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Austin Allegro

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Everything posted by Austin Allegro

  1. Shrinkflation has always been with us. In the 1959 film, 'I'm Alright Jack', a soap powder manufacturer boasts how they sell two brands of identical soap powder and identical weight, an 'economy' brand and a 'prestige' brand. The only difference is that the 'prestige' brand is simply packaged in a larger box, and sold for a higher price. Of course, if you opt out of buying processed/prepackaged stuff as much as possible, it doesn't affect you so much.
  2. I think it's also because of a cultural dislike of long commutes in some continental countries. They think it's rather odd to spend upwards of an hour each day crawling along a motorway just to get to to a cubicle in an office. Can't think why.
  3. Reminds me of the old trade union boss who was asked if it wasn't a little bit inappropriate that he drove a Rolls Royce. 'Ah,' he replied, 'but I want everyone to be able to drive a Rolls Royce.'
  4. That was my thinking too. The policy is designed to create 'churn' in the economy; not necessarily in the housing market, but also in goods/services ('now we can go on that cruise we always planned on, Mavis! etc) and in financial services. The feelgood factor amongst boomers will be short lived; especially if/when those that blow the cash come to the government with a begging bowl, claiming they were misinformed. Still, that'll create work for the lawyers, I suppose.
  5. I tend to agree. I work with a chap who's ten years younger than me. He finished school at 18 and had no interest in 'uni.' I interviewed him and recommended him for a post because out of all those who applied, he had common sense, spoke and wrote well, and had a modicum of organisational skills which he'd picked up from voluntary work outside school for things like St John Ambulance. He's now in a higher post than me, and I have a degree and a post graduate qualification...(although he's good at office politics and works hard, unlike me...)
  6. Real estate costs money, and does 'eyeball space' matter any more in the era of smart phones? I've been househunting for a while but haven't set foot in an estate agent's office at all, it's been done over the internet and phone. One agent even employed an elderly local retired gent in his eighties to simply open the door of a house and let me look around; nobody came out from an office.
  7. That Mash article is hilarious. It's also heartening, as it means the sentiment must be becoming more widespread. Talking about property (in a non-critical, non-HPC way, that is) at dinner parties seems to me the middle class aspirational equivalent of people who talk endlessly about football. Nothing is ever actually discussed, it's just a string of cliches intended as phatic communication.
  8. Seems to me the great white hope was the BRIC countries, and they've failed to deliver. I've seen a list somewhere about conditions required in a country for economic growth. Stuff like rule of law, religious toleration, lack of corruption etc (all the things that helped build Britain and the USA, for example). The BRIC countries don't have enough of this so they can't 'grow' in the way the west would like.
  9. I downsized to part time teleworking a few years ago. Best thing I've ever done. I'm now a sort of 'digital nomad'. Part of me would like to settle down to buying a cottage somewhere and becoming part of a local community, but when I look at what's available in south east England (where my roots are) it's not very inspiring. I think a big change would happen if young people stopped buying into the university system in the UK. There's really no need why they should any more. What's the point of emerging from university with £30k in debt only to get work in a coffee bar? I look forward to alternative, non-physical universities being set up similar to the Open University, or young people realising they can get a good education, in English, for much less money abroad (eg in the Central European University in Budapest). I think young people are just starting to realise this, though as with housing, the powers that be will do everything they can to keep people paying in to the current system.
  10. I used to work with the bloke with the sideburns. He was a bit-part actor and he said that advert was the best job he'd had!
  11. Met a Greek gentleman socially at the weekend. He's just come to the UK after narrowly avoiding bankruptcy in Greece. I asked him if things were as bad as the BBC made out over there (austerity, shortages etc) and he said yes. He also reckoned default was inevitable within a month or so.
  12. For a few weeks now I've noticed an advert in the back of the London Evening Standard which is for some company which will buy your house quickly for you (presumably at some low price). If London really is as booming as they make out, I wonder why it's worth such a company running such an advert?
  13. I think it goes deeper than that. I think the idea that 'property is pension' has simply been accepted without question by an entire generation, just as most people (myself included) accepted without question the safety of British banks until 2007.
  14. There's certainly a growing opinion that something is seriously wrong with the housing market. However, you still often hear nonsense about 'getting on the ladder', and more often, the meme that 'there aren't enough houses'. The concept of there being too much debt doesn't seem to occur to anybody. A few websites that promote anti-debt lifestyles are growing in popularity however, which is a good sign - Mr Money Moustache is a good example, although it's American.
  15. As the late Kenneth Williams said (though he may have been quoting someone else) 'What if it's all a joke? Then let's make it a good one.'
  16. We've had some debate on here before as to which is best - getting angry about things or accepting them. The 'angry' brigade tend to think acceptance is the same thing as approval, which it isn't. In my opinion, anger will achieve nothing, because it is clear the government will now stop at nothing to maintain high house prices and low interest rates. It's like being angry because a fox continues to maul a chicken that is already dead. It's all too late now.
  17. Ah but the Lord hasn't 'come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead' yet. So things might still work out for her.
  18. As someone said, the time for anger is over. Anger at the state of affairs we are in now is just futile, like being angry because you're stuck in a lifeboat which is sinking. It will pan out in one of two ways. 1. Eternal can kicking, and somehow managing- just - to keep the whole show on the road and the lights on. 2. 2008:2, and eventual collapse/reset. 'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' (Julian of Norwich)
  19. IMO, most people have no idea of the concept of net worth nowadays. All that matters is what you 'own', regardless of how much debt you are in. Eg, for most of society, except the very rich and very poor, debt was utterly taboo. Saying you were in debt was about as popular as saying you were a racist would be today. Then in the 30s mortgages and HP came along, and by the 70s had become respectable (HP changed to credit cards). However, cc debts were small, as were mortgages; the latter being seen as a sensible alternative to renting. Fast forward to today and almost everything is on the never never - houses, cars, even phones, FFS.
  20. Bottles are quite a good construction material and have been used in Africa for some time. They retain thermal mass well. As ever, of course, the problem is not the cost of building, but the cost of land. Every few weeks a 'could this solve the housing crisis' article comes out, showing a house built for ten pence from old cigarette packets. It's just a distraction from the real issue, which is rentierism, banksterism and land banking.
  21. I was passing through a slummy area of London and noticed there was a barber's doing haircuts for five pounds. Ever on the lookout for a bargain, I cycled back there a few days later and got a quite good haircut (carefully done, not a one-cut-wally) and got chatting to the Kurdish barber. He was complaining about his rents and rates, and after some quick mental calculation I could see there was no way he could stay in business for much longer. He's either screwed or there's some sort of ahem...'sideline' going on there.
  22. There's something in this. Why not extend the London W1 postcode all the way to Wales? There's posh! I recall something similar when there was a campaign to rename Kilburn tube station as 'Mapesbury'. They didn't come out and say it but it was pretty obvious it was done in a bid to push up house prices in the area, by removing negative associations with the name Kilburn. (a semi-slum district).
  23. It doesn't matter if key workers leave London. They can simply be replaced by immigrants. Even skilled key workers such as police constables could in theory be replaced by young Aussies, Kiwis, Canadian police officers etc who have to make similar oaths of loyalty to HMQ. Alternatively any jobs which require UK citizenship could be replaced by some sort of citizenship-lite status. What could change things in London, is if the international super-rich move on somewhere else, or the squeezed middle of the professional classes moves en masse somewhere else. There's a theory that there's a London 'tipping point' which will come when a critical mass of sufficient numbers of professionals moving to another city is reached. Once that happens London won't be able to sustain high house prices. The problem is that there isn't really a London alternative at the moment; people are just leaving in dribs and drabs to other places rather than 'going Galt' and setting up a rival city somewhere else in the UK.
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