January 2018

What an intensely weird argument

This, take note, is also no minor business model. Like Carillion, Capita is on the frontline of outsourcing, in particular. And what is being said is firstly that this creates a situation too complex for a business to manage with, secondly, margins that are clearly not sufficient to sustain the company in business as it is.

Capita’s not charging enough for what it does for government.

This means three things. Firstly what the state does, and does not do, itself needs to be reappraised and much more needs to move in house.

Therefore government should do more of it – presumably charging itself full price.


Female logic, eh?

“I do not want any more money, that is not what it’s about,” she added.

“This will not resolve my problem. My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgment that my work was of equal value to the men I served alongside as an international editor.

“An apology would be nice.”

Gracie said she had no desire to “get into a fight” with male colleagues who were paid more than her.

“One of the things that’s made me sad is the tendency for this to turn into a comparison between me and the North America editor, and me and the Middle East editor,” she told MPs.

Your entire case rests upon such a comparison. You insist that you should get equal pay for the same work. So, how can we know if it’s equal work or not unless we compare?

Hmm, why’s that then?

If there is a need for audit reform it must be the replacement of the Financial Reporting Council

The reason being:

the FRC’s own failure to take account of public demands for for better corporate reporting, as best represented by country-by-country reporting, to which it has never given attention.

They must be replaced because they’ve not forced everyone to adopt the invention by me. What I wrote, Candidly.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Corbynism

The city of Preston in Lancashire dates back to Roman times. It is listed in the Domesday book as Prestune. It’s where inventor Richard Arkwright kickstarted the cotton trade. Yet ask local people to tell you its history and they jump straight to 2011. That was Preston’s year zero, when the grand schemes for the city fell apart. For more than a decade the council had bet everything on a massive shopping mall. The Tithebarn would sprawl over the city centre, cost £700m and be built by two of the biggest developers on the planet. It was going to have a Marks & Sparks, a multiplex and a huge John Lewis store. It was the lottery ticket, said the council leader. The lifeline, the turnaround, the magic bullet.

Then came the banking crash, and cranes across the country stopped dead. Businesses grew cooler on the Tithebarn until, in November 2011, John Lewis pulled out. The council found its sums no longer added up, and killed the entire scheme. Where once there was a masterplan, Preston now had a vacuum.

The answer, it appears, is to have small scale experiments in this and that according to local circumstances.

This is an endorsement of Corbyn’s insistence that the economy should be centrally planned in what manner?

Yet more elsewhere

The final piece from Monday’s blitz:

This conceit works the other way around, of course. It’s not possible for us to examine our supply chain. Because once we get past a level or two, that supply chain is the entire global economy. For example, if my hip replacement was done by the NHS with these child labor-derived tools, then your reading material (this article) used child labor in its supply chain.

The current movement that we should all be checking our suppliers fails for the same reason that central planning did last time around: We simply cannot examine the global economy in enough detail to find out who is doing what and where.

What does this actually mean?

The Labour party is committed to tackling the scourge of low-paid jobs, raising the minimum wage to a true living wage of £10 per hour and creating over a million good jobs. With our shadow secretary of state Rebecca Long-Bailey, I’m developing and championing Labour’s challenge-led, mission-oriented and values-driven industrial strategy that will create a high-skill, high-wage, high-productivity economy.

Difficult to work out really:

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Give me all your money?

What should 21 st century feminism produce?

Juliet Jacques
Writer and critic

It’s hard for me to single out any issue when gender-based oppression remains so rife, but I feel that feminism, socialism, anti-racism and LGBTQI movements should be inseparable, and that any struggles for equality must proceed on that basis.


We’ll be gender equal when socialism makes us all poor?

Really most unaware. The most remarkable thing about this capitalist free marketry being quite how pro-women it is. No other socio-economic system has ever managed to tame the terrors of childbirth, deliver control of fertility, near abolish heavy domestic labour, free women from being mere economic appurtenances of their menfolk….

How excellent

Rwanda has become the first low-income country to provide universal eye care for its 12 million population.

No, not a joke nor a sneer. All the people of a poor country now get eye care. Excellent.

However, this is to manage poverty. What we really want is to abolish poverty. For there are 98,000 (internet statistic) such problems in each and every poor country and getting rid o the poverty solves all of them at once.

No, not even don’t take glasses to the myopic, it’s not even that. Just don’t allow minor successes to lead to losing sight of the goal.

We’ll need to be slightly careful about this, no?

The Governor of the Bank of England has urged the Government to abandon the use of the retail prices index (RPI) as a measure of inflation, especially in the issuance of government bonds.

The intervention by Mark Carney could have profound implications for both savers and borrowers because RPI tends to run at 0.7 percentage points higher than the consumer prices index (CPI), which is increasingly considered to be a more reliable measure of inflation. Nevertheless, RPI is still widely used in government contracts.

“It would be helpful to have just one public-facing measure of cost of living for consumers,” Mr Carney told the House of Lords’ economic affairs committee. “At the moment we have the RPI, which most people acknowledge is of no merit, and CPI, which virtually everyone recognises and is the target in our remit.

“At some point it would be good to consolidate to focus on one [measure of inflation]”.

The change would mean that savers who invest in inflation-linked gilts would likely earn a lower return. With £311bn of such index-linked gilts in ­issuance, a 0.7 percentage point change in interest could save the Government in the region of £2.2bn per year.

There is no one measure of “inflation” so discussing which one we should use makes sense.

But there’s a significant difference between issuing new bonds which use the CPI and changing the old bonds in issue to use it.

Actually, I think it would be a great idea to issue the new ones using CPI. Then we can see, from he difference in market prices, what people think about it…..

More elsewhere from yesterday

Bitcoin is, of course, a mania – a delusion of the sort that human societies are prone to. This is fighting talk from someone who declared in 2011 that bitcoin was all over. Being wrong is not interesting – it is rare things which are interesting, not common ones – but the psychology and economics here are important.

The classic text on this topic is Charles McKay’s Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. Human societies are prone to manias which seem to defy any sense or reasonableness. Certainly markets can be so overcome, although the witch burnings show that it’s not purely an economic phenomenon.

How absurd are cryptocurrencies these days?

Have they gone full South Seas?

There’re some 1,500 of them out there. There are exchanges which list some to many of them.

Cross exchange rates are going to have margins in them. Arbitrage.

No one wants to put actual money in of course.


Invent a new currency. Give some of it away. Get it listed on a few exchanges (for some this is a function of giving the exchange some invented money).

The retained portion is now capital to do arbitrage with.

So, why won’t it work?


It is the Grand Delusion again, that the aim and point of this government business is to change humans into fitting the system, rather than the system existing to allow us to be human in all our messy glory. New Soviet Man, that non-human that would make centrally planned socialism work, is no different in basic philosophy from NHS Man, the thin lipped and hipped prude who does nothing fun in order to die unhappy but at the convenience of the government run health care system.

Fancy that!

Laura Sandys, the chair of the Food Foundation thinktank and a former Conservative MP, said food insecurity had long-term health and social consequences. “We know that food insecurity can trigger a range of unhealthy eating habits and force people to buy cheaper, less nutritious and more calorific food.”

What? Poorer people buy stodge?

But why would a doctor know how to run the NHS?

Here are six ways to save the NHS, Mr Hunt. Trust me I’m a doctor

They’re big on management training, finance, MBAs, in medical school these days are they?

We know you love a jumble sale, but try not to flog off too much more of the NHS to the nearest snake-tongued bidder with fistfuls of notes. Private entities should not be taking public cash to provide public services. Every penny that becomes profit for shareholders is a penny that should have been spent on the NHS.

Ah, no, obviously not.

Just to make sure for dimmer readers, the correct comparison is between the greater efficiency of a private, profit making, organisation, and the amount that it skims off in that profit. It’s possible that a private company isn’t more efficient than a bureaucracy – this really does actually happen. There are also times – and this too really does happen – when the private company is more efficient. And more efficient by more than that profit margin.

The trick is to know when which case applies, not a flat insistence that profits are money not being spent upon the delivery of goods or services. That last would be just to betray one’s entire and total ignorance of finance, management or even reality.

Isn’t Zoe ignorant?

The answers are generally found at the level of the individual – a bit more philanthropy from the rich, a bit more aspiration from the poor, chuck in some technological innovation (could we build an app to tell Bangladeshi fishermen where the fish have moved since the typhoon? Let’s get on it, folks! Iterate!) and the task is in hand.

Silly girl. We’ve already done that, it’s the mobile phone.

Seriously, the Ur study of how mobiles create wealth is sardine fishermen off Kerala.


Typical Daily Mail column

A statement that I entirely agreed with. A jeweller and designer, he’d always been fascinated by science, and wanted to help the medical profession as much as he could. He filled in the forms, while organ donation cards followed for us both.

Not that we thought we’d ever need them, of course, but we’d had the conversation. We knew what we’d do.

But how wrong I was, for when Pip did die, I was so dazed by grief that organ donation was the last thing on my mind. By the time it did occur to me, days after his death, it was too late: the chance had passed.

So when Prime Minister Theresa May announced in September that she will change the law on organ donation, I was delighted.

She claimed an opt-out scheme (meaning the onus would shift to people opting out of a donor scheme rather than opting in) could save hundreds of lives.

I regret having made the wrong decision therefore everyone else should be denied the choice/forced into the correct one.

Significantly stupid climate change idea

Using mustard seed to power aeroplanes:

A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The 15-hour flight used a blended fuel that was 10% derived from the brassica carinata, an industrial type of mustard seed that functions as a fallow crop – meaning it can be grown by farmers in between regular crop cycles.

The world-first used a Boeing Dreamliner 787-9 on a scheduled passenger service, QF96, and reduced carbon emissions by 7% compared with the airline’s usual flight over the same LA to Melbourne route. Compared pound for pound with jet fuel, carinata biofuel reduces emissions by 80% over the fuel’s life cycle.

Daniel Tan, an agriculture expert from the University of Sydney, said mustard seed could double as a valuable crop and a source of sustainable fuel for farmers.

“Almost within a day after harvesting, they can press the oil out in their own shed and use it straight into their tractors,” he said.

“Basically it’s good for growing, and also farmers can also use it. If they grow wheat every year it’s not good for the soil. They can grow mustard seed in between the wheat crops, every second or third year, press the oil and use it locally or export it for use in aviation fuel.

“A lot of the biodiesel now being processed is actually from waste oil from places like fish and chip shops. A lot of these oils can be processed, but the problem is that they can’t get consistent supply. The big problem with the biodisel industry in Australia is mainly the continuity of supply.”

OK. Mustard produces some 1 to 3 tonnes of seed per hectare (according to GOOG). This produces 400 litres of oil apparently, according to these peeps. A 747 uses 4 litres per second of fuel (obvs, an average).

Roughly speaking, we get a minute and a half of flight per hectare.

There are some 100,000 (a guess, but a reasonable one) flights a day. Of 90 minutes (another guess, but again a reasonable one) duration and not all are 747s but let’s just try to get a sense of scale here. So, we need 100,000 x 60 x 365 hectares of mustard to power ‘planes. 2.2 billion hectares of land.

This is more than current total cropped land.

Not a solution then.

Please do check my numbers. I can easily lose orders of magnitude……