Not so much Bernie

“China is a country that is moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way in a number of directions,” Sanders told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball. “But what we have to say about China in fairness to China and it’s leadership is if I’m not mistaken they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization, so they’ve done a lot of things for their people.”

The average American is richer than the average Chinee. Therefore America must have done more than China, no?

And a poor Chinee is much worse off than a poor American….

Smart motorways

Matt Jacobs, whose father, Derek, 83, was killed in March when his van came to a stop on the first lane of the M1 smart motorway before being hit by a coach, said smart motorways should be scrapped altogether.

“Hard shoulders have been a safety feature of motorways since the 1960s when there was a fraction of the traffic there is today,” he said. “With today’s volume of traffic, the decision to remove them is murderous negligence and incompetence. Many more people will be killed as a direct consequence of this decision.”

Yep, they will.

“I also pressed Highways England on their commitment to reducing spacing in the future “where applicable” to one mile – which is probably still too far apart – and left the meeting with the strong impression Highways England would look, again, to do the absolute minimum when it came to improving safety by reducing refuge area spacing.

“The ‘where applicable’ qualification appears to be just another attempt to reduce costs to the detriment of the safety of recovery operators and motorists.

How much does the change cost per statistical life saved? More than a couple of million £ and the people should die.

Which is the argument for no hard shoulder roads in the first place. Yes, some people will die but have you seen the cost of building out another lane?

An answer at Quora

We have dreamt of a 5 trillion dollar economy, it sounds difficult. But if we do not aim high, how will the country progress?

Who is trying to have a $5 trillion economy? The US already has one, as does China. No other country does as yet.

So, obviously, start with lots of people. Then what? Well, probably have a free market and capitalist economy. Then wait.

Other than that there’s not all that much to it.

Three assertions

So let’s consider the facts:

1. Market economies did better than statist economies before the Great Recession.

2. Market economies did better than statist economies during the Great Recession.

3. Market economies did better than statist economies after the Great recession.

So here’s a question about rooftop farming

How much does it cost to retrofit a roof to be able to do it?

It’s a warm afternoon in late spring and before us rows of strawberry plants rustle in the breeze as the scent of fragrant herbs wafts across the air. Nearby, a bee buzzes lazily past. Contrary to appearances, however, we are not in an idyllic corner of the countryside but standing on the top of a six-storey building in the heart of the French capital.

Welcome to the future of farming in Paris – where a whole host of rooftop plantations, such as this one on the edge of the Marais, have been springing up of late. Yet this thriving operation is just a drop in the ocean compared to its new sister site. When that one opens, in the spring of 2020, it will be the largest rooftop farm in the world.

Currently under construction in the south-west of the city, this urban oasis will span approximately 14,000 sq metres (150695 sq feet) – also making it the largest urban farm in Europe. With the plan to grow more than 30 different plant species, the site will produce around 1,000kg of fruit and vegetables every day in high season. Tended by around 20 gardeners, they will also be using entirely organic methods.

The thing being that all that earth weighs something. Add in rain that will fall upon is and stay there – you know, soaked up, not just running off – and we’ve a significant addition to whatever the original design tolerance was.

OK, maybe the building was originally designed with this in mind. Super – so, how much did that extra weight tolerance cost?

The real question here being, well…..does it cost more to create a hectare of urban farm than it costs to go buy a hectare of rural farm? If so, why in buggery is it being done?

The level of nonbias is strong with this one

What I want to do is turn the table on the debate on global migration. Most of the debate is told from the point of view of the rich countries. They’re asking how many migrants should we let in, should they be skilled or unskilled. What I want to ask is why are people moving in the first place? It’s not because they hate their homes or their language or their food or their people, but it’s because the rich countries stole the future of poor countries through colonialism, war, inequality, and climate change. They are coming here because we, the rich countries, were there first.

The bit that’s being missed is that everywhere was $2 a day poor. That some places became non-$2 a day poor wasn’t stealing anything from anyone…..

Will be interesting to see who gets blamed

The power cut is believed to have been caused by two power supply plants that failed at around 4pm, the BBC said.

One was a traditional gas and steam fired power station in Cambridgeshire, the other a huge wind turbine farm in the North Sea.

Capacity problems at Britain’s largest single power station in Yorkshire may have been an additional factor, it is understood.

One reading could be……wind farm closes down immediately as wind speed is too high. Gas plant on idle can’t spin up for some reason. Drax is low capacity because it’s burning wood chips, not coal.

Of course, it’s far too early to be able to say that is exactly and precisely true but I’m willing to assert it with some confidence.

Ain’t capitalism great?

‘I don’t smell!’ Meet the people who have stopped washing
A growing number of people are eschewing soap and trusting bacteria to do the job instead – and an entire industry has sprung up to accommodate them

Soap dodger’s money smells no worse than anyone else’s. Thus there are capitalists happy to make a buck out of soap dodgers. Anyone able to name any other socioeconomic system that would cater to minority desires in this manner?

Soon, soon

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So, just get it over with then

Sterling could fall to its lowest level since 1985 if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, as the Bank of England warned the pound would probably fall, inflation rise and growth tumble if no agreement is reached.

Even with a deal, the economy is not out of danger. Officials slashed forecasts and warned there is a one-in-three chance of the economy recording no growth or even shrinking, as business investment is paralysed and the US-China trade war hits exports.

This means there is a rising risk of recession this year.

The biggest concern being uncertainty. Meaning that whatever it is that we do – sure, we’ve all our own desires here – we need to get it done. And now. Because continuing to shilly around without making up our minds is the very thing causing the economic constipation.


Asian stock markets plunged on Friday after Donald Trump’s surprise threat of tariff hikes on additional Chinese imports.

In early trading, Tokyo’s main index tumbled 2.2% and Hong Kong’s benchmark lost 2%. Markets in Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul also fell.

The US president’s announcement of 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods, due to take effect on September 1, surprised investors after the White House said Beijing promised to buy more farm goods.

Trade wars don’t work anyway. And while uncertainty is a great negotiating tactic it plays merry havoc with economies and markets.

Someone really should take Peter Navarro out back and – metaphorically of course – pound some economic sense into him.

To explain this

The Italian-American economist is more than just a theorist. Her faith in the ability of governments to create inclusive and sustainable prosperity has found a large and receptive global audience. In the US, she has the ear of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren. Across the Atlantic, her “mission-oriented” approach to public policy serves as the foundation of the European Union’s €100 billion ($112 billion) research and innovation program and inspired Scotland’s government to set up a national investment bank.

The European Union wanted to be told that EU finding of research and development was very important. Further, that the EU should take equity stakes in the users of that new tech in order to increase the funds the EU could use to spend to be the EU.

A certain Italian American economist was hired, on a grant, to investigate the manner in which government could and should increase technological development. The answer being that governmental type things like the EU should spend lots on basic research and development and then keep equity stakes in the tech that was developed.

The economist then went on to found an institute which gets money from…..

And there are people out there who say that public choice economics isn’t true.

Not that it makes any damn difference of course

Could Boris make stamp duty payable by the seller, not the buyer?

Not to the incidence of the tax.

Although charging the tax to the people who demonstrably have a large cheque in their hands seems reasonable enough.

So, why wasn’t it done before? Because the tax was actually a charge for the registration of the new ownership of the property. Only once it became a tax, rather than a simple charge, id it even become an issue.

An unfortunate truth about South Africa

Ask the average South African to explain the malaise of their country’s economy and they are likely to point to one of the most gripping dramas ever broadcast on local television.

Day after day for the best part of a year, a judicial inquiry into state corruption has heard jaw-dropping testimony about the scale of the rot that spread through South African politics under Jacob Zuma, the president until last year.

Witnesses have detailed the ease with which companies and powerful individuals corrupted the system to win state contracts and plunder big national champions from South African Airways to Eskom, the troubled state electricity monopoly.

There was a grouping – a groupuscule perhaps – which worried about the transfer of power in South Africa. Not a great dela, as it was far away and all that, knowing nothing of it. I’d count myself as being part of that grouping as well – one of the reasons it might be better described as a groupuscule as I rarely have opinions that are widely enough shared to constitute a group.

The concern wasn’t about the transfer of power to blacks. Or to the democratic majority. It was about which group of blacks we thought likely to gain power. Not specifically even Zuma but that someone like him and his compadres would.

Turns out we weren’t wrong either.

So Frances Coppolla doesn’t understand QE either then

The thesis behind the book is that, although quantitative easing since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007/8 has failed, the cause of failure was its implementation, not the policy itself. Quantitative easing was a policy proposed by Milton Friedman and Ann Schwartz back in 1963 as a way to counter a financial depression, or “Great Contraction” as they termed it. The idea was to radically increase the money supply, providing consumers with money to resuscitate the economy. Five years later Friedman used the metaphor of a helicopter dropping money over communities to achieve this goal. He emphasised that it had to be a one-off event to discourage people from saving it, thinking there was more to come.

Following the Great Financial Crisis, central banks worldwide initiated Friedman’s policy of helicopter money, dispensing trillions of dollars. However, as Coppola explains, this massive use of quantitative easing, or the “Great Experiment”, failed because Friedman’s “‘helicopter drop” came to mean not putting money into people’s pockets, but rather casting money blindly onto international financial markets without regard to where it would end up. The desired result did not happen; instead we find ourselves in the “Long Stagnation”.

So where did the helicopter money go after it was distributed to the financial sector and corporations? Much of it was invested in emerging markets. Corporations used it to buy back shares to increase the price of their stock and bonds without increasing productive activity, or as Coppola writes “Wall Street is awash with money, while Main Street dies of thirst”. This explains the asset bubbles and the low unemployment rate in some nations, while wages remain stagnant.

Friedman starts from MV = PQ.

If V falls then we’re going to have a recession possibly plus deflation – the two possibly being a depression.

So, if V falls increase M.

Did V fall? Yes. Did we increase M? Yes. Did we have a depression? No. Did we have deflation? No. In fact, once we started QE, the recession stopped.

QED, QE worked.

Helicopter money is something else, something more, to be done only if QE fails.


The argument that the new money must flow through to the real economy isn’t QE, that’s straight Keynes. Let’s go spend lots of money on stuff. And sure, that can work. We can have lovely arguments about whether it works better etc, but it’s a well known thing.

And we’re really not going to do $4 trillion of it, as the Fed did with QE. ‘Coz it’s a different thing, see, subject to different constraints.

Coppola concludes:

“There must be zero tolerance of polices that exacerbate inequality and hurt the poor. Public investment banks and sovereign wealth funds must be created in every nation.Laws and rules forbidding cooperation between governments and central banks need to be removed, especially in view of the climate crisis.”

And that’s just being stupid. The reason we have central bank independence is so that the politicians don’t control everything.