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Cogs

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Everything posted by Cogs

  1. Try this one: Maybe its cheaper to go private than to buy a family home in the catchment area of a grammar school?
  2. EU data retention is not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years. Neither the EU directive nor the UK implementation consider content of communications, but do include logs of activity (times, IPs, MAC address etc). That is my understanding of the matter anyway.
  3. Been and gone now but presumably to be shortly available on Listen Again...(repeated Sunday) Today's "Off The Page" (BBC Radio 4) was on the theme of "Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be" It tends to be informal so today's programme wasn't about CDOs or debt tranches or stock markets for example. More light entertainment than analysis but quite interesting. Guests included Rosie Millard who was made to look an idiot at every turn and constantly contradicted herself in the style of that Paul Whitehouse character in the pub who just agrees with everyone else but just digs himself in deeper each time. Reliably kept to the VI line of course although there was a note of doubt in her voice when she asked one of her fellow guests (attempting to defend debt because "everyone" does it) whether his house was worth more than his mortgage "at the moment anyway". Millard mentioned the joys of debt. And then immediately mentioned how worried she was about her tax bill. Oh, but its OK, she can afford it. And do you know, one day a week she doesn't let the children spend money on things because they need to learn... And why does she get the feeling that everyone thinks she is an "airhead"? That aside, some good perspectives from her more frugal fellow panelists who point out that debt not merely picks your pocket, even if things go relatively well and it doesn't destroy your marriage and ruin your health, it still has the power to make your life boring and can you put at price on that?
  4. Thats why they are doing a degree in something that relates to making money. At the moment we don't have a system that offers any form of integrity in the area of non-academic training. Its all very well to say they should do something else, but what? The system is broken. The existence of these not-particularly-academic degrees is just the best way of using the present system albeit in a way that wasn't intended. The notion of the "pointless" degree is a difficult one. Usually most of these "Mickey Mousers" will actually have strong links to the industries involved which is more than can be said for most other subjects. There are plenty of people with solid degrees from impressive institutions temping away as we speak, it isn't an easy call to make. Indeed, I would expect, for example, Golf Management to largely have a constituency of aging Club Pros and Head Greenkeepers who want to move upstairs, not spotty 18 year olds. Is a degree the right place for this sort of training? Probably not, roll on an improvement to the system. But to represent it as a terrible hit to the taxpayer is not a very good argument. Particularly when Brideshead Revisited-esque posh timewasting doesn't get a mention, given that the way funding works an hour of Oxbridge ancient greek costs the taxpayer at least four or five times what an hour on keeping the books for a golfcourse does at Chavsville Poly.
  5. I very much disagree with this. Some of those address fairly large industries. Golf, fashion buying, equestrianism/"outdoor adventure" (call it tourism). They more than make up for 40 million, which isn't so much in the grand scheme of things. Not really my first choice and I don't think they stand as subjects where a degree is the appropriate form of recognition for training but there we go. They are ultimately all about making money, nothing wrong with that. A real "Mickey Mouse degree" is stuff like Classics, PPE, all that Oxbridge cr8polla they never get called on because little Rupert gets a job with his Uncle's firm in the City regardless. Funny how nobody ever says anything about that eh. I think you have to wonder what the real agenda is here. I'd suggest it is class based.
  6. I recall very recently seeing the same argument made in America. This was with regard to when the saving rate went negative; ah, they said, but the negative savings rate doesn't include housing equity. In reality Americans are richer than they've ever been... Funnily enough I don't hear many people making that argument now. Wonder why?
  7. Its an advert for "Estate Agency" itself I think. Falling prices might mean lower commission, but Tecsos and various internet services mean no commission. I think this is how they are going to play any fall in prices - "In a falling market you need an expert" sort of idea.
  8. Have you not noticed a shift in politics of late? Politicians would like us to believe they lead the agenda, but really they follow it. The fact is the majority of voters who turn up are either retired or about to. They are getting old, they want council services, they want the NHS, their pensions are safe and they don't pay much in income tax typically. They benefit from HPI and immigration. What is to you a lost job is another NI tax payer and a cheap plumber for them. That is all there is to it. Expecting Cameron to suggest something different is expecting him to deliberately walk away from the majority of votes coming his way, particularly given the Tory voting demographic is not merely old but geriatric.
  9. I got a cup of coffee (filter) and a bagel out of HBOS once. Trying to sell me investments. There were even bottles of wine in the room but I couldn't figure out what you had to be in line for to get one.
  10. Chartism has nothing to do with statistics and analysis, its a qualitative interpretation of data. It seems to work largely because enough people in the markets believe it does as a self-fulfilling prophesy.
  11. Didn't catch it all but I thought of what I did hear, good in places, tooth grindingly annoying in others. Most of the content won't be news to HPCers but I think its interesting this stuff is becoming mainstream. Nice to hear SO called a "nonsense suggestion". Was particularly pleased to hear that Geography Prof point out to the presenter when he was sounding a bit complacent about increased renting (ie. the "well it works fine in Europe and New York" line) that tenants in the UK don't have the same rights and security of tenure etc which is for me anyway a relatively little mentioned issue but possibly the key to the present situation, apocalyptic financial sector crashes aside. [The Tory spokesmen pretty much explained why Cameron couldn't care less, apparently he sees increasing numbers of people being forced into renting as a good thing = flexible workforce. Yup, they are happier with us being proles. Should have guessed really.]
  12. Thats one for the Private Eye letters page. I think you'll get a tenner back.
  13. Well he does have a knack with a sermon of the Fire & Brimstone variety... Deffo not C of E then!
  14. Well not all of it, perhaps just the 7 million acres (~21% of England) that were stolen between 1750 and 1840 through the Acts of Enclosure. Pretty good records were kept, its all reversible. Given the United Kingdom has unwound many of its Imperial ventures over the last century or so I think it this would be the logical next step. I find it deeply ironic that we were forced off the land in the later phase of Enclosure to allow the imposition of "scientific" farming techniques that required large continuous areas of farmland. Today we pay the inheritors of this land a subsidy to work what was stolen. Its like nicking someone's car and then sending them the bill when the fuel tank is empty. Re: "Communism": One of the main drivers for Marx's writings (apart from Hegel etc) was reconciling modern scientific agricultural methods with the notion of common ownership. Then modern methods were undeniably more productive but they'd required enclosure to be workable, so really via a diversion into Adam Smith and division of labour, you wind up with the Marxist solution. Building houses and returning individual tracts of land to individuals would be a rather different thing and pretty much a return to how things were previously if you had, say, the local council as the freeholder.
  15. I don't think there is a crash in the W. Mids, in my observation anyway. That said, its more like stasis. EAs are perma-empty. The rental stock is huge and seems to include a lot of decidedly non-BTLish detached houses. Rents are, despite what the CML are saying, falling slightly in my judgement. (down 50 quid say, nothing major, but I'm very sure they aren't increasing). I fail to see how anyone is making any money, theres just so much stock about. It feels a lot like people are waiting for something to happen, this might be the housing market itself or possibly a few businesses round here looking a little shakey and awaiting announcements on redundencies. Renting out the family pile following no interest rather than reduce the price would seem to be part of this waiting game...not sure how it would work out financially but people are doing it. In other anecdotal news, the "SOLD" sign at the top of my road is still there for a record 5th month and the property is still unoccupied. Moss is growing up the side of the porch now. Seems to sum it all up really. I think EAs, esp. if they don't have a rental department, must be climbing the walls as well. [ARGH! Missed out the punchline: I could well believe it then if they said the rental market was expanding at an unprecedented rate and that house prices were up, but it wouldn't really reflect the reality. I know two people who've sold quite large houses lately and its taken them upward of 6 months and a couple of collapsed chains to get out].
  16. Woah there! Thats a political non-starter. It would affect benefits, pensions and the minimum wage. Something like that would be the government's worst nightmare. [Have you never noticed the term "cost of living" never, ever crosses the lips of a politician in power?]
  17. Three things that have led to grade inflation: 1. Grading to a standard of competence rather than to a curve. Continuing to believe that grades should magically show the kind of distributions they used to have pre-2000 is illogical and demonstrates mainly that most tabloid journalists are innumerate. I wouldn't mind so much if they based their criticisms on the issue of competence, but no, its the violation of the (falsely) expected distribution that seems to upset them. We could return to marking to curve I suppose but its only really useful for civil service recruiters given that its action is actually to negate rather than maintain absolute standards. 2. Improvements in educational techniques and technology. One would like to think things have been improved. If this is not the case then I guess middle class parents are wasting millions of pounds a year when the finest of all educations can be had by copying out a text-only textbook with very little explanatory matter onto bits of foolscap paper or possibly even just a slate tablet (whilst wearing a blazer, short trousers and punctuated by regular thrashings...one can imagine this idea might be popular with a certain sort of Tory, so much so they might be tempted into resits themselves. Ahem). 3. Grade inflation. Fair enough, it might happen -- I have severe concerns about the notion of modules and resits for example -- but I see very little recognition of the possible influences of (1) and (2) amongst those with an axe to grind. Overarching all this is that the time to dispute developments is at the time the curricula are published, ie. more than two years ago. An examination system can only function with regard to what is taught and thus is fit to be examined at a given standard. Employer's groups and tabloid papers making a fuss after the event is pointless and just further saps the morale of the kids who didn't have the option of sitting A-levels in 1951 or whenever the golden age supposedly was. Poor things, they'd have been better off just messing about and signing on ASAP. Still, if everyone else feels better thats all that matters isn't it? I'm not meaning to play the apologist here, I've been involved in university admissions and I have a lot of genuine concerns. However I'm not going to apply different standards to different sets of data just because I have an axe to grind in one direction (house prices) or another (A-level results). Simply looking at the proportion of grades awarded tells you nothing. Unless you think, using Daily Mail logic, Physics and Mathematics are "easy" subjects.
  18. Have a go of this, it seems to be what you were after. Ambrose, P. (2006). Rapidly Rising House Prices - Explanations, Damage, Solutions and Lessons. ENHR Conference on Housing in an Expanded Europe, Ljubljana, Slovenia. If UK house prices had followed general inflation since 1980 the average price would now be £60k. It is about £180k. The paper argues that this price inflation has been caused primarily by a flood of house purchase lending since the deregulation of the UK finance sector in the 1980s. Since then the total house purchase debt outstanding has risen to over £800bn (as at late 2005). Had the debt reflected general inflation it would have been about £180bn. There has been a very restricted supply of new housing for sale so there has been an obvious price effect. These mechanisms now operate in many EU and other countries in the world.
  19. How about starting with the Barker Review (here) and investigating the references/bibliography? Assuming you don't have access to the subscription resources, you can put one of them into Google Scholar and get it to give you a list of people who have cited the article. If its a "key" article you should get more leads that way.
  20. What "recession proof" jobs? Fixed-term contracts are the rule not the exception. Universities have a churn of ~20k a year. What "golden pension"? USS is funded, and has no unfunded liabilities and has positive cashflow. Its a 21 billion pound fund FFS. I sometimes think I'm living on a different planet from most of you. Maybe I am.
  21. My feeling is that in this country the financial press pretty much just commentate, they don't offer analysis. Cue Bob Dylan: Don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. We have Declan, in the US they have Cramer, Schiff and all those people, the difference is obvious by contrast. I'm not sure if its because the BBC doesn't feel comfortable being opinionated in such areas owing to its public service status (doesn't stop them in other areas though...) or maybe its linked to an Old School embarassment in discussing financial matters in public? A further problem can be detected from looking at the how the papers deal with housing. Properdee is a "lifestyle" issue, its often written about by fluffy "Polly Fillas" who also double up writing celeb profiles, panegyrics on the yummy mummy in 21st century society and discussing "must have" handbags. Which qualifies them to write about magnolia paint and stencil designs but leaves them somewhat underpowered when it comes to discussing the market, so they just rely on commentary because they aren't capable of much more. They just parot the interpretation of data given on the press release virtually word for word. Keep an eye on where the papers section this stuff, I recall controversial CML data appearing under the heading "women" on more than one occasion. I'm wondering if a sneaky "crash indicator" might be when the editors begin handing housing to financial rather than lifestyle journalists?
  22. Companies should have more freedom to make employees redundant. My oh my, now there is a vote winner if we really do begin to enter a recession... TBH a bit out of touch surely, nobody has a job they can be made redundant from these days, just a short-term contract that won't be renewed. He must think we are still in the 1970s or something.
  23. I think thats an exaggeration but I think its what you have to expect from those who feel disenfranchised. I find it interesting that a bull market is always perceived as victimless but universal pity and wailing should prevail in a bear market though. Equally, BTLs ramping up prices and unleashing social ills was such a morally good thing the papers and TV were only too happy to advise you how to do it, whereas buying from those who (may) suffer losses will I'm sure be regarded as "predatory", "exploitative" and "profiting from the misery of others". Odd really isn't it? I'd have thought the first rule for anyone contemplating interacting with any form of market is that you can't be a stranger to either the bull or the bear.
  24. I agree but on the other hand I think like quite a few people here, given that the present situation isn't doing me many favours I'd settle for everyone having to re-roll the dice and see what they get. Its not like I'm influencing external events anyway (bizzarely I've never been asked to be Chairman of the BoE). If it does get tricky (who knows for sure) best going into these things with a postitive outlook and an eye for any opportunities they may throw up eh.
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