Merryn was a senior scholar at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where she gained a first class degree in history & economics. She then became a Daiwa scholar and spent a year studying Japanese at London University. In 1992 Merryn moved to Japan to continue her Japanese studies and to produce business programmes for NHK, Japan's public TV station. In 1993 she became an institutional broker for SBC Warburg, where she stayed for 5 years. Returning to the UK in 1998, Merryn became a financial writer for The Week. Two years later, in 2000, MoneyWeek was launched and Merryn took the job of editor; she recently became MoneyWeek's Editor-in-chief. Merryn has published a book on personal finance for women, Love is Not Enough: The Smart Woman's Guide to Making (and Keeping) Money (HarperPress, 2007). She also has columns in the Financial Times, the Sunday Post and Saga magazine and has contributed to many other publications from Marie Claire and Woman & Home to the Spectator. Merryn is a regular and experienced TV and radio commentator on financial matters
There has been much talk recently of the rise in the number of mortgage products available to those with small deposits. But the existence of these products is beginning to look rather more theoretical than actual. If they were really being granted to borrowers rather than just trumpeted in the press you might expect to see the number of first time buyers entering the market rising for example. But you aren’t seeing any thing of the sort.
Back in March, when online grocer Ocado first said they were planning a £1bn launch, I wrote about it on the blog at moneyweek.com. I found the whole thing entirely bemusing and rather suspected that after firm words from a few of the banks, Ocado would quietly drop the whole idea. They have not. Instead they have hired almost every bank in the UK (not a bad move given that banks involved in IPOs rarely say nasty things about the firm paying their fees) alongside a smart PR agency and are offering anyone who has spent £300 or more with the last years. That is unlikely to exclude anyone who has ever used Ocado (getting one of their smart vans to pull up outside your house might impress the neighbours but it doesn’t come cheap). But presumably a large number of Ocado shoppers have some degree of financial savvy – or they wouldn’t be able to afford it in the first place – so why on earth would they take up this far from tempting offer?
I have a friend who has recently discovered day trading. She looks for the biggest fallers in the stock market over a month, checks that the shares that have fallen more than 50% (of which there are always a few) aren't going bankrupt right away, and buys them. Then she waits for them to go up and sells them. Last week she made 60%. She says it is fool-proof.
I'm wondering how she knows something isn't going to go bankrupt right away. I'm also thinking that if she does have a special method of doing so – and if risk makes her happy – I might introduce her to the sovereign bond markets.
Greece has "come to the brink of the abyss" said poor President Papoulias of Greece yesterday. And indeed it has. There can be little better exemplification of the inability of populations outside Japan to accept deflation, than the petrol bombings that killed three in Athens yesterday.
The Greeks may by now understand how they got into their current situation (a mixture of complacency, profligacy and malfeasance) but that doesn't mean they have much intention of going along with the rest of Europe's plan to get them out of it. And you can see why: as is always the way, tax rises and spending cuts are going to hit the poor more than the rich, forcing down living standards after a long period in which everyone had assumed things would keep getting better for ever.
Should you have to pass an exam before you are allowed to take out your first
mortgage? According to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the
answer is yes.
In a speech last week, Malcolm Hurlston, the chairman of the national
debt charity, called on political parties to introduce some sort of
training for first-time buyers. "First-time mortgages should be sold not
with pretty ribbons and tax breaks, but with health warnings. They
should be sold like driving licences, after study and exam."It is feisty stuff, and clearly not the kind
of thing anyone involved in the selling of mortgages much likes the