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Cogs

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  1. Last 10 years? It died in the 1980s when we learned that hard work, really hard work like mining or working steel led only to poverty and humiliation at the hands of jeering wad-waving city bonus boys. The country voted by its wallet that it didn't respect hard work and didn't respect community or society. It respects spivs, self-publicising idiots and the cult of I'm Alright Jack and stuff you if you fall behind. This is just the continuation of it. The line goes like this now: If you are honest and hard-working I hope I get the chance to rip you off blind sometime soon, mug.
  2. I find this a difficult moral issue really. The irresponsible borrower deserves very little sympathy. The responsible borrower for whom life deals a bad card is a different matter perhaps. A very important issue in my view is the genuine entrepreneur who creates jobs; this country has historically been a very hostile environment to such people owing to its bankruptcy laws. In the States every other person owns their own small concern it seems and that is something we need in the long run if not to be constantly buffeted by the capricious actions of leviathon-like multi-nationals that can destroy whole towns by pulling the plug at their own whim (see South Wales for examples). Something has got to give at one end or the other; either responsible lending has to legislated or sterned consequences at the other end. Personally I'd like to see the banks fairly harshly regulated again but I understand some people have political objections to that. Being able to borrow massive sums and then walk away from it hurts everyone. I think IVAs should be retained but very strictly administered so they are only available to the owners of small businesses who can prove the problem lies with the business rather than their wife's shoe collecting habit via certified accounts. And owning a load of BTLs damn well doesn't count.
  3. Gone are the days when politicians showed leadership and thus lead public opinion which is what you are asking Mr Cameron, the ex-adman to do. Giants like Churchill or Atlee could have done it (to be fair to both wings of political opinion), but not this shower of political midgets. They are the craven lickspittles of the focus group and the polling model these days. These days they just echo what they hear, albeit with a bit of spin (which is precisely what Lord Snooty's spiel about shared ownership is about, as students of information theory will observe, the signal goes into his ear and the noise comes out of his mouth). As soon as something concrete happens "Dave" will thump the dispatch box, exorciate Brown and drag his record over the hot coals. But not a second before.
  4. I've recently read a book called "Rubicon" by Tom Holland which is a narrative history of the Roman Republic. It is a great read and lighter than you might imagine, the thing that struck me was that it might as well have been the history of last week. Apologies if this is a bit of an unusual post. The mangolia merchants weren't invented yesterday: Or as Pliny (in archaic translation) held: What happened next to our latter day Sarah Beeny? I had to do a bit of research and according to Cicero it looks like Orata tried a typical property developer's dirty trick: Theres loads more there but I guess I can't really type out the whole book (it isn't actually about property really, I should stress this before you get onto Amazon but because it mattered to them, particularly the political class, the issue crops up here and there). The Romans were obsessed with Location (location, location), various "Grand Designs" went hopelessly wrong due to poor project management, when the Roman market got too much they started investing in the Greek one, one politician had his villa torn down brick by brick by an angry mob and chucked down a hill (Mr Blair should insure against this) and the Caesars fell foul of a falling market in their area of Roman suburbia and wound up living next door to a brothel and various fast-food joints. There really isn't anything new under the sun. Two thousand years later, not much changes.
  5. I think the Express is trying for "All your base-rates are belong to us". (alternatively "Im in ur MPC committee setting yr r8ts" for fans of obscure internet memeography)
  6. Maybe this is an urban myth but I was under the impression that IVAs were supposed to be for the benefit of entrepreneurs, to encourage people to take the risk of starting/running a small business in a country that was at the time the legislation was suggested, was perceived as being rather punitive towards small businessmen compared with our competitors in terms of the risks posed by failing. In the US you get knocked down and you get up again, in the UK it seemed you got knocked down and it ruined your life for good. This is one thing that really annoys me about the present government. I would describe myself as a smidgeon left of centre and I agree in principle with many of their policies if they are targeted very narrowly. The problem is New Lab are neither fish nor foul so what happens is they lose their nerve and extend many benefits towards the middle class to pay them off, in effect, for helping the most needy in society and the whole thing turns into pigs at the trough time. The middle class are not actually better off for this exercise as it would have been better if they'd kept the cash, all that happens is government expands and interferes in our lives more. An example of this was parenting centres (childcare of some description) introduced into poor areas to help. The poor people never got a look in as yummy mummies piled into their people carriers and drove down and oversubscribed the places the minute the doors opened. The people it was aimed at are a bit shy of such things (the stench of social workers and benefits snitches perhaps) and advertising, persuasion etc. were factored into the budget but of course was completely wasted. Zero social improvement, middle classes forced to in effect procure from the state, another New Lab initiative fails. The IVA racket sounds like more of the same. And the worst thing is that presumably as it is cracked down on many legitimate business people that we need to "have a go" are going to end getting the sharp end of the stick and it will all have been a complete waste of time.
  7. Assuming they pop in and out a few times rounding the weekly rent up to 2 quid (x 6) and we assume no voids (apart from those of the bowels) I calculate the gross yield at 0.24%. Presumably the local council are "in it for the long run" though [Edited because I forgot it was multiple occupancy!]
  8. I'm not sure it is a small piece of the US economy. 70% of the US economy is consumption, what happens to that when MEW stops? (Remembering that the US has a negative savings rate). The real estate "crisis" hasn't really even begun properly yet, most of the ARMs have yet to kick in yet. You might be right but I'm not sure I buy the argument that the property situation is somehow neatly sealed off from the rest of the economy. There is an article by Peter Schiff called "No more legs to stand on" that outlines the relationship between housing and a consumer-driven economy.
  9. The quotation attributed to Mr Brown in the 1997 budget in your press release is in error. The quote should be "I will not allow house prices to get out of control and put at risk the sustainability of the recovery." rather than "sustainability of the future". Line 182, here. I'm no Brown fan but I think it is a little sneaky to doctor a quotation to change the meaning.
  10. Only you can buy those Kate Moss items on any highstreet in the country... It was the same thing with that Primark riot in Oxford street as well. Police horsemen ended up on the scene, despite the fact you culd buy the same stuff a mile up the road for the same price. Indeed, you could buy the same stuff anywhere there was a Primark shop. There was also that situation with those "this is not a carrier bag" bags which are now widely available I believe. I don't have any priviledged insight into the minds of young women (if only!) but it seems that there were maybe a few limited edition cheap fashion items released in the past. In emulation of this young women seem more focused on the queuing than on the items themselves. Rather as in Sales people obsess about snagging "bargains" they don't actually want. I'll never wear it! But I saved 50%! Hysteria might be the right word. I think this does have something to do with HPI actually. Note how this is always making a quick buck or getting a bargain (both of which are only true if your time is worthless). This is what happens to consumerism when people start feeling the pinch I suspect. [Edited lots because I'm half asleep, sorry]
  11. I think there are some good Polys about, not the majority but there are some pretty good institutions there. Similarly, all that glitters Russel Group-stylee isn't necessarily gold if you look carefully. I think we are seeing a shake-out at the moment which will lead to increasing specialisation, particularly in non-Russel Group institutions. The funding reforms will accelerate this process with their "rich get richer" formulation relating to the RAE. The 3b department is living on borrowed time, the 3a is a huge risk, better to expand the 4 and the 5 instead. This process of specialisation will cause a bit of order to be re-established and quality to be more transparent. A bit like, to paraphrase Tommy Cooper, you might have a Stradavarius and a Van Goch, but Van Goch made useless violins and Stradavarius couldn't paint to save his life. The problem isn't that Polys are irredeemably bad, its that there are a lot of people coming out with Van Goch violins and wondering why nobody wants them. [Edited for gross stupidity!]
  12. Indeed. The BoE report mentioned here may be of interest; they put the cut off at 34. Older people have seen their wealth treble in ten years thanks to soaring property prices while young adults have become poorer, the Bank of England says today...But an alarming report from the Bank says the young, which includes everybody under 34, are the biggest losers.
  13. Technology has caught up with you RB. Keep on posting and you could bounce the stock market around single handed
  14. Definitely. Although it "bears" mentioning that the Schiffster has an a pretty damn impressive record for "getting it right" compared to his pundit rivals. He gets zero respect or acknowledgment for this. Theres one clip where he says "property is screwed because of lax lending" and they laugh at him. Two weeks later he comes back and they are going "OK well Peter, turns out you were right but I still think you are basically wrong about everything and if I had to read your book I'd probably kill myself". Thing is he's basing his predictions on large-scale macroeconomic developments, he's not just looking at a chart and going 50/50 with whether it goes up or down or not. Having concluded this post I realise I've turned into a Schiff cultist of some description. How can I get this Europacific Capital tattoo removed anyway?
  15. It fascinates me actually. If you look at his video archive on the Europac site of TV pundit appearances what is notable is anger that the bulls have toward him. They don't merely disagree and it doesn't seem to be merely theatricals for the telly, they often seem genuinely furious. I have noticed this with other bears as well. Reminds me very much of Ms. Allsopp's infamous ranting about HPC.com. There is ultimately always going to be an imbalance between bear and bull when it comes to punditry because of course the bull has an easy ride smiling and telling people what they want to hear. Furthermore being critical of the economy seems, in the US, to be considered somewhat unpatriotic behaviour. Greed + telling people what they want to hear + patriotism = a dangerous blend.
  16. What Private Eye would refer to as a "fruity" young lady, utterly irrelevant to the story. She can "combine her resources" with me any day. And bring along her 50 grand. The last property thing that ran in the Times was accompanied by a large picture of a similarly fruity gal whose claim to be included in the article was that she was thinking about buying was still in the process of saving a deposit so maybe not. She was pondering this whilst wearing a rather short summer dress as I recall that showed her legs off rather nicely. Gotta love the "Quality Press" and their desperate attempts to crowbar in a bit of glamour. You'd be forgiven for thinking only attractive young women (a.) have an interest in property (b.) pass A-levels/degrees (almost true...) and (c.) have any concept of enjoying unseasonably good weather(!) .
  17. Well played mate. Forceful without being a rant, not always easy to pull off.
  18. Good old Mrs Merkel. According to a thing I heard on Radio 4 Chirac wanted to her to gang up with him and put everyone out of work in Filton and leave the French and German jobs. In fairness to the woman who is occasionally maligned, she told him to get lost and stated her view that the job losses should be shared as equally as possible. What is worrying in this is that the job losses would be greater here but for the decency of the German Chancellor (well realpolitik as well, I think she sees binding Germany to France as in the past a bit dodgy since Germany is working its way out of a hole the French seem content to wallow in), Blair doesn't seem to have had any input or interest at all.
  19. One theory is that after terrorism incidents people's mood and the "utility function" are affected (that is, the degree of hapiness produced from consuming goods). It isn't that they think they are going to be the next victims, its that they become risk averse (across even unconnected matters) and basically, unhappy. This is why you'll remember after 9/11 Bush standing outside Ground Zero asking the American public not to stay at home at the weekend but to go out and buy things because there was a real risk the Walmarts and the Targets might stand empty. Assuming the nature of the atrocity itself doesn't have any specific economic impacts (it might well but I'm uncomfortable with speculating about such events, but in 9/11 air travel dropped off afterward for example and bankrupted airlines and obviously the WTC was a financial hub itself) it unfolds simply because Estate Agents find themselves suddenly very quiet. Nobody feels like looking round houses or buying. They feel they live in uncertain times, all that kind of thing.
  20. I'd suggest looking into credit transfers (in and out of the OU) and what the OU call "Collaborative schemes". Personally I'd do a few OU modules, pay as you go and see how you feel about it then. You'd only be venturing say 600 quid here, 1200 quid there or whatever. The OU isn't Mickey Mouse or anything despite its unconventional approach and probably the only institution I can think of that in and of itself says something positive about people who study with it (motivation, drive etc.) "Real" uni isn't really Brideshead Revisisted all the time you know, a lot of places are cattle sheds with unsympathetic staff and disinterested waster students. It is possible that you might rue losing your old job when you find yourself fighting for barwork and shelfstacking below the minimum wage, but then again it might all be fine, it depends on a lot of details (finances, where you want to study, your motivations etc) so look at all the angles.
  21. Heh, you can almost hear the drums as the Eastenders theme music begins. He might well be Leslie Grantham... the plot thickens.
  22. Article here. I think that is a sentiment many of us can identify with.
  23. You probably know this but the planning rules state that there is a minimum number of people who have to be accomodated per so many square feet. I was looking at the weekend at some 4-bed newbuilds but they have gardens that offer little but comedy value. This is a direct result of the government's planning laws. The give away is that on the same development the (far cheaper) maisonettes actually had bigger gardens from the "allowance" saved on having a garage underneath your sitting room. I think the degree to which this is developer greed has been overstated, they know what sells and what doesn't sell and what would attract a premium as well. TBH I think the government and the LA's are quite happy with the idea that the developers take the blame for this stuff and that their personally owned Georgian/Victorian piles with generous gardens are worth ever larger amounts of money.
  24. Other obvious questions: Are they expected to get every question right or just get 40%? What proportion of applicants are expected to gain entry? In a country the size of China it strikes me as possible that university entry is an elite thing. 1 in 10? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? You could probably find the same ratio here, although I think Chemistry departments would complain if their 2008 intake was a grand total of 44 people nationally. There are just too many factors and really it seems a very cheap way of saying "We wish more Chemistry applicants would take A-level maths as well". The whole thing is ironic given Chemistry departments are pretty much throwing themselves at the feet of students to stay open, could if they wanted to stipulate A-level maths anyway so there is an argument that this is mainly their own fault. Then again, a student with say strong A-levels in Maths and Chemistry and something else is going to apply for medicine first, not chemistry I'd have thought.
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