When Your Property Earns More Than You Do

Interesting article in The Guardian:

What does it tell us about the housing market that my flat earns so much more than I do?

To stop our cites turning into ghettos for the rich, we need to rein in rogue landlords
    • Melissa Kite
Brooklyn brownstones

Brooklyn, NYC … ‘In New York, 45% of people live in rent-stabilised accommodation, where landlords are limited to increasing rates by a certain percentage each year.’ Photograph: Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Realising that my two-bedroom flat now earns more than I do was a bitter-sweet moment. A neighbour regaled me with the news that a standard apartment in our south London street had just changed hands for an astonishing £700,000. If true, that means my flat in Balham has put on £100,000 in the past year. It went up by a similar amount the year before, and the year prior to that.

As a freelance hack who takes time out to write books, it is no great shock that my annual income is not keeping pace with the value of my London home, which I bought over 10 years ago. But most of my neighbours, who work dawn to dusk five days a week, are also struggling to make anywhere near that amount.

On a personal level, this housing boom is not a liberating force but a trap, because if I sell to make a fast buck and move to a cheaper place, I will never again be able to move back into the capital. I can no longer afford my own home, as it were. But quite apart from the difficulty of playing the housing market if you are not an oligarch, what does it say about our society when we can, in theory at least, make more money doing nothing than we can by the sweat of our brow?

Bolding mine.


Wow, a New Low

The USA.  That bastion of free will, democracy and fairness.

For them, no one else, of course.  Turns out they’re just making money whatever the issue is:

Snowden revelations of NSA spying on Copenhagen climate talks spark anger

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show NSA kept US negotiators abreast of their rivals’ positions at 2009 summit
US Climate Envoy Todd Stern (R) and Hillary Clinton at COP15 in Copenhagen

US climate envoy Todd Stern (right) and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton (left) give a press conference at the Bella Centre at the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, December 2009. Photograph: Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

Developing countries have reacted angrily to revelations that the United States spied on other governments at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored communication between key countries before and during the conference to give their negotiators advance information about other positions at the high-profile meeting where world leaders including Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Angela Merkel failed to agree to a strong deal on climate change.

As the article says, negotiating while spying on those your negotiating with is like playing poker and being able to see the other player’s hands.

As time goes on, the USA is being shown to break pretty much every rule in the book.  This includes their military interventions, their cyber crimes, their regime changes and so on and so on.

Keep it coming Snowden.


Good Post on Financial Regulation

A very good article detailing how financial advisors and the like are still essentially looking after themselves and no one else.  Quite a long read, but worth it.


Brent Sheather: Poachers turned game keepers

9:30 AM Wednesday Jan 29, 2014 11 comments
Sean Hughes (right), the former chief executive of the FMA got his hands dirty dishing out divine retribution for most, but sadly not all, of the local bad guys, says Brent Sheather.

Sean Hughes (right), the former chief executive of the FMA got his hands dirty dishing out divine retribution for most, but sadly not all, of the local bad guys, says Brent Sheather.

He came, he saw, he prosecuted.

Sean Hughes rode into town and blew the bad guys away with the FMA arguably doing more in a few years than the Securities Commission accomplished in a decade.

No dining out with contemporaries at overseas conferences every second week for Mr Hughes, he got his hands dirty dishing out divine retribution for most, but sadly not all, of the local bad guys. Not the FMA’s fault that the silly Court system sentenced many to home detention.

So whilst it is high fives for the FMA so far, let’s hope, to quote Winston Churchill “this is just the end of the beginning”. Most of the bad element is gone – prosecuted, retired or left the country. So that is the criminals sorted.

The next, even more important job, is to rehabilitate the law abiding members of the investment community.




When it Comes to Traffic Issues, NZ Police are Liars

On this blog I’ve railed against the stupid policies of the Police when fining drivers going marginally over the speeding limit.

Because all they’re doing is alienating the NZ public whom they need to be on their side when the sh*t hits the fan.

And we saw this the other day when 12 people stood around and watched a woman get attacked by a male.  They didn’t intervene.  And with good reason.  If they had, they would have been charged by the Police and ended up with a conviction against their name.

But also because the huge manpower utilised in ticketing drivers doing 55 km/hr or 105 km/hr could be better spent elsewhere, like you know, catching rapists, murderers, people breaking into cars and houses etc.  These people know they have a pretty free time of it – as long as they don’t speed to or from their crimes that is!

And now we see the Police actively lying to further push their ‘road safety’ (read money making and control inducing) campaign. Link.

Police admit being wrong over truckie


Police have admitted a truck driver was wrongly blamed for causing a crash featured in a road safety campaign.

The driver was not on his mobile phone, as claimed in a caption over the video footage of the accident.

The video was published online at the weekend and features real footage of crashes on New Zealand roads.

One shows a car clip the front of a truck as it begins to merge lanes, then hit a car driven by former police officer Simon Cathcart. Mr Cathcart’s car is then shunted into the path of the truck, causing it to barrel-roll.

The words “This truck driver was on his phone” flash over the screen seconds before the clip of the horror crash – but police now concede the driver was not on his phone at all.

“There was a simple misunderstanding over the information supplied with the video, which led to the wrong caption being used. We can confirm there was no mobile phone involved,” a police statement said.

Well I’m sure they intentionally lied about this for 2 reasons: 1) To keep ramming home their message that cellphones are the most dangerous things since the Big Bang – which allows them to keep fining people – which is big money to the Police and 2) Because they were fairly sure they’d get away with it.

Shame on the NZ Police!

Update: Some Karma, but really just goes to show what a stupid inescapable system it is.


Week 10 of Bioinformatics and Course Finished!

Man, I’m exhausted. It’s 10:15pm on a Monday night and I’ve just finished my Bioinformatics Algorithms 1 offered by UC San Diego!  Here is a link to the course FYI.

Wow, 10 weeks, and around 70 programming assignments later, I reckon I’ve learned heaps.  Heaps about programming in Python, heaps about biology, heaps about algorithms and gained some confidence in myself!

Years ago I used to program at Air NZ, The Optima Corporation, Compaq Sorting and a few other places.  I used all the scientific/engineering tricks I learned at university and picked up many others on those jobs.

And then I got into property in 1996 and have only done bits and pieces of programming since then.  So it was really good to pick this stuff up again and give it a whirl, as they say.  It’s a different arena, it’s Python rather than C++, VB, Fortran, and it’s in the biology sector as opposed to things like airlines.

But there are a lot of crossover areas/skills etc.  So after a very shaky start and many “I want to throw the monitor through the window” moments, I managed to pull through.  Actually week 10 was easier than week 9 because the material was presented more fully by the tutors.  So it was easier to sort it out.

Going to bed now!

“Weekend at Bernies” Has a Rare Sane Moment

I haven’t agreed with much Bernard Hickey has had to say in recent times, but I do agree with this:


Bernard Hickey: Predictions need a pinch of salt

Pre-empting a rates hike and fixing your mortgage may not be a sure-fire plan 
In 2009, many New Zealanders fixed mortgages on their homes after warnings of an interest rate hike. Photo / David White

In 2009, many New Zealanders fixed mortgages on their homes after warnings of an interest rate hike. Photo / David White

It’s the surest of sure things, says every economist – interest rates will rise more than 2 per cent over the next two years, so now is the time to fix your mortgage to avoid the pain.

But borrowers with longer memories will recall we’ve been here many times over the past five years, and every time the prediction has been quashed by an unexpected event that meant interest rates didn’t rise much, or at all.

Every December quarter since 2009, the Reserve Bank has said it would increase the official cash rate over the next two years. That forecast increase has varied between 0.8 and almost 3 per cent, but an increase has always been expected.

The biggest scare was in December 2009, when the Reserve Bank forecast the cash rate would rise more than 2.5 per cent to at least 5 per cent, suggesting variable rates of well over 8 per cent. Many economists recommended fixing mortgages for two years or more, and many borrowers took their advice. Some thought they were very clever and fixed them for five years at more than 8.5 per cent, fearing a return to 2007/08 level rates of more than 10 per cent.


He’s bang on the money here.  Back in 2010 I fixed for 2 years at 7.84% with the bank advising (and everyone else) that rates would be going up shortly.  That was 2 weeks before the second, catastrophic Christchurch earthquake.

A week later interest rates plummeted.  So I’ll never listen to these idiots again.

9 Weeks of Bioinformatics Down

Sheesh, this week was a big week!

We covered suffix trees and suffix arrays.  These are tree structures that are useful when looking for patterns in collections of strings.

I found the material quite challenging.  Not many details were given by the instructors for this week’s material which meant a lot of it had to be done via finding stuff on the net.

I actually got the code challenges finished 3 days early (usually I’m pushing it right to the wire, as is the way with these things) so I’m going to start on the next week’s assignments straight away.

This will be the last week, week 10.  And it’s on something called the Burrow’s Wheeler Transform…

For anyone wanting some sort of idea of what bioinformatics is, see the video on this page: https://www.coursera.org/course/bioinfomethods1.  It gives quite a good description.

1 week to go, wahoo!

7 Weeks of Bioinformatics Down

Well  bioinformatics continues to be interesting and challenging.

The last couple of week have been on sequence alignment.  Biologists want to align sequences of text (made up from the alphabet of ACGT or the protein alphabet which is similar to the normal one we use minus a few characters) for many reasons.

They can discover all sorts of things by aligning sequences like how various functions work, how bits of DNA replicate and so on.

Some bits of sequences might look like this:




The values in red have been lined up.  And this can be quite tricky to do but very useful as I said above.

So we’ve been learning various alignment techniques, which rely pretty heavily on graph theory and dynamic programming.

I’ve never really understood dynamic programming before so it was good to do quite a lot with it and get a decent feel for it.  It’s a really powerful technique.

Oh well, onto week 8, only 3 or so more weeks left I think, the course finishes on 27th Jan.