On the new clothes of the Spanish economy, where’s a child to tell the truth when you need it?

Hobbes, what Spain needs now, is the child in the crowd that that the emperor is walking down the street fully naked, and tells the truth. But they do not listen.

Today, it was the turn of the FT.com (Spain’s recession: After the fiesta). Paul Preston is considered one of the top specialists in the Spanish Civil War, and now it seems it takes the Financial Times to state the obvious. What is wrong with Spaniards that need a foreign voice to see reality as it is or was? Even El Pais, the leading left-wing Spanish newspaper, needs to quote the FT to comment on the matter.  Continue reading

On talking about the weather and the hell we are going through

February 2, 2009. What a day to remember. It was a Monday, right after… a Sunday.

Freezing weather from the East brought us the “biggest snowstorms in 18 years!”

No trains in or out of London, no buses in the city, curiously even the underground underground services cancelled… the great ex-Imperial capital brought to its knees by some fluffy snowflake and its mates.

And the aftermath? Politicians, pundits and £19k journalists started the usual witch hunt.

The journalists with a 7-day memory: The city wasn’t ready for the snowstorm even though we had known it was coming for four days (aka incompetence argument)

Continue reading

On governments guaranteeing savings to avert panic, what’s at the end of the road?

Hobbes, we seem to be in another space race. But this time around fuelled by the EU’s free capital movement.

FT.com reports that the German government has joined Ireland‘s in fully guaranteeing the savers deposits in national banks (€400bn for the Irish). For the layman, that means that the average German taxpayer will guarantee through their own government €568bn in savings and bank accounts sitting in Deutchland. Continue reading

On the rise of the cost of living and the ones who really carry the can

Going back to how to spend it you have plenty [On billionaires spoiling artists and the hard life of the super-rich, May 26], from 2000 to 2007 the super-rich (dwellers of the 95th percentile of the income distribution) saw their real wages increase about 9% compared to an average 3% for the rest of mortals.

This field starts to fascinate me. The rich are getting richer so much faster than the rest of us that luxury goods inflation, you know, the difference in price between year 1 and 2 for those Sikorsky helicopters, Hermès goodies, gold Patek Phillipe watches and, well, other millionaire stuff (I guess I emphasised my social position as a non-well-off), is way higher than the average CPI, IPC, RPI or whatever your own government wants to call it and make out. Continue reading

On billionaires spoiling artists and the hard life of the super-rich

Do you remember rule number one of the courteous traveller? Ask for permission before taking someone’s picture. Some people are not very keen on being the star of your holidays in a forgotten corner of the world. Some even fear losing their soul to the flash.

I wonder what Sue Tilley’s thoughts are on the matter. If any.

And who’s Mrs Tilley? You will ask. Well, Roman Abramovich just spent some $33.6m of his pocket money on Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping painting. No change left for Wrigley chewing gum, now part-owned by Warren Buffet and Mars. See, I am not going to get into how billionaires waste/use their money, as any other mortal, I wish I had the money to buy paintings of (ironically) fat benefit workers, smoking dogs playing poker, or diamond incrusted skulls at twice the face value of the diamonds themselves. Continue reading

On the cost of living extremely well

Going back to how to spend it you have plenty [On billionaires spoiling artists and the hard life of the super-rich, May 26],from 2000 to 2007, the super-rich (dwellers of the 95th percentile of the income distribution) saw their real wages increase about 9% compared to an average 3% for the rest of mortals.

This field starts to fascinate me. The rich are getting richer so much faster than the rest of us that luxury goods inflation, you know, the difference in price between year 1 and 2 for those Sikorsky helicopters, Hermès goodies, gold Patek Phillipe watches and, well, other millionaire stuff (I guess I emphasised my social position as a non-well-off), is way higher than the average CPI, IPC, RPI or whatever your own government wants to call it and make out. Continue reading

The second LwH Prize goes to… John Paulson

The ranking for the 2007 highest-paid hedge fund managers came our and we found out that John Paulson, founder of New York-based Paulson & Co, was paid an estimated $3.7b last year. The 52-year old New Yorker, beat George Soros and 2006’s top earner James Simons. Soros ranked second, earning about $2.9 billion. Simons was third, making an estimated $2.8 billion last year.

Paulson & Co. made money betting on the collapse of subprime mortgages in 2007. According to investor letters obtained by Bloomberg, the Paulson Credit Opportunities Fund soared almost six fold, helped by bets on slumping housing and subprime mortgage prices. Continue reading