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Alastair

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About Alastair

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    HPC Newbie
  1. Alastair

    Labour Will Cap Rent Rises !

    Bless the Labour party - the answer to almost every question is yet more regulation. Sadly they fail to realise that history judges these regulations by their fruit and entirely forgets the original intention. Thus they make themselves determined but unwitting hostages to the law of unintended consequences. If life is kind then the policy may get forgotten before they actually reach power. The unintended consequence here could, I suspect, involve pushing BTL landlords into bankruptcy and their tenants onto the street in vast numbers. This would require a certain blend of inflation, deflation and rent caps. Of course these circumstances could never occur - well not for the next 18 months anyway according to all respectable commentators. Think I am having a yellow day or is it just jaundice?
  2. Pretty much agree with all the previous points. To which I would add: This is hardly ground breaking: some German municipalities switched a while back AFAIR. Of course we (the UK) could have done this several years ago. It does rather open the door to use of Linux, FreeBSD or even OpenBSD across a range of tasks. It not only saves money on buying the software: it also saves money on the annual auditing of licenses (though this may be seen as Keynesian heresy). FINALLY it is wonderful to get something for nothing but if they want to go on getting something for nothing then they should contribute a meaty sum back to relevant open source projects so as to keep the virtuous circle going. £1M/ annum would represent a massive saving to government and make a big difference to the Open Source world.
  3. Alastair

    Silver - Few Questions :)

    1. Prices move so check sites such as: http://goldprice.org/live-gold-price.html 2. There have been some shysters on Ebay - try bona fide UK merchants/ dealers e.g. Bairds ( http://www.goldline.co.uk ) or Kitco ( http://www.kitco.com ) 3. Fashion and national pride dictate which coins folk choose. Though if they are officially minted and have your national currency stamped on them then you may not get hit for capital gains tax. ( You were going to tell the tax man when you sold them ... weren't you? ). 4. Higher purity is always good but probably not such a big deal. 5. Uncirculated means no scratches or fingerprints. 6. See 3. 7. See 2 - there are other reputable dealers 8. For what purpose? This stuff is a bit precious to have sitting at home. Depending on your objectives you may do well to look into http://www.goldmoney.com/
  4. To me a big part of the picture is that mining companies attract speculators (seeking higher share prices) rather than investors (seeking dividends) due to the dramatic transformations as a small collection of ventures works out or gets wiped out. Often miners start out as too small for pensions (etc) to be allowed to invest in them. Also they are individually off the radar of most analysts since they are so small in market cap terms. Starting out on a risky mining venture where the price of the commodities involve dramatic fluctuations (e.g. silver over the last 5 years), do run the risk of embarrassing any analyst who recommends them. For analysts it is a real specialty field involving a different methodology than most of the rest of the equity markets. Basically: bullion is a safety thing - risk off. Miners are risk fully on. Just now punters are mostly risk off.
  5. Having read through many of the comments wrt London being immune to drops, I have a few remarks: 1) London is not only part of the UK markets, it is also part of a market amongst European capital cities. With the currency drop in 2008/9, it began to appear cheap to some prospective buyers. 2) A great many oil rich families/ dynasties from the middle east who would otherwise have bought in New York or Washington; decided not to after 9/11, and bought in London instead. (This would certainly correlate with luxury goods companies having had a bouyant couple of years). 3) Watching the US market is quite instructive. Having dropped much further than the UK market; it is heading south again in no small way. Markets were reasonable or moderate on the way up; and they don't have to be on the way down. Hey ho
  6. Industrial demand for silver was largely photographic; medical has been expanding and some photovoltaic solar panels use it. Often it is used in tiny amounts which are rarely recovered hence there is less in circulation (+ reserves) that has been the case historically. It is about the most speculative of metals as is bourne out by it having the largest percentage drop in 2008 and the largest percentage rise since. One of the things about speculators is that they can stampede in either direction. During times when oil was $140 per barrel; the notion that it would go below $35 was regarded as insane .... but it did, for a while, despite peak oil and demand from China and India. Similarly there are those who reckon silver might dip to the high teens or low twenties before surging again; and others say it will go to the moon. There is a risk being in and risk being out ... some find that charting the gold to silver ration helps them time things.
  7. Firstly: less of what? The price in inflated pounds will probably be higher and in gold (or wheat or hours at minimum wage) the picture will be very different. Secondly: House prices fluctuate on a ~18 (?) year cycle. My guess is that house prices in real terms will fall from here for 5 years. They went up further than most of us thought possible so they may over swing on the way back. Interest rates are now at their lowest in a very long while. Am nowhere near retirement and even I can recall interest rates (BoE) over 14% so things do change. They went down further than most of us thought possible so they may over swing on the way back. We've been a society obsessed with house prices to the point where the coming generation in their 20's and 30's can barely afford a roof over their heads. Hopefully that too will swing back and they will be able to afford a civilised quality of life and well being.
  8. Alastair

    Interesting Conversation In The Pub

    Ahem ... an EA is obliged by law to forward all offers to the vendor.
  9. In the last couple of years there was a case in the states where a small businessman started paying staff in precious metal coinage (minted by the US government). And, of course, taxes were paid on the face value of the coinage dispensed. Their Inland Revenue took a dim view of this and there were some lengthy court battles and .... the little guy lost and the big lawyers won (quelle surprise). More here: http://www.gata.org/node/7696 The US has some bold statements about gold being real money; built right into the constitution so there is a philosophical dimension to their case. Here I think that British coins (even of precious metals) are not subject to capital gains tax. I could be wrong on that but it is probably as good as it gets. Curiously, one or two countries in southeast Asia value and transact property entirely in gold which is a thought provoking possibility.
  10. The BOE like all central banks, wants to infer that they are the controlling influence on markets and interest rates. The truth is a little different: if the international bond buyers decide not to play ball then gilt rates rise, followed comparably by the central bank minimum lending rates. Dig out the data - draw the graphs - you'll get the point. In short, the MPC is a follower and not a leader. To be sure they can buy their own national bonds but when they are the only buyer ... it gets embarassing and is seen as a harbinger of hyper-inflation. Hardly a badge of competence for any central banker. The BOE (MPC) know interest rate rises are on their way. The question is: will they be allowed to rise gently starting soon, or abruptly starting slightly later. History suggests that significant declines in house prices will start when the rates rise. The problem is that having had a ZIRP policy for so long, many of the foreclosures that should have happened over the last few years have been postponed. As ZIRP ends, the backlog of foreclosures will arrive with a fanfare of political embarassment. Slow motion train crash.
  11. Alastair

    Estate Agency Insanity - Cardiff

    There are online estate agents who will get your friends properties onto RightMove for less than the 2% charged by other estate agents. In the past I have used: http://www.thelittlehousecompany.co.uk who were okay. Of course, in the past auctions were used in these situations. Frankly if high street estate agents don't play straight then they could follow record shops and video rental stores into uneconomic history.
  12. Alastair

    What's A 'fair' Yield For My Landlord?

    Normal means the herd average. The herd went through a patch of buying overpriced properties and justifying it by saying that prices would go on up. Your 4% sounds probable and suggests the landlord hasn't fully accounted for voids (gaps between tenants), bad debts (but you're a good guy), maintenance or rises in interest rates. There will be landlords whose lifestyles have been subsidized by low interest rates; and it could be that as interest rates rise they find themselves having to top the mortgage payment from their earned income. If they are unable to top up then what follows is a forced sale scenario in a low property price context. In short you might find you need somewhere else to live in a hurry. Food for thought.
  13. Interesting: if the profits warning is heeded then Begbies Traynor could become an attractive buy; given that interest rates will rise sooner or later.
  14. Alastair

    Just Paid Off The Mortgage

    This sounds like you have a better rate of (net) interest on your savings than you are paying on your mortgage. If so I am impressed since this would be unusual. My argument for following your route would be to cover unexpected circumstances so my mortgage doesn't hit sudden arrears.
  15. Alastair

    Extremely Rare Day Down For F T S E

    This fake recovery has been largely a manipulation of markets by central governments through measures such as quantitative easing. Whenever a nation runs up a sizeable debt they are at risk of the GDP dropping unexpectedly and the debt to GDP ratio spinning out of control. Hells teeth, as a nation we are using a "credit card" to pay the interest on that same "credit card". Doing this as smart men in their fifties on behalf of the nation rather than as dopey teenagers with a real credit card doesn't make it any more credible. This either comes to an end with an Icelandic/ Argentinian experience of the IMF and sovereign default or we turn away from it by paying our debts gradually through austerity. Pretending that there is a "nice" way out of this mess is just daft.
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