Nope, it isn’t

So, George Osborne has confirmed his belief in expansionary fiscal contraction. This is the absurd assumption that if the state shrinks the private sector will automatically grow by more to
make up the difference.

That just isn’t what expansionary fiscal contraction is. that is, instead, the German View. EFC is instead that it is possible to have expansion at the same time as fiscal contraction through the use of large monetary stimulus via devaluation of the exchange rate.

You’ve got to get the diagnosis right in the first place for if you don’t you’ll be a Murphaloon, won’t you?

Osborne is also wrong to assume a government can cut its way to budget balance. As has been proven time and again across Europe over the last few years, this is not true. The assumption presumes that the economy works like a household or company. For either of them if costs are cut (for example, by cutting employment) then, in effect, someone else (the sacked employee or the government) picks up the bill and the company does not. But at the level of the national economy any cutting in government spending is identical to a reduction in someone else’s income unless the economy is at full capacity and close to inflation, neither of which is true in the UK right now. In the situation we are actually in then such cuts in spending simply reduce the size of the economy. Cuts shrink our growth, our incomes and so our tax revenues and as a consequence the chance that any if George Osborne’s objectives will actually be achieved. Cutting right now is the exact opposite of what this country needs.

Go look at the UK in 1931/2 and 1945-8.

Cuts in government spending, economic growth.

Maybe there are just more male experts about?

Male experts still outnumber female experts on the main TV news bulletins by more than three to one, a study has found, despite a campaign to improve the number of women on screen.

Howell welcomed the overall improvement in the gender balance of experts. However, she said: “Women are still not being used enough by flagship shows in this country and it is clear that more work needs to be done.”

Allow me to do some mansplainin’.

How many male experts are there out there compared to female? And here expert does not mean “gobby with an opinion” nor even “fake think tanker with a tale to sell”. It means “someone expert in the subject under discussion”.

If you don’t know the composition of the underlying base then you don’t know whether there is under or even over representation of women, do you?

And given that a usual complaint is that men vastly outnumber women at the top of the various professions and sciences, which is where we’re likely to find those we call experts, shouldn’t we actually expect there to be more men doing this?

So just how toxic are mine tailings then?

Rather depends upon what minerals the tailings are from:

Mud from a dam that burst at an iron ore mine in Brazil earlier this month, killing 12 people and polluting an important river, is toxic, the United Nations’ human rights agency has said.

The statement contradicts claims by Samarco, the mine operator at the site of the rupture, that the water and mineral waste contained by the dam are not toxic.

Citing “new evidence”, the UN’s office of the high commissioner for human rights said in a statement the residue “contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals”.

Sure it contains toxic heavy metals. There will indeed be uranium, arsenic and all sorts in there. But then there’s those and others in the soil in your garden too. In your veg patch even. They’re known components of what we call “dirt”.

Now, if a gold mine tailings damn had broken, then I’d be worried about residual cyanide. And if a uranium tailings dam burst, there’d be more thorium around than I’d be comfortable with. A bauxite plant’s damn, well, that happened in Hungary and red mud is not nice stuff. Very alkaline indeed and damaging just for that reason.

Iron ore tailings? It’s dirt. And it will cause the same problems as dirt: kill the fish in the river, yes, make the water difficult to treat as the plume moves downstream. But once the bolus has passed through the river that’s pretty much it. The composition of the tailings won’t be greatly different from the mud that’s already on the bottom of the river.

That UN “toxic metals” is just the usual Greenpeace stuff of As at 50 ppm is toxic heavy metals. Which As is, but it really is the dose that makes the poison.

Samarco said in a statement that both pre- and post-disaster tests show the mud released in the dam burst, a mixture of water, iron oxides and silica or quartz known as tailings, presented no danger to human health and did not contain water contaminants.

While iron and manganese levels in the mud are above normal, Samarco said, they were below dangerous levels.

BHP Billiton said on Thursday that the waste was chemically stable and would not change its composition in water.

Sounds about right to me.

Yup, Valenti sure is dumb

So, why do people get obituaries? Because they’re famous, right?

Adele Carolyn Morales (June 12, 1925 – November 22, 2015) was an American painter and memoirist; she is best known as the second wife of American author-playwright Norman Mailer.

Morales was born in New York City, to a Spanish mother and Native Peruvian father.[1][2] She grew up in Bensonhurst but moved to Manhattan, where she studied painting with Hans Hofmann and took up a Bohemian lifestyle, being involved for several years with Edwin Fancher (who together with Mailer and Dan Wolf founded The Village Voice) and briefly with Jack Kerouac.[citation needed]

Mailer’s biographer Mary Dearborn says of those days:

Adele thrived in the city. She frequented the Village bars, especially those, like the San Remo and the Cedar Tavern, favored by artists and writers, and she dressed in fantastic, gypsylike outfits. By all accounts, she had extraordinary physical presence. With striking dark good looks and a beautiful body, she seemed to exude sexuality. (It was widely known that her lingerie was ordered from Frederick’s of Hollywood.)

Literary and or artistic groupie known for her sexuality then. And Valenti complains:

If you’re a woman who has spent her life navigating sexism at home, at work and out in the world for most of your life, perhaps you are looking forward to the sweet respite afforded to us in death – silence from a world of misogynists and mansplainers. But guess again, my friends, because there is no rest for sexism – even when we’re long gone.

This week, the New York Times ran an obituary of Adele Morales – an artist and actor who also happened to once be married to novelist Norman Mailer. Morales, who died at 90 years old and is survived by two daughters and two granddaughters, was remembered in the first line of the newspaper’s obituary as a woman “who made headlines in 1960 when [Mailer] stabbed and seriously wounded her at a drunken party”. As if to make clear that Morales’ most important life achievement was being violently assaulted by a famous man, the paper’s front-page headline for the obit was “Wife Mailer Stabbed Dies at 90”.

It’s not the first time the newspaper has run a questionable obituary about a woman.

Honeybuns, the only reason she got an obituary at all is because she was married to Mailer.

Equal opportunity feminism

What is certain is that simply decanting women from a not-fit-for-purpose Holloway up the road to leafier Surrey will not do enough to reduce the needless use of imprisonment for women. Do we really need women’s prisons on this scale at all? Small custodial units could be developed for the few women who have committed serious and violent offences and the sum raised from the sale of the prison could be invested in community sentences and women’s centres – not just funnelled down the prison building drain.

Hmm. I would file this one away with the clamour we hear for women to be allowed to do the dirty and dangerous jobs like lumberjack and trawlerman. You know, those ones where there are no barriers and also near no applicants?

Equality in nice things, not so much in nasty. Don’t jail women like we do men but it’s clear and obvious that there should be more women doing lovely things like being very well paid to play with code…..

Excellent news

A £1bn competition to develop Britain’s first carbon capture and storage power plant has been scrapped, the Government has announced.

One of those things that just ain’t ever going to work.

It would be nice if it would but the basic idea of being able to capture the CO2 from coal burning just will never be economic. so, let’s not waste money trying, as Richard North has been saying for about a decade now.

No, not likely to, will

The Government has mounted a new raid on businesses with a tax on wage bills to raise £11.6bn over the next five years.
The apprenticeship levy will impose a 0.5pc tax on employment costs to help pay for three million apprenticeships over the course of the current Parliament.

You want business to employ more people so you tax business which employ people. Well done George, well done.

The actual effect will be:

But the Office of Budget Responsibility, the independent fiscal analysis body, warned that employers were likely to pass the entire cost of the new tax on to their staff by suppressing pay rises. Such an outcome could threaten the Chancellor’s aim of a “lower welfare, higher wage” economy.

Yup, that’s what will happen.

Marry the right guy maybe?

How Melinda Gates Became The World’s Most Powerful Advocate For Women And Girls

Yeah, I know, but it does actually have to be said.

M. Gates is a bright woman, no doubt about it (I know people who have met her). But of the tens to possibly, if lucky, hundreds of millions of money bright.

The billions come from who she had her children by. And, of course, well done her, and her husband.

Marry well is not quite what modern feminism is really all about though, is it?

Odd yet fascinating

It’s a tale that might ensure you never look the same way at a humble loaf again.
When a feminist blogger found herself suffering from a vaginal yeast infection, she made the unusual decision to use the unwanted bodily fluid as an ingredient for making bread.
Zoe Stavri, who writes under the title Another Angry Woman, has documented the details of her unusual baking experiment on social media and, unsurprisingly, it’s caused something of a furore.

Yes, yes, I know, there’s all sorts of different yeasts and we tend to perfect one for one task and another for another.

But I wonder what beer made that way would be like?

And if that were done, the replication of the yeast would mean truly feminist Marmite could be made too……

Sir Simon’s remarkably ill informed today

Meanwhile western governments, and more important their taxpayers, must forego staggering sums in revenue. Some $20tn is estimated lost by individual tax dodgers round the world alone, almost a third of it (according to Oxfam) to just 10 British-jurisdiction tax havens. The corporate losses are thought incalculable.

Err, no. Some sort of vague relationship with numbers is useful here.

Global tax revenue is of the order of $23 trillion. Global GDP is perhaps $70 trillion. We really do not think that 30% of global GDP should be paid in tax and isn’t being.

The $20 trillion is a huge guesstimate of the total amount that is in havens, not the income from that capital amount, nor the tax that should be but is not being paid on that total amount.

And it includes anything that companies are doing too.

International custom and practice stipulates that tax should be made in the country in which “value is added”. That has come to be identified, ludicrously, with a company’s headquarters.

Nope, that’s not true either. Never has been, not since League of Nations days either.

Oh dear, oh dearie me

For instance, if ores are mined and processed at home, these raw materials, as well as the machinery and infrastructure used to make finished metal, are included in the domestic material consumption accounts. But if we buy a metal product from abroad, only the weight of the metal is counted. So as mining and manufacturing shift from countries such as the UK and the US to countries like China and India, the rich nations appear to be using fewer resources. A more rational measure, called the material footprint, includes all the raw materials an economy uses, wherever they happen to be extracted. When these are taken into account, the apparent improvements in efficiency disappear.

The paper is here.

And it’s wrong, horribly wrong, as engineers writing about economics so often are.

They’ve forgotten, or don’t know, that imports are deductions from GDP.

Here’s their set up.

So domestic minin’ ‘n’ stuff adds value, great. But nowadays people get a lot of their raw materials from elsewhere. So, say, copper. Used to be, the mining, processing then manufacturing of copper items were all in one country, leading to GDP of 100 (made up number). Today, we’ve still got GDP of 100, but only the manufacturing is done domestically. The mining and refining is done somewhere else.

OK, shrug.

But the complaint is that now we do not include all that mine spoil and energy and so on to do the mining and refining in the resource consumption to reach that 100 in GDP (and this obviously also works if GDP is still rising). So, we’ll be overstating the manner in which resource use is declining, or not rising as fast as, GDP.

OK, all true, shrug.

The bit they’re missing: imports are a deduction from GDP.

So, GDP is still 100 but now we import the finished copper from which to do the manufacturing. If value add were remaining constant then GDP would actually be 100 minus the 25 of the production of the copper. So, GDP would be 75, and GDP in the exporting nation would be 25.

But that’s not what we see, not what they’re reporting either. They’re saying GDP is still 100. Which it is: and the same total amount of resources are being used, which they are. But they’re not counting that 25 deducted from GDP nor the 25 added to exporting GDP.

That is, they’re missing that total GDP is now 125, 100 domestically and 25 from the exporter, from the same use of the same material resources. Thus we do have the decoupling they say we don’t, because GDP in toto is rising faster than resource use.

They’ve just missed out a basic piece of GDP accounting.


A lovely example of political priorities

Disregard what the policy actually is for a moment.

The changes announced on Tuesday were particularly difficult for the Social Democrats’ junior coalition partner, the Green party, seen as the most refugee-friendly of Sweden’s main political parties. The Greens’ deputy prime minister, Åsa Romson, broke into tears as she announced the measures.

“This is a terrible decision,” she said later, admitting that the proposals would make life even more precarious for refugees.

A terrible, terrible policy.

But quitting the government would have made a bad situation even worse, she added.

But of course I won’t be giving up my car, driver, extra money, nice office and better pension sa a result, of course not.

Some Tory, eh?

George Osborne will announce the biggest housebuilding programme since the 1970s as he uses his Spending Review to end the “crisis of home ownership in our country”.
The Chancellor will double the Government’s housing budget and pour money into a series of programmes to build 400,000 new homes across England.

Two things.

1) This will not work. There’s not enough bricks, not enough brickies and the problem isn’t the price of houses anyway, it’s the price of the permit to allow building upon a piece of land.

2) All those who have been shrieking that there must be a house building program will now shriek about this. For some reason, this is the wrong housebuilding. Watch out for who comes up with the most amusing reason why this is the wrong housebuilding.

Special Relativity was created by the Swiss Patent Office

Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

The WWW was created by someone working at Cern doodling some code in his spare time. We’re told that this means that Cern, ie government spending on science, created the World Wide Web.

special Relativity came when Einstein doodled some stuff in his spare time while working in the Swiss Patent Office.

This Special Relativity is the product of government spending upon intellecual property.

Stands to reason, dunnit?

What confidence!

Second, it is now obvious that shale is not a viable energy source: a mountain of money has been thrown at it and much will not come back according to experts I speak to.

That the first wave of investors into a new technology go bust proves that this technology will never be useful. Discuss.

Bit of a pity that the general economics of this is that this happens to absolutely every damn technology ever really…..

Dear Lord the man’s an idiot

So, the Murphaloon has been arguing that companies should be paying their tax where the sales are, because that’s where the value is created. So along comes someone who says that companies should pay tax where their sales are:

People often wonder why I criticise the Institute for Fiscal Studies for right wing fundamentalism, as I have done on this blog, quite often. The reason is that it is right-wing and fundamentalist, however good its analyses might be when it comes to budgets, spending reviews and so on.

Yup, agreeing with Ritchie is now, candidly, right wing neoliberal sophistry.

Dust off and nuke from orbit, it’s the only way

Reni Eddo-Lodge: Yoga needs to be wrenched away from the hyper-flexible, white elite few

It’s worth questioning why, over the years, the face of yoga has transformed into something that’s thin, white and blonde, paired with clean eating, and part of an aspirational lifestyle.

No, it’s not worth it.

As the anthropology course puts it, people do weird things, exam Friday.

Yoga really does have to become decolonised, wrenched away from the perception that it’s only for a hyper-flexible, super-thin and very white elite few.

Decolonised? You mean have the shit taken out of it?