Tuesday, 30 August 2011

'Normal' Service Will Now Be Resumed

Apologies for the radio silence during much of August. Already frantically busy going into the holiday, I landed myself with the additional task of finalising The Book of The Blog by 1 September. Fortunately, the patience of family and friends allowed me to finish the first draft early and I emailed it from holiday in Spain two days before my laptop packed it in...

The enforced social media lay-off was probably no bad thing. While I stand by it, the scathing vitriol I poured onto Ryanair now seems to have been Tweeted by someone far less relaxed - though some good old-fashioned personal service from AutosEstrellas helped exponge the few hours of misery. I should also add that the easyJet experience was definitively better than that of its Celtic cousin, even if everyone now seems to be opting for 'Speedy Boarding'. One of the staff said they're considering a move to reserved seating, so maybe that's why.

For what it's worth, I wholly recommend the beaches around Begur, north of Barcelona, and Illetes in Mallorca, including Balneario Illetas for great food (and a consistently good blues mix). Others from 'downunder' will laugh uproariously, but that's European beaches for you, unless you're well off the beaten track or on a boat and can anchor where you like.

The 'find' of the past few weeks, if you want to push the boat out for a night, is the Restaurant Pa i Raim in Palafrugell. But I don't recommend the 10km run at 8:00 the next morning to pick up the car before the Policia Local swing into action. A taxi would do just nicely.

Image from Blogxiliar.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Book of The Blog

Well it's no secret, but I feel a lot better admitting to it now I'm back from holiday and the first draft is safely in!

In a nod to convergence, Ash Rattan of Searching Finance, the economics and finance publisher, first got in touch via Twitter to suggest we meet in a more traditional publishers' forum in July. And, ready as I was to indulge in a traditional West End literary lunch that spilt late into the afternoon, I was equally impressed that our discussions required nothing stronger than coffee and that agreement was reached within a few weeks.

I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt an agent and several belts of the Bordeaux would've helped much in that process.

Anyhow, it seems fitting that the book of the Pragmatist blog should be published not only by someone who publishes an array of people for whom I have a great deal of respect, but who also disintermediates a few links in the supply chain along the way.

I hope you will enjoy the read in due course.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Great PPI Robbery Redux

I must be missing something. UK banks are all reporting their profits and losses with separate adjustments that 'strip out' their massive provisions for mis-selling payment protection insurance in connection with their retail credit products over many years.

In other words, they suggest they would have been 'much more profitable' if they had not ripped off consumers.

But they did rip off consumers, and this damaged their profitabilty.

Worse still, their provisions do not reflect the fact that they used PPI revenue to cross-subsidise the marketing and sale of related credit products. So there was a false market in those products as well.

The point remains: will these banks continue to rip off consumers? Will there be more fines and more provisions?

Millions upon millions of fines and adverse findings in UK banks' recent history suggest we have not seen the last of their exploitative conduct.

And it would seem very unlikely that in the current economic environment these businesses will be capable of dedicating the necessary resources to ensure their processes and procedures are compliant.

We urgently need to figure out alternative sources of finance to our banks.
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