Wind and Nuclear

No, I don\’t know whether these figures are correct or not (I would be most interested to know if they are).

The director of renewable generation for Centrica, our largest windfarm developer, last week revealed that the cost of this plan to create 33,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity has doubled in three years, from £40 billion to £80 billion.

But since, thanks to fluctuations in the wind, offshore turbines generate on average only 27.5 per cent of capacity, the actual power produced by these turbines would be only 9,000MW, putting its price at £8.8 million per MW.

The latest nuclear power station being built in Finland at a cost of £2.7 billion will produce 1600MW, 24 hours a day, representing £1.7 million per MW. In other words, six nuclear power stations could produce more electricity than all those windfarms for only a fifth of the price.

If Centrica really wants to help Britain keep its lights on, it could, for £80 billion, build 30 "carbon-free" nuclear power stations to generate 48,000MW of electricity, more than the average 47,000MW now produced by all Britain\’s power plants.

But since this would not count towards meeting our EU renewables target, to do anything so sensible would put us in serious breach of EU law.

But if they are then it\’s rather an indictment of the idea of letting politicians pick and choose amongst technologies, isn\’t it?

The Guardian and Emap

This is oh so deliciously amusing.

While The Guardian campaigned to close tax loopholes enjoyed by Grabiner and his colleagues with headlines like "Private equity stole our pensions", McCall spent much of 2007 negotiating two major deals with Apax.

In the first she sold Apax a 49pc stake in Trader Media Group, publisher of Auto Trader and GMG\’s biggest cash generator. In the second, which completed last Thursday, the pair have spent £1bn acquiring Emap Communications.

Will Willy Hutton\’s broadsides (and Polly T\’s, come to that) against the iniquities of private equity now cease?

And, as w saw from that Telegraph report a couple of weeks ago, this was structured through a Cayman Islands company, in order to (entirely legally) avoid stamp duty. Will Richard Murphy now turn his guns on GMG?

The Trader deal involved loading the company with over £800m of debt. Emap Communications is carrying £700m. GMG will receive a regular dividend, but most of the profits will go into servicing those loans.

Oh, and will the iniquity of interest payments being written off against taxable profits still be a target?

The paper\’s columnist, Polly Toynbee, has written that private equity is "a return to primitive, unregulated capitalism". But in a world of declining profits for traditional media, it may also hold the key to her paper\’s future.


Bob Piper

No, we didn\’t meet up for our drink after all. But the man does have a way with words:

Newmania, do you ever read the posts before commenting on them? I mean, I don\’t mind too much if it helps you relieve your tension, but you might want to consider masturbation.

Or is that a way with insult?

Whichever, Good Man, carry on.

Anyone Know Anything About Cars?

Looking to buy a car, LHD, naturally.

This looks very cheap

1992 JAGUAR XJS 5.3 V12 HE Sports Price: £4,500 2 Doors, Automatic, Coupe, Petrol, 22,000 miles, MOT-02-2009. Climate Control, KEYLESS ENTRY, LHD, Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, Anti theft system, Computer, Leather upholstery. Totally original, only 22k miles, FSH, NO RUST whatsoever, as new probably best remaining XJS, LHD,

Anyone got any thoughts as to that price? Is it high insurance rates in the UK? High taxes? Or was the car simply a lemon in the first place (as, for some years, Jags were).

Another Little Problem for Darling

Remember how Darling was going to change the law so he could issue Islamic bonds?

The chancellor is thought to be ready to prepare the ground for a landmark issue of a so-called Sukuk bond but will fall short of committing the government to immediate action.

A slight problem then.

New guidelines demand that investors become the legal owners of those assets rather than nominal holders, the Bahrain-based Accounting & Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions said on its Web site.

The rules from AAOIFI\’s board of 18 religious advisers led by Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani will make it harder for companies to issue Islamic debt at a time when borrowing is already shrinking because of the global credit crisis.

“This is a paradigm shift and will make life difficult for chief financial officers used to the existing structures,\’\’ Moody\’s Investors Service analyst Khalid Howladar said in a phone interview from Dubai today.

Borrowers and their bankers until now created a fixed income for investors by promising to buy back the assets underlying sukuk at their face value on maturity, irrespective of whether the assets made or lost money, Moody\’s Howladar said. These types of agreements are banned under the tougher rules because Shariah demands buyers and sellers share profits or losses from their transactions.

“Blemishes\’\’ have crept in that the industry must now “rid\’\’ itself of, AAOIFI\’s board of scholars said last month. As much as 85 percent of sukuk sold to date may not comply with all the precepts of Shariah, the board said.


Bulgarian Ski Vacations II

Further news from the Bulgarian Ski Vacation (a phrase which Mr. E has suggested should replace "Ugandan Discussions").


Nasty little fracture as a result of an intimate encounter with a snow boarder.

Certain activities were therefore, as one might assume, thus off the menu. It was thus an unsuspecting 22 year old that got corrupted.

So a Bulgarian Ski Vacation is thus the transporting across international boundaries of a woman for immoral (if most enjoyable) purposes but which results in nothing, not even a hand ***.

Congratulations mate, hope the credit card recovers soon.

Bulgarian Ski Vacations

Well I may still be in a ski resort, but snowboarding is canceled thanks
to me taking out my friend who was on skis. Have managed to damage my
leg in a deeply bruised way. However, I came off lightly compared to
her. Basically her wrist is buggered, and should she never be able to
play the piano again I may as well cut my own knackers off before she
does it for me. Mind you, his has had the advantage for her that the
boys all act like man slaves around her, which I know she enjoys greatly.

Knowing who the "her" being referred to is, I have to admit that she\’s not been having all that much luck in recent times what with the menfolk.

Information Bleg

A reader asks where the information comes from that the risks from drinking only exceed those of being teetotal above 63 units a week.

I\’ve got as far as this:

Seven years earlier, in 1993, a study of 12,000 middle-aged, male doctors led by Sir Richard Doll and a team at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, found that the lowest mortality rates – lower even than teetotallers – were among those drinking between 20 and 30 units of alcohol each week.The level of drinking that produced the same risk of death as that faced by a teetotaller was 63 units a week, or roughly a bottle of wine a day.

Does anyone know what that paper is called, and if it\’s available on the web?

Excellent work chaps, thank you. The paper has arrived both by email (Tim Daw, Ta!) and in the comments below (So Much, thank you).


The Heff.

Oh Dear.

There is no political system without flaws: however, some have more flaws than others. It has always struck me that capitalism is by far the best of the lot. It is the only way to allow personal freedom its most complete expression, and to build prosperity.

Capitalism isn\’t actually a political system. It\’s simply an arrangement about ownership of assets and property.

It has its strengths, to be sure, but to call it a political system is to sell the pass to the opponents of it.

If you look at our own situation, it isn\’t in fact "capitalist" anyway. It\’s largely a market based system (with the exception of those parts like health and education provided by the State) and within the market part of it we have some distinctly non-capitalist competitors. The famous example would be the workers co-operative that is the John Lewis Partnership but all those legal partnerships, in fact partnerships of any kind, would also be distinctly non-capitalist. Looked at this way we\’re in a distinclty non-capitalist economy: although we are largely in a market one and it\’s that latter which is much more important than the former.

Another way of putting it is that we have a market in forms of ownership, just as we do in other things: and we\’re all the better off for that reason.

And it is most certainly markets, not capitalism, that allow the expression of personal freedom. A system of capitalist monopolies would not allow much freedom, while one of workers\’ co-operatives competing in free markets would.

As, of course, the system of State monopolies in health and education does not allow much freedom.

Worth remembering this distinction, otherwise as and when it does come to trying to make a choice between two alternatives, markets or capitalism, we might make the wrong one.

Student Loan Repayments

You do have to laugh at this:

The loans are offered to students on the basis that interest is added in line with inflation and therefore they are in effect interest-free. In 2003, the Government changed the official measure of inflation from the Retail Price Index (RPI), to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which does not include housing costs or council tax.

Since then, RPI has risen at a far higher rate – it is currently at 4.8 per cent, with CPI at 2.3 per cent. The Government is still using RPI to calculate the interest on student loans.

Small print buried in the Budget shows that ministers expect that the RPI will continue to be far higher than the CPI – giving the Treasury an additional £483 million a year in interest repayments.

Not, however a funny haha laugh, more an astonished giggle at the sheer mendacity on display.

All of the goverment\’s outgoings are inflation updated using the CPI. But it appears that this isn\’t good enough for the government collections.

As ever, you can tell what people really think by watching what they do. So the government really thinks that the true inflation rate is the RPI.

Teachers\’ Pay

This is simply monstrously silly:

Teachers remained on course for their first national strike in 21 years last night as the Government refused to cave in to pay demands.

The National Union of Teachers, Britain\’s biggest classroom union, said the walk-out was set to go ahead next month after ministers failed to improve a 2.45 per cent offer.

Why are we even having national pay talks for teachers? As we know, the cost of living varies enormously across the country (female white collar wages being 60% lower in the NE than they are in London) meaning that a national wage will overpay those living in cheaper areas and vastly underpay those in more richly rewarded ones,

As we\’ve seen with nurses this actually leads to worse health care in the higher income neighbourhoods.

Simply abolish national wages and the negotiations that come with them. Devolve the wage negotiations to the school level. This might mean a rise in the total budget (it would certainly lead to a substantial increase in London, that\’s for sure) but if that\’s the price that has to be paid to get the right number of teachers into the schools then so be it.

There\’s nothing very revolutionary about this idea: after all, we do think markets are pretty good at allocation, don\’t we?

Federast Cretinous Idiocy of the Week

Could Shannon have been found earlier if there had been common European guidelines for police to follow?

No, next?

Conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott wants the European Union to adopt a common alert scheme for missing children.

He says that Shannon Mathews would have been found much earlier if there had been one in operation.

Cretinous, simply wildly, absurdly, fouly, stupid.

Whether we should adopt the American system of Amber Alerts is one thing…..and the correct name for doing so would be that we adopt the system in common with America.

Now, let\’s see. Was Shannon whisked off over an intra-EU border? No, I think not, it\’s not actually clear to me whether she was even whisked off over a council boundary, let alone a police force boundary.

So, action at European Union level on this, ensuring that France, Germany, Slovenia and Sweden all adopt the same system for finding lost or abducted children as Dewsbury would have what effect?

Well done, collect your cigar on the way out.

Precisely fuck all.

Polly Today

This is pretty much a manifesto of what Labour should do to win the next election. As such, rather amusing.

So Downing Street has fired and hired. If the man from Ofcom, Stephen Carter, gets a grip, Brown will focus on a few priorities instead of doing everything. If David Muir, the man from advertising, is any good, the government may, for once, succeed in conveying some of the good it does.

Erm, excuse me, but is it really right that tax money pays to tell us how well a specific political party is running the country? Even the message "The State is your Friend" is a party political one.

There\’s nothing much to be done about a tidal wave sweeping in from Wall Street, except batten down the hatches. So far, fingers crossed, not much real pain is felt, with best ever employment figures, high street sales up, holiday sales buoyant, wage inflation lower than expected – and interest rates falling.

Deckchairs and Titanic rather comes to mind here.

That is the heart of the matter, the dispute within the party\’s divided self. There is probably little disagreement on what both sides would do if they could – tax and spend more, direct wealth from rich to poor, make state schools outshine Eton, ditch Trident, embrace Europe, put petty thieves into community programmes, and so on.

Tax and spend more? When we\’re at 45% of the economy and rising? Eeeek! Embracing Europe of course enrages me but the most interesting one is getting state schools to outshine Eton. An excellent ambition, truly. The only thing is, how are you going to do it? I can see no way whatsoever without freeing the education system from the central bureaucracy. And, of course, in Polly World, such things are anathema.

Labour needs to win such seats as Hastings, Luton, Basildon and Harlow. But the Blears/Hutton modernisers behave as if they are trying to win Surrey and Hampshire too. They fall for the myth of the right that "middle England" belongs to the affluent, when the real middle England is the land of the £23,000 median income, well below the £38,000 top tax bracket that only 10% join – mostly Tories.

To be a little more serious, this is actually something that rather interests me. The UK does have a high level of inequality when measured by market incomes. One set of figures I\’ve seen gives a Gini of 0.51, when the US is on 0.48 and other European countries lower. (The post tax, post benefits ones are obviously much lower.) However, I\’ve also seen that female white collar wages (just as an example) in Newcastle are 60% lower than they are in London (and I think I\’m remembering that correctly, 60% lower, not 60% of). Prices are also a lot lower in Newcastle than they are in London, so that regional disparity in pay is giving us, nationally, a much greater appearance of inequality than we would get by looking at consumption figures.

So this leads to the question: how much of the measure inequality of wages is actually driven by regional differences in pay? How much of it is the looming presence in London of our national figures? Certainly, if we\’re looking at national market incomes figures and we\’ve got a 60% disparity in those on purely regional grounds, with consumption inequality (presumably) being much smaller, then we\’re at least in part overstating said income inequality. And all because in London (with well over 10% of the population, and more than that of GDP) we\’ve got a larger concentration of the economy in one place than most, if not all, other countries do.

So, does anyone actually know? How much of the UK\’s vaunted inequality is chimerical, being based purely upon regional variations in incomes, without taking account of regional variations in prices and thus consumption?

And finally, from Polly:

Be first to clean up politics. Ban all political contributions except individual subscriptions; let the state pay but cut the total spend drastically – and, yes, abolish union donations.

Oooh, yes, let\’s pass the Incumbency Protection Act and all just to give Labour a little nufdge in the polls.


Harry Mount

Not quite I think:

There\’s a lawyers\’ saying about people such as Heather Mills who represent themselves in court – the client who chooses himself as his lawyer is a fool.

Isn\’t the phrase rather, he who chooses to represent himself has a fool for a lawyer?

Is This Really Short Selling?

Jeff Randall explains a short sale:

Put simply: I know that you want to buy 100 shares in Jayar Junk. The shares are trading at £10 each. We strike a deal at that price, and I promise to deliver them in one week\’s time. At this point, I still don\’t own any Jayar Junk. No matter, my buddies at the Rumour Mill are about to go to work.

Through a series of postings on dodgy websites, anonymous emails and loose talk in dealers\’ watering holes, we spread the story that Jayar Junk is running out of readies. Very soon the shares start falling, to £9, £8, £7. In angst-ridden markets, there is no bottom. When they hit £5, we buy 100.

Bingo! You are contracted to take them from me for a total of £1,000. My cost is just £500. I double my money and you are ripped off. It\’s no more complicated than that.

That looks more like a future to me than a short sale.

A short is where you borrow the stock and sell it, then buying it back at the new lower price and return it to the original owner, no?

Dirty Tricks Unit

Revelations that at least one hedge fund had a dirty tricks unit. The aim being to discover (often through illegal means) information about share prices that might drop, thus a) allowing short positions to be created and b) spreading that information so that the prices would drop.

The latter part doesn\’t look to be illegal, at least not as I understand it. It\’s the creation of a false market that is, and revealing the truth isn\’t that. The methods of uncovering said truth might have been illegal though.

What really rather amused though was that bankers and hedgies really couldn\’t be expected to do such grubby things themselves:

It was set up by former senior executives from a blue-chip investment firm. However, from 2005, the "dirty-tricks unit" was staffed by former corporate investigators and investigative journalists hired from newspapers.

Such a moral profession, journalism.