Tenuous Snowflake link of the day

Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam

Deutsche Bank was the correspondent bank to one in Latvia that was part of the money laundering. Deutsche Bank also lent Tr5ump $300 million.

See, bank that lent $3200 million to Trump…….we’ll get the FBI onto it shall we?

This will be interesting

Britain will be threatened with court action by the EU if it tries to walk away without paying a £50 billion “divorce bill”, leaked papers reveal.

A draft copy of the EU’s negotiating strategy for the forthcoming Brexit talks discusses taking Britain to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

It quotes an official as saying that if Britain refuses to pay, “in that case it is, see you in The Hague!”

Because courts go by what is in he law, not what is in the politics.

The worst result that could possibly happen is that we have to pay what we actually do have to pay. And you do have to wonder about the EU. How is that a threat?

Soapy Joe And Spud, my how we are enriched

And now Jolyon Maugham is bringing a case against Uber demanding a VAT receipt for a journey he made in a car provided by that company. He knows, of course, that he won’t get one. Uber claims it does not provide taxi services, saying its drivers do that and it is a mere booking agency. But that claim is inconsistent with the facts, which have been upheld because Uber drivers have been found to be employees in a tribunal hearing.

No, they haven’t, they’ve been found to be workers.


Must be a whiff of something in the air

Murphy is making his usual two mistakes, of not understanding the economics nor the logic.

On the economics he’s missed that GDP, and thus the size of the economy, is production, or consumption, or income. Each of which will be, by definition, equal (absent people lying about tax of course).We thus don’t need the exact and precise details that he’s mumbling about because we can estimate from a combination of the different methods. As the ONS actually does to reach those GVA (GVA is roughly equivalent for GDP for a sub-national area) numbers at the three NUTS levels.

He’s also wrong in logic of course. He’s the proponent of the Courageous State idea, which is that the government should take a much more heavy handed approach to the management of the economy. Lots of lovely planning and firm state action. And yet here he is insisting that the government really has no clue, not a scoobie, about the state of the economy at anything less than UK level. Something which would make that detailed planning a tad difficult one would think. But then the internal contradictions of his own arguments are not really something that trouble Professor Murphy. Perhaps there’s a whiff of ermine in the air?

Well done Spud, well done

It’s not by chance that the UK is the centre of corporate fraud: ministers chose to make it that way


The Guardian has today reported massive money laundering through UK banks: some $740 million is alleged to have be n illicitly laundered in the UK.

From the Guardian:

Documents seen by the Guardian show that at least $20bn appears to have been moved out of Russia during a four-year period between 2010 and 2014. The true figure could be $80bn, detectives believe.

Being between 4% and 1% of the activity makes you the centre, does it?

Fake news spotted

As an economist,

Professor Richard Murphy

As an economist, I’ll tell you that to assess Scotland’s economy you need to know about how much people have to spend in the country, how much is invested in Scotland, how much the Scottish Government spends, what the country’s exports and imports are, how much is saved, and the total tax paid in Scotland.

Note that’s seven separate bits of data. And we only have reliable figures on some of what the government spends. As for the rest, Revenue Scotland is still struggling to work out which people are tax resident in Scotland and it has no clue at all on what corporation tax, VAT or other taxes are due, precisely because no-one has to declare those taxes separately for Scotland. It’s the same with imports and exports: no-one knows what these are because there are no border posts at Carlisle, Berwick-on-Tweed or Stranraer. On investment and savings, we’re equally clueless.

The message then is a simple one: when people say Scotland is in financial trouble, or running a deficit, or anything else, ask them how they know. If they say it’s the GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) report, tell them to read the home page for that report where it is quite candid about the fact that the data in it is estimated.

Sigh. We can and do measure GVA to NUTS1 regions. Even to NUTS2 ones. We even look at income to NUTS3 regions. And, of course, income, production and consumption all equal each other.

An economist would know this.

To be blunt, Westminster is saying as loudly and clearly as it can that Scotland quite literally does not count by refusing to measure what happens there.

Interestingly, let us take Ritchie’s argument seriously for a moment. For that also means that Westminster doesn’t know what is happening in England, or Wales, or, in fact, any other subset of the UK. It’s a plot I tell you, a plot!

Oh dear

So, then: who actually owns this place? That’s what I’ve set out to investigate with my blog, Who Owns England?. I started it last summer, post-referendum, determined that if Brexit really meant “taking back control of our country”, then I’d like at least to know who owns it.

So, Snowflake has been studying this subject for 9 months now.

Understanding who owns this country has been a utopian project for at least a century and a half. In 1872, in an effort to disprove radicals’ claims that only a tiny elite dominated the landed wealth of the nation, Lord Derby – a major landowner himself – asked the government to undertake a proper survey. The Return of Owners of Land – or “Modern Domesday”, as it became known – was the first comprehensive assessment of land ownership in Britain since William the Conqueror’s swag list after the Norman conquest. But far from dousing the demands of the radical land reformers, the survey lit a fire under the issue.

The Return showed that just 710 aristocratic individuals owned a quarter of the entire country. Popularised by the author and socialite John Bateman in a bestselling book, The Acre-Ocracy of England, who owned land suddenly became the talk of the town. But it wasn’t just the gentry keeping up with the Joneses; land reform had become the political issue du jour. After all, this was a time when you couldn’t vote unless you owned property; when tenant farmers were struggling under a severe agricultural depression;

After 9 months studying the subject our Snowflake still doesn’t know that county tenants in various forms were granted the franchise 50 years before and that some boroughs had had tenant electors all along.

Hmm. Sterling work there, eh?

And he’s not really quite right about Henry George being all that radical. Yes, of course an LVT is a good idea. But then feudalism ran on much the same idea, didn’t it?

Err, yes Paul, yes

But if Scotland leaves – and Northern Ireland is given some kind of halfway status to prevent a border being re-erected with the Republic – then what’s left cannot be called “rUK” – the rump or remainder UK. It will be England-Plus.

It will be “England and Wales” just as it is now.

This new country will still be a major global economy, a nuclear power (albeit in need of a new port for its nuclear-armed submarines), a permanent member of the UN Security Council and home to the head of the Commonwealth. And it will need an ideology.

He really does miss quite how fascist he sounds there, doesn’t he? A nation must have an ideology…..

But here is where the problem begins. Just as it’s hard to deglobalise a national economy, breaking up an imperialist ideology into its constituent parts is going to be very tricky. The British imperial ideology, and its post-imperial successor after 1945 was the creation of a national bourgeoisie.

Cod Marxist fascism even.

So what can we do? Some figures on the left have argued for an English parliament. I dismissed this proposal two years ago, but Brexit has convinced me the federal argument is strong.

That raises the question: what form should English federal institutions take? Given the opportunity to redesign the English political institutions along federal lines, we should push not for an English assembly, but for powerful regional states, along the lines of the German länder. The result might look a lot like the map of the British isles around 830 AD, once Wessex was a unified kingdom – with the equivalents of Mercia, Northumbria and Wales each having a devolved assembly.

At which point he advocates exactly what the EU has been trying, to kill off the nation state and devolved everything down to the regions. The EU wanting this so as to be able to cow them of course.


My major argument against this is that there just isn’t the talent out there. When we look at the morons who make up the lower ranks of Parliament itself we can see that we’re not going to end up with lots of bright people in all those regional assemblies, are we?

So this is not Lake Wobegon

“In fact, we know most companies have below-average levels of productivity

Andy Haldane.

Firms which do not export are poor at raising productivity, which Mr Haldane believes may be because they are not as heavily exposed to foreign competition.

Similarly it can help if firms have foreign owners who are used to competing against the best the world has to offer.

Actually, the Treasury had this right in their Brexit document. Imports expose firms to that foreign competition and thus they up their productivity or go bust. This is one of the ways that imports make us richer….

Eating their own

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian novelist and feminist, has condemned a “language orthodoxy” on the political left after she endured a vitriolic backlash over comments about transgender women.

The author of Half of a Yellow Sun plunged into a row about identity politics when she suggested in an interview last week that the experiences of transgender women, who she said are born with the privileges the world accords to men, are distinct from those of women born female. She was criticised for implying that trans women are not “real women”.

Leave them to it…..

Any electrical engineers around here?

We need to do a little favour for some peeps in Russia. Which means finding a customer for their production. And we’ve not the slightest idea what this is nor who would use it:

1 Charpy Impact viscosity, kJ/m2, not less 7.0
2 Bending stress at failure, MPa, not less 110
3 Martens thermal stability, C, not less 250
4 Water absorption, mg, not more 10
5 Raschig flow index, mm, not less 160
6 Specific electrical volume resistance, Om m, not less 1*109
7 Dielectric strength, MV/m, not less 19.0
8 Mass concentration of moisture and volatiles, %, not more 3.0

There’s more of this. And of course it doesn’t tell anyone what it actually is. We keep asking, well, yes, but what the hell is it?

T265 in Russian military terminology.


A phenolic glass composite thermoset plastic.

None of us has a scoobie here. Anyone got any ideas?

I’m not entirely sure it works this way

When Boston public schools introduced a new standard map of the world this week, some young students’ felt their jaws drop. In an instant, their view of the world had changed.

The USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk. Africa and South America appeared narrower but also much larger than usual. And what had happened to Alaska?

In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, city authorities are confident their new map offers something closer to the geographical truth than that of traditional school maps, and hope it can serve an example to schools across the nation and even the world.

The Mercator projection “works” and works beautifully for maritime navigation up to 70 0 N or S. The Peters projection is very much better for showing land areas, entirely so. As perhaps we’re more interested in the latter than the former these days then why not?

The result goes a long way to rewriting the historical and socio-political message of the Mercator map, which exaggerates the size of imperialist powers.

“This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools,” said Colin Rose, assistant superintendent of opportunity and achievement gaps for Boston public schools.

The district has 125 schools and 57,000 students, 86% of whom are non-white, with the largest groups being Latino and black. After changing the maps, Rose said, educators plan to look at other subjects and shift away from presenting white history as the dominant perspective.

Well, I’m not entirely sure to be honest:

“The Mercator projection showed the spread and power of Christianity and is standard,” she said. “But it is not the real world at all. What the Boston public schools are doing is extremely important and should be adopted across the whole of the US and beyond.”

Elliott, who is still teaching at 83, said she was booked to give lectures in Michigan, Iowa, Missouri and Texas this week, and would be hailing Boston’s move.

“This is going to change how kids see the world much for the better,” she said.

Because one way to look at the Peters map is to go, wow, Europe is really teeny, isn’t it? But they did still go out and kill or conquer damn near everybody. Those Dead White European Males must have had something, right?

CEBR obvious have a more interesting dating life than the rest of us

Britons spend £129 on going on a date typically – more than twice as much as their counterparts in countries such as France and Italy, research has found.
The average amount, which is the total spent by both people going on the date, covers costs such as transport, clothes, cosmetics, entertainment and food and drink.

Hmm, OK.

And here is how the average cost of a date in the UK, at £129.30 adds up, according to the research:

Contraceptives, £4.70

Wait, what? The *average* date needs a fiver’s worth of contraceptives?

Admittedly, it’s a long time since I tried going out on the pull but that sounds a great deal more exciting than anything I did ever do.

Harvard research that may well not be true

Beautiful people may appear to have it easy in life.
But it turns out they are actually unlucky in love – as their relationships are more likely to end, research reveals.
A study which explains the high rate of Hollywood divorces has found that being attractive could actually be a ‘relationship liability’.
Even if people are not looking to poach you, being good-looking makes you more likely to cheat and be attracted to other people. While few people will be reaching for their violins, this leads to a higher break-up rate for the most beautiful.
The findings come from Harvard University, whose researchers looked at celebrities for fresh insights into the splits of Hollywood power couples like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

The generally accepted view is that this is true of men and not of women. Good looking of both sexes (yes, cis-heterosexist patriarchal trans-hater that I am) have more opportunities, entirely so. Which tend to work out in opposite directions the men spreading the seed and the women insisting upon that exclusivity. Studying actors is going to rather obscure this, as the pretty birds are going to be with the good looking men…..


In later years he spent his time there quietly, playing chess and croquet and mowing his many acres on a tractor, sculpting crop circles into the greensward.

From Chuck Berry’s obituary.

It’s like finding out that a Marquis with the ancestral estate of rolling acres is in fact a crazed drug fiend. But then Bristol did do that, didn’t he?

Not all that profitable this sex business, is it?

Or perhaps the life in an English provincial brothel:

Councillors in a market town are demanding to know why a brothel was allowed to continue for ten years after police were first tipped off.

Officers finally raided the “massage parlour” in Trowbridge, Wilts, as part of an operation led by the National Crime Agency into human trafficking.

We’d not expect anything particularly fascinating from Trowbridge of course but:

They found a punter with two middle-age English women who told him they were happy working at the sex den. The madame was traced as mother-of-two Marion Meyer-Smith, 49, who admitted running the brothel in the flat for 14 years.

So, happy workers and happy endings over a decade and a half. Diffucult to see why it needed to be raided really – checked, sure, for that trafficking that doesn’t really exist, for under age etc, but raided?

She raked in between £100 – £150 a week from the two sex workers, both of whom were working in their hometown.

Have we had some sudden burst of deflation or has “raking” rather changed in meaning? Running a brothel earns you part time barkeep wages these days does it?