The pragmatic school of Indexing

“I was part of the pragmatic school of indexing,” Bogle wrote in 2016.

The average investor can do only as well as the stockmarket average, he concluded.
If some investors beat the market, others must be beaten by it.
After costs, most professional investors do indeed lose to it.

—The Economist, in Remembering John Bogle, patron saint of the amateur investor

Armed officers vs cat in the tree…

The spread of armed officers was one aspect of “Strathclydisation”, where tough Glaswegian tactics were rolled out to the sticks. Use of stop and search also increased. Methods that work on inner-city gangs are unsuited to places where duties include rescuing cats from trees…

The Economist, in ‘Scotland’s national police force finds its feet

The dangers of misleading metaphors – War

Consider “war”, another popular trope. Wars on poverty, drugs and terrorism have all failed. Why? Politicians aim to summon one element of the “war” metaphor when they use it: an intense national struggle. But there is another crucial part of war, namely the adversary.

In a real war, they fight back and might win. When your side prevails, the foe might be persuaded to formally surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri. Drugs or poverty or terrorism don’t do that, leaving the public that had been roused by the talk of “war” frustrated. The metaphor backfires. You don’t need to be Sun Tzu to know that you shouldn’t declare a war that cannot be won.

— The Economist, in ‘The dangers of misleading metaphors

What does ‘x-times less’ mean?

TransferWise, for example, charges six times less for international cash transfers than Santander, a high-street bank.

—The Economist in ‘The great foreign exchange rip-off is coming to an end

I’ve never understood using multiples for discounts. What does charging ‘six times less’ even mean?
I understand what charging ‘a sixth’ means – ⅙ times the original.
I understand what charging ‘six times’ (more) means – 6 times the original.
I do not understand what ‘six times less’ means. It’s a ridiculously ambiguous term, and I’m sad that even the Economist used it.

P.S.: I love Transferwise. I cannot comprehend how people transferred money internationally before it came around – it’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s transparent. Everything that the banking system is not. I really love it.

Welcome to the UK…

They were initially bemused by the complexity of bus timetables, bin collections and—most of all—by the changeable weather. “In our country, when it’s summer, it’s summer,” says Ziead Alsaouah, Mr Batak’s son-in-law.

—The Economist | After the exodus

I had a very similar reaction to the weather when I moved here 8 years ago.

North India, where I spent the first 24 years of my life, has a very predictable weather. When it’s summer, it’s hot and dry for months on end. When it’s the rain season, it’s raining almost every day for a month. And when winter arrives, it’s bitterly cold, mostly dry, and frequently foggy (recently smoggy) for months on end.

Contrast that to the weather here on the island – it’s common to have at least two seasons in a day. Three’s not uncommon either. We had two months of constant dry, warm summers this year, and it’s already caused a mild panic. If we get a week of snow in the winter, news bulletins are full of ‘snowcalypse’ references.

It’s unsettling, at least initially, for people coming from places with stable, ‘continental’ weather patterns. Where culture, life, traditions, activities are based on the season, what do we do when the seasons just aren’t anymore?

Continue reading Welcome to the UK…