Merryn’s blog

Governments don’t need to ban cash, we’ll all just stop using it

A lot of people worry that central banks and governments will ban cash. But they may not need to, says Merryn Somerset Webb. We might just decide to do without it.

Should companies divert dividends to clear pension deficits?

Most FTSE 100 companies could clear their pension deficits in under two years if they diverted all dividend payments to their pension funds instead. Should they?

For property investors, Birmingham beats London hands down

For anyone investing in or building property today, Birmingham is clearly a better place to be doing it than London, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

Alliance Trust is finally getting its act together

Alliance is finally doing what it should have been doing for the last 20 years – offering low-cost, high-conviction and well diversified investment for the masses.

How to solve the UK’s housing crisis

Houses to let © Getty Images

The problem in the UK housing market is not a shortage of housing but a surplus of speculation called by very low interest rates. Solve that, says Merryn Somerset Webb, and you solve the “housing crisis”.

People don’t actually buy cars any more, and that could turn out to be a very bad thing

The way people buy cars has changed. Most use “personal contract plans” – a form of cheap debt. And that could come back to haunt us, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

Defined benefits pensions could leave business owners destitute

The hypothetical deficits in some defined-benefits pension schemes could leave blameless small business owners facing bankruptcy, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

Why modern monetary policy doesn't work – the models it uses are horribly out of date

The Bank of England’s monetary policy isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, says Merryn Somerset Webb. The whole thing needs a thorough overhaul.

The gig economy and the death of tipping

The rise of the cashless society and the “gig economy” has led to a decline in the rate of tipping. It raises a lot of interesting social questions, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

We should give “education vouchers” for parents to spend on schools as they wish

Why not give every parent a voucher for £5,500 to spend on free state education or as a top-up for a private education?

The trouble with using bond yields to calculate pension fund liabilities

Defined-benefit pension funds calculate their liabilities using gilt yields as an indicator of the long-term return they are likely to get. But that could expose them to a whole lot of new problems, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

Philip Hammond's looking for market failure – he'll find it in the fund management sector

After intervening in the “market failure” of lettings fees for tenants, Philip Hammond should turn his attention to fund management fees, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

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