This week in MoneyWeek magazine: higher returns with activist investors; why bitcoin isn't a fraud; and a worrying sign in the bond market.
Plus, the regulator is coming for buy-to-let landlords; the growing pains of the new breed of digital bank; and why many pension savers are facing a "lifestyle problem'. All that, plus our unbeatable roundup of the share tips from the rest of the UK's press; news and views from the markets, politics and economics; plus more on personal finance, property and pensions.
Again, this week, we're making all our content freely available on the MoneyWeek website. Have a look around now, or click on the links below to go direct to the articles. We're confident you'll like what you see if you do, why not sign up to the magazine? (This is a limited offer, remember.) Sign up here now.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Why you should invest with the corporate activists
"Stratospheric levels of executive pay have become a hot political issue in recent years", says my colleague Matthew Partridge. Big shareholders have traditionally been unwilling to hold company bosses to account which has allowed them to "get away with bad habits that ultimately damage returns for shareholders". Thankfully, things are starting to change. Asset managers are increasingly working with activist hedge funds, who buy up stakes in underperforming companies "with the aim of
forcing through major changes or even removing management teams that are not up to scratch". Matthew looks at the strategies they employ, asks how effective they are, and picks some of the best ways for ordinary investors to cash in on the phenomenon.
Bitcoin (or rather blockchain) is "dotcom 3.0"
You will almost certainly have heard of bitcoin by now. If you haven't - where have you been? It's the hottest thing around, making phenomenal gains in the last few months. It's been joined by a seemingly infinite number of new cryptocurrencies eager to follow in its success and make their creators into multimillionaires. A lot of people are calling it a bubble (which it is). Some have gone further. Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan described it as "a fraud for stupid people". My colleague Charlie Morris doesn't agree. It's clearly a mania, but it's not a fraud, he says. In fact, blockchain, the technology behind it, has created a whole new asset class that he's calling "dotcom 3.0". Bitcoin and blockchain is a fast-evolving area, and there are hundreds of different opinions. And I have to say that I don't completely agree with Charlie on bitcoin, but he's bang on the money about blockchain. Find out why he's so enthusiastic
Worrying times for bonds
Austria has just sold investors €3.5bn worth of bonds. Nothing wildly unusual about that, you might think. That's what countries do. But these bonds don't mature for 100 years. And Austria is a country that has only been in existence for 62 years and which uses a currency that has been around for less than 20 years. That didn't seem to worry investors. They queued around the block to get their hands on them bonds that will take them 44 years to recoup their capital. Why? And what exactly does it all mean?
As I said above, all of these articles and more are now freely available for you to read on the MoneyWeek website. But time is running out. So have a look around, and if you like what you see, sign up to MoneyWeek magazine.
Ben studied modern languages at London University's Queen Mary College. After dabbling unhappily in local government finance for a while, he went to work for The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. The launch of the paper's website, scotsman.com, in the early years of the dotcom craze, saw Ben move online to manage the Business and Motors channels before becoming deputy editor with responsibility for all aspects of online production for The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News websites, along with the papers' Edinburgh Festivals website.
Ben joined MoneyWeek as website editor in 2008, just as the Great Financial Crisis was brewing. He has written extensively for the website and magazine, with a particular emphasis on alternative finance and fintech, including blockchain and bitcoin. As an early adopter of bitcoin, Ben bought when the price was under $200, but went on to spend it all on foolish fripperies.
The fallout from the war on landlords
Investors fleeing the market and the rise in rents are affecting us all.
By Charlie Ellingworth Published
Eight small-cap trusts to bet on
Funds investing in market minnows are out of favour, but the cycle will turn. Here are the best bets.
By Max King Published