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david m

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  1. EA is Coombe Residential. Those guys just love to massively overprice everything and hope some mug buys it. Generally it has worked though ... It's an awful house ....
  2. Two carriers are absolutely essential for the UK to be able to project power. The ability of the US to influence situations has been greatly aided over the years by being able to station a carrier battle group off the coast. Given that we are entering a period of currency wars likely to be followed by trade wars, the armed forces probably need to be increased not cut. That isn't possible givne budget considerations but we can't afford to not be able to operate militarily as a standalone operation. The problem is the RN surface fleet, nuclear submarine fleet and amphibious forces cannot be sacrificed in the process. If you take the escort fleet, the RN still (info may be out of date) has 7 standing commitments. NATO North Atlantic, NATO Med, Atalntic Northern Patrol, Atlantic South Patrol, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean/FarEast each requires an escort vessel. In addition if we assume 1 active carrier battle group and 1 active amphibious ready group, each requiring 3 or 4 escorts, you end up with a total of 13-15 ships needed for active duty. Add in pre/post op deployment, training, maintenance and refit cycles, then you can easily double that number to 26-30 ships. So the RN essentially can't meet its standing commitments right now, never mind after the cuts! Also ony 6 or 7 new Astute class nuclear subs are going to be built, giving us typically only 3 on active deployment. Frankly, the RN is already cut to the bone.
  3. My wife is in the 40% tax bracket and I'm in the 50% bracket. With our tax bill well into six figures, I'm not keen to pay anything more even if we can afford it. I wouldn't mind seeing some taxes changed (income tax and CGT set at same level), property or land tax introduced for example. However, I think the overall tax burden on the population is way too high. We need to cut costs not increase taxation. Personally, I don't seem to get any more back despite an increasing tax take each year. I'm considering either leaving the UK or utilizing an EBT to reduce my tax footprint. Frankly I feel like a mug to have paid this much tax to Labour all these years ...
  4. I have no problem that my wife and I will lose CB. I have a major issue, however, with the Tories priorities. They have cut CB whilst still doing nothing about public sector final salary pensions or means testing allowances (state pension for example) for pensioners. The fact thay are still willing to pay benefits up to £26k/year (equivalent of £35k before tax) makes me furious. Both Liebour and the Conservatives seem to love hitting children, students or young adults (the future) but don't want to do squat about the rich baby boomers (the past) or benefit scroungers. Voting demograpics remain everything to all parties.
  5. Euro heading up because China bought tharg euros this morning before 8am ... causing other reserve managers to recycle their dollars the same way... causing momentum based algo funds to buy some more ... causing euro to go up 200 pips. Simples The US data was hardly stunning but it's bizarre that the Fed thinks it needs more QE given the data really ain't that bad. Of course the Fed is obsessed with "full employment" despite fact globalization ensures structural unemployment going to be 20%+ in 10-20 yrs time in most of the Western world. The US Treasury of course is delighted since more QE means a weaker currency. China is running the FX market, the US is getting the weaker dollar it wants and Merkel and Sarkozy are too stupid to understand who is the patsy! Doesn't Europe understand the only game in town is competitive devaluation ... clearly not.
  6. A cap of £26k/year is still utterly stupid. That's £35k/year ... way more than the national average wage of £26k (mean) and £21k (median). Basically they are saying that the state will pay you £35k/year to do absolutely squat. At the same time a family with one earnng £44k/year is losing child benefit. This hard encourages working ... it's does encourage those working to spend some time trying to work out how to become a benefits scrounger. I can hardly believe this is coming from the tories. I think a benefit cap of 50% of the median wage (say £11k) would be a step in the right direction.
  7. This country doesn't require a very low rate of tax, say 10%. What it does need is a lower flat rate of tax, say 25%, applied to all income, capital gains, corporation tax etc etc. Much harder to arbitrage, fairer, easier for companies/individuals to manage ... and would allow us to dispose of 90% of HMRC staff ... what a shame.
  8. That's a gross generalization. I see bright, hard working, white working class kids accessing top graduate jobs. Not as many as I would like but a good proportion. I agree that in the last 10 years social mobility has seemed to drop vs the 80s/90s. But its hardly impossible and wheher social mobility is worse than in the 50s-70s I'm not so sure. In the organizations I've worked they took a small numbers of grads (actually more postgrads now) from the "top" universities in US/Europe/UK each year. The UK candidates have firsts, straight A's at A level, spotless academic records. The majority do stem from private schools but some from state schools. The proportions, however, don't seem any different from when I entered the workplace in a similar organization 13 years ago. A levels have clearly been dumbed down even since when I did them in late 80s/early90s, not in terms of breadth but in terms of depth. I think that really a shame for the brightest/best since they often have no way of differentiatiing themselves. Nonetheless I don't feel that has disadvantaged Uk graduates over other countries. A grad 1st from Oxbridge in Maths can easily compete with a comparable from MIT/Harvard/Princeton or Heidelberg/Bocconi. I get a distinct feeling that the tendency toward increasing breadth at the expense of depth is a global phenomena in education. US, German and Italian colleagues complain about the same thing. Perhaps we're all just biased toward thinking the past was better.
  9. My wife saw this topic on Mumsnet. Clearly the BTL addiction is not over yet ... http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/legal_money_matters/1038176-Is-it-possible-to-release-money-from-pension-to-buy "I've seen a cracking little flat that I'd like to buy to let, just don't have the deposit at the mo and can't release equity from our own house as its dropped so much in value. I even have a tenant lined up! Is it possible to release money from your pension scheme to buy property to let? Thanks in advance!" My god! You'd think that the fact that their house had "dropped so much in value" might have given her a hint ... clearly not!
  10. In the nice part of Surrey and London, £50k gross (£35k net) would hardly cover the rent. A 4 bedroom townhouse in say Richmond or Wimbledon Village will cost you £2500/month+ or £30k+ a year in rent. Don't even think about trying to buy a house like that! When I was 18 (nearly 20 years ago), a salary of £50k seemed like a fortune. I never imagined earning that amount. Now, and assuming private education for say three children in London, it seems like I need to earn £250k+ to feel comfortable. Price inflation and ever rising expectations will make sure that I never feel secure until I get out of the rat race.
  11. Nobody could ever accuse Standard Life of being anywhere near the "white heat of financial innovation". Have their actuaries moved beyond the abacus yet?
  12. Assuming everything is equal (completely impossible in reality) then given the choice between an Etonian with a 2:1 from Oxford in Math and someone from a "bog-standard" comprehensive with a first in Media Studies from Cumbria University, I would take the Etonian any day. Two reasons: a real subject from a real university. As someone from a "sub-standard" comprehensive with a first from Oxbridge in Math, I find it pretty disappointing that people consider my degree to be "false currency". You probably think my PhD in Theoretical Physics is equally worthless. Thankfully Ive done well enough to be able to not worry about the narrow minded types.
  13. Standard Bill Gross behaviour .... buy loads of USTs on the quiet and then tell people all the reasons why they desparately need to buy loads of USTs so he can offload them for a quick profit. If an investment bank does this its called front-running and illegal but somehow its ok for PIMCO. He has clearly been buying rather a lot of 5y notes recently since the 2y/5y/10y fly has moved to very abnormal levels. He was probably off loading today since the fly is coming back.
  14. I dont think bond vigilantes have turned into deficit cheerleaders at all. Most investors are worried about the fiscal position of the US, UK and Euro area. It's just that right now they are even more worried about deflation. In particular a Japan-style deflation scenario since that led to an even worse fiscal quagmire. That is why 10-year TIPs yields went negative yesterday. Once the fear of deflation is staved off, the fear of out of control fiscal deficits will come back again.
  15. Thanks for the info ... We'd already realized Oakhill Road was a possiblity but we'll scout out the others aswell,
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