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£5 Fine Warning: What To Do With Your Library Books If You Catch Ebola

WHAT to to with your library book if you catch Ebola:

 

Screen shot 2014 10 18 at 23.16.16 £5 Fine Warning: What To Do With Your Library Books If You Catch Ebola

 

A fiver for catching Ebola is a small price to pay when compared to the late return charges…

Spotter: @jamiesont

 

Posted: 18th, October 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Greenpeace Lies About Golden Rice. Again

One of the founders of Greenpeace has hit out, yet again, at that organisation. The example he’s using of how Greenpeace has slipped its original moorings is that of golden rice. One of the big killers in the world is Vitamin A deficiency. And so a type of rice, this golden rice, has been genetically modified to produce it as it grows. This is entirely non-profit, there are no patents, this isn’t big agri-business. And half a million children a year die from the vitamin deficiency: so rolling out this rice would be a rather good idea.

Yet Greenpeace won’t allow it:

On the organisation’s position of golden rice, he said: ‘The thing about golden rice is it’s a least-favourable option and it doesn’t actually exist yet, it’s been many years in proposal and… it doesn’t work

‘The real solution to this is a proper, balanced diet like the home gardening initiatives in Bangladesh have achieved.’

That’s flat out lying. Golden rice exists and it’s good to go. But such is Greenpeace’s resistance to any GMO that they’d prefer that half a million children a year die than that their ideological purity be affected in any manner. There’s a word for bastards like that. So it’s not all that much of a surprise to see one of the founders of the group saying the following:

Dr Moore told BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme: ‘My problem with Greenpeace is they have lost any humanitarian roots they had.

‘When we started Greenpeace it was to stop nuclear war and the destruction of human civilisation, that of course is the “peace” in Greenpeace.

‘The “green” is the environment and that’s good as well, but they lost the concerns for humans… They have turned, basically, into an evil organisation.’

He gave the example of so-called ‘golden rice’, a crop enriched with vitamin A which supporters say would help millions of the world’s poorest people improve their diet.

Dr Moore said the fact that Greenpeace opposed the idea showed that they no longer care about people.

The Save the Whales part of Greenpeace is just great. But it would be a vastly better organisation if there was also a part of it that would turn it’s mind to Save the Kiddies.

Posted: 16th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Losing the Double Irish Won’t Make Much Difference To Apple’s Taxes

There’s been a great deal of confusion over the years about Apple’s tax, what it pays, what it doesn’t and how it doesn’t. And there’s now been a change in the law that will impact, a bit, on one of the ways that it doesn’t pay tax. However, it’s not going to make all that much difference in the long run:

US companies including Apple and Google could be hit with demands for billions of dollars after Ireland yesterday unveiled plans to close the ‘Double Irish’ tax loophole.

However, a new tax break and pressure to tackle avoidance elsewhere in the world means US companies are unlikely to depart from the struggling eurozone economy.

Analysts and tax advisers predict that corporations which need access to the European Union’s 500 million consumers will find it difficult to set up equally effective schemes in other member states, as Brussels investigates other arrangements that involve paying minimal tax rates

No one’s going to move out of the EU over this, that’s obviously true.

But it’s worth thinking through what Apple used to do. The most important thing is that Apple hasn’t actually dodged any tax at all: it’s only delayed the date at which it might have to pay it. Yes, all the money they make in Europe ends up in Ireland and Ireland doesn’t tax it very much (the tax rate is about 2%) and the money ends up sitting in Bermuda, having paid very little tax at all.

But, and here’s the thing, Apple isn’t home and free, not just yet. Because in the end it wants to get those profits into the hands of the shareholders, the people who own the company. That’s what companies are for, to feed profits to the shareholders. and to do that Apple must move that money into the US: that’s just how the system works. And once it does that Apple will pay the 35% US corporate income tax, minus that 2% already paid. There is no way out of this: if Apple is to give the profits to the shareholders, which is what a company is form, then it will have to pay US corporate income tax.

So, the worst we can say is that Apple has delayed having to pay tax, it’s not got away without paying it at all.

This recent change does mean that Apple can’t use exactly the method it has been to do this. But there are plenty of other options (this is all about royalties for the use of the Apple name and technology, to add a bit of boring detail), for example, Holland has a 5% tax rate for royalties. So, instead of the Double Irish Apple could use the Dutch Sandwich instead. And that would mean a 5% tax rate, which is indeed higher than 2% but it’s still a lot less than 35%. So, we’ll still see those profits being parked offshore, just through a different network of companies this time.

Things will change, yes, but not very much.

Posted: 16th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Apple Screwed The Entire Finland Economy Claims Finnish Prime Minister

And to be fair to him there’s a certain amount of evidence that Apple did indeed screw over important parts of the Finnish economy. The invention of the smartphone did screw over Nokia and that paperless computing environment is at least partially here which doesn’t help Finland’s paper making industry all that much:

The prime minister of Finland has blamed Apple for the economic downturn his country is experiencing which saw it lose its AAA credit rating on Friday.

Alexander Stubb said the remarkable success of the California-based tech giant has had a negative impact on his country’s two biggest industries – technology and paper.

‘We have two champions which went down,’ Stubb told CNBC on Monday.

Not only has handset manufacturer Nokia suffered due to the success of smartphones such as the iPhone, but Finland’s paper industry has also fallen on hard times.

The country is a key production site for Europe’s biggest paper producers, UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso, but Stubb said the success of tablet devices like the iPad had hit the sector hard.

‘A little bit paradoxically I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry, but we’ll make a comeback,’ he predicted.

That’s always the problem with any new technology, there’s people happily making a mint out of the older technologies being replaced and they get screwed. There weren’t all that many buggy ship makers left after the success of the Model T Ford either.

However, I’m not entirely sure that the iPad killing the paper industry is all that important. Years back, Alan Coren, when editor of Punch, told of how he’d gone to Finland to meet their paper suppliers. And he’d pointed to some trees and asked if they were for the paper they printed Punch upon. The Finns all fell about laughing and said no, no, these trees were far more valuable than that, these trees were to be made into toilet paper.

So if loo paper is more valuable than printing paper then why’s the Finnish paper industry having problems? Surely no ones wiping their arse on their iPads are they?

Posted: 15th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Alan Sugar Might Be Mad You Know

This isn’t a definitive diagnosis just a potential indication that we might have a problem here. But it’s possible that Alan Sugar has just gone stark staring. He’s arguing that however bad Ed Miliboy is as a potential Prime Minister what we should really do is bring back Gordon Brown.

Yer wha’?

Celebrity Labour peer Lord Sugar has called for Ed Miliband to be replaced as party leader – by Gordon Brown.

The Apprentice star said Mr Brown had been handed a ‘bad deal’ after taking over as Prime Minister from Tony Blair in 2007 just before the economic crash.

Lord Sugar welcomed the former PM’s return to the Commons today – where he spearheaded the Labour’s opposition to Tory plans to ban Scottish MPs voting on English laws.

He added: ‘I wish he’d come back as leader of the Labour Party to be honest with you.’

He told Iain Dale’s LBC radio show: ‘He took over from Blair in 2008 or 2007 when the real problems in the world economy broke and he got the blame, as far as England is concerned.

‘It’s absolutely wrong. It wasn’t his fault.’

Well, that’s not actually quite right. For the deal between Brown and Blair was always that Blair would do the posturing and the leading and Brown would do all of the economics bit. And he was Chancellor right from that first election victory through to taking over aw Prime Minister. We can’t really let the Chancellor of the entire previous decade off the hook if the economy falls over now, can we?

But there’s something else about this: we’ve had Brown as Prime Minister, we’ve seen him operate as Prime Minister and when we had the opportunity to vote on it we said “No, ta, someone else please”. And it’s not for nothing that Guido Fawkes refers to him as the Prime Mentalist.

On the other hand we might be able to read some runes here. If Sugar knows all of this and still prefers Brown to the Miliboy then just how sodding bad does he think Miliband is then?

Posted: 15th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Falling Oil Prices Kill Putin And Give The West Victory

OIL is tumbling in price. But rising in value.

Roger Boyes looks:

Cheap oil may yet turn out to be the food of love. Plunging prices will hammer shareholders in the big multinationals, and rattle the Emiratis, but they could also produce an extraordinary peace dividend. The course of war is about to change in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria — and Vladimir Putin, who has been busy rebranding himself as a generalissimo, may find himself confined to barracks.

To make the sums add up in Russia, Mr Putin needs to be earning between $100 and $110 per barrel of Brent crude. Yesterday it was down to $86 and all the signs from Saudi Arabia are that it could stay that way, perhaps for as long as 18 months. That’s a disaster for Mr Putin and his growth model whereby oil and gas profits were funnelled into the consumer economy. The failure should show the US that the most potent way of responding to Moscow’s aggression is to produce more oil and consume less of it…

Two years ago I attended a simulation game at an Israeli security conference, which imagined what would happen if an Iranian-backed group attacked a Saudi refinery, causing the oil price to rise to $250 a barrel. The conclusion was miserable: war, bread riots, coups in the Gulf. There was only one winner, and that was Russia.

Now the reverse is true. Russia, so heavily dependent on oil revenue, is a loser.

More here…

Posted: 15th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ebola.com Is For Sale: A Booming Industry In Death And Fear Needs You

HOW capitalism works: the domain name Ebola.com is for sale. You can buy it for $150,000. Jon Schultz is selling. He also owns biurdflu.com and terror.com, which is nice.

Schultz, of Las Vegas-based Blue String Ventures, looks at domains through the lens of a gambler. It’s not what a domain is worth today, he advised in an interview with the Washington Post. It’s what it is worth tomorrow. “Our domain, birdflu.com, is worth way more than Ebola.com. We’re definitely holding onto that one for the event,” he said, referring to an outbreak he contends could be way bigger than Ebola, turning the owner of birdflu.com into a very rich man. “That one’s airborne and Ebola would never go airborne in the United States like bird flu can.”

Schultz bought Ebola.com for $13,500, in 2008.

It’s boom time, baby!

Posted: 15th, October 2014 | In: Money, Technology | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Not Only Did Hitler Have Only One Ball, He Was A Wanker

Well, we know that of course, for in the colloquial meaning someone who starts a European war that leads to the death of near 50 million people is of course a wanker if not worse. But we’ve new revelations about the Fuhrer’s love life that lead us to believe that this is literally, not just metaphorically, true:

the leader of the Nazi Party ‘would fortify his underpants with clean serviettes and then would go into some form of excitation with Eva Braun at a safe distance’.

He said: ‘I imagine Eva would stand a good distance away and lift her skirt and then there would be some sort of soggy climax on Hitler’s part and that would be that.’

So where does this stunning information come from?

Hitler and Eva Braun ‘had sex without touching each other or taking their clothes off’ because he was so fanatical about hygiene, says author Martin Amis.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, the novelist claimed he believes the German dictator kept Eva at arm’s length and would achieve orgasm just by watching her lift her skirt.

He also claimed that Hitler was an asexual and may have had a similar kind of sexual relationship with his half niece, Angela ‘Geli’ Raubal.

Well, someone who is asexual does not get their rocks off by looking at some bird’s panties so we know there’s something wrong with this vision right from the start. And the truth is that these images leap, fully formed, from the imagination of a novelist. There’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any of it is true: along with the one ball thing actually.

This all tells us rather more about the fantasies going on inside Martin Amis’ head than it does about any historical figure. Interesting, for all that, but possibly more than we really wanted to know about Mr. Amis, eh?

Posted: 13th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Policeman Not Qualified To Ride A Bike

Of course, all we citizenry like to have policemen walking our streets. Much better than them racing around in Panda cars where they can’t see anything, can’t hear anything and can’t do anything. But it is perhaps possible for this to be taken to extremes. Like the copper who spends almost his entire shift walking between the two places he’s supposed to be patrolling rather than around the two areas he’s supposed to be patrolling:

A Police Community Support Officer has told a stunned village council that he spends up to six hours of his eight hour shift walking to different areas on his beat as he is not qualified to ride a bike.

The officer told parish councillors that he couldn’t ride to their village because he hadn’t passed his “police cycling proficiency test.”

The minuted meeting prompted one of the councillors to put in a complaint to North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner claiming the situation was “beyond parody.”

Police said that before officers were able to ride a bike on duty they had to go through health and safety procedures, which the officer had not completed at the time.

So instead he spent up to six hours of his eight hour shift walking the seven miles from his base in Clifton Moor, York to and from the two villages that formed his beat.

Perhaps we’re not beyond parody here but we’re very definitely approaching the parody horizon.

And of course we shouldn’t blame this PCSO: it’s not his fault that the regulations on which policemen are allowed to ride a bike were written by complete dickheads. We should though be complaining that those regulations were written by dickheads: and even more so we should fire the complete incompetent who assigned a non-bike riding PCSO to a beat that clearly required the ability to ride a bike.

Sadly, the one group of incompetents in our society who never do get fired are those that piss away our tax money. Perhaps that ought to change….

Posted: 8th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Fat And Rich Diet; The Fat And Poor Take Pills

PA 391956 2 The Fat And Rich Diet; The Fat And Poor Take Pills

THE fat and rich exercise; the fat and poor take pills:

 …a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,researchers from Concordia University looked at the incomes and health habits of more than 3,000 children and teens between the ages of 8 and 19 and more than 5,000 adults over the age of 20.

At least two-thirds of the study subjects reported attempting to reduce food intake or exercising in order to lose weight in the past year. Despite these efforts, the adults in the study gained an average of three pounds, while the youths gained about 12 pounds. The people in the lower income brackets gained about two pounds more than those in the highest one.

One reason for the disparity might have to do with the tactics they used to try to shed pounds: Compared to adults making $75,000 or more, those making less than $20,000 were 50 percent less likely to exercise, 42 percent less likely to drink a lot of water, and 25 percent less likely to eat less fat and sweets. And adults making between $20,000 and $75,000 were about 50 percent more likely to use over-the-counter diet pills, which aren’t proven to work.

Read it all here...

Posted: 7th, October 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Now We Can Grow A Penis In A Laboratory Too

15015427 Now We Can Grow A Penis In A Laboratory Too

Exciting news for the spam filters on our email: scientists have revealed that they can now grow a penis in a laboratory. Just think what’s going to happen when the mass marketers get ahold of that idea: if you thought that pills to increase size were heavily marketed you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Scientists have successfully grown penises in a laboratory and say they could be tested on humans within five years.

The organs would be used to help men who have suffered a serious injury to the region, had surgery for cancer or are suffering from a congenital abnormality.

The work is being carried out the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, North Carolina.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 7th, October 2014 | In: Money, Technology | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Political Shocker As Nick Clegg Declares He Ain’t Gay

NOR does Nick Clegg harbour any ambitions to shag around: which does rather raise the question of what on earth he’s doing in the Lib Dems of course. But of course that’s not quite what he’s really said: instead he’s said that he’d rather sleep with his wife than Ed Miliband or David Cameron.

Faced with the choice of “going to bed” with Ed Miliband and David Cameron in a new coaltion deal he would choose his wife “Miriam every single time”, Nick Clegg has said.

Well, yes, so would I of course. Either my wife or Clegg’s wife to be honest. In fact, we might be able to persuade the wives of David and Ed that they’d prefer Miriam: and wouldn’t that be a tape that would sell well?

But the real point to this story is that it’s now newsworthy when a politician says that he’s quite happy sleeping with his own wife. Blimey, whatever next eh?

Posted: 6th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Australia’s Going After Apple And Google’s Tax Payments

Or perhaps we should say that the Australian Parliament is going to look into the tax payments that Apple and Google don’t make in that country. I’m sure they’ll produce a lovely report and that they’ll complain mightily. But it’s very difficult indeed to see what they might actually be able to do about it:

The upper house yesterday supported a motion from Greens leader Christine Milne for the committee to examine and report on the “tax avoidance and aggressive tax minimisation by corporations registered in Australia and multinational corporations operating in Australia”.

Or as another report has it:

Milne suggested that by pulling up some of the largest businesses operating in Australia on their tax domestic commitments, the government could plug its revenue shortfall without removing funding from social services.

“Instead of pulling safety nets out from under people in our community who most need support, the Abbott government should look for ways to raise revenue from those who can afford to pay,” said Milne in a statement.

The inquiry, which will look at “tax avoidance and aggressive minimisation by corporations registered in Australia and multinational corporations operating in Australia”, is set to place in its cross hairs some of the biggest technology companies operating in Australia, including Apple, Google, and Amazon.

The federal government has previously called out companies such as Google and Apple for using the so-called “Double Irish Dutch Sandwich” method of funnelling money through countries outside of Australia to pay very low taxes domestically, despite significantly high revenue from Google’s advertising and Apple’s products sold in Australia.

The thing is that there’s really not very much at all that the Australian government can do about this. There’s something the US government could do, sure, but that wouldn’t change the amount of tax paid in Oz. There’s also something the Irish government could do but that would change the amount of tax paid in Oz. And whatever the Oz government decides to do isn’t going to change the amount of tax paid in Oz either.

For, what the two companies do, both Apple and Google, is to sell their products into Australia having manufactured them elsewhere. They thus pay whatever import duties there are (not very much if anything) and that’s it. All the profit they’ve made by making those things just isn’t made in Australia: thus there’s no profit tax paid in Australia.

And it really is that simple. Other than trying to increase import duties, thereby screwing up the entire world trade system, there’s just nothing Oz can do about it.

Posted: 3rd, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Morrison’s Promises To Compete Into Bankruptcy

This is something of a hostage to fortune: Morrison’s has promised to match prices with the other supermarkets in the UK. OK, they often do that against Waitrose (which is generally more expensive anyway), Sainsbury’s and the like but now, in a piece of majestic bravery, they’re going to try to go head to head with Aldi and Lil. And it’s really not certain that this is going to work out well either. For there’s a very large and very basic problem here:

Morrisons has announced a new price match system, which is set to exacerbate Britain’s brutal supermarket war.

The fourth biggest grocery chain said that in addition to price matching Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, it would now do the same with discounters Aldi and Lidl.

The new price comparison and points system will see users automatically refunded card points, along with extra points for selected products and fuel.

Here’s what the problem is. The actual price a supermarket pays for something isn’t really what determines what it then tries to charge you for it. Sure, it has an influence and we’ll get to that in just a moment. But it’s all the other costs associated that do make up the total price. And when you think about it a supermarket is really just a logistics chain. That’s their real special sauce: being able to run the lorries and the warehouses that get everything into the stores so they can be sold but not too much so that the store overflows with things unsold. And that is also a very expensive part of their system.

And that’s the secret sauce at Aldi and Lidl. They typically carry only one brand of anything. One type of smoked Swiss cheese, say, instead of the offerings from several or many different manufacturers. And that makes all that logistics stuff a great deal cheaper.

There’s also that bit we’re just getting to. Byt stocking, in general, only one of anything this means that they’re buying in higher volume from that one producer. That means they get better prices.

The general consensus is that a full service (or full range) supermarket simply cannot compete directly on price with that Aldi/Lidl (and in Germany there’s several others as well, Penny Market, Billa and so on) strategy. But that’s exactly what Morrison’s has just committed itself to. It’s going to be, in a business sense, a bloody and bitter war. And not one that Morrison’s is necessarily going to win.

Posted: 2nd, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Apple’s Fine From The EU Might Be As Much As …..Umm, 200 Million?

The European Commission has now released its document about why and how it thinks that Apple has been playing hooky with the Irish tax system. And it’s a real joy for connoiseurs of the intricacies of bureaucracy and taxation. Essentially, what the EU is saying is that the profits Apple made actually in Ireland were not properly taxed. And that, if they can prove that, then Apple must pay over to Ireland the tax that they should have paid.

The thing is, even if the EU manages to prove all of this then the likely amount that Apple will pay is $200 million or so. Yes, that’s all:

Apple set aside about $12 billion for U.S. federal and state income taxes in fiscal 2013, on sales of $62.7 billion in the Americas, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, which doesn’t break down revenue by country, set aside just $1.1 billion for foreign income taxes over the same period, on sales outside the Americas of about $88 billion. It reported foreign pretax earnings of $30.5 billion that fiscal year.

Apple could be asked to pay up to $200 million in back taxes, said Heather Self, a tax partner at Pinsent Masons LLP in London. She said the company could also agree to pay a smaller amount to settle—or pay nothing if Ireland offers a robust defense.

And another estimation:

Seamus Coffey, an economics lecturer at University College Cork, who has examined Apple’s Irish tax affairs, said: “The EC can demand back payments for 10 years, which would take it back to 2004.”

Figures in the commission’s calculation show that the relevant Apple subsidiaries – Apple Operations Europe and Apple Sales Europe – had annual profits of between €60m and €80m between 2009 and 2012, and annual revenues of between €500m and €680m.

“You’re taxed on profits, not revenues, but even if the EC said that all that revenue was pure profit, then over 10 years it would owe the Irish tax rate of 12.5% on about €6.8bn – that’s about €850m,” said Coffey. However, Coffey said a more likely figure would be 12.5% on total profits over the 10 years of perhaps €800m, amounting to €100m.

Well, the EU itself says back to 2003 but that’s trivia. The point being that over this same period of time Apple has made profits of around $150 billion (yes, that’s billion) and having to fork over another $100 million really isn’t going to be anything they’ll worry too much about.

As to why the sum is so small, it’s because the tax bill in Ireland is only on whatever profits come from actually doing business in Ireland. It’s a so called “territorial tax” system. So all of the vast profits Apple has been making by selling in the UK, and Germany, and Italy and so on and on don’t come into the Irish tax question at all.

This is, at worst, a pinprick, nothing more.

Posted: 1st, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


EBay To Sell Off PayPal: No, Not Doing It Because Of Icahn, No Siree!

EBay has just announced that it’s to sell off PayPal. All of which comes as something of an amusement as the company has been screaming loudly for ages now that of course it is not going to do any such thing. The reason being that a hedge fund investor (he prefers to call himself an “active” investor) has been pushing the company to do this. So, of course, management has been shouting “No!” for no one wants to be told what to do by outsiders. Especially when it turns out he’s right and you change your mind:

EBay said on Tuesday that it would spin off its PayPal payments unit into a separate publicly traded company, taking a step the activist hedge fund magnate Carl C. Icahn first demanded nine months ago.

The move will cleave eBay almost in half, separating it from the payments processor it acquired 12 years ago and built into a giant that generates almost half of the company’s revenue.

For nine months that management has been saying that Icahn is crazy to be demanding such a thing. And now they’re saying he’s been right all along.

As to why the plan might make sense: it’s hugely expensive to set up an electronic payments processing operation. Not because the code is difficult but because the bureaucratic regulations about money laundering and so on are so fearsomely complex. Meaning that if you’ve got one already then there’s a great opportunity to get other people to use that system you’ve already got. But, if you’re tied into one auction house or online retailer then people who own other such companies will be extremely hesitant to adopt your payment method (it’s notable that Amazon doesn’t take PayPal, in part because it’s owne4d by EBay). Thus divorce the payments processor from the auction house and each could be worth more alone.

Yet Mr. Icahn succeeded in the long run. In an interview, Mr. Donahoe acknowledged that eBay was following the strategy Mr. Icahn had recommended and that the company had vocally rejected.

We “got to the same place that Carl said early on,” he said.

But he contended the company arrived at its conclusion through “a deliberate process,” and not by reacting to outside pressure.

Yeah, yeah, sure you did, sure you did.

Posted: 30th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


George Osborne Announces The Google Tax

George Osbourne, the Tory Chancellor, has noticed that large numbers of people are pissed off about the way in which Google pays near damn no tax in the UK. In the run up to the election he’s therefore announced that he’ll jolly well make them pay some more. The problem with this idea is that no one can quite work out how he’s going to manage this:

It is hard without more detail to know what impact the move to tackle tax avoidance by large US tech firms will have. The US and Irish governments have already taken some moves to tackle the so-called “double Irish” arrangement.

Treasury aides say that the move may raise a few hundred million pounds but more details will be given in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Just as appealing to the chancellor as the money, though, will be the headline – Osborne introduces “Google Tax”.

Here’s what the problem is. From the announcement Osborne is saying that companies that use the Double Irish (no, don’t worry, it’s very boring) will be forced to pay more tax in the UK. But Osborne only has power over tax rates and tax laws in the UK. The Double Irish, as the name implies, comes under Irish tax law. So Osborne, and the UK, has no power to change that Irish law.

And it gets worse too. Part of the EU’s single market malarkey is that any EU company can trade anywhere in the EU. And on the same terms as any other EU company. So, the UK must allow any Irish company to trade in the UK on the same terms as any German or French company. And also, it must allow any Irish company to trade in the UK on the same terms as any other Irish company. We can’t say “you don’t use the Double Irish so here’s your tax rate, you do use it so here’s your higher one”. That would absolutely be illegal under EU law.

Do while Osborne has announced something to grab the headlines it’s probable that that’s all he has done. For it’s very difficult indeed to see him being able to make this plan stick.

Posted: 30th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Police Support Officer Jailed Over Gatwick Money Scam Gets Longer Sentence Than Thieving Politicians

Alexis scott Police Support Officer Jailed Over Gatwick Money Scam Gets Longer Sentence Than Thieving Politicians

 

THE most effective crimes are the simplest.

A police community support officer who conned air passengers out of thousands of pounds was told she will be separated from her baby as she was jailed for six-and-a-half years today. Alexis Scott told travellers departing from Gatwick that they could not take more than £1,000 in cash out of the country and even held out her hat for them to deposit money.

That is simply brilliant. Softened up by militaristic airport checks, warnings and fear, the uniform needs only ask one more thing: hand over your cash or be detained. Compliance is all.

The scam earned her £13,500.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 26th, September 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Well Done Ed Miliband! A New Tax That Raises No Revenue!

This is a quite lovely political manouevre by Ed Miliband. He’s managed to find a way of making the rich pay more taxes without the Treasury actually having any more money to spend on the things we generally like to get from taxes. It’s this new mansion ta that he’s decided to have. Have a house worth more than £2 million and you have to pay an annual tax on that value. Not, on the face of it, actually a terrible idea. It’s what happens next that’s the problem:

Labour’s £1.2billion-a-year mansion tax haul could be virtually wiped out by plunging stamp duty, inheritance tax and running costs, experts warned last night.

Many prospective buyers desperate to avoid a new annual one per cent tax on properties worth more than £2million would lower their offers, research suggests.

Meanwhile, sellers wary of trying to market homes burdened with the mansion tax would be more likely to price them lower.

Even a 10 per cent fall in the value of properties priced £2million or more would trigger a £500million slump in tax receipts for stamp duty and death duties, analysis by estate agent Savills shows.

And when the annual cost of running a new valuation department is added to the money needed to pay owners’ appeal bills, the anticipated £1.2billion gain could be lost.

Now some of that could obviously be the usual chuntering on from the usual suspects. But by no means all of it is. It really is possible to design a tax so badly that it results in government having no new money to spend at all. We even know that we’ve got one of those, stamp duty on share purchases. If we abolished that then give it a couple of years and government would be making more money from other taxes.

It’s also true that sometimes taxes aren’t really there to try and raise money. We might want to stop people doing something (smoking, say) and that’s the reason to charge them. But in this case Ed’s already decided where he’s going to spend the money that he’s not going to get.

It’s just not a very well thought out plan really. The real problem is that the rate is just too low for the costs of trying to collect it. But you can’t have high rates on wealth taxes either, they just don’t work. All of which is a bit of a bind for those who want to tax wealth really.

Posted: 26th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


More Sex Means Worse Sex

Or so some manufacturer of sex toys would have us believe. And they might even be right but it’s also very convenient for them to claim that casual hook ups lead to worse sex: for of course it’s people spicing up long term relationships that leads to the sale of sex toys.

The argument is about Tinder and such apps on mobile phones. People who can find a quick shag through such means are indeed having more sex with more people. But that sex is actually worse and less satisfying (although on he plus side there’s obviously that they did have sex):

Apps like Tinder and Grindr are geo-social networking applications supposedly geared towards finding a lover or relationship.

But many users reveal they have the apps – and traditional social networking sites like Facebook – just to find instant sex partners.

Well, yes, offer people a method of getting free and easy sex and they’ll take it often enough. But the result?

But while young people are finding it a lot easier to access sexual partners, it appears to be making them worse in bed.

Respondents were asked to rate their experience between the sheets, and compare it against sex with a frequent partner.

The hook-up partner scored lower across the board on duration, excitement, comfort and overall satisfaction.

Not that this will really surprise all that many of us I suppose. Knowing whether a partner prefers Tab A into Slot A or B does aid in improving their enjoyment of a bonk. But the suspicion comes from this part:

A spokesperson for intimate toy retailer Bondara, who commissioned the research,

Well, who benefits from people not having access to simple and easy sex? Those who sell the sex toys that make long term sexual relationships more fun. It’s still possible that they’re actually correct here, of course it is, but that might not be the way to bet.

Posted: 25th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Not So Clever Warren Buffett Has Lost $750 Million On Tesco Shares

Ouch, this has got to hurt. Yes, I know that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is a vast company, that a loss like this won’t in fact make all that much difference to the future, but it’s still gotta hurt:

Since last June, his shares in Tesco have lost almost $750 million in value after the shares plunged by as much as 43% this year. It paid $1.7 billion for the stake.

The problem is that Buffett thought that Tesco was a solid and well managed business. So, when it issued a profits warning he thought that would be something of a blip: management would sort things out and the shares would go back up again.

That’s not quite how things worked out: in trying to sort things out the management seems to have made things very much worse. By playing with the accounts to make it look like they were making very much more money than they actually were.

And thus the stock has tanked in this past week. And so Buffett is out that $750 million.

When others were ditching the stock, Buffet was buying.

Mr Buffett has made his fortune taking brave, long-term decisions with his famous quote: ‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.’

Yep, it often works but this time it simply didn’t. Because the problems at Tesco were rather more deep rooted than anyone knew. Except, perhaps, the management, and they were desperately trying to paper over the cracks rather than tell anyone.

Posted: 25th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Ed Miliband’s Silly Demand For More Tobacco Taxes

Sure, we’d all like to have a better NHS. And sure, raising more tax revenue to spend on the NHS might be one way to achieve that. We can argue about whether it would be a good way some other time. But there’s a problem with Ed Miliband’s de4mand that because ‘baccy costs the NHS money therefore ‘baccy should pay more taxes. The problem being that smoking doesn’t cost the NHS money.

It’s obviously true that smokers do get diseases from smoking and that they thus need and get medical treatment from the NHS. So we could say that the NHS has to spend money because of smoking. But it’s also true that all of us die and thus we all get medical treatment from the NHS over time. And smokers are with us a shorter amount of time than people who don’t smoke. Meaning that they actually consume less health care, and thus cost the NHS less, than those who do not smoke:

In any case, they bored for America on all the sins of tobacco, including its alleged cost to the public purse in treating the various health conditions associated with smoking. Actually that’s not the case, piped up Professor Doll. “Tobacco smokers will on average have reduced life expectancy, and are quite likely to die before they become a burden on the state and the rest of society. What’s more they tend to die quite quickly, so their medical costs are not off the scale, compared with keeping, say, an eighty year old alive. The economy will have had the benefit of their productive life, but few of the costs of their inactive ones”.

This explanation left the ASH brigade quite speechless, which was a merciful release for all of us. I wouldn’t advocate smoking as a form of enforced euthanasia, but let’s get our facts right here. Tobacco companies have many faults, but they are not a cost to society.

On the very same grounds fatties and boozers also save the NHS money.

Hey, maybe the NHS does need more money. Maybe’ baccy and booze would be great places to get more money. But the argument that we should tax smoking more because it costs the NHS money just isn’t true, just not true at all.

Posted: 24th, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


What The Hell Is It That Tesco Has Done Wrong? This

PA 20982081 What The Hell Is It That Tesco Has Done Wrong? This

 

 

DESPITE Tesco being a little bit less everyone’s favourite supermarket than it used to be it’s still a bit of a shocker to find out that the company has been lying about its profits. The question is though, what is it that they’ve been doing? As no one is coming right out with exactly what it is let’s try to work it out from what we are being told:

So how can £250m seemingly disappear from one of Britain’s biggest companies? The answer is in the complex, diverse and daily dealings that take place between a supermarket and the hundreds of companies that supply it with food.

Tesco said the shortfall in its profits is due to the “accelerated recognition of commercial income and delayed accrual of costs”. In other words, Tesco has been paying suppliers later and taking monies from them earlier than it should. The size of the black hole suggests this practice was widespread.

Well, obviously the Telegraph has managed to get that wrong. For accruals aren’t in fact about when a company pays someone, nor about when someone is paid. They’re about when someone says that they’ve been paid.

So what we’ve got here is not Tesco changing the dates of either when it pays people or when it collects money from them. Instead, we’ve got changes in when they say that these things have happened. For example, a supplier will pay the supermarket some money in order to get good shelf space in the stores. Such a deal will last for some time: might even be something that goes on all the time. So, if there’s an annual deal (say) then how much of the money from that should be in the first quarter results? The accounts for the first three months of the deal?

Well, you could say, hmm, we’ve only received two payments so far, because they pay us 30 days after invoice date, so that’s what’s in those accounts. You could say, well, we’ve had two payments and they owe us another one which we’re sure we’ll get: so put 3/12 of the whole deal in the first quarter. Or maybe we’ll put all of the 12 payments in that first three months because we’re pretty sure that we’ll get that money. All of those could be valid accounting techniques. All of them will give very different profit levels. And that’s really what the allegation (and admission) is about. Tesco’s been telling everyone that they’re getting the money before they actually do get the money. Nothing has changed about the time that the cash moves: only the time people get told it has moved does.

Posted: 23rd, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Is This The Most Perfect Job In The World Or What?

PA 18896679 Is This The Most Perfect Job In The World Or What?

 

WELL, might depend upon what your specific tastes were (it’s not going to all that attractive to a gay bloke for example) but being the mystery shopper for brothels would certainly appeal to some. Yes, that’s right: people pay this bloke (and pay his fees as well, of course) to visit prostitutes and have sex with them.

A Sydney taxi driver claimed he is paid by local councils to buy sex at brothels and then write reports on his experiences, it was reported on Sunday.

The former taxi driver was hired as a “brothel buster investigator” three years ago and has since visited dozens of establishments, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The father-of-two is paid by local authorities who then use his evidence to help expose local prostitution rings.

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Posted: 23rd, September 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Americans for Shared Prosperity Create This Car Crash of An Advert

Screen shot 2014 09 22 at 16.50.18 Americans for Shared Prosperity Create This Car Crash of An Advert

She’s been forced to eat the Labradoodle by grinding poverty

 

THIS advert for Americans for Shared Prosperity is great.

The woman is trying to get back on her feet, trapped, as she seems to be, in an airy, stylish apartment of the type most Britishers recognise from magazines about fine living, home decer and Jennifer Aniston’s womb.

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Posted: 22nd, September 2014 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0