October 2016

Emails, Emails!


So, the wife of the Deputy Director of the FBI got significant campaign donations from Terry McAuliffe, part of Clinton Central!

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, received $467,500 in campaign funds in late 2015 from the political-action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime ally of the Clintons and, until he was elected governor in November 2013, a Clinton Foundation board member.

That’s a hell of a lot of money for a State Senate campaign……

What fun!

This was a bit hopeful wasn’t it?

A leaked document shows that Goldman was in talks with Powa about possibly helping it to raise money through a private placement on the back of what Powa hoped was a transformative deal in China.

In the document, which was written in September last year, Powa was given a preliminary enterprise value of $16 billion to $18 billion as a “base case”. It was described as the “tech investment of the decade” with a “clear path to $50 billion [valuation]”. Anthony Gutman, a senior banker at Goldman, is listed among the “team for Powa Technologies”.

It’s not entirely certain that transformative Chinese deal even existed let along took place…..

No, didn’t think so myself

Schools are failing white, poor, working-class children and should adopt an approach similar to the British Olympic team to help bolster their performance, a thinktank has recommended.

This is from ResPublica. And they don’t mean that only winners should get prizes, that we should be elitist and value only results.

Funny that.

British colonial history

So, piece complaining that kids aren’t taught history properly in school. Fair enough. But which contains this line:

Aged 11, my son learned in a geography class that one of the many reasons Ghana (the Gold Coast to its 19th-century British rulers) was economically less developed was because of its colonial past. It had been stripped of its wealth by the British. Just one bland sentence.

Well, yes, that’s very Marx and Lenin on imperialism. But it’s not actually true, is it?

Ghana did rather well under the Empire. It was Nkrumah and successors who screwed the pooch.

As it happens I’ve got Angus Maddison’s spreadsheet open for something else. Ghana, in 1950, had GDP per capita of $1,122 (these are international dollars, so adjusted for inflation over time and price differences across geography). In 1984 it was $933.

Significantly worse than Gabon (French colony) and about the same as Liberia at the start (not colonised). Better than Kenya (British colony).

And there’s the other side to it as well. If the British knicked all the money then why didn’t it make Britain rich? Because the colonies didn’t, did they?

A thought on the emails

It’s Weiner’s laptop, right? Or at least one he had access to?

And we assume that these are emails to Abedin which are on that laptop?

So, if he did have access to that account (passwords etc) and also there’s anything confidential in there, then that’s that, isn’t it?

This is quite apart from whether the emails themselves are more interesting, or even different, from what has already been seen, no?

Although of course that would mean that it’s absolutely nothing at all to do with Hillary’s server. It’s Abedin not taking care of her own email account.

Makes sense to me

LONDON —In an unexpected televised address on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth II offered to restore British rule over the United States of America.

Addressing the American people from her office in Buckingham Palace, the Queen said that she was making the offer “in recognition of the desperate situation you now find yourselves in.”

“This two-hundred-and-forty-year experiment in self-rule began with the best of intentions, but I think we can all agree that it didn’t end well,” she said.

Aquitane next, no?

Does this describe you?

Richard Murphy says:
October 29 2016 at 9:25 pm
You are totally confused

I wrote a piece celebrating a win and suggesting where this could lead – all of which I contend could be correct. I am happy to accept the conditionality in ‘could’: we do not know as yet

But rather than take the points I raised in the piece – which was about why HMRC had not taken this case – or take the point that this is of major economic and social significance – you play the pedant

Now if you are saying that everyone who has celebrated this case because they think it says Uber drivers are employees are wrong and in fact they are just self employed workers (but frankly given what I have read I do not see how you could think so, but maybe you do) then you have a point.

If not, frankly you’re proving yourself to be the vey worst type of lawyer

And I have never had the time of day for them

So very politely, go and play on Tim Worstall’s web site where I am sure you will be welcomed with open arms. This site is for people who have a deeper understanding of life than you clearly possess, and maybe that’s why you’re confused

Apparently he’s not pleased with people pointing out the worker/employee distinction.

Is Nick Cohen really this naive?

I mean lovely chap and all but:

Theresa May lied and lied again to become PM
Nick Cohen

She told untruths to win the job and now she is doing the same to make us believe that she is acting in our interest

Err, yes, she’s a politician. You know, one of those whose pitch is “Vote for me and you’ll be farting through silk!”

I mean, really, complaining about someone’s raison d’etre is a bit naive isn’t it?

Tax avoidance is very bad, very bad indeed

Except, of course, when it’s for luvvies:

The boom has in part been fuelled by the introduction of tax credits for high-end drama TV, shows that cost more than £1m per episode such as Game of Thrones and The Crown, and longer-standing breaks for films that pass a “cultural test” or are a qualifying co-production. These carrots have helped stop big-budget film and TV productions going to cheaper locations, such as eastern Europe, bringing in increased investment and attracting new players like Netflix and Amazon.

HMRC figures show that £340m was paid to 530 claims for film tax relief in the year to the end of June, and £96m for 115 claims relating to high-end TV. Another £45m was paid out relating to video games developed in the UK.

It’s lovely. They get all outraged about footballers and singers putting the money in to get the tax breaks. And then applaud the things made as a result of the tax breaks.

No, not really

UK gilt yields have doubled since the vote, forcing the Treasury to pay more to finance its debts.

The Observer doesn’t quite get this, does it?

Rising yields means that new debt issued will carry a higher coupon. Makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to debt already issued.

I think Mr. Typhoo can fuck off here, can’t he?

The great Brexit cuppa calamity: UK boss of Typhoo Tea warns of the ‘disastrous’ impact of Leave vote – as the price of imports leaps by a scalding 50%

A price rise might well be reasonable. However.

Let’s make some reasonable enough assumptions. All his costs other than the tea itself are in sterling. So they’ve not changed (sure, maybe some of his paper is imported, but he also exports some production, call that a wash).

Tea costs:

Mr Saha said the cost of importing an 80 kilo bag of tea had soared by 50 per cent – from £100 up to £150 since the beginning of the year – with much of the increase being blamed on the recent fall in the value of sterling.

We’ll be fair and say that half of that is from Brexit. Perhaps the price of tea is just moving anyway as well.

According to Amazon he sells that tea, when packaged, at £5.60 a kg. That’s, as far as I understand it the weight of the tea bags, not the tea. But let’s assume that it is just the tea.

So, his tea price has gone from 100/80 per kg to 150/80 per kg. From £1.25 a kg to £1.87 per kg. Sure, it’s a bit of a leap in raw material costs, no doubt about it. Call it 50 p a kg just to keep things simple.

So, his extra large bag of teabags can righteously go up to £6.10 rather than the current £5.60.

No, of course, that’s not how prices work, it’s whatever they think they can get out of us which determines them and so on. But a 50% rise in his raw material costs should work through to an under 10% increase in his selling costs, assuming that we want to use a cost plus model.

Anyone think he’s talking to the papers about an under 10% rise in prices?

Me neither.


Doctors have accused a medical body of suggesting that unborn babies with Down’s syndrome should be aborted because it will cost too much to care for them.
More than 100 doctors, nurses and other medics have signed a letter attacking the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for saying the NHS should calculate the ‘cost effectiveness’ of supporting those with the condition.

Bit of a move over time, isn’t it?

You may not, you may, you should?

How long before you must?

Dear God, did someone actually do this?

I was looking around for something on Walmart. And found this piece at Fortune.

So without further ado, here’s my methodology: Start with Wal-Mart’s sales, and then subtract what it has to pay the suppliers that make all the stuff on its shelves. Last quarter that number was $28.7 billion.

What remains is Wal-Mart’s gross profit. Wal-Mart, like all companies, has to split that between three groups — bondholders, stockholders, and employees. How much should go to each? Bondholders are easy. They’ve agreed in advance to an interest rate. Last quarter, Wal-Mart’s interest payments were $553 million. That leaves us with $28.2 billion, based on last quarter, or $112.8 billion a year.

Confident enough in this analysis that he repeated it 8 months later:

As for my math, I ran through my calculations again to see if I had made an error. I didn’t find one.

Last year, Wal-Mart brought in a little over $118 billion in profits after it paid its suppliers but before it paid wages. Like all companies, it has to split that money three ways, between its stock owners, its lenders, and its employees. Wal-Mart paid about $2 billion in interest on its loans last year, leaving $116 billion.

From this he concludes that, even after paying the requisite dividend (which he is correct and generous about) that Walmart could therefore raise wages by 50% and not feel the pain.

Err, yes. But. If the dividend would only be marginally impacted by that pay raise, as he says, and bondholders won’t get it, and it’s not going in extra cost of goods, then, well, the money to pay that extra wages, where’s it going? Where in the accounts is that 50% potential pay raise piling up?

Because it ain’t. So we do know there’s an error here. What is it?

Actually, it’s Ritchie level of stupidity. Here’s the accounts for that period:

Net sales $466,114 $443,854 $418,952
Membership and other income 3,048 3,096 2,897
Total revenues 469,162 446,950 421,849
Costs and expenses:
Cost of sales 352,488 335,127 314,946
Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses 88,873 85,265 81,361
Operating income 27,801 26,558 25,542

What he’s done is think that the only three groups that get that gross margin, that amount after deduction of cost of goods from revenues, are the shareholders, bondholders and workers. And that’s not the way retail accounts work, is it?

Cost of sales:

Cost of Sales
Cost of sales includes actual product cost, the cost of transportation to
the Company’s warehouses, stores and clubs from suppliers, the cost of
transportation from the Company’s warehouses to the stores, clubs
and customers and the cost of warehousing for the Sam’s Club segment
and import distribution centers. Cost of sales is reduced by advertising
reimbursements received from vendors that are not directly related to
specifi c advertising activities.

Operating, Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
Operating, selling, general and administrative expenses include all
operating costs of the Company, except cost of sales, as described above.
As a result, the majority of the cost of warehousing and occupancy for
the Walmart U.S. and Walmart International segments’ distribution
facilities is included in operating, selling, general and administrative
expenses. Because the Company does not include most of the cost of its
Walmart U.S. and Walmart International segments’ distribution facilities
in cost of sales, its gross profi t and gross profi t as a percentage of net
sales (“gross profi t margin”) may not be comparable to those of other
retailers that may include all costs related to their distribution facilities
in cost of sales and in the calculation of gross profi t.

Sigh. Even just the ‘leccie bill for their refrigerators will make a dent in that operating expenses thing, won’t it?

Subs at the Times really should get onto this one

october 29 2016, 12:01am, the times
Why does prejudice against some accents persist?
oliver kamm

Everyone knows that it’s pendant, not pedant.

Every English speaker has an accent. And almost every English speaker has an accent that can be tied to a region. I say “almost” because of one highly unusual British accent that isn’t geographically identifiable.

As to the actual argument it’s not unusual at all. English has, rather more than many languages, a great selection of regional accents, that’s entirely true. They’re geographically concentrated in a manner that can surprise foreigners. Try telling someone from the West Coast of the US that you can tell not just the postcode (BA1, BA2) but the subset of the postcode (BA2 1xx is Twerton and very, very, different from BA2 2xx and so on) of someone from Bath within four words of their mouth opening and they’ll be astonished. You can’t really tell the difference between LA and SF by accent alone. German varies so as to be different languages across Lander but not so much between villages.

But what everywhere has is a national “educated” accent. One that betrays no hint of regional or local origin.

The unusual thing about English is the extreme locality of many accents plus their sheer number, not the existence of a single non-regional one.

At which point fun story from past comments here. When Arnie movies are in German they on’t use Arnie to do his own stuff. Because the Terminator sounding like some very, very, rural yokel from the edges of civilisation in Austria just doesn’t cut it.

On that Uber ruling

The Adam Smith Institute said that the ruling could mean a small increase in Uber fares for passengers, but most of the increased costs would probably be passed on to drivers.

Well, quite.

Things like holiday and sick pay are incident upon the wages of the workers, just like employers’ national insurance and so on.