Timmy Elsewhere

At The Business.

Why has, both times we\’ve had a globalised system, Britain specialised in banking? Also, what is the definition of a species?

17 thoughts on “Timmy Elsewhere”

  1. “”So has the definition of species changed since I was taught that all those decades ago?”

    Yes, that’s the official definition. No-one uses it in practice, of course, since it requires long study to see if creatures do indeed mate and if the offspring are valid.

    What most happens is that taxonomists look at the morphology, suck air between their teeth and say “probably different species.”

    However, these days there are some very interesting genetic approaches that use a particular sequence of mitochondrial DNA that maps pretty well on to the taxonomic definitions. This is a major step forward because it allows automatic hand-held sequencing machines (c.f. Bones’ flashy thing in Star Trek) to identify a species from a database.

    But all is not rosy: the taxonomists don’t want new fangled ways messing up their grant applications, and so the database isn’t getting the essential support it needs. Fortunately, the genetic technique still works for assessing biodiversity, even if you can’t identify each individual species without a taxonomist.

    I’m sure that one day, when the academics have had their bun fight, we’ll switch over to a genetic definition of species.

  2. Re global banking:
    1. Historic reasons, we used to have an Empire, we are in the middle of the time zones, England has seen few wars on its home ground (cf. Switzerland) etc.
    2. Tax reasons – the UK has more double tax treaties than anybody else, 30% corporation tax is not too high by G7 standards and banking is largely exempt from VAT.

  3. “Why has, both times we’ve had a globalised system, Britain specialised in banking?”

    Beacuse on both occasions, the operation of so-called ‘unilateral free trade’ has resulted in British industry being ravaged by cheap imports.

    For the past century, banking and financial services have been the only games in town.

    Read Correlli Barnett.

  4. “Beacuse on both occasions, the operation of so-called ‘unilateral free trade’ has resulted in British industry being ravaged by cheap imports.”

    Good stuff. All those foreigners prepared to sell us their labour cheap. Sounds a good deal to me. Your problem is what?

  5. Amen, Kay Tie. Silly mercantilists are like Whack-a-Mole: they pop up everywhere no matter how much effort you put into countering their dopey arguments.

    ‘Species’ is a rather protean concept. I’m particularly intrigued by the notion of a ‘ring species’, in which a breeding area extends over such an an area that there is a continuum of interbreeding between sub-populations as one moves through the area, but species at some point where the area meets itself again are too reproductively isolated for interbreeding to possible.

  6. “Silly mercantilists are like Whack-a-Mole: they pop up everywhere no matter how much effort you put into countering their dopey arguments.”

    Sorry, Gillies, I’m not particularly well disposed towards you, asthe last time you responded to a comment of mine you called me ‘a stupid cunt’.

    Your study of economic history has been comprised of – what?

  7. Tim: “Why has, both times we’ve had a globalised system, Britain specialised in banking?”

    I’m not sure that focus puts it well. Britain’s comparative advantage was (and is) in financial markets rather than in banking – your original piece puts it better.

    Business in the major economies of mainland Europe – German and France – have relied more on bank-based financial systems for external investment funds whereas the anglophone countries (Britain and America) have relied more on capital markets, such as stockmarkets. One significant difference that comes from that is that there are comparatively few public companies in Germany, as compared with America and Britain, but lots of independent banks as compared with Britain.

    The usual hypothesis for explaining the ascendancy of capital market systems of financing business over bank-based systems is the better shareholder protection, especially the protection of minority shareholders, provided by the common law systems of anglophone countries over the civil law systems of mainland Europe.

    The relative success of manufacturing in Germany, however, may have more to do with a (far) better system for industrial apprenticeships to provide skilled manual workers for industry than the education and training institutions of Britain. Historically, Britain has had a relatively inferior structure for popular schooling going back into the 19th century and education has not been widely esteemed in Britain – hence the pejorative overtones of “academic” and “intellectual”.

    On the other hand, Britain has far more good universities in the world’s top 100 than does mainland Europe and universities are likely to be much better at producing workers, managers and entrepreneurs for the service industries than for manufacturing. As a consequence, after America – Britain exports more services than any other country.

    Btw try the annual surveys of the world’s largest 1000/500 companies as measured by market value. Britain has more entries than any other country except for America and Japan. For whatever reason, British institutions are more conducive to the development of large companies than those of mainland Europe.

    Also, retail banking is very profitable in Britain compared with most mainland European companies – which some analysts attribute to insufficient competition between relatively few independent banks and because of too many tacit agreements limiting competition between the banks.

  8. I thought a chimera was an organism that contains the cells and dna from two individuals that fused together during gestation.

    Tim adds: Isn’t that a mosaic?

  9. I tried to leave a comment over at the ‘Trading Floor’ blog but it didn’t appear.

    The thing about species is that it’s a very loose and arbitrary concept that only really works perfectly if other closely related organisms have died off.

    Some definitions of the concept include not just the ability to produce fertile offspring but actually doing so routinely in their natural environments.

    One of the things about hybrids that gets me is the difference that the sex of the parents makes, for example both ligers and tigons are lion-tiger hybrids but don’t look anything like each other.

  10. In a mosaic the genetic differences between the somatic cells have arisen by abnormalities of cell division affecting the chromosome(s)

  11. Tim asked, “Isn’t that a mosaic?”

    Is it? So you’re saying that watching CSI is not a substitute for a biology A-level?

    Tim adds: Of course, I wouldn’t know, not watching one and not having the other.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    Surely the reason Britain has had such a strong tradition in banking, Empire, English and Time Zones apart, is that it has such a strong record on educating a small number of students very very well indeed, but usually in the Liberal Arts and Humanities.

    Other countries may educate a lot of people very well especially in the sciences, like Germany, and so they get to have a large manufacturing industry. Some may educate no one particularly well and so they have religious authorities if they are Saudi Arabia or lots of small family companies if they are Italy. But only Britain ignores the masses but educates the Upper Classes so well in such boring subjects as PPE.

    So it is down to Oxford. Basically.

  13. “only Britain ignores the masses but educates the Upper Classes so well in such boring subjects as PPE.

    So it is down to Oxford. Basically.”

    Which is the whole thrust of the theory expounded by Correlli Barnett in the ‘Decline and Fall’ series.

  14. So Much for Subtlety,

    The trouble with your thesis is that according to this source, Britain has attracted more Nobel laureates per million citizens than Germany, America, or France:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_nob_pri_lau_percap-nobel-prize-laureates-per-capita

    If PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) is such a boring combination of subjects then why does the PPE course at Oxford attract more undergraduates than any other course? The course is so popular that over 70% of applicants are rejected and these are bright people. With the intensity of the competition to get in, they need to be.

    But I agree that Britain educates its academic elites better than its mainstream young. The roots of that go back a long way:

    “We have noted a substantial body of original research . . . which found that stagnant or declining literacy underlay the ‘revolution’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. . . Britain in 1850 was the wealthiest country in the world but only in the second rank as regards literacy levels. [Nick] Crafts has shown that in 1870 when Britain was world economic leader, its school enrolment ratio was only 0.168 compared with the European norm of 0.514 and ‘Britain persistently had a relatively low rate of accumulation of human capital’.”
    Sanderson: Education, economic change and society in 1780-1870 (Cambridge UP, 1995) p.61

    My speculation is that with pioneering industrialisation and being the world superpower of the 19th century (because of the Royal Navy), we British became complacent about the levels of popular education needed to sustain those leadership positions. The Germans had an earlier and better informed insight in recognising the future significance of science and technology for national economic success. Unfortunately, they had problems in getting the hang of parliamentary government although they deserve credit for inventing the notion of a national welfare state financed out of taxation.

    Btw it was a Brit, Tim Berners-Lee, who devised the world-wide web – it happens that he went to my old school in London! Remember too that another Brit before him, Alan Turing, was one of the pioneers of computer science.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Martin – “Which is the whole thrust of the theory expounded by Correlli Barnett in the ‘Decline and Fall’ series.”

    Knew I must have nicked it from somewhere!

    Bob B – “The trouble with your thesis is that according to this source, Britain has attracted more Nobel laureates per million citizens than Germany, America, or France”

    Why on Earth do you think that? We are very good at educating an elite.

    “If PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) is such a boring combination of subjects then why does the PPE course at Oxford attract more undergraduates than any other course?”

    They all want to be Prime Minister or failing that a merchant banker?

    “Btw it was a Brit, Tim Berners-Lee, who devised the world-wide web – it happens that he went to my old school in London! Remember too that another Brit before him, Alan Turing, was one of the pioneers of computer science.”

    And yet Britain does not have a computer industry of note. As others have pointed out – very good at the elite thing, very poor at the mass thing. We invent them, the Americans commercialise them, the Japanese design them and the Chinese make them.

    But I agree about the complaicency. Of course insane politics have destroyed the education system in this country too.

  16. “They all want to be Prime Minister or failing that a merchant banker?”

    For various reasons, I distinctly recall a piece about 25 years ago in The Economist on what happened to the output of philosophy PhDs from American universities where the numbers produced each year exceeded by a margin available academic job vacancies.

    The answer was that they were going into the then burgeoning computer industry, software and hardware, where analytical abilities and clear expression were especially valued personal qualities.

    As for the merchant banking option in Britain:

    “The worldwide volume of foreign exchange trading is enormous, and it has ballooned in recent years. In April 1989 the average total value of foreign exchange trading was close to $600 billion per day, of which $184 billion were traded in London, $115 billion in New York, and $111 billion in Tokyo. Fifteen years later, in April 2004, the daily global value of foreign exchange trading had jumped to around $1.9 trillion, of which $753 billion were traded daily in London, $461 billion in New York, and $199 billion in Tokyo.”
    Krugman and Obstfeld: International Economics (2006) p.311

    “The City of London is globalisation in action. It is, first of all, thoroughly international, handling more of the world’s deals in over-the-counter derivatives, global foreign equities, eurobonds and foreign exchange than any other financial centre (see chart 3). Second, its firms specialise in innovative, high-value-added products. Third, the City is living proof that clusters work in the way that economists claim. Capital can move like mercury. The main reason why international finance has made London its home is that everyone is there, making it easier to do complicated deals and to trade quickly in large quantities. The City offers a cluster of talent—financial whizz-kids, lawyers and due-diligence accountants—that is second to none, and self-renewing. It helps that English is a near-universal second language and that London’s time zone makes it possible to trade in a (long) working day with both Asia and America. Regulation is mainly deft but not lax, and the taxman takes a hospitable view of foreigners’ personal earnings.”
    http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8582323

    Apart from that, try this:

    “Britain is a creative country and our creative industries are increasingly vital to the UK. Two million people are employed in creative jobs and the sector contributes £60 billion a year – 7.3 per cent – to the British economy. Over the past decade, the creative sector has grown at twice the rate of the economy as a whole and is well placed for continued growth as demand for creative content – particularly in English – grows.”
    http://www.culture.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/096CB847-5E32-4435-9C52-C4D293CDECFD/0/CEPFeb2008.pdf

    The trouble is that the financial markets and the creative industries are likely to stress numeracy and literacy skills when a long succession of surveys found that c. 20 per cent of adults have literacy problems. Besides, only about half 16 year-olds are getting those 5 GCSEs at A*-C grades including English and maths and Britain has a higher drop-out rate from all education and training at 16 than most other OECD countries. We have a popular culture that doesn’t esteem education.

  17. Приветствую всех!
    У меня такой вопрос,кто что интересное подскажет буду признателен.
    Мы с друзьями собираемся поехать в круиз по просторам России и ближнего зарубежья месяца на два на своих машинах,но не как не можем согласовать маршрут,если у кого уже был опыт такого путешествия,может,что посоветуете.Девчонок с собой не берем,думаем,что во все городах России с этим не будет проблем,если у кого будут рекомендации и в вопросе отдыха с девушками тоже буду признателен.

    С уважением Сеньчик

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