Wednesday 30 June 2021

As we have been saying about house (Aka land) prices being primarily driven by government and bureaucratic failure with OUR money....

Remember, all paper money always trends to zero value

Well, it's alright for him...

Prince Charles, off on one.


Deeply. Deeply, infuriating.

One, there is no 'climate emergency'.

Two, I want my pension funds invested for best return.

Three, it's probably against the Trustees pension investment rules to make a political statement on investing pension funds. As Arthur Scargill discovered.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Schrödinger's Housing - affordable and unaffordable at the same time

Spotted by Lola in MoneyAge:

Annual house price growth in the UK has risen to 13.4% in the year to June, the highest level since November 2004, according to the latest Nationwide House Price Index.

2004 was 17 years ago, so we are now on the final leg of the 18-year land price/credit boom-bust cycle, due to collapse again in 2025 or 2026.

“Despite the increase in house prices to new all-time highs, the typical mortgage payment is not high by historic standards compared to take home pay, largely because mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows – in fact, on this measure affordability remains broadly in line with its long run average. However, house prices are close to a record high relative to average incomes.

So buying a home is cheap but expensive?

"This is important because it makes it even harder for prospective first time buyers to raise a deposit. For example, a 10% deposit is over 50% of typical first time buyer’s income. A potential buyer earning the average wage and saving 15% of take home pay would now take five years to raise a 10% deposit.”

Well, duh. The flipside of affordable monthly payments is paying a massive deposit and vice versa. The bigger the deposit, the lower your monthly payments. Most people could afford the monthly payments for a £1 million home if they can stump up a £900,000 deposit.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Free riders (Georgist song)

Ignore the footage - it's easier to upload a video with music than to just upload an MP3.

Everything written, performed and recorded by *me* (my daughter changed one word in the lyrics).

Pay your rent or live in a tent, that’s up to you to decide
They take half your money, taking you for a ride
You’ll be happy and you’ll own nothing, but their greedy mouths need stuffing
Free riders, free ride
God made the place in just six days, and then he took a rest
Admired his own handiwork and said “It’s for the best”
Didn’t know that some ugly fuckers, would grab it all and take us for suckers
Free riders, free ride
   Or maybe it just formed itself, four billion years ago
   Stardust clumped together, the whole process was very slow
Willy was fast and also was a bastard, in a most literal sense
Grabbed the land with an iron hand, and then he grabbed the rent
I said literal, also metaphorical, some war crimes are not historic
Free riders, free ride
Walked the earth like they invented dirt, and then stuck up a fence
They stole half our money, and called it paying rent
Yes, I’m talking about fiscal injustice, it’s complicated... well it just is
Free riders, free ride
   Banks are just as guilty, giving out home loans
   If you miss a payment, they take your house, cut off your phones
Our whole system, if you’d care to listen, is totally back to front
They take half your money, at the end of every month
They keep putting up the prices, causing every fiscal crisis
Free riders, free ride
Go to Hell with your BTL, put faces to the names
Trump and Rachmann, Kings and Queens, they’re really all the same
We know how the story ends, they’re your landlords not your friends
Free riders, free ride
Free riders, free ride
Free riders, free ride.

Friday 25 June 2021

Finding out the 'site premium' or 'site-only rental value' is ridiculously easy

I went to Rightmove and searched for 3-bed semi's to rent within a 40-mile radius of Leeds (a circle that includes, Manchester, York, Hull and Sheffield.

You can sort by price - cheapest first or most expensive first.

Comparing visually similar housese, the cheapest one is in Hyde Park, a fairly grotty part of inner Leeds:
The most expensive is this one in Altrincham, a super-posh suburb of Manchester: For sure, the expensive one might be a bit tidier inside (the front garden certainly is), but the bulk of the £1,305 difference is 'site premium'.

You can do similar comparisons for all different categories of homes (different sized flats, terraceds, semi-detacheds, detacheds etc), then do a bit of data smoothing, interpolation and extrapolation and Bob's your uncle.

As far as I can see, the size of a back garden has little impact on rents or selling prices (as opposed to front gardens, which are good for privacy and off-street parking), so drive-by valuations tell you everything you need to know. One person drives and the passenger just puts a tick in the appropriate 'Band' column for each house or door number.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

They own land! Give them money!

Spotted by TBH in the Epoch Times:

California authorities announced Monday the state plans to pay off 100 percent of unpaid rent accumulated during the pandemic, with the money to come from some $5.2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a tweet Monday that, “California is planning rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States,” attributing the post to a report by the New York Times, which noted that state lawmakers were putting the final touches on the program.

While eligibility criteria for the newly proposed program are still unclear, reports indicate that the measure would both give renters in arrears a clean slate and make landlords whole.

Possibly one of the worst abuses of "COVID-19 relief funds" in recent history. Are they mental? Let's imagine that a developed country send a struggling country £1 billion in aid payments to help them get over Covid-19... and they just hand it all over to landowners.

Saturday 19 June 2021

The NIMBYs must be celebrating.

From the BBC:

The government has been sent a "warning shot" by voters over planning reforms for England and the HS2 rail link, the co-chairman of the Tories has said. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Amanda Milling said voters' concerns were "loud and clear" after the Lib Dems won the Chesham and Amersham by-election...

Local opposition to the HS2 high-speed rail line being built through the constituency and the government's proposed changes to the planning system, which could see more homes being built in rural areas, were major factors in the poll.

Seems that Home-Owner-Ism is reasserting itself at the dominant ideology in the UK. Who cares about jobs, pollution, equality, balance of trade and all that peripheral stuff?

This also goes to show, that if you want something to happen, the best tactic is to vote for a single-issue party and nudge the government in your direction. The Lib Dems perform well at by-elections because they will jump on any old local bandwagon or champion whatever single issue bothers local voters. They aren't bogged down with anything like coherent, national issues or having to worry about what they'd do if they were actually in charge.
As a contrast to this, it looks like the Tories are going to win the by-election in the former Labour constituency, Batley and Spen:

Johnson went to Batley to campaign with Ryan Stephenson, Tory candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election... Mr Johnson said: "That means looking at all the issues that matter, whether that's people's education, improving skills in this area, working with Kirklees to improve skills, putting more money into apprenticeships.

"Opportunity isn't equally distributed and the objective of levelling up is to work with great people in West Yorkshire, in Batley, to give young people growing up in the area the chances they deserve."

Of course, the Tories have no intention of doing anything of the sort - can anybody point to any single 'levelling up' measure they have implemented since December 2019? - but the propaganda seems to be working for now. And if they win, they won't need to worry about voters trying to nudge the government in any particular direction, they can just cheerfully ignore them and continue plundering the taxpayer.

Thursday 17 June 2021

Best way to save the planet.

From The Guardian:

Author JB MacKinnon... thinks we should, in reality, restructure society over several years to support a sustained reduction in the amount we consume.

He sees this as an obvious, if difficult, fix to a big problem. Consumption – of fast fashion, flights, Black Friday-discounted gadgets – has become the primary driver of ecological crisis.

We are devouring the planet’s resources at a rate 1.7 times faster than it can regenerate. The US population is 60% larger than it was in 1970, but consumer spending is up 400% (adjusted for inflation) – and other rich nations, including the UK, aren’t much better.

“Many people would like to see the world consume fewer resources, yet we constantly avoid the most obvious means of achieving that,” says MacKinnon. “When people buy less stuff, you get immediate drops in emissions*, resource consumption and pollution, unlike anything we’ve achieved with green technology.”

That’s not to mention the impact materialism has on our mental health, inducing feelings of inadequacy and envy, and encouraging a culture of overworking.

As somebody who is chronically lazy, unambitious and happy with the simple pleasures in life, that's music to my ears. If I never have to get on an aeroplane, buy another car or call in a builder ever again, that will be quite soon enough.

Problem is, if everybody were like me, society would more or less grind to a halt (which is what The Guardian wants, of course). And I am aware that I am coasting on the efforts of others - I can only buy a cheap second hand car today because some mug bought an expensive new car twenty years ago and upgraded a couple of years later.

* CO2 emissions themselves have little impact on anything of course. But for some reason people have become obsessed with this one metric and are ignoring all the really bad stuff we are doing to the environment.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Sent to me by a mate in Australia - (apologies for poor quality)



This is a bone yard near Paris, France with hundreds of electric powered cars. Mind you these are only cars used by the City of Paris and not personal vehicles. All of these have the same issue ... the battery storage cells have given out and need replacement. Why not just replace them you ask? Well two reasons. First, replacement battery storage cells cost more than half the new vehicle cost (this is why for many EV models the price is more approximately double the cost of a petrol/diesel model) and second no landfill or disposal site will accept the batteries. So these green fairy tale electric cars are all sitting in vacant lots while their batteries drain toxins into the ground. 

Still think we need to go green???

 2 Nissan Leaf – a real story here in Australia

Phillip Carlson bought a Nissan Leaf in August 2012, which cost about $53,500. Its seven years old today, and it’s worth maybe $12,000 - if you can find someone dumb enough to buy it. But, let him tell the story.

“I bought an electric car from Nissan with 5 years warranty on the battery. They claimed 175km range. >From new I only ever got 120km. Now I can BARELY get 35-40km during winter or even 25km if I use the heater. The warranty says the battery is bad if it drops to 8 out of 12 bars, which mine has. 

“I took it in and they claim the battery is totally fine and there’s nothing wrong with it and gave me a $33,000 invoice for a new one!!!!! Nissan just won’t listen and I’ve run out of all hope. I paid $53,500 for this car and it’s pretty useless now.” - Phillip Carlson

The $33k quote

Here’s the official battery replacement quote from Lennock Motors in the ACT. 

An incredible $29,600 for the replacement battery, $750 to fit it plus GST: that’s $33,385 in total. For a car now worth $12,000? If you are lucky.

Nissan and other carmakers are moaning about the lack of government support for EVs in Australia. And I’d suggest that if you’re a carmaker like Nissan, seemingly hell-bent on taking your small group of EV first adopters in this way, then you simply do not deserve any taxpayer support.

This is a tacit admission by Nissan that the Leaf is a disposable car. A $50,000 disposable car. Which doesn’t seem very environmentally sustainable to me.

Think about it.

Replacing this battery for over $30,000.  You could buy about 20,000 litres of petrol for that. Which is enough to drive a similar sized conventional SUV about 400,000 kilometres.

So if you are buying your Leaf EV to save money on fuel, even if you are getting your electricity free from a rooftop solar array, every day, you better hope you get 400,000 k’s out of the battery. Unlikely.

If you don’t, you’re just kidding yourself. And the leaf is about $30,000 more expensive than similar sized conventional SUVs. So make that somewhere closer to 800,000 k’s - to break even, financially. In what universe does that sound like a sound financial plan?

If you’re saving the planet, with your Leaf, it’s even worse: Consigning the Leaf to landfill at seven years of age because it’s grossly uneconomical to repair seems to me like a fairly unsustainable use of the earth’s limited resources. So does throwing away the old battery and replacing it with a new one every seven years.

This is a vital point. EVs and internal combustion are in a race to reduce CO2. And there’s no question: Internal combustion starts off ahead because EVs are filthier to produce - that’s mainly the battery. So, in other words, on a lifecycle assessment basis, EVs start filthy and get cleaner over time, while internal combustion starts cleaner and gets filthier as the K’s mount up.

An ADAC report out of Europe from April 2018 found that equivalent EVs and petrol cars broke even on CO2 (on a lifecycle basis) at about 116,000 kilometres, and after that, EVs crept ahead. That’s based on Germany’s grid composition. 

(Australia’s grid is filthier, admittedly - so it takes a greater distance to reach this point of emissions equivalence.)

This means EVs cleaning things up is - at best - a long-term proposition. And if you’re throwing the vehicle away at 88,907 kilometres, which is where Mr Carlson’s Leaf is at right now, or if you’re replacing the battery, your EV is never going to be cleaner than an equivalent small petrol powered car