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david m

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Everything posted by david m

  1. I have to agree with Frank Hovis. Having gone to Oxbridge from an inner city comprehensive, I don't really remember any "posh thickie" on the Math Tripos or Natural Sciences Tripos. I can't speak for other courses in Humanities, Arts etc but in the sciences i found myself rubbing shoulders with a lot of students, many from private schools and some from state schools, but nearly all of them either very bright or very motivated or both. At post grad level i met many other students from many other UK unis who were just as bright and motivated. The idea that I could have experienced and achieved what i have without going to uni to me is plain nonsense. If i had stayed at home i would be in a dead end job (as all my cousins now do) or have a criminal record (like one in three of the boys in my class). There is no way I could have picked up the specialist knowledge "on the job" or been offered the same opportunities from a career or travel perspective. Most importantly university allowed me to meet pretty foreign girls who didn't find a nerdy mathematician/physicist a turn off like the British girls did! My child is only 1 so a bit young to go to uni yet!. But if she was 17 and was worried about whether £25k of debt was worth it I would say yes. It might not be the right decision for everyone but £25k is not that much over a 50 year working life ... its a lot less than a £150k mortgage for example.
  2. I think the attitude in this topic that all degrees are useless is a bit harsh and far too generalized. For starters I'm not sure that it's true that there are "no common standards to degrees" and "that each university can decide what is a good degree". When i was at University in the 90s, students in the both Maths and Physics Depts were compared with other students at other unis doing comparable courses. The top graded student was examined with his/her equivalent at other unis, the borderline first/2:1 with their equivalents etc etc. I myself had to sit through these examinations. It was taken pretty seriously that a 2:1 from uni X was comparable to a 2:1 from uni Y. I can't remember exactly but i think Engineering had a pretty similar approach and the syllabus in each uni had to meet approved standards. Moreover, when I moved on to my MSc and PhD I didn't find any significant difference in quality between the graduates from different unis who ended up on my course. I don't remember social class whether upper/middle/lower etc having much to do with it either. I don't agree at all the a "someone from a sink estate who gets a 2.2 at Duds University can be seen to do better than an Etonian with a hothouse First from Oxford". Frankly a 2:2 in Maths is probably inferior to a first in Maths. Having come from a "sink estate" I'm perfectly happy to compete on my abilities without any of this left wing crap that a C grade from a comprehensive is as good as a A grade from a private school ... its that sort of nonsense that got us dear Gordon Brown and a vast pointless public sector.
  3. It seems to me that today's move in GBP/USD was just a confluence of events. Over the weekend the probability of a hung parliament increased substantially. This morning Pru announces a $35bn takeover for AIG's asia arm with $25bn in cash. Big UK clearer (who just happens to be lead on Pru/AIG deal) starts selling GBP/USD aggressively into 10am fix taking it to 1.5030. The 1.50 barriers get triggered within another 30min. Once 1.50 breaks, stop-losses all over the place and same UK clearer buying large amount of downside option strikes. Panic to below 1.48. Probably £5bn has gone through. Liquidity comes back in afternoon and we drift back up toward 1.50. The real issue surely is the trend weakening in Sterling. The real problem is that nobody really wants to stand in the way of GBP/USD lower or EUR/GBP higher. Fiscal situation looks bad under any Party. Neither Labour nor the Tories really want to get the publc sector under control. Economy looks shot up. BoE tells everyone inflation is coming down but the RPI data keeps going higher. BoE refuses to rule out printing more money. BoE keeps telling everyone they won't hike interest rates so no risk of any negative carry to pay to take a bet against sterling. Worse, the US economy is showing signs of improvement (since they actually took some pain in 08/09 rather than brushed it all under the carpet) and the Euro area might get its act together over the PIGS (though this will be just brushing it under the carpet ... but Europeans make an art form of that). Its a mess and its hard to see much improving in the next few months.
  4. Inflation above 10% yoy is a problem for any country. Post Oil shock many developed countries ended up with low double digit inflation and it caused serious problems for economic growth, currency stability and productivity through the 1970s. Most emerging economies spent the 1990s and 2000s trying to get their inflation down to single digits and the impact has been hugely positive for them. It isn't the reduction in headline inflation per se that important but the reduction in long-term inflation expectations and risk premia, all leading to lower debt costs, low real yields etc etc. The positive feedback loop is very beneficial. We don't want to go back to 10% inflation ... short term it might not seem that bad but the long-term impacts would be fairly damaging. However very low inflation is also dangerous since you risk deflation if you get a sudden downturn. Targetting inflation sub 2% like the ECB, BoE etc has always seemed very risky.
  5. Don't worry the MPC can print some more money from nowhere and then use it to buy some index-linked gilts ... that will protect us! Does the BoE get that they are currently running the biggest economic experiment this country has ever seen and has precisely no idea how it will end? Do they really think their econometric models are going to get it right!
  6. I think if you have the academic ability to get a decent degree (say 2:1) from a good uni in a real subject then its still a no-brainer to go to university. The £20k+ of debt you are going to end up with isn't exactly nice but its probably worth it for the opportunities you get. Having a good degree has clearly been debased badly over the past 20 years but it's probably better than not having one.
  7. I think the simple lack of supply in Kingston means that anything good goes for a very high price. The market needs sellers and perhaps '07 prices will start to bring them back. When i was looking last year the good stuff went very quickly (with a month or two at most) but the bad stuff took ages to clear or hasn't cleared yet.
  8. Personally I'm looking at SW London and bits of Surrey and property still seems to be clearing at very high prices - top of the shop '07 near enough. But there is hardly anything actually for sale and volumes seem even lower than last year. I haven't bothered to even request to view a property this year since nothing decent has come up.
  9. Hi to everybody Long time lurker on this site. Finally registered! Currently renting in Wimbledon, previously Richond and Putney. Tired of waiting for a house price correction (the govt won't allow it) but also can't pull the trigger and buy at these levels! David
  10. Israel started hiking in August last year followed by Australia and Norway ... i think this is a clear signal from the Fed ... they not be hiking the Fed funds rate any time soon but they are starting the process of taking back all the liquidity they provided to the money markets. Bernanke keeps reiterating the "low for long" mantra but the economic numbers out of the US don't justify emergency rates at almost zero anymore. Reaction of market seems to think this has some significance ... EUR/USD is down over 1%, S&P future down 1% and Dec-10 Euro$ future has moved 14bp. Not a meltdown though.
  11. Think also these tax numbers may incorporate impact of later corporation tax being paid by all the ex broker-dealers (Goldman, Merrill, Morgan Stanley) ... old year end for them was Nov but now as banks its Dec so they pay everything one month later. This includes bonuses to their employees. Also some other banks are paying bonuses later than usual. Moreover, with the FSA telling banks to pay more in stock with 3 year deferrals (60% vs normal 30% say) this has also reduced corporation tax and bonus tax take. Of course analysts should be able to predict this ... Either way UK finances are screwed ...
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