Good morning! I'm back from holidays and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things here.

This list is final: 



Italy

A brief word on Italy. This was a terrific holiday which incorporated the central Italian countryside, Sorrento and Rome.

I was deliberately avoiding "work", and did not for one moment think about the threat posed by Italian debts as I toured the Colloseum, the Vatican and the catacombs.

Thanks to my almost total avoidance of work, I have only a few investment-related observations to provide you from this trip.

One thing I did notice was Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena (BMPS). This is arguably the oldest bank in the world which is still operating (despite some financial difficulties) and it was intriguing to see its branches in real life.

Another thing I noticed was chaos on the streets of Naples. It was my first time driving on the wrong side of the road, and this difficulty was compounded by the refusal of the Italians (both motorists and pedestrians) to leave alone any square inch that they did not need. 

It reminded me very much of my trip to China, but at least in China I was on foot. Driving a mid-sized SUV through Naples is not something that I would recommend to anyone from the UK or Ireland, unless it is absolutely necessary. Indeed, I'm surprised that the injury rate from road traffic accidents in Italy is only 12% higher than the EU average.

The countryside, by contrast, was a very pleasant drive. The motorways were in good condition although there were a surprising number of roundworks.

This brings me to my point that as a tourist, I would have no idea that the Italian economy suffered a mild recession at the end of 2018. With plenty of roadworks underway (presumably not abandoned before they were finished), with the trains running…

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