Fewer Toys

The BBC reports that the toy manufacturing market in China is facing major difficulties:

The Chinese news agency Xinhua said 52.7% of the country’s 3,631 companies making toys for export went out of business in the first seven months of the year.

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TheHill.com – Soros floats alternative bailout plan with Dems

Here’s an interesting idea from George Soros. Instead of the current bailout plan, he suggests getting troubled banks to issue enough extra stock to recapitalize them, with the stock being bought by the government. This would restore balance to their accounts (with extra cash on hand they wouldn’t be so extended, and their balance sheets wouldn’t be so dominated by bad loans), punish shareholders who were supposed to be risking something in return for their rewards by diluting the value of their shareholdings, and give the government a concrete investment that is more likely to make it a return in the long run than the current plan.

I’ve no idea if there’s some huge flaw in the argument, beyond the fact that the banks probably won’t like it, but it certainly appears to have merit. Unfortunately it’s from Soros, so the Republicans probably won’t like it either, and right now that’s a bad thing.

That was easy

We have quite strong* finance rules in the UK that mean you need to prove who you are when opening accounts, or making changes to certain old accounts. Thus when I asked Equitable Life to change my address they sent me a form asking for my passport, one of my children, etc. Being fundamentally lazy I couldn’t be bothered, and ignored repeated follow-ups asking for at least a toe-nail clipping or a smidgin of sputum.

Unfortunately it turns out that I did need to change my address, so that I could move my money from them to a pension company that can count**. My new company gave me a phone number and my policy number, and after a 2 minute phone call my details are updated. I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing.

*by which I mean difficult, rather than effective

**Equitable Life essentially went bankrupt by promising guaranteed returns they had no ability to match, ending more than two centuries of sensible yet effective money management.

Oh Sweet, Sweet Irony

Apparently the American Mortgage Bankers Association is having problems paying its mortgage.

I’d been thinking that I was a potential future victim of the crisis. The mortgage we have cost £195 to set up, and gets us 1.5% off the standard rate for the life of the mortgage. The current equivalent deal costs £795, and only gets you 1.25% off. And that’s with a very traditional lender, who cover at least 90% of their lending from their own savers.

But then I realized (and oh how this will make a capitalist reader’s heart soar) that there’s no ‘right’ level for such deals. I think it’s pretty clear that mortgages at the moment are a little expensive, but the one we got was probably a little cheap, depending as it did on an inflated lending market. Hopefully by the time we’re looking to move again things will have evened up some.

Oh yes, I took a little time off from blogging accidentally – work, life, that sort of thing – but I’m back now.

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