This sounds reasonable

Some fellow Republicans criticized Donald Trump’s remarks on Tuesday, in which he returned to blaming “both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, while others instead broadly denounced bigotry, signs of a possible rift among elected Republicans.

No elected officials went so far as to defend Trump outright after his comments, including his insistence that some of those participating in a “Unite the Right” protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee in Charlottesville were not neo-Nazis or white supremacists.

If they’re trying to unite the right then one would rather assume that they’re trying to unite different factions, racists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other groupuscules on the right as well. Unite the left does mean that all from social democrats through to the Stalinists, doesn’t it?

Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, the leader of the moderate Tuesday group who also didn’t back Trump in 2016, shared this criticism. He tweeted “@POTUS must stop the moral equivalency! AGAIN, white supremacists were to blame for the violence in #Charlottesville.”

Actually, as far as I’ve seen at least, the car incident was the result of someone with rather more issues that just being a fascist activist – which he also appears to have been – :

Fields, according to records from the Florence Police Department in Kentucky, was previously accused of beating his mother and threatening her with a knife in 2011. The mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, told police he stood behind her wielding a 12-inch knife.

Bloom said that in another incident in 2010, Fields smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games. Bloom told officers Fields was on medication to control his temper.

My initial, and near entirely uninformed of course, thought would be nutter who has found a cause rather than the other way around. We also have reasonably good evidence that the vast majority there were not in fact murderous. There were, as many have noted, rather a lot of guns around and so far at least I’ve not heard about any gunfire and certainly not of any gunfire injuries.

Yes, of course neo-Nazis are pinheads but heavily armed idiots not opening fire does tell us something.

I doubt it really, I doubt it

Falling petrol prices are keeping a lid on inflation, and economists believe that means Mark Carney at the Bank of England is less likely to put up interest rates.

Consumer prices rose by 2.6pc in the 12 months to July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, the same rate as in June because falling petrol prices offset rising food and clothing costs to keep inflation steady.

I strongly suspect that the BoE, like The Federal Reserve and even the ECB, looks at core inflation rates. That is, inflation minus the known to be highly volatile fuel and food sectors.

Isn’t this all a bit anti-semitic?

Will Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of racism be enough to assuage his Jewish backers—at last count, roughly 30 percent of the American Jewish community—even though it took him two days to make it, and even though the Charlottesville march was advertised with violently anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery?
Of course it will.
No amount of cognitive dissonance is too great for Trump’s Jewish backers, from high-profile ones like embattled lawyer Michael “Says Who?” Cohen to everyday Jews in the pews. Why? It’s not just Israel, although that’s a big part of it. Nor is it just about Jared and Ivanka. Nor is it blindness to the anti-Semitism and racism rampant among Trump’s hard core base.
Quite the contrary. Trump’s Jewish supporters are well aware of the alt-right, and in a perverse way, they thrive on it. The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces their worldview, their political ideology, and their support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.

Never really thought of the Daily Beast as being quite that type of place.


As anyone who knows the slightest thing about market theory will be aware, it suggests there are some quite strict conditions that must be met if markets are to be what an economist might term efficient in allocating resources appropriately. These conditions include the absence of large market players who can dominate sectors and set prices; the availability of consistent and accurate information on the activity of all market participants to all who wish to engage in the market; access to capital for all who want to supply so that they have the chance of doing so and, of course, an absence of systemic bias that might favour any one participant over another, so giving them an unfair advantage.

Most who know anything about market theory say that’s the model at the limit. Much of the rest of economics is about how close is the real world to that model? Further, how close does it have to be for market resource allocation to be efficient?

The answers being not very and very little.

That’s why we do indeed say that the big four UK supermarkets – used to at least – have pricing power and yet the shops are full while Venezuela starves. We also go on to say that the cure to those ills like pricing power is more markets – Aldi and Lidl come to mind as the latest competitors providing that. We even see that decline in supermarket pricing power in their annual results.

BTW, Hayek also proved that perfect information isn’t possible to collect. Which is the other reason we use markets, for planning is even worse in the absence of perfect information.

If only the Senior Lecturer at Islington Technical College had paid attention in his introductory economics lectures.

So Ritchie doesn’t understand ETF’s either

The second is broader, and is a liquidity issue. If there is a run on these funds in the event of a stock market downturn I can see them adding to liquidity pressure as they effectively leverage the underlying assets by double quoting them. This could ratchet a downturn in market sentiment and add to instability, effectively reflecting the burst of a double bubble. Anything that can do that is dangerous. The fact that ETFs have had a good track record simply says they have reflected the market recovery (as opposed to the real market recovery) from 2008. Nothing suggests that they add real value, and I strongly suspect that in a period of instability they would do the exact opposite.

There are leveraged ETF’s most certainly, but the definition of an ETF doesn’t imply leverage at all. Consider and ETF which says it is invested in BP and Shell, tracking those two stocks. It will buy 100 Shell, 100 BP, (ignore weighting here) and then issue 200 ETF shares, each of which is half a BP share and half a Shell share. If more people want to buy hte ETF then they buy more Shell and BP shares, if more people want to sell then they sell hunks of stock.

This isn’t leverage. No more of the asset is created than existed before the ETF.

Liquidity can indeed be a problem, a those running open ended funds in commercial property have found out but that’s a different matter.

Err, no Daily Mail, just no

In keeping with centuries-old wedding customs in the Muslim-majority southern state of Johor, he also gave her a dowry of 22.50 ringgit (about £4), and the couple kissed the hands of their parents, aunts and uncles as a mark of respect.


Dowry is a share of her father’s assets which she then brings into the new household. The argument being that as part of the new family she’ll not share in whatever distribution there is in the will when the time comes. A payment by the new husband to the father’s family would be bride price. A payment by the husband to the wife would be what? A wedding present?

OK, but shall we be even handed here Zoe?

The urgent moral question is how to find the language and timbre to take on the tie Nazi as robustly as one would the boot Nazi, since they are, plainly, part of the same body politic. If one ignores or indulges the tie, the boot will always come as a hideous surprise.

Can we substitute communist for Nazi there and then do the same? Equal moral condemnation for someone who lectures on the elimination of the bourgeoisie as someone who actually puts the boot into an actual bourgeoisie?

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.