July 2016

News to me I admit

Most people have no idea what’s in an iPhone. Yttrium and praseodymium don’t exactly roll off the tongue, but they’re part of what make smartphones so small, powerful, and bright.

Not sure I know where those two are used in an iPhone. Can’t think of where or why either.

I’ll bet that New Scientist has this space law thing wrong

Or rather, the economics of how it must be:

It is a dystopian vision, but not an inconceivable one. China is weighing up the business case for mining the moon, while the US firm Moon Express is already developing technology to do it. Then there are the companies planning to mine asteroids. Such ventures received a shot in the arm last November when President Obama signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, aka the Space Act, which grants US citizens and companies ownership of anything they can extract from celestial bodies. It fired the starting pistol for a dash to carve up the riches buried in space.

The risks and potential rewards are astronomical, and the whole enterprise is blasting off into a legal void. That could spell trouble on a cosmic scale. “We need rules, preferably at international level,” says Tanja Masson-Zwaan, president of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. But what should those rules be?

But I’m not prepared to subscribe to find out how wrong…..

Ritchie doesn’t even understand his own proposals

The FT has just reported Theresa May’s speech on her effective promotion to prime minister in which they report she said:

In a series of criticisms of George Osborne’s tenure at the Treasury, Mrs May said he had neglected productivity problems and suggesting that government-backed project bonds could be used to boost infrastructure.

That’s the foundation of People’s Quantitative Easing by another description by the sound of it.

Last September I asked what George Osborne would call this idea when he used it. He won’t but his successor will and wow we know: Project Bonds.

I can’t complain: I created the idea to be used. I think it will be.

PQE is the BoE creating money to buy the bonds. Project Bonds, what we know so far at least, are just a government guarantee on a bond issue. These are not the same thing.

History does repeat itself, yes

Black flight: how England’s suburbs are changing colour
Hugh Muir

Ethnic minorities are moving out of the inner cities, creating new havens of multiculturalism. What does this say for the nation’s future?

About the same that every other sodding group of immigrants has ever done.

Get ashore and huddle in the cheap slums in the cheap parts of the cities. Then the grandkids move out to the suburbs and finally, some generations of miscegenation later there you have the English. Perhaps with a slight patina of cafe au lait in the skin, the occasional mop of unruly hair not quite Celtic, Saxon or Viking in its provenance. But it’s exactly what has happened with every previous wave of immigrants.

Sod Brexit when do we shoot these fuckers?

Supermarkets are encouraging families to waste £700 a year on food, according to MPs, as the Government launches an inquiry into how the UK is wasting £16 billion a year on uneaten produce.

Politicians on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee condemned supermarkets for “pushing food people don’t need” to maximize profits, suggesting the inquiry could lead to a possible crackdown on food pricing strategies which encourage people to buy produce in large volumes.

Government should micromanage food prices now, eh?

Neil Parrish, Conservative MP and Chairman of the Committee, told the Telegraph that MPs plan to use the inquiry to “push down hard on” retailers.

He said: “As a nation there are more people living alone then ever before, but shops haven’t caught up with this. They should not be pushing food people don’t need – especially if its close to being out of date. It might be convenient for supermarkets to sell fresh food in large quantities but it is not always very convenient for customers, so this needs to change.”

What’s the point of having a Tory party if they elect gibbering idiots like that?

Yes, yes, that’ll do it!

Britain’s run down coastal resorts should be saved by the Government appointing of a “seaside tsar”.

More politics! More bureaucracy!

The British Hospitality Association said massive investment is needed to regenerate poverty stricken coastal communities.


That’s how economic development always happens, isn’t it?

So that’s my K out the window then

From the archives:

Freedom of speech means that people are indeed allowed to burn poppies if they want to be idiot enough to do so. Freedom of association also means that people who want to burn poppies are allowed to join together with other people who want to burn poppies.

No, of course I don’t like people who burn poppies: but that’s got fuck all to do with it, has it? My dislike of the shitty little creatures is not a sufficient reason to invoke the law of the land to salve my affronted opinions.

Yes, the Illinois Nazi Party really does have the right to march: and we to protest against it.

So, how do we go about getting shitty little fascist cockweasels like Theresa May out of public life?

Oh Dear Gawd

Ritchie’s on about QE again:

This is the FTSE 100 this morning, at an 11 month high:

Why is that? Three things.

Record low interest rates.

An expectation that rates will fall again, soon.

And the hope that there is more QE to come.

In other words some are gaining in the short-term because the government is having to deal with a looming economic crisis.

What is the solution?

The solution is to celebrate that QE works.

What is QE trying to do? Raise the price of safe assets so that people go out along the risk curve in search of yield. A rising stock market is proof that people are dointg just what we want them to do. QE works.

Ritchie, of course, thinks this is a problem to be solved:

The first is to increase the capital gains tax rate, which is now, quite ludicrously, as low as 10% for those who are basic rate taxpayers and only 20% on gains arising on shares for those who are higher rate income tax payers. I prefer alignment with income tax rates. If that is unacceptable the rate must be at least 75% of that due on equivalent income.

Nope, optimal taxation theory, capital returns should not be taxed or if they must be then at preferential rates.

Second, short-term share-trading should be deemed to be just that i.e. trading, and therefore be subject to income tax in full.

Third, all income from unearned sources should be subject to an investment income surcharge. I suggest that this should be charged at the rate of at least 15% on all unearned income exceeding £2,000 in a year unless the person was retired when rather more finessing would be required.

Nope and nope for the same reason.

This charge is needed because at present the UK tax system is extremely unjust. Those who work for a living do, because of the imposition of national insurance, pay much higher overall rates of tax than those who can live off unearned income. An investment income surcharge would help create a level playing field to correct this anomaly. And, because those paying it would, by definition, have savings it is very unlikely that the additional tax due would have any impact on the overall level of consumption in the UK economy, meaning there would be very few economic downsides at this time.

The reason for lower capital taxation rates is because we like people investing. It’s what makes the future richer, you see?

And it’s simply gorgeous that Ritchie shouts so loudly for more investment to be done and at the same time shouts for higher taxation of those who invest.


This week the Bank of England is very likely to reduce interest rates.

It might also resume conventional QE.

Neither will work. They are failed monetary policy.

What we need is fiscal policy.

VAT cuts would be a start.

Acceptance of more debt would help (and conventional QE only makes sense as a backstop to this).

But most of all we need People’s Quantitative Easing, or Green Infrastructure Quantitative Easing as it was when I proposed it.

I never knew that lowering interest rates and QE had failed. That Britain and the US have done very much better than the eurozone, where they lowered rates later and started QE later, would to me be an indication that they work.

But then I’m not selling a magic money tree, am I?

Can Corbyn actually stand?

I have no idea what the actual rules are here but:

‘We’re doing very well!’ Delusional Jeremy Corbyn threatens to SUE his own party if he is blocked from standing in leadership contest because MPs won’t support him

Be fun if Jezza can’t stand because 51 MPs don’t sign up for him to stand.

A little economic oddity

I needed a slide that had something to do with economic planning for an illustration to a piece elsewhere.

OK, so, Google Images search for “economic planning”. And a good 50% or so of the images there were referencing India.

India’s GDP per capita is some $1,500 a year or so.


Which party is she running for?

“In practice, they are drawn from the same, narrow social and professional circles as the executive team and – as we have seen time and time again – the scrutiny they provide is just not good enough.

“We’re the Conservative Party, and yes we’re the party of enterprise, but that does not mean we should be prepared to accept that ‘anything goes’.” Mrs May will say that she wants to create a society that “works for everyone”.

She will say: “Right now, if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.

“If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.

“If you’re a woman, you still earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s too often not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home.

“But, as I have said before, fighting these injustices is not enough. “Under my leadership, the Conservative Party will put itself – completely, absolutely, unequivocally – at the service of working people.

Her current electorate is the membership of the Tory Party. Is all of that actually what motivates them out in the shires?

If it is then we’re in greater trouble than I thought.

Finally, government advice you can use

Bahamas warns young black men to ‘exercise extreme caution’ when dealing with US police


Law professor says people can be stopped by police for ‘driving while black’ but criticises the advice saying it could make black men ‘paranoid’

Actually, around an American cop you want to be paranoid. I’m paranoid around American cops and I’m so whitebread it’s painful.

And Guardian commenters even more clueless on economics

Manufacturing (the only thing you can export) is only 5% of the UK economy.

Manufacturing is around and about 10% of the UK economy. And services exports are quite large really:

Total UK exports of services (excluding travel, transport and banking) in current prices continued to rise, increasing from £103,828 million in 2012 to £117,193 million in 2013, an increase of 12.9%.
Total UK exports of services to Europe witnessed the largest increase in 2013 rising from £51,963 million in 2012 to £57,150 million, an increase of 10.0%. Exports to Germany contributed most towards the increase.
The professional, scientific and technical activities sector continued to be the largest sector contributing 27.4% of total UK exports in 2013.
Total UK imports of services (excluding travel, transport and banking) in current prices increased by 15.1% rising from £46,399 million in 2012 to £53,387 million in 2013.

Services exports are some 7 or 8% of the UK economy. The services trade surplus is some 3 or 4% of the economy, summat like that.

Guardian economics still wrong

In the run-up to the referendum, it was common for Leave campaigners to compare quitting the EU to Britain’s embarrassing but ultimately beneficial departure from the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM) in 1992. The pound tumbled after “Black Wednesday”, and by 1995 the economy had begun to rocket.

George Magnus, a former chief economist at Swiss investment bank UBS, says there is no question the recent fall in the pound will help some companies, “but it’s most unlikely to offset other economic problems the UK is going to encounter”.

He says that, unlike in the 1990s, the pound is not starting from a “chronically overvalued” position.

Hmm, OK, and the proof of this is what?

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the UK’s balance of payments deficit of 7% is three times as big as it was before the ERM exit.

Well, we don’t have a balance of payments deficit because the balance of payments always, by definition, balances. We have a trade deficit.

And a large trade deficit is one of those signals that a currency is over valued, isn’t it?

Polygamy is very bad, oh yes!

Says Catherine Bennett:

The British government, with its theological hat on, frets that some rulings may be “contrary to the teachings of Islam”.

Now, hundreds of women’s human rights campaigners, in an open letter to Theresa May, express the fear “that many vulnerable women simply will not want to give their testimony before theologians who legitimate and justify the very idea of sharia laws on the grounds that it is integral to their ‘Muslim identity’”.

Indeed, they point out, “the panel is set up much like the sharia ‘courts’ themselves”.

That being the case, Chaiwala is right: the future of British polygamy is beginning to look quite promising.


She was formerly married to Robert Sackville-West[1] (1985–92).


Humphrys married Edna Wilding (August 1942 – September 1997) in 1964 and they had two children, a son and daughter, Christopher and Catherine.[4] This marriage broke down in the late 1980s.[4] Wilding died of cancer in Glamorgan, South Wales; Humphrys described her last days in a hospice in his book Devil’s Advocate. Humphrys’s son Christopher is now a professional cellist.[4]

On 2 June 2000, when he was 56 years old, Humphrys and his then partner, Valerie Sanderson, had a son, Owen James.[15] Sanderson was a newsreader with Spotlight then BBC News 24 and is now a radio producer. Humphrys had a reverse vasectomy. He referred to these facts on 31 October 2006 on BBC Radio 4 in the programme Humphrys in Search of God. He and Sanderson have since separated and he has been in a relationship with the journalist Catherine Bennett, a contributor to The Observer.[16]

A very strictly Catholic reading of that would have Bennet as both a polygynist and a polygamist.

Well, yes and no and sorta

Millions of young British men are being denied a vaccine that could protect them from throat cancers in later life. Scientists say the problem is becoming increasingly worrying as rates of human papilloma virus (HPV) – a common sexually transmitted infection and the prime cause of these cancers – are now rising exponentially.

Researchers want the government to include adolescent boys in the current vaccine programme that immunises girls aged 12 and 13 against HPV before they become sexually active. HPV in women is known to lead to cervical cancers. The vaccine, if extended to boys, would protect them in later life against HPV-related head and neck cancers.

“If we want to eradicate male throat cancers – which are soaring in numbers – we need to act speedily and that means giving them the HPV vaccine we now give to girls,” said Professor Mark Lawler of Queen’s University Belfast.

Those HPV infections in men come from interactions with women for the most part. Who, soon enough, won’t be carrying it and thus not passing it on. So, no, perhaps not necessary.

On the other hand, male to female sex isn’t the only kind so if we really want to wipe it out in humans then yes, jab the boys as well. So no actual strong view here at all. Might be marginally beneficial but doubt it’s of any great importance.