The Anonymous Widower

When Will We Ever Learn?

One of our mistakes in 2008 was to rescue banks, rather than let them go bust! Retail customers up to the savings limit should be compensated, but for everything else, that’s business!

This article on the BBC is entitled Santander Rescues Rival Banco Popular From Collapse.

One of the things, I was told by my friend, who rose to be Business Banking Director of a major Clearing Bank, was to never bank with a bank, that was headquartered and/or owned outside the UK. I would change that to England after Royal Bank of UK Taxpayers and Bank of Scotland.

So who will eventually pay for Santander’s purchase?

Incidentally, with Qatar’s problems at the moment and their stake in Barclays, I personally will be staying clear of that bank.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Labour Party’s Fantasy Economics

Today, the Labour Party has added a rail fare cap to their list of give-aways to all and sundry.

In the 1970s, I was asked to do a programming job for the Chief Management Accountant of a major clearing bank, who are still trading successfully, so my work didn’t toss them down the toilet.

I programmed a system, so that the Bank could work out how much every one of their management functions would cost. The program could be run so that the Bank could see how much say a pay rise for staff would add to the cost of clearing a cheque, in all of their branches. As you can imagine costs were very variable and the reasons for some of the high costs in some branches appeared in the tabloid newspapers.

It was fascinating and three things happened.

  • I learned a tremendous amount about the way bankers and accountants look at figures, which I put to good use in Artemis
  • I learned a lot about the way bankers think.
  • But above all, I gained a good friend, which was sadly cut short by the Chief Management Accountant’s early death from cancer, We regularly celebrated our fruendship  in Mother Bunches Wine Bar.

I also decided to move my Bank Account to the Bank and by luck, I was introduced to a Bank Manager, who played a large part in my life.

  • He became Metier’s Bank Manager and helped us to be the success we were.
  • He went on to be Business Banking Director of the Bank.
  • He loaned me the money to buy my first Porsche and then introduced me to the joys of owning a Lotus.
  • But as with the Chief Management Accountant, we became firm friends and put the world to rights in many convivial lunches.

Sadly, he died a few days before C.

These two friends taught me a lot about banking.

But I remember one conversation with the Bank Manager in particular.

We were talking about lending millions of pounds to companies, with strong Chilean, Israeli and South African ownership links. He said they were always difficult and risky because of the politics and determined individuals involved, but you satisfied this risk by adding a percentage or two to the deal.

Since then I have been involved in both a small finance company and Zopa; the peer-to-peer lender, as an investor, and the same principles apply.

Just as they do when the banks are lending to countries with dodgy finances.

So what makes the Labour Party think that they any sane Banker will fund their socialist fantasies, by loaning them billions at zero or low rates?

 

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Computing, Finance, World | | 2 Comments

Forget Trump: The Private Sector Is Still Going Green

This is title of a piece by Irwin Stelzer in this week’s Sunday Times.

Read the article if you can. It talks about how large companies like Exxon and Shell and individuals like Bill Gates are putting prices on carbon and backing reliable clean energy.

The last paragraph sums it up nicely.

Presidents come and go. The private sector will be engaging in long-run research and long-lived investments, perhaps more efficiently than the government has been doing. The profit motive might just turn out to be more productive than the vote-getting or ideological motives of politicians.

I think he could be right!

Think of all those successful projects, that were were done without any Government support or blessing and think of all those government projects that sunk without trace taking millions of pounds with them.

And also think about all that legal money slushing around the world looking for a home in an innovation that will be a wothwhile investment.

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Business, Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

Making An Investment Using My Zopa Funds

Over the past eight years, I have built up a seasonable six-figure sum in Zopa. It has paid me upwards of five or six percent  after all deduction of losses and charges over those years and it has been a safe investment compared to some others I could have made.

But now is the time to liberate it, as I want to invest in something important to me, and liberating any of my other investments, would mean reducing my pension pot.

I am not selling any of my performing loans in Zopa, but just liberating any interest and principal repayments. Typically, about six percent of the money I have invested in Zopa is returned to my bank account each month.

It has been a painless way to fund my investment.

Various financial advisers have told me that peer-to-peer lending like Zopa is risky. But of course, there’s no way they can get a commission.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Finance | | 3 Comments

Trenitalia To Buy c2c

There are several several articles like this one in Railway Gazette, which is entitled Trenitalia buys c2c to enter UK rail market.

So what will it mean?

Ultimate Ownership

The ultimate ownership of a train operating company seems to have very little difference to the  quality of trains and customer service.

I will look at  a recent journey I made from Leipzig to Brussels on Deutche Bahn, that I wrote about in Deutsche Bahn’s Idea Of Customer Service.

It was not a good journey and in the post, I say that eutche Bahn is nowhere as good as Chiltern.

And who owns Chiltern? – Deutsche Bahn.

So I suspect we’ll see very few changes on c2c because of the change of ownership, with perhaps the following provisos.

When successful companies are taken over, the Senior Management Team often depart to pastures or in this case railways, new.

The article also says this.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of pro-nationalisation trade union RMT, was less enthusiastic about the announcement. ‘This is yet another part of Britain’s rail operations being sold off to a European state-owned outfit’, he said. ‘This time it is Trenitalia, an Italian operator, that is being given an open door to plunder passengers and the public purse to subsidise rail services in their own country.’

Looking at the mess, that the RMT and its fellow travellers have got Southern into, this could be omnious.

The Future For c2c’s Services

Look at the route map of most rail franchises and a twelve-year-old with a pencil could suggest obvious places where the network could be expanded.

But there are few places , where c2c could expand.

  • Reinstate the Tilbury Riverside Branch.
  • Direct access to Crossrail at Stratford.
  • A Canvey Island Branch

So much of the growth will come from more frequent and faster services to existing destinations, more and better trains and improvements to stations.

There must be scope for Automatic Train Operation (ATO) at the London end of the route to improve capacity and reduce journey times.

Conclusion

I had to scrape together a scenario for the future and it leads me to the conclusion that c2c is virtually fully developed. So have National Express decided to sell c2c, as it is a mature asset, that is worth more to xomebody else. Especially, a new entrant to the UK rail market, who wants to know how to run a UK train franchise.

In some ways it’s a bit like a bank selling on a long-term loan to a blue-chip company, to another back.

 

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Why Did You Cancel Your BT Direct Debit?

I picked up the phone and a believable voice asked the title of this post.

As there was no number visible on the phone display, I said that I hadn’t cancelled it and said, that I’ll check with my bank, before I put the phone back in its cradle.

It rang immediately, so I picked it up and told the caller to Fuck Off, as no company like BT would react like that, after I’d told them, I would check with my bank.

The phone rang about four more times and I suspect they had control of it, so I didn’t use it, but conteacted my bank on my mobile. The BT Direct Debit was still there.

An hour or so later, I rang a couple of friends to check my phone and the phone appeared to be working fine.

On checking with BT, they told me it was a well known scam.

The strange thing was that the call came on the day before my BT bill was due to be paid.

So as the scammer, had my phone number, name and billing date, it sounds like someone had read my details in a BT database.

One thing though the helpful girl from BT told me, was that if you cancel your Direct Debit to BT for any reason, you’ll get an e-mail.

So if you haven’t received an e-mail saying you’ve cancelled, it would appear that you haven’t cancelled.

Bloodly scammers!

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 1 Comment

Zopa Has A Problem

Zopa have just told me that because of the large amount of money they are getting in and the shortage of good creditworthy individuals to lend it to, they have decided that although existing borrowers like me can continue to reinvest, that for a few months we won’t be able to add new money.

This doesn’t appear to be any problem with Zopa except one of success.

But it does say to me that if you are an individual with a good credit rating, that Zopa could be a place to look for a loan.

December 5, 2016 Posted by | Finance | | 1 Comment

Don’t Get A Mask To Rob A Bank – Just Buy The App

This is the title of an article in The Sunday Times.

It talks about an App called Blackshades, that can be bought for three hundred pounds, that enables a thief to seize control of a victim’s computer and steal their passwords.

Hopefully, I’m protected but it’s a frightening concept. My passwords aren’t stored on the computer, but in my Mark 1, 1947-vintage core store, which is the safest place for them.

It also says that infiltrating a smart-phone or tablet can be easier than targetting desktops, saying that many criminals set up malicious hotspots in public places.

For that reason, I only use wi-fi in trusted locations and usually have it switched off on my smart phone. I never use wi-fi that wants my e-mail address as giving it usually ensures, I’ll get marketing e-mails, which I class as spam.

I also check my bank account and credit cards every day or so, so that if I’m robbed, I know it first.

From what I can ascertain, I think that contactless payments are pretty safe, especially in London, where there are billions of transactions because of public transport.

So I use contctless wherever I can locally!

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

SBB To Sell Bitcoin

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Global Rail News.

If you don’t know; SBB stands for Swiss Federal Railways.

It’s an interesting development to say the least!

Especially, when you read the last paragraph.

And you can’t buy SBB train tickets using your shiny new currency, it isn’t an accepted payment method by SBB.

I wonder how long it will be before, I can buy and use bitcoin on a UK rail station?

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Threat Of UK Tax Cut Staves Off Hostile EU

This is the headline on an article in the Sunday Times, which suggests that the UK may cut corporate tax rates from 20% to 10% unless the EU grants the UK access to the single market.

I don’t know whether it is speculation on the paper’s part, but it does illustrate how Brexit means that it removes a whole set of rules from the UK Government.

It is an interesting suggestion!

I think it could have these effects.

  • Companies like Apple, Starbucks, Google and Amazon would look at the UK favourably.
  • If a company was spending fortunes on research, the UK would probably be more attractive, as if say they developed a world-beating drug, they wouldn’t pay as much tax on the large profits.

But I never heard it mentioned in the Referendum.

It probably shows how our politicians all think inside boxes and that those in Europe do even more so!

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 2 Comments