On the root of financial problems according to Shel Silverstein

I was just reading Nudge by Richard Thuler and Cass Sunstein (interesting but a bit too academic) and I run into this little poem by Shel Silverstein.


My dad gave me one dollar bill
‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
‘Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes — I guess he don’t know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head–
Too proud of me to speak!

As an interesting note, the authors of the book point you to find the poem via Google, as the managers of the late Mr Silverstein estate refused to let them print it on their book. Perhaps they should read the poem themselves.

Perhaps we all should learn of it.



On human nature and making firewood from the fallen tree, the funny side of the credit crunch

I am going to try to put together the few funny bits I’ve come across with during this global human misery that we all now call credit crunch:


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On pooh, Lord Vernment and the lessons to be learnt from Credit-upon-Sink. A medieval story

Once upon a time, there was a small hamlet named Credit-upon-Sink where the Lord Vernment ensured safety and security from strangers. Live was kind, and the banks of the river Sink, fertile.

Lord Govvy, as he was known in the valley, would collect taxes from villagers based on the number of seeds planted every season by the hamlet’s farmers. They were years of mild and gentle weather so it was easy, even for a bourgeois ex-city dweller to work the land and make a profit even after paying the seed-tax.

The newcomers

People from all around the county heard of the opportunity that Credit-upon-Sink’s microclimate represented, so ever greater numbers of blacksmiths, goldsmiths, barristers, architects and glassblowers left the cities for the promise of golden plough.

They brought their savings and started to purchase lots off the hamlet’s farmers who, having discovered that using animal dung for their fields, they could get up to 20 crops per year more than before, so leasing or selling part of their family land would allow them to purchase more cows’ pooh as fertiliser, now renamed manure.

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On the British People’s Bank of Halifax hiking credit card rates

I have a mortgage and a credit card I pay religiously every month to the British People’s Bank of Halifax and to my surprise I received today an ugly piece of marketing literature. It didn’t even come in an envelope, so I almost discarded it, but close inspection made me realise that the content of the flyer was much important than the dress it came in.

Changes to your Halifax Credit Card Conditions

[…] The compound annual interest rates on your credit card will increase to the following:

  • Purchases 25.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Balance Transfers 25.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Cash Advances 29.95% p.a. (variable)
  • Credit card cheques 29.95% p.a. (variable)

The charges will apply to your account from your June 2009 statement date. […]


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On banks paying interest to people with mortgages or how NOT to run a banking operation: The answer

So it finally happened. This morning I received the letter from Birmingham Midshires answering the million dollar question: What happens when the Bank of England takes the base interest rate down to 0.5% or below and you are paying them 0.5% or higher below BoE base rate?

Well, since the bank’s decision back in March 5, it has taken them over a month to communicate with customers, but if you had hopes of getting paid for having a mortgage (absurd and ridicule thought, but these are absurd and ridicule times), drop it, in an interest only mortgage BM informs me that:

We’re writing to you following the Bank of England’s decision on 5 March 2009 to decrease the Base Rate. We’ll be reducing our interest rates on 1 April 2009, and so you’ll receive the benefit of the reduced rate from this date. We want to keep you informed of how these changes will affect you as outlined below. Continue reading

On observations on the weirdness of human behaviour: flipping small cars

Hobbes, I am a big man, 1m87 (6’2ish on a good day) and always felt like a sardine in a tin in little urban cars (trying to get out of my friend’s 2-door Clio is a bit of a mission, and enjoying a trip on the rear seat, a utopia). However, I understand the practicality and economy of owning one of these little fellas.

In my case, size matters, but that is just a design problem that car manufacturers don’t seem to be interested any time soon (I tried to stretch my legs in a Smart and I almost had to get out of the car due to a near panic attack). But that’s the everyday story of the below and above-average beings.

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On Du-BAN-i, the new Gulf Emirate formerly known as Dubai. The party is over

Can’t stay away from the news these days, can you? A friend sends me a message forwarded to her from Dubai. She looked into moving down there as a Retail Manager for a fashion house down there, but the conditions where apocalyptic, lucky enough she had her father’s employer’s legal department have a closer look to the contract and decided to pull out at the last minute.


However, a staff member of hers at the time, decided to go easy and move from Supervisor in London to Store Manager in Dubai. Apparently it has been a gross mistake, they pay in advance your rent and utility bills, flights in business class to Paris for training that are great to make your friends back home envious, but if you decide to quit before the 12/18 month contract expires, you have to pay everything back, or face imprisonment. She calls UK in tears every night. She could just go, but her family lives in Doha, and that would ban her of ever going back to the Gulf.

At least, my Italian friend pulled out when she was told she had to surrender her passport until the end of the contract, literally living in a sand and sun prison.

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