BBC’s misleading Tax Credit graphic

The BBC currently use this graphic in Tax Credit articles:

Tax Credit Impact Chart by BBC

The middle-earning couple are NOT better off due to changes in the Tax Credit system, it has no impact on them whatsoever, so the chart title is deliberately misleading.

The low earning single parent needs to do an extra 20 minutes of work per day to avoid being worse off financially (that’s merely an observation of the mathematics, not a suggestion or endorsement of the policy change).

Give me some sugar

Can you see what is wrong with this graph?

sugar consumption per person uk

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A couple of stats

I went to a brunch briefing recently, titled ” The Future of Europe: An Investor’s Guide” where I was especially impressed with one of the panelists, Louise Cooper. A couple of her observations struck me:

  • The effective average retirement age in France is 59; in Japan it is 69
  • £100 invested into the FTSE 100 in 1984 would be £1,500 in 2014. However, if the money was only kept in the market on the up days, it would be worth £124tr now. So take with a pinch of salt claims of being able to time the market.

Peak online dating

According to several sites, today, the first Sunday in January, is the busiest of the year in online dating.

You might try (Disclosure: I’m on the company’s advisory board). It’s similar to Tinder in that you easily sign up with your Facebook account and when there is a mutual interest only then does the site facilitate messaging. The clever bit is that the profiles that get suggested to each other are where there is already a mutual friend in common (who doesn’t need to be a member of the site). This nudges it away from “hook up culture” to more genuine and meaningful interactions.

If you’re a guy, use a profile picture where you look away from the camera and don’t smile:

Male dating profile picture advice

If you’re female, “selfie above the head” shots are best:

myspace2 myspace1

Or have a bed in the background. Men are like that.


Russia is big

I’ve seen this in several places today, “Amazing fact. Tiny Bangladesh has more people than Russia”:

Russia v Bangladesh

Hat tip

The projection used in maps can distort thing (the land area of England and Bangladesh is just about equal for example) but Bangladesh is genuinely 100x smaller than Russia whilst having pretty much the same population (they’re the 8th and 9th most populated, respectively).

Though I’m not sure it’s that much of an amazing fact. Out of 200 countries to pick from we’re comparing the world’s largest country with the world’s densest (leaving aside Singapore and a few others with <5m inhabitants). What did you expect?

Bangladesh is in a heavily populated portion of the world

I also read recently, but can’t find back the exact numbers, something like it was only in 1974 that the African continent reached the population density that Europe had in the middle ages. And you can fit a lot of countries into Africa


Is a truncated y-axis misleading?

% (n=100)

Truncated y axis on graph

What’s the answer?

1 and 0 puzzle

And for that reason, my mum’s out

I recently looked at contributing to a bridging loan to a company to complete a residential care home for the elderly. I’ll keep the numbers round for confidentiality reasons.

The key financials seem fine, with the facility sited in a demographic sweet spot and forecast to command above-market fees of £600/resident/week due to positioning as a high end option.

But the low operational costs – 90% of which are wages and food – startled me.

Food and drink is budgeted at under £4/person/day. I swapped a few messages with a relative who manages food operations for a budget restaurant chain. Choice quotes:

“Three meals a day? They don’t eat that much I suppose”

“Drinks too? Haha. You’d struggle with that big time”

Back-calculating on staffing costs gives 3 hours of work by a minimum wage employee per resident per 24 hrs. Well, I guess they won’t be spending much time cooking food.

With the loan paying at 10% and secured with a first charge against the property itself at 50% LTV, I’m not sure I’m out. But I definitely wouldn’t want my mum to be in.


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