Idiot sodding tosspot

And equally staggeringly there is no mention in the article of the cost of the reforms. There is no hint that GDP has fallen by 25% or that more than 50% of the young are unemployed, or that healthcare has disappeared for many or that poverty has reached levels the EU should never tolerate. No, according to Giles all that matters is that the banks were in sight of being repaid and Tsipras took that away from them.

Ritchie, you cretin, the banks aren’t owed any money. It’s all owed to governments, one way and another.

Well, yes Polly

Tax credits are a mechanism for redressing the fall in wages as a share of GDP over the last 15 years.

Given that the fall in the wage share has been as a result of the rise in the tax share (no, really, it has, not a rise in the profit or capital share) this would seem to be easy enough to solve.

Let’s cut the tax share then, eh?

I hadn’t thought of this but yes

“We are in an extremely dangerous situation. Greek companies have been excluded from the electronic transfers of Europe’s Target2 system. The entire Greek business community is unable to import anything, and without raw materials they can’t produce anything,” he said.

It’s not just the cash is it? Bank closures really do mean bank closures, don’t they?

You don’t need many days of this to kill off swathes of an economy.

It’s not quite that absolutely nothing will be happening in that economy. But imagine that economic activity halves for a week….just the the one week that the banks are closed for (some hope it’s only a week, eh?). That’s 1% off annual GDP just there. Meaning that there’s absolutely no hope of any form of budget surplus this year, is there?

Further, say a deal is done. Greece falls into line. Banks reopen: everyone, but everyone, will drain every penny from those banks. ELA will rise from he current 90 billion to what, 130, 180 billion? And the ECB’s not going to finance that, is it?

I don’t see how they come out of this without the banks bust: meaning a recapitalisation and that means the new drachma.

What am I missing?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Bernie did do it?

Nearly 10,000 supporters delivered a jolt of momentum to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign Wednesday night at a supersize rally where the senator from Vermont asked his backers to help him create a political revolution.

Mr. Sanders, the upstart Democratic presidential candidate who has steadily been gaining ground in the polls but remains a distinct underdog, outlined an unabashedly liberal agenda for the raucous Wisconsin crowd, advocating a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a single-payer health-care system and free tuition at public universities.

In Madison, Mr. Sanders was greeted by a roaring crowd that filled a 10,000 seat arena to the rafters. He told supporters that this was the largest rally yet for any candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Tonight, we have made a little bit of history,” Mr. Sanders said.

Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, drew about 5,500 supporters to New York’s Roosevelt Island when she kicked off her campaign last month.

I’d even put up with his policy ideas….after all, I don’t have to live with them or pay for them….if he were to beat the Wicked Witch.

Hmm, Heidi……

Mar. 10, 2015

That’s the date of the story.

Mashable has hired Heidi Moore as business editor, the social news site announced today.


Moore is one of the most popular business and finance journalists on Twitter, with nearly 53,000 followers, making her a natural fit for Mashable.

Interesting reason why.

Moore was most recently the finance and economics editor of The Guardian’s American edition, Guardian U.S. Her last day at Guardian U.S. was Jan. 29, and she will start at Mashable next week.

So it would seem that it was being let go at The G, not moving to take the different/better job.

So, yes, we might have found that mythical beast, someone whose economic journalism wasn’t good enough even for The Guardian.

Oooo! Painful for Heidi here

Scandal rocked the media world this afternoon when Guardian economics editor Heidi Moore claimed an email newsletter called “Today in Tabs” — which is syndicated by Newsweek — was actually her idea.

On Twitter, Moore said that the idea for an “Open Tabs” feature, offered months ago in one of her more than 130,000 tweets, was “promptly stolen” by the newsletter’s author, Rusty Foster.


Foster said he was kind of confused by the whole thing.

“It took me a while to figure out what she was even saying,” he said. “I don’t really even know what we’re talking about.”

Today was the 75th Today in Tabs.

“I’ve been writing for four months,” said Foster, who added a joke about the whole thing in this afternoon’s newsletter. “I guess people can decide.”

“I just think it’s bizarre,” said Katie J.M. Baker, the reporter at Newsweek who first suggested her publication syndicate Today in Tabs, adding that, as of this writing, nobody at Newsweek had really noticed Moore’s Twitter attacks.


Question, is Mashable a step up from The Guardian?


The paragraph is the conclusion of an article by Sarah Gordon entitled ‘Infrastructure is too important to fall under the spell of politics’. And yet the call is blatantly political, as is Gordon’s article (which is also blatantly wrong in its analysis of Blair and Brown).

The call should instead be seen as just another in the ongoing cycle of demands from business that a wide range of decisions be removed from political control. So, the Bank of England was. The NHS has been passed over to local boards of the great and good. And the ACCA has called for there to be only one budget a parliament so that tax can be taken out of the democratic arena. And now the demand is that infrastructure spending should also be handed over.

The trend is unmistakable and is clearly an assault on democracy. We’re seeing it in Greece, but don’t have any doubt it is happening here in the UK too, done by nice people in suits.

That’s from the man who insists that infrastructure spending should all be handed over to the Green Investment Bank.

University of California’s microaggression guidelines


A person asking an Asian American or Latino
American to teach them words in their native

Continuing to mispronounce the names of students
after students have corrected the person time and
time again. Not willing to listen closely and learn
the pronunciation of a non-English based name.

So you cannot ask how to pronounce ǂKam ǃũi-aob gye ǁẽib di gūna ǃhomi ǃna gye ǃũi hã i. But God Forbid that you should mispronounce Sara Baartman.

Might work over on the West Coast but I see a certain problem with it.


The standards of financial reporting these days. Now, OK, this is pendantry but, the Telegraph:

However, information revealed to prospective investors shows that Uber generated net revenues of $415m but racked up operating losses of $470m, although it is not clear whether this refers to a quarter, a year or another time period.

And the linked to report at Bloomberg:

Uber Technologies Inc. is telling prospective investors that it generates $470 million in operating losses on $415 million in revenue, according to a document provided to prospective investors.

It’s that “net” in the Torygraph report that grates.

“Net revenue” usually means profits. We can work out what they’re using it to mean here, Uber’s gross revenue net of payments to drivers etc. But it’s still an odd and entirely misleading way of reporting it.

Greek game play by Syriza

So, let’s imagine you’re a pretty hard left type of government. You’d like a very much more, umm, socialist? communist? socio-economic organisation of the country.

One obvious way to do that is to take control of the banks. At which point you do rather control the economy… the extent that any government can control something so chaotic. So, if this is what you really want to do, because you really do think that the overthrow of private capitalism will make the country a better place, then you’d be doing what Syriza have been doing.

Hem and haw, delay, until the banking system is in fact bust. At which point you’ve got to bring back the drachma. And everyone will applaud as you nationalise the banks because, well, you’re the only people who can save the country from not having a financial system at all.

You’ll not get the IMF applauding all of your actions, not at all. But they, and BIS, and everyone else among the Serious People, will agree that you really do have to nationalise those banks in order to recapitalise them.

Yes, I know, very tin foil hat. But are we all absolutely, 100%, certain that this isn’t the actual desired end game? I’m 99.9% certain that it isn’t but…..

If you were of a suspicious mind, you might wonder whether Mr Tsipras has not in fact lured European leaders and officials into a legal trap, and that they have fallen for the bait.
His Byzantine negotiating tactics may make perfect sense after all. Just a thought.

Sir Nicholas Winton

Just to point out one little thing:

Sir Nicholas Winton, who has died aged 106, saved the lives of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939; but his achievement long went unrecognised and for 50 years few of the children knew their saviour’s name.

He was given the top medal in Prague last year. And OK, so I tend to hang around educated and switched on people. But several times I was asked “Did you see about that British bloke?” and this is among provincial Czechs. He gained, not fame, but honour, which is what should have happened and did.

And fame too:

On the day the newspaper published the story, Winton appeared on the BBC television That’s Life! show to discuss it. A week later he appeared on the programme again; this time the presenter Esther Rantzen invited the studio audience to stand up if they owed their life to Nicholas Winton, and the entire audience rose to its feet. “It was all absolutely awful,” Winton complained. He continued to insist he had never done anything special: “I just saw what was going on and did what I could to help.”

Well, yes, before the euro that’s what we did do

But the point remains that what is left is unserviceable without radical reform of the Greek economy that permits it to grow again, and that reform is not possible unless existing debt is written off. That’s because without that write off all the money needed to invest for growth will instead go in debt servicing.

Long ago the reality of this type of crisis was recognised in the commercial insolvency world. What Greece is in is best described as a classic receivership situation where there is a surviving activity well worth preserving (it’s a country, after all) but where any chance of it prospering is prevented by debt burdens that are the consequence of past mistakes. In the commercial and personal world, and even for some forms of local government, we pragmatically allow such restructuring because whilst no one wants to see non-payment of debt we prefer that to no payment at all and the continuation of a struggling entity always tottering on the brink of potential failure.

We need to recognise than that if Greece was a company a pre-packaged insolvency would probably solve most of its problems, in days. It is time we did the same for countries. But don’t hold your breath because bankers object to this, largely because the guarantee that countries won’t fail is what they think underpins their own risk, and the last thing they want to do is accept responsibility for that.

So Greece must suffer when glaringly obviously a better solution can be and should be found. In the commercial world you might call that professional incompetence. Internationally it’s just callous. But no one is listening.

That’s always been the standard IMF solution. Debt writedown, internal reforms and devaluation. This has been the standard wisdom for many decades. It’s only the euro itself that prevented the same thing being done in Greece.

Let’s put the blame where it belongs here. We’ve always known what to do. It’s only that European Union project that prevented us doing what we all knew how to do in the first place.

But then with Ritchie obviously angling for an EU contract he’s not going to say that, is he?

Yes, the idiot still idiots along

Yesterday the Centre for Policy Studies claimed that pensioner households that received more in income from the state than they p[aid in tax were a burden that justified further welfare reforms.

That’s nonsense. But what the CPS ignored is that the cost of tax relief for private pensions is now a staggering £48 billion a year, made up of £34 billion in tax relief and £14 billion of national insurance subsidy. That is a staggering 14.8% of all income tax, national insurance and corporation tax to be collected in 2015-16. It’s also about 50% of the total cost of state pensions.

The real question is why we now provide this relief when such relief can now be claimed without a person actually taking a recognisable pension that guarantees an income for life, or even by participating in a mutual arrangement where risk is collectivised, which was always been the underlying social logic of pension arrangements that justified tax relief. When, instead, pensions have become little more than another form of saving for those better off the logic of tax relief to encourage savings that the economy does not need and which do, in the vast majority of cases, simply increase the wealth divide (because only those already sufficiently well off to make ends meet can, in the main, make pension savings) makes little sense.


Pensions tax relief is not tax relief it is tax deferment. You pay tax on the income you get from that eventual pension.

Further, that “relief” is the not a cost associated with pensions being paid out today. It is a cost associated with the pensions that will be paid out in the future.

Thus the net cost of the deferment needs to be what tax is not collected now minus what tax will be collected in the future. At net present values if you like. Wouldn’t entirely surprise me to find that the net number is positive although I somewhat doubt it will be.

Unless and until Ritchie provides us with that calculation he’s just wibbling.

In what manner is this not bribery?

The university paid the former first daughter $85,000 for the short appearance, which only amounted to about an hour on campus …

“She negotiated to speak for 10 minutes, participate in a 20-minute moderated question-and-answer session and spend a half-hour posing for photos with VIPs,” said John Martellaro, a spokesman for the university.

Yes, yes, free markets and all that, people can spend their money however they like.

But seriously, in what manner is this not bribery of the daughter of the next likely President of the United States?

Desmond does at least understand the newspaper business

The Express group presented a different challenge. By 2000, the starry Beaverbrook years were long gone and the circulation was in steep decline – it was hard to see how the papers could be reinvented to capture new markets in what turned out to be the newspaper industry’s last fling. But with ruthless cost cutting, Desmond has wrung a profit from his shrinking assets. Rather than trying to build sales, he has simply accepted that his papers are on their way out and that, in the medium term, the road to profit lies in them surrendering to their fate. So no circulation stunts, no giveaways, no increased coverage of this or that: the Desmond recipe for success at the Express is to reinforce its ageing readers’ opinions, and give them occasional hope of increased mobility and pain relief with frequent front-page splashes that promise cures for arthritis. “Affirmation rather than information” is his motto. And affirmation comes cheap.

That’s a very sensible economic response. Sweat the assets of a dying industry for what they can be sweated for.

Note that I’m not talking about the content at all, his opinions, the editorial line or anything. Just the basic economics of it. There’s good profits to be had out of carefully managing a declining industry. Especially if you can buy in at a valuation that assumes you’re going to invest to expand it, or at least keep it going, and then you don’t do that.

Wonder how much one might be able to make by buying one of the venerable publishers and then stripping it right back to only the backlist, no new publications at all……you’d strip out nearly all of the costs overnight and have another few decades of that backlist as income.

Only in Britain

Or should this even be only in England?

Ian Allan, who has died the day before his 93rd birthday, triggered the post-war explosion of trainspotting as a British pastime by publishing the first booklet of engine numbers in 1942 and starting a club which had 230,000 members by the time steam gave way to diesel. He diversified the business to embrace magazines, bookshops, a travel agency, a Masonic publisher, a printing business, organic garden supplies, commercial property and car dealerships.
Allan was 20, and a 15s-a-week clerk with the Southern Railway, when he published the ABC of Southern Railway Locomotives in response to calls from enthusiasts for information. Management declined to publish it, but allowed Allan to do so at his own risk.
The first 2,000 copies of the shilling booklet sold out in days. Further ABCs on the Great Western, LNER and LMS railways, and London buses, trams and trolleybuses, went like hot cakes, friends and neighbours helping to distribute them.
It had not occurred to Allan that “bagging” the locomotives he listed would take off as a hobby. But within weeks, knots of schoolboys armed with his booklet appeared at the end of station platforms,

Not, perhaps, just the idea of trainspotting (I’m trying to ponder the reaction of the average Russian, or even German, to this idea and not getting very far) but that the bloke who invented it all by chance gets an obituary in one of the major newspapers.

We’re a weird country, no doubt about it.

Does he want no Muslim audience at all?

Children’s television shows like Peppa Pig should feature more homosexual characters, one of the two contenders to lead the Liberal Democrats has said.

Norman Lamb, who is battling with rival Tim Farron to succeed Nick Clegg, said it was not “out of bounds” that characters on the popular Channel Five programme should be homosexual.

Sigh. And it’s not as if we really need to bring sexuality into programmes for three year olds, is it?