CHISWICK, WEST LONDON – Greetings from springtime London…
My family and I are cleaning out my late mother’s home, trying to separate trash from treasure (and recycling) and getting it all out the front door.
One thing that’ll be different when I die will be digital storage.
My mother had so many CDs, vinyl records, books, photographs, paper documents, stacks of letters and postcards, and boxes full of fountain pens and pencils.
In the cloud-stored, computer-driven world Kate and I live in now, all of these go in the trash.
My friend Chris Weber, who writes the Weber Global Opportunities Report newsletter, says the world has changed more in the last 25 years than in any other quarter-century period in history.
Judging by the possessions my mother left behind, I believe this.
I wonder if my children will even know what a filing cabinet or a photograph album are? Will they ever receive a love letter, hand-written on fancy stationery, using a fountain pen, and mailed with a stamp?
I doubt it…
Here are Penny (8) and Tessa (Mum’s orphaned black Lab) looking through the contents of an old desk…
Penny and Tessa sort through Mum’s belongings
Springtime in London
When we’re not working, we’re going outside and trying to enjoy the English spring weather.
The Japanese Cherry trees are in bloom… the groundskeeper mows the wicket for the village cricket matches starting soon… and not long from now, the pubs along the River Thames will be busy…
Tessa and Penny take a stroll under the cherry blossoms
The groundskeeper mows the wicket for the village cricket matches
The pubs along the Thames will be busy soon
– Tom Dyson
P.S. The commodity sector is shooting up. Lumber, steel, copper, and agricultural products are all setting records. Even superinvestor Warren Buffett mentioned inflation at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting this weekend.
“We’re seeing substantial inflation,” Buffett said. As Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman and CEO, he oversees a conglomerate of more than 65 businesses. “We’re raising prices, people are raising prices to us.”
Why is this important? Because, as regular readers know, our thesis in these Postcards is that the U.S. government is broke… and it’s trying to drive the real interest rate on its debt sharply negative. Its goal is to reduce the burden of the debt, without having to default.
(The real interest rate is the nominal interest rate minus the inflation rate. Our thesis is that real interest rates are about to go deeply negative and stay there for possibly decades.)
We call this strategy a “soft default” by the U.S. government. Rising prices of these basic commodities shows we’re on the right track…
In today’s mailbag, readers question Tom’s claim that he’ll have to pay 40% in taxes on his mom’s house…
Reader comment: You refer to sharing “40% of this good fortune with the government.” This is not quite correct. There is a nil-rate band for inheritance tax, exempting the first £325,000 of any tax. In addition, when a property is left to a family member, there is a further allowance of £175,000.
That means that you and your brother should have a total of £500,000 at 0%, with the balance of your Mum’s estate taxed, as you say, at 40%. Perhaps a small difference, but the majority of U.K. estates are below the inheritance tax threshold.
Anyway, my thanks to you for your Postcards. And I do hope that you continue to educate and entertain your readers for a long time. Best wishes to you and your family on your continued travels.
Reader comment: You shouldn’t be paying 40% inheritance tax. Check that you are claiming for your mother’s nil-rate band of £350,000. And it is also possible your father has a transferable nil-rate band of the same, if not used, plus a main residence house band of up to £175,000 from each… so it’s quite possible that the first million is exempt. You can also spread any remaining tax over 10 years with real estate.
Meanwhile, another reader offers to show the Dyson family around Oxford, England…
Reader comment: I have been an Oxford tour guide for many years. I’d love to see the five of you as my guests. The historic part of Oxford and the university are pretty compact, and a two-hour walking tour would give you and your family an idea of the place. And where, perhaps, you would wish to return to see more.
Tom’s note: Thanks for your suggestions and kind offer. We read every message you send us, and they help us keep going. As always, please keep writing us at [email protected], and I’ll do my best to answer your questions in a future Friday mailbag edition.