I wrote my first column for Expert investor in June of this year, after my dear editor Kirsten asked me whether I would be willing to put down some words each week for the site on a regular basis. This was, in turn, given the okay by those above us at Last Word, now Bonhill. The chief architect in this regard seems to have been Julian Marr, our editor-in-chief.
The funny thing is that this was the second time in nearly 15 years that Julian had hired me for an editorial position. In mid-2007, he interviewed me for another media company as part of its graduate intake, during which time I was employed in my first—and, to date, only—staff writer position. That Julian hired me again in 2021 is a reflection of his great faith in my work or proof that he is a terrible judge of character.
Personally, my thoughts are that Julian attempted to hire a ‘Pete Carver’ in 2007, ticked the wrong box, and has since then been attempting to, as the youngsters say, style it out. Meanwhile, someone with a similar surname to mine still wonders how that interview 14 years ago, which seemed such a sure thing, never quite panned out. My only and final wish is that jealous husbands, loan sharks, and banks continue to mix the two of us up.
But thanks again, Julian, no matter how it happened.
My first analysis piece for Expert Investor was this one, on investment firms and cybersecurity. Since then, I have written two each week, along with news stories.
There have been a handful of standouts. Firstly, there was my original reporting on German green investment firm UDI, which was ordered by BaFin to wrap up a number of its projects due to its acting like a bank but without a banking licence. We followed this story up, talking to the lawyers involved, some of whom were warning of a multi-million-euro implosion of the company. We will hopefully be circling back on the UDI saga come January.
I would like to think that we have made a difference this year and if we have not had the impact we think our stories deserved, then at least I hope some people were dutifully embarrassed. For this, I’m nominating Vanguard and its spokespeople in the UK whose day I ruined when I reported twice that its US-based charitable wing Vanguard Charitable has a disturbing habit of donating shamelessly to far-right hate groups.
2021 saw me find time to slate Boris Johnson off now and again, which usually had Kirsten getting busy with her red pen to avoid libel suits and visits from Special Branch. I tempered my loathing of our PM with a note regarding my genuine affection for Angela Merkel, who stepped down this week as chancellor of Germany to be replaced by Olaf Scholz.
This year (well, from June, anyway) has seen me be curmudgeonly about all aspects of politics and capitalism. I suspect next year will be more of the same.
Writing this from a hotel room in southern Sweden, where yesterday it was -14 outside, I can tell you that one thread I shall be picking up the next time I am on these pages will be that the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting restrictions have made people worse. Yesterday, at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, someone-who was not wearing a mask-refused to let me sit down on a bench as it was too close them (“No, not within 1.5 metres.”). The same person then tried to gaslight, saying that there was no mask rule in the airport, despite it being announced every three minutes over the tannoy. (“Public address system.”)
As we go into 2022, what can we expect?
Well, I think inflation is going to continue to rise, given Biden’s protectionist policies, aligned with an energy crisis and a resurgent coronavirus pandemic. Evergrande may ripple out across the world economy. Boris Johnson will probably hold a party at 10 Downing Street to celebrate no repercussions from throwing a party last year at Downing Street. Coronavirus will rumble on, but maybe absent Joe Wicks. Mixed blessings.
I tend to hate Christmas, considering it a holiday only for children and for adults who act like children. I tell my own offspring that each time a chocolate is eaten before 24 December a Christmas elf dies. However, Madame Carvill has been better at brainwashing them than I, so they know I am full of it.
But 2021 has been a rough year, as was 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. If you made it this far, well done.
I mentioned early in this piece that I am writing this from a hotel in southern Sweden. I am, in fact, in the town of Nykoping, an hour away from Stockholm. I am here to write a piece on boxer Erik Skoglund, who unfortunately suffered a brain injury four years ago when training. And he is doing well, but it was close.
It is a reminder that our lives are short, finite, and ultimately pointless. If there is a point, it is not the destination, but the journey. No matter what happens until I am back on Expert Investor, please take your time off during the holidays, hold your nearest and dearest close and remember, always, that our time with the people we love is limited.
So make the best of it.
And on that note, I will wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and I look forward to having us all back here again on these pages in 2022.