Perhaps a small thing but where is it in GDP

Doddie Weir has MND – no, not a good thing. However, in this constant snarling about how we’re all poorer than our forefathers we’ve a little thing:

We’ve done speech therapy and voice banking. That means whenever my voice disappears, you’ll be able to go through an iPad, press a button and it will come out in my voice.

That voice banking might only be a mild advance for a small number of people in their terminal stages. But it is an advance. And it also doesn’t appear in GDP at all. It’s not a market transaction and thus doesn’t have a price, it’s a hedonic improvement.

And how many more things like that are there out there? Results of that technological change which just aren’t being counted?

So, that’s 100% of GDP on the national debt then

The bill for public sector pensions has soared by 30% over the past year to more than £1.8 trillion — almost equal to the annual output of the entire economy.

The surge has been caused by the drop in bond yields since the EU referendum — lower returns on government bonds increase the cost of future pensions, as expressed in today’s money.

So, shouldn’t we be raising interest rates then?

Err, Rilly?

Frank Field, the chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, tells me universal credit will bring back destitution to Britain for the first time since the foundation of the welfare state. Not poverty, but real destitution, where our fellow citizens have no legal means of obtaining money.

Not an allegation I believe I’m afraid.

For I’m really very certain indeed that there will be no laws against getting a job, accepting charity. Really very certain indeed.

The problem with climate change related damages payments

To claim that countries emit is to make the same category error. Britain, or the United States, does not make carbon or any other kind of emissions. The people in those places might, this is true, in fact it is true that they do.

But the people and the country are not the same thing. To insist that they are is to be very much more statist than the world actually is.

There is a subset to this problem too. If it is the people emitting then it is the people who should be paying whatever damages are being claimed.

Say that the average US lifestyle involves 20 tonnes a year of emissions. That’s not right but it’s about so. We also know what those damages will be from the Stern Review — $80 per tonne CO2-e. Thus, the claim is that each American should be paying out $1,600 a year in damages — and that simply is not going to happen.

We cannot just charge it to their government either, as the government has no money, it only has what it can take in tax from the populace. And it simply is never going to be true that Americans will pay some $500 billion a year (300 odd million people at $1,600 a year) to foreigners.

It might, just about, be true that they will agree to pay a carbon tax of that amount, the revenue raised to be used to reduce their other taxes. And as the Stern Review points out, that does solve our climate change problem.

But no, they just will not, whatever all right thinking people tell them, pay that amount in costs and damages. Won’t happen. Not even worth dreaming that it will.

It does always slightly puzzle me that people try to insist upon such damages. Are there people out there quite so insulated from reality that they really do think the US would pay $500 billion a year? Sirsly?

If these numbers are true then Uber should be able to piss all over the ban

The safety question is an interesting one, in so far as it’s manifest horseshit to say that black cabs are safe, but Ubers are not. Nothing in life is perfectly safe. In the Spectator today, it’s pointed out that in 2015/16 32 accusations of sexual assault were made against Uber drivers. (This rose to 48 in the year to Feb 2017). Meanwhile around the same period 126 black cab drivers were charged with such a violent or sexual offense.
For what it’s worth, there are reckoned to be 23,000 back cabs in London today, vs 40,000 Ubers, the latter being used by 3.5M passengers in London.

I’ll not vouch for the numbers but if they’re true…..

The Observer and economic history, not a great match really

Erm, folks, you need to get your economic history straight here.

“In 2014 Bernanke hinted that the time had come to sell some of this vast fund back to private investors or, more precisely, to stop buying back the bonds when they matured.
Widely seen as a precursor to much higher interest rates, this had the effect of sending the cost of borrowing in dollars over the next 30 years rocketing.

Markets across the world went into shock. The taper tantrum, as it became known,”

No. As part of the Fed itself says, that’s not what happened at all:

First, positive economic news in the spring of 2013 led Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to testify to Congress on May 22, 2013, that the Fed would likely start slowing—that is, tapering—the pace of its bond purchases later in the year, conditional on continuing good economic news. This testimony laid the groundwork for the June 19 press conference in which the Chairman optimistically described economic conditions and again suggested that asset purchases might be reduced later in 2013: “[T]he Committee currently anticipates that it would be appropriate to moderate the monthly pace of purchases later this year.”

It was in 2013, not 2014. And it wasn’t about selling bonds back into the market, nor was it about not replacing bonds as they matured. It was about *not adding* to the stock of QE bonds. The taper tantrum was about not increasing the amount of QE, not about not maintaining the amount of QE that is.

Getting basic historical facts wrong does lead to slight concerns about the validity of the subsequent analysis, doesn’t it?

As to which, if borrowing is indeed out of control then raising rates to curb borrowing is the appropriate policy, isn’t it?

Interesting logical gymnastics here

Three disasters in British economic history.

1967 devaluation, politically bad, economically good. 1992, the first Brexit, economically good. Third one, Brexit Brexit, oooooh, no, while it’s just the same this will be a disaster of course.

Sadly, no reasonable evidence as to why is offered. We’ll just have to take William Keegan’s word for it. For, you know, he is vastly better informed than us out here in the mob, isn’t he?

Uber’s sexual assaults in London

This is the number being thrown around and sadly it’s not the number we want to know:

It stated that from Feb 16 to Feb 17 there had been 48 sexual offences recorded were Uber was referenced in a crime report for a private hire journey-related sexual offence- in London.

So now we can now positively state that Uber related serious sexual assaults including rapes, has increased this year by 50% going up from last years 32, to this years 48.

How much did Uber traffic go up by over that same period?

That is, it’s the rate, not the number, which is the important thing here.

Further, what’s the rate for other private hire companies? For black cabs? Is Uber better or worse is the question to be answered, the one that isn’t in fact being answered.

Ah, yes, the no-Brexit option

Jeremy Corbyn today faces calls from across the Labour movement to commit to full and permanent membership of the EU single market and customs union – so the party can offer a clear alternative to the Tories over Brexit.

One of those areas where there’s a tad of a difference between those who run Labour and those who vote for it. For of course membership of both of those also requires free movement and the ECJ, or as we might also put it, not-Brexit at all.

Be interesting to see what does happen to the vote if they really go for this. It Ukip (RIP) were still a factor then that Labour vote would be eviscerated – at least I believe so – but how many will cross to vote for Tories(spit!) on this issue alone?

Caribbean hurricanes – a little bet

So, think this is a worthwhile bet?

The standard of living in Puerto Rico after two hurricanes is higher than that in Cuba before any hurricanes this year.

Yes, including PR’s near total loss of power.


Nevertheless, in some of the worst-hit areas of the capital the operation was impressive and, government propaganda aside, the truth is that much of Cuba is getting back to normal after the devastating storm.

It’s that “normal” which is under discussion…..

Puerto Rico is an island mired in debt. Its crippling financial crisis is not recent, it has been happening for the past decade. Investment in infrastructure has not been seen in years, one long-term resident told me.
If so, the economic chickens have come home to roost in the most terrible of ways.

Quite, but which is worse?

Not sure about this on Uber

This is a company that has become a byword for Silicon Valley excess – it’s not a business model to admire. This makes the number of left-leaning people bemoaning its possible exclusion from one city slightly surprising. Uber makes multibillion-dollar losses. The much-loved convenience and low prices rely on these losses, and on an excess of driver supply, so there’s always a car available when you need it. This isn’t good for the drivers, and ultimately it won’t be good for the passengers. It’s inevitable prices will rise – the company can’t continue to be loss-making for ever – and one theory goes that this will happen once it has driven its competition out of business, and/or developed the driverless cars that will put thousands out of work.

The excess of drivers thing is palpably wrong. Uber drivers spend more of their time with a ride than Yellow Cabs do (figures for NYC of course).

As to the losses, not, sure, would be interesting to know in fact.

It’s possible – and I really don’t know – that they’re cash flow positive in “mature” markets like London, the losses coming from starting up in other cities. Does anyone actually know?

Geordies, eh?

A competition in South Shields in 1991 for a lookalike of the footballer Paul Gascoigne was won by a teenage girl.

Remarkably, that’s not a comment on how effeminate Gazza looks.

English-speakers can learn French in half the time it takes to learn Welsh.

Because half of English is French while we don’t use any Welsh words?

Emma Martina Luigia Morano, the world’s oldest person when she died at 117, outlived 90 Italian governments.


Only 2 per cent of British households had a fridge in 1946.

Modern poverty, eh?

IF you have £1,785 of savings, you are richer than half of the world’s population.

No, wrong, that should read: IF you have £1,785 of savings and no debt, you are richer than half of the world’s population.


Sure, I think she’s cocked the deal but still:

The prime minister did not place a figure on Britain’s commitments to the EU but two Brussels sources put the net divorce bill yesterday at about £40 billion.

I do just have this feeling that what we think the bill is also has some relevance…..

Well, at some point they should be actually

Abortion should not be a crime, say Britain’s childbirth doctors

At some point at least between fertilisation and 21 years and 9 months I think we’re really all pretty certain that it should be a crime. It’s the where, or rather then when, that is the argument, isn’t it?

Advocates of changing that law say that, if it happened, it would be more symbolic than practical, however. It would not change current abortion practice under the Abortion Act 1967, such as the 24-week legal time limit or the need for two doctors to be satisfied that the termination was necessary on medical grounds or in the interests of a woman’s health.

RCOG council members, who represent the UK’s 11,500 specialists in maternity care and women’s health, strongly backed a motion which said: “The RCOG supports the removal of criminal sanctions associated with abortion in the UK.

“We believe the procedure should be subject to regulatory and professional standards, in line with other medical procedures, rather than criminal sanctions.

“Abortion services should be regulated. However, abortion – for women, doctors and other healthcare professionals – should be treated as a medical, rather than a criminal, issue.”

Well, yes, except we did that under the original abortion act, didn’t we? Made it from a criminal offence into something that was decided upon by the professional competence of doctors. Those two signatures. The result being the abortion mills and the signing off of blank permission pads. Hey, maybe that’s the right way to do it too but it’s not a good precedent for professional standards being much of a limitation, is it?

The Guardian’s found another wibbler about chemicals

Charles Massy grew up here, on the sweeping Monaro plateau that runs off the eastern flank of Mount Kosciuszko, an only child enveloped by the natural world, running barefoot, accompanied by dogs and orphaned lambs. Fifth generation, he has spent his adult life farming this tough, lean, tussock country; he is of this place and it of him. But when his friend and Aboriginal Ngarigo elder Rod Mason came to visit he discovered that a lifetime of intimately knowing the birds, trees and animals of this land wasn’t significant at all.

Super, OK, Abo elder, ancient wisdom. Then the Woo:

“Most of our cereal crops, the soybeans, the corn, are all predicated now on the world’s most widely used chemical which is glyphosate [Roundup],” Massy says. “There is mounting evidence that it is one of the most destructive chemicals ever to get into the system. Its main effect is on the human gut and our entire immune system.

“When you look at the As – autism, ADHD, all the other auto-immune diseases – their take off is a 95% correlation to these chemicals being introduced. The evidence is that it affects the gut and the immune system, though it is not the sole factor, and it is a complex thing. But it is that gut that drives our whole immune system, it is our second brain.”

Sigh. That he’s calling autism an auto-immune disease is just one of those signs, isn’t it?

We have lost touch with the land, we manipulate the Earth to our own ends, we dominate it and are ultimately destroying it. Aboriginal people, he says, saw it differently, as something to be nurtured and nourished, a living entity. He calls their custodianship “one of the greatest ever sustainable partnerships between humankind and the ecosystems they occupied”.

Then white Australians brought what he calls the mechanical mind and the European mind. “It is a totally different continent to anywhere else in the world. It works totally differently to that young landscape of Europe with humidity and rich soils. Until we throw off the European mechanical mind we are going to continue to stuff the joint. It is not something inanimate that you can belt. It is almost like being with a lover, you have got to nurture it and care for it.”

Oooooh, yes, that’ll have the snowflakes screaming for more, won’t it? The Abos nourished the land by regularly setting fire to it of course.