Odd from Polly

Since Margaret Thatcher forced compulsory competitive tendering on councils, there has been, astonishingly, no evidence and no research to prove whether outsourcing is value for money. There are no controlled trials, no measuring long-term effects or knock-on costs to the state of lowering pay, finds the Smith Institute.


Outside the gates of the British Museum last week 60 outsourced cleaners, porters, technicians, plumbers and electricians petitioned to be taken back in-house. They were handed over to Carillion five years ago. Now the company’s bankruptcy leaves them in limbo, and they want to return as the museum colleagues they once were.

But where are the rest of them? Carillion crowed to Facilities Management World that it was taking over 138 museum staff in a “hugely prestigious contract”. But those 138 have dwindled to just 60, for the same volume of work. That’s how outsourcing operates, cutting more brutally than public employers dare.

That is a trial right there isn’t it?

Interesting assertion

There it is: confirmation if it were needed that the debt is borrowing that must be repaid at cost to future generations even though £435 billion of quantitative easing proves otherwise and we have never repaid public debt, or attempted to do so, because the truth is that this would destroy the money supply.

I think I’m right that G. Brown paid down a bit of the debt in his first couple of years. Lawson was proud of his public sector debt repayment. And didn’t Attlee run a budget surplus to help pay down the war debt?

Hmm, perhaps the Senior Lecturer isn’t right in his assertion then?

My apologies

The story of one man’s pregnancy: ‘It felt joyous, amazing and brilliant”

No, sorry, I’ll not buy it.

OK, sure, pregnancy is all of that. Equally, I’m just certain that the individual believes themselves to be a man, presents as such more often than not and might even have gained the legal right to be considered as such.

I’d even call xe him just to be polite.

But someone with functioning ovaries and womb to the point of being able to carry a child to term simply isn’t male in any useful sense of the definition. Sure, I’m a social dinosaur so eat my shorts.

If only Ritchie understood his subject….

The only improvement I’d suggest is that ‘the politician’ fails to point out that the private banks create new money whenever they lend – yet somehow this goes unmentioned so the implication seems to be that this never creates any inflation. Hence, when the government creates new money we are always going to end up like Zimbabwe or Venezuela but never, ever when the private banks do it.

We do tend to mention it quite a lot actually. The bank creation of credit – note, not money – being the thing we influence, temper or encourage, by changing interest rates.

The Senior Lecturer has noted that we do in fact change interest rates in order to change credit creation, has he?


The background to this tale is The Packhorse in South Stoke, an area, indeed a pub, I know well. It’s an entirely lovely building in a picture postcard village. It’s also an enormous pub in a village of under 500 people. Back in the day it could be, and was, well supported by such a population, being the proper centre of the community and all that (from memory it sold chocolate from behind the bar, for example, because there was no local sweet shop. That as well as scrumpy so vicious that foreigners – those from more than a mile away – would be limited to halves). These days we just don’t drink that way.

The cost of drinking out is now very much higher than doing so at home, we can’t smoke (yes, sorry, the seasoned topers that are the financial lifeblood of a pub did and do tend to smoke) and this particular pub is just that little bit too far away for a wander to it. It requires either a determined walking expedition or a car ride – and we all do that much less now, and rightly, because of concerns over drink driving.

Director breathes sigh of relief

Ian Stevenson says:
March 18 2018 at 9:36 am
Last night I saw on one of the Sky channels “The Spider’s web’ about the secrecy jurisdictions. I was able to put faces to people you have written about.

Richard Murphy says:
March 18 2018 at 11:21 am
I was asked to be in it and did not have time….

A shame. It is very good


It is good because who did not have the time to be in it?


If you don’t know the underlying economics of an issue or subject then it’s going to be easy enough to be confused by what happens surrounding that economic issue or subject. And so it is with the Taka against the US dollar exchange rate.

The rate has been declining over time — good, it should be. That isn’t quite how most think of it but that’s just because most haven’t grasped those little subtleties of what is going on.



Defined contributions pension were made legally possible in the UK by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986. Workers were told these new kinds of pensions would give them more individual choice. But individuals proved to be much less economically rational than Thatcher assumed. When given control over their pensions, people tended to make naive financial decisions based on rules of thumb, which led to smaller pension pots. Workers on defined contributions pensions also found themselves at the mercy of the market. If they happened to have the back luck of retiring during a recession, their income was going to be far lower than it might have been. Finally, many employees with defined contributions pensions found their employer was putting much less towards their pensions. According to one analysis, employers spent on average 15% of their earnings on people with defined benefits pensions and just under 3% on people with defined contributions.

This leaves today’s young people with four options. The first is exit. Many skilled young people have realised that things are getting worse in the British workplace, and have decided to head for more attractive places such as Australia – which also happens to have one of the world’s best pensions systems.

The Australian superannuation system is defined contribution……

Hurrah! Scotland will do the experiment

In the last day I have speed read two versions of the new book by Robin McAlpine from the Scottish think tank Common Weal entitled ‘How to start a new country’.
Having addressed the transition in an appropriately robust fashion that I think soundly legally grounded the book makes four things clear. They are that Scotland must have its own currency. It must have a strong macroeconomic framework. This must work for everyone. And at the heart of making it do so there must be a robust tax system based on a proper understanding of the role of tax in a modern economy. I confess that the last issue, as addressed in the longer version of the book, appears to have been influenced by my thinking. This is a new state to be built on the understanding that MMT coupled with modern tax practice can deliver.

Super, so the Scots can do the experiment and we can all watch, right?

If the rich bugger off we’ll be better off

Well, maybe:

The rich and wealthy are also not that valuable because their low overall rates of tax compared to both income and wealth suggests that our dependency upon them is tenuous, and that their replacement by lower paid, but likely to be as ambitious and in truth equally competent people of sound judgement, might in the event that there was an exodus from the country of the current incumbents of the highest paid posts actually be for the overall best of the country by creating a considerably improved income distribution.

Didn’t we try this? Didn’t we have a brain drain? And did it make us better off?

Well, umm, 1976 was when this country was most equal……

Fun with mathematics

A new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands says more than 90% contain tiny pieces of plastic.

Analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.

The paper is here.

Looks rather like contamination from the packaging process – it’s higher than in tap water for example.

My own reaction was we’ve an average of 23 pieces per litre of water (median, I think) and pieces are divided into more than 100 nm and less than (so, perhaps 50 nm on average for the smaller group). nm is a millionth of a metre.

Me, I’m going to go with this being equal to nothing in the vernacular. But I’ll admit that I get lost in 10-6, volume and length measurements and so on. Anyone like to tell us all what this actually is as contamination in ppm, or ppb?

It would be fun if this plastics concentration was less than, say, the allowable levels of As in drinking water…..