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dissident junk

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  1. Basically, a lot of Cypriot law and administration still dates back to the Ottoman era (they still have muktars, for example). For political reasons, the Ottomans treated ownership of land and ownership of buildings upon the land very differently to the West: they were treated as quite separate legal entities in some ways, but buildings were subordinate to land ownership in other ways (think of it as land overlord and house tenant to get a better idea). Unfortunately, this has meant, today, that a developer or land owner can take out a debt on land and the bank has a primary lien on the land and then anything that is built upon it, so they keep title deeds for the land and anything subsequently built upon it as collateral. If the developer or owner never pays the debt, they never release those deeds. The upshot of this is that you can buy a property in Cyprus and if you instruct a dodgy solicitor, who neglects to tell you the land is mortgaged, they will tell you that so long as the sale of the property is registered, you *own* the property. But you don't ... because your title deeds will still be held by the bank that gave the loan for the land. Without title deeds, you simply cannot sell your property because *ahem* you have no deeds, regardless of what you may have paid. This situation can last for years. My DJ's Cypriot grandmother had to wait twenty years to get her title deeds on her flat. Some people are still waiting for deeds for homes they bought in the 70s. It is a total fiasco. Edited to add ... so the reality is that many people who got caught out by this will simply not be able to sell their homes. In fact, depending on which banks hold the land debt, some banks may not be able to even repo homes they have given mortgages upon that are now seriously underwater. In short, the rats will not be able to leave the sinking ship.
  2. I knew Cyprus joining the euro would be bad for the country, but I did not think it would come to something like this. I remember back in 2005 telling my Cypriot students that the country should not join the euro, that it would suffer the inflation Greece did. But no ... all my students parroted what their parents thought: joining the euro would make them all rich. Regardless of whether they pull the levy or not, this is going to cause carnage. It will be seen as the last straw for many decent Cypriots. They have been expected to deal with a Russian/mafia/migrant crime wave for the last eight years (featuring grenades thrown into "bars" underneath residential blocks, no less), a rocketing cost of living in the last four, an insane housing market since about 2003, a serious sex trafficking problem, deaths of locals caused by tourists playing silly beggars, and wave upon wave of EU and Russian migration, and third world and ME asylum/immigration that has seriously frayed nerves. This is all the more complicated as Cyprus has mandatory military service (so every male over 20 knows his way around an assault weapon), a significant gun culture (hunting) and still serious grievances over the invasion. Cypriot banks are dead. Simple as. Every Cypriot will pull their money out as soon as. It will either go to Arab banks, or be held in relatives' names in other parts of Europe or Britain. People forget Lebanon is only 45 mins flight away. The economy will collapse. Not only that, but personal and mortgage debts in arrears held by banks will start to be called in. This is seriously problematic as, historically, Cypriot banks have not repo'ed Cypriots' housing for political and legal reasons (I know rather a few Cypriots that have not paid their mortgages in a number of years). It is fairly common for Cypriots to have dealt with the high cost of household goods and vehicles through HP or leasing agreements they could barely afford. Once the bailiffs start coming, it's going to start getting really nasty. Add to that the complication of Ottoman-era land law and rights to deeds, and the whole thing is just a disaster -- and it will all be blamed on the Germans. The fundamental problem is that Cyprus is governed in an appalling way. It's not really their fault though. They lose their best and brightest to Europe, leaving the stock of brains for leadership and governance to the corrupt. The elders in the country are very polarised politically (my local cobblers out there has a photo of Lenin on the wall, while others are so right-wing as to be absurd). The younger people have dealt with the situation through the politics of consumerism: cue, more debt. Add to that the old guard, who remember the invasion, will not take kindly to savings being taken by "a foreign power". Then add to this, Russian, British, Turkish, Israeli and Arab interest in the equation and ... to be honest, things do not look good. I can possibly see some sort of military coup, particularly if the Army gets Russian support -- and since every Cypriot household has members that have spent time in the army, such a move may be seen as trustworthy and pro-Cypriot. Oh, what a mess.
  3. Going back to the OP vid, I seem to remember a similar argument being made about the cause of the Great Depression -- that the US economy was too heavily reliant on the consumption patterns of the very wealthy in the 20s and when they got smashed in the Wall Street Crash, the economy just vanished. The suggestion was that for a robust economy that can deflect shocks, you need significant purchasing power at every income stratum .. in the "a rich man will never need 100 washing machines, but a 100 working class households will each want one" vein. It is essentially about breadth of demand, and the dynamism of consumption. What creates more jobs? 100 packed Primarks or one empty Louis Vuitton? The problem with the "trickle-down" theory is the notion that only the very wealthy can utilise savings, capital and "great wealth" in an economically catalytic manner. In reality, anyone that is able to save, accumulate capital and achieve "great wealth" (though, to them, great wealth might mean £50K) can have a catalytic economic effect, though, obviously, far less in scale -- but if you have enough people on that stratum in that position ... Interestingly, years ago, there was a very good article published somewhere about the size of lottery wins and their economic effects. The researchers found that the most successful lottery model for the greatest economic and employment impact on a region was the Spanish lotto, which paid out smaller amounts to more people. Instead of someone winning £10 million, often you would find two or three people in a village or town that had won £50K each and they would use this money to extend their homes, take on a new employee, buy a new van for work, start a small business -- the effect of their wins rippled through their local area. What they found with big lottery wins was that the winners moved away, often abroad, and the money tended to circulate within a level of the global economy that just made the already global rich richer.
  4. I think we have to be a bit careful about this, ST. The notion that women en masse suddenly flooded the labour market in the 70s is largely a myth, created by the politically-forced withdrawal of women from the labour market postwar and the collapse of more traditional industries and services that gave pre-war women employment. We think of the 1950s as the way things always were, when, in reality, it was just a blip. If you go back to the 1930s, or even further to the mid to late 19th century, the number of women in some sort of paid work is significant. There were mills and factories in Britain in 1895 where 98 percent of the workforce were women. Example .. 1859 Mill workers at Bocking. The reality is that, rather than something "new" happening in terms of women working in the modern age, we are actually returning to an Victorian social and economic set-up in Britain. It as always thus that most women needed to work. The only difference is that now the upper and upper middle class women work, but that is not particularly a sizeable number in the grand scheme of things.
  5. Back in the early noughties, I was a governor for a primary school in Tottenham. I was asked to do it by a work colleague because they were under the legal requirement for governors and it was getting to the point where the school might be forced to close. It was an eye-opener, I can tell you. Some of the teachers had to spell things out because my brain just could not comprehend some of the things they were saying. One of them was that a significant number of parents just did not feed their children. I am not talking about not making family meals, or not making balanced meals, I am talking about not feeding them at home at all. Zero. Nada. Zip. The school lunchtime meal was the only food these children got on a weekday. At weekends, they might be given a few packets of crisps. And that was it. We started a breakfast club at the school because it came down to the point where we were seriously worried that some of the children were quite literally starving. I know from friends who work in the NHS as district nurses and midwives that there are rather a significant number of young women in Britain now that have absolutely no idea how to look after babies and children. This isn't the typical Daily Mail wail about irresponsible parenting, but that brides are coming to Britain who have no understanding of birth, breastfeeding, weaning or how to clean a home in a western environment. Some of these girls do not even know they need to wash their children. The Greek situation is a little more nuanced than appears. What a lot of the papers are reporting about "Greeks" is actually about what is happening to migrants in Greece, rather than Greeks themselves. A lot of the breadline photos actually show non-Greek foreign nationals, and the news reports interview people who are obviously migrant workers (you can tell because of their names, the fact they speak Greek very slowly, and often because, in the case of women, they are single mothers living in Greek towns and cities without any family support). Many Greeks are surviving the crisis because they have solid extended families -- people are moving back in with parents, grandparents or other relatives. It is the migrants that do not have these support networks so they are the ones in serious "leave my daughter at the church door" trouble. A similar situation would be news reports about "Brits in crisis" where the only people interviewed were Polish nationals in Peterborough.
  6. It has taken us about eight years to save for a deposit, and now we are thinking of buying, it is clear we will still need some help from parents. I am gutted about this situation, by the way, but the problem is that eight years is a long time and your needs change - though you might be a FTB, you are no longer "young". Though we could do a typical FTB property easily (say, a one bed flat or a two-up two-down), somewhere like that is now too small as we both work from home three times a week -- so we stay in our rented, larger house. Likewise, an absolute dump that needs serious renovation is in our reach, but I am pushing it in terms of my biological clock and our jobs do not allow us the time to spend hundreds of hours doing up a house. I seem to say "if I were ten years younger, I'd might have bought that house" a lot these days. This HPI of the noughties has created a real problem in that people in my cohort are either stuck in FTB type homes that are too small for their needs (these are those that are frustrated "second steppers" that cannot afford to move somewhere larger) or they missed the "first step" entirely and now need to purchase "second step" type homes. What I have noticed anecdotally when viewing homes is the number of vendors who claim chains have broken down two or three times. The whole system is just screwed.
  7. It's a huge illusion that I think is causing deep ruptures in the social fabric that aren't quite visible yet, but are definitely there. One of my oldest friends is 36 and married to a chap that earns about £80k a year. He is in the top 10 percent of earners in the country anyway, but, for our region, it's more like the top one percent. She cannot understand how on earth, considering her household financial situation, other people are able to purchase some of the fairly okay family homes in our area that are now priced at £300k+ (the really nice ones are now at £500k) -- and her husband bought his first house at a time when he could ride the HPI wave. Now, yes, they have children so that eats cash, but I know what she means. I cannot see how people have done it. We know one case where it is an IO self-cert deal, but surely that can't be the reason for all this ability to fund the cost of houses at over quarter of a million quid. The average salary in our area is about £20K a year Another old friend of Mr DJ bought a bit of a dive for £180k three years ago and spent 20k doing it up. The chap is forking out £1000 a month on a mortgage and him and his wife are really struggling, even though he works full time and she has gone back to work part time now their child is 2. They are on about £30K gross household income; the mortgage eats almost all his salary, and childcare eats a lot of hers. What I have noticed in the last two months is the growing level of bitterness from these people towards their parents, their parents' wealth and the fact that it is now apparent that their parents' standard of living was far far higher than theirs, despite the fact these younger couples are more qualified, work longer hours, and in terms of national income stats, actually earn far more than their parents ever did, and women no longer take five years off when they have a child. Coupled with this seems to be a trend where young couples have less supplementary support from parents than their parents generations did with their parents. It is becoming common for my friends to mention that their parents refuse to babysit for one night a month, when their grandparents would come over three times a week to mind them when their mother was at work. All in all, I can see signs that the situation with the cost of living and the repercussions of it all are pulling marriages and families apart. I have a friend who basically had an enormous breakdown last year because she simply could not manage daily life where she worked part-time in one town and took her two kids to school in another, with a husband who left the house at 6am and didn't get back until about 9pm. She just fell to bits with exhaustion and is now talking about divorce.
  8. I second this. £1000 a month is a lot for a graduate couple where I live. Even for someone on £30K a year, it is two thirds of take home pay. Then council tax and basic utilities (gas, electric, water) eat another £300. A chap full time on gross £30K would be left with £200-ish and he hasn't even bought any food or paid for transport yet. So that's where the other half comes in. But here you strike a problem. Not only are transport costs increased if the OH works, but you introduce a child into the equation and woah ... you end up with the part-time work/childcare juggle, or the full-time work/childcare wipe out. Among the women I know, the best are lucky to bring in an extra £800 to the household pot a month, and that is with grand-parental childcare arrangements where the woman works part time for a pro-rata decent salary. I don't have any children yet, but I would balk at £750 repayment a month (and there isn't much you can get for £170K in my area), especially in a climate where house prices were decreasing. It is just that little bit too tight.
  9. I remember back in the noughties, Madonna said something similar about being shocked at London house prices. But Robbie says the key word: "Oligarch". Add to that "global-super rich" and you have the cause of the problem. Hate to say it, but I think the development of the noughties and the super-rich have killed London. The place has no soul anymore. Everyone with a bit of something about them under 35 is priced out or struggling to service ludicrously high rents or mortgages in tiny homes. A lot of the 35 to 50 something quirky folks have jumped ship to other regions where they can afford a larger home. Last time I went down, I was astonished how quiet everywhere was at night -- even in places like Soho.
  10. Marriage has always been a transaction for financial purposes. It is just in the western world, Christianity fused with old classical notions of "the whole pulled asunder", and developed this whole "divine union in the eyes of God" concept, which, when them radical preacher folk started drumming it in during the 19th century on accounts of the desire for "spirituality" in Ye Olde Industrial Englande, complicated everything.
  11. If you are in a long term relationship, particularly if you have children, you need to do your research before you decide not to marry. Marriage or civil partnership is NOT just a piece of paper -- this is the biggest fiction ever foisted onto people (possibly by people who have a vested interest). It is a legal agreement that gives you rights as a spouse. I wasn't a marriage person, but when I started looking into it, and asking people about it, I realised that not being married can really screw you if your partner dies and visa versa. Even if you have a will, it can get very difficult. Some pension companies will not recognise you as a partner if you are not married or have a CP. You might not even know that your partner has a spousal payout clause in their private/work pension provision in case of death during service until it is too late and you cannot claim it. Again, your partner's assets can get frozen in the event of a death. Being married gives you certain rights to access bank accounts etc, which might be vital to your household if something terrible happened. You need to look at how you run your finances as a couple and figure out how not being married could affect either of you in the event of a death (and I am not even getting into inheritance tax here). Without a will? Jeez, I would not risk it. Parents can get very strange in such situations. I know of one chap whose partner died in a crash and, obviously, had no rights to any of the money he had put in a savings account under her name. It all went to her parents, and it was half their deposit money for a house (most of which he had earned). Again, I also know about another case where a grief stricken mother demanded all her son's belongings back immediately after the funeral, including everything he had bought for their house. That one got very nasty indeed. When it comes to housing, you need to figure out what would happen in the event of a death for your rental or ownership position if you are not married. For ownership, you want to consider tenant designations very carefully. I know people who have been caught out either way with this: a death meaning half the house goes to the inheritors named either in a will or because someone died intestate (live-in partner told she has to hop it), or a death meaning the children of the deceased don't inherit what the deceased thinks they will (it all goes to the other tenant, who then promptly changes her will so only her children inherit). This shit can get very awkward, very nasty, and very upsetting. We have had some of this in my own family because a family member didn't marry but thought he had sorted it all out in his will. Don't risk it. Please. Do your research before your make a decision to marry or not. You really do not want a rather disliked sibling of your partner demanding to come to your house and rifle through your late partner's things, then taking away watches and wallets and all sorts down to the local pawn shop.
  12. To add to this ... if you control a sizeable area, have enough control over resources (imperial or otherwise) and have enough population, you can essentially operate an entirely internal economy, isolated from everything "outside". The Ottomans did this up until the 19th century. They had no foreign debt before this era because they simply didn't export or import outside their imperial zone. The interesting thing here is that it was industrial and technological advances in the West that started to weaken the Ottoman economic set-up. So if China wishes to become the globally ruling empire overlords, nicking Western technology and teaching before cutting us off entirely is rather a clever way to go about it.
  13. Taxes have a lot to answer for. My OH came back from a poker night and told me a chap he knows there has said he will have to wind down his business (self-employed). Reason: it's now costing him £400 a week in diesel. He is working purely to pay for the cost of his fuel. I have noticed this year that retailers and businesses are discounting constantly. Every day, I get another offer in my inbox. In fact, there are so many continual sales that I am not buying what I actually need (new skirts for work, as we had a mishap with some bleach ) because I've seen continual discounts on new season stock as soon as it hits the shops, and I ain't paying a ticket price only to discover a reduction of 50 percent before I have even worn the damn thing. So look like I truly may be turning into a Japanese housewife. It did cross my mind that this discounting could be essentially wiping out the impact of the VAT rise on government coffers. 17.5 percent on 100 percent ticket price will bring in more than 20 percent on 50 percent ticket price.
  14. It will cover rent, if you ask me. The idea is to stop the state paying housing costs for someone over the entire course of their adult life. This is moving towards the "safety net" notion of the welfare system, rather than the redistribution notion. It also looks like the spaced childbirth approach to secure consistent levels of benefits will no longer work either. Some people are going to get an enormous shock. They will have to find work ... and it will put an enormous downwards pressure on wages as the supply of labour expands dramatically. I can't see the NMW being increased in these circumstances at all.
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