. . . for my kids. . . and good friends

Investment strategy, revisited!! as promised

Far more people wrote to me than I ever imagined. People who, apparently, had never written to anybody before about their investments. This little corner provided a more sheltered environment than the brutal roughing up of many bulletin boards. I guess, sadly, that's inevitable.

A lot of us have no option but to formulate an investment strategy and make decisions ourselves. The financial services sector is tainted and flawed, and there's no point in being naive -- most 'operators' are trying to take our money off us. Remember, from the original post, most of my investments are in index tracker funds. So what follows is about a tiny proportion of the total, where you can take a risk, knowing you might lose it.  

You sent in some wonderful advice! Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to write and the hundreds who read. I hope the results below are useful, and not just to my kids.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 06:57

Smart phone, stupid people

A few months ago we drove a non-European friend of ours over the border into Germany. Back in Amsterdam in time for tea, looking at the photographs on his iPad, we couldn't work out on which side of the unmarked border some had been taken.

Within seconds, he'd proudly called up a map, locating every shot. No argument, our journey was sketched out, Kleve and Nijmegen could be distinguished. "Err, it means they know exactly where we've been; how long we stayed; what we looked at." "Yes, but it saves us having to make notes about our photos!"

It shifted my growing unease into a kind of controlled terror. What better proof of the truly delusional Faustian bargain we've been suckered into?  In exchange for the ephemeral status of the latest device, we've traded our secrets.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 09:39

Millionaires -- never clever; just lucky

And sometimes very tricksy. I have no problem with wealth, even slightly serious wealth. Had it not been for the divorces I may well have been in the lower echelons of this bracket myself and, no doubt, enjoying it.

What gets me is the overweening self-righteousness that so often accompanies loads of money. The owners of the stuff strutting and preening around as though they have a right to so much of it. And to do what they like with it.

My argument is simple (but far from simplistic) -- they are just lucky. Think about it!

Last Updated on Friday, 28 December 2012 16:18

Stayhungry wristband -- around the globe

They were made in Guangdong Province in China. And you can have one for FREE, if you email me. Seriously, I am happy to post one to Europe or the UK to the first twenty people to ask! (they're silicon, red and say 'StayHungryStayAngry.com')   STILL SOME AVAILABLE!!

The manufacturing and shipping process was mind-blowing.  I ordered them from the UK for delivery in Amsterdam and could not believe the initial track and trace that started in Foshan City. After a hop to Guangzhou, the rest of the route was almost as unexpected.

It's the third example of real globalisation thrust at me in the last few months. I'm still trying to work out the implications.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 17:38

After Lebanon -- what can we do next?

Several years ago, when civil war nearly engulfed Lebanon again, we were asked by the Dutch Foreign Ministry to look at ways of building bridges between the communities. The result was a two-year project on media, identity and conflict.

With a group of Lebanese journalists from pretty well all the communities, we examined ways forward that had worked for others.  We looked at peace-building in Northern Ireland; and found where the cracks had just been papered over.  We considered consensus democracy in The Netherlands and realised it was breaking down.

I'm still trying to come to terms with what we uncovered.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 December 2012 07:06

My investment strategy

What follows is probably a load of self-justificatory nonsense. On the other hand I seriously believe there are some important (if expensive) lessons here. It all began with a pot of money, liberated from under-performing pension policies dating back over thirty years.  

The first step was sensible -- two-thirds into low-fee index-tracker funds, using a kind of massaged averaging technique, buying more when I thought the price was low. Not only has this brought peace of mind, but also rather good profits.

Stage two, where I would demonstrate my money-making talent, is where things fell apart. Or perhaps I've just been unlucky!!

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 December 2012 23:39

Across the great divide

Some of my very best friends are Arabs. Seriously. And several of them are muslims too. Decent, caring, thoughtful people to whom I would entrust my life; and on one or two occasions have done. 

It would indeed be strange if it wasn't true, as I've chosen to spend most of the last twenty years in the Middle East, initially working and now living there for much of the time. Nevertheless I can still feel uncomfortable; shocked even.  And also disturbed by the naivety and wishful-thinking that colours many of our attitudes here towards the region and the people. There are two touchstone issues; women and drink!

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 11:03

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