September 2015

If only Ritchie knew some economics

So, the Great Man tells us that he’s worried:

The same warning could be given within the UK: there will be corporate failures here if interest rates rise.

And household failures too: mortgage repossession rates will probably increase significantly.

On top of which there will be less investment, and so lower growth and more unemployment.

This is the price of economists hankering after ‘normal times’. For students of economic history the whole process of rate increases has a horrible feeling of FDR’s policy in 1937 about it, which he had to very rapidly reverse in 1938. Or to put it another way, it feels like economic folly foretold.

There’s a number of different explanations for what happened in 1937:

Economists disagree about the causes of this downturn.

Keynesian economists assign blame to cuts in federal spending and increases in taxes at the insistence of the US Treasury.[4] Historian Robert C. Goldston also noted that two vital New Deal job programs, the Public Works Administration and Works Progress Administration, experienced drastic cuts in the budget which Roosevelt signed into law for the 1937-1938 fiscal year.[5]

Monetarists, such as Milton Friedman, assign blame to the Federal Reserve’s tightening of the money supply in 1936 and 1937.[6]

Contrary to the monetarist assumption Austrian School economist Johnathan Catalan assigns blame to the relatively large expansion of the money supply from 1933 to 1937. He also notes that the money supply did not tighten until after the recession began.[7]

Some argue that the Undistributed profits tax enacted in 1936 caused a panic in Corporate America. Faced with the specter of taxation on retained earnings the business world immediately ceased most planned expansion and capital equipment purchases.

Both Friedman and the Austrian school are merely neoliberal sophists so their explanations cannot be correct. Which only leaves the increase in taxation or the greater taxation of corporate profits as possible explanations acceptable to Ritchie.

And given that he thinks that corporate subsidies of £93 billion should be looked at (ie, corporate taxation should be increased) and that taxation should be increased as well, which of the policies he supports will he credit with causing the next recession?

They don’t quite get the history, do they?

“His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery,” he said. “We were left behind because of racism.”

This appears to be a reference to the fact that General Sir James Duff, Cameron’s cousin six times removed, received more than £4,000 compensation for loss of 202 Jamaican slaves when the trade ended 1833.

No, that’s when slavery ended in the Empire, not when the trade ended in the Empire.

Idiot fucking loonies


The Cam Conservators, who manage the river, moved swans’ nests to other locations this summer, but Natural England (NE) say this has “significant welfare implications”.
Now NE has advised ‘egg oiling’ or ‘pricking’ to kill off the swan embryos and cut numbers at busy times such as the annual Bumps races on the river.
NE experts say eggs may be coated with liquid paraffin, which is harmless to full-grown swans.
Its website says: “The oil blocks the pores in the eggshell and starves the embryo of oxygen.
“This technique is easy to carry out, 100 per cent effective in preventing hatching and does not adversely affect the sitting bird.”

Better to kill the birds than just move the damn nest? How in hell did our civilisation end up believing in this sort of fucking nonsense?

So, BBC World Service

No idea when this will go out. But on the subject of reparations for slavery. Roughly this argument.

Given that the descendants of those enslaved are between 6 times richer (Jamaica) and 16 times richer (Barbados) than the descendants of those not enslaved (Benin) then what damage is it that we’re supposed to be paying for?

The presenter was slightly shocked by the argument: but then the researchers had sought me out to make it so….

Update: the piece is here.

Sir Murphalot should actually read Paul Krugman

Says a commenter of his:

Incidentally you could replicate the money system in a classroom where the teacher has the ‘authority’ say to stop the kids going to the school disco unless they pay their taxes and the taxes need to be paid in the teacher’s old business cards. When they ask how they get the business cards, the teacher says he will pay them for various jobs that need doing around the school. You could actually start a monetary economy (or a business card economy) where kids that didn’t want to work could obtain the cards from other kids by trading.

And says another:

Various examples of the same kind of model – Paul Krugman describes a Washington DC babysitting club in “End this Depression Now!” where tokens (scrip) were exchanged between sets of parents for promises to babysit.

And Sir Murphalittle says:

It is a good example

Indeed it is. Especially the bit where they create runaway inflation through excessive scrip issuance and the whole thing collapses. But Murphaloon appears not to have read that bit.

Telegraph Watch

Also, the rich are paying more than their share. The tax system is regressive: as HMRC statistics show. If you earn £10,000, you will pay the taxman 3.6 per cent of your income, on average. Earn £20,000, you will pay 11.2 per cent. At £50,000, it’s 21.9 per cent. It’s only when you’re at £200,000 or above that you pay in the high thirties. That’s why the top 10 per cent make a third of the money, but pay more than half of the income tax.

That’s a progressive tax system, not a regressive one.

The white hot heat of the technological revolution

Haven’t we heard this before?

We will create what Marianna Mazzucato describes as the entrepreneurial state.
A strategic state works in partnership with businesses, entrepreneurs and workers to stimulate growth.
Government’s role is to provide the opportunity for massive advances in technology, skills and organisational change that will drive up productivity, create new innovative products and new markets.
That requires patient long term finance for investment in research from a effectively resourced and empowered national investment bank.

We ended up with Concorde and British Leyland.


John McDonnell’s speech:

Labour’s plan to balance the books will be aggressive.
We will force people like Starbucks, Vodaphone, Amazon and Google and all the others to pay their fair share of taxes.

They are. To think otherwise is to fall prey to Ritchie’s maunderings again.

Let me tell you also, there will be cuts to tackle the deficit but our cuts will not be the number of police officers on our streets or nurses in our hospitals or teachers in our classrooms.
They will be cuts to the corporate welfare system.
There will be cuts to subsidies paid to companies that take the money and fail to provide the jobs.
Cut’s to the use of taxpayers money subsidising poverty paying bosses.
Cuts to £13 billion tax breaks given to buy to let landlords for repairing their properties, whether they undertake the repairs or not.

And that’s Farnsworth’s maunderings and hasn’t Osborne already (disastrously) already shot that buy to let fox?

This lot won’t work out well if they do in fact gain power.

Just to be clear about Richard Murphy and the £120 billion tax gap

Just so that everyone knows where this number comes from.

Richard Murphy was hired by the union which junior level HMRC workers belong to. In order to produce a report which justified the reversal of the cuts in the number of HMRC employees which Gordon Brown had ordained following the merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs.

This was the point and purpose of the report and of the hiring of Murphy. It was nothing at all to do with how to make the economy function better, nor how to close a deficit or anything at all like that.

Purely, find a way that we can argue that the merged organisation should not have fewer staff.

Thus all of the recommendations about how to close the tax gap contain “hire more people at HMRC”.

And that really is it.

He’s really buying this MMT stuff, isn’t he?

As I have already noted today, government deficits are both the foundation of private wealth and money itself. To suggest otherwise is factually incorrect.

So, Norway’s outstanding government debt fell from 55% of GDP to 30% from 2005 to today (or so).

Does Norway have less private wealth now than then? Less money? Umm, no.

So the original contention is bollocks then, isn’t it?

So here’s a question

It’s a general (although perhaps not canonical) idea in Islam that there should be no representations of the human form.

OK. Art, paintings, there’s some historical examples but it’s generally accepted in Muslim societies.

How far does that go? Are photographs OK? I would assume obviously so, given that Arab newspapers carry photos.

But where’s the dividing line? Is a picture from a camera OK while one manipulated with photoshop (or Instagram’s filters say) not OK? Where is the dividing line between the allowable and not allowable representation of that human figure?

Kill, Kill, KILL!

A Mexican restaurant has been banned from handing out free sombreros to students because the publicity stunt was branded ‘racist’ by university officials.
Pedro’s Tex-Mex Cantina, a Norwich restaurant, gave the hats to University of East Anglia students at a freshers’ fair in the city in a bid to drum up business from the student population.
But officials at the students’ union, where the fair was held last week, took the sombreros from students and ordered the restaurant to stop giving them out because they thought it was offensive for non-Mexicans to wear them.

The union said it breached an advertising policy sent to stallholders, which said: ‘Discriminatory or stereotypical language or imagery aimed towards any group or individual based on characteristics will not be permitted as part of our advertising.’
The policy specifies 15 types of discrimination, some of which include colour, ethnic origin, and nationality.
The union said the sombreros were seen as racist and a form of ‘cultural appropriation’.

Note that officials in a student union are drawn from those who have actually had some education at that institution. Thus the University of East Anglia would appear to need a cull among the faculty who have taught these people this.

Cultural appropriation of a sodding hat?

Author doesn’t understand authoring trade

Which brings us to the strange case of celebrity writers – famous people who suddenly decide to write a book. It is a peculiar impulse, not least because it doesn’t work the other way round. You rarely hear that Hilary Mantel, A S Byatt or Alan Hollinghurst have decided to enhance their professional skill set by taking up modelling or acting, becoming a television gardener, cook or chat show host. Yet the autumn brings a rich harvest of fiction by celebs who clearly reckon that writing is a doddle.

Err, no.

A book with a famous name on it sells.

Russell Brand got a book contract because he’s got squiddely million Twitter followers, not because he’s got anything to say. Floella had a best seller without actually writing one. And Naomi Campbell has had best sellers without actually reading them (as has the orange one with the strange taste in men).

Interesting little point

Robshaw is criticised for spurning penalty kick for draw and going for lineout and possible try to win.

Japan is praised for spurning penalty kick for draw and going for try and win.


Guess whether you get the try or not makes a difference, eh?

Now this is amusing

The Labour leader told an audience of young supporters that he would like to see the national curriculum re-written to take into account the damaging impacts of British imperialism such as the slave trade.

Imperialism is usually thought of as the exercise of state power, yes? And the impact of British or even English state power upon slavery and the slave trade was to abolish it.

The slave trade most certainly existed before that, done by Brits and English and others as well. But it wasn’t exactly the state exercising its powers to do so really.

The attempt to do that was the South Sea Company which didn’t work out all that well.

Note what I’m saying here: not that slavery was good nor even the truth that everyone at the time was doing it as just about everyone had been doing it since whenever. Rather, just taking Corbyn at his word. We want to discuss the influence of the state upon slavery. Which was pretty good.