Business

Naah, let ’em go bust

Eurostar is on track for a financial collapse that risks cutting off a vital link to the Continent as the pandemic subsides, business leaders and MPs have warned the Chancellor.

Rishi Sunak is also this weekend facing public calls to bail out the Channel Tunnel operator after repeatedly rejecting private appeals for taxpayer support.

Eurostar has been left fighting for survival after travel restrictions triggered a 95pc plunge in passengers since March 2020. It has pared operations to just two services-a-day as it scrambles to preserve cash.

Industry sources said that forecasts indicate it could run out of money as early as April, although company insiders insisted its reserves could be stretched until the summer.

A letter sent this weekend from business leaders to Mr Sunak and Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, urges them to act. It says: “[We are] concerned about the prospects of Eurostar, and are calling on swift action to safeguard its future. With international passenger numbers likely to remain low into the spring, our green gateway to Europe is in peril.”

So, it goes bust. And?

The tunnel’s still there, the trains exist, the workforce doesn’t get decimated or anything. What goes bust is the legal wrapper. Some capitalists lose some money.

The moment it does go bust some other capitalists will step in because the tunnel’s still there, the trains, the workforce.

That is, Eurostar can go bust and we simply don’t give a fuck. Since we don’t we don’t need to do anything, do we?

Weird numbers

The Department of Health and Social Care spent more than £75 million on transporting ‘Moonshot’ tests from China that could miss up to half of coronavirus cases, The Telegraph can reveal.

A total of £76.59 million has been spent on air freight alone for lateral flow tests since the announcement of ‘Operation Moonshot’, analysis shows. The proposed mass-testing scheme had initially intended to perform 10 million tests a day.

Yer Wha’?

Air freight from China is about $5 a kg. Sure, it’s higher for smaller amounts but they’re not talking about small shipments. If anything, they’d be chartering a plane and that’s cheaper per kilo.

15 thousand tonnes of tests?

There’s a zero or more going missing here. Or, the bill isn’t for the air freight, it’s for the tests as well. But summat there isn’t right.

But 5 year olds can’t drive

Mercedes reinvents the car dashboard with its Hyperscreen
Mercedes promises this full-width screen can be mastered by five-year-olds in no more than 10 minutes

And, if a 5 year old can master it then no one above the age of 7 can.

We’ve had 50 years of trying to program video recorders to prove this, haven’t we?

How disgusting, eh?

The family of Sir Philip Green are in line to pocket £50m from the sale of Topshop, as 10,000 Arcadia pension fund members face a haircut on their savings after his empire collapsed last month.

Administrators from Deloitte are auctioning Arcadia’s brands, which also include Miss Selfridge and Burton. With an estimated value of at least £200m, Topshop is easily the most valuable component.

Aldsworth Equity, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by Green’s wife Tina, lent £50m to Topshop in March last year, secured against its state-of-the-art warehouse in Daventry, Northamptonshire, which is owned by the Topshop/Topman operating company.

Secured creditors get paid first. Just what is capitalism coming to?

Oh dear Chris Giles, Oh Dear

You’re claiming, or getting close to claiming, that Harrods – a retailer – is making a 25% net margin.

Err, no.

What is the thing that we cannot see in those accounts? Any payment for the land and or building from which the retailing is done. And a store in central London does have the odd cost attached to it.

The base point may well still be true – that Harrods is a larger part of the UK economy than fishing. But I’d suggest that this dive into the accounts doesn’t show it.

More stupidity

Why is Dior still using the actor Johnny Depp to advertise its bestselling aftershave, Dior Sauvage?
….
Perhaps more salient is the fact that sales of Sauvage went up after Depp lost the libel case.

Having answered her own question……

Apparently some people really are this stupid

“WHAT. We lied?” “… Alls we do is lie.” So ran an exchange of texts between colleagues at the building materials company Kingspan , after it began marketing one of its insulation products, Kooltherm K15, as having a “Class 0” rating, taken at the time to be suitable for use in high-rise blocks. K15 was used on Grenfell Tower. The sordid story of how that came to be was revealed at the inquiry into the Grenfell fire.

What so amused Kingspan employees was their ability to market K15 as Class 0 without testing the material as a whole; the company simply tested the foil facer. “You could staple a foil facer to dynamite and put it on a building of above 18 metres and call it Class 0?” Richard Millett QC rhetorically asked Adrian Pargeter, a Kingspan director. Which is not that far from what actually happened.

Too little attention is being paid to the Grenfell inquiry. What is being brutally exposed is the inhumanity of companies trying to scam the system, irrespective of consequences for people’s lives, and of regulations as fit for purpose as the Grenfell cladding itself.

The bureaucracy provided some regulations that attempted, in detail, to tell people what they could, and could not, do. These regulations turned out to be not very good.

Imagine now a much more general system of regulation. Thou shall not make products which kill the customers. A very general rule, open ended, there’s no sign off on it from some bloke one can pour beer into. True, there’s also no series of comfy indoor jobs for people to tick boxes. But, you know. It could well be an effective manner of regulation.

So, we have that first form of regulation. Something goes wrong. This is thus the fault of the regulated, not the regulators?

If only Wirecard were still around

Mastercard and Visa said on Thursday they would block their customers from using the credit cards to make purchases on Pornhub following accusations the pornographic website showed videos of child abuse and rape.

One of the more amusing allegations about Wirecard being that it was washing payments from the dodgier sorts of fumblesites. Not just that it was, but it was washing them and that that was just about all the real business it was doing.

An American weirdness

“Instead of competing on the merits, Facebook used its power to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow.”

How can they believe this?

Facebook doesn’t sell data – not in any but the most trivial volume at least. It sells advertising. The data aids you in limiting your ad spend. As to monopoly it’s no more one of those than the classifieds pages of a newspaper are or were.

What a sneaky bastard Zuckerberg is

Zuckerberg met Hancock as he faced heavy criticism for failing to appear before a committee of MPs investigating the issue of fake news. He is recorded in the minutes as saying Facebook was “considering looking elsewhere” for a European territory to invest in because of the bad publicity the company was receiving from the cross-party House of Commons culture select committee.

If you make it difficult for me to do business in your country I might look at doing business in other countries.

Sneaky, eh?

Obviousness and lies

Philip Green’s wealth has shrunk as Arcadia’s fortunes have faded

Well, yes, that’s how capitalism works. Own something going up in value you get richer. Own something on the downside you get poorer. That’s rather the point of the system in fact.

This though is a lie:

A large chunk of that money came from a £1.2bn dividend in 2005, the biggest in British corporate history. No tax was paid on the dividend paid to Tina Green because of her base in tax-free Monaco.

Corporation tax was paid before that distribution. For that’s how the tax system works. Dividends are taxed at the corporate level before distribution.

Could even be true

Up to a quarter of London’s tech start-ups may not survive a no-deal Brexit, according to new research which heaps fresh pressure on the Government to finalise a trade agreement with Brussels.

A survey conducted by Tech London Advocates, the industry lobby group, found that thousands of start-ups were on the brink of administration, and concerned about the dual threat of a no-deal Brexit and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

For we’d rather expect a quarter of all start ups to be on the brink of administration at any one point in time. That’s rather the nature of the beast.

Umm, why not?

In a sane society, a company could not habitually lose money, punish its workers and keep functioning. Uber can.

Money goes from rich folk into the company. The people who buy the stuff get cheap stuff. For the products are underpriced by the amount of the losses in the production process.

This is a transfer from capitalists to consumers. Why wouldn’t we want to allow this?

Hmm, well, yes

Boost for butchers as supermarket deli counters get the chop

Clearly, for those who like deli counters then the closure of one set will increase traffic at another.

But given that the closures are being driven by falling demand not so much perhaps. Especially as the supermarkets are going to be the most efficient deli counters…..

Privately I’d be bleaker about this

It’s possible, but not necessary, to be as cynical as I am about this. Which is to observe that there are those who wish to gain political and economic power and regulating large companies that aren’t doing any harm is sure a cute way of doing that. A support to my bleak view is that those advancing the regulation of the tech giants do tend to insist that this should apply to all actors in the economy. Anyone that is a significant source of near anything must be regulated.

This isn’t really about Google – and nor will the other likely cases be – being detrimental to the consumer. Because there’s pretty much no proof that the company is. It’s about whether the tech giant might be if left unconstrained, if we’re to be charitable about it, and whether a big bad company and source of economic power should remain unregulated by politics, if we’re to be unkind.

Politics is the gaining of power over peeps. The insistence that all large companies must be regulated is just a grab for more power over peeps. Dressed in the perfectly fine and reasonable anti-monopoly arguments that are being stretched out for political gain.

A new scam

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Got to admire the inventiveness if nothing else.

It would be rather a fun job – if I actually knew how to accept Bitcoin, organise spam emailings and all that – writing such appeals. This week protect the trans from JK, last it was BLM and next it’ll be aid elderly VPs in retiring gracefully etc. As I say, it would be rather fun having to be this inventive……