On that corporate income tax incidence thing

One of the things that I\’ve been ragging Ritchie about is his insistence that corporations and companies do so too pay tax. I say they don\’t, that it\’s some combination of workers, customers and shareholders that do.

When I present something that show sthat economists are absolutely certain about this he usually mutters something about it being absurd, blackboard economics, doesn\’t happen in hte real world. His true bile is reserved for a paper by Mike Deveraux who indicated that the workers\’ loss could be more than 100% of the tax rasied from the corporate profits tax.

Deveraux isn\’t to be trusted as he\’s just a shill for the bosses apparently.

So this is interesting:

As a theoretical matter, it has long been understood that it is nonsensical to say that businesses bear tax burdens (see, for example, Seligman 1899). The burdens created by business taxes must be borne by individuals, including shareholders and other owners in the form of reduced after-tax returns, workers in the form of lower wages, and customers in the form of higher prices.

Atkinson and Stiglitz (1980) drew attention to the possibility that using Harberger’s (1962) celebrated tax incidence model, corporate income tax burdens might be borne more than 100% by workers, whose wages could fall so much in response to the reallocation of resources triggered by the corporate tax (reduced corporate output and greater non-corporate output) that owners of corporations actually could come out ahead. So the identities of those who bear the burdens of business taxes depend very much on economic circumstances. These circumstances are potentially discoverable with empirical analysis.

The whole paper is actually as it\’s an empirical study of who really does bear the burden (and very interestingly done as well. Almost Levittian in the way they seek out the data set which allows them to test their hypothesis).

But do note that \”Stiglitz\”. Yup, the same Joe Stiglitz who gained the Nobel. The (lefty) Nobel Laureate who says that it is at least possible that the corporate income tax diminishes the workers\’ wages by more than the revenue raised.

Something which, if true (and the references to that paper allow a lot more investigation), means that the corporate income tax is not progressive. It is actually regressive and thus we\’d do well to abolish it really.

Astonishing finding!

The great unasked question is the incidence of bank and other financial institution profits – who is losing to ensure bankers profit in other words.

Yes, it\’s our favourite retired accountant again.

The economy is zero sum. If one person is to make profits then someone else must be losing that money. Positive sum transactions are therefore impossible.

The only slight problem with this idea is that those societies which operated on this basis were and still are shit poor, while those that recognised the positive sum nature of voluntary transactions are as rich as Croesus.

Odd that really.

Oh dear oh dear Polly

It is to snigger.

Hurrah! says Polly, Obama\’s going to do something about the banks!

And then goes on to list a whole series of things which will change: absolutely not one single one of them has Obama even hinted at changing.

There\’s also a few lovely misunderstandings:

But check their taxes and something else emerges: in 2006 Cadbury paid £205m in tax – though only a token £1m was paid in Britain, while 14% of its turnover is here. Why was that allowed to happen?

Because it\’s the law perhaps? If you pay tax somewhere else (for example, you manufacture somewhere else, make profits somewhere else and thus pay tax somewhere else) then you don\’t pay tax again on the same profits here. This really isn\’t rocket science.

Cadbury won a court ruling saying it could relocate its tax affairs to Dublin provided the transaction was at least \”not wholly artificial\”.Gordon Brown boasted that Britain was open for business, and now most of Britain is sold. As the tax expert Richard Murphy points out, the Anglo-Saxon model has left few Anglo-Saxon businesses: France and Germany do things differently.

And as R. Murphy never quite manages to point out, France and Germany do not do such things differently. For the rules on corporate relocation are not made by nation states. Here, they\’re made by the EU. Tax residency for a company is where the brass plate is. Companies have the same right to move their tax residency as people do or this is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Single Market. Free movement of people, goods and capital and yes, \”legal persons\” such as companies have the same freedom of movement as \”natural persons\” like you and me.

Richard Murphy points out that the London Stock ­Exchange churns vast numbers of shares daily to the dealers\’ short-term benefit, while Warren Buffett makes higher profits sitting on his shares long term.

And Richard Murphy, when he designs his new and wondrous system of using bonds as investment vehicles, finds that he has to design a secondary market in them as well even if he does bury it in one throwaway sentence.

I\’ve actually warned Polly before (directly as it were) that she really shouldn\’t be relying upon Ritchie as a source of analysis of the capital markets. For sadly, he knows very little about them and near nothing about the economics of them.

Extremely worrying

Obama\’s plans for changing the way Wall Street works. I\’m still pondering myself but think that there\’s good value in there. However, here\’s our favourite retired accountant:

Those of us who have been calling for massive reform for a long time are entitled to say better late than never……There’s no doubt Wall Street did not expect this. Nor London either, to where the contagion will rapidly spread, I suspect, to our benefit on this occasion.

Makes me wonder if my initial impression is correct, finding agreement there.

Or here\’s the Wall Street Journal:

Phony populism aside, yesterday Mr. Obama introduced his first serious idea into the debate on reforming the financial system. In calling for an end to proprietary trading at firms with a federal safety net, the President showed that he now understands an important principle: Risk-taking in the capital markets is incompatible with a taxpayer guarantee.

Under the President\’s still-sketchy plan, firms that hold government-insured deposits or are eligible to receive cheap loans in an emergency from the Federal Reserve would not be able to trade for their own accounts. The firms could facilitate customer orders as brokers have always done and continue to underwrite new issues of stocks and bonds, but they could not make bets with their own capital or own or invest in hedge funds.

Yesterday\’s announcement is a critical departure from the reform plan Mr. Obama introduced last year—largely incorporated in the House and Senate bills written by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Those plans all sought to expand the universe of too-big-to-fail companies eligible for taxpayer rescue. Mr. Obama has at last joined the most important policy discussion: How to eliminate the moral hazard now embedded in the U.S. financial system.

Now that does make sense. Which leaves me with the problem of finding myself greeting the proposals on the same side as Ritchie. Very confusing.

D\’ye think he actually understands what is being proposed?

Today\’s Ritchie

He doesn\’t fail us yet again.

So, man calls for tax on banks. Or bonuses. Or, well, just make the bastards pay more money, right?

Tax levied.

Man complains that tax is not actually being paid by banks or bankers. Nope, it\’s our pension plans which are paying this tax.

Remember, this is the man who tells us that tax incidence is simply an invention of the right wing neo-liberals who want ensure a good supply of starving babies for our fricasses.

I look forward to Ritchie\’s condemnation of Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg:

I had told her that I am withholding my tax until the chancellor of the exchequer acts to curb the bonus payments to investment bankers at RBS.

Mr. Murphy:

Since property rights are inseparable from the duty to pay tax – both coming from the same source and being indivisible –  the right to hold property is equally and exactly matched by the duty to pay tax. So anyone arguing a tax is not legitimate has at the same time to say property rights do not exist or that government is illegitimate. Those are the options. I think that is what is being said. Those….(…)… who seek to justify tax crime and the avoidance of obligations to government seek to undermine the state and the society we live in. we need to be aware that the choices to be made are ultimately as blunt as that. And it is the very essence of society that we are arguing for when we defend the right to tax.

Billy\’s being anti-democratic you see.

Off with his head, obviously.

Today\’s Ritchie

Sigh. Being anti-tax is anti-democracy now.

Richard Teather:

This is attacking a classic use of a tax haven, as explained in the previous chapter, in which a person resident in (or otherwise subject to the taxation system of) a highly taxed country places his capital in a tax haven where it can earn untaxed income. While there are many cases where the home country does not tax foreign source income (such as the UK’s non-domicile exemption discussed above), most Western countries have a worldwide taxation system that seeks to tax the worldwide income of its residents (or all of its citizens in the case of the USA). This tax haven income therefore does not cease (legally) to become liable to tax merely by being earned offshore: it is still liable to tax and the investor has a duty to report it to his home tax authority. In practice, however, if the investor does not report his income, then the home country can have great difficulties in discovering and taxing it, particularly if the haven country has strong banking secrecy laws.

While I am not seeking to condone dishonesty or criminal activity, from an economic perspective this is merely another example of tax competition: indeed, it is often necessary behaviour in order to take advantage of tax havens. Without the willingness of some to engage in this sort of activity, tax competition would be much less effective and therefore reduce the benefits that flow from it for the rest of us.

OK. So people breaking the law limits the ability to impose restrictive laws upon us.*Shrug*. Semms pretty obvious to me. Put the tax on cigarettes to high and people will smuggle them. Put the tax on booze too high and people will smuggle that. As indeed they do. Put the tax on tea too high and people will smuggle that, as indeed they did to the point that at one time 75% of tea consumption in England was smuggled.

People who evade (ie, break the law to not pay them) taxes place a limit upon how high tax rates can be.

As I say, *shrug*.

People breaking the law by rioting in the street put paid to the poll tax as well.

Ritchie sees this differently.

I added the emphasis: what I think he is doing is condoning criminality.

This is supposedly done, you note, top preserve the right to property. This, however, is an entirely false argument. Since property rights are inseparable from the duty to pay tax – both coming from the same source and being indivisible –  the right to hold property is equally and exactly matched by the duty to pay tax. So anyone arguing a tax is not legitimate has at the same time to say property rights do not exist or that government is illegitimate. Those are the options.

Now note that Teather does not say that people are right to evade tax. Only that by their doing so they they make tax competition more effective. That is, that there are effects from their doing so, effects which are beneficial.

Note also that no one is saying that tax is not legitimate: only that taxes which are too high will be evaded thus there is a limit upon how high taxes can be put.

I think that is what is being said. Those from the right and the financial elite who seek to justify tax crime and the avoidance of obligations to government seek to undermine the state and the society we live in.

No, we\’re just observing that tax rates above a certain level can lead to a fall in revenues collected. You know, observing what happens in the real world? This Laffer Curve thing again?

Do click through to see the comments as well. Most fun.

Today\’s Ritchie!

The man\’s quite wonderful.

Removing the stimulus will involve pain; lower growth, higher unemployment and political unpopularity. But policy-makers don’t like lower growth, higher unemployment and political unpopularity. They enacted the stimulus in the first place to avoid it! At what point will they decide they do want lower growth, higher unemployment and political unpopularity?

Given the choice, they won’t, ever. So it will be imposed on them (and therefore us) by a suddenly less generous bond market via a government funding crisis.

That\’s a comment from Societe Generale. Essentially, politicians would like never to have to make either spending cuts or tax rises because to do so creates political unpopularity. OK, this isn\’t the most refined example of an exegesis of public choice theory but it\’s fair enough for all that.

And what will force choices upon the politicians? The running out of money to borrow in a less generous bond market. Note that all this takes is people being unwilling to purchase bonds at the prices that the government would like to sell them (ie, they\’d like a higher interest coupon attached than the govt would like to attach). If the government can\’t roll over old debt nor issue new debt to cover new deficits then interest to be paid on the debt rises and eventually (at some point, maybe close in time and maybe far away) all the govt income is being spent on interest on the bonds and the whole structure collapses. Of course, before that actually happens (although there are governments which have gone down that way) there\’s a change of behaviour forced upon the govt by the realisation that they cannot keep borrowing at anything like sensible prices. Retrench or trigger either a complete collapse of their borrowing capability or trigger a massive hyperinflation by attempting to finance the deficits by printing money.

Note that this doesn\’t require any power grab by bankers, doesn\’t require even collusion. All it requires is that, \”umm, you know, UK PLC isn\’t offering me enough money to take the risk of future inflation. Naah. I\’ll stick it in France PLC instead.\”

Now Ritchie\’s reaction:

So there we have it: banker’s attitude to democracy is stuff electorates, we’ll get what we want by imposition.

Have no doubt about it – the fight with bankers is about who rules. And the antidemocratic elites of finance (for that is what they are – in banking, accountancy and the legal profession) want to rule. Democracy is not for them. And they’ll precipitate a crisis in it to get what they want.

Aren\’t you happy that someone with such a clear eyed and rational view of The City and government debt is advising the TUC on their suggestions for both tax policy and City regulation?

This is also good:

The Masters of the Universe are clueless. All they know they want is the power to continue to purloin assets for their own benefit at cost to the rest of it. So long as they can do that, by capturing our savings, our pension funds, our bank accounts and our tax revenues for their own benefit, then they’re happy. If they can’t, they’ll impose their demands on us.

But the politicians still listen to them – so granting them power. And the time has come for bankers to lose that power. They have to loose the power to create money, the power to dictate markets, the power to impose policy, the power to ravish economies.

Connect that with the above and the most important phrase is \”the power to dictate markets\” when in fact what is meant is the power of markets to dictate to politicians. Markets of course simply being us voting with our cash: that is, Ritchie\’s not in favour of us, by the simple act of deciding what we do with our own property, being able to tell politicians that their latest bright idea is in fact a pile of shite.

Which of course is why he advocates capital controls: none of us should be allowed to take our money out of the ambit of British politicians. For it\’s not really ours at all: no, no, how simplistic, it\’s society\’s, to be used as society, distilled through the wisdom of those like Ritchie, determines.

He\’s also praised Anne Pettifor\’s idea that the government should just pass a law saying that banks have to lend to the government at very low interest rates. Yup, that\’s another one. We should get less for our savings because Gordon Brown is fiscally incontinent.

There\’s a phrase to describe this sort of policy: \”financial repression\”. And it\’s just as bad as any other form of government repression.

Now, aren\’t you really glad he\’s advising the TUC?

Today\’s Ritchie!


This, I stress is not a minor difference. This is the two bodies being fundamentally at odds with each other and with the IASB being absolutely in the wrong.

The IASB promotes the mark to market model. This is the absolute reverse of what accounting used to be when it came to bad debts. Accountants always used to anticipate losses on debts and make provision for them. This was prudent.

But come mark to market and securitised loans so long as there was a market for the security no provision for loss was allowed EVEN IF the underlying assets were obviously not performing: the market ruled value and prudence could not overtake. So there was no provisioning. Imprudence ruled. Losses could only be recognised when they had occurred with regard to the vast majority of bank debt.

So, of course, IFRS accounts allowed bank profit to sky rocket as loss provisions fell.

And then the world fell apart because bankers believed they could lend and never make a loss.

That is completely and utterly the fault of the International Accounting Standards Board.

No wonder Basel disagrees with them.

And Basel has to win this one. And all accountants should support Basel because prudent may be boring but it’s what good accountancy is about.

Rightie ho. IASB are evil bastards bringing the world closer to the precipice because they\’re in the pay of the Grey Aliens running the accounting firms. Or something. But definitely the baddies and we should all be siding with the Basel Boys.

So, what do the Basel Boys say about this idea of provisioning through the lifetime of the loan rather than only at the moment it all goes sour?


The Committee is promoting stronger provisioning practices through three related
initiatives. First, it is advocating a change in the accounting standards towards an expected
loss (EL) approach. The Committee strongly supports the initiative of the IASB to move to an
EL approach.

Oh. It\’s the Grey Aliens who actually suggested the expected loss approach, the IASB who brought the whole thing up and the Basel Boys fully support them in having done so.

Methinks Ritchie might have allowed his enthusiasm too long a leash there.

Independent evaluations of books in blurbs

Ritchie\’s got a book out.

Impeccably researched and packed with new insights, this groundbreaking book exposes financial capitalism\’s best kept secret.\”

John Christiansen, Director, Tax Justice Netork International Secretariat, London.

Nice to see someone entirely unconnected with Ritchie, someone with no political, economic or even working link, providing such a glowing review.

Tempus Mutandis

What a difference a few days makes for our Ritchie.

Jan 4th.

businesses don’t pay taxes. People do.

Rather curiously on NI I agree with Worstall.

Come on guys. You need to agree a line. You can’t both be right.

Employment taxes are bourne by employees.

Jan 6th.

First it gives lie to the argument that taxes on employment are paid by employees

Employment taxes are not bourne by employees.

Ho hum….

Fourth Ritchie of the day!

This is really just to remind us all of it.

I say: businesses don’t pay taxes. People do.

Ritchie says:

Rather curiously on NI I agree with Worstall.


So, R. Murphy says that it is individuals, not companies, that pay national insurance.

So, marginal tax rates are not in fact 40% at the top end. They\’re 40% plus what is it, 12% employees\’ NI and 13% employers\’ NI?

Ah, no, the NI cap on employees\’ NI is about or below the top end tax bracket, isn\’t it?

Right, so top end marginal tax rates are thus 53% or so.

But wait! we\’ve also got the upcoming rise in the top tax rate to 50%.

And guess what else? Ritchie thinks that we ought to lift that employees\’ NI cap. Everyone should pay it on all their income above the minimal threshold.

So the tax system he\’d like to see is one of 50% plus 13% plus 12%. A top marginal tax rate of 75%?

Don\’t forget, Ritchie says that individuals pay NI.

Umm, anyone think we might be going over the Laffer Curve inflection point here?

Third Ritchie of the day!

You lucky, lucky people you.

Stock market returns have been (by the S&P) negative over the past decade. This is true but miselading. We were having rather a boom in Dec 1999 for example.


This is not chance: this is reality. Markets have run out of steam. They have no more value to add unless and until more people have access to more wealth in the world – something markets themselves cannot deliver and which those who run them resist. Put simply – those with wealth have found out there is a limit to how many new white goods, cars, music, and IT you need. And most of the rest are poor and can’t now afford houses, let alone anything else. In that case markets can’t expand.

A tad Marxian (no, not Marxist, just influenced by) don\’t you think? Capitalism will collapse of its own inherent contradictions stuff: what will the market do when there are no more markets to exploit?

But let\’s just concentrate on this part:

They have no more value to add unless and until more people have access to more wealth in the world – something markets themselves cannot deliver and which those who run them resist.

We seem to have got the horse and cart arse about tip here. Markets, that voluntary exchange thing, are the mechanism by which value is added so that there is more wealth in the world so that there is more for people to have access to.

And what have we seen in recent decades? Why, we\’ve seen the expansion of markets around the globe. What else have we seen? The largest creation of wealth that can be shared in the history of our species. And what has the result of that been? Ever more people able to share in this newly created wealth: which in turn has led to the largest fall in human poverty since Eve voluntarily exchanged an apple with Adam in return for the knowledge of rumpy pumpy.

Anyone like to post Ritchie a copy of the GCSE economics syllabus?

Hurrah! Ritchie\’s learnt something!

My word, will wonders never cease.

OK, he hasn\’t realised that he\’s learnt something but learnt something he has.

For much of the rest Worstall is just wrong and Guido’s instincts are right. Whilst on the economic blackboard of so-called rationality Worstall lives by which bears no relationship to reality it is true that it can be shown that a limited company cannot of course pay tax – the reality is that they do change where, when and by whom tax is paid and at what rate – as all tax planning and offshore proves.

Time to do the happy dance!

Yes! Corporations do indeed change, dependent upon all sorts of things, who bears the burden of a tax. This is exactly what I\’ve been saying all along. The company itself does not bear the burden: it\’s some combination of customers in the form of higher prices, workers in the form of lower wages and capital (or shareholders if you prefer) in the form of lower returns. Hey, even Vince Cable agrees with me on this.

And the legal structure around companies and taxation will change which of those groups bears corporate taxation in what portion. This has been my whole point all along!

So well done to Mr. Murphy for finally getting the point.

Who bears it in what portion, now that we\’ve sorted out the logical point, is an empirical question. One where we need to look to empirical studies for an answer.

No, I don\’t say that this is the last word on the matter, only that it is as far as I know a decently done attempt to work this out.

Burdens are measured in a numerical example by substituting factor shares and output shares
that are reasonable for the U.S. economy. Given those values, domestic labor bears slightly
more than 70 percent of the burden of the corporate income tax. The domestic owners of capital
bear slightly more than 30 percent of the burden. Domestic landowners receive a small benefit.
At the same time, the foreign owners of capital bear slightly more than 70 percent of the burden,
but their burden is exactly offset by the benefits received by foreign workers and landowners.
To the extent that capital is less mobile internationally, domestic labor’s burden would be lower
and domestic capital’s burden would be higher.

Please note this though:

As with any simplified model, the analysis is silent about some
potentially important issues – such as the effect of the corporate tax on savings, growth and other
dynamics – that may also have important effects on corporate tax incidence.

There are other papers which (purport) to show that these other important issues lead to the workers\’ wages falling by more than the corporate tax raised. That over time, a £1 raised in corporation tax reduces wages by more than £1. That is, that the incidence upon the workers is more than 100%.

Now I don\’t claim that either of these studies are the be all and end all of the question. But I do insist that now, as above, we\’ve got over this logical point it is possible for us to have a meaningful discussion of who actually does bear the burden of corporate taxation.

I say the majority is carried, at least in an open economy, by labour. Anyone want to try and prove me wrong? Richard?

It is to giggle with Ritchie

So, Richard Murphy, arch exponent of the \”if we tax them more they won\’t leave\” argument.

The reality is they are ‘looking at’ some departments relocating according to the Telegraph.

Not quite the same as Goldman leaving London.

Oh, but they are in part leaving! Or thinking about it as a result of higher taxes.

So where does this leave the argument that the Laffer Curve doesn\’t exist/isn\’t relevant?

Hmm, well, here actually:

And let’s also be clear: the time will come when we will simply have to change the basis of bank taxation to ensure that artificial relocations don’t work.

It’s possible: unitary taxation would do it.

So, let\’s think through that shall we?

The Laffer Curve doesn\’t exist/isn\’t relevant. This is the idea that there is some tax rate above which revenue collected starts to fall (and that there is equally some tax rate below which revenue increases). And vice versa for both of course.

Now Ritchie is an arch exponent of the idea that this is all entirely discredited/irrelevant/applies to very different tax rates than the ones we have/you\’re all neo-liberal bastards for bringing it up.

Now at the moment it is indeed easy for a company to shift its tax residence. It\’s one of those European Union things: free movement of people goods and capital. And companies, being legal persons, have the same right of free movement as individual people do. Further, you get taxed where the head office is, not where the economic substance of your activities takes place.

OK, now, so if we thought that the tax rates we were imposing were likely to make people move to avoid them, what is the implication of that? Yes, we\’ve implicitly accepted that the Laffer Curve is not discredited, is relevant, applies at our current tax rates and isn\’t the phantasm of neo-liberal bastards.

And even if we insisted in public that the Laffer Curve just didn\’t exist then what would we do about such a situation, if we wanted to raise tax rates still further?

Quite, we would change the rules about companies being able to move and restrict their ability to pay tax where the (highly mobile) head office is rather than the (highly immovable) economic substance of their activity is.

We would argue for a move from purely residence based taxation to unitary taxation for example.

That is, in order to avoid moving over the inflection point of the Laffer Curve, to where revenues decrease at higher rates, we would attempt to shift the Laffer Curve so that the inflection point was at higher tax rates.

And all of that means that however much Ritchie says that the Laffer Curve is entirely discredited/irrelevant/applies to very different tax rates than the ones we have/you\’re all neo-liberal bastards for bringing it up, he does actually believe it for his proposed actions are exactly what we would expect from someone who does.

Amusant, non?

Today\’s Ritchie!

So if the markets lead a double dip is nigh on certain.


So the man who tells us that markets don\’t and cannot predict slumps (because they didn\’t predict the, erm, slump) now tells us that markets can predict slumps.

Gotta love this intellectual consistency thing.

Ah, Ritchie, the gift that never stops giving

Third,we have to pay teaches more.

Well, yes….

However, the rest of it….

The basic argument is that wages paid by businesses like Tesco are too low and that this, plus the lack of tax money being spent on education means that we\’re locked into an underperforming economy by dint of the effects of a) depriviation and b) underspending on education.

The solution is thus that companies must pay more tax to fund education.


But average full time equivalent pay at Tescos in 2008 was under £13,000. Now, I know that might be distorted by pay in Asia – but the majority of employees are in the UK and so whilst pay may be higher than that in the UK on average it remains massively below UK average pay however calculated, which exceeds £20,000 by all measures used. And Tescos are the UK’s biggest private sector employer.

Lambert says that underachievement is linked to free school meals. These can be claimed by anyone with pay of less than £16,040. That’s on average all the staff at Tescos.

So like it or not Tescos, and employers like it, are paying the wages that ensure people claim free school meals which seem to be linked with a lack of aspiration and poor education results.

The solution to this is that there should be…. wait for it…..

The second is to massively reduce differentials in society by serious redistribution of income and wealth

You couldn\’t see that one coming, couldn\’t you?

Now there\’s a logical error here. If we\’re going to talk about how much more redistribution we should have then we need actually to be talking about how much redistribution we already have. We cannot simply look at market incomes and decide that more should be done: we have to look at market incomes plus what we already do to see whether more redistribution is justified or not.

Ritchie of course fails to do this.

But the real howler is here:

Third,we have to pay teaches more. Especially those in difficult subjects. It’s absurd for example that few state schools can offer really good science curricula now. This has nothing to do with quangos or anything else. this is undervaluing education. and business must pay for this by paying more tax.

Firslty, there\’s the question of whether we do or do not pay enough for there to be a decent State education system. Cross country comparisons seem to show that Finland (often rated the best State education system in the world) spends less per pupil than we do (yes, adjusted or standard of living etc). Sweden is rated very well and they also spend less per head than we do. But their structures are different. For example, Finland has something like the grammar/secondary modern split. It\’s not at 11, true, a couple of years later, but there are two different school systems, one for the academic goats and another for the vocational sheep.

It\’s just ain\’t yer Auntie\’s comprehensive system.

Sweden of course famously has school vouchers.

Within country comparisons also don\’t seem to show a lack of resources as being the problem. Private day schools (when you include capital and pensions budgets) seem to have similar costs to the State system. Again, famously in the US, parochial schools have much better results on much lower budgets than the State schools.

So we\’d be justified in at least thinking that perhaps it\’s the structure of the education system, the way the budget is allocated, which is the problem, not the size of the budget itself.

But the truly barking part is that business taxation should rise to pay for the effects on education of low wages.

For as Vince Cable and even Larry Elliott have agreed, businesses don\’t pay taxes. People do. And in an open economy like ours, the largest share (according to the Congressional Budget Office at least, for the US) 70% of the burden of corporate taxation is carried by the workforce in the form of lower wages. Mike Deveraux (who Ritchie would never admit could be right about anything) has a paper out there that a £1 raised in corporate taxation reduces workers\’ incomes by more than £1.

And it\’s this (something I\’ve already mentioned over at Sunny\’s place) which absolutely drives me up the fucking wall about the varied unthinking leftists we have proposing policies.

Some of the goals I share: a better education system being one of them. Some of them I don\’t particularly: equitable distribution in the sense of more equal distribution isn\’t one of the scabs of our society I particularly care to pick. But my ire comes from those proposing things which will be entirely counter-productive. Things which on the surface sound vaguely plausible (Tax companies more to pay to teach Diddikins to read!) but on examination turn out to be barking mad.

Follow Ritchie\’s chain of logic here. Companies don\’t pay high enough wages which leads to deprivation. We should thus tax companies more to pay for the deprived to get a better education.

But on examination we find that the vast majority of corporate taxes come from lower wages for the workers: so the actual suggestion is that we should lower wages in order to deal with the effects of lower wages.

It\’s barking, innit?

In praise of Ritchie

Fair play:

The winner was crusading accountant Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK.


However, now that we know where his expertise lies, in accounting for corporate structures, might we be able to encourage him to remain in his specialty? Rather than trying to redesign both the financial markets and the entire economy (to say nothing of the tax system itself), areas where he clearly knows little?

Today\’s Ritchie

The man\’s a marvel:

FT.com / Reports – Clean tech sector needs more capital.

That’s why we need green bonds

That’s why we need a Green New Deal

So, the clean sector needs more dosh. Hm, so what is the mechanism that we\’ve currently got to provide more dosh for the clean sector? Yes, it\’s the EU\’s cap and trade system. By making emissions more expensive it makes capital investment in non-emissions more profitable and thus increases the amount of such investment.

Great, eh?

Ah, but no, you\’ve missed the genius of Mr. Murphy\’s logic:

Now let’s note what this broker does:

Tullett Prebon operates as an intermediary in wholesale financial markets facilitating the trading activities of its clients, in particular commercial and investment banks. The business now covers the following major product groups: Volatility, Rates, Non Banking & Sterling Cash, Treasury, Energy, Environmental, Credit, and Equities. Tullett Prebon’s electronic broking division offers electronic solutions to these products. In addition to its brokerage services, Tullett Prebon offers a variety of market information services through its IDB Market Data division, Tullett Prebon Information.

So they trdae in a great deal of what is ’socially useless’.

Please feel free to go.

I note that word \”environmental\” in there. So what do they do?

TP Global Green continues to build on its established presence in the emissions market through brokerage of European Union Allowances (EUAs), Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), Emission Reduction Units (ERUs), Options on EUAs, CERs and ERUs, and Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs).

Oh, they make the cap and trade markets work. Gosh, how socially useless of them.

So, we need to have more investment in clean tech but those who by their actions encourage greater investment in clean tech are socially useless.

No, that\’s a Good \’Un, even for Ritchie.

Ritchie doesn\’t do nil nisi….

Let the body cool first, eh?

He, more than most mathematised economics. Which means he had to assume people were rational. In the process he broke the link between economics and reality.

Then he assumed the existence of stable equilibria in an economy – which is contrary to all known evidence. So once more he remeoved economics from the realms of usefulness.

And he wrote a textbook that has created more bad economists dedicated to harming the society in which they live than almost any other.

So what he got a Nobel prize? His legacy is dire.

Paul Samuelson has died. A Nobel laureate economist he has a lot to answer for, and his legacy (eulogised in the FT by the BBC’s Stephanie Flanders) is pretty dire.

And Ritchie presumes to lecture us on ethics and morality.

Update: and of course, Ritchie is too dim to realise that he was one of the greatest popularisers of Keynes, Ritchie\’s economic hero….