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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The cost of money (Part Two)

With credit being so difficult to come by what with so many banks going under or struggling to survive it is little wonder that people are turning to alternative sources of borrowing.

This story in the Daily Post shows what can happen when things get out of hand. They tell us that Patrick Timothy Kiely exploited his customers by, charging annual percentage rates (APRs) of up to 149,000%. He lent money to more than 500 people in the Bangor, Caernarfon and Llangefni areas but broke regulations on a wholesale basis, charged 100% interest, and added illegal penalty charges for missed payments.

He made no checks on people’s addresses or identities or their ability to pay, and it emerged he even handed out loans in the names of children.ranging in ages from a year to 12. His loan agreements were meaningless. No copy was given to his customers and sometimes clients took out second loans to pay off the first.

Mr. Kiely was not of course licenced with the Office of Fair Trading and his activities would never be sanctioned by them. There are though some shocking stories out there about the rates charged by one or two licensed companies even if they are nowhere as bad as this. Perhaps the government would like to turn their attention to improving regulation on this matter next.
More to the point, 'shows what happens' when the Welsh economy is lurking at the bottom of the British economic league tables in terms of GVA per head of population - reflecting the average low earnings that many Welsh folks struggle on.

The recent turmoil in the financial markets provides no excuse for the bear bones private sector economy - "What Welsh private sector economy?" Well, the one that Wales should have verses the poor one it has after some ten years of Welsh Assembly Government at the hands of Labour, Welsh Lib-Dems, and now Plaid Cymru.

Just look at the number of registered patents held by the universities in Wales compared to the number held by foreign research universities. Chicago University which is but a fraction of the size of the University of Wales (I am including Cardiff, the former Welsh Medical School in Cardiff, and the Univ of S. Glam, formerly the Polytechnic of Wales at Pontypridd, the new universities in Swansea, Newport and North Wales), and Chicago University has more registered patents by several factors even though it lacks an engineering school - unlike the University of Wales that has large engineering Schools in Cardiff, Swansea and Pontypridd. Wales is positively living/breathing science research but the number of registered patents assigned to its universities is ... is ... very low - only the former Medical School has a decent number of registered patents relative to its size.

There's a university in South East Asia in a former third world state that concentrates on enterprise and protecting its inventions and discoveries for the furtherance of job and wealth creation for its citizens. Wales? Where is Wales? Oh, more concerned with publishing its inventions and discoveries than filing for patent protection even though it is DEAD EASY to file for patent protection using, e.g., provisional patent application process in the USA which all Welsh inventors/universities can use for up to one year after publishing the discovery in a learned journal. But does this happen often? About as often as a bird whispering a sweet nothing into the First Ministers Ear, and certainly less often than the number of trips to a brothel made by the late Plaid Cymru member covering the economic brief. I flew from the USA to meet with him and explained how low registered (issued) patent rate was killing future growth in the smart economy - he listened, he agreed, and then he died in a brothel. About sums up PC's real interest in boosting Welsh IP protection.

Then again, no one from Welsh Lib-Dems would give me the time of day, same goes for the Welsh Labour Party. Still, it was cool to walk past Ron Davies door post his second moment of madness - 'spotting' daylight badgers near Bath.
Remind me to corner your dear Mr Tregoning at Clydach and get his help with my policy motion on this to present at spring WLD conference. It's an issue we need to be leading on, especially in the current climate.
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