All 6 entries tagged Economics

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June 24, 2007

What happens to students when landlords disappear?

Students are probably more interested in the size of their overdraft than interest rates. Obviously when they leave university, they’ll have to repay their student loan, maybe take out a loan for a car, perhaps get a mortgage in a few years.

But could interest rates become a more pressing concern?

As the Bank of England interest rate pushes 5.5% – and looks like continuing northwards – people who’ve bought properties to rent to students might be thinking their mortgage is too expensive and their investment is less attractive.

Analysis by HSBC seems to recommend that landlords take their cash out of housing, and put it in normal savings accounts or ISAs, where the returns are more favourable.

Their buy-to-let property isn’t likely to be making them much money month-to-month, and they’re hoping house prices continue to rise. But this is unlikely to happen for much longer.

This is leading in one direction: fewer, more expensive, student properties to let. Some landlords will sell up while others will get a better return on their mortgage by putting up rents. Either way, students lose out.

With more campus accommodation not high on the agenda of many universities – including Warwick’s – where are the students going to live when landlords get out quick?

February 14, 2007

Kids aren't as stupid as we thought they were

University degrees with significant rises in applications (2007 v 2006):

  • Civil engineering 18,605 up 13%
  • Economics: 37,974 up 12.8%
  • Physics: 19,140 up 12.2%
  • Chemistry: 20,786 up 11.3%
  • Fine art: 9,703 up 10.5%
  • Maths: 33,790 up 10%
  • Music: 21,281 up 9.9%
  • History: 6,021 up 9.2%
  • English: 55,581 up 7.6%
  • Biology: 23,367 up 6%

They’ve obviously noticed that if you’re graduating with tens of thousands of pounds of debt, you may as well do something useful.

January 05, 2007

Mears and Snow

I spent last night glued to BBC Two, which at last provided a night of TV worth watching (a rare event recently).

First up was Ray Mears’ Wild Food, in which the cameraman seemed to be having the time of his life. The Australian outback provided incredible scenery and the Aborigines who Ray was meeting filled their stage with ease.

There was a lot of deviation from the show’s purpose – i.e. food – but I didn’t care too much. It was the most beautifully shot programme since Planet Earth.

Dan and Peter SnowNext was a one-off featuring Peter Snow, his son Dan, and some shiny graphics that follow the former around like a loyal dog. It was ninety minutes of pure, unadulterated economics, wrapped up in the cotton wool of individual stories about how Britain’s changing economy is affecting the country. The Times said the graphics resembled something leftover from Torchwood, but I reckon it made the show so accessible that it ought to be shown to every secondary school pupil as part of careers advice.

And then there was Newsnight, which was a mixed bag. The report on healthcare in Sierra Leone was fascinating, but the story on food labelling looked like a boxing match where the two opponents had no interest in making any punches.

Thank god there’s an alternative to Z-List Big Brother.

December 06, 2006

That Pre–Budget Report In The Numbers That Matter

PBRTotal Pages = 274

Price: £45

Investment = 347
Environment = 168
Spending = 160
Building = 114
Future = 79
School = 59
Prudent/Prudence = 12
Drugs = 7
Strong Economy = 4
Hospital = 3
Legacy = 2
Immigration = 1

What's in Gordon's box?

Today, Gordon unveils his 10th Pre-Budget Report. As reports go, it isn’t a Hutton or a Stern.

But, as it’s by Gordon Brown, we’re pretty well aware of what’s going to be in it. He just loves to leak his own work before he unveils it properly. It allows him to revel in his own glory before anyone can properly slag him off about any of it.

Well bugger that.

Much of what he says will be full of dazzling ideas, but with little substance behind them. Apparently we’ll have ten-year jail sentences for CD and DVD pirates. Which, considering how many of them they’ve caught so far, isn’t likely to scare anyone.

His promise in 2004 to cut the number of civil servants – following the Gershon review – sounded brilliant. He promised £21bn of ‘efficiencies’, which actually meant a few thousand civil servants being moved to outside agencies, while still being paid by the government. Whole departments were moved, but it turned out only 4 people worked for them.

We’re promised higher fuel duty and airline taxes, but won’t be given any promises as to where that money will go. You can bet it won’t end up making the railways any better.

The fact is that under Brown, the economy has done brilliantly well for nearly ten years. We’re beating most of our genuine competitors (which doesn’t mean China or Eastern Europe) and our schools and hospitals are much better than they were in 1997.

But he’s still wasted a huge number of opportunities. There’s far too many people in poverty. Elderly people are still struggling to pay their bills. And the official inflation figures don’t take into account that for many people, their fuel bills (which have been soaring) make up a disproportionate amount of their living costs. Similarly, there are subsidies available to people wanting to install solar panels on their roof. But they’ve run out.

Brown’s problem is that he looks too carefully at the polls. We care about education and health, but the environment and child poverty don’t get our blood going. And he knows he’ll do best at the next election if he focuses his spending on the things the majority of people are interested in.

The saddest thing is that, for Brown, the elderly won’t be around to vote for much longer, and so don’t warrant much ‘investment’. The same goes for children and the people in Africa dying because global warming has roasted their water supply.

So whatever is in his box, and whatever emotion he pulls out of it, don’t expect much genuine compassion.

October 03, 2006

I don't understand…

The wholesale price of gas has fallen so far that some traders are
actually paying to have it taken away. In some cases the spot price –
for delivery today – has hit -5p. A combination of mild weather and
a surge of gas through the new Langeled pipeline from Norway has
produced a glut.

Source: BBC

How stupid is this??? Apparently gas delivered in January is still trading at 70p per ‘therm’, or in other words, is expensive.

Sadly last night’s curry is now utterly worthless and I’ll have to pay someone to take it away.

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