Ragging on Ritchie

If only these people could count

Howard Reed says:
August 11 2020 at 11:00 am
Warning: these are ambitious:

1) Complete reversal of all real-term cuts to public spending and in particular social security since 2010

2010 is of course a bad date, that’s bottom of the recession. Since 2007? Spending is up, so what cuts?

Why doesn’t the stupid bastard read the goddam research?

From Richard Murphy:

Second, to claim that we are dependent on growth as he defines it is simply wrong. The financially engineered, fossil fuel driven growth of modern capitalism is what is driving us to extinction and there is not a shred of evidence that it can continue into the future and be reconciled with continuing human life on earth.

Third, if he wants to talk growth then it is growth of the state sector that he should have been promoting, but did not. We do need more care, education, social housing, sustainable transport infrastructure and so on. But we do not need more long haul holidays, heavy weight cars, monoculture farming, junk fashion and much else, all designed to fuel the inexorable demand for an interest return to banking.

And fourth, talking green and about growth in the way he does is simply impossible: carbon and temperature targets (let alone those required to secure biodiversity) cannot be reconciled with the sort of GDP growth his report envisioned. We can do more for each other, without a doubt, but only in a radically transformed society and it’s the height of in difference to the fate of humanity to pretend otherwise.

From the actual science on the subject:

RCP 2.6 is the one where everything is kept below 2 oC and where everything is fine. The perceptive will note that GDP is *higher* in this scenario than in more emittively polluting ones.

Why doesn’t the damn fathead ever, I mean ever, bother to check the source materials? Why do we always get these confident predictions entirely at loggerheads with the actual science he professes to be backing up?

Crippled JC on a pogo stick it only takes two minutes to look up the emissions models and their associated GDP levels after all.

To suggest a modest course of action

A good start would be to make your lies plausible matey.

A certain untruth

Stuart Adamson says:
August 6 2020 at 8:28 pm
I remember one prediction you made..

“deaths of more than 10,000 a day are likely in little more than a week”

That was off the mark

Richard Murphy says:
August 6 2020 at 8:39 pm
Lockdown then happened

Unemployment need not be as high as I forecast if action is taken

Context matters

Hmm, well:

As he says, what is notable about the first chart is that everyone else is succeeding in curtailing covid-19 now. We are not.

If the UK current trajectory continues – and as we run out of medical facilities that is a reasonable assumption for the next week or more – then deaths of more than 10,000 a day are likely in little more than a week if the rate of growth seen yesterday continues.

OK, that was on April 2.

Except, UK lockdown started on March 16, went into overdrive March 23. His prediction was 10 days after lockdown, not before.

Does he just think that no one will check these claims?

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.


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?

Vermine for Prem hurts

And nineteenthly

And fourth, there is the sheer hypocrisy of my approach when appealing for independence for Scotland whilst opposing it as irrational for the UK to have it from the EU using the mirror image of the arguments in each case.

Sometimes is not just what he says but that he cannot see what he has said:

And fourth, there is the sheer hypocrisy of Johnson’s approach when appealing for Union in Scotland whilst opposing it as irrational with the EU using the mirror image of the arguments in each case.


As a Council Member of the Progressive Economy Forum I was involved In drafting this letter to the FT, published this morning

OK, not quite, but isn’t that just rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty?

The OBR’s focus is on how the government might pay for the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. We do not think that this is appropriate. That is because this approach is essentially microeconomic, and assumes the government is an entity independent of the economy as a whole. The implication is that the government is an agent too small to influence the direction and level of activity in the economy.

We do not agree with this view. In the macroeconomy the government shapes the direction and size of the economy through its regulations and decisions on spending, taxing and borrowing.

OK, so how about loosen the strictures of regulation so as to increase the size of the economy?

Patrick Allen (Chair),
Ha-Joon Chang,
Stephany Griffith-Jones,
Will Hutton,
Robert Skidelsky,
John Weeks*
Carolina Alves,
Danny Dorling,
Daniela Gabor,
Will Hutton,
Sue Konzelmann,
Johnna Montgomerie,
Richard Murphy,
Natalya Naqvi,
Ann Pettifor,
Guy Standing,
Geoff Tily

Ain’t that a set of people you don’t want to be agreeing with? And look at Will Hutton, so important he has to sign twice.

Job creation

And yet although these companies that might fail might employ 6 million people in all apparently unemployment is not going to be more than 3 million in total, a figure which the claimant count suggests is fast being approached Even before furlough has come close to ending.

Put bluntly, this makes no sense at all. Simply extrapolating the data in the article (and I can see no reason why not: the sample is big enough in all cases for that extrapolation to be fair) and the number of jobs at risk looks to be around 6 million (16 million, times 75%, times 50%).

Apparently the thought that new businesses might arise to employ a few of them doesn’t occur to our Snippa. Which , given that the economy destroys about 3 million jobs a year, creates about 3 million jobs a year, is odd. An economics professor should know that…..

That Scottish Debt

Whilst, seventh, whatever is owing must be agreed to be due in Scottish pounds, fixed at independence.

Err, why should a foreign currency debt not be in the foreign currency?

So let me offer some rational comment on this situation.

This’ll be good, right?

There should also be common ground on another issue. And that is that there is actually already agreement that Scotland will have no liability for any of the debt of England, Wales or Northern Ireland (although for all practical purposes, this is English debt) if it chooses to become independent. We know this because the UK government issued a publication on this issue in 2014 under the title[1]:

UK debt and the Scotland independence referendum

In this the UK government, based in London, said:

In the event of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom (UK), the continuing UK Government would in all circumstances honour the contractual terms of the debt issued by the UK Government. An independent Scottish state would become responsible for a fair and proportionate share of the UK’s current liabilities, but a share of the outstanding stock of debt instruments that have been issued by the UK would not be transferred to Scotland. For example, there would be no change in counterparty for holders of UK gilts. Instead, an independent Scotland would need to raise funds in order to reimburse the continuing UK for this share.

They added:

An entirely separate contract between the continuing UK Government and an independent Scottish state’s Government would need to be established. The respective shares of debt and the terms of repayment would be subject to negotiation.

In addition they said:

In the event of independence, the full spectrum of assets and liabilities – past, future and contingent – would need to be considered in negotiations between the continuing UK and Scottish Governments, on a case-by-case basis. This means that the negotiations would need to cover the arrangements for all forms of debt covered in this note, not just gilts and Treasury.

I think this really rather helpful because much of it summarises what appears to be legally, practically and politically both true, and necessary. In the process it resolves the first question. The UK government has said Scotland will not be liable for debts managed by London before independence. Instead anything owing is entirely down to negotiation.

Err, no, that’s not what has been said. Rather, to reassure the holders and buyers of gilts – where that’s not the BoE – they’ve said that the UK, or England if you prefer, will continue to honour them. That the UK, or England, will then go after the Scots. Rather than current holders of gilts having to watch their Scots share of the pile being inflated away by the porridge wogs.

That isn’t the same as declaring that there is no debt due by Scotland, it’s a comment about who to.

They say that the UK debt is as follows

He’s used gilts there, instead of the useful number from government accounts of total liabilities.

The rest of it is just the pursuit of verimine from a party that doesn’t recommend for it.

This is fun logic

Fourth, this indicates the conservative nature of most wealth ownership. There is, of course, no productive value to gold, but the owners of this wealth do not care about that. What is of concern to them is the preservation of their status, indicated by wealth, and that is what motivates this decision.

Fifth, this does very clearly indicate a capacity to tax wealth more: if the wealthy cannot put their wealth to productive use then they might as well pay tax with it.

That people try to preserve their wealth shows that it should be taxed away from them.

That you resist the mugger shows your wallet should be taken.

Snippa’s real problem

And government recklessness is not helping, as the case of permitting unnecessary overseas holidays proves.

He thinks that people should only be allowed to do what is necessary. Rather than as they wish, if that’s possible.

You know the difference between freedom, liberty and totalitarianism.

Not wholly and exactly, no professor

ISA savings do not threaten the viability of banks and building societies.

Nor do people saving with the government by buying its bonds threaten the government’s financial viability.

But we call people saving with the government ‘borrowing’,

What government is doing there is borrowing. Just as it is indeed true that eh savers are saving. We also say that the banks are borrowing from the savers. That’s why a savings account is a liability to a bank, why a loan outstanding to a borrower is an asset to a bank.

Because there are two sides to any such transaction and whether it’s an asset or a liability depends upon which side of the line we’re describing.

And people do tend to get a touch tetchy if they can’t regain their savings, even though they are just the bank/the government borrowing. As those lines outside Northern Rock showed.