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.

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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Customer Disservice

Here’s the text of a message I sent to ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart, bringing their aesthetic but sticking with UK ideas of low prices, not the US version):

I’ve just returned from a visit to your Fareham store. As I was checking out a transvestite walked past, presumably having finished his own shopping. The person serving me, her colleagues, and assorted passing staff members then spent the next five minutes laughing at the man in make-up and a dress who “walks like a navy”.

I was raised not to publicly question the behaviour of people older than me, so said nothing at the time. I’m deeply disappointed that the same standards of civility aren’t held by your employees. They remain entirely free to think whatever they want of someone who doesn’t conform to their expectations, but if I wanted to hear such opinions I’d hang out with a bunch of 13 year olds. I certainly wouldn’t expect it from a group of adults who are supposed to be thinking about their customers.

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