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Other Writing – a sample
Making sense of Chaos
Investors Chronicle 2014, winner of CFA article of the year
Investment is about trying to build certainties into an uncertain world. Expected average rates of return in various markets, how much we should save, how long we are likely to live. Implicit in all this is the trust that, if we defer consumption – either through our savings, or via state and private pensions – that it will be there for us half a century later, increased in value – and of course that we will survive to enjoy it.
Looking at a broader canvas of human experience illustrates this. The idea that an individual can, at 20 years old, plan for a healthy and wealthy retirement 50 years later is one that would be laughable in most of human history.
The amazing power of money sent home
Migration is a big issue, the world over. People have strong views about whether it is good or bad for the host nation. For most migrants going abroad for a better life means the chance to earn more. However, perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the whole business is just how good migration is for those left behind back home.
It has been known for years that most economic migrants send money home. But a recent study by the United Nations Agriculture Fund shows that these remittances, as they are called, are far more important than was ever thought.
Lifting the lid on the Plain of Jars
MSN Travel 2010
The world’s most heavily bombed country, Laos, has a secret. Beneath a limestone plateau, littered with hundreds of neolithic stone jars, is a hidden underground city. For nine years Pathet Lao guerrillas hid in this complex of 480 caves from a rain of American bombs, and emerged to take control of the country. In a secret war in the 1960s, the U.S. dropped two million tons of munitions – more per head of population than any country has ever endured – trying to stop a wily army of 20,000 sandal-clad guerrillas supplying Communist allies in Vietnam.
Across Libya with the desert fox
Financial Times, March 2005
They say that Djinn live at Kaf Ejoul. Known as Devil’s Hill in the Tuareg tongue, this blackened stump of mountain is just a short distance from the Saharan town of Ghat and looms over the new airstrip built to bring tourists into Libya’s inaccessible south west corner. Whether it is those ancient spirits, celebrated in the tale of Aladdin’s lamp and mentioned in the Koran, or something else, Kaf Ejoul is certainly a strange place.
Heinrich Barth, one of the great Saharan explorers, almost lost his mind here after reaching the summit in 1850 on a trip commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society.
Snow-shoeing in Vermont – If you go down to the woods today
Financial Times, February 2004
Sir Ranulph Fiennes would probably be at home here, but we are not. It is minus 13 Fahrenheit (-25C) and my wife’s eyelashes have frozen solid. Beneath her breath-frosted hat and scarf I can see her blonde fringe stiff with ice. She appears to be smiling, but that could just be the pain of her numb fingers and toes. I fear recriminations. Read more… on another page
It is day one of an eight-day snowshoeing holiday to Vermont, and coincides with one of the coldest snaps in the north eastern U.S. for 30 years. As Louise reminds me, this was my idea.