Archive for the ‘Savings’ Category

Just where should you put your money right now?

Strangely enough, it might not be where you think.

Typically most people will move their money into cash savings in times like these and put those cash savings in a local savings institution on the basis that they know and trust the people in the branch. However, that’s a fatal error to make. Sure, you can trust the people in your local bank or building society branch with your cash but the problem is that they aren’t the people who’ll be investing that cash.

That’s how come Northern Rock created such a stir last year: it was very much trusted locally and indeed was well thought of generally too for that matter. However, what felled it was the way in which the financial wizards at HQ invested the money and pulled in more money to fund mortgages.

In fact, the safest place at the moment is one that’s commonly overlooked. It’s National Savings in the UK. That’s part of HM Treasury and it’s the one UK financial instution that can’t go bankrupt because they’re the people that create the money in the first place. No, interest rates with them aren’t as high as with other places but then interest rates aren’t that great at the moment anywhere and these days it’s safety that you should be looking towards.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

What should we do in the current economic difficulties?

The current economic difficulties are pretty unusual in their severity and therefore what “we” should do is not necessarily the same as what we’d ordinarily do by ourselves.

Typically, it’s prudent to build up some reserves in the bank to tide oneself over the hard times. However, if we all do that in the moment then chances are that the downturn will go on for a great deal longer than it needs to. What’s needed is for each of us to act as though the downturn didn’t exist as much as possible.

So, for instance, the banks have basically been told to return to normal lending practices “or else”. In fact, they need to do that for their own sake as tightening up on the lending criteria as many had been doing was simply acting to stagnate the economy which is good for nobody, including the banks.

From the rest of us what’s required is that we don’t simply bank any savings that we’re making but rather that we spend them and thereby do our bit to restart the economy.

Whilst your instinct might be to increase the size of any savings reserve as much as you are able, it’s the worst thing that we could do collectively.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Savings, investment,… gambling

Normally people move from savings to investment but draw the line at risky investments and don’t consider gambling as being in the same continum.

But it is. Certainly savings and gambling are very much at the extreme ends of that continum but some high risk investments aren’t nearly so far from gambling as the investment community in general would have you believe.

Is it any more risky to put £1 on a horse or to put £1 on a penny share? Well, sure, it’s usually riskier to put it on a horse BUT remember that whilst you might put £1 on a horse, chances are it would be more like £1000 that you’d be putting on that penny share which is a whole lot more to lose.

Of course, that difference in the amount of money involved is critical in how you should rate a gamble as compared to a very high risk investment. However, don’t forget that even the safest investments are also gambles as any investor in Northern Rock will tell you now or for that matter policy holders in what was the even more solid Equitable Life.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Liquidity ratios and the Northern Rock etc.

The liquidity ratio of a bank is something that doesn’t matter to most people but it’s something that has become rather important following the collapse of the Northern Rock.

Oh, sorry, it didn’t collapsed. It just didn’t have any money of its own to give out to its customers.

What the liquidity ratio is is the percentage of the assets of the bank that are held in cash ie the amount that they can actually pay out. For the UK, the average liquidity ratio is just 3%. That might seem pretty low but in reality it’s more than enough as there’s obviously a constant flow of deposits and withdrawals.

However, when the flow is all outwards as in the case of the Northern Rock, that 3% isn’t really enough and that’s when they need to pay a visit to the Bank of England to ask for a few quid to keep them afloat.

As we said last before, the Northern Rock is finished. In reality that probably doesn’t matter as it’ll be taken over by one of the banks that were very keen to buy it just a year or two back. Let’s not forget that that they were very highly thought of not so long ago as an excellently run mortgage bank which just goes to show that having an excellent reputation doesn’t mean that a bank is “safe” (the Equitable Life was also very well run, of course).

This all begs the question as to whether the Bank of England should support the Northern Rock. After all, it didn’t support BCCI in 1991. What’s different is that the Northern Rock is a UK owned institution and the BoE want to maintain the image of the UK banking system being a safe place to bank. Something to bear in mind when looking for somewhere to deposit your money as several of the banks paying the top savings rates aren’t UK owned.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Where should you move your money to after the Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester?

Unless you’re planning on putting the cash under the mattress, you’re going to need another bank or building society to put your money in when you take it out of the Northern Rock etc., but which one?

Many people will just look up the best buy tables and find that ICICI bank is right up there and move it right over. Somehow I’m not totally sure that putting your life savings in an Indian bank is such a good move. Next choice would be West Bromwich though that’s a fairly small building society, whether they could cope with the arrival of massive numbers of customers is another matter. Bank of Scotland seems the best bet to me with 6% from £5000 although that limits you to 4 withdrawals per year before the rate drops substantially.

But if you’re looking for absolute security, there’s only one choice: National Savings. 4.1 % from £5000 on their Investment Account, 5.15% from £50,000 on their Easy Access account. Deposits with them are effectively deposits in the Bank of England which can’t go bust. You can open these in the Post Office or online (note: these accounts are not the same as the Post Office savings account).

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.