June 3rd, 2009
07:41 PM GMT
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The dog saw it first - a bucket full of raw bones.

While it was the smell which caught Pepper’s attention - it was the sign that interested me.

The gruesome boiled-up remains, yours for about three dollars each, were labelled “MPs’ Legs.” “Let your dog have a nibble on an MP’s leg,” the sign went on.

“Well worth it!”

People in Britain are furious about the expenses scandal which is engulfing our lawmakers. But we haven’t actually got started chopping them up yet.

The dog and I were at a pet food stall on my local town market. The bones belonged to innocent animals who have never claimed any taxpayer cash to clean out their moats or pay phoney mortgages, and whose snouts have only ever graced real feeding troughs.

I asked the stallholder Colin Fletcher how his lawmakers’ bits were going down with punters. “One guy said he wished they were real,” he said. The scandal is particularly upsetting at a time when many thousands of people are experiencing the pain of losing their jobs, their homes and businesses.

Down on the market, things have been good for Colin this year, despite the recession. He said he’s invested a lot of money in the stall and built up a following of regular customers. “They even come in the winter when it’s minus five and raining. “We have a laugh with them, and a joke.”

Colin’s sense of humour is obviously keeping his customers happy. Yes, the bones are a gimmick. But it’s working. It reminded me that even the worst of times offer an opportunity for a good laugh -

And who knows - maybe even the chance to make a bit of money.

June 3rd, 2009
07:38 PM GMT
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Tonight’s Profitable Moment – greed is not pleasant to witness and never more so when exhibited by oneself.  In this case when I have been playing the fruitless game – If Only!

Back in January I bought 1,000 Barclay shares at 63 pence. Pretty much at the low point in the market. Since then I have kept you informed about the profits on these shares – More by good luck, I bought at the bottom of the market and am now showing a tidy sum. enough to buy muffins around the office ... muffins enough probably for the whole building

I did this experiment to show you in real terms examples of money being made and lost on volatile stock markets at times of recession. This demonstration has worked better than I could have hoped.

Unforutnately today I am concentrating not on the money I have actually made – but rather on the profit I could have made if I had bought more shares.

I keep thinking IF ONLY I had bought 10 times as many shares I would have oh, so much more money in the bank. IF ONLY I had ridden the market up and down, selling and buying back earlier, I would have more shares and more profits.

In the past few days Barclays’s share prices has come back by about 15 percent – because of the sale by Abu Dhabi investors. Again I am again IF ONLY, if only I had known about this proposed sale then of course I could have sold high and bought back low. (I am distresed, of course, that they seem to have made more than £1.4 billion in less than a few months; rumoured to be the fastest profit ever made in the London market.)

IF ONLY this. IF ONLY that. Often it seems my entire financial strategy is based on the mantra, coulda – shoulda, woulda.

It is pathetic that often I fixate on the money I have not made, rather than the real money I have put into the bank. This has nothing to do with profitable investing. It goes against everything I was ever taught about long-term value investing.  It is greed pure and simple.

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