Merryn Somerset-Webb

Investment: Buy to lose

Take a quick look at the UK buy-to-let market and you might find it tough to understand exactly what it is that makes it so very popular. Dealing with tenants is difficult and boring. House prices have a horrible tendency to go down as well as up (Londoners — ask anyone living in the north

Worry about the eurozone crisis if you like. But profit, too

If you want something to worry about, you need only cast your eye across the channel to find yourself spoilt for choice. There is the background noise of massive unrepayable sovereign debt levels. There’s huge youth unemployment. There are angry minority political parties — note the rise of Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos. There is the

INVESTMENT SPECIAL: Sell the East, buy the West

The end is nigh for the Asian boom – but parts of Europe look perky At the beginning of 2010 I was asked to announce my ‘trade of the decade’. Forecasting ten years ahead should be easier than forecasting short-term. But at the time the global economic outlook was more than usually uncertain. That made

What it means for your savings if Scotland votes yes

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Fraser Nelson, Tom Holland and Leah McLaren discuss how we can still save the Union” startat=50] Listen [/audioplayer]I bet that until a few days ago you thought the referendum in Scotland was a mildly amusing sideshow. Perhaps you still do. Perhaps you are convinced that the ‘silent majority’ that Better Together are so

How to make money from the Scottish referendum

The best time to buy an asset is when no one else can stomach it. Great fortunes are made in uncertainty. The self-made rich aren’t the ones who hung around on the edge of an iffy situation thinking about the possible disasters. They’re the ones who calculated the odds and bought before anyone else was

If only more banks were more like Wonga

I know a lot of people who work in the financial industry. One on one, they are decent and kind. I’d trust them to look after my handbag in the pub while I went to the Ladies. But you know what? I wouldn’t trust many of them to look after my pension or my ISA.

Reform at last

A decade ago I wrote here about the way financial advisers are paid. I told you how, instead of giving you a bill, your adviser is allowed to sell you investment products in exchange for a commission from the product provider plus a cut of your assets every year for as long as you continue

Investment Special: Searching for income

The outcome of last week’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting came as no surprise, but if you’re trying to live off income generated from capital, it was still bloody irritating. Once again, base rate was left at 0.5 per cent, its lowest level since records began in 1694. Once again, it was decided that quantitative easing

INVESTMENT SPECIAL: The kids can wait

The government wants you to save more. You might think that odd for two reasons. First, because if you are an average person you’re unlikely to have much extra to save; your mortgage payments may be lower than they were, but what the financial crisis has given you with one hand it is ripping away

Any other business | 27 August 2011

The shocks won’t end with the summer The world’s stock markets have had a ­pretty gruesome August. Listen to most of the financial press and you might think the reasons for this are ­hideously complicated. Not so. It boils down to the simple truth neatly summed up by Tim Price, director of investments at PFP Group: ‘What is unsustainable by ­definition

My crystal ball sees disappointment ahead

Merryn Somerset Webb doubts that markets will go on rising — and advises us how not to get poorer in 2010 Back in early 2007, an interviewer challenged my stance on the housing market. She pointed out that I had been bearish on the property market for several years but that the market did not

Private education

School fees: a luxury you can’t afford The credit crunch is taking a terrible toll on the middle classes. They’ve started to give up their organic boxes (sales are down 10 per cent at some companies), their foreign holidays (can the new fad for camping really be a choice thing?), their Chelsea tractors, and even

The City’s fascination with farming

Everyone’s an expert on agriculture these days. Talk to anyone in the City: when they’re not boring you with how much copper wire it takes to build a satellite city outside Shanghai and what that means for mining shares, they’re telling you about soy bean yields in Brazil and the rising price of powdered milk.

The price of sex in the City

Morgan Stanley has just hosted its first ‘early access’ event for young women: 75 girls from 15 top schools were taken on a tour of the trading floor (I bet there weren’t many traders off sick that day) Morgan Stanley has just hosted its first ‘early access’ event for young women: 75 girls from 15

Women and money make a perfect match

The City summer party season has begun. I kicked it off with a fifth-anniversary party for Neptune Investment Management last Thursday. I like Neptune: they’ve got good funds and a good business, and offering drinks after hours at the Wallace Collection is clearly a fine way to win fans. But the party had one faintly