CLOS­ING BELL

The Scotsman - - Farming - gareth howlett

ILIKE the in­vest­ment com­pe­ti­tions you see in the pa­pers now and then. You know the for­mat – any­one can en­ter, pick a hand­ful of stocks and six months later a pic­ture of the win­ning team ap­pears.

If the paper is lucky it’ll be fresh-faced school­child­ren or grey-haired grannies, their stocks have beaten the in­dex, and the story writes it­self (“City slick­ers beaten by the Broons”). When the hon­est en­deav­ours of or­di­nary folk de­feat the machi­na­tions of fund man­agers and stock­bro­kers, we all cheer.

Ex­cept it isn’t quite as sim­ple as that. Let me ex­plain why by telling you a “what if?” story.

Take 1,000 av­er­age club golfers and let them hit one shot each on a par three hole. These thou­sand shots will be all

“So long as there is a de­mand for snake oil, there will be snake-oil sales­men”

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