Opinion: From Beatles to banks

The Age of Reason

By Peter Carr

In my capacity as the editorial-driven scribe for views of those of an advanced age I have had two absolutely different experiences very recently.

The first was over the recent weekend when in excess of 900 people (many of more than three score years and ten) drove their campervans to the Memorial Sports ground in Tokoroa.

They collectively listened to music from a period when Abba, The Beatles, Paul Anka and others reigned supreme. Not forgetting also Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, Sandy Shaw, Frankie Valli and The Beach Boys. That period, where words were actually heard and understood, flared skirts enabled twirling leg-revealing excitement and in many cases the strongest beverage available at concerts had an extremely low (in some cases nil) alcohol content.

Picture the scene at the weekend in a large and well aired new sports hall. The too-small dance floor thronged with older hips all gyrating madly though perhaps not as energetically as they did 60 years ago. But the attendees thoroughly enjoyed themselves whether making a spectacle or observing it.

The pre and post musical interludes was bracketed by old (and new) friends sitting outside in their folding chairs, BBQ’s sizzling and a continual banter of historical memories. And all for an extremely minimal cost that suited the pension-encased wallets of the attendees.

The whole spectre was wrapped in friendly greetings of hitherto strangers all clearly intent in putting aside the horrors of Covid, plunging bank interest rates and empty dreams of cruises or international plane flights that may never arise.

And it is those interest rates that bring me to the second part of this week’s missive. This morning we attended an updating financial overview from a major (and local) investment advisory company.

The company kindly encouraged us to place our hard-earned funds in opportunities other than the pitiful poor return vaults of the New Zealand banks, whose level and mix of services are dwindling weekly.

I have a feeling of compassion for those working in these establishments who have tried hard to portray their employers as the  answer to an investor’s prayer. But how can any banker, faced with the ludicrous situation of paying a mortgaging householder negative interest to take the bank’s money, portray an aura of commercial success? It must be a very hard sell with the move away from cheque books and the decision to decline to offer overseas cash services.

The specialist giving economic advice this morning gave a very good – and screen-filled – overview of the state of the world in finance, trade and employment terms. Despite the gloom that we were fed in March, New Zealand is bearing up well by international standards. A well spread geographically-mixed portfolio at relatively low risk is showing those of advancing years (more than they expected to  live) that there is a  rainbow ‘out there’ albeit not as glowing as it was a year ago.

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