The Mystifying World of International Finance

> New Jersey Transit 18.04 to Morristown, NJ
& New Jersey Transit 17.47 to Morristown, NJ <

For as much as he’s never been a reckless spender, I think it’s also fair to say that my dad isn’t much of a saver. My wife Jacqueline, on the other hand, is, at heart, a conscientious saver – albeit one always and forever a trip to Anthropologie away from reckless spending too.

My dad would say “you can’t take it with you,” pointing to the ground. “Ah, but you can put it in a CD,” Jackie would reply, “and buy a better coffin.” (Ok, that’s not exactly what she would say – but she might secretly think it, and in the world of reckless blogging I must conclude that has to be enough.)

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle, temperamentally many miles closer to my dad, but compromising assiduously for the sake of marital appearances. (Yes, I pick my battles, and, yes, I try and pick the ones it won’t cost a silly fortune to fight.)

It’s never any bother trying to think of things I want future monies to buy. Doing so, in fact, is really rather easy. What’s always trickier, alas, is figuring where to find these monies – assuming, as unfortunately we must, that none will ever float down from high, as it does for the fortuitously born and men good at playing football. Maybe it is smart to save. And maybe, after all, my default attitude toward debt management is something less than sound. Out of sight, out of mind.

But, as the saying goes, where’s the fun in that?!

I know that even to suggest such a thing is to fly in the face of rational thinking… but might it not be wrong of us to think money sane? Consider: how reliable is it? How substantial? Consider too what it makes people do, even number-smart Wall Streeters who forever seem to willfully forget the common sense of Main Street.

No, as the last couple of years keep on proving, it seems that the currencies on which we depend are, Dali-like, too liable to bend, and, Escher-like, too prone to paradox. Fortunes can vanish overnight, and corporate speculation can obliterate individual prudence… leaving us, as likely as not, not tickled or stroked or cherished by Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand,’ but rudely, roundly slapped.

Anyhow, forgive me: so much inexpert rambling in so small a space… I’ll hurry up at last and get to what first got me thinking. My student loans. My English student loans that are now almost a decade old. It occurred to me last week that it’s high time I paid them off – my reason for not doing so (that I’m living in a different country now) as wafer-thin as before but ever harder to indulge.

I braced myself before checking how much interest had accrued. Good news: not as much as I thought. Then I checked the current exchange rate to see how many dollars my sterling debt was worth. Even better news: no where near as much as would have been the case even a year ago.

Unbelievably, so favourable is the exchange rate to me now it more than cancels out, in real terms, nearly ten years’ worth of interest. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m up on the deal… but I’m definitely not down. Many, many months of financial negligence on my part – and it’s hardly cost me a dime. How’s that for arse over tit?

***

The name, by the way, of the college I lived in after first taking out my loan: Keynes. So named after John Maynard, the economist. Given that I’m still paying for it, maybe I should raise one of those old Keynes Bar rum and cokes in his honour. Here’s what he really should have added to his work, though: it’s not enough for governments to help out free markets every now and then. As far as free will and finances go, what you really need is a wife.

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About newjonnytransit

Same as ever, only better.
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2 Responses to The Mystifying World of International Finance

  1. I assume that

    a) you informed the Student loan company that you planned to live abroad when you move as failure to do so would result in a penalty (from the website today)
    b) the threshold for living in the USA with a UK student loan is £12,000 (just checked the website) after which you pay 9% due to the cost of living being lower, in the UK £15,000 is the limit, so whilst the exchange rate is in your favour you will pay more admittingly over a shorter turn.

    The chance of the UK getting an extradition order for you to return to face charges for the above is as much chance as Jack Straw, Tony Hayward and Tony Blair coming to the US for questions regarding Lockerbie, lets hope you dont become a political pawn in this chess game, to quote Alan Partridge though: “Who would be the Bishops?”

    • Yes, thank you Rob… I know about the penalty (although I think the website says there only ‘may’ be a penalty, so hopefully I can worm my way out of it). And, yes, I suppose I’ll have to keep a low profile the next time I’m passing through Heathrow – definitely don’t want to explain myself, especially as the student loan company is based in Glasgow!

      By the way: Tony Blair is still as popular as ever over here – even taught a course at Yale recently…

      Anyhow, thanks again for the comment – always look forward to hearing from you. Hope all is well, sir.

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