Way to go here, way to go!

Now it is perhaps encouraging to see the Co-op gain more traction, but much more worrying is that the concentration of our food supply channels only encourages the corporations, which have an easy ‘route to market’ as the jargon has it. Small, local, food finds it difficult to get a look in. And small local food is what we should be trying to encourage – not only from a climate change aspect but also in an effort to fix the UK’s disastrous diet. A recent Sustainable Food Trust report estimated that diet-related disease added 37p to every £1 spent on food.We need to steer away from food that is well travelled, well marketed, supplied in brightly coloured packaging and which contains much of the delights of the (American) label below. We won’t be able to improve the nation’s health until we improve its diet.

More expensive food, food only available in season, reliant upon the vagaries of local weather conditions, is the way to improve the nation’s diet.


How to kill investment bubbles

I disagree with the BIS on the issue of interest rates though: they’d like more rises to kill off bubbles. I think significantly more direct action is required that actually tackles the issue and does not penalise ordinary people yet again for something not of their creation. So, significant rises in corporation tax for large companies; wealth taxes; a variable rate financial transaction tax with a rate that rises in periods of financial volatility and more action on bank capital are required, now. These might work. Interest rate rises will just push households into default.


So Robert Shiller tells us that more speculation, the ability of people to sell short in futures and options markets, is what kills bubbles. The Senior Lecturer tells us that we must reduce speculation in order to kill bubbles.

One has the Nobel for economics the other teaches economics in a British university. Isn’t the British student getting a good deal.

A vague thought about Noel Gallagher

The sneering about Oasis was that he was using discarded Beatles middle eights to build entire songs around.

Harsh but fair.

Having just listened to Holy Mountain from the new album it appears that he’s moved on to using drum tracks from The Sweet. Maybe Ram Jam.


Writing college papers

So, knocked that on the head. Did the one to check I could do it. And I could quite obviously make a decent amount of money doing it. $4,000 a month or up would be really quite trivially easy.

But then that’s the problem really. Couple of thousand words in the Amazon Whole Foods thing? Sure, I’ve done it already anyway elsewhere. Couple of hours for $100? Sure, why not? But what I would write about it really wouldn’t be what a prof is expecting from a 2nd year business studies student. No, not sounding grand, just reality.

One to leave for times of disaster perhaps, not the current well, wouldn’t it be nice to be making more?

Isn’t economics supposed to be about the unseen?

There are only three possible outcomes from this tax reform.

The first is companies will have more retained profit.

The second is that they don’t invest it, but do share buy-backs instead.

And the third is that the wealthiest in the US will get wealthier at cost to everyone else as a result.

What happens then? What’s the next effect?

The wealthy either spend the money, increasing demand, or the wealthy invest the money, increasing both the productive capacity of the society and demand.

Sure, we can argue about how effective this is but to ignore it means you’re not doing economics.

Sure, that’s why we lie

Yes, it is possible that peace in Ireland might manage to survive the imposition of a hard border if the UK leaves the EU Single Market and the Customs Union (because doing that will impose a hard border), but is that a risk that that anyone really wants to take? And how, anyway, can anyone begin to calculate that risk?

The peace settlement in Northern Ireland – as Fintan O’Toole so elegantly lays out – is based on ambiguity, and the way the Irish border issue in Brexit is currently going is trying to impose clarity, is trying to force a decision to be made. Without anyone understanding the consequences of that.

Great, so don’t impose clarity, keep the ambiguity.

Just lie.

The border is where the border is. It will be, post Brexit, exactly where it is today. And exactly what it is today too. Some road signs with the occasional customs patrol on either side.

Yes Mr. EU that’s a hard border. Very hard, dontcha see?

Now fuck off.

Economist gets the efficient markets hypothesis wrong

At any rate, the durability and magnitude of the Bitcoin phenomenon, running for nearly 10 years and with a putative value of nearly $US 100 billion, provides us with a very sharp test of the Efficient (financial) Markets Hypothesis. If Bitcoin eventually becomes a currency, the EMH and its supporters will be vindicated, and I (along with quite a few other economists) will have a lot of egg on my face. If the bubble bursts, the roles will be reversed.

Well, no, not really. Not at all in fact.

We face uncertainty. It might succeed and it probably won’t. There’s an option value to the thought that it might succeed. That it doesn’t will not change the point that while we face uncertainty there’s an option value.

Bollocks, complete, unmitigated, bollocks

The chief executive of Chapel Down, an official wine supplier to 10 Downing Street, has said Britons will “starve” if the door is closed to foreign fruit pickers after Brexit.

England’s biggest winemaker, based in Kent, relies on EU workers to pick grapes for its drinks, which also include beer, cider and gin.

In comments that are likely to cause embarrassment for No 10, the Chapel Down boss, Frazer Thompson, said: “The biggest potential impact of Brexit is on agricultural labour. Kent has had eastern Europeans picking fruit in recent years, but we’ll all starve if the labour issue is not sorted after Brexit.”


Imports of food are actually the import of the labour used to grow the food.

He’s spouting complete bollocks.

This is easy for Venezuela

President Nicolas Maduro has said Venezuela would launch a cryptocurrency to combat a US-led financial “blockade,” although he provided few clues about how the economically crippled Opec member would pull off the feat.

The solution to hyperinflation always is a new currency. One that is rigidly limited in issuance so that people can have confidence in it. Maybe not a sufficient criterion, but a necessary one.

So, hands up everyone who thinks Maduro is going to launch a currency with a hard and not breakable issuance limit?

Quite, it’s not going to work, is it?

The new Christmas food according to The Guardian

No, not turkey kebab, turkey taro nor millet and turkey, despite our new national vibrancy:

One Christmas my mother gave me Helen Forrester’s memoir Twopence to Cross the Mersey. What timing! I was warm, overfed on mince peas…..

Hmm, maybe the subs have been at one of those booze advent calendars?

Looking at the actual complaint though:

Forrester was born in 1919 to socialites who built a glittering life on the tick. Then her father went bankrupt in the Great Depression, leaving his family of seven children with only the clothes they stood up in. They decamped to Liverpool, across the Mersey from Forrester’s grandmother, but could never summon up twopence for the ferry. The book is a calm, sad account of a childhood of bitter cold and near-starvation. Her mother numbed her misery with aspirin; her father sought out parish handouts. They lived in a single room. Forrester left school to care for the children, waking at dawn to creep along the street skimming half an inch from the milk bottles on the doorsteps, so that her baby brother would survive.

I never forgot it. It comes to mind when I see the remains of Grenfell Tower, or read about food banks, or people dying with empty cupboards and half-completed government paperwork on the table. It made me realise that poverty isn’t a natural law, nor is it symptomatic of lack of moral fibre. It is a monstrous and an avoidable evil and, so long as society harbours vast inequality, it will always be lying in wait.

There’s something that the dim bint is missing. Missing very badly.

Leave aside the level of whatever welfare state there was at the time (it wasn’t that bad actually, not by the standards of the time etc). Think instead of average incomes. £165 a year for the nation as a whole. Upgrade that to current day incomes and its some £44,000. Upgrade it by goods and services inflation instead, to give us actual living standards and it’s more like £19,000. That’s the average income for the nation.

Two adults and 7 children on £19,000 a year? Yup, that’s poverty by modern standards, isn’t it? It’s also not an evil, it’s not something to do with inequality even. It’s just that the past was poor, poorer than any of us ever realise. The point being that it’s this very capitalism and free markets which have risen us up out of that shit.

No, really. Note that by using the average we’re not addressing distribution of incomes at all. That structural inequality and all that shit are being entirely ignored. The difference between 19 and 44 has been provided by economic growth, nowt else.

Hasn’t the world changed?

Outgoing Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has defended his decision to delay the introduction of a female lead by saying the show isn’t around to pander to “progressive liberals”.

The argument is over whether the last Dr Who should have been female, rather than the next one will be. But, but, shouldn’t the last one have been as well?

At which point, hasn’t the world changed? That a director has to defend his decision that a male character be played by a male actor?

Well, yes, OK

We know that money buys freedom but we cannot simply maximise freedom by giving people more money. The only result would be inflation. Better is to maximise disposable income for everyone—net income minus essential spend on basic subsistence, housing and energy (rents that act as a drag on productive activity).

Increasing disposable income for the whole of society opens up choices—including ones that GDP cannot measure, for example to do more in the community or spend more time with the kids. Disposable income changes the focus towards productive economic activity rather than wealth extraction. Investment in housing, sustainable energy, and transport infrastructure provide the foundation for a freer society where we are enabled to pursue a productive life.

A second key ingredient in choosing the right metric is to use median measures rather than a crude average (or mean). To see the difference, imagine a football team where one player is earning one million pounds per week and the other ten earn one hundred. The average salary is close to half a million whereas the median income is only one hundred. If the pay of the star player is increased to two million then average income doubles while median incomes remains almost the same. By optimising median income we optimise the distribution such that everyone can be maximally economically active. The importance of using the median measure is discussed on Jonathan Andreas’ medianism blog.

If political-economy is to be of any use, it should not just try to understand the world but also try to improve it. Progress implies that something should be optimised. The GDP money-metric is a crude goal for life, better to maximise median disposable income, first by addressing the optimal distribution and second by provision of universal basic services (health, education, housing, and transport). By switching away from GDP to median disposable income we get closer to maximising freedom, and that matters.

However, given the way that real world economies work we find that higher GDP does translate through into higher median disposable incomes. Perhaps not at the margins, the 5 or 10% differences between two economies, but most certainly over time and relating to any large differences in GDP. Median disposable income is higher in 2017 Britain than 1950 Britain? In 2017 Britain that 2017 DRC Congo? GDP tracking that really quite well, even if not exactly.

Ms. Lucas misunderstands

We know that infinite economic growth simply isn’t compatible with a planet of finite resources, and we also know that the treatment of environmental concerns as “externalities” in pursuit of never-ending GDP increases is incredibly damaging.

We don’t deliberately treat environmental concerns as being something outside our area of concern. Instead, we note that GDP, and other market based measures, don’t capture externalities very well – that’s actually what the word means, that these righteous and just concerns are external to market processes.

We then try to shoehorn them into our decision making process as best we can, there are entire libraries stocked with discussions of this very point. Usually, by adding the price of them to those market processes.

Ritchie and Bitcoin

Now there’s a surprise. A tax haven is promoting the use of cryptocurrencies whose use is untraceable

The entire point of the blockchain is that every transaction, ever, is traceable.

It might be anonymous, at least until it meets the rest of the financial system, but it really is traceable. Because that’s what the blockchain is, a listing of all and every transactions ever.

Welcome to the real world

She dazzled the nation at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, taking home two gold medals.

But now Hannah Cockroft MBE, the world record-breaking wheelchair racer who has won five gold medals for Britain, fears she will become trapped in a cycle of unemployment once she is too old to compete professionally, joining the ranks of Britain’s 800,000 young people who are not in employment or training.

Her comments come amid wider concern that the champions of London’s 2012 Games are falling into uncertain futures, with many having little work experience outside athletics.

This is rather what happens to all professional athletes, isn’t it?


The Government’s social mobility adviser is quitting over claims that ministers are failing to make the “necessary progress” to “bring about a fairer Britain, it emerged last night.

Alan Milburn, a former Labour Cabinet minister has said there is “zero prospect” of the government tackling social mobility.

It was reported last night that was joined in walking out by his three fellow commissioners, including the Conservative former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard.

Given the reports they’ve been releasing we should welcome this, no?

So, an interesting little thought

Probably someone’s going to get here before us. However.

Advent calendars have all become rather more posh these days. Some of them have very much more in the value of the products (usually, to be sure, the “brand” composing much of that value) than the price of them.

And then, well, how many advent calendars get sold after the beginning of advent? And how many after Christmas?

So, there will be overstocks, somewhere, and what happens to them? At what price? And how do we find out? How do we buy them?

There are bourbon tasters, beer ones, wine, fizz etc. Some of which seem to be about £50 for perhaps £80 of booze. But overstocks? Would they get down to £10? For 500 pieces say? 10 people each in for £500, that’s doable isn’t it?

But would they get down to that price and if they did, where would they be for sale?


And, you see, I think it would be the booze ones which would fall furthest in prices. Because who is allowed to resell them is limited by law (no e-Bay, Poundland etc).