Trump is from New York

Trump’s radio silence over the killing of Heather Heyer, allegedly by white supremacist James Alex Fields, is no accident. There are those with links to the far-right on his own team, including Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. His entire movement relies on energising racism, not suppressing it. It was after all New Yorker Carl Paladino who said Michelle Obama should “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla”.

Therefore Trump is responsible for what some pinhead New Yorker says.

Fortunately we’ve a trained music teacher to point it all out to us.

The Jamaican chippie called Chalky

A late Roman history claims that Clodius Albinus, the 2nd-century Roman governor of Britain and self-proclaimed emperor of Rome, was named Albinus on account of his extraordinary whiteness at birth (From Carlisle to Cairo: Romans could be from anywhere, 8 August). But it should be pointed out that the Romans could be a bit Jim Davidson when it came to naming prominent black people. When Martial addressed a famous prostitute named Chione (“snowy”) in epigram 3.34, he explicitly described her as black (“nigra”).

Not exactly a new idea then.

Ooooh, dear Aditya

Everyone knows history is written by the victors, but this is something else: bullshit recounted by the bullshitters. Even the banks are back to bragging how many billions they generously chip in to Her Majesty’s Exchequer, presumably hoping no one will point out that they took £1.3tn from taxpayers in just a few months in 2008.

The £1.3 trillion was liquidity support, something the central bank is supposed to provide. And it was all paid back, at a profit to the taxpayer, too.

RBS and Lloyds, don’t think they are at a profit. But then they weren’t liquidity support either.

Here’s the stuff of historical bad dreams: at the height of the banking crisis in 2008, every man, woman and child in Britain handed over £19,721 each to bankers.

Err, no, they didn’t. The liquidity support was new money, QE if you like. And much of that sum was guarantees, which were charged or to boot. Guarantees which weren’t called upon and thus the fees were a profit to the taxpayer. Aditya actually points to his source document which doesn’t say anything like he says it does.

Debt racked up through the greed of financiers being dumped on the poor, the young and people with disabilities in what must rank as the biggest bait and switch in postwar Britain. I say that, but we have only had seven years of austerity. If Philip Hammond stays in No 11 and sticks to plan (one must hope he does neither), the cuts will continue until the middle of the next decade. After 2025, who knows what will remain of our councils, our welfare state and our public realm.

The blow out in public debt wasn’t spent on the bankers. And the plan is at least that the “austerity” will take public spending back to about the percentage of GDP that it was when G. Brown was still in power. After that significant rise as a result of the recession.

Just what is Chakrabortty blathering about?

Superb snowflake logic

It’s a dark moment for America — and our president personally made this possible
Donald Trump hasn’t just tolerated this upsurge of fascist violence — he enabled and encouraged it. Now he must go

Racist nutter kills anti-racism protester.

The President must resign.


Well done to Richard Murphy here, well done indeed.

He quotes Eamonn Butler:

Without constitutional rules to prevent minorities being exploited by majorities, democracy will turn into mere majoritarian populism, or into rotating elected dictatorships.

Then, via a link to schools segregation in Virginia, we get to this from Smurf:

What’s the link with Charlottesville? Well, that’s where much of this economic logic began, and not least as part of the resistance to the process of granting equal rights. And as the right wing have got more powerful, and their think tanks more aggressive it is appropriate to make clear that their aim is to defend fundamental divides in society.

So, how and why was school desegregation, indeed all of Jim Crow, overturned? Constitutional protections preventing minorities being exploited by majorities, exactly that protection from majoritarian populism.

Thus we at the ASI are racist fascists because we support the constitutional limitations which prevent something like Jim Crow.

That’s pretty good even by Richard Murphy’s standards.

Shouldn’t an accountant who has actually prepared tax returns know this?

The London Borough of Newham has suggested that its research has shown that half of all its buy-to-let landlords were not registered for self assessment with HMRC when it introduced a regulatory regime for its landlords. Their estimate is that maybe £200 million of tax is not being paid in London alone as a result of the failure of landlords to register to declare tax that they owe.

OK, that’s interesting:

Up to 13,000 landlords in just one London borough have been identified as failing to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that unpaid tax in the capital is costing the public purse nearly £200m.

Newham council in east London, the first to introduce a compulsory borough-wide licensing scheme for landlords in 2013, shared their names and property addresses with HM Revenue & Customs. Newham, which has 27,000 registered landlords, said it understands that 13,000 had not registered for self-assessment, which is generally required if a property owner receives £2,500 a year or more in rent. HMRC would not confirm the figure.

No, you don’t have to register if you receive more than £2,500 in rent. You must register if you receive more than £10,000 in rent. Or, more than £2,500 after allowable expenses. That’s after maintenance, and or depreciation, and until recently at least, after mortgage interest.

Ritchie then charges off to talk about gross rental income, entirely ignoring this basic point.

Third, to add a little more context, based on a number of sources, including data from HMRC and letting agencies, I estimated that maybe £3.2 billion of rent was undeclared for tax purposes in 2011. This was about ten per cent of the total rental market at the time, which implied a vastly higher compliance rate than Newham has now found. If the Newham rate was extrapolated at national average rents the undeclared rents would be £13 billion. This, I stress, does not mean tax is lost on that whole sum as costs can be offset even against undeclared income, but it does, rather worryingly suggest that I have been seriously underestimating tax gaps.

He even mentions costs against income without grasping that you only have to register if your net, not gross, income exceeds £2,500.

So, more of the usual absurd twattery there. It gets worse of course:

Third, the loss, which may when extrapolated across 32 London boroughs, be about £480 a property, seems very unlikely indeed to take into consideration unpaid capital gains tax. Much of the return from buy-to-let is made in this way. In 2011 I estimated that about twenty one per cent of all privately owned UK housing stock was in the buy-to-let sector, suggesting that the same proportion of sale transactions in this sector at that time were also likely to relate to such properties. Since gains were commonplace at the time this might have suggested almost 200,000 gains on such property should have arisen that year. In fact only 52,000 property sales were declared for CGT purposes. I accept, of course, that some properties may have been sold at a loss and others might have realised non-chargeable gains, but candidly I think this was a decided minority of gains.

The portion of buy to let is expanding in the housing supply. Which does indeed mean that more are buying than selling, so we can’t get to the number of sales by looking at the average of holdings. That’s not even accounting, that’s just statistics.


Umm, yes.

Wendy Watson MBE, who was also a trustee, was paid from the charity’s £909,634 budget. In total £874,539 was set down in the charity’s accounts as “fundraising expenses and other costs”, with just £27,403, or 3 per cent, left over for charitable activities.

This is a test which not quite all of those political charities would pass all that well, isn’t it?

How many kids does Barnardos actually aid these days, instead of calling for more aid?

So close yet so far for Mr Baggini

Rather than seek an alternative focus of measurement to wealth, we should instead seek to measure wealth better. The problem with GDP is that it doesn’t measure real wealth at all, only the total cash value of the economy. It is a truism that money has no value in itself, only in what it allows you to buy. Money is only a proxy for wealth, and a deeply imperfect one at that. Real wealth consists in what we are able to own or consume, not in the size of our bank balances. Real wealth therefore grows when we can have more of, or better of, the things that enable us to live well. We are truly enriched by warmer houses, better medical care, healthier food.

Quite true, except we must not conflate wealth with income, stock with flow.

House price inflation has run far ahead of wage inflation in the UK for decades, so although – a few years of recession excepting – proxy wealth has tended to rise, real wealth for many has not, because housing has eaten up more than the increase.

That’s the sort of confusion you get into when making that conflation. Wages are the flow, house prices are the stock. We just shouldn’t be comparing them in this manner. Rent, or even imputed rent can be compared with incomes, should be even. It might even tell us the same story. Or, umm, given interest rates and the financing costs of the asset, perhaps not? Certainly, at times, given the three factors, they will move in different directions.

For example, hold incomes static, house prices double, yields on rentals halve, the effect upon that rent, or imputed, is zero.

Economists rightly celebrate the growth in prosperity that has marked the modern era. But ordinary working people are much better off than their Victorian forebears because they have better homes, better food, free education and healthcare, not because they have more money. The connection between the two is not inextricable, as recent experiences in Japan bear out.

Japan has experienced years of what economists see as the “nightmare of stagnation”. And yet the country is still a safe and affluent nation. David Pilling, the Financial Times’s former Tokyo bureau chief, has argued that “the standard of living, particularly in big cities like Tokyo, has improved significantly in the so-called lost decades. The city’s skyline has been transformed; the quality of restaurants and services improved greatly.”

How is this possible? Because “a lot of improvements in standard of living come not through what we normally consider as growth, but through technological improvements”. This is a concrete example of real growth without what is normally understood by economic growth.

Oh dear. This is the very thing that we try to accommodate into our numbers by inflation adjustments to get to real incomes (ie, deflation can lower nominal income, raises real) and hedonic adjustments (what we buy for the same money is improving in quality). This isn’t something new, this is where all the work is being done.

If we can grasp this, we can see why the argument about whether indefinite growth is environmentally sustainable is bogus. Orthodox economics says that it is essential if the world’s worst-off are to escape their poverty. Critics argue for zero or even negative growth, claiming that this is the only way to ensure we don’t deplete the planet’s resources. Both are wrong. Real wealth is created not just by exploiting more resources and increasing society’s cash pot but by exploiting the same or fewer resources better. The whole question of GDP growth is a red herring if we are interested in real wealth. What matters is that we do more with the resources we have.

But as I have been shouting for a decade we already include that in our GDP calculations. Baggini is missing that we already do this.

Building a better future depends on seeing this clearly. Take the need to reduce inequality, which many now accept is urgent. To do this it is assumed we need to reduce the income gap between rich and poor. But real equality is increased simply by making it possible for the less well-off to do more with the money they have. Social housing was, and could again be, an example of that. Take two people, one of whom earns £30k a year and the other £15k. To close the real wealth gap between the two does not necessarily require increasing the income of the latter. Providing them with a decent council flat at low rent effectively allows their disposable income to equalise.

Quite so, as I have been screaming for a decade. And as wealth (note, wealth, not income) inequality numbers stoutly refuse to incorporate. Good grief, state undunded, old age, pensions are not counted as wealth, private fully funded are. The three all achieve the same thing of course.

Well, you know, it’s their money

He directed Merchant-Ivory classics such as The Remains of the Day, Howards End and A Room with a View, but American director James Ivory is struggling to interest investors in his latest project. The problem, it seems, lies with his writer: William Shakespeare. For more than five years, Ivory has tried in vain to raise money for a cinema adaptation of Richard II.

Despite 50 years of critical acclaim and Oscar recognition, plus British actors Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis lined up to star in his production, financiers are refusing to part with their money. “They look at you like you’re crazy,” he said. “There is an assumption that there is no money to be made from such an investment.”

It’s even possible that they’re right:

Producer Stephen Evans was not surprised to hear of Ivory’s struggle to finance his film. He encountered “much scepticism” from potential investors in making Henry V with Branagh. It was only through friends in the City that he could fully finance the movie. Despite Oscar nominations for Branagh as best director and actor, and great reviews, the film did not do well at the box office.

Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, the film goers, not the stars nor investors?

Personal responsibility, nope, never heard of it

Don’t blame addicts for America’s opioid crisis. Here are the real culprits
Chris McGreal

America’s opioid crisis was caused by rapacious pharma companies, politicians who colluded with them and regulators who approved one opioid pill after another

This is to believe that opiod addiction is some incredible physical addiction. It ain’t.

Sure, cold turkey ain’t pleasant, akin to a proper dose of the ‘flu. But in physical terms that’s pretty much what it is. It’s nowhere near as bad, for example, as a proper full blown alcoholic trying to go cold turkey. That can and sometimes does kill.

The mental addiction is something different of course. Opiods feel wonderful, it’s the desire to feel that wonderful which is the rather more difficult part of the addiction. We rather learnt all this, or at least should have done, in the aftermath of Vietnam. Usage, or addiction if you prefer, rates in theatre was massive, 15 and 25%, some estimates higher. Get home and they drop by 95% or more. MD Stanton has had a lot to say about this.

The rest of the complaint is somehow that government caused this therefore it’s the drug companies to blame.

The Lithium Bubble

It’s really pretty obvious to me that we’re in a bubble concerning investments in lithium supplies. I’ve seen one project get funded just recently where I know, absolutely, that the technology they’re using is not in fact viable. It works, but it’s not economic. They are relying upon coproduction of other metals to make up the numbers and that’s a risky thing in mining.

Oh, sure, if you’re going for copper then you’ll take account of the gold, maybe the molybdenum credits, but they should be extra spice, not what pushes you over the line. Not that this is a law, rather just a rule of thumb.

However, bubbles o mean that interesting things get financed:

Claims that Cornwall is sitting on a multibillion-pound lithium bonanza are due to be tested after a start-up ­project that plans to drill for the metal raised £1m from a trio of experienced mining investors.

Cornish Lithium aims to extract the resource, which is in increasing ­demand for batteries, from hot underground salt water. Its new investors include Norwegian financier Peter Smedvig, founder of Smedvig Capital, whose net worth has been estimated at more than £900m.

I have absolutely no idea whether this will work, obviously. But it strikes me as being something which logically could.

Lithium “deposits” tend to be disperse. Another one I know of, there’s mountains of rock, in which there is zinnwaldite, that being 1.3% Li. So, you dig up the rock, crush it, get the zinnwaldite out, then process that. Sure, it can be done. That’s proven. Getting the rock out and the zinnwaldite out of the rock, is expensive.

There are other areas of the world where those mountains of granite have been worn down by erosion and the Li is now sitting in vast plains of salts. Much easier, which is why we get much current Li from such salt plains. There are also areas of the world where hot water has been circulating through rocks and so there are brines with it in. The rest of world production comes from this.

So, hunt for more brines underneath the right sort of granite mountains – which Cornwall is – and you’ve a good chance there. Granite with tin, tungsten in it is likely to have Li, and those Cornish rocks do.

The reason I know all of this is because the same structure should also contain Sc, or at least can. Unfortunately the hydroxide of Sc isn’t soluble in water meaning that you don’t get Sc concentrations in the brines. Sadly.

As I say, don’t know if Cornish Li will work although we do know it’s there in the slurry pits of China Clay mining. But it is a logical place to go looking, that’s for sure.

The Germans do indeed have a problem here

One of Germany’s most prominent politcians has launched an oustpoken attack on the increasing use of the English language in every day life, and called for a crackdown.

“Co-existence can only work in Germany if we all speak German,” Jens Spahn, seen by many as a potential successor to Angela Merkel, said. “We can and should expect this from every immigrant.”

Mr Spahn, currently junior finance minister, reserved his greatest anger for the growing number of people who work in the German capital despite speaking no German.

“It drives me up the wall the way waiters in Berlin restaurants only speak English,” he told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

Comparing Germans’ often relaxed attitude to the fierce French protectiveness of their language, he added: “You would never find this kind of lunacy in Paris.”

The thing being that the very idea of “Germany” is based on language. Hitler took it all a little far with that talk of “Volk” but there really was a strong 19th century movement that people of the same language were the natural national unit. As with Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and so on. Germany rather became Germany, with a lot of help from Prussian designs, as a result of that underlying idea.

To find that language isn’t quite working as the binding force must hurt to some extent therefore.

A very stupid thought

So, the various copies of the Lotus 7, Caterham, Westfield, LoCost and so on. Go like shit off a hot shovel, acceleration is superb given low weight of the total machine. Motorbike on 4 wheels sorta stuff.

Electric cars accelerate very well indeed. Battery weight a bit of a problem.

Hybrids, when on their batteries, accelerate like electric cars, actually better given low battery weight.

So, when does someone put a hybrid into a Lotus 7 copy to gain the acceleration? Umm, yes, I know, different drive train and all but when does this start to happen?

Quite remarkable finding by Spudda

Scotland is the only part of the UK running a consistent trade surplus

Natural resource producer runs goods trade surplus.

Quite remarkable, don’t know how they do it.

…..but for those with an interest in Scottish economics the implication is at least interesting. The persistent claim that Scotland has a weak economy and is unable to sustain itself is not supported by this data. The chance that it may now and certainly did, support the UK economy as a whole, is, however supported.

Whut? A goods trade surplus indicates a strong economy? Err, but, the US had a massive trade surplus during the Depression…….

Question in The Guardian

Don’t know how much of a response it will get:

A serious question here.

“Surely we can do better than this? When it comes to straightforward supply chain, eggs should be easy and yet the supply chain has been revealed to be fundamentally chaotic. Along the way, the humble egg became a cypher for a globalised food system where the opportunity for spectacular disaster is never far away.”

Can anyone point to a time and place when the food system managed two things together?

1) Feeding everyone, well. By this, in volume, with variety, without periods of dearth let alone starvation and at a less than extortionate cost. Say, perhaps, under 20% of household income.

2) Was locally based with short supply chains?

If there had ever been such a time then of course we could just go back and copy what they did. If there hasn’t then we’ve a bit of a problem really.

Yep, they want to control you all right

My feeling is that if we care about social mobility, then we should care about reducing assortative mating.

Because social mobility is such an important value we should therefore control who people marry.

Hmm, yes.

This is not a good combination either, for here comes the idiot stupidity:

The obvious way to do this would be to reduce social segregation in our education system. Even if we don’t meet our life partner at school or university, we might meet them later on through the lifelong friendships we form there.

What’s driving the rise in assortative mating is that people pair of later, doing so with people they meet though work. Which, in itself, is going to involve a certain stratification, innit?

We shouldn’t stop at schools. I’ve often struggled to explain why academic selection at 18 is OK when – off the back of the evidence – I could never support it at 11 or 14. Maybe because it’s not. In one of the most thought-provoking papers I’ve read recently, Tim Blackman, the vice chancellor of Middlesex University, argues a comprehensive university system in which more young people of mixed abilities go to their local university could bring similar academic benefits to comprehensive schooling.


Miliband is interesting here

In a scathing article in the Observer, Miliband wrote: “Delegating to May and Davis, never mind Johnson and Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.”

The elected government of the day must not enact the result of a referendum. We should do it the EU way of course, keep having votes until the right answer is reached.

And this is his opening line:

For many years Britons and Americans have been proud of the quality of their governance.

We have?