Nine of the most interesting conversations we had in 2021

John Stepek looks back at some of the guests we've had on the MoneyWeek podcast over the last year.

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The MoneyWeek podcast is going from strength to strength.

This year we had more listeners than ever, and Merryn had some absolutely superb guests on the show.

So as I did this time last year, I wanted to take a rifle through the archive and pick out some of the best ones for you to listen to if you missed them...

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Value investing against a very bubble backdrop

The most popular podcast of the year was Merryn's interview with US investment giant Jeremy Grantham, founder of US asset manager GMO. I've often quoted Grantham's work (not least of all in my book, The Sceptical Investor) and he's someone for whom I have a huge amount of respect.

But quite beyond his reputation, he doesn't pull any punches. Grantham reckons we're in the biggest bubble ever, but what's also interesting is that back in August, he reckoned it had already popped. He highlighted the collapse, for example, in the Spac index and the slide in the most speculative assets since February.

It's thought-provoking, data-packed stuff. Give it a listen and you'll see why it was our most downloaded podcast of the year.

Where on earth do you hide if everything is overpriced? Well, you perhaps should take a look at a podcast Merryn recorded in March with Ian Lance and Nick Purves of the Temple Bar investment trust. The value-focused pair provide thoughts on investing in the world's most-shunned stocks which still stands up now.

You should also tune into Merryn's absolutely fascinating podcast from October with Andrew Hunt, a "deep value" investor and author, who explains why it's a brilliant time to be hunting for value stocks – and shares the areas he's most excited about.

We've also had some fascinating guests discussing more structural issues in markets. I really enjoyed author Vivek Ramaswamy's lucid demolition of "woke" capital, in which he warns of how big asset managers and multinationals are effectively using the culture wars to undermine democracy and pull attention away from the issues that really matter to making society better – but that might end up costing them money. A good one to listen to, to get your blood pressure up.

The finances of the Roman empire, doom, NFTs – and outrageous forecasts

I've always been a big fan of financial history, so author and actuary George Maher's discussion of the finances of the Roman Empire was a treat.

Another popular history-orientated podcast was Merryn's interview with Professor Niall Ferguson, best-selling author and historian, about his well-timed book Doom: the Politics of Catastrophe. One factor he highlights is that the "pathologies of bureaucracy" are often to blame for the mishandling of disasters. It's a fascinating interview and well worth half an hour of your time.

From history to the near (or possibly slightly more distant) future – in April, MoneyWeek regular Pippa Malmgren tried to explain to us what non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are, and why they have much more significance than just being for overgrown children to trade badly drawn computer graphics with one another. We recorded this one as a video as well, you can watch it here.

Andy Haldane, by contrast, in one of his last interviews as the Bank of England's chief economist, said that "bitcoin as money is a fanciful idea that should fill us with horror". Agree or not, if you listen to this one you'll rapidly realise that the Bank lost a valuable independent thinker this year.

Finally, if you're looking for an idea of what might happen next year, you should listen to Merryn's recent interview with Steen Jakobsen, in which the Saxo Bank chief investment officer discusses the bank's ten "outrageous predictions" for 2022 – some of which don't actually seem that wild when you consider where we're starting from.

(Incidentally, this is also an unusual MoneyWeek podcast in that Karl Marx gets mentioned in a positive light – one to share with the Gen Z-er in your life who you think might have a sneaking interest in investing).

Anyway, that's a solid four-and-a-half hours of high-quality listening material for you to tune into while you're working off the Christmas overeating (or lazing off the New Year hangover).

And there's plenty more where that came from. If you don't already listen to the podcast, you can find the new one every week on the website here, or you can subscribe via your podcast app of choice. And if you do already listen to the podcast, please leave a review (preferably a five-star one!) if you get a moment - we really appreciate your feedback.

John Stepek

John is the executive editor of MoneyWeek and writes our daily investment email, Money Morning. John graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in psychology in 1996 and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.

He started out in journalism by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms. In 2003, he took a job on the finance desk of Teletext, where he spent two years covering the markets and breaking financial news. John joined MoneyWeek in 2005.

His work has been published in Families in Business, Shares magazine, Spear's Magazine, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator among others. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. His first book, on contrarian investing, The Sceptical Investor, was released in March 2019. You can follow John on Twitter at @john_stepek.