Not sure this matters: any bankers want to confirm?

Britain’s credit rating could be slashed below Austria and Finland’s if it leaves the European Union, Standard & Poor’s has warned.
Moritz Kraemer, the agency’s chief sovereign rating officer, said Britain would be stripped of its top AAA rating with a one-notch downgrade if it voted to leave the bloc, and possibly double that if relations between Britain and Brussels soured.

Not sure it matters for a technical point. Because on sovereign ratings, don’t people take a two out of three approach? Moody’s, Fitch and S&P?

Not sure where I’ve got this from but that’s what’s rolling around the back of my head. That it’s what is the modal rating of the three that counts, not what any one of them says?

Moody’s and Fitch, the other main rating agencies, stripped the UK of its top rating in 2013.

So it makes no difference?

Any finance experts want to chip in?

Beware the experts

The analysis of 53 studies, involving 67,000 dieters found who cut back on fat were two and a half pounds heavier after a year than those who embraced a “low carb” approach.
For decades, there has been debate over the merits of a low fat diet, which was endorsed as the best route to weight loss in the 1970s.
Now major research, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, backs a low carbohydrate approach as a more effective diet.

Because, of course, those experts have been telling us the wrong thing all these decades.

And to think that it all started out as a Woody Allen joke, the idea that fat was good for you.

Bonzer plan from Ritchie

The principle is simple. Every qualifying person, without exception, in the UK would be paid a basic income by the state. This would be designed to prevent poverty. So, it would be greater than the current inadequate old age pension, and replace it. And the payment would, when joined with the payment due for each child (who would have their own entitlement) ensure that no family would live in poverty (defined as being income of less than 60% of the median wage).

This would be financed by giving a much reduced tax personal allowance (maybe just £2,000) and more progressive tax rates than now ending at a top rate of maybe 70%. Do however remember that everyone, including those on these top rates of tax, would get this universal basic income, tax free.

60% of median income is £12,600 a year. There’s 65 million people in the country. This would cost £800 billion or so.

That’s larger than the current size of the entire government. It’s also about 50% of GDP just on its ownsome for this universal “basic” income.

Sorry, Britain just isn’t rich enough to pitch a universal benefit at this level.

Just as a very broad brush the govt currently spends around 40% of GDP. About half of this (very broad brush) is on government and its services etc, half on income redistribution. That half on income redistribution gets subsumed into the basic income, but that other half on government itself does not.

So, government now handles 70% of GDP. I can’t actually think of anywhere at all that has managed to tax that much of GDP.

Which brings us back to what sensible people like Chris Dillow have been pointing out. We can have a universal *basic* income out of roughly the tax take we’ve got, perhaps a small rise in it. But that basic income has to be *basic*, around the current pension guarantee.

How odd that an accountant cannot do maths. Or sums even.

Sorry Honey, but in a free society you’ve got to suck this up

Nobody wants buffer zones outside abortion clinics. But, as a new study so clearly shows, the fact is women need them.
The report, published by Aston University this week, looked at comments from BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) patients between 2011 and 2014. It found clear evidence that the presence of anti-abortion campaigners outside clinics is ‘a significant source of distress’.
These findings will not surprise anyone who has seen such a protest, or spoken to a woman who’s encountered one.

Even if pro-life activists do nothing, women consider their presence outside clinics to be invasive and intimidating. That is not to say their behaviour is irrelevant: ‘numerous clinic users reported significant feelings of being…scared and these feelings were exacerbated where users were filmed, followed or (in their view) threatened by activists.’

Last week, a patient told us she felt “degraded” by activists in Oxford. The week before, a mum accompanying her daughter in London said she was “worried and anxious” that protestors would make her feel guilty over her decision. While the testimonies are as different as the women themselves, the message is consistent: a private decision is not a matter for public debate.

It is, largely speaking, legal to have an abortion in the UK. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.

It is, largely speaking, legal to say whatever the hell you want, wherever you want, about anyone elses’ legal activities in Britain. There are restrictions, yes, but they are minimal.

It is legal for the prodnoses to stand outside a pub with a sign telling us all that rum is fer the very devil. It’s legal for the public health wallahs to stand beside a donut stand telling us all that sugar will kill us. It’s legal to stand outside an abortion clinic with a sign saying that abortion is killing someone (or something).

We get to do the things which are legal and we get to sPeaKe oUr bRAIns about the people who do things which are legal.

At which point the idea that a private decision is not a possible subject for public debate can fuck right off.

Bloody Hell

One in three children are now either overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, new figures show.
Figures by Public Health England (PHE) revealed a number of hotspots where it has become the norm for an eleven-year-old to be carrying excess pounds.

Have these people no clue how a child grows? Go ask any mother. They get a bit podgy then they seem to put on 4 inches overnight and are as thin as a rake. Rinse and repeat for a few years.

People’s PPE

A new initiative:

Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford is the degree course of choice for those in politics, policy or journalism. In fact more than 40 current MPs including the Prime Minister have studied PPE, as have countless other world leaders.

This is because knowledge of politics and economics, and the philosophy that underlies the two, allows one to more meaningfully engage with, comment upon, and indeed govern society. Those who do not have access to this knowledge are open to manipulation by those who do.*

We do not think that those in power should have a monopoly on this knowledge.

Our project, “People’s PPE”, was officially launched at Momentum London East End’s inaugural event with John McDonnell MP. Join us for a series of lectures, seminars, debates and workshops aiming to empower the grassroots and enable ordinary people to become more politically engaged and literate.


Here is the PPE syllabus. Go read that, go read what it tells you to read, then you’re done, right?

Sadly, there’s a bit of a deal breaker here



A same sex couple are looking for a sperm donor, so they can start a family.
Ashleigh Habgood and Alley Williams from Auckland, New Zealand, have specific requirements for the kind of man who is to be the father of their child, and have taken to Facebook to find their perfect donor.
He has to be a “cool dude” who is taller than them, doesn’t want to be a dad

OK so far:

“If I could smoosh Alley’s freckles and everlasting positivity with my extreme good looks, intelligence and undeniable modesty, then I would,

Freckles, positivity, extreme good looks, massive intelligence, yup, that’s for me and at 6 ft, almost certainly taller. Even the modesty part.


…and the procedure will be conducted by a doctor.

Hmm, what say we try the draught method. Repeatedly? Until we get it right?

Promise I’ll try to get it right quickly. Really….and of course that would happen more quickly if both were to help I can’t help noting.

A new public spending rule

Government should not subsidise Nigerian sofas:

Nearly £50million of taxpayers’ money was handed over to the collapsed charity Kids Company over the past 13 years despite ministers being warned on six occasions that the cash could be wasted, the spending watchdog has found.
The report from the National Audit Office found that Conservative and Labour ministers since 2002 repeatedly over-ruled the concerns from civil servants about the way the money was being spent.
The grants continued to flow despite a former manager at Kids Company personally warning civil servants and its trustees about the charity’s “senior management structure” and the way cash was being handed out to young people.
The charity, which was led by its high-profile founder Camila Batmanghelidjh, was able to attract the cash by issuing dire public warnings about its future whenever there were concerns about the continued supply of government money.

Yep. Interesting little note:

At one point Kids Company was accounting up 20 per cent of the voluntary and community grants awarded by the Department for Education.

So now we know who has those piccies of Dave and the pig’s head.


The fossil fuel industry has taken a very cavalier bet that China, India and the developing world will continue to block any serious effort to curb greenhouse emissions, and that there is, in any case, no viable alternative to oil, gas or coal for decades to come.
Both assumptions were still credible six years ago when the Copenhagen climate summit ended in acrimony, poisoned by a North-South split over CO2 legacy guilt and the allegedly prohibitive costs of green virtue.
At that point the International Energy Agency (IEA) was still predicting that solar power would struggle to reach 20 gigawatts by now. Few could have foretold that it would in fact explode to 180 gigawatts – over three times Britain’s total power output – as costs plummeted, and that almost half of all new electricity installed in the US in 2013 and 2014 would come from solar.

One of those few who did was Bjorn Lomborg. Who actually predicted it back in the 1990s. And boy didn’t people shout at him about it.

It’s really terribly fucking simple. The best economic forecast is that tomorrow will be much like today, plus or minus a tad. Next year will be very much like this, plus or minus a tad.

So, if we want to see what the future is going to be like our simplest, and often most accurate, forecast is just going to be that things will bumble along much as they are. No, not that everything will be the same: but that the underlying rates of change will carry on much as they have been.

A useful and reasonable forecast for the 21 st century is therefore that it will be much like the 20th (hopefully, minus the wars and communism which did so much to blight it). GDP will continue to grow at about the same rate, technology will march forward at about the same rate, fertility will change at about the same rate, energy usage per unit of GDP will decline at about the same rate and so on and on. It is this which gives us the A1 family of scenarios in the SRES, the economic models on which all climate change science is based (with updates to the RCP scenarios). And this tells us that the world will be a pretty nice place. We’ll abolish absolute poverty and so on. And whether or not climate change is a problem depends on what energy sources we use to propel this world.

As Lomborg (and the writers of some of the scenarios within the A1 family) has pointed out, let’s also project the increasing efficiency of solar and other renewables forward in the same manner. What’s the price drop in the 20th cent? That’s what it will be in the 21st. And the lovely thing is that this is exactly what is happening. In the 1990s Lomborg was predicting that solar would become properly price comparable to coal in the 2020-2025 time span. That’s what we think will happen now too. All this effort has changed very little indeed.

And that price drop is also contained within the A1 family. Assuming that tech advances in the 21 st as it did in the 20th then we get to A1T. And climate change isn’t a problem because we have a lovely rich world, poverty is abolished, and we don’t use much coal or oil because other things are cheaper.

Far from no one predicting this, this is actually what was predicted. And it’s also, a priori, the most believable of the predictions that were made. Because it’s just a straight line extension of the underlying processes in the already extant economy and society.

It’s this, and this alone, which makes so much of the climate nonsense nonsense. Because the analysis of why it was happening also noted that the processes to reduce it to being a minimally important problem were already baked into the very society being analysed.

A1FI would be a very bad outcome. A1T would be a lovely one. All anyone should ever have asked is how do we make sure we get to A1T? And upon asking that question we get to Lomborg’s answer. It’s the one that is going to happen anyway so don’t worry.

Sure, I overstate my case a tad, but only a tad.

Pay Me!

Three points. First, I don’t take this seriously. These groups need to be on the main board, not a token sub-committee.

Second, it is quite unacceptable to ask people to do this for nothing. Why should a small business person lose revenue to work for HMRC? The days when jobs went to those of independent means should be over. There’s also that thing called the minimum wage to consider, in my opinion. HMRC is not a voluntary organisation and HMRC is meant to both enforce this regulation and so, I think, set appropriate standards for behaviour.

Third, I will not be applying, but if anyone is interested, give it a go.

The man who gets £65k a year precisely to be the civil society voice on such things shouts that being paid £65k a year isn’t enough.


I’ve no idea whether this is true or not but how lovely:

David Cameron’s pledge to protect children from sickening online pornography has been dealt a potentially fatal blow by Brussels.
European Union laws voted through yesterday will force internet firms to scrap the porn filters they installed following a Daily Mail campaign.
The new rules make internet service providers treat all online traffic ‘without discrimination, restriction or interference’ – regardless of its content. It means that by the end of next year, filters that require people to opt in if they want to view online pornography will have to be removed.

Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI:

We’re going to have to tax middle aged women having unprotected sex

And at Forbes, a response to Frances Coppolla:

To Continue About The Sharing Economy Producing Economic Growth

For look at what happens. We have a rise in output: one more hole has been drilled (along with exciting amounts of medical care having hit the mains). The amount of labour that has been used is exactly the same whether a new drill was purchased to drill it, an old one was rescued from its slumber in that household or one is rented from its slumber elsewhere. However, by renting the drill we have not had to manufacture a new drill to make the hole (and the lovely emergency room visit etc). We have instead been able to use a piece of already extant capital to make the hole.

And thus so has the Solow Residual risen. Because we now have an increase in output (one more hole), using the same amount of labour we ever would have used, but without having to increase capital inputs into the economy. This is the very definition of a rise in the Solow Residual: thus the sharing economy creates economic growth.


I’ve been to parties like this too

Today’s housing crisis means strangers are now sleeping two to a bed

More seriously:

The effects of overcrowding often include mental health problems, stress, respiratory and sleep disorders. Children’s educational and emotional development can be severely inhibited. Overcrowding is also strongly linked to family breakdown. Meanwhile, Conservative MP Philip Davies was happy to stand up in parliament this week and argue that legislation to force landlords to make homes fit for habitation was an unnecessary burden, despite the fact that, according to Shelter, 250,000 homes don’t meet this standard.

Cracking down on rogue landlords

Sorry about this dearie, but you don’t supply more beds to sleep in by reducing the number of beds that someone can put into a house. That’s just not how it works. Nor do you increase the amount of housing by trying to insist that landlords must spend more on such housing as exists. That’s simply not how supply and demand work.