Letters to MoneyWeek: How should we cover Brexit?
MoneyWeek responds to a batch of your letters, this week looking at the magazine's pro-Brexit stance and the future of the Union.
I am a long-time MoneyWeek subscriber, long-term Canadian expat (26 years in UK), and avowed Remainer. I have been quite dismayed by MoneyWeek's pro-Brexit stance which appears to be underpinned by an "it'll be fine" logic, notwithstanding the growing likelihood that Brexit is going to be hard and messy. We see the emergence of unintended consequences, such as a possible second Scottish referendum (dismissed by Brexiteers as Project Fear propaganda during the referendum campaign).
An erratic Donald Trump will be no friend to Britain, with our large trade surplus with the US. Trade deals for Britain with other big trading partners are unlikely to be priorities given the other challenges many countries face (including my homeland where keeping the wheels on Nafta in Trump world is the focus).
So Matthew Lynn's article in the most recent issue (MoneyWeek 836) really got to me. I am not "scaremongering" when I talk to my colleagues about the mistake that I think Brexit will be. "Just stay silent" and invest in the UK "even if the outlook is uncertain" is both insulting and nave. It is my democratic right and duty to call it as I see it this isn't Russia. I am not blindly getting behind a policy which I believe is ruinous for the UK. My businesses will look at any further investment in the UK through the lenses of the political risk of Brexit that is what business owners are obliged to do.
Matthew's piece suggests that we Remainers speaking out would be responsible if Brexit negotiations failed. That is a cop out and shirking of responsibility that I'm seeing more of in the pro-Brexit press as the implications of triggering Article 50 start to bite. To all those who campaigned for Brexit: you break it, you own it.
To date, I have tuned out the pro-Brexit stuff in Money Week and focused on the investment side of the magazine, which I enjoy. But Matthew Lynn's piece was just too much. You might want to consider that a lot of your readership were, and remain, Remainers.
MoneyWeek backed Brexit and we continue to believe that leaving the European Union will be the best choice for the UK in the long run. However, we recognise that the process may be bumpy in the short term and we want to see the UK get the best deal for both sides during the negotiations to make it as easy as possible. We will be covering the Brexit discussions from that perspective and will not shy away from reflecting how messy it may get, as we hope is clear from our politics page this week.
Beyond that, we always aim to ensure that different viewpoints are represented in the magazine. Matthew Lynn's column reflects the fact that he is strongly in favour of Brexit, but other parts of the magazine such as the columnists and blogs pages often feature articles that are highly critical of Brexit.
The union's not so successful
In your editorial in issue 836, you refer to "a mostly successful union such as the UK". Yet in your editorial in issue 832, you state that "national debt is around 80% of GDP Add in unfunded pensions it is more like 191% of GDP. And we add to it every day Budget deficit fourth largest (relative to GDP) of all 28 advanced economies The UK might be able to run roughly balanced budget most years. But the £1.5trn in debt? Not a hope The only way to get rid of it is to default which one way or another means creating inflation."
That's "mostly successful"? Sounds more like a banana republic. I am 69 years old, and have lived through galloping inflation. The pound is now worth about 1/100th of its value when I was a young man. I have been able to accumulate enough resources, including gold, to view this with equanimity, but, for a large part of the population, this will make them poorer. I appreciate that you are talking to people, wealthier than me, who have been able to take advantage of successive UK governments' mismanagement of the economy. However, it is only for this minority that the UK be described as "mostly successful".
The countries of the United Kingdom have been better off as a result of the union than they would have been individually, so we think the union itself is clearly successful. That's not to say that the union has always been well governed. The explosion of debt and the destruction of wealth that results from inflation are examples of where policymakers have mismanaged the economy to the detriment of all but a few. We are as concerned about that as we are about the wrecking of the union.
Transferring my Isas
I have a stocks and shares individual savings account (Isa) and a cash Isa. I would like to move cash from my stocks and shares Isa to my cash Isa and vice versa depending on how I view the market, but I get the impression that it is not possible to do this. Can you confirm?
You can transfer cash between a stocks and shares Isa and a cash Isa and back again, but you need to make sure that you do this by making a transfer request to the provider you want to transfer the cash to. If you withdraw the money from one account and pay it into the other, it will count as part of your Isa allowance for the year. The time taken to complete a transfer will depend on the efficiency of the organisations involved. You can expect it to take a week or a couple of weeks at best and sometimes longer. Anecdotally, transferring a cash Isa to another cash Isa or a cash Isa to a stocks and shares Isa often seems to happen more smoothly that transferring cash from a stocks and shares Isa to a cash Isa or a stocks and shares Isa to another stocks and shares Isa.
Previously it was only possible to transfer money from a cash Isa to a stocks and shares Isa and not the other way round. This rule was changed in 2014 as part of a broader set of Isa reforms that also allowed cash to be held in a stocks and shares Isa (previously it could only be held pending reinvestment). Interest on cash in a stocks and shares Isa was no longer subject to income tax. The hope was that this would lead to brokers offering new all-in-one Isas that paid a good rate of interest on cash in the account and also offered a wide range of investments.
This has not happened and interest on cash balances in stocks and shares Isas remains nugatory. This is largely because interest rates remain very low and brokers depend on the "interest rate turn" (the spread between the interest they receive on clients' cash deposits and the interest they pay to clients) for part of their profits.
Writing to MoneyWeek
MoneyWeek welcomes letters and emails from readers, but unfortunately we are not able to publish or reply to all of them. We may edit letters prior to publication. All responses are for information only and should not be relied upon in making investment decisions. Our staff are unable to respond to personal investment queries, as MoneyWeek is not authorised to provide individual investment advice. Please email us at email@example.com, or write to us at Editor, MoneyWeek, 8th Floor, Friars Bridge Court, 41-45 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NZ.