Miscellaneous Ramblings

Do the public really care about the banking crisis and the fact that governments are using tax-payers’ money to bail out the financial institutions?

The instinctive response is: YES, they do care and they resent the fact that banks are being rescued having lost a lot of money. But the counter-intuitive response is rather different.

Over the last fifteen years or more, the populations of the developed economies have been saving less and spending more than they can afford. Saving rates in places like the UK and the USA have fallen to virtually zero – well below a healthy savings rate of about 5-7% of disposable income. One explanation for this is simply that interest rates are so low that the saver gets little or nothing for their prudence and with inflation rates almost matching interest rates, the real return is either zero or negative. Combine that with the taxation that is levied on the interest earned and there is absolutely no incentive to save anything. Read the rest of this entry »

On a recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, I was unsurprised to discover that the city has little or no public transport and the preferred (and possibly the only affordable) method of transport are the ubiquitous Honda oms – the 125 cc cross between a genuine motor scooter and a small motorbike. Around 60% of the market is now in the hands of Chinese manufacturers but the Japanese are still the supplier of choice. The extraordinary thing is that in Ho Chi Minh City there are over 4 million registered motor vehicles of which 3.6 million are motorbikes and the number is growing by 350,000 per year.
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In simple terms, authors own all the rights (Intellectual Property Rights or Copyright) to their published and unpublished work and they generally receive their income from royalties that are paid by those to whom the author has issued a licence for use of certain rights (the publisher). So far, so good!

In a perfect world, the author will have found a publisher (not the easiest thing to do, I might add!) who will take a licence to publish the book in exchange for the royalties to be paid. The publisher will then market the book and booksellers will then sell the book to willing buyers who will take it home and read it (I did say “in a perfect world”). The sale of the book generates the royalties and the author should, in theory, get paid. But this is not a perfect world!

The reality is that writers need readers … Read the rest of this entry »