April 2011

Paul Krugman\’s fascinating view of macroeconomics

Now you might say, if this stuff is so out of fashion, shouldn\’t it be dropped from the curriculum? But the funny thing is that while old-fashioned macro has increasingly been pushed out of graduate programs – it takes up only a few pages in either the Blanchard-Fischer or Romer textbooks that I am assigning, and none at all in many other tracts -…out there in the real world it continues to be the main basis for serious discussion

That is that, because:

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

In short, because we\’ve advanced beyond Keynes, we should still teach Keynes, because people who have not advanced beyond Keynes still believe Keynes.

Purely a personal viewpoint, of course, but wouldn\’t it be easier to teach everyone the stuff that corrects Keynes and thus end up with, in time, people less in hock to to the ideas of a now dead defunct academic scribbler?


@RichardJMurphy on healthcare: ignoring the evidence

So, Ritchie tells us that:

First we need to eliminate those wasteful market mechanisms.

Yers, you see that competition thing is just so terrible isn\’t it? Damn near trade!

Then we can see what people who actually know what they\’re talking about say about competition in health care. You know, people who bother to go and look at the actual evidence?

In recent research along with Rodrigo Moreno-Serra (Gaynor et al. 2010), we look at all admissions to hospitals in the National Health Service – around 13 million admissions – pre- and post-policy. We find that hospitals located in areas where patients have more choice are of a higher clinical quality – as measured by lower death rates following admissions – and their patients stay in hospital for shorter periods compared with hospitals located in less competitive areas. What’s more, the hospitals in competitive markets have achieved this without increasing total operating costs or shedding staff. These findings suggest that the policy of choice and competition in healthcare can have benefits – quality in English hospitals in areas in which more competition is possible has risen without a commensurate increase in costs.

So there you have it. Richard Murphy, never knowingly studying the facts.

No Polly, no, they don\’t

Few yet realise the scale of the conservative revolution in progress. Professors Peter Taylor-Gooby and Gerry Stoker have just revealed that by 2013 public spending will be a lower proportion of GDP in Britain than in the US.

The paper is here.

They actually predict it by 2015 (page 6).

And at 41% of GDP (ish) you can see that we\’re most certainly not getting out of line of our own post war experience:


You can see quite how massively Brown turned on the spending taps, can\’t you? Yes, some of it\’s the recession, but only that part after 2007/8.

And similarly we can see that US Government spending is getting out of line:


So, wrong year (did she actually even read the paper?) and causation wrong as well. The UK is cutting to just above post war average levels of government as a percentage of GDP, the US is raising spending to well above said post war average (the paper under discussion claims 42% or so for the US in 2015).

@Ukuncut and the Facebook pages

When even The Guardian says you\’ve been numpties then yes, you\’ve been numpties:

It is not yet known how many groups have been affected in total. A Facebook spokeswoman explained that the profiles were suspended because they had not been registered correctly and denied that the removal of pages was politically motivated or instigated by law enforcement concerns before the royal wedding.

Facebook accounts that claim to represent individual people but are in fact groups or organisations contravene the company\’s \”statement of rights and responsibilities\”.

The company said a number accounts were suspended at the same time.

Facebook uses technology to track relationships between groups and when one \”fake\” profile is found, pages that have links to it are also checked. This is done to maintain safety and security on the site and the removal of everything from fake celebrities to pages representing pets is a regular occurrence.

A useful piece of advice for you: RTFM.

It means \”read the fucking manual\” and it\’s useful advice because it means more than just trying to do so when software or computers are involved. It\’s generally good advice about Life the Universe and Everything really.

The argument in favour of monarchy: Donald Trump

For one reason or another, we don\’t seem to read much about the House of Windsor these days. Yet while the monarchy keeps a determinedly low profile, America provides the most compelling argument ever advanced for the institution to survive until doomsday.

Its name is Donald Trump. For while venal, egomaniacal and repulsive leaders are the price of democracy, the thought of being saddled with a head of state in whom these are the plus points would send Willie Hamilton\’s ghost to the celestial souvenir store for the full range of Kate \’n\’ Wills crockery.

I spy a professional conspiracy against the public

Britain\’s accounting authority, the Accounting Standards Board, is consulting on plans to replace UK standards for private businesses, first published in 1971, with a new version based on international standards.

However, two of the country\’s leading accountancy membership bodies – the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – have used the consultation, which closes today, to call for the \”small entities\” standard to be scrapped.

At present, the majority of small, private businesses can use a simplified version of the UK reporting standards known as FRSSE, that requires fewer disclosures.

They could even be correct, that changing the accounting standards for small companies is just, righteous and something that must be done.

But of course the change would mean more work and higher fees for the massed ranks of accountants who are members of ICAEW and ACCA and my, aren\’t we all shocked to see that ICAEW and ACCA would propose a course of action that would increase the work and fees of the massed ranks of their members?

Investigating the CDS market

Typical politics: when you don\’t like what a market is telling you, investigate the market.

The investigations are relatively trivial: does Markit (a market reporting agency) have privileged, illegally privileged, access to market data and have the major players ganged up to make sure that trades are cleared through one specific clearing house rather than allowing competition to develop.

These things might have been done, might not have been, I\’ve no idea at all. But if they have they\’re rather trivial. But investigating them allows politicians to say that they\’re \”doing something\” about this CDS market.

You know, that CDS market that is telling the politicians they\’re full of shit over eurozone sovereign debt? That, of course, being the real crime but one that\’s not prosecutable.

As of course it shouldn\’t be for reminding politicians of reality is a duty, not a crime.

Somewhat otherworldly

These scions of the Guinness family:

More recently, in 2004, Kindersley went into his local branch of Waitrose . Asked by the checkout girl if he would like some cash back, Kindersley (who was unfamiliar with this transaction) replied: “That’s really awfully sweet of you, how kind.”

He suggested £50, which he took across the road to the betting shop, investing it on a 10-1 shot which duly won its race. He then returned to the store to tip the checkout girl £10 for her kindness. For good measure, he gave £10 to the other girls on the tills as well. It was only when his credit card statement arrived that he understood the nature of “cash back”.

@RichardJMurphy a complete wazzock over Facebook

From our favourite retired accountant we get this hysteria:

Whilst lots got excited by the royal weeding more than 50 Facebook pages were shut down against their owners will.

The full list is here.

So much for freedom of speech in this country. Do you note any right wing ones in there?

Well, actually, to be honest, no, I don\’t note any right wing ones in there.

That would probably be because only not right wingers are stupid enough to break the Facebook terms of service.

In short there are three main ways to be on Facebook:

  1. With a profile – intended for real people, with a name
  2. With a group – a small to medium size group of people discussing something
  3. With a page – ‘Like’ something to get news updates from it

As far as I can determine no groups or pages have been deleted, only profiles, and all the profiles were not individual people, they were being used by organisations. Not only is this stupid (as I’ve previously explained here) but it violates the Facebook terms of service. So no leg to stand on if one is deleted.

So there you have it. Only lefties are stupid enough not to read and obey the terms of service.

Which stupidity, come to think of it, might aid us in working out why they might be lefties. They\’ve failed to read the operating instructions for the universe.

A reason to be against the royal wedding

But the monarchy as a whole also promotes the norms of heterosexuality

Can\’t say that I find that all that convincing, to be honest.

Given that 97% of the country is heterosexual I think that counting it as \”the norm\” seems fair enough.

Further, given that we\’ve had more than one King into a bit of recreational same sex buggery I\’m not sure that even the first contention is true.

Timmy in French

Bloke\’s put possibly more effort into translating and commenting on this than I did in writing it:

Une autre façon de voir la chose, encore plus déprimante, est que la plus grande barrière à surmonter le problème des changements climatiques est le mouvement Vert. Ils (NDT: les Verts) ne nous laissent pas faire ce qui pourrait résoudre le problème, et insistent pour que nous poursuivions dans une avenue qui ne fonctionnera jamais, comme ces foutues éoliennes.

So, anyone actually speak French properly? Does \”foutues éoliennes\” really mean \”bloody windmills\”?

Ritchie announces: tax kills people

Nice to see him admit it:

Unlike most businesses hospitals pay VAT, and quite a lot of it, because what they supply is VAT exempt but what they buy still has in many cases (including on agency staff) VAT charged on it.

So what has happened is that the VAT paid by hospitals has increased and as a result frontline healthcare in the UK is going to be cut, significantly, to the point of reducing hospitals to a state that experts predict will be chaotic .

Blame the Tories when people die as a result, as they will. There’s no one else at fault.

See? Tax kills.

Timmy elsewhere

My contribution to the Royal Wedding over at The Register:

Di and Charlie did the aisle tango back in 1981 and now their son is about to follow suit……(…)…..That father and son have a 30-year gap between their being able to go gonad to gonad with their respective brides in lawful matrimony rather points up Sir Pterry\’s use of that as a useful timespan to consider humanity.

So that\’s the knighthood fucked then….