Tim Worstall


Little earthquake a couple of days back. West of Gib, SE off into the sea from here. Three of us in the house felt it. None mentioned it at the time to not worry the other two. All three of us have, over the couple of days, mentioned it privately to each of the other two to say “Didja feel that – no worries, it’s only small etc. Didn’t mention it not to worry the other”


Economic heuristics

I think it fair to say that whatever we once thought we knew about economics, we no longer know. Saying so, I am not talking that much about economics theory, which few have ever comprehended, and whose relationship with reality has been so remote for so long that this might be a blessing. I am instead talking about the economic heuristics that govern what most people think about the way that the economy works.

No. The two things everyone needs to know, the base heuristics of the subject, are:

1) Incentives matter

2) There are always opportunity costs.

These haven’t changed and they’re not going to either. Not that Spud acknowledges either of them but then that’s what explains his misunderstanding of the subject under discussion.

Let’s increase taxes to end the recession!

Sooner or later, there will have to be a reckoning. As the recession drags on, more and more debts will simply become unpayable, whether the government and creditors like it or not. We can either wait for this to happen, and brace ourselves for the economic and social chaos it will bring with it; or we can act now to rebalance the burden.

Calls for wealth taxes and debt write-downs must be seen in this context. They are not about the well-off making sacrifices to help the less well-off. The point is that the least well-off are already making eye-watering sacrifices to maintain income flows to wealthy creditors. If this does not change soon, the UK’s recovery will be slow and painful. Tackling growing inequalities between those who own assets and those who owe debts is no longer simply a matter of justice: it is an urgent economic necessity.

Keynes – sensible chap a lot of the time – and MMT both say that raising taxes in a recession is not a good idea. Even if it is to beat inequality….

Christine Berry is a researcher, writer and consultant

The Lord save us from The Guardian’s economics, eh?

Not good but OK, it’s a fact we have to deal with

Female doctors going through the menopause are reducing their hours, moving to lower-paid roles or retiring early from medicine due to sexism and ageism in surgeries and hospitals, research has found.

This is going to cause problems:

The findings will concern the nine out of 10 hospital bosses in England who fear understaffing across the service has become so severe that patients’ health could be damaged: there are currently more than 30,000 female doctors aged 45-55, when menopause typically occurs. This number will rise significantly as the new cohort of medical students progress, almost 60% of whom are female.

So our all seeing, all knowing, perfect planner that is the state is increasing the numbers of doctors being trained then, is it? To take care of this known problem, just as it did with greater part time working and career breaks among the increasingly female workforce?

Like it did ‘eck.

As ever the best argument against state planning is the planning the state has donoe.


First, this was in the ‘Wild West’ days of 2005 when tax campaigning was in its very early days and adverse publicity for tax planning was unknown. It’s important to remember how much has changed since then, largely due to that campaigning and the resulting publicity.

Second, tax justice was never rewarded by HMRC for its work on this. The question as to why that did not happen is relevant.

What’s the argument here? That Tax Justice Network – or whoever – should be given some cash for their work? Get the HMRC Gold Star for their lapels?


I’m the expert and I dunno

I’ve written two books on tax havens, and the honest answer is that tax havens come in so many varieties that it is very hard to define what one is.

That leaving Snippa to argue that his roses failing are the result of tax havens. Because if we can’t define it it’s everything, innit?

We’re surprised, right?

Sexual abuse and violence are rife within French figure skating amid a culture of secrecy that has allowed generations of coaches to prey on their protégés, a government report has concluded.

The report, published yesterday by the sports ministry, said that a government inspectorate had gathered allegations concerning 21 coaches suspected of offences ranging from sexual assaults to physical and verbal violence.

Take hugely ambitious female teenagers, mix with older men with power over them.

This is not to comment on what should happen, nor what we’d like to be happening, it is though to note what is likely to happen.

Seems appropriate

Juan Carlos’s departure — a decision taken to ease pressure on his son, King Felipe, and the Borbon family as anti-monarchist sentiment grew — came after Spanish and Swiss prosecutors launched investigations of allegations of bribes over a Saudi Arabian high-speed rail contract.


He is said to be the guest of the Fanjul family, wealthy Cuban-American friends who made their fortune in sugar plantations.

Well, not so much. They’ve made their fortune out of the American sugar tariff regime – the one that makes domestic sugar twice the price of world -, a regime they’ve been able to maintain over the decades by the delicate deployment of election funding.

Appropriate friends to have…..

Ha ha ha gurgle, snort

Commonwealth HQ lawyers facing charges of corruption

Well, OK. That’s not funny.

Joshua Brien, an expert on the law of the seas, and his wife, Melissa Khemani, a renowned anti-corruption expert, worked at the headquarters of the Commonwealth in central London.

That is.

Ms Khemani, 40, is facing two charges of acquiring, using or possessing £62,000 of criminal property. She is due to appear at court on October 22. She had worked in the criminal law section of the Commonwealth Secretariat helping member countries to implement the United Nations convention against corruption.

The Canadian-born lawyer was then appointed an anti-corruption legal expert with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. She is now a lawyer for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) working on due diligence on transactions and introducing anti-corruption reforms.

Quis cutodiet ipsos custodies…..

Ammonium nitrate

Nasty stuff if it does explode. Which is what just happened to Beirut, couple of thousand tonnes of the stuff. Happened at Texas City and also, I think, in Halifax in WWII? Or thereabouts. One of the stories of which is that anyone happening to be looking out the window as the shockwave arrived is blind…..for obvious reasons.

Matthew Pennycook MP is a dunderhead

Praising Joe Biden’s climate plan our more local addlepate declares:

In the process, he intends to create millions of well-paying, unionised jobs making wind turbines, building sustainable homes and manufacturing electric vehicles;

Pennycook is stupid enough to think that this is a benefit of the plan rather than a cost.

We’re never going to have a well run country when those who would do the job are this ignorant, are we?


So, poverty during lockdown:

‘Eat out to help out’: a forlorn dream for those struggling to feed a family
The government is spending about £500m to pay people to go to restaurants, while families in poverty get next to nothing

OK. From the report:

In our study, we found that everyday budgeting
practices that low income families previously employed suddenly became inaccessible or
impractical. For instance, shopping in multiple supermarkets for reduced items or the
cheapest prices was no longer feasible

And in response, the government has banned BOGOFs and promotions on certain foods. Cheered on by The Guardian, the paper bringing us these stories of poverty, of course.

Seriously Guardian? Seriously?

There’s nothing complex about it, scoffs someone (we’ll call him Slim Jim) every time the topic of weight loss comes up in the media: eat less and exercise more. If I’d lost a pound every time I’d heard that, my struggles would be over. Again, the implication is that fat people are stupid, lazy or lacking in self-discipline, and probably all three.

I don’t think I am lazy. I’ve climbed to 18,000 feet, run a half-marathon (OK, jogged) and written three novels (one published). I can be lazy certainly, but surely all of us can.

I don’t think I lack self-discipline. It was arguably an excess of self-discipline that enabled me to starve myself in my 20s until my BMI dropped to below 15. It is more than double that now, but I don’t believe my character has fundamentally changed.

“But that’s an eating disorder!” cries Slim Jim. “It’s different for most people!” And it’s true, I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but then I’ve been diagnosed with lots of things.

This the prelude to insisting that obesity is about deprivation etc. At which point:

Author Clare Allan spent 10 years in a mental health institution.

So we do rather know that the lady isn’t representative of the average land whale. So why the use of the lady as the exemplar of how complicated it all is?

One for Carole Cadwallader

Russian hackers stole classified documents from the email account of a Cabinet minister before they were used by Jeremy Corbyn to attack the Government, it was claimed on Monday.
Former Trade Secretary Liam Fox was the victim of what appears to have been a "state-backed" operation ahead of last year’s general election, sources said.
The news triggered a review of Government security as ministers and MPs were reminded of the need to follow rules set out by the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ.
If the claims – currently the subject of a police investigation – are proven, it would be the first time a current or former Cabinet minister had been successfully targeted by Russian hackers.

An actual real example of Russian interference in British politics and elections. She will be all over it like – as Ike and Tina sang – white on white, right?

Yes, of course she will.