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  • Writer's pictureStephen Walters

Attempting to reconcile with my powerlessness to do any better

Why have I not written anything for the last two months? I’ve been asking myself that question.

The short answer is I’ve been in shock and grief at the state of the world. I’m living with a sense the human race really has gone off the rails.

When I contemplate the thousands of people who’ve co-created the Webb telescope, I marvel at their beautiful vision, skills and collaboration. When I consider the plight of billions of beleaguered and destitute women and children all over the world, I lament and mourn the patriarchal conduct of my gender. While men’s ferocity, brutality, and thirst for power appal me, part of my grief stems from guilt that in the comfort of my first-world lifestyle I have for years been silently complicit with men through history who’ve wrought havoc. I don’t mean only the big tyrants, but the millions of little ones too.

It’s easy for me to maintain regular donations of money and time to charities helping the afflicted billions, and to send emails of objection to the PM and MPs; but still I’m sitting in the comfort of my relatively affluent first-world life. I admit my reluctance (fear) to give up that comfort; I haven’t the zeal of a missionary. If you’ve found a way to reconcile your ease with the misery that millions endure, I honour you, and from you I’m eager to learn.

Meanwhile, saving and investment are in a pickle for a long list of reasons: war, Brexit, post-pandemic supply-and-demand in chaos, China’s Covid protocol. Around the world, central-bank teams have misjudged inflation, which will be higher and stickier than they had imagined.

No new investment wisdom have I to offer because:

  • With UK inflation at 9% and rising, and interest rates still low, cash is losing value faster than at any time since 1975.

  • I’m not a fan of buy-to-let investment because it deprives many young people of the opportunity to buy their first home, and the only one they want.

  • For most of us, commercial property is terra incognita; especially since the pandemic and with a recession looming.

  • Stock markets are mostly mysterious and volatile.

  • I’m not willing to recommend fossil-fuel energy.

  • I do still like woodland, but it’s not cheap, and most of us wouldn’t have the capacity to manage it.

My own approach continues to be to sit patiently. I have left my portfolio alone, and I get on with life.

In my next blog I will examine the portfolio for anything that has:

  • Endured well, and might warrant addition ?

  • Endured and I wish I’d already bought ?

  • Fared badly but is worth keeping ?

  • Shown itself to be no longer a sound choice ?

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