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DrBob

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  1. DrBob

    Buying Buffett

    Plenty of UK online sharetrading accounts allow trading in US-listed securities. I use Iweb Sharedealing, and they let me buy/sell Berkshire Hathaway. However, this Iweb is a nominee shareholder service (and is part of the huge & mortgage-exposed HBOS), so you may want to look elsewhere if you want the ultimate security... Another difficulty is that a single HRK.A share costs approx USD 4700 at present, so it's not ideal if you're planning to invest a small amount!
  2. I lived in Southwark until recently (emigrated to NZ two months ago). There are a vast number of new-build flats in the London Bridge/Blackfriars/Elephant areas, and I wonder if the builders might have dumped these at a discount recently? This could explain the rapid price fall.
  3. Excellent news (rubs hands with glee)... I arrived in NZ from the UK a week ago. BTL is even more widespread here than in the UK (partially because there's no capital gains tax on property). House prices are very overvalued: rent is typically half the cost of an interest-only mortgage on a similar property. We're looking to let at the moment & have noticed that lots of rental properties are also up for sale - landlords trying to get out of the market. My GF and I are happy to play the waiting game and will keep saving our deposit before buying here in 3-4 years' time when our career/family plans are more certain and house prices are cheaper.
  4. MBIA Shares Drop After Moody's Says Capital in Doubt http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=2060108...id=aV9H1COF7V8g http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aV9H1COF7V8g' rel="external nofollow">Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) MBIA Inc. fell the most in more than 20 years in New York trading after Moody's Investors Service said the biggest bond insurer is ``somewhat likely'' to face a shortage of capital that threatens its AAA credit rating. A review of MBIA and six other AAA rated guarantors will be completed within two weeks, Moody's said in a statement today... ``The guarantor is at greater risk of exhibiting a capital shortfall than previously communicated,'' New York-based Moody's said. ``We now consider this somewhat likely.'' The loss of MBIA's top ranking would cast doubt over the ratings of $652 billion of state, municipal and structured finance bonds that the company guarantees . MBIA is among at least eight bond insurers seeking to ward off potential credit-rating downgrades by Moody's, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's. The insurers guarantee $2.4 trillion of debt and downgrades could cause losses of $200 billion , according to Bloomberg data... Ambac Financial Group Inc., the second-largest bond insurer, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., the fourth-largest, and Security Capital Assurance Ltd. are also ``somewhat likely'' to have a capital shortfall, Moody's said today... ``If any major monoline were to have a rating change it would have a real impact on all of the business of the monolines,'' MBIA Chief Financial Officer Chuck Chaplin told a Bank of America conference in New York on Nov. 27... ``It's Moody's firing a warning shot saying `you have two weeks, so do something,''' said Paul Berliner, a trader at Schottenfeld Group, which manages $100 million in New York. ``The drama behind MBIA and Ambac should be the most important focus for the entire financial sector right now. Everyone should be on the edge of their seats wondering how this plays out.'' Bondholders may lose about $9 billion on municipal bonds if the insurers falter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. indexes. More than $30 billion would disappear from the value of collateralized debt obligations held by banks, based on the values that Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. assigned to their holdings in the past month. Another $150 billion may evaporate from bonds backed by home- equity lines of credit and other mortgages and loans, according to investors and traders.
  5. Hi TFH, I agree with most of what you say, but have to correct the above. The minority of consultants who receive merit awards usually get only 10% of their salary. Very few consultants (<5%) ever receive an A or A+ merit award (which are 50-100% of salary), and these only awarded for achieving a truly world-class standing in research or service development. Consultants get paid in 'sessions', each being 4 hours long. Typical consultant contracts are for 10 sessions a week (i.e. 40h a week), and they are paid for this (and only this). Sometimes one or two of these sessions are for out-of-hours work (e.g. for doing ward rounds or emergency surgery at evenings or weekends). This means they may work only 4 days a week, and work their remaining 8 hours/week in weekend or night cover. They are not paid 5 days for working 4! Also, they get paid no more for working nights, weekends or public holidays than for normal office hours (unlike other NHS professionals). Consultants work patterns are closely monitored by management these days, who are continuously trying to cut their pay. Professional indemnity fees (which can be over GBP 10,000/year for some surgical specialties) come out of consultant's salaries too. The fees are so high because the consultant takes responsibility for their whole service (including taking much of the responsibility for any errors made by junior doctors or other medical staff). All in all, from my admittedly biased position, I do not think UK hospital consultants are overpaid. They train for a minimum of 13 years and take a tremendous amount of clinical and managerial responsibility. Most work much longer hours than they are contracted for. And doing the occasional private session is not as lucrative as some seem to think! BTW everyone, I fully accept that the NHS is often rubbish and of course some doctors are useless. Things like non-geographical GP or hospital phone numbers wind me up no end, too. Can I suggest that whenever you encounter poor service/attitudes that you WRITE TO COMPLAIN. It sounds futile, but I can assure you that every trust has to respond to and discuss EVERY written complaint. Our monthly departmental meetings always included a full discussion of every complaint and compliment. In the absence of a free market (for now), writing with your complaints is your main recourse! And in the NHS, a few well-argued complaints can be just what's needed to get rid of an underperforming colleague! (From a UK doctor in the process of emigrating to New Zealand)
  6. Have a look more closely: if you search for very mainstream sites like ebay.co.uk, news.bbc.co.uk or telegraph.co.uk you see exactly the same shaped graph as the rightmove.co.uk one (declines since early 2006). I think that the data are given as percentages of all page views. This means that as new websites become very popular (specifically the social networking ones like Facebook which attract frequent visits), established websites attract a lower percentage of hits. I suspect if you could look at the absolute number of visitors, the story isn't as negative for rightmove (at least until August 07)!
  7. Actually, looking at the pictures closely, I think someone's been messing with the levels in Photoshop. The only real improvement seems to be the hanging basket, but doubtless there'll be some fresh flowers on the dining table if you go for a viewing!
  8. Is it just the sunnier day, or did the house get a new lick of paint before the price was dropped by £5k? Either way, the new hanging basket will definitely pull the buyers in...
  9. We're going to miss him when Rachel Lomax is head of the MPC! :angry:
  10. You missed out bird flu! My wager is on an Israeli and/or American bombing run on Iran. Israel won't sit back and watch Iran build a bomb, and they've shown their mettle before. Watch the price of oil double overnight! It will be billed as a 'smart' war (i.e. no ground troops, no civilian targets) to avoid a re-run of the Iraq debacle. Brown's trying to get UK troops out of the firing line before it kicks off...
  11. I didn't start the petition - it was the PricedOut people. I just signed on after the petition featured here on the HPC forum. Anyone want to start another? My personal view is that taxation doesn't need to be changed. Just reform the Assured Shorthold Tenancy as OzzMosiz suggests. Here are my suggestions: - reform the AST to give an initial 6 month letting period followed by one week's landlord notice requirement for every month the tenant has been in place up to a maximum of 24 weeks notice - require all landlords to be registered (not just those letting out HMO properties), facilitating auditing of landlord's tax returns - require all landlords to present an annual 'MOT'-type certificate for their properties (this would include evidence of functioning fire alarms and escapes, boiler tests, satisfactory living conditions and details of the tenants' deposit scheme the landlord uses) - set up a proper system of rent review for instances where the rent rises by more than RPI These rules wouldn't cost much to implement, but would make life difficult for tax-dodging and frankly criminal landlords, and would be just enough to put off some of the army of 'casual' BTL'ers who are driving up house prices nationwide.
  12. The PM's response to the PricedOut.org.uk E-petition on BTL has been released: So there we go - stamp duty threshold up from £120,000 to £125,000, a raised "ambition" for new housing starts, and a prolongation of the p*sspoor 'shared equity' experiment. Affordable housing all round! :angry:
  13. Yep - no increase in UK petrol prices unless October's 2p fuel duty rise goes ahead, or the BoE lower IRs in 'sympathy' with the States, or tensions with Iran rise further... Not that I understand why £1 petrol is viewed as such an apocalyptic event. After all, £1/litre is not that much more than 96p/litre.
  14. Oil is on the way up, British armed forces have gathered at Basra airport, Israel have launched pre-emptive strikes against Syria, France have said that war is a possibility, Iran have threated to launch 600 missiles at Israel, US have identified 2000 Iranian targets. I don't like the look of this one bit.
  15. Thanks for that Evening Standard link. For reference, here is the table as an image file (taken from todays West End late edition online): We might want to refer back to this if any other banks get in trouble
  16. Isn't this the reason that CPI and not RPI is targetted when IRs are set? If mortgage repayments were included in the inflation estimate used to set IRs, it would introduce positive feedback (higher RPI > rise in interest rates > higher mortgage repayments > higher RPI). Having said that, it's common sense to include some sort of measure of house prices or actual cost of accommodation in the inflation measures. Surely this is what King meant some months ago when he said that he wished that the BoE's remit included asset prices. Was he implying that if house price inflation had been within their remit, BoE IRs would have been higher over the past 5 years or so (and we wouldn't be in such a mess now)?
  17. This sounds like a sensible and timely plan, and should head off a series of unpleasant bank runs. I presume that the govt and BoE will make sure that shareholders suffer, to maintain the facade of 'moral hazard'. The best way to deal with 'moral hazard' would be to make all Chief Execs/Board Members of failed banks personally responsible for refunding their depositors. I'm sure if they were all made bankrupt, banks would be more circumspect in future...
  18. The queues will be there, guaranteed. When hoards of retiree savers see A&L being discussed in the same report as NR on tonight's 6 o'clock news, they'll be setting their alarms to be first in the queue. The queues will then be on tomorrow evening's news and the whole mess perpetuates itself. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Anyone got a good analysis on HBOS? My share portfolio is held with one of their subsidiaries...
  19. LSE: PAG Down 4.1% today; volatile trading but not to the A&L extent... http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/fds/hi/...37/intraday.stm
  20. Sainsbury's has been extensively discussed elsewhere. It's jointly owned with HBOS who seem to have a lot of exposure to subprime in the UK (via Birmingham Midshires) and make a lot of use of the wholesale debt market. On the positive side, HBOS is very large (and diversified) and it seems unlikely that a huge supermarket chain would allow the bank which holds their name to go bankrupt. Overall, probably safe, but don't hold money in both Sainsbury's and another HBOS bank (e.g. Halifax, Intelligent Finance, Bank of Scotland, Birmingham Midshires). Abbey is owned by Santander of Spain (along with Cahoot). I don't know anything about Santander's exposure. Anyone?
  21. 1. A&L have a wholesale market loan to deposit ratio of 165% 2. Nationwide are Britain's largest mortgage lender and the large building society (group assets £137bn)
  22. Nationwide should be fine. It's a very large mutual society, and as far as I can tell, their business model doesn't rely on securitising loans (they have a huge deposit base). Alliance & Leicester are potentially on the firing line.
  23. I've got about a third of my savings in commodities (gold and agricultural) at present as a hedge against inflation/weak sterling. I sold oil earlier this week when the hurricaine was on Texas, but will look to buy again when the price is lower (USD 70 or thereabouts). Does anyone know where I can read up on the long-term natural gas market? Prices look much lower than a couple of years ago - could we be near the bottom of the cycle? Presumably there is a bottom to prices, as natural gas can be used as a substitute for coal or oil in electricity generation, and even as a fuel for cars. Enlighten me, commodity experts!
  24. Then we can join the Euro with similar interest rates, and at a nice low GBP/Euro exchange rate (helping our exports). The trick is keeping reported inflation low enough. Now if Gordon can just get those 3 for 2 supermarket deals included in the CPI and squeeze public workers a little more...
  25. http://www.northernrock.co.uk/contact/Bran...nderResults.asp I'm surprised they're closing at 2pm. Most branches have a normal closing time of 12pm. BTW, still no announcement about the problems on the NR website, and customer login is still down...
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