The Anonymous Widower

It’s All About The Markets

There is a lot of doom and gloom in the markets, as this report says.

To me the markets have become one gigantic fruit machine, run not for the benefit of the companies and investors, but for the middle men. Did you ever see a financial advisor on a bicycle?

Remember the Stock Exchange was setup originally so that businesses who needed to expand could raise money to do so. Those who invested got a return on their money, with the higher returns coming from the more risky investments. It’s about time the Stock Exchange got back to basics.

An old friend, Phil,  long since dead, and myself put forward the principle of a company called Very Dodgy Investments, which would only invest in blue chip stocks like GEC.  We never had the guts to start it, but GEC went into melt-down soon afterwards, despite having been one of the most cash-rich and solid companies a few years before.

Over the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion, that a company is only as good as the person who pulls the strings, no matter what the figures look like.  Just as with GEC at its pomp, you might not have liked some of Lord Weinstock’s methods, you couldn’t fault the returns you got by investing.  The same could be said of other companies and the people who led or now lead them.

But look at some of the banks of recent years. Someone, often with lots of charisma and no sense, have proved that what goes up must come down and have undone many decades of prudent management.  Generally by greed.  Whoever said Greed is Good was wrong! Wanting to be rich and then working out how you do it, by perhaps inventing something and/or lots of hard work is good. Provided you don’t step over the line of what is morally bad.

But generally the one group of people you can trust is the men and women on the street. Not everyone has of course a good credit rating, but those that have one can generally be someone, who is worth supporting. This principle has been used by reputable banks and building societies to make money for years.  It is even being exploited by the government in turning the bad loans of Northern Rock round.  People would prefer to pay their loans rather than lose their house, even when the consequences might not be that bad in all cases of default.

Some companies, like those who charge high rates for payday loans also take advantage of the good nature of the person on the Dalston Omnibus. There must be half a dozen of these companies on the Kingsland Road near me.

This principle is one of the reasons I support Zopa. With them, the element of trust also works both ways and to and from the company.

Lenders know that their money will be lent out at the rate they ask for, but they know if they want a too high rate, the money may take some time to be lent.

Borrowers know the consequences of not paying and generally do pay, although there is a proportion of bad debt. They also know that the terms and conditions are as fair as they ever are in the financial services industry.

But I would never recommend Zopa directly to anyone.  Look at the company and understand how the system works.  Only when you are satisfied with what you see, should you make a judgement.

But I will say one thing.  Put a note in your diary for ten years from now to look at what Zopa has become!

I’ll also say one last thing about the markets.  Who tell you to invest in the Stock Market?  Journalists, who work for so-called reputable newspapers! And possibly others with similar vested interests, but no money of their own.

You might ask why I invested in Zopa.  I’m a Control Engineer by University Education, a Computer Programmer by work experience and someone who likes those behind an idea to have a proven record amongst many things.  Zopa ticked all of my boxes and felt it was worth investing the money I got from selling my late wife’s Porsche Boxster.  It wasn’t even the world’s third best car anyway!

It’s been a case of so far, so good! But Zopa for me has outperformed the Stock Market.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Business, Finance, News | , , | 1 Comment

El Reconcillo, Seville

C and I ate here twice, including once with my son and one his friends.

Rick Stein certainly has taste to recommend it on his BBC show.

Perhaps, I’ll go again.  But it will have to be with a very special lady! It is not a restaurant to eat in by yourself.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | | Leave a comment

Walk Through Trains

The London Overground trains are walk through, so you can get to the right place to exit before you get out.

How sensible!

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Everything Must Be Perfect

As I get older I seem to be getting more pedantic and want evrything to be perfect.  For instance, I check posts in this blog to make sure that every word, letter and formatting is as I want it.

But then as someone, who learned to set letterpress type before I was seven and who spent most of my working life as a programmer, would you expect anything else.

Today, I was looking for the perfect bag.  It has to be ultra-light, can take my Iconia tablet and power supply, a toothbrush and paste, a hairbrush, a spare pair of underpants and hopefully the Times 2 section and a football program. I think I’ve found it in a Samsonite Network Laptop Shoulder Bag.

I’ll let you know after the weekend, when I’m spending Friday night in Plymouth and then watching the football in Bristol on the Saturday. I’ve weighed it and the whole package is under 1.6 Kgs.

As I’m staying in a decent hotel in Plymouth, hopefully they’ll have soap, shampoo and a towel!

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Vengeance Tendency Hi-Jacks the E-Petitions

According to this report on the BBC, there are dozens of e-petitions calling for the government to bring back hanging. So the spiteful and vengeful in the UK population celebrate the suspension of the death penalty in Japan in an appropriate way.

I am one of the few people in the UK, who has met someone, who was sentenced to death in the UK.  He was later reprieved and went on to be well-known on television for his work. How does the vengeance tendency square with such miscarriages of justice?  I suppose it’s alright for someone to get hung to discourage the others, even if they are innocent.  Unless of course, you happen to be that person.

I think I’l start an e-petition to stop the NHS wasting taxpayers money on homeopathy! Perhaps the money saved could be used to pay for the death penalty. After all for many the result is the same!

August 4, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Japan SuspendsThe Death Penalty

Japan and the United States are the two major countries of the western world, who still have the death penalty. There are reports today, that the new justice minister, Eda Satsuki has effectively susoended capital punishment.  There’s a detailed report  here on UPI.

He is also quoted in The Times as saying “Human beings are rational creatures.  I think it’s wrong-headed to claim that taking the life of a person is the expression of a rational nature”.

I’ll agree with that.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Another Use For A Clothes Dryer

I have needed a clothes dryer since I’ve moved in and now that my washing machine decided to go wonky on Tuesday, I needed one urgently. Especially, as I had a load full of wet towels.

So I walked to the nearest shop and bought one, carrying it home in the rain.

A Tightly Packed Addis Clothes Dryer

As you can see it is tightly wrapped in plastic, something I normally don’t like, as I have difficulty unwrapping it.

But it did make an excellent defence against the rain as I carried it home flat on head.

My only regret was that no-one was there to take a photograph, as I crossed the zebra crossing in the pouring rain.

Sadly the clothes dryer collapsed and broke with just two towels on it. So it had a short life and a happy one.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Flooding in East Yorkshire

I’ve just been watching the flash floods in East Yorkshire and there is more here on the BBC web site.

It looked like a modern housing estate was flooded. Was it built on a flood plain as many are? If so surely, the stupid council, who gave planning permission, should pay for the damage. And what about the architect, who created beautiful brick car parking spaces that just prevent the water soaking into the ground and just channel it into the houses.

These little boxes should never be built without a proper flood assessment.  After this, they’re probably uninsureable anyway.

In the same report on the web, it says that a Tesco in York had to close because the roof started to leak. If it had been a green roof with perhaps grass on it, the problem might not have happened. If Adnams can do it in silly Suffolk, surely everyone can. Here are the reasons for a green roof from the design brief.

To reduce the visual impact of the building.

To reduce heat transfer into the building and to regulate the buildings core temperature.

To reduce water run-off and burden on drainage.

 That all seems logical to me.

The roof incidentally was built by Sky Garden Greenroofs.  I wonder how many Tescos and other supermarkets have green roofs? I think in the UK, one Co-op does.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

What Worries Me About Smart Phones

The BBC were also talking about how many people, are getting addicted to their smart phones. Here’s my e-mail to the program.

I don’t have a smart phone and never will. I text, tweet and run a lot of my life from a 10-year-old Nokia 6310i.  I do get worried that some services, that I will need in the future, such as finding my way around a strange city or monitoring my Warfarin usage might need a smart phone.  I’ll just get an even grumpier old man.

On a serious side, I do carry an Iconia tablet when I travel.  But I only use it for business, research and entertainment.

August 4, 2011 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shoe Sizes

The very pregnant news mother, Kate Silverton, on BBC Breakfast, was complaining about getting stylish shoes for her size 9 feet.

As a man with size 6 feet, I have the same problem, but I’ve always found it possible to buy them in Newmarket.  And they’re British made too!

August 4, 2011 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment