Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Daily Mail letting itself down badly

Retired nurse, 61, who strove to be 'the perfect housewife tried to murder her business consultant husband, 64, with a bread knife in their upmarket home

Sorry, but simply describing a home as "upmarket" is not good enough. We need to know what it would sell for.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sometimes you really have to wonder at it all...

"Reducing the role of government in education has many advantages. The recent history of Iberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan shows how government education policies were major factors in provoking the conflicts. Reducing the temptation for governments to use education for their own ends would be very positive. Moving education as far as possible outside government control could also help reduce corruption. And private education, by delivering higher education standards, can help bring about a better educated populace, which would act as a bulwark against states oppressing their people"
If it was not for the giveaway that this refers to Africa the whole section could well refer to the reasons for the ongoing failure of the nationalised UK education system - and how to fix it.
From here by the way.

"Nothing like this ever happens in Tollesbury."

From The Metro:

Farage the runaway emu escaped its home to frolic in the snow in Essex. But he had his fun cut short when he was put in a headlock by a man and returned home. Shocked residents of Tollesbury noticed the flightless bird running around the streets at 11am yesterday before heading into the village graveyard.

Resident Matthew Devonport was ‘flabbergasted’ when he saw the drama on the way to the park with his child. He told Essex Live: ‘We came up to the churchyard and there was an emu there running through the gravestones, it was being chased round the churchyard by three men. ‘One of the men managed to get it in a head lock by its neck and he was took back home. It left a trail of feathers all around the churchyard.’

He added: ‘The lady owner was very grateful and shook the men’s hands. I was absolutely flabbergasted! Nothing like this ever happens in Tollesbury.’

Er... quite obviously, this is exactly the sort of thing that happens in Tollesbury.

Why a "Brexit deal" is not that important.

Ed Spalton left this comment here.

"Missing so far from this interesting correspondence is the fact that since 1994, the EU itself has been treaty-bound to accept globally agreed standards from such bodies as ISO, UNECE, Codex Alimentarius etc.

Although these come to us as EU regulations, they are made elsewhere and Brussels simply transcribes them. The standards for motor vehicles, for instance, come from UNECE in Geneva and are also accepted by many other countries than those in the EU.

Codex Alimentarius has a section dealing with fish products globally and Norway presently chairs this and the organisation effectively tells the EU what to do. The Scandinavian countries have a different regulatory outlook to the dominant Franco/German axis of the EU but, like the UK, those states in the EU have no voice on the global bodies where the decisions are actually made. They are bound by the "common position" decided by the EU Commission.

Norwegian friends tell me that they often receive unofficial requests from fellow Scandinavian countries in the EU to oppose the official EU line when the global bodies are making their decisions. I have not looked into financial regulation but believe that the BASEL accords set the parameters for EU regulation.

TOYOTA has a car factory near us and the management made a big point of saying the UK must be at " the top table" where regulations are made. I pointed out to a UKIP MEP that the top table was at UNECE in Geneva, not Brussels - so he could easily demolish that argument. He was apparently uncomprehending and replied " But I am campaigning against the EU, nit the UN". As Homer Simpson sometimes remarks " Doh!"

I have alluded to this before, but in general terms - Ed gives the specific examples. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, not much will change because so many specific things are dealt with by international agreements to which the EU is merely one party (including 'free trade' agreements between the EU and third countries); by default these will continue to apply to the UK and the UK will thus be at lots of "top tables" in its own right. The list of such agreements, conventions and organisations is more or less endless, as is the list of things that are covered.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Fun Online Polls: Xmas songs and Bitcoin

The results to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

Which is the most Christmassy Beatles-related song?

Beatles "Christmas time is here again" - 0%
John Lennon "Happy Xmas (war is over)" - 13%
Paul McCartney & Wings "Mull of Kintyre" - 2%
Paul McCartney "Wonderful Christmas time" - 36%
All of the above - 5%
None of the above - 38%
Other, please specify - 5%

I'd call that a narrow win for "Wonderful Christmas Time" (36% plus the 5% who voted "All of the above") with "None of the above" in close second place. Which is logically impossible answer, unless you believe all the songs listed to be exactly equal in terms of Christmassy-ness or un-Christmassy-ness.
Steven-L's post of yesterday about Bitcoin has prompted this week's Fun Online Poll.

"Bitcoin is..."

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Popular delusions and 18 years on from the dotcom crash, like clockwork or coincidence?

Copy and paste from BTL over at Coindesk (click to enlarge)...

Responding to the thesis that the smart money may be about to run for the exit via selling bitcoin futures contracts, Dennis says:

"Even if I DID want to indulge in CME Bitcoin futures, why the hell would I want to settle in a rapidly devaluing fiat dollar??? As a trader, I don't even trade pairs with fiat any more. All of my trades today are for arbitrage on other cryptocurrencies."

To Dennis it doesn't matter if bitcoin is being pumped and dumped, because Dennis never wants to see his 'fiat' again anyway.  He's made his mind up it's worthless and he wants to keep his coins and tokens thank you very much.  

The comments over there are a goldmine, here's another taster:

I wanted to write something clever and witty, but I think I'll just repeat some of the above comments word for word.  At this level of irony and lack of self-awareness there's really nothing much I can add.

"Yeah, I read that no actually Bitcoin is involved in anything having to do with this new futures market.  So. Yeah. This whole new phase seems ridiculous."

"They create markets out of thin air and run a casino Las Vegas probably idolizes.  All the while they say everyone else is some sort of immoral degenerate gambler.  But yeah, the CME futures for Bitcoin have nothing to do with actual Bitcoin."

Christmas Cars

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Daily Mail on top form

Married businessman, 45, accused of raping a 'flirty' woman after a heavy drinking session at his £1million family home

Friday, 8 December 2017

Like an early morning mist over County Down...

Graeme Leach on top form in City AM:

With free trade, the Irish border is an issue for the EU, not the UK

We are told this is a problem with no solution, that it will see us crashing out of the EU with no deal, or that the DUP won’t play ball, leading to the end of the party’s confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives.

The problem is seen as unfathomable because the solution has to deliver so much: no membership of the Single Market or Customs Union, no physical border crossings, and no red line through the Irish Sea. And just for good measure, it has to avoid the threat of a veto by the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

All of this can be addressed in one fell swoop. If the UK chose to pursue genuine free trade post-Brexit, the border issue would become an ex-problem. If Britain decided to exercise its sovereign power and implement zero tariff and non-tariff barriers to imports, the border issue would disappear like an early morning mist over County Down*.

* I don't know much about weather systems over the nothern part of Ireland, but I'll take his word for it that the early morning mists disappear quickly.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

That's put the cat among the pigeons...

When the Guardian or the Daily Mail publish something a bit edgy (judged by their readers' standards), they usually block comments, which The Daily Mail did for this article:

As UK land value hits 5 trillion pounds, calls for new tax rise

Land is Britain's most valuable asset, increasing more than fivefold since 1995, the country's statistics office said on Tuesday, prompting calls to introduce a new tax to curb a soaring housing market driven by rising land prices.

To my pleasant surprise, they allow three organisations to put in a favourable word for LVT (New Economics Foundation who are left-wing, the Institute for Economic Affairs who are right-wing and Shelter who are bleeding heart liberals) and no comments from Home-Owner-Ist organisations.

The underlying ONS statistics are most interesting:

To sum up:
Land - £5,018 bn
Buildings - £3,518 bn
Machinery and stocks - £1,097 bn
Intellectual property etc. - £189 bn
Deposits minus debts - £(21) bn
Total - £9,801 bn

Yup, land and buildings is 85% of the total, which illustrate why having a general wealth tax is completely pointless.

The net value of financial assets and liabilities is, unsurprisingly, plus/minus nothing, so not worth taxing. Firstly because financial assets are already taxed anyway (tax on interest income and inflation), and if you did impose a wealth tax on them as well, the corollary is you'd have to allow liabilities as a deduction, which encourages gearing and leveraging, which is part of what causes the problem in the first place.

Machinery and intellectual property generates income, which is already taxed, which is much easier than getting people to declare what they own and agreeing values. And we'd rather have more of this stuff not less (assuming that the real value of patents etc is unchanged when the statutory protection expires). For sure, privately owned/used cars and equipment don't generate taxable income in themselves, but so what? We still want more of this stuff, not less.

That leaves bare land (excluding actual buildings thereon, which are real capital), which makes up (by ONS measurement) more than half of total 'wealth', as the only major category worth taxing (doesn't depreciate, relatively easy to value and can't be shifted abroad).

My estimate of total rental value of UK land is about £250 billion, which works out (as I expected) at about 3% of the value of land and buildings, or 5% of the underlying land value. LVT is calculated on the basis of the land element but is secured on the building as well, so the 3% is the more relevant figure.