There be a rumbling and a sound of clucking chickens in the air

Or should that be Turkeys? It’s not looking good for citizens of nowhere these days. Although I don’t have their wanderlust, as a rentier I’m now probably part of the managerial aristocracy that’s been doing okay out of the TINA world order up to now. Said world order pretty much destroyed my job by first deskilling it and then exporting it to India, but I was lucky enough to be old enough to escape the rat race by sneaking under the falling portcullis.

I was never convinced by the theory of the lump of labour fallacy, and figured unrestricted low-wage immigration was going to lower wages for the poorer end of First World workers, a fair number of these voted for Brexit. Lo and behold, we seem to be getting evidence of the inverse effect of lower wages from the CIPD once the firehose of low-skilled workers is throttled back a smidgen – to wit

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the number of applicants per vacancy had fallen since last summer across all levels of skilled jobs, and said shortages were forcing many companies to raise wages.

The number of people applying for the average low-skilled vacancy has fallen from 24 to 20 in the past year and from 19 to 10 for medium-skilled posts.

Well I’ll be flippin’ damned. Who’d a thunk it, eh? At least some Brexit voters may get some of what they wanted. The fall in low-end applicants is 20% compared to the 10% fall in higher-end applicants, highlighting who has been taking the sharp end of that shaft. It’s an ill wind…

Perhaps if our welfare and unemployment system hadn’t turned quite so vile and nasty in peddling the chimera that work is the way out of poverty for the unskilled and make them feel so shit about themselves, then we could have come to a better way of divvying up of the spoils of war. And of course these guys will have to spend some of their slightly increased wages on paying a lot more for imported goods and services on WTO terms if they are lucky, our man Jacob Rees-Mogg and the vile shit-stirrer Boris Johnson will see to that. Let’s look on the bright side, though. At least BoJo is no longer in the Foreign Office. British diplomacy used to be envied, while often suspected of perfidy. We will probably need friends in future, the great BJ never was an asset in that line of work.

Charles Stanley Stitch up

Let’s have a doom-break for a minor snarl – Charles Stanley stitch up an Ermine with a nearly 50% hike in charges from 0.25% to 0.35. I really ought to learn from this and go with a fixed-fee supplier as my ISA estate is over the level that variable fees make sense. But there is the diversification issue, and at the moment paying two lots of fixed fees would hurt. But I need to ramp down in CS, reduce my holdings to about 20k, because I do appreciate their flexible ISA, letting me borrow from myself as long as I repay into the same ISA year. I remind myself about what I dislike about funds. I have to issue the sell command by 1pm today, to sell ~30k of L&G Dev world exUK funds at some unspecified price, into a fractious market. I can then ISA transfer the cash to iWeb and buy something similar as an ETF. Thanks a bunch, Charles Stanley. Hopefully it will be a falling market and they will do me a favour for the time I am out of it 😉 I don’t want to shift this in specie because past experience of in specie transfers indicate this is a world of mega delay and hurt, plus iWeb fees are lower for shares and ETFs than funds.

The Ermine’s attempts to be a long-term buy and holder means more of my selling is being done because of provider aggravation than as an investment aim. I envy the simplicity of my Dad’s erstwhile approach to investing, which was to hold certificates, but then you don’t get to have the ISA advantages. Plus corporate actions really stiff certificate holders, because they get to sell a holding not at a time of their choosing, which can give you a CGT hit if you’ve sat on them long enough.

Cthonic forces are moving

There have been endless words written about the rise of Trumpism and Brexit. They aren’t obviously connected in any way I can put a finger on, but they have the same feeling. Sometimes the big picture is one of myth, and the Archdruid’s kek wars series falls squarely into the category of myth, particularly for those of us who aren’t chaos magicians. Myth has value, however, like all the arts, in reflecting a side of ourselves that cannot be related in a linear narrative. So I find something compelling about his description of

At the beginning of 2025, when Donald Trump hands over the presidency to his successor, he’ll look back on a long string of crises that never quite managed to derail him. By that time, furthermore, the nation and the world will have changed irrevocably.

Like the pied pipers of Brexit, Trump  has a job to do, which is to give expression to the unvoiced, who are asking questions about why, if America is doing so great, their lived experience of life is so shit and been declining since the 1970s. Hence the strapline Make America Great Again, and the endless attempts by the liberal cognoscenti to stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the Beast. I’m not so convinced the Donald is on the right track to actually MAGA, but maybe he can make the little people feel a little bit less shit compared to Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Or just punch down on enough people even worse off so they feel better. In studies of perceptions of fairness in social animals, it is not absolute levels that matter, it is relative levels.

Obama put the problem well in his State of the Union speech nearly eight years ago.

“Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meanthttps://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/no-america-doesnt-control-britains-nuclear-weapons/ showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbours. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you’d even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company. That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful.”

10/10 for diagnosis, not so much for effecting cure. I’m not sure I agree with the Archdruid’s prognosis that this will be a success, perhaps the aim is simply to take down what he called the managerial aristocracy. It is not enough necessary to succeed. Others must fail. We’ve all known that feeling.

There is truth in his assertion that the cost of maintaining the Imperium means the rubes are hurting at home. We have the same problem to a lesser degree, with the officer class believing Britain needs to maintain a blue-water navy and a nuclear deterrent1 along with some interesting delusions of grandeur about Britain’s relative import in the world, which seems to be stuck in a 1950’s time warp. I guess we will get to see soon enough if the officer class is right on this. One thing that the Archdruid seems spot on is that chthonic forces are stirring. I’m not yet sure that the Ermine is reprising Carl Jung 2 in his Bollingen eyrie writing for the local paper in 1936

“A hurricane has broken loose in Germany while we still believe it is fine weather”

Coll. W §389

and sadly that essay is oft referred to in some dark places of the Internet. But the direction of travel isn’t good. Let’s hope that things like the 2030 Charles Stanley stitch up are the level of things that exercise the Ermine’s concern in decades hence, rather than the metaphorical equivalent of the imminent approach of the Rough Beast on Bethlehem.

On that note, it’s time to wick up the hi-fi to 7 and spin a track from  student days

 


  1. which is very linked to the Americans for operational readiness, even if they don’t actually hold the keys to the ignition 
  2. Old Carl finds himself travelling in some exceptionally bad contemporary company these days, I hope the time doesn’t come when appreciating some of his ideas comes to be like saying Genghis Khan had his good side 😉 It’s a long way from the heady days when Dr Jung found himself on the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  (top row seventh from the left) 
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33 thoughts on “There be a rumbling and a sound of clucking chickens in the air”

  1. My recent observations from London and the South East recently are that there is no shortage in work to be done – but it seems that there aren’t the jobs to do them. There seems to be gleaming examples of modernity surrounded by ubiquitous entropic decline. And that’s in the prosperous part of the UK. In Scotland here, it’s only worse, the shine has come off our gleam long ago!

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    1. > There seems to be gleaming examples of modernity surrounded by ubiquitous entropic decline. And that’s in the prosperous part of the UK.

      I’d say that’s symptomatic of the Imperial decline, sort of without the empire. We don’t make the value-add to service the facade built in more prosperous times, so it gets tatty. We have been here before – in the 1970s my German grandmother visited London and wondered why the cars etc were so decrepit compared to what she saw at home after the Wirtschaftswunder of Adenauer’s time.

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      1. When I asked my Polish neighbours what was most surprising about the UK they said it was the number of new cars on the road.

        Having said that we do seem to have a problem with maintenance, politicians are happy to approve HS2 or Cross Rail but can’t fill in potholes or keep libraries open.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. PCP ? Having read a chunk of https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=23&t=1760121 and talked to a near neighbour of mine (who has experience of such things), PCP has become perceived as almost the only sane way to “buy” a new car these days. Personally, I’ve always been the old school “save up and buy it for hard cash” (AND LOOK AFTER IT) type so I am somewhat at sea with the idea that everyone seems to “buy” stuff on the basis “it’s only £x/month so that’s alright then”, and come final payment time after three years just roll it over and do it again, never actually owning anything. Maybe it’s a generational thing – just leaves me wondering: does anyone actually OWN anything these days ? I suppose most regard a car as just another white good, and it’s not supposed to go wrong. If it does, we pick up a phone and a man comes along and takes it away until it’s working again – no worries. I’ll stick to spannering the old stuff then, but that’s me, sod it 🙂

        Actually, I have anecdotal evidence to suggest that some modern vehicles are leaving otherwise perfectly competent mechanics not knowing where the hell to start when the damned things have electronic fits these days. I have had described to me some seriously long sessions with the diagnostics gear trying to trace some obscure faults (from guys who I know in my own dealings with them to be generally pretty clued up about fault finding).

        There’s clearly people who are of the opinion this PCP business is heading in the direction of a mini re-run of the near catastrophe that happened ten years ago, only this time it’s vehicle finance rather than mortgages. Who knows. All I know is I’m comfortable legally owning everything I have – I’m not spinning plates and worrying it’ll all crash around my ears a couple of months following redundancy (not possible in my case – gave up that malarky years ago) as evidently quite a lot out there are.

        The nearest I’ve been to “financing” a car purchase was back in the mid ’90s when I bought the only new car I’ve ever had (and am LIKELY to the way the World’s heading). Can’t remember what interest rates where at the time but the dealer was trying to sell their usual 36 month finance package. Once they saw me get the pen, paper and calculator out, and present them with my findings, they quickly stopped pursuing that approach ! I mean, it worked out at not far short of 20% APR and would’ve cost about fifteen grand more than the (discounted) cash price I got them to agree to (they’d brought too many into the country at the time). The car was fine – kept it nearly fifteen years. Buy on finance ? Not me, sorry.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. that pistonheads thread was a glimpse into a bizarro world.

        > from what I see nobody wants a 12 year old car.

        Nobody in my street has a 12 year old car

        Wonder if they are the same guys as wondering about the cost of living, or they are highly represented in these stats 🙂

        say a £6K car (not the MX5), its going to work out at nigh on £200 a month and the person is probably getting an 8+ year old car. £200 a month will get you a brand new car on a lease or PCP

        The Force is not strong with this one, capital and debt servicing flow parsing fail. There was a record some 10 years ago to the effect of

        if my life is for rent and I don’t learn to buy
        Well I deserve nothing more than I get
        ’cause nothing I have is truly mine

        There might be a case to rent a car if it is an electric vehicle, where battery rental lets you aggregate across users an item that has a wear mechanism combined with a random nasty catastrophic failure mode, although almost everything else about an electric car should be more reliable. ICE engines used to be more reliable before all the nutty emissions this that and the other.

        Which wouldn’t be so bad if it delivered the goods but the acrid ammonia smell behind some new cars is a real bastard as a cyclist, and a minor offending stink as a pedestrian. I’d hate to live in a city now!

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      4. Ermine

        Thanks for the Guardian link – that too was an “interesting” read. For me, there’s simply too many who effectively deliberately get into debt with an attitude of “so I go bankrupt – big deal”. These are the people who want everything that’s new and shiny now, sod the cost. I have never understood that attitude, but then I inherited my views of life from parents who have always held that to be made bankrupt would be to invite shame bordering on a Japanese level of family dishonour !

        Combine that with a steadily deflating (every time I make the mistake of “seeing what’s on the news”…) interest in modern motoring, and I’m content to run a 24 year old Japanese car as my fortuitously weather-selective mode of low annual mileage travel. It’s not as daft as it sounds, especially when the car in question is still very good indeed underneath and the manufacturer concerned produced VERY comprehensive workshop manuals – these are gold dust when you consider the lack of such documents for anything new ! They describe in considerable detail how to do fairly complex maintenance/refurbishment on almost any part of the vehicle with reasonably priced tools – don’t need anything mega-expensive to do most jobs. In short, I would contend my car is genuinely maintainable in a way modern stuff simply isn’t designed to be. They are getting too complex, leading to the “chuck it and buy (sorry, lease) another” mentality. How is that “saving the planet” FFS ?

        Just as an aside, I tend to browse through PistonHeads occasionally, more in search of a “comical pick-me-up” if I’m having a bad day more than for a serious take on things (just as well really :-)). There’s a VERY mixed bag of contributors on there. Occasionally, I’ll find a good thread being kept going by what I suspect are a (semi) retired bunch who, I fondly imagine, are chilling out with a glass of red and reminiscing about “the good old days”. I enjoy reading one or two of those but they’re becoming few and far between. There was a thread on there not so long ago about how the old style forums are much better than Facebook for simply finding stuff and general usability. I think quite a few are leaving Facebook and returning to the fold as it were 🙂 Maybe newer is not better after all, eh ?

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  2. Two queries/requests for clarification: can you elaborate how iweb is cheaper for ETFs? I have large fund-only accounts with them and all I pay is £5 dealing charge a few times a year….

    Also ‘two lots of fixed fees would be painful’ – surely if you can find a fixed fee provider who is cheaper for you than CSD, then you’re quids in? As long as you aren’t decumulating your ISA of course.

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    1. It isn’t cheaper for ETFs, the problem is that it’s dearer for funds – I am not used to paying for buying and selling funds. And I mistakenly assumed there would be a platform running cost on funds, because III, TD and CS have this. But iWeb don’t have that sort of running platform cost at the moment. My bad.

      I only had about 40k in CS. My iWeb is a lot more, the usual crosspoint between fixed and variable seems to be ~50k. There are fewer fixed providers on Monevator’s chart and I am excluded from some – I don’t want to deal with III because they are chiseling shysters and lowlife IMO, I can’t use Halifax becaise it’s the same a iWeb so no diversification to be had there, which leaves me only with Lloyds Bank.

      I’m trying to work out if I am prepared to surrender ISA consolidation because I have diversity of income when I get my FS pension, in which case I can consoldiate on iWeb. The trouble with diversifying providers is that I double my exposure to shysters changing their business models and stiffing me.

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      1. If you rule out Halifax because it’s the same as iWeb, how can you rule in Lloyds, given that Halifax is part of Lloyds?

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      2. When I was recently looking for a home for an infrequently traded ETF-only ISA, HL, Fidelity and HSBC crossed my radar.

        Also need to watch out for BoS being part of LLoyds:
        https://www.iweb-sharedealing.co.uk/about-iweb/financial-services-compensation-scheme.asp

        “This limit is applied to the aggregated total of any stock or cash held across the following brands which we administer:

        IWeb Share Dealing,
        Halifax Share Dealing,
        Lloyds Bank Direct Investments,
        Bank of Scotland Share Dealing.”

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      3. > HL, Fidelity and HSBC

        Thanks for that – HL wouldn’t be such a bad choice for me. Not so much at the mo because I have a couple tens of K of my SIPP in there, but that will soon bobble around the £3600 mark for a couple of months in a year to take my free £180 from the taxman every year. Last time I looked their shares charges were capped at £45 p.a even though they are a percentage fee joint for funds

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  3. We have our ISAs with Lloyds. All in funds. Make sure you open the account with LloydsDirectInvestments as there’s a very similar Lloyds Bank option that charges more.

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  4. What about HSBC or First Direct? A fixed-fee account costs £10.50 quarterly with First Direct Shareholding. They’re not as comprehensive or consumer friendly as a lot of other platforms but for plain vanilla efts or shares very infrequently traded they’re fine, if what you need is a platform diversifier. Trading fees are also (if I remember rightly) £10.50, though cheaper for frequent trades.

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  5. A look at the microcosm of low skilled work from a small town in rural Canada.
    We have a roofing crew working in our neighborhood – they replaced my roof and several others. The owner and his mate are skilled installers but they need a 3rd crew member who basically shifts bundles of shingles, dumps old shingles in the skip, tidies up. This job is chronically vacant – each new young guy who gets it lasts a couple of days in the heat and then leaves. Granted it’s backbreaking labor at times and doesn’t pay much more than minimum wage, but nobody wants to do it. There are no immigrants willing to take it either.
    The fact they don’t have member no. 3 of their crew slows the other two skilled guys down and they take longer to do the job. The third guy could learn how to be a more skilled roofer if he stuck around I suppose – but he doesn’t.
    Maybe this is a tiny reflection of the CIPD report on the other side of the pond, but it does affect output in its own way.

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    1. > it’s backbreaking labor at times and doesn’t pay much more than minimum wage
      I think the problem lies in there somewhere. In the past work in construction was enough to raise a family on. It’s tough to qualify – after all, I started kitchen portering at a wage that is notably lower in inflation-adjusted terms than the current UK minimum wage, but other costs of essentials were relatively lower 40 years ago. I don’t know about the CA minimum wage, but the UK one is quite tough to run even a single household on in the pats of the country that have most jobs.

      Another problem could be the age profile of our societies – in the 1960s there were proportionally more younger people around than now.

      It is possible that the problem is snowflakeism. The UK may end up running that experiment in real time next year!

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      1. Minimum wage here is $14 per hour I think the roofing laborer gets $17. So about 10GBP per hour.
        I had a talk today with the roofer’s mate and he said they have high hopes their latest hire will stick around. He was taking some workplace training today about working on roofs. I hope so. It’s a tough way to make a living though.

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  6. You sound a little down, maybe Sir should consider a nice break in Turkey to finish off the summer’s glorious weather? Prices are very frugal there at the moment, so no need to feel guilty, plus an added bonus is a close up real-time study of the world’s current premier Cakeist leading the Unicorn crusade against the forces of Reality. It is safe as long as you agree with everyone there that the Sultan’s clothes are the finest you have ever seen. Also, it would be a fascinating simultaneous glimpse of the UK’s future as a second-world country under The Boris, coming soon at a ballot-box near you.

    Once all the competent tradesmen, medical experts and other skilled professionals have gone back to where they came from, all the un- and under-employed locals will weep tears of joy at the chance to serve factory-manufactured food, pick crops in all weather and scrub toilets again.

    I suspect Old Father Time will swing the pendulum back by disposing of Trump’s key demographic with the opiate epidemic (lack of hope) and with the Cakeists on this side of the atlantic, via the annual cull of about half a million pensioners emigrating through the mists of time back to the Glorious Empire of their youth. But not before a repeat of the 1930’s. Interesting times.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Moi, toi and the intelligensia, but just as in the 30’s we will suffer at least as much as ‘the mass of the electorate’ sleepwalk us into ‘just following orders’. What could possibly go wrong with taking back control? We are assured that it’s nothing to do with virulent nationalism with the exclusion of all ‘other’, just legitimate concerns about the surfeit of democracy entailed being ruled by a minute elite who are suspected of pursuing their own interests. Misleading the voters instead of representing their best interests, let alone their wishes, by using their apathy.

        Who? EU bureaucrats, or the current sovereign incumbents? That depends on your own ideology, intelligence and honesty. It is a burden these days, to be able to think for yourself and see what is coming, but not be able to escape; sales of every kind of numbing drug must be off the scale. That’s my hot investment tip for the decade.

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  7. “At least BoJo is no longer in the Foreign Office … ”

    Surely that appointment must have been done for a bet? I can see it now, the Mays at home in Chequers:

    Mr M: So darling you’re in charge now, you can do anything you want. But I bet you wouldn’t make BJ Foreign Secretary.
    Mrs M: Hold my beer …

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    1. London mayor, Foreign secretary, we’ve already outdone Otto as Minster of Justice, apartheid South Africa, in A Fish called Wanda, so why’d prime minister, Little Britain be unreal?

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  8. In my area unemployment is very low, 0.5% of the population, yet the area has a large workforce on the minimum wage, double the national average. The main employment areas here complain they struggle to recruit locally and are relent of recruiting from the EU which is starting to dry up for them. Usually when you can’t recruit you change the offer to make it more attractive yet these employers don’t want to improve on minimum wage, doesn’t make sense to me.

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    1. I can see why they don’t want to up on the minimum wage, because they’ve designed their workflow on a large pool of low-wage workers. The CIPD seems to indicate that the light-bulb moment is coming for some employers!

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  9. “There have been endless words written about the rise of Trumpism and Brexit. They aren’t obviously connected in any way I can put a finger on, but they have the same feeling.”

    The first piece I remember reading linking the two was from the Archdruid post eu referendum but prior to Trumps election

    http://archdruidmirror.blogspot.com/2017/06/outside-hall-of-mirrors.html

    Recently I came across a batch of posts exploring predictions of the rise of populism. Which predate the whole brexit/trump thing but explore the issues in greater depth.

    http://www.zwilo.com/peter-mair-predicted-rise-populists-brexit

    I think that there is a good case to consider these events as being very concretely connected.

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    1. Zwilo is the dog’s bollocks in calling out the problem: Globalisation gives you cheap consumer goods but undermines the ability of governments to shield the poorer elements of society from the damaged to the security and value of their employment opportunities. Rodrik’s trilemma looks reasonably convincing to me…

      Thanks for some good stuff here – and the Archdruid got there early with Brexit too!

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  10. Vanguard Direct also offer a flexible ISA account with a platform fee of 0.15%. In addition you can purchase and sell etf’s fee free if you avail yourself of their daily bulk transactions. There is also the expectation of a SIPP account before the end of 2018.

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  11. It shows just how dire our prospects are that I’m tempted to say, I think, luckily, the return to the 30s is unlikely, albeit the return to the 70s seems probable: a hard left government nationalising everything left right and centre, elected by the same electorate that’s about to be disappointed by Rees-Mogg. #silverlinings

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  12. Ermine,
    Loved the Dido reference. Just about sums it up.
    We still, for my tuppenceworth, live in a society obsessed with status and class, laughable but for the fact a fair proportion of those straining to maintain the illusion havent a pot to piss in, or if they have, it’s being paid off at an extortionate APR.
    I’ve never tried to keep up with the Jones’s. I will however admit to it being years since my backside felt the caress of a pair of Levis, instead having clad my buttocks with a much cheaper brand of denim. In all fairness, the Jones’s have never once judged me on it.

    Like

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