Sounds like there’re some bargains out there

A cash rich investor with balls of steel could have a go:

A family who have seen the value of their London flat slashed from £600,000 to just £90,000 because of Grenfell-style cladding will sue a government agency that helped them buy their home.

They are the second homeowners in the New Capital Quay development in Greenwich to have their flat valued at rock-bottom prices.

It’s then uncertainty over who will replace, when, and at what cost, that cladding.

The company said some flats had been valued at £0. They were unsellable, unrentable and unmortgageable.

I doubt unrentable is true.

But even so, there’s an option value to those flats. Which, if you were cash rich, might be a good little bet.

In case you missed it….

I know precisely nothing about Banks’ business dealings, don’t even know how he made his pot. But meeting people to discuss whether to do a deal with them is how he will now be spending his business life. Actually running a business isn’t what he does any more. Trying to work out which business to do next – and more importantly, which not to – is what he does do.

We can translate this into Guardian/Observer terms if we wish. Cadwallader and her work will be managed by whoever it is that edits the Observer these days. There’s also a managing director there who manages things like print runs, distribution and so on – that’s how newspapers work, two management sets, one for content, the other for practical stuff. Up at the parent company level there’s GMG. The CEO of which doesn’t spend any time at all “managing” the newspapers. Their job (umm, used to be the bird who went off to run Easyjet I think?) is to think through which deals the group should be doing. Which radio stations/car magazines should the group buy via offshore tax havens, which should it sell and when?

At a certain level business is about what do we do next, what do we stop doing? And meeting all the chancers and grifters out there to find those few one wishes to consummate a cash relationship with.

Banks talked with Russians? That’s the job, as with Eric and Donald Jr.

Bleedin’ idiocy

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, is by most accounts a mild mannered sort of guy with classic West Coast liberal views. There is one thing, however, that makes him as ballistic as one of his Blue Origin space rockets – and that’s any mention of subjecting Amazon to a break-up.

He may, on the other hand, have to get used to it. On both sides of the Atlantic, the invasive market power of his business creation is the object of ever closer political and regulatory scrutiny.

Amazon is successfully bankrupting old retail models. Therefore we must break it up.

Sodding idiocy. If we’ve a new and better way of doing something then we want to have more of it. We want it to bankrupt the old and less better way because that’s how that works, that’s how we get more better. And whether it is better is defined by how much of the old way it bankrupts.

Sigh.

The Germans just can’t do it

The problems came after KFC switched its deliveries from Bidvest Logistics to DHL in a deal struck last year.

DHL said “operational issues” meant several KFC deliveries over recent days had been incomplete or delayed.

It added: “We are working with KFC and our partners to rectify the situation as a priority and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But business is just so easy, isn’t it? Open the doors and the profits just roll in. Or so half the Guardian would have you believe.

The other half are so deluded they think the State can do it……not realising it doesn’t take all that much to cock it up.

Idiot business idea

I’m just finishing off my first draft of a trade book (ie, here’s a small flat fee Tim, give us 50,000 words) on business models.

An idea arises.

So, lots of amputees out there.

Drop shipping is becoming more of a thing. Internet sales are becoming more of a thing.

So, combine the two.

You, the customer, go around these drop shipping sites (or you, the business, sign up to every drop shipping site in the country). Order is paid for, drop shipped to business site.

Seamstress adjusts the clothing according to the specific needs of the amputee. Properly done, well sewn. The amputee having sent in pictures of the state of the limb so that proper measurements are known. Instead of trouser legs being pinned up and the like.

Then adjusted clothing is sent on to customer. Margin charged for seamstress. This should be (note, should be) lower than the cost of taking to a seamstress out in meat world, search costs lower and so on. Margin is gained on the original drop ship plus on the adjustments.

Original marketing to start at least would be pretty simple. There are various organisations aiding amputees after all.

If this actually works you can send me some money.

How absurd are cryptocurrencies these days?

Have they gone full South Seas?

There’re some 1,500 of them out there. There are exchanges which list some to many of them.

Cross exchange rates are going to have margins in them. Arbitrage.

No one wants to put actual money in of course.

But.

Invent a new currency. Give some of it away. Get it listed on a few exchanges (for some this is a function of giving the exchange some invented money).

The retained portion is now capital to do arbitrage with.

So, why won’t it work?

Social responsibility in business

However, to those who insist there must be a crony-based explanation why government, both national and local, favoured Carillion so much, here is a suggestion: the business was a model for what politicians now demand from such firms. It ticked every box of the corporate social responsibility agenda, and then some. In fact, its chairman, Philip Green (no, not that one) had been a “corporate responsibility adviser” to prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

Go to the company’s website (now a sort of accidental memorial) and you will find the greatest prominence is accorded to its virtuousness, not its profits. There is page after page of its “sustainability strategy”, under the main slogan “Making tomorrow a better place”, subheaded “Better communities”, “Better environment (tackling climate change)” and “Better business”. Underneath that divine triptych, Carillion boasts that it can make “specific contributions to at least nine of the UN sustainable development goals”.

Hmmm….

If only the implications of this were understood

Brexit, at its heart, is a recognition that Britain has become steadily weaker since it spent much of its empire wealth fighting two world wars – too feeble in the years before the 2016 referendum to sustain an exchange rate of $1.60 and €1.40, just as it was too poor to cope with $4 to the pound in the 1950s and $2 to the pound in 1992.

Manufacturers were unable to make things cheaply, reliably or efficiently enough against the headwind of a high-value currency, forcing many to give up. An economy that boasted 20% of its income coming from manufacturing in the 1980s found it was the source of barely 10% at the beginning of this decade.

Surges in GDP growth in the 70 years since the war can be attributed (and this short list makes the point crudely) to periods when there were cheap raw materials and energy costs; or a growing population; or foreign ownership and management of key industries; or the offloading of vast amounts of state and mutually owned assets; or cheap borrowing. Without these in operation to improve the UK’s performance, a lower exchange rate became inevitable.

So, the 70 years since 1945 were years of bad economic management then? Doesn’t that mean that those years of bad economic management should not be repeated? You know, that puts the kibosh on the entire Corbyn/McDonnell set of plans?

Can we explain this? Yes we can!

Average salaries for advertised jobs in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are under £30,000, according to a study by jobs site Adzuna. Jobs near Sloane Square tube station pay an average of £25,686, South Kensington offers £26,447 and High Street Kensington is marginally better with average salaries of £29,367. But statistics show the affluent borough is home to Britain’s top earners. A new study has revealed how Britain’s richest borough has some of the lowest wages in London – but its wealthy residents are the country’s top earners. Figures released by the Office of National Statistics last year show residents of Kensington and Chelsea had the highest income in the country – an average salary of £158,000. In contrast, the Adzuna study found jobs in Tower Hamlets – one of the capital’s poorest boroughs, where residents earn an average of £41,800 – offered much higher salaries. Jobs near Shoreditch High Street paid an average salary of £37,074, those near Tower Hill pay £30,118 on average.

Sigh.

The retail outlets in a largely residential borough don’t pay very much.

The spillover from The City and the tech hub into Tower Hamlets pays a lot.

Who would have thought it?

The idiots can’t even see their own contradictions

At around the same time, the former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya held a public interview at Stanford University in which he did not exactly mince his words. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he said. “No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth … So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”

No civil discourse, no cooperation.

Two billion people actively use Facebook; at least 3.5 billion are now reckoned to be online. Their shared habits, compulsions and susceptibilities will clearly have a huge influence on the world’s progress, or lack of it.

So that’ll be civil discourse and cooperation between some 2 to 3.5 billion people then, eh?

But this is the truly scary bit and the one which is really the point of what is being said:

So we ought to listen to Tristan Harris and his campaign. “Religions and governments don’t have that much influence over people’s daily thoughts,” he recently told Wired magazine. “But we have three technology companies” – he meant Facebook, Google and Apple – “who have this system that frankly they don’t even have control over … Right now, 2 billion people’s minds are already jacked in to this automated system, and it’s steering people’s thoughts toward either personalised paid advertising or misinformation or conspiracy theories. And it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it.”

And then came the kicker. “This isn’t some kind of philosophical conversation. This is an urgent concern happening right now.” Amid an ocean of corporate sophistry and doublethink, those words have the distinct ring of truth.

No one controls what these 2 to 3.5 billion people do. They get to just discourse and cooperate among themselves as they see fit, with no guidance from government, politicians or a priestly caste.

It’s the classical liberal fantasy come true and the progressive liberal nightmare. For if the people can do it for themselves what need of the caste of progressive liberals to tell them what to do?

Not that bad an idea

Notorious mobster’s daughter hawking Godfather coffee pods

The daughter of notorious Sicilian mob boss Totò Riina has begun selling coffee pods and olive oil in his memory, just weeks after his death.

An unrepentant antithesis to ethical coffee, the “Uncle Totò” capsules are named after the ferocious Corleone-based godfather responsible for dozens of murders who once ordered a 13-year-old boy to be strangled and dissolved in acid.

One of the less dangerous ways she could trade on the family name, no?

Cockrot nonsense from Microsoft

Word (or Office 365) subscription. Needs to be paid. I’ve a US credit card. Which I can add to their system, but only for purchases in the US. Sitting here in Portugal I must use a card with a P address.

You know, as if people never move around, never buy stuff outside home, never have, say, a business cc from a different country?

Well done to a multinational there, eh?

Fuckwits.

Calling Mr Newman

Some Uber drivers in Lagos have been using a fake GPS itinerary app to illicitly bump up fares for local riders.
Initially created for developers to “test geofencing-based apps,” Lockito, an Android app that lets your phone follow a fake GPS itinerary, is being used by Uber drivers in Lagos to inflate the cost of their trips.

For the Lord’s sake, please, stop the damn idiocy

Supermarkets are cashing in by selling standard own-label products that are apparently identical to their value range.
An investigation found no difference in the ingredients or nutrition between the two price tiers across a range of products.
Honey, corned beef and UHT milk were all affected – while there was also no meaningful difference in taste between standard and value packs of mild cheddar.
The only way to tell the lines apart was the packaging – and the fact that the price of standard lines is much higher. A probe by Channel 4’s Supershoppers programme found in some cases the standard and value products come from the same factory.

It’s not that the medium stuff is more expensive, it’s that the cheap stuff is cheaper.

Sure, it’s price discrimination, market segmentation. But they do it by making the labels on the cheap stuff garish – and equally, obvious to all that someone is buying the cheap stuff. Those who care more about money than appearances thus get the deals.

This is something we wish to complain about, is it?

Tesla’s pricing is all a bit like IBM, isn’t it?

Last week Tesla unveiled its electric Semi to great fanfare. The four-motor truck was announced with a 500-mile range and some self-driving capabilities. What Elon Musk failed to provide was a price. Now that’s changed: the regular versions of the 300-mile and the 500-mile trucks will cost $150,000 and $180,000 each.

Bit like moving the belts over from A to B. You pay more for the throughput of the card machine, not the costs of it.

Any tech type like to collaborate on a little adventure?

So, continuing to look around for things that can be done. And why not start to think like an economist a bit?

What is it that I know that I can do? What’s a comparative advantage?

Well, after a decade of doing it I do know that I can write stuff that Google picks up. Not necessarily exactly and absolutely the very finest of everything going viral but sound enough stuff that doesn’t violate guidelines an appears high enough in search (especially Google News).

So, perhaps that is what I should be doing?

But I have zero technical skills. And someone with reasonable technical skills would make a site trying to do that work much, much, better.

So, that’s the adventure. I’ll put in all the grunt work of producing material that appeals to search engines. On the tech side I need a site, all the background stuf that aids in search engine picking it up, plus signing up to ad networks an all that.

A little more. I’m convinced that static sites are the way to go here. Django, something like that. The front end should look like a newspaper site. Back end, as far as possible, something like WordPress (or other similar editor). But in the technical sense the site is static, not dynamic, in order to increase loading times. That increases search ranking all on its lonesome. Ads obviously will be dynamic but that doesn’t matter, Google ranks according to the page load, not what happens after that.

Hmm, so, anyone? I’ve a proven ability – on the right platform – to get 500k to 1 million page views a month. Ad rates, when you have a few different ads on a screen, are perhaps $5/000.

So?

Displacement activity, displacement activity!

Elon Musk, the Chief Executive of electric car maker Tesla, unveiled a surprise new vehicle on Thursday night – a roadster that he said would be the “fastest production car ever” made.

Capable of going from 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, the Tesla Roadster would be the first such car ever to break the two second mark, the entrepreneur said at a launch near Los Angeles.

He also said it would climb from 0 to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds and clear a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds. “This will the first time that any production car has broken 9 seconds in the quarter mile,” he said

With a 200 kilowatt hour battery pack, the Tesla Roadster will have a range of 620 miles on a single charge – another new record.

“The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” he said.

“Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

The solar roof is way behind schedule, the Model 3 is having appalling manufacturing problems, the company’s burning through limited capital – great, upgrade the software and put a bigger battery in!

Fiddling and Rome come to mind.

It’s obviously possible that Tesla’s going to make it but that’s not the way I would be betting at present.

But she was there purely on merit, surely?

Angola’s new President Joao Lourenco has sacked Africa’s richest woman from chairing the state-owned oil company in a major boardroom cull just weeks after coming to power.

Isabel dos Santos, the ousted chair of Sonangol, is the daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos who stepped down in September. She was appointed only eighteen months ago by presidential decree, but will be replaced by former Sonangol executive Carlos Saturnino who she fired last year.

Or, you know, maybe not?