So much has happened for investors in almost the twinkling of an eye, it’s certainly time for a new edition of Investing For Dummies.

Over the past seven or eight years, economic and investment market crises convulsed the world. They include the first ever run on a UK bank in a century and a half; the nationalisation of two of the biggest UK banks; the collapse of some of New York’s biggest investment banks; mayhem in the US housing finance market; the bankruptcy of Icelandic banks; the rescue of the Greek and many other smaller European economies in the Eurozone; record low interest rates almost everywhere, guaranteeing that savers get a bad deal; and the rise of emerging market economies such as India and China. And that’s only scratching the surface of all the recent changes in the world of investing.

And then, as day follows night, the dark side of financial markets turned sunnier. Share prices in the United States soared to record levels, ‘euro’ and ‘crisis’ no longer automatically always appeared one after the other, UK markets perked up – and investors who had placed their faith in the great emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China were disappointed.

Dramatic? Yes. But these big ups and downs have existed ever since financial markets came onto the scene.

On top of all that, UK rules governing what is most people’s biggest and most crucial investment – their pension – have changed out of all recognition. So many restrictions have been introduced ...

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