And the bits the idiots never understand

MMT – blah blah – resources – blah blah – just print the money. And then:

It is estimated that the fiscal multiplier for UK healthcare spending currently lies between 2.5 and 6.1. This means for every £1 spent on the NHS approximately £4 of economic activity results.[10] If you had a cash-back card that gave you £4 back for every £1 spent, you would not cut back on your spending! Only when we reach a position of over supply when NHS staff wait forlornly for patients to present do we reach a point where the multiplier falls to below one. We are, at present, an unsafe distance from a workforce oversupply scenario.

As a sovereign nation, the UK can always afford high quality universal NHS healthcare. Money is essentially an accounting system designed to facilitate our collective activities and development. Fiscal policy needs to be activated to meet the needs of our society as there is now observable failure of the prevailing reliance on monetary policy and preservation of rent-seeking private interests. It is evidently wrong to assert that healthcare access and quality is limited by the availability of money. The constraint, in truth, has never been the potential availability of money, but the desire to resource the NHS appropriately. In the words of John Maynard Keynes, ‘Anything we can actually do we can afford’.

The constraint is resources. And the constraint is not the totality of resources but the varied things we want to use our resources to do. We currently, in the UK, use about 11% of everything to produce health care. Perhaps 10% or so.

We do not wish to use 100% of everything to produce health care. Food being – just as an example – something that human beings have shown they like to have. So too housing, TV, foreign holidays, name brand sneakers and all the rest.

The limitation on health care is how much of everything are we willing to devote to health care? Definitely not enough to cure all of everything. Even not enough to cure all of everything that can be cured.

As it happens the country that comes closest to expressed preferences in how much should be spent on health care is the US at about 18% of everything. Getting to that number requiring that we recognise that the US is a richer place and health care is a luxury good. And don’t the lefties bitch about that?

Brits are as bad as Americans

You know that standard thing, Americans who believe that London is a country and that it’s a quick right hand turn away from Quetta. Which, culturally these days, it might well be of course. But it appears we can beat them at their own game.

Reporters on a national newspaper no less:

Coronavirus in the US: Middle America tools up for a fight

OK, Middle America, flyover country, the heart and soul of the nation and not the effete metropoles.

Forgtmenot on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is usually one of the city’s busiest bars, popular with British expats and local scenesters. Now, though, with New York in lockdown and its usually manic streets resembling a scene from The Walking Dead, the bar has been transformed into an all-purpose deli-cum-bodega.

Pilsners are out; hand sanitiser is in. Fresh produce is on sale and customers can order takeaway cocktails.

If you think that Manhattan’s Lower East Side is Middle America then there’s something of a shock coming to you when you contemplate the next 3,000 miles of the place.

OK, sure, it’s even south of Greenwich Village and looks out over Brooklyn so it ain’t civilisation or anything but seriously, come on…..

Not going to happen

Britain must remain in full lockdown until June if it is to avoid the worst effects of the coronavirus, the government’s leading epidemiology adviser warned last night.

As the virus claimed its 1,000th life in the UK — a doubling of the death toll in just three days — Professor Neil Ferguson said in an interview that the entire population could need to stay at home for nearly three months.

That might even be true about deaths from coronavirus. It would still be a damn fool thing to do.

It’s the same with every expert in a field – even assuming that he’s right and Oxford isn’t. He’s solving his specific problem and not accounting for the harms done elsewhere of his solution. Closing down the economy for a few weeks may or may not be the correct thing to do. Closing it down for many months isn’t.

Our aim, recall, is to maximise aggregate human utility over time. Not having an economy to come back to doesn’t do that – for all that the economy not existing at all is mere extremist rhetoric. There really is some point at which the economic loss – because economic losses cause deaths over time – is a greater cost than the benefit of not having to bury or burn 20,000 or 50,000 or 250,000 corpses.

Estimations of those values will differ, of course they will, but the underlying concept is true all the same.

You sodding what?

This is worthy of The Guardian. Which did, in fact, make this mistake just recently:

Buybacks, where companies spend money repurchasing their own stock and making it scarcer, are emblematic. They are a more tax-efficient way of returning money than dividends, which incur capital gains.

T’other way around, buybacks pay CGT, dividends income tax….. of course, here it’s infelicitous phrasing, The G actually got it wrong, but still.

Not as appalling as it seems

The mortality rate for patients put in intensive care after being infected with Covid-19 is running at close to 50%, a report has revealed.

You only put extremely ill people into ICU, a goodly portion of the extremely ill people you put into ICU die. This is not a surprise.

What would be interesting to know is what is the normal survival rate?

And do note, this is the number of those out of ICU in one way or another. Those still in aren’t as yet in that mortality rate.

It also appears to be – appears – those with Covid 19, not those there because of it.

Finally, of course, it says nothing at all about those infected who don’t need ICU.

What an odd idea

As small businesses complain that banks have been useless so far in the crisis, is the City missing its chance to atone?
Reluctance to comply with emergency loan package compounds unfavourable image

The oddity being this thought that the retail banks – which is who deals with small business – are part of The City. The City being the wholesale markets. Where the retail banks do gain their own financing, sure, but they really are retail, not wholesale, and thus part of the financial sector which is not The City.

Very weird expert here

Prince Harry likely to be given diplomatic status in the United States to help him get a green card easily, expert claims


The Duke of Sussex is likely to be given diplomatic status in the United States to help him get a green card easily, an expert has claimed.

Matteo Carrera, an immigration law researcher for Cardozo Law School in New York, said settling Prince Harry’s visa situation would not be difficult.

Given his wealth and status he would probably be classified as a British diplomat, entering the US on an A1 Visa.

Mr Carrera said: “With this he would have been able to enter the US and then adjust his status to a green card.”

Someone, somewhere, has got terribly confused here. Or isn’t all that expert.

Diplomatic visas don’t aid in gaining settled status. Everyone’s quite clear about that. As someone who has had a diplo visa for the US they were very clear about it to me too.

Secondly, on an A1, he can’t work. Which would be something of a constraint really, as that’s why he’s there.

Thirdly, he’s married to an American citizen which gives him the route to a green card he needs.

According to the US state department A1 visas are for diplomats and government officials. If he was not given an A1 visa the Duke could have entered the US on a simple tourist visa, and then apply for a green card, allowing him to become a permanent resident and work….

And they’re really not keen on you changing visa status while in the country. And they really, really, don’t like you entering on a tourist visa (for Brits, usually tourist visa waiver scheme) and then trying to change status.

Now admittedly, I’m not an expert on American visas, just someone with an intimate knowledge of the little bits that have applied to me. But this really doesn’t sound like someone expert to me.

Capitalism caused COVID-19 or vice-versa?

From the Cambridge University magazine Varsity

Community organising has shown what solidarity and self-sacrifice looks like in practice. Wildcat strikes have shown where the power really lies in society. Faith in the market has gone into free-fall as many are taking their destinies into their own hands. Capitalism is the disease. Socialism is the cure.

Some people need to find more creative and less awful outlets whilst in isolation. In this case I would prescribe a course of roughly 3-4 wanks a day, repeated daily for a fortnight or until the urge to write silly crap ceases.

It’s always the same answer, isn’t it?

…and another $1 trillion in an emergency federal work and infrastructure program to repair and build roads, bridges, airports, wastewater treatment plants, and mass transit systems. That money can also go toward redoing the electric grid and providing rural broadband.

The American liberal has yet to realise that the American liberal regulation of the economy through permits, investigations and studies of and for proposed infrastructure means that there is no possible emergency infrastructure plan.

This is difficult if not illegal

Son of Barclay twins agrees deal to sell Ritz despite family warfare

OK, yes, headlines, compressed and all that.

But to be the son of both twins would be difficult – the twins are male – and, in most jurisdictions, the effort required for opposite sex twins to have a child would be illegal.

A son of one of the twins, yes, but not perhaps as written…..

How excellent

The three men leading the nation’s fight against coronavirus have all gone into self-isolation after the disease reached the heart of government.

Presumably therefore there will be less government about it and it’ll all be over sooner.

Gosh, isn’t this amazing?

Living bridges and supper from sewage: can ancient fixes save our crisis-torn world?
From underground aqueducts to tree-bridges and fish that love sewage, indigenous customs could save the planet – but are under threat. Landscape architect Julia Watson shares her ‘lo-TEK’ vision

This bird has gone out there and looked at what people actually do to solve problems:

Many of the phenomena were never intended to be solutions to ecological breakdown, but simple responses to local circumstance, practised for generations. Some are bound up in millennia-old mythologies and religious practice, while others, such as Kolkata’s thriving aquaculture system, were the result of happy accident. According to local legend, in the 1920s a cultivator named Bidu Sarkar realised untreated wastewater from sewage pipes had started to flow into his fish pond. He expected disaster, but instead of killing his fish, the effluent doubled his yields.

Others took note and followed his lead, realising the combination of sewage in the water and sunshine broke down the effluent and allowed plankton, which fish feed on, to grow exponentially. The fishponds now cover around 3,000 hectares, holding 300 fish farms, and the technique has caught on elsewhere in the world – in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Germany and France.

Cool. People react – at this level of local knowledge – to the resources, problems and incentives they face. Those solutions that work spread as a result of the profit motive.

Of course, if The Guardian had realised that the name for this system is capitalist free marketry they’d never have published the piece.

This economy stuff is hard says Barbie

This economic interdependence necessitates all parts working in harmony. Unfortunately, the pandemic is asynchronous – it hits countries at different times with different rates of growth and severity. While China is reopening, India and the US are shuttering. If portions of Chinese production require unavailable intermediate goods from India or the US, such production won’t be possible. Even if China can produce items for export, if their normal buyers in the US are closed, who will they sell to? And what happens when China – still lacking herd immunity – needs to close its economy again right when India or the US are looking to reopen and use Chinese inputs?

The staggered nature of the virus outbreak coupled with worldwide production presents a remarkable – and quite possibly insurmountable – global coordination problem.

If only we had a science that discussed coordination problems. Ones that weren’t solvable by planning, the human mind directed? Perhaps one where this specific nugget of difficulty had been discussed, solved even?

Wouldn’t that be useful?

Dr Nick Obradovich is a PhD political and data scientist who trained at UCSD, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the MIT Media Lab. He is currently senior research scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in the center for humans & machines. Dr Renee C Wurth is a PhD population health scientist who trained at Northeastern and the H Chan school of public health at Harvard University

Even might we not hope that people who would tell us how to run the world were aware that the problem had been solved?

An interesting use of the word consensus

But my focus is now on the PCC: the Post-Coronavirus Consensus. This will take some time away from immediate issues to develop thoughts upon. I’ll be sharing them here as they emerge, I promise you,

This meaning thew general agreement on the future that no one else is involved in creating nor even aware of, rather tablets pressed and stamped from an end terrace in Ely?

Oh yes, very sensible

In this context, “Michael” in Ireland raised a pertinent question:

“Do you think that it is possible (technically) for governments to tap into the trillions which are hidden offshore?”

To which the answer is: yes, plenty of it. There’s some $8-35 trillion or so sitting offshore, depending on how broadly this is measured, which can certainly be tapped with stronger political will. And we must never forget that while all countries are victims of offshore chicanery, lower-income countries are the worst hit, as dictators and oligarchs loot national treasuries and sew up their economies into private fiefdoms, then transfer their ill-gotten gains overseas and stash it offshore.

Greater transparency would mean that the dictators would know where their own subjects have hidden the stuff so it can be nicked, right?

We can thank the EU for this one

Unwrapped a new laptop, updated the software and transferred documents. Three years seems to be the lifespan of these machines – not that they necessarily become outdated, so much as fall apart.

Pure tin solder grows whiskers.

No, really.

Enough of those will short a circuit somewhere and fry the machine.

The solution to tin whiskers is lead in the solder. Lead in solder is illegal at the insistence of the EU.

The EU now has a program to insist that electronic items must be made to last longer.

Kill them all.

One for BiG

I’m vaguely recalling – and therefore could obviously be wrong – that the FDA’s definition of “safe and effective” uses “effective” to mean as good as or better than whatever other drugs there are already approved to treat the same condition.

Is that true?

Specifically, I’m interested in

1) Effective means does what it says on the tin

or, to distinguish

2) Does what it says on the tin better than extant preparations


3) Does what it says on the tin as well as or better than current preparations.

Higher inflation, yes

But as Oliver Kamm refuses to recognise it’s possible to have too much of a good thing:

Higher inflation, of say 5 to 10 per cent, will also make it easier to deal with the (necessary) widening of the budget deficit. Gradually, nominal interest rates will rise.

10%? Man’s mad

We’re all really, really, surprised, right?

Overnight last Friday, following an agreement between Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and President Trump, the world’s longest border closed. The Sussexes are said to have fled to Meghan’s home city at the eleventh hour.

“They realised Canada would not work out for various reasons and they want to be based in the Los Angeles area,” the source told The Sun.

Reports suggest that they will search for a house in Hollywood,

Dunno quite how it will work out for the career but being an actual, real, live, Duchess is a pretty good solution to the problems of being a middling and soon to be middle aged actress.