greater output with fewer workers, and can be applied to manufacturing, construction and some service industries, as it has in Japan (14). It’s not good news for the factory workers and low-skilled employees, which is all the more reason for Universal Basic Income – an argument for another time. There will continue to be some jobs robots will struggle with; caring roles or where intuition is required. As a shrink I’m probably safe. Robots are yet to understand human emotions.

Major caveats

Important flaws in this whole essay:

The stock market isn’t necessarily correlated with population demographics.

There’s lots of arguments and evidence of this. It can basically be boiled down to:

  1. You can’t correlate specific bear markets, like the dotcom bubble, to demographic/ population change points – this is often identification error
  2. External factors and drivers such as politics (e.g. the fall of the Berlin Wall/ communism etc) have unpredictable effects on a) markets and b) demographics
  3. The timescales and effect sizes are such that the end result on the stock market appears negligible (15, 16).

Add in the fact that we have an increasingly interconnected world, with global corporations taking earnings from multi-national operations, and it all gets murky. I don’t think any developed market is about to crash while companies listed on it’s market utilise cheap developing world labour (17). Just also don’t ignore a developing market with increasing capitalisation (18). Which is why I aim to hold more in certain developing markets. But you, as usual, should do your own research.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

The Right Way to Keep Chickens – Virginia Shirt – Another guide to our new pets.

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://bit.ly/2UVX1x6
  2. https://www.indexmundi.com/japan/age_structure.html
  3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/japans-economic-outlook-in-five-charts/
  4. https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/11/26/the-challenges-of-japans-demography
  5. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/japan-demographic-lesson-european-growth-by-daniel-gros-2017-11?barrier=accesspaylog
  6. https://www.indexmundi.com/european_union/age_structure.html
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/apr/10/unloved-stagecoach-may-have-a-point-on-rail-franchise-pension-risks
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/31/birthrate-crisis-require-new-mindset-growth-population-prediction
  9. https://www.businessinsider.com/2-charts-tell-the-global-demographic-story-2015-12?r=US&IR=T
  10. https://www.businessinsider.com/changes-to-working-age-population-around-the-globe-2016-12?r=US&IR=T
  11. https://www.indexmundi.com/united_states/age_structure.html
  12. https://fat-pitch.blogspot.com/2018/05/demographics-growing-prime-working-age.html
  13. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-aging-japan-defied-demographics-and-turned-around-its-economy-11547222490
  14. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/09/what-is-japans-secret-women-and-technology.html
  15. https://medium.com/street-smart/the-demographics-of-stock-market-returns-part-ii-a41a46622198
  16. https://global.vanguard.com/portal/site/institutional/nl/en/articles/research-and-commentary/vanguard-voices/demographics-and-equity-returns-vv
  17. https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/03/28/slower-growth-in-ageing-economies-is-not-inevitable
  18. https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2018/08/01/should-long-term-investors-own-more-emerging-market-equities/#3fcebc6854ee
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47609539
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/04/sales-new-cars-fall-uk-consumers-continue-shun-diesel-brexit
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/04/us-china-risk-house-price-slump-trigger-recession-imf-lending
  22. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/01/was-the-us-stock-market-boom-predictable
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/apr/01/fca-supervision-lcf-london-capital-finance-investigated
  24. https://monevator.com/the-slow-and-steady-passive-portfolio-update-q1-2019/
  25. https://monevator.com/what-is-a-sustainable-withdrawal-rate-for-a-world-portfolio/
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  45. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/04/13/allotment-gardening-and-the-power-of-to-do-lists/

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