I’ve just been fired by Goldman Sachs

Our relationship began almost twenty years ago, when I was in my impressionable twenties. I was young, free and, erm, approximately single. It began almost by accident.  I was working for an American firm, I had shares in the company, there was a public markets event which I took part in and the next thing I knew I’d begun a long distance relationship.

It wasn’t ever a particularly passionate, intimate relationship.  In fact I got much more involved with another member of the same family, in London, in a brief fling that left me hurt, scarred and financially damaged.  But somehow the long distance relationship continued.  Occasional phone calls usually with me asking for something. A few letters – an annual ritual, for the most part.

I considered splitting up earlier this year.  I was trying to buy a house and I needed some help, some support.  I picked up the phone, and I made my feelings clear.  I had worked out what I wanted and I asked for it. I was told No, not if I wanted to stay in London.   When I realised I couldn’t rely on the relationship, and in fact got more support from other relationships in the UK, I almost broke it off.  But somehow I just reduced my involvement even further and kept going through the motions.

The phone calls had now become only occasional events, and were always about money.  I can’t remember the last letter I received.

So imagine my surprise when I got a letter, last week.  With the familiar postmark.  When I opened it, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes – what I was reading.  No personal greeting, even.  Just cold, impersonal prose.  Not even an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.   Just complete clarity that our past relationship (!) is over, and a request for me to remove my stuff by the end of the month.   If possible.

I’ve never been dumped before, let alone this way.  Thank God there wasn’t a request for money.

The letter’s below – judge for yourself.

Continue reading “I’ve just been fired by Goldman Sachs”

My Dream Home: after the morning after 

In my last post in this occasional series about my tribulations buying my Dream Home, I left my story at 9am on Friday 24 June – The Morning After – having just received an offer for £100k less than the ‘actual’ value of my old house.  I asked for views on what I should have done next.  And I got some wonderful comments with real wisdom – a real testament to the amazing insights in the UK’s FIRE community.

The first comment came from RIT, suggesting I should have taken the money and run:

“Looks like either a very illiquid market or the price was to high to me. From where I sit I would have had their arm off and pushed for an exchange very quickly.” Retirement Investment Today

My approach wasn’t what RIT advocated, even though I think it is a very sensible perspective. I had several people giving me the same advice at the time.  In fairness to RIT, as LondonRob commented, the ‘right’ answer “partly depends on how much [I] really need the cash. It would also be good to know what the rental value could achieve.”  LondonRob said he felt a 10% discount to the asking price was too much, and so provided cash wasn’t an immediate issue he recommended turning the offer down.  This is indeed what I did.

What I hadn’t explained in my last blog is that yes I would like the cash from my old house, but no I am not desperate for it.  I have emotional ties to the property and do not want to sell it ‘under duress’.  I am pretty confident I will get a reasonable price for it at some point and can afford to wait. I also was wondering about its potential as a rental property, and felt pretty sure I could rent it out – albeit possibly at a low rental yield.  Had the rest of the market tanked between January and June I may well have been feeling more desperate for cash.  But in fact I had already made almost £1m in paper gains this year and this had boosted my resilience, so I was not in much of a mood to compromise.

Continue reading “My Dream Home: after the morning after “

My performance – October 2016. Carney-gate abated.

The month began with the Conservative party annual conference, and the aftershocks were still being felt as the month ended.  The prime minister sounded much more pro ‘hard’ Brexit than the markets had expected, and the home secretary was willfully misquoted by everybody – especially overseas – as saying that UK companies would have to publish lists of their foreign workers.

From an investing point of view the main impact arose from May’s critique of quantitative easing:

“People with assets have got richer. People without them have suffered. People with mortgages have found their debts cheaper. People with savings have found themselves poorer….. A change has got to come.” – Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, October 2016

Lest you wondered whether the change needed is the Government’s problem or the central bank’s problem, William Hague (a former Tory leader) helpfully clarified the next day that the Bank of England’ ‘days of independence could be numbered’ unless its policies change. If this didn’t look like political interference, what would? This, after all, was from the party which strongly opposed giving the Bank of England independence back in 1997.

Just as I was beginning to contemplate whether we might be in for a full-on Sterling crisis if Mark Carney, the foreign Bank of England governor, decided he’d had enough, the latest news is that he will be staying until mid 2019. Hopefully the Tories have seen into the abyss and will step back from it.  Carney may not be perfect but there is no better anywhere in the world and right now losing him would be a big mistake.

Continue reading “My performance – October 2016. Carney-gate abated.”