The Anonymous Widower

A Better Picture

In this post, I said I might be able to get a better picture of the TBMs from a main line train.  So today, I tried again.

I took a train to Ealing Broadway station and back again. I actually think if you want to take pictures it might be best to actually go to Acton Main Line, as the Oxford train, I got on return, went past the tunnelling site rather fast.

Note that each of the two tunnel boring machines consist of a large cutting head, with all sorts of ancillaries trailing on behind, like some giant tadpole.

I think that the gantries will be used to lift the machines to the portal at Royal Oak and support the conveyors taking out all of the spoil.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Now The Time To Invest In Zopa?

I ask the question as I was at Zopa‘s seventh birthday party and some of their people said, they needed more lenders.

If that had been said by many, you’d have smelt a rat, but I have been feeling for some time, that the value of loans wanted has been growing in size compared to the amount of money on offer.

So I have just been looking at the figures in my Excel spreadsheet that I use to track the company. In January 2011, the ratio of money offered across all markets to that demanded was 4.74.  In February 2001, the ratio was 2.78. By comparison in January and February this year the two figures are 1.79 and 1.35. So the amount of money on offer has dropped with respect to demand over the last twelve months.

The drop is totally due to the rise in demand.  The average demand in January 2012 was £12.19m, as against to £5.46m twelve months ago.  This is a rise of 123%, whereas the money on offer has actually fallen. This could be for any number of reasons, but my guess is that because of the recession, more people are withdrawing repayments and interest, rather than reinvesting them.

So it would appear that Zopa has a bit of a funding gap for new loans.

Also. on the positive side the interest rates returned to lenders have also stood up well and if you take the A* market, this has hovered around the 7% mark since January 2011.

What is interesting and might frighten some investors is that there are occasional monthly fluctuations in the figures. For instance in November and December 2011, rates dropped, but had bounced back  by the turn of the year.  This probably explained by a slight lack of demand and an increase in money offered.  Could savvy investors be putting their Christmas bonus in a safe place?

If I look at my bad debts over the last year, they have gone up by about £80 and 10 contracts.  As I limit my exposure on any contract to £50, it is unlikely I’ll get any big hits of a hundred or so, I got in the early days.

So what are the rules for investing?

  1. Start slow, with investing something you could totally afford to use.  I recommend a hundred pounds or so, until you have fully learned how to use the system.
  2. Concentrate on the two most creditworthy markets; A* and A.  The rates you will get aren’t as high as in other markets, but they are less risky. I have a small proportion of my money in the Y or youth market, where  5 contracts have gone bad. But then 6 have in the A market, although these are obviously out of a lot more contracts.
  3. Set a maximum lending limit for each customer of £50.
  4. Check your account daily to make sure that the rates you are offering are in the zone or the Zone of Probable Agreement as Zopa calls it.  If your rate is too high, no-one will borrow from you and if it’s too low, you might get less creditworthy customers.
  5. Join the forums on the site, to learn how others think and act.
  6. Only when you are happy with the system and can trust yourself, do you add larger sums of money to your lending pot!

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Finance, World | , | Leave a comment


With the sad and tragic deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan, the news from the United States, where two hard-line religious fanatics, not well-disposed to Islam,  are vying for the Republican nomination for President, is not good.

Let’s hope that the United States sees sense and re-elects President Obama. At least he’s not in the blast-Iran-back-to-the-Stone-Age-tendency.

Otherwise, incidents like yesterday’s will get worse and more often.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

£43,000 For Breast Enlargements

I had to have a chuckle at this story in the Standard last night, with a headline of, Swindler faked death in £43,000 scam to give his wife bigger breasts.

He’s now in Bangkok with yet another wife.

As it was a benefits fraud that paid for the breast operation, do we get our money or the implants back?

The treadmill and the crank were made for this man, as he would apear to be a serious danger to women, the country and probably himself as well.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment