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The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 37/2019

The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 37/2019

Every week our guest blogger, David Oakes of Mosaic Money Management (aka The Financial Ironmonger), shares with us his take on some of the major UK and overseas macro and political events that shaped the previous week.

Please be reminded the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall or rise. The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Chelverton Asset Management Limited or Mosaic Money Management. The contents of this article are not intended as investment or tax advice and will not be updated after publication unless otherwise stated.


Some ten days ago, one of the readers asked me what on earth I would write in Blog No. 36, given the general chaos evident at the time, which seemed a fair question, demanding sensible answers. I replied that it would cover, amongst other things, the price of secondhand canal boats. Always pick a topic where no one else is likely to question your opinion, when stuck in a corner.

The background research had to be done, of course. There is something very peaceful about walking alongside a canal; nothing much happens, and certainly not in a rush. They remain marvels of civil engineering from the early 1800’s, the build quality far surpasses anything done now, which is why they survive, still. They consumed vast amounts of private capital, the first form of mass transportation; certain to be a winner.

Yet, the system had hardly been completed than the railway arrived, often built alongside the canals, destroying the economic model. Undeterred, private investors sank yet more in to this sure-fire way of making money, which some did, until they were seized by the government in the nationalisation of 1947. By then the car was starting to make a serious impact, with the first motorway built in 1958, without a penny of private investment, you will note.

It remained pretty much so until an ill faited decision to split the track from the operating companies, being flogged to private investors in a company called Railtrack, subsequently renationalised, at vast cost to those investors. Not surprisingly, all new projects must be built by the government, since no one will treat with them. Should HS2 ever be built, it will have fallen victim to canal syndrome, and you can see it happening already.

The standard working day in a shared office is being replaced by technology, and the one thing the government can do is built the best internet access possible, linking every community in the country, drawing in all the diverse skills we have, and which will prosper without all these old constraints, thus spreading wealth across the country. Should he survive, Boris seems to understand this, as opposed to the opposition, who wish to nationalise private education.

The answer to the original theme is that the price is closely correlated to the wholesale price of steel, from which they are built. The research trip led to a pub, (this is known as method), and an extraordinary finding. A canal boat with a satnav system which would not have disgraced a transatlantic yacht, which seemed completely over the top, since any junction you come to has a simple binary outcome.

Maybe the owner simply wanted certainty in a world which is anything but, the old norms having been discarded in the current political turmoil. It was yet another crazy week, but if you had to pick one outstanding moment, it would be the Scottish judges ruling that prorogation was unlawful. It was a blatantly political act, and one that I hope is overturned on Tuesday.

Amidst all the noise, it is clear that both the EU and the DUP find the thought of no-deal totally unacceptable, given the economic damage this would bring. So, expect some sort of fudge which will accommodate most sides and life can move on. There was never going to be a clear winner.


David joined Manchester stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden in 1977 and after becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1984 held a number of senior positions within the firm including Managing Director of the in-house fund management company and member of the Executive Committee.

After senior appointments at Cazenove Fund Management and latterly Mercater Capital Management, David joined Mosaic Money Management in 2013. He has successfully managed private client and fund portfolios for over thirty years and has particular expertise in providing a multi manager service to his loyal client base.

The Financial Ironmonger is a hat-tip to Ironmonger Lane, the location of Chelverton’s London office.