Valentines Day Economics

15 February 2009

So, Saturday was Valentines day. You know, that day when you spend crazy amounts on overpriced roses, dinner out with other couples all trying to compete as to how in love they are, and then end up too full of food to do anything romantic on arrival home.

Maybe it’s OK to hate Valentines Day, I mean we’re in a CREDIT CRUNCH people! Maybe forget the overpriced flowers (by the way, it’s not the florists fault their suppliers increase prices) and drop a fifty pound note in a card instead.

Or perhaps there’s more to it, a rational approach to Valentines day:

  • The peacock tail effect. Peacocks elaborate tails prove their genetic fitness. Similarly, a man who spends money on Vally day is signalling his ability as a provider: “look, I can offer you so much that I can afford to fritter money away on gestures.”
  • Investment in commitment. Dinner together is an investment in the other person.
  • A man who rejects the social norm of Vally day increases uncertainty about who he is. The partner thinks: “if he rejects this cultural norm, what other norms does he reject. What sort of guy is this?”
  • If your partner is looking for commitment, they’d not want a the kind of guy who is so rational that he’d economically reject Vally day: such a man will leave you the moment a better offer comes along, surely.

Or perhaps, it’s just romantic…

I took my partner to our favourite local tapas bar – somewhere we both like where sharing food (romantic, hint) is part of the deal, but not so overly-candled and over-priced that you’d feel compelled to pull out the diamond ring.

Stuff the ignorant, economic or rational approaches to Valentines day, and go for the romantic – the one you and our partner will love, because you know them and you know what they like… surely that’s the most romantic gesture of all…


The blandness of unreality

1 November 2008

So it’s been a while since I posted anything other then my Delicious links, and I’m posting now with no experience of, but a judgment on, Westfield Shopping Centre in London’s Shepherd’s Bush. So, what’s the big deal? The centre opened to the public on 30th October 2008: 150,000m² (1.615m ft²) of space to shop in 255 stores, the third largest shopping centre in the UK, sold as a “new retail experience”. And it received some good press: a covered indoor mall combining the top and middle of the market – booming in its first few days even in a credit crunch.

But it hasn’t pleased everyone:

“It’s more Gatwick village than Liberty, all airport ambience and airlessness, an everywhere and nowhere place, everytown and no town, every familiar shop in every high street, the same, same, same. Eclectic, bold, extraordinary? Only if you have never seen a Tie Rack, Gap or New Look.”

But, let’s not forget it’s a shopping centre. This is the disneyland of retail – show and gloss, nothing real. Some people have suggested that it “is a unique and democratic way of shopping, where highstreet brands sit cheek by jowl with designer labels as well as supermarket shopping”. But the truth is it’s the most undemoctratic shopping experience that can exist – a fully privatised space where the company that runs it (who earned $5.58 billion profit in 2005/6) can control what happens. This is not a place. It’s a non-place. It’s not a city: a city is democratic – a city where you can demonstrate on the street, busk, shop or saunter.

And, this ‘democtratic’, privatised future of consumerist excess on cheap credit does nothing to help the very deprived area it’s landed, alien-like, in. It’s a closed-off traffic-jam generating privatised space with no connection to the place around it and very little benefit for it too. In the words of one resident:

“If you don’t turn off towards Europe’s newest, largest shopping mall but head into the grey autumn of Shepherd’s Bush Green, where the local residents walk their pitbulls and the 99p stores will sell you a handbag and an umbrella, but no real, authentic Prada or Chanel. The rest of the “Bush” looks terrible now up against all that is shiny and new. Squalid isn’t the word.”

And yet this is the place not built on billions of dollars of profit – it’s the city, where we live, which is maintained by our money, and which is democratic. So if we want to build something democrtatic let’s think about how places really work – not with closed off walls and revolving doors, but linked into the fabric of the city, where people can be without the approval of corporations or security guards.


Credit Crunch – a father’s view

8 October 2008

My dad and I emailed today about money, savings, Iceland and the credit crunch… I loved his insight, so thought I’d share it:

Money’s funny stuff really…………..it doesn’t exist, unlike things!

The government did the right thing though overall for jumping in and nationalising [Bradford and Bingley], although if they had made the £50,000 offer to savers at that time they would not have needed to nationalise it. That’s what they’re doing with banks now, so that the nationalisation only happens if they reach the payout point (I think).

Really, it’s socialism by default [thelayoftheland note – not everyone agrees], which is excellent really. Now if they can re-nationslise the railways, power, and water, we’ll be laughing!!

Mind you, water is owned by the country…………………………………..but it’s France……..whoops. Le mess.

Vive la France eh?


Howard hitches a ride

18 September 2008

Ride em Cowboy! The new Lloyds HBOS logo perhaps? Courtesy of the FT’s blogs.

Still, what could possibly go wrong?


Crash, Bang?

16 September 2008

I found this rather amusing video this afternoon… how to make light of a ‘bad situation’ perhaps (although vaguely reminds me of the Will and Grace scene with Al Roker)

Still if we’re all doomed, at least it’s a better way to make light of the doom than others are doing:

While there is a tendency among the self-righteous to criticise individual short-sellers who make money out of the misfortune of others, the fact is that those playing the stockmarket in such a fashion are merely a product of the system, rather than the catalyst behind the so-called evil. Once upon a time, stockmarkets were there to provide companies with a means to raise capital from investors; today’s financial world is a vastly different beast.

Nowadays, there is as much incentive to kick a company while it’s down as there is to support it when it is in ruder health; short sellers hover around a dying stock like vultures anticipating a feast, and every financial institution is as guilty as the next when it comes to gorging on the remains. Lehman Brothers’ demise is a case in point, as too is AIG’s seemingly impending collapse.

Time for a new world order?


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