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porca misèria

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Everything posted by porca misèria

  1. I hope you'd pick better companies than those to lend to! OK, Virgin's not all bad, but neither is it a single company ... but I'd apply the bargepole to sky or dyson.
  2. Erm, why should Apple issue bonds of any kind? I thought they had a vast cash pile! Are they borrowing money at negative interest rates?
  3. Bla bla bla. Yes of course it could be argued. Marx did exactly that. Sadly, Marx was one of those fine armchair strategists with a great insight into a problem but hopelessly impractical proposals to try and solve it.
  4. That is a huge frustration! Later childhood and the 'teens are an incredibly creative time of life. Why are bright kids held back for so long by school, instead of - for those whose interests point that way - pushing the boundaries of physics?
  5. Does Primark have a separate pension fund from its owner ABF (of which it is a big part)? It's not listed in any of the lists I've seen of companies weighed down by disproportionate pension liabilities.
  6. Classical musicians aren't rich in general. Of course a few at the top make big money, but the vast majority who scrape a living on a portfolio of freelancing odd jobs, teaching kiddies, playing a church organ, and the like often scrape by on an income in the ballpark of minimum wage or lower. And not every fiddle is a Stradivari or Amati. You would surely start a kid on something much cheaper, and get the best only for the elite who show the level of promise to make a glittering career, and serious money, on the concert platform. Umm ... so how much does a modern violin fit for an orchestra set you back?
  7. Hmmm. You're talking about areas like music and sports there? Where the outstanding pupil progresses from the local teacher to the national or world-class teachers if they're to achieve the top of their field? And there are plenty below that level who can still enjoy their hobby as amateurs - like me with music. There's a crucial difference in purely academic disciplines. You still need early exposure to great minds, but you can get it on-the-cheap from books. And nowadays also the 'net. What a bizarre statement. How are the rich or the moderately-poor to become the elite in a vacuum? Are you saying "the poorest" as a proxy for parents who keep the kids well away from any positive stimulus? That seems entirely likely. From my own experience, it's not entirely that. "Don't be different or you'll get bullied", "keep the head down" is a hell of an issue at certain ages (more in the earlier than the later years of comprehensive school - or maybe I just learned to conform), but there's another side to it which is deference: the parental "don't be a nuisance", "don't ask for things, wait until you're offered". I certainly had a big adjustment to make on arriving at Cambridge. But that was at the academic level. For the first time, I wasn't getting bored witless (and resorting to displacement activities) by a teacher giving us a concept that takes one minutes explanation to grasp, and dragging it out over many hours and even weeks as if it were somehow difficult. For the first time, I was among people where someone else might grasp a concept while I was the one still struggling with it! Would you see that as a difference between comprehensive and elite schools in your students?
  8. That has happened in the UK within most of our lifetimes. Consider two worlds. How did we move from one to the other? You are (largely) defined by your job. You progress through life up the corporate career ladder, or equivalent such as civil service. If you have a good degree, you have a reasonable expectation of a fast track. On the other hand, it's rude to push yourself forward, and the word for (what we now call) entrepreneur is "spiv". The career ladder is clogged up by people already somewhere above you, and opportunities for progression are much-diminished. "Dead mens shoes" has become dark humour for a system that is broke, clogged up, and creating ever fewer new opportunities. A new paradigm is needed, oldfashioned politeness is swept away, and the age of the entrepreneur is born.
  9. Two wrongs don't make a right. Get rid of the stupid, artificial distinction between the two income taxes. You'd also have a double-taxation problem, as NI (unlike honest income tax) has already been paid on money in pension pots.
  10. If you look at areas where elitism is still allowed, you see that most of those Olympic athletes come from fee-paying schools. There is still value to be had for money, and that includes sporting facilities most of us will never see as well as probably an above-average chance of being noticed if you start to show real promise. Ah, yes. Another area where some schools matter. There's a choir in London that does most of the Hollywood soundtracks, because the 'merkins don't have a comparable group with the capability of those educated in cathedral schools to just pick up a new score and record it on first sight.
  11. As your anonymous comment says, HL has something somewhat similar. I've moved quite a lot of money from funds to listed ITs in response, but there's a long way to go. In part because some of the funds have no IT equivalent, or the latter trades at a massive premium (global infrastructure being a case in point - I hold the First State OEIC).
  12. For real-life figures, look at service charges on flats. That is, those flats owned and managed by the leaseholders on their own behalf, and not paying for things like some poncy concierge. There's a tradeoff between money spent and standard of maintenance. A house should be rather more, because you're losing the benefits of pooling your resources. But is under your control: you can do nothing for long periods and the house remains perfectly habitable, though it'll lose value.
  13. Sadly the alternative is necessarily unspoken: "The NHS is crap: it strung me along until it was too late to go elsewhere, now I'm dead". So perhaps I should speak it again on behalf of my late lamented relative, whose NHS cancer operation remained for 4-5 months on a "week after next" timescale until it was too late.
  14. The problem with local currencies is there's no real point. Noone actually benefits from them. But the sharing economy certainly extends to skills and labour. You could argue that the Yellow Pages and similar directories, or the small-ads, are an earlier incarnation of it. Now there are lots of online sites in that space: in software development, find-a-freelancer sites have been around since sometime last century. And just look at the number of wannabes seeking to crowdfund right now! I think the main point here is that, in the absence of barriers to entry, the "sharing economy" tends to become a race to the bottom. Find-a-freelancer sites are well known for it. Where there are high barriers to entry (e.g. serious professional qualifications), the "sharing economy" has yet to make inroads into more traditional means: I guess a more complex situation is less amenable to simplistic solutions, and linkedin is probably the most successful attempt. But where the barrier is simply capital (like uber and airbnb), it's kind-of a happy medium where something works.
  15. If you're looking for a new paradigm, the so-called Sharing Economy might be a revival of capitalism. Like Airbnb and Uber enabling millions of owners of capital to leverage it on a small scale for profit in new ways and for less effort than starting up a more traditional business. All based on a market much less corrupted and regulated than the banks have become. And with its low marginal costs, it should be quite resistant to interference short of outright outlawing.
  16. That was on Radio 4 a few days ago. Wonder if the Wail nicked it? The big sticking points on TTIP are areas like this, where the EU won't accept practices that the US insists on. Even more important instances are food pumped full of growth hormones (which I think the EU is entirely right to resist) or genetically modified (where the EU is wrong but nevertheless has an underlying point). With brexit, we in Blighty will be in urgent need of new trade deals, and in a much weaker negotiating position. Chances are we'll roll over and accept US conditions with just some token concessions on their part, just to get an agreement up-and-running. That could have quite a radical effect on shopping. Because Uncle Sam won't accept practices that would lead to de facto exclusion of their growth-hormone-filled, genetically modified beef. Like, for instance, labelling, whether directly in the form of "GM-free" or indeed a proxy like "British reared".
  17. Speaking as someone who is now on minimum wage, I can say it's a lot better than I've been on for much of my life. Rent is a big chunk of it, but gets me a house that would've been a HMO for 7 people (and a better one than I lived in) for the same proportion of my graduate income in 1983. And tax has all-but disappeared due to the rapid rise of the threshold.
  18. Maybe Brit pensioners getting the boot from France and Spain could be the straw that breaks the NHS's back? It survived on immigrants in the old days, too. The comedians were allowed to send it up a bit:
  19. That - if true - is the core of a HPC. No buyers. Not 1990: zero interest rates mean few are under any pressure to sell. But a market where buyers and renters are better-placed to drive a harder bargain!
  20. Yes, but the alternative of handling cash is more expensive now, according to various retailers. Sorting it, securing it, counting it.
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