Sunday, 7 August 2016

Funny story

In this ongoing debate we have here at Capitalists @ Work, we "youngsters" are often told that we are rich in gadgets and gizmos but poor in other (more important, according to the declinists) areas. I am still not completely sure about this, although I am sure the more friendly of our commenters will tell me I am totally wrong in the least pleasant way possible. Of course, my generation have fewer housing opportunities than some older folk, my input into this conversation has never denied that. There has been a massive property super-cycle, especially in London. London's success did decline post-war, with the population hitting rock-bottom in about 1983; after which it started its current surge. 

Anyway, I am also fairly sure that my generation and younger have other opportunities which the older did not have when they were young.

Apologies if you have heard this story before. Towards the tail-end of a two-week holiday to Japan, I was outside the Emperor's palace in Tokyo, taking a photo of it. This one, probably. 

An old-timer came up to us and started chatting amiably. He wanted to know where were were from, and was excited to learn that we were Brits. He said "you are using a Japanese camera!" and seemed to be very pleased about that. I mumbled something about there probably not being any British cameras these days, and weren't almost all the main brands Japanese? Anyway, he wasn't interested in the camera any more, he wanted to tell me his anecdote. He said "do you know how I know that the British are very rich?!". OK, now I am interested, because the whole time I had been in Japan I had been marvelling about how shiny and modern and clean and efficient everything was compared with old England. If you haven't been, Japan is what the future is going to look like (unless the future is like Brazil). Anyway. The chap told us that he used to work in an office building that overlooked the British embassy in Tokyo. He said "every day at 5.30, I see them coming outside and drinking gin and tonic in the garden! British so rich you only work until 5.30!".

So while I am sure that most of my age group and younger would like "More Housing" - after all, who wouldn't? - I think we do pretty well on other counts. Mostly we work in clean, safe environments. Most of us can at least vaguely direct where our careers go - we generally don't just lump it with whatever is available. We get plenty of paid leave. Flights to other continents are affordable and available. There are plenty of countries which are welcoming and interesting to visit. It is very common for people from ordinary backgrounds to go travelling for long periods if they want to. Brits go and work abroad on a scale which must surely dwarf that of my parents' generation, but not because the domestic economy is crap but because they want to.

It is not all entirely negative.


Steven_L said...

The clanger is that the younger generation in all wealthy countries have the same benefits, but not necessarily the downside of unaffordable housing. Germans have more legal protection for tenants and Americans have 25 year fixed rate mortgages.

Landlord and tenant law that favours the interests of the landlord / property owner is a political choice. Running down social housing is a political choice. This 'property super cycle' is basically down to political choices that have been made to favour one group of people (property owners) over another (non-property owners).

PS. At least get a camera that takes RAW format photos. You'd be able to get a lot more information out of the shadows. Your photo is very dark/dull.

Antisthenes said...

"I think we do pretty well on other counts."

The standard of living that we enjoy today did socialism, or SJWs or progressives or crony capitalists do it? No they did not it was just plain old free market capitalism. So why are so many enamoured with their doctrine and ideologies because they are making great headway in changing our lives for they very much worse. We kill the goose that layes the golden eggs at our peril.

dearieme said...

You'll get nowhere as a controversialist if you insist on demonstrating a sense of proportion, young man.

Blue Eyes said...

Steven L, you are right that there were lots of changes made at about the same time. Rent de-control had a huge effect. As did the Big Bang, abolition of exchang controls, and others. The real clanger is that the key difference between Sainted Germany and the Britain you so loathe is that in Germany people are allowed to build houses. There are also big cultural and demographic differences.

PS it is not a great photo, but your logical clanger is that because I have not edited it must be evidence that I could not edit it if I wanted to.

Blue Eyes said...

Antitsthenes, I am not sure of your point. I am generally in favour of free markets.

Antisthenes said...

Blue eyes@ My English must be more atrocious even than I thought it was. I am in favour of free markets and I was making the point that those who oppose them and want to replace them with left wing means of producing goods and services will end up destroying the unprecedented standard of living that we enjoy today. I thought my comment was clear and having reread it still believe that but then I cannot be the judge only you and others can. So I apologise if I have confused anyone.

Blue Eyes said...

Antisthenes, I agree. Not sure what it means in relation to my post except for more free markets in housing development!

Steven_L said...

The other issue with your post is you haven't even mentioned tuition fees. Giving triple-lock pensions guarantees, whilst charging commercial rates of interest on five-figure student debt is another political choice.

Not one of the advances in products of services we all enjoy have been achieved by UK policies on housing, mortgages, planning, student finance or pensioners welfare.

What you are basically saying is "So what if you're getting shafted, look how much better products and services are these days and quit complaining." Because that is what is happening. The younger generations are being shafted as a political choice.

Whether these choices are made or not, products and services will continue to improve.

Suff said...

"Brits go and work abroad on a scale which must surely dwarf that of my parents' generation, but not because the domestic economy is crap but because they want to"
One rather large assumption:-) or is this your hook. You can't say in previous posts that the success of London is due to its attractiveness as a career opportunity but people go elsewhere for other reasons.
The freedoms of which you speak are a positive and are a result of an ever developing world, technologies and economies of scale. These are now becoming available to more and more people of all countries. Your ability to take advantage of the freedom of movement and relative low costs abroad, are based on a wealth, generated by generations of poorly paid people, doing dangerous jobs and with very little down time. I'm more than happy to say goodby to that but in reality, with the real wealth generators gone, just how long before we've spent the inheritance and we're forced back to doing the sh1tty jobs for other nations.

I'm an expat and I see a lot of advantages in traveling and broadening your horizons but it has its downsides. The loss of community. Lack of contact with family and friends The lack of stability.....Career isn't everything and as you get older. There's a lot to be said for having a boring but stable job if it allows you to do other things in life and have close contact with loved ones.
Remember when traveling and visiting these cities of outstanding architecture, culture and seats of learning. A nomadic lifestyle is a subsistence lifestyle. While these great cities my have been built by nomadic stonemasons and other craftsmen, they wouldn't have been built if someone hadn't said " what a great place to raise a family and set up shop"

andrew said...

What SL said - high house prices are a UK - not EU :) political choice up to a point.
I suspect the point being the distance any sane person is willing to commute.

The point where it gets difficult is that
- countryside is nice
- it does look like jobs cluster in big cities and uniquely in the world, places like birmingham/bristol/manchester are not doing as well as could be expected because london is sucking the vitality into its own area (ie doing better than could be expected)

Rebalancing this is something I do not expect to happen.

I am very suspicious of declinism, unless you count the drop in opportunities to catch TB as some sort of decline.

I think the young are different in that they generally no longer expect to have a house and a garden where they grow their own veg.

If you can afford the house you have a gardener, Otherwise you do not have a garden.

Japan is indeed a v.v. interesting place and the future is indeed there.
Looking beyond the lovely bits of town you see other things (from memory)

- beer vending machines
- being told to be quiet on the train (so others can sleep at 10am)
- very clean in parts, very messy in others where for some reason people tend not to look
- the young (late 20s / early 30s) tended to have lots of money and live at home and used bars / clubs / restauraunts / shops as social spaces

Blue Eyes said...

I don't think I have ever written in favour of the pensions triple lock. Am I now your cartoon villain representative of everything you perceive to be bad about modern Britain? Whatever floats your boat SL, but if you stop drinking Cabernet Corbyn for a few minutes you may notice that the student loans/fees thing is not nearly as bad as the childish Facebook memes suggest.

I also have not mentioned "products and services" here. However, if you think that somehow we would have a vibrant economy providing the cash to buy the nice stuff without having done the reforms in the 80s and 90s then I want some of what you are smoking. Maybe read David Smith's Something Will Come Up, rather than frantically sitting there refreshing HousePriceCrash.

Andrew, a lot is to do with agglomeration. Which is why the "Northern Powerhouse" idea is important even if we can debate the individual prescriptions. Interestingly, someone told me recently that professional services are having a very tough time in Brum because there is lots of drift of clients and suppliers to Manchester as well as London, and Brum is sort of stuck in the middle. Not sure how anyone can answer that.

Anonymous said...

Giving triple-lock pensions guarantees, whilst charging commercial rates of interest on five-figure student debt is another political choice.

You could argue it is a political necessity. Three issues mitigate against the young getting a fair deal - the number of baby boomers, their propensity to vote, and their share of national wealth.

Until you cull them, there will be no change.

Anonymous said...

Should have added the comment with regards to culling was a poor attempt at a joke. The young will get their revenge when it comes to the choice of care home.

Dick the Prick said...

Erm...i'm not totally convinced we can correlate leisure time to economic well-being when there's so many cultural differences which need to be referenced too. I've not been to Japan but when the Sarin B culty fella poisoned people on their tube, I remember reading that their justice system ground to a bit of a halt when the chap pleaded 'not guilty' which was almost unheard of.

Their culture of long hours, honour, (blind) adherence to the boss, reputation, etiquette etc will probably increase output but what about their productivity. I think also, as Japan has got sod all natural resources, everything they do is naturally more complicated than over here. If we had to rely on nukes to power the nation - that's naturally a bit of a make work scheme when you pop them on a tectonic plate!!

I get the point but I think the Japanesse dude may have been contemplating wistfully the English sipping G&T's whilst he's still got 3 hours to go and thinking 'gits'.

Was it Keynes who said we'd all be working 10 hours a week these days due to mechanisation? My chum said something a little bit close to the bone a bit back (i'm an analyst by trade) - 'do you have a computer for your job or a job for your computer?' - uurrgghh, be gone with your perfectly reasonable put downs!

Steven_L said...

The reforms of the 80s and 90s? These aren't all conjoined at the hip. There's changes made in the 80s and 90s I agree with and others I think were a mistake. I think you would struggle to argue that it was 80's housing reforms in particular that have led to some kind of economic bonanza.

I'd suggest privatisations, labour market reforms, freer trade and lower income taxes were the bits that led to a fairly robust economy and the housing 'reforms' the bit that led to the massive bubble, bust, recession and zombie economy supported by money printing.

Electro-Kevin said...

Blue - Points taken, though you are not a twenty something trying to raise kids and the argument has always been that things are not bad but are in decline.

You're a middle-ager, Blue.

Nick stated correctly that London starting salaries are fantastic, though they still don't buy much in the way of accommodation.

A friend of mine (whom I work with now) was working on a contract with Honda designing starter motors, expatting in Japan. They finished work at 5.30pm and then went out for a meal, went out for drinks and karaoki until 9pm and then... back to the office to work until 1am.

Dick the Prick said...

@EK - think Helf 'n' Safety would knock that on the head here plus, yer know, being fit for fuck all. I'd be bloody resentful too - i'm paid to work with people not socialise with them. It's mildly akin to the employee being owned by the company or the state which does seem to permeate Japanese culture.

Nick Drew said...

I'm not sure about the uprising of the middle-aged and young against the oldies to deprive them of their current benefits. OK, it's quite likely we'll see more means-testing (why does a well-off, non-chronically-ill 60-year old get free transport and pills?)

But as regards the rest: provision isn't egregiously generous. The declining band of private sector final-salary pensioners will dwindle to 0 in due course (leaving the retired public servants ...)

and there's many a child / grandchild who is hoping upon hope that the Sate keeps on with the current (much-reduced) provision for old-age needs, for fear they may have to pay more for the upkeep of their elders than they do already (or lose even more of their putative inheritance) as everyone is steered by the (free) NHS to live to be 90 and demented

are they voting to see money to be taken from their own pockets? Well maybe the youth, who haven't seen how these dynamics play out - but then they don't vote much anyway

the solid phalanx of middle-aged voters will not be so keen to see the threadbear rug pulled out ...

(or are people envisaging compulsory euthenasia?)

Sebastian Weetabix said...

There's no doubt many (probably most) things are better now than 40-50 years ago, what with globalisation giving us cheap consumer goods and technological advances like the internet. But we *are* worse off in a few very significant ways.

Environmentally (I don't mean the global warming bollocks, I mean the real environment) - where have all the birds gone? Fifty years ago the country was teeming with birdlife; today it isn't. Of course what seems a shocking dearth to me is normal to young people as they didn't see what it was like before. Even the numbers of bugs seems much less. When I first started driving all over the country as a rep in the early 80s, doing 50,000 miles/yr, at the end of the day the front of my car would be covered in dead insects - so much so I'd have to clean the windscreen and headlights. Today, being an old geezer I naturally drive much less, but when I do a long journey there are so much fewer bugs than there were.

Secondly we have the end of the antibiotic age. In the 70s TB had been eradicated and there weren't any superbugs. Now there are. TB is back. And it can kill you. Also we had a golden age of shagging without a care in the world. All STDs were treatable and there wasn't any AIDS.

Finally, we are losing the habit of free speech. It is happening slice by slice and the snowflakes don't seem either to notice or to mind, but I miss the phrase "it's a free country"; it seems to have been replaced by "you can't say that!" If the price of diversity is not being to able to express opinions freely then I say fuck diversity. And diversity doesn't really mean what it should; our public life is diverse in everything except opinion. I won't mention the growth in this country of the belief-system-that-must-not-be-named as I don't want to be killed. Very aggressive, these Norwegians.

Some things are more important than GDP and having a smartphone.

CityUnslicker said...

Young people in the UK are much fitter than they were, less smoking, drinking. Fitness obsessed. it has its visual benefits for the environment.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Hmmm. I see lots of very fat young people about in Yorkshire!

L fairfax said...

@"It is not all entirely negative."
True but building more houses shouldn't be that difficult to do. Changing the benefit system to incentivize those who don't work in London but live there, to move is even easier.
We are not asking for something difficult here.

L fairfax said...

PS my parents could buy gadgets that their parents could not do and could still afford housing. Why should the same not be true now?

Jan said...

Why are the people on here attacking each other (boomers v youngsters etc etc) when it is the mega rich who have much more than their fair share of everything and are just getting richer and richer (without doing anything at all) while the rest of us are worse off or struggling? That's also a political choice. Tax all their property/land properly and we'd all benefit.

L fairfax said...

I don't think the Megarich are rich enough to solve the housing crisis.
However if you have done the sums and can prove they are, please show us your workings.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience when working in Singapore in the early eighties. A Singaporean colleague said that he admired how rich British people were. (This was at a time when Singapore was dubbed one of the "Asian Tigers" and was enjoying high economic growth rates.)

I asked hin to explain his belief.

"Well," he said, "you British buy a nice house with some land, and yet you don't need to redevelop the site."

Steven_L said...

Young people in the UK are much fitter than they were ... it has its visual benefits

Perhaps that's just you getting older and your standards slipping?

Electro-Kevin said...

It's not old vs young but a measure of change through generations we are seeing.

CityUnslicker said...

Not likely that SL!

But I agree with BE, not all is woe is me. However, I personally find millenials perplexing. When I wanted to buy a house I did so after saving 50% of my income, buying a flat and doing it up and thereafter continuing. Today they post a hastag of how unfair it all is and go and get pissed in Marbella.

The latter bit sounds fun, the former bit less so. Also I worry re school testing, it is way more arduous than it used to be in terms of how much there is. After school and all that hard work millenials expect to be rewarded, bit of shock to them to find this is only the start..

Laban Tall said...

Our children will start earning (in an environment where real wages are lower than in 1997) saddled with 50K+ of debt (increasing at 3%+RPI) which will need repaying at a 9% marginal rate, just in the years when one should be

a) buying a house - oh no, they're unaffordable in many parts of the UK.
b) raising a family - oh no, you need two wages to pay the rent or (vast) mortgage. and a nominally secure income.

Then they'll retire at whatever the pension age has gone up to by then (67+), all the private final salary pensions will be long gone, and probably the public ones too. Then they'll start worrying about next month's rent.

On the plus side, they'll have a tremendous collection of printed t-shirts ("Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single") and singlets (none of which will fit them any longer) from the bars of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Bali.

BE - did you notice one remarkable feature of Japan, aside from the full employment and the huge trade surplus - the lack of "bad parts of town", "no-go areas", or indeed recurrent urban riots?

When the Japanese riot it's political and it's quite something. Has the air of a medieval battle. This is against the expansion of Narita airport.

Nick Drew said...

Laban - that first link is excellent.

"Perhaps more successfully than any other people of the world, the Japanese have evolved a social system capable of ensuring order and good behavior. The vast reservoir of social strength brought Japan through the devastation of World War II"

I reckon we Brits have a "vast reservoir of social strength", too - albeit of a rather different character. We may need to spend a bit of that capital over the next few years

[the whole 'shame culture vs guilt culture' thing is very interesting, from Homer (Shame with a capital 'S') onwards. We, of course, are heirs to a heavy-duty Guilt culture]

BTW, those riots - the Germans go in for that, too (I've written about the Battle of Stuttgart Station before)

Laban Tall said...

@ND - that's where we move into demography - "we Brits" are not the same people we were in Attlee's time, whereas the Japanese are still the same people as in Tojo's time.

There was an Alphaville item a couple of years back where some analyst was saying one reason for the Treasury's low borrowing rates was what he called "intergenerational solidarity" - the implicit guarantee that the young will repay the debt of previous generations. My view is that the UK is losing that fast, as an increasing proportion of the young age cohort aren't the children of the old age cohort. To see what I mean visit your local maternity unit and then the 'geriatric' wards in the same hospital.

That riot video was remarkable - battering rams vs shield wall and even a schiltron of long batons. Very disciplined stuff compared with the UK rioters.

Dick the Prick said...

@Laban - that youtube is awesome!

Blue Eyes said...

Middle aged. Pfft.

eyad ammar said...

اهم شركات كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذكل شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة وتنظيف بجدة ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر وكشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل والقطيف والخبر والدمام
شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

eyad ammar said...

اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بمكة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بينبع
شركة نقل عفش بالخرج
شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم

eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش بخميس مشيط
شركة نقل عفش بتبوك
شركة نقل عفش بابها
شركة نقل عفش ببريدة
شركة نقل عفش بنجران
شركة نقل عفش بحائل
شركة نقل عفش بالظهران
شركة نقل عفش واثاث
شركة نقل عفش