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trompe le monde

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  1. Happened on this while I was going around the British Museum last week. History of Money A bit light on economic theory, but good on the history of money as a medium of exchange, including cowrie shells used in China - many of the current chinese characters for financial terms such as 'loan', 'buy', etc include the cowrie character to this day. Also some strange forms of currency such as Chinese 'knife' and Indian 'sword' money - essentially partially forged bronze or iron billets, used as a medium for trade. The key thing with most early currencies was that the value of the currency had a direct correlation with the value of the metal used. The Romans actually brought in a currency based on the silver denarius, and the the other coins such as the gold aureus was worth 25 times as much, in commodity, as well as monetary value. Had an interesting chat with one of the curators who was explaining about the Roman monetary system, inflation, and crises of confidence in the various Roman coinages. Also got to hold a worn old silver denarius that was used to pay the Roman troops with - this was one of the few coins that was universally accepted, even in economic downturns, merely because people had confidence in this particular type of currency It's also pretty awe-inspiring seeing the Swedish 10 daler coin - a slab of copper measuring two feet by one foot on a side! Well worth a visit if you're in London, IMHO.
  2. Thought it might be nice to have all the comments as a Word reference, in case the original article gets archived off. Unfortunately, (or not!), this is the later moderated version. Telegraph_30_03_2008___It_s_not_just_the_housing_market_that_s_overheated.doc Telegraph_30_03_2008___It_s_not_just_the_housing_market_that_s_overheated.doc
  3. Just musing here, but supposing it could be proved that there had been fraud in obtaining the mortgage, ie mortgagee had lied about income (whether the mortgagor was ignorant, or complicit with the fraud). Presumably this would give the new mortgagor the right to foreclose the existing mortgage? Of course it may be still in their interest to keep mortgagees that are still making regular deposits on their books. However, might they want to improve their credit rating and winnow out the subprime stuff, maybe from people who'd missed the odd payment or taken a payment holiday - or maybe just as an asset-stripping exercise if the debt's been bought cheap, by say a PE company? In the latter instance you might be focusing all your attention on proving any type of discrepancy in order to foreclose, sell the property fast and cheap, while still turning a quick buck. In these cases might there be a demand out of the blue to borrowers, for ongoing proof of ability to service the debt, ie send in current pay slips, statements, etc to corroborate this and weed out the crooked loans? I suspect in these instances, that the dodgy forms you can get over the internet would not stand up to the close scrutiny that was missing when the loan was first taken out! Thinking this through, presumably this could happen anyway, without a bank going bust, but then the ultimate owners of the debt - in SIVs, etc, probably couldn't backtrack to establish who the actual borrowers were, and it wouldn't be in the originating bank's interest to rock the boat if they were in any way complicit in fraudulent activity. TLM
  4. and in the Times: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/busi...icle3353569.ece the implications are that this could be a domino that triggers further losses. TLM
  5. more inflationary chickens coming home to roost, at least for the short term... from tomorrows Times: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/busi...icle3352971.ece and the Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/arti...amp;ito=newsnow
  6. http://www.afxnews.com/about488/index.php?...p;story=2310093 Difficult to ignore this one. Looks like Merv had better begin drafting his letter. TLM
  7. not a bad article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ro...ine_titani.html TLM
  8. Nice to see the golden goose taking wing, but with hindsight, back in '03, I'd have probably gone for some of this too: http://www.kitco.com/charts/rhodium.html TLM edit to add link
  9. no problem. Darling seems to have kept, (or been forced to keep), a very low profile since he took the poisoned chalice. About time he put his head over the parapet. I can't decide whether he's dispensing the unpalatable truth on behalf of GB, or being a thorn in his side. I suspect the former. TLM
  10. Here's the Darling story: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/busi...icle2442203.ece TLM
  11. do a quick google for 'duplicate bank statement' and it looks like you can get hold of fake bank statements, as well as utility bills, wage slips, P60s, etc, without too many problems. You can even get complete packages of wage slips, statements and utility bills: http://www.outthetopdrawer.co.uk/bank_statements.htm http://www.replicadoc.co.uk/ and I like the disclaimer on this one: http://www.replace-your-documents.com/ TLM
  12. Hi Bazzer, may not the best to give advice here, as being in the public sector, I'm fortunate in having a final salary pension scheme. However, I'm pretty certain that it will end up getting watered down considerably before I end up drawing it, for all the various economic\demographic reasons that have been discussed many times. I'm therefore also taking personal responsibility for my savings by investing elsewhere, whilst taking a worst case view that I may get nothing back from my years of pension contributions. I may be sadly misguided here, but I think that it's unlikely that any government backed scheme will completely default on it's obligations, as so many private schemes have, and for this reason I've stuck with it. A glib suggestion would be to get a public sector job! So, in a rather roundabout fashion, I'd say that it depends on your faith in the pension fund management - also your investment knowledge and your attitude to risk. Looks like your company isn't running it, directly and you get the non-contrib benefit, so should be unable to do a Maxwell, but make sure that you hold all the important paperwork. Talk to Friends Provident and check what the situation would be if your company goes under. Even if you lost the company's contribution for whatever reason, it's probably still worth doing. Even if it all seems safe as houses, do you trust the fund managers to invest and manage your money wisely - what's the previous performance like? If your future plans involve starting a family, does the scheme make payments in the event of your death, if so, how and when, etc, etc? Re choosing the FP funds, it's really DYOR - if you're not sure what to go for, then play safe and diversify maybe with 5 or 6 funds - Japan, Europe, US, a 'cautiously' managed fund, and maybe one or two more high risk options. There also seem to be single price funds, whereas most of the others seem to have a 5% spread between the buy and sell price, that you'll be paying for. Check these out and see what their overall performance is like, 5% saved on the spread is 5% earned, though I have to say, I'm not au fait with how these work. Obviously many people no longer trust pension funds, hence the 'my property is my pension' view held by many, as it appears to be a simple and understandable alternative. However, in the current phase of the economic cycle this seems much more dangerous, whether relying on BTL, or MEWing off a primary property. Whether you pay into a pension or not, as a very conservative (small 'c') investor who's trying to learn more, in your position, I might be putting aside maybe half of my surplus cash into something low risk and if possible tax-free, like cash ISAs and NS&I index linked certificates (currently RPI+1.35%, and yes, there's all the arguments about what real levels of inflation really are), which look better once you get into the 40% tax bracket. You have to squirrel them away for 3 or 5 years, though to get the full benefit, though you can draw the cash early and take a hit on the interest. The other half, I might be using the rest of my ISA allowance and drip feeding into the stock market every month to ride out the peaks and troughs. Maybe select a few funds if you're not happy selecting individual companies. Check spreads, commission and charges, though, as these can heavily eat into your yield, even if tax free. Religiously reinvest dividends and interest, and let the miracle of compounding do it's thing for 30 years or so, then switch to a more income based portfolio and start taking the dividends and interest, and you've pretty much got your own self managed scheme, without too much hands on time. Maybe also a small exposure to gold and PMs (maybe 5% unless you're really swayed by the goldbugs), either via a fund or physical. Whichever options you choose, and whatever level of risk, the preservation of capital is key. As you learn more, and economic climates change, the balance of your holdings will probably shift. Important point, though, however disciplined you are, it's always best to stash the cash as soon as you get paid, if possible by DD. Treat as sacrosanct and not to be dipped into under any circumstances. However, always keep a fighting fund of three to six months cash for emergencies - even this can be earning you fairly decent interest in something like Nationwide's e-savings currently at 5.8%, albeit taxed, and it's fast to switch cash between accounts. I'd also be trying to learn more about markets and economics in general, try paper trading before jumping in if you're not sure where to invest to begin with, or try one of the trading demo platforms at T D Waterhouse or Selftrade. It is empowering taking responsibility for your own finances. It's worth checking out DrBubb's site over at GEI, it's not all exotic options and charts, there's also lots of beginners stuff, though you might have to dig a bit, and the tone tends to be a bit more measured than on HPC. As with all things, DYOR and take all advice and opinion with a pinch of salt.... Best, TLM
  13. Sorry to go off-topic. Serpico, if you're having trouble reading forum text, I wondered if you'd try to play with the default browser text size? In Internet Explorer, under 'View', then 'text size' there's five levels of font size. The better option would be to use the Firefox browser, (link here) where you can actually increase text size to a much greater extent than in IE. Again under menu heading 'View', then 'text size'. Can also use CTRL and + to make bigger, or CTRL and - to reduce size. A larger monitor would probably be a good idea too. In addition, there's a Windows feature called 'Magnify' that might be useful, (for details, link here). The easiest option is to go to 'Start', then 'Run', then type 'magnify' in the box, then hit 'OK'. All text under the cursor is magnified at the top of the screen, which you can resize. Level of magnification can also be adjusted. Apologies if this has already been covered. Best, TLM Edit: well done ntb, got there before me!
  14. Thought this might be relevant to this thread. If you've got a spare 10 minutes treat yourself to a read of this excellent short story http://www.vb-tech.co.za/ebooks/Sheckley%2...7877ded28aa94f5 (easiest to copy the text into Word to read, as the text doesn't wordwrap in a browser). from Robert Sheckley, written in 1954 A twist on the genie in the bottle story, with a beautifully satisfying ending. Don't be put off if you don't do SF, this is a witty and satiric commentary on human nature, and very relevant to the buy now pay later\never culture of today. good film, and the closing track as the buildings collapse at the end, is Pixies excellent 'Where is my mind' off the Surfer Rosa album. TLM Edit: tidied format
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