Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no. 411

The great stock swindle

21 November 2008 / Issue 411

Don't get ripped off by the City... PLUS: 

  • Why it's a great time to invest in rubbish
  • Buying gilts can protect you from deflation
  • Bill Bonner: why we're all turning Japanese


This bear will bite to the bone

I put an advertisement on Gumtree last week looking for someone to help me out with childcare for 16 hours a week. Usually, as most mothers will know, when you do this you get a trickle of applications, mostly from people you wouldn’t let near your children in a million years.

This time, I’ve had nearly 80. And ten days after I put the advertisement up they’re still coming in. I have heard from an accountant, an intensive-care pediatric nurse and tens of marketing executives, as well as a good 30 unemployed nannies. Most are looking for full-time jobs, but all are prepared to compromise; all are prepared to commit to this very part-time position for at least six months, and I would be happy to employ almost all of them.

So why do all these women want to spend their time singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and dancing the Hokey Cokey? Simple. There are no other jobs available: this is probably the best chance of an income they are going to get this side of an economic recovery. And that could be a very long way off. Great for me. Not so great for everyone else

It is yet one more reminder, were any needed, of just how shocking a state our economy is in. None of these people are going to be doing much Christmas shopping this year – and nor, I would guess, are the friends and families keeping a nervous eye on their predicament. They also certainly aren’t going to be buying houses and if they have mortgages there is every chance that they won’t be able to meet the payments. The same goes for their unsecured debts.

It all makes me even more bearish on the stockmarket than I was already.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: This bear will bite to the bone