Tim Worstall

Sadly, I can’t actually respond to this one

I have a feeling that [email protected] might not be a wholly accurate return address. But here’s the message in full:

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Fuck u Tim. Ur comment at Forbes on justifying Bangladeshi workers getting low wages is completely vague. Bd is a devoloping country u ass, and the fastest growing economy in south Asia. get u facts right u dickhead. U moron don’t split ur selfmade stat anywhere u want. Asshole.

Boy, has he got the wrong end of the stick there.

Well, umm, yeah, you know?

The announcement of his non-prosecution agreement on Thursday came as prosecutors brought tax charges against Robert Brockman, a Houston billionaire whose money launched Mr Smith’s private equity career in 2000. Mr Brockman denies the charges against him

So, anything interesting you can tell us that might help with your sentencing then?

As prosecutors indicted Mr Brockman in a $2bn personal tax evasion case that is the largest of its kind in US history, they said that Mr Smith would face no charges for his scheme to evade taxes by hiding some of his Vista Equity profits offshore. In return, he had agreed to continue co-operating.

Sorry, how do you spell that? Mr. B..r…o…c…..OK got the rest of it. That’ll help.

To misunderstand neoliberals

Third, the moral bankruptcy of neoliberal thinking has been exposed, and as a consequence the entire moral foundation of our economy has collapsed. The aberrational, and even mad (I use the term advisedly) thinking that underpins our economics, which suggests that we are all entirely selfish individuals, born without empathy or concern for others, has to be eliminated from our education system, where it has represented a pernicious form of corruption. At the same time its impact has to be removed from the structuring of our economy, where it has driven us to the brink of massive failure.

Who says peeps are without empathy? We have rather a good description of it – called sympathy but still – in Theory of Moral Sentiments. By, you know, Adam Smith. Even, actually, a discussion of mirror neurons – not that they were called that then – in the discussion of the watchers of the man walking upon the tightrope.

Equally, that discussion of how the man might think his finger or summat is more important than a million Chinee. Which is rather how humans work, that empathy radiates out and declines by distance rather like gravity, squared and distance and all that.

But isn’t it lovely to know that all this must be banished from the education system? We must, that is, be censored into Spudnomics as we can’t and won’t reach it by any other route.

Third, and very obviously, we also need to address the failed culture of our economics. I can think of no easier way to achieve this than by revising the mandate of the Bank of England. At present, all the Bank of England is required to do is keep inflation below a 2% target.

It would help if these pronouncements were in fact true. But no, the Formerly Tre Professore knows not of what he speaks. The ECB has an inflation target of up to 2%. The Federal Reserve a dual mandate of full employment consistent with an inflation rate. One which the Fed interprets as core PCE running at 2%. The Bank of England one of either side of 2% inflation – less than 1% or more than 3% triggers a letter to the Chancellor explaining why the target hasn’t been hit.

There is a perfectly good argument saying that an “up to ” target is a bad idea as the incentive will always be to low ball in order not to exceed. Which is the very reason why the BoE’s target is not an “up to” one but an “around” one.

And recall, Snippa is the one who would tell us how the world should be run, has the detailed plans for it even. And yet Snippa is the one who doesn’t know how it currently works.

Nothing could more effectively say that the economy is to be run in the interests of those with wealth than this single statement does. The reason for the paranoia about inflation is that inflation deflates the value of debt, which debt is the instrument that those with wealth use to preserve their wealth and maintain their income whilst simultaneously, imposing their control upon most of the population.

Oddly, the rich folk out there tend to be in equity and property, two inflation protected classes of investment. But you know, knowledge and all that.

A change is, then, required. If that mandate was re-written as follows our economic policy would be very different:

The Bank of England shall be required to cooperate with HM Treasury in the promotion of an overall economic policy that:

Promotes full employment;

Funds the transition to a sustainable, net-zero carbon economy;

Supplies sufficient fiat currency to the economy to facilitate the smooth operation of the financial system in fulfillment of the above goals;

Recognises that inflation might prejudice achievement of these objectives and seeks to limit it to not more than 3% per annum.

You see the problem? The BoE is already fine up to 3% inflation. And “up to” targets are a bad idea anyway. We want “around” targets. The man’s too ignorant to be designing that new world.

Then we would have a fundamentally different economy.

Well, no, not really, as anyone who grasps the current one would know.

Oh, and the supplies sufficient fiat currency one? That’s straight Milton Friedman. The money supply should increase as the size of the economy does. You know, a restaurant serving 150 covers needs more plates than one serving 50? Or even, MV=PQ and if the right hand size increases then so must the left…..and you can’t get much more neoliberal than that now, can you?


What happened? It would be so easy to say that everything was down to Covid. But, important as that is, I don’t think that is true. Coronavirus exposed this crisis. It did not, however, make it. The fact that there are countries, from New Zealand and South Korea, to several in Southeast Asia, plus Japan, who have managed this crisis so much better than we have makes it clear that there is something much more to what we are facing than the impact of a virus.

OK, New Zealand. What was New Zealand doing then? Ah, running a budget surplus. Destroying the government created money that is so necessary to economic expansion.

source: tradingeconomics.com

So, err, to not follow Supuddanomics then.

Not the most ridiculous of policies

If you were Chancellor, what would you do?

I would simplify the tax system so there were no ways to get out of paying tax. I’d raise the threshold at which you start paying income tax and make everyone pay the same standard rate – probably around 30 per cent.

I think the Government would make more tax revenue overall because there would be fewer tax dodgers. Also, by raising the threshold, more people on low incomes would be taken out of tax, so I think it would be fairer.

Indeed, I recall a proposal from Madsen of exactly this – well, near exactly, the tax rate was 33%.


Hany Farid, a professor at University of California, Berkeley who specialises in digital disinformation, said reluctance to take Parler’s cash was not surprising. It is an example of what he called the “bully’s veto”: “Please explain to me how you have the right to say anything you want about gay people, black people, Muslim people.

It’s called free speech. Shrug.

Will Hutton really is an idiot

As it tried to elicit from them answers on whether Apple abused its monopoly with its App store, about Facebook’s monopoly of online advertising,

Google’s revenue comes almost entirely from online advertising. And what is Google, chopped liver?

And yes, this is more important than just pointing out that Hutton is an ill-informed idiot. This is the guy who insists that he and his know how to plan the entire global economy for us all. And yet he’s also proving how ill-informed he is as he does so – in which case why would we give him the power to run the global economy for us?

Short version – Hayek was right.

And the point here is

Sixteen years ago, St Stephen’s church in Bradford was on the verge of closure. Its congregation had dwindled to half a dozen, and the building – a “big old barn of a place”, in a predominantly Muslim area – was in poor repair. “People thought it had had its day,” said the Rev Jimmy Hinton.

Now, St Stephen’s is a vital hub, providing support and activities in an area of acute deprivation. The nave has been cleared of its pews, and heating has been installed. On a typical day, you might find an exercise class, a support group for asylum seekers and refugees, community meals being cooked and served, singing and stories for infants, mosaic-making, and people hunting for jobs or claiming benefits online.

Yes, sure, community stuff is good. And yet the point here is that the CoE can only fill the barns by not being religious any more. Which is odd really, as the places that do pack them in to the rafters for religious reasons are the places that do the fire and brimstone version.

Petitio Principii

Reliable data on the proportion of the population that is lesbian, gay or transgender will be gathered for the first time in next year’s census, with members of the public asked to provide information about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The questions – which will be voluntary and for people aged 16 and over – will help to build a clearer picture for policy-makers and service-providers, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

“Without robust data on the size of the LGBT population at a national and local level, decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBT people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing,” Iain Bell, the ONS deputy national statistician, told the Observer.

The question begging being, well, that assumption that there is a disadvantage being suffered by LGBT in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing.

Employment for example, gay men earn – on average, on average – less than het men. The usual route is thought to be they’re less likely to have children and thus under less pressure to earn. Lesbians, on the other hand, earn more than het women. The lack of children and childcare being the supposed reason there. So, advantage or disadvantage?

Hmm, well, yes

Now, everywhere I go I encounter a recrudescence of the fallacy of applying “household economics” to the nation at large. Who is going to pay for this spending, people ask.

Well, the answer is: the government, by borrowing at next-to-zero interest rates, and the economic growth that will revive the government’s coffers in due course, just as it did after the second world war.

I think a substantial case can be made that the government defaulted on most of that debt through inflation. Something they can’t do again because they’ve done it to us once.

It would actually be useful if someone could point to a detailed discussion of this. How much of that post WWII debt mountain was in fact massaged down by inflation and inflation alone?

Over at Quora

What is a K-shaped economic recovery?

Tim Worstall

A political invention.

No, quite seriously, that’s all it is. There are those who want to get their priorities to the top of the societal list of things that are going to be solved. Hey, that’s just what politics is, the argument over which thing gets done next.
So, when stuff happens you invent (yes, just make up) some description of events which means that your wishes are important and must move up that list.*

Of course, sometimes there are real new problems and we’ve got to have some method of distinguishing between the new and these inventions. The correct method here is to look at the proposed solutions and who is proposing them.

If the solutions are the same things the proposers have been saying for years, if what we need to do about it is just the same old thing, then this is a made up, invented, reason just to do the same old things. Not, actually, a new problem at all.

So, the solutions proposed to the K-shaped economic recovery are the usual list of stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution and so on. These solutions coming from the people who have been proposing stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution, for decades now. That is, the K-shaped recovery isn’t an actual thing, it’s just a made up, invented, justification for stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution.

As such we can ignore it.

*The archetype here is Cato.

“***Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam*** (“Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed”), often abbreviated to ***Carthago delenda est*** (“Carthage  must be destroyed”) or ***Ceterum censeo***, is a Latin oratorical phrase  pronounced by Cato the Censor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cato_the_Elder), a politician of the Roman Republic . The phrase originates from debates held in the Roman Senate prior to the Third Punic War between Rome and Carthage , where Cato is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches in order to push for the war.”

His speeches really did run along the lines of “And so we should dig the drainage ditch and therefore I conclude that Carthage must be destroyed” “The price of olive oil is too high and thus Carthage must be destroyed” and so on. Eventually the Romans got so bored of this they went and destroyed Carthage.

Want stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution? This week it’s the K-shaped recovery, last month it was the recession, 3 months back Black Lives Matter, 6 months ago rising inequality and so on and on. If the policy never changes, only the justification, then the justification is the invention.

Isn’t this fun

The owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM) has only days to convince administrators not to seize control, with 21,000 jobs in 1,100 stores at risk

Mr Day, who founded the company nearly two decades ago and built it up via acquisitions of brands including Ponden Home, Peacocks and Jaeger, is working on complicated rescue proposals at his home in Switzerland.

However, with grim prospects for parts of the business, thousands of job losses are expected as soon as this week.
The self-made Cumbrian has concluded that banks will not lend to EWM in its ­current state. Credit insurers have withdrawn cover, meaning it is effectively unable to trade.

The really important part is those credit insurers. And the way he tried to fuck over the Bangladeshi factories does make him a higher risk. Oh dear, how sad.

I’ve long wondered about this

“The policy basically says that it’s normal for a baby with Down’s syndrome to be terminated right up until birth.
“The reason why this is important to me is because I have Down’s syndrome, I know what it is to have it, and my husband has it.”
Asked how she feels to have been given the go-ahead with her landmark legal battle, she added: “I feel amazing knowing that the case is going to be heard in the High Court.”

We’ve a certain contradiction in the law here.

Abortion is legal up until birth in cases of severe deformity. But only to 24 weeks in cases without deformity.

We have strict anti-discrimination legislation against the disabled. Hmm, perhaps in favour of the disabled.

So, abortion law is different for the disabled and the not so. This is discrimination that we have laws against.

Dunno about this specific case or any other but there is that contradiction there all the same.

Lemons and lemonade

For three decades, Anna-Jane Casey has been a West End leading lady. But her new role is a good deal less glamorous.Casey is working as a delivery driver, earning £1 per parcel, after the shutdown of the arts left her – like thousands of others in the industry – unable to do the job she loves.

Since June, Casey has been working for a courier company with her husband and fellow actor, Graham MacDuff.
It is a far cry from Casey’s West End career, which has included playing Velma Kelly in Chicago, Anita in West Side Story and Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot.

“I’ve been acting since I was 10 years old, I’ve paid tax for all that time. And yet you’re telling me that my industry isn’t viable, and that I should probably retrain and do something else? Well, that’s not what I’m going to do,” Casey said. “But I have a mortgage and two kids, so I need a job right now.”

Given that acting has survived a couple of thousand years as a profession so far I don’t think it’s going to entirely closedown. It might well change of course.

As to other jobs while resting, that’s hardly unusual now, is it?

Not that I control or direct any of you but….

Ragging on Ritchie is, of course, a grand spectator sport. However:

Richard Murphy says:
October 16 2020 at 9:26 am
Let me provide a provide summary answer to this.

In 2013 my wife was diagnosed with cancer. I am pleased to say she is now in remission.

However, when being treated she had chemotherapy, as well as surgery and radiotherapy. One of the advised side effects of chemo, with maybe a 1 in 10,000 risk, was serious mental ill health. She was the 1 in 10,000, and an extreme case at that. She had never suffered mental ill health before then.

For five years she could do very little, including parenting, which fell to me. Her condition was so bad that we lived apart from 2015. We still do. But I maintained my commitment to care for her, and have. We remain married. The arrangement may be unusual. We have not changed it, for many reasons. That’s our business.

Perhaps – and again I point out that you are not my charges nor can I, or even would I, direct you – some things might not be ragged upon?

So, such things as minimal salaries, zero national insurance taxation, profits paid out as dividends, from a limited company when raging that such was tax abuse is fair game. Bits about wife – well, you don’t need me to tell you this – are perhaps not.

there’s a certain hostage to fortune in my saying this as of course some will possibly use it as proof that I control some pack of feral commentators. Which, of course, I don’t, but it still seems worth saying. It is my opinion that certain things about Snippa should be ragged upon and others not.

Slightly odd route

In August the following year he managed to leave France, traverse Spain and Portugal and reach Gibraltar, where he was flown to London to link up with De Gaulle’s Free French Forces.

Although possible. It’s just that Portugal isn’t on the route from France to Gib.

Tee hee

Anne-Marie Hutchinson was born in Donegal in 1957, one of six children of Gerry, a barber, and Kitty, a nurse. A proud member of the Irish Catholic diaspora, she was brought up, ironically, in Oliver Cromwell’s constituency of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Her parents referred to the lord protector as “that bastard”.

This also being a PJ O’Rourke joke about his Republican grandmother. Never would allow the word “Democrat” to be spoken in the house, always said “bastards” instead.

Snippa and herd immunity

It is depressing that we have a health secretary who does not understand, let alone believe in, herd immunity (Tory rebels fire warning shot as 42 MPs vote against stricter Covid measures, 13 October). The three examples that he quotes of diseases that never reach herd immunity are all incorrect, in different ways.

With malaria, the problem is the lack of individual immunity, and with flu the problem is that different strains of the virus emerge from time to time, bypassing any herd immunity that has built up. But it’s his inclusion of measles that really upsets me. You do get herd immunity, in the adult population, but this gets diluted out because people keep having babies. This can be easily counteracted by vaccination of children.

Because measles is far more infectious than Covid-19, with R possibly as high as 20, achieving herd immunity requires vaccine uptake of about 95%. Obtaining that requires a continuing campaign to counter the ignorance and misinformation about vaccines that is circulating.

By wrongly suggesting that herd immunity is impossible for measles, Matt Hancock has just shot himself, and us, in the foot.
Prof Jeremy Dale
Glossop, Derbyshire

Well, don’t that just shoot that fox?

Jeremy Dale studied medicine at Cambridge University and the Middlesex Hospital, London. Following GP vocational training in Oxford, he was appointed as a lecturer in primary care at King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, becoming a senior lecturer in 1992. While in London, he also worked as a part-time GP principal in a busy general practice in one of the most socially deprived parts of the city. In 1997, Jeremy was appointed Professor of Primary Care at Warwick. Between 1998 and 2007 he was the Director of the Centre of Primary Health Care Studies and between 2003 and 2006 was Head of the Division of Health in the Community at Warwick Medical School. He is also a part-time GP with the Engleton House Surgery in Coventry.

Ho hum.


Carissa Véliz is associate professor in philosophy at the Institute for Ethics in AI, a fellow at Hertford College, University of Oxford, and the author of Privacy Is Power (Bantam Press, 2020)

So, we know she’s going to say something stupid but what’s it going to be?

The United Kingdom is at a crossroads. On the verge of Brexit, it has to decide where it stands in relation to privacy: will it loosen data protection regulation, moving more towards China’s model, or will it guarantee its citizens’ right to privacy, moving more towards a Californian approach and securing a data adequacy agreement with the EU? It would be a mistake to choose the former.

The Irish data commissioner has just declared that the American system of data regulation is not compatible with the EU one…..