Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
WHAT the world needs is a huge head modelled to look like Lionel Richie’s noggin. If this Kickstarter project can make it, the world will have what it needs.
For your money you get “internal turbines to keep his head up, internal sandbags to keep his head down” and “Head Guards” to protect the head from human lice. You also get a “Lionel Richie Head Paper Mask” (£9), and “a chance for and your partner to stay overnight in Lionel Richie’s Head” (£1,000).
A good looking Lionel Richie Head at a respectable height (3m) will cost us £4,900… We hope with the possible success of raising the money to make a 3m inflatable sculpture, that we also reach our additionally intended ‘Stretch Goal’ of £10k. This money will be used to make Lionel Richie’s Head bigger (6m). Making it bigger allows us to create a portal that will let Bestivalers go inside Lionel Richie’s Head.
WHAT is Amazon’s big plan? We know now:
France’s culture minister has attacked Amazon, the online retailer, for deliberately undercutting traditional rivals to create a “quasi-monopoly”, in the latest assault by the socialist government on internet companies.
“Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon which, through dumping practices, smashes prices to penetrate markets to then raise prices again once they are in a situation of quasi-monopoly,” said Aurélie Filippetti, the culture minister.
THIS is a very strange argument being used here ion regard to food banks.
There is poverty: yes. There are people who cannot afford, for some reason, lots of lovely food. So, of course, we all want everyone to be able to fill their bellies. We’re certainly a rich enough country for that. But then the argument goes haywire:
Massive cuts to social safety nets have led to “destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale” in Britain, with more than half a million people now forced to rely on food banks for sustenance, key poverty charities have warned in a report.
Well, no. If people are getting their food from foodbanks then this shows that they’re not going hungry, doesn’t it?
Try the same logic again with a different example: lots of people getting benefits shows that there’s destitution and hunger. No it doesn’t, lots of people getting benefits means that lots of destitution and hunger is being avoided.
People who would be destitute or hungry are now not because they get money. And so it is with food banks. That lots of people are using food banks is evidence that much hunger is being avoided. Because people are being given food.
IF you were thinking about how you might make the world a better place your career options might include joining an NGO or charity. Going and digging wells in Kenya perhaps. Or working to develop treatments for Third World diseases. Or you could instead do something effective about it. After all, there’s no shortage of muscle in Kenya to dig wells and not all that many of us have the skills to develop new drugs.
Instead, why not try to make as much money as you can in the gory world of investment banking: then give it away?
Jason Trigg went into finance because he is after money — as much as he can earn.
The 25-year-old certainly had other career options. An MIT computer science graduate, he could be writing software for the next tech giant. Or he might have gone into academia in computing or applied math or even biology. He could literally be working to cure cancer.
Instead, he goes to work each morning for a high-frequency trading firm. It’s a hedge fund on steroids. He writes software that turns a lot of money into even more money. For his labors, he reaps an uptown salary — and over time his earning potential is unbounded. It’s all part of the plan.
Why this compulsion? It’s not for fast cars or fancy houses. Trigg makes money just to give it away. His logic is simple: The more he makes, the more good he can do.
He’s figured out just how to take measure of his contribution. His outlet of choice is the Against Malaria Foundation, considered one of the world’s most effective charities. It estimates that a $2,500 donation can save one life. A quantitative analyst at Trigg’s hedge fund can earn well more than $100,000 a year. By giving away half of a high finance salary, Trigg says, he can save many more lives than he could on an academic’s salary.
It’s actually rather more fun to be hanging out with the hippy chicks at the NGO. But this is almost certainly more effective: producing the wealth that saves people’s lives. And the thing is, while not all of us can do the actual life saving part, all of us can indeed go earn money to make it happen. In which case there might well be something to be said for this greed thing. Make as much as you can: it’s what you do with it that counts.
DOES Margaret Hodge know what she’s talking about?
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has accused the watchdog of failing to properly regulate or even understand the burgeoning market. The OFT has instead been “passively waiting for complaints from customers before acting”, the MPs said.
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the PAC, lambasted the OFT’s regulatory efforts claiming it has “never given a fine to any of the 72,000 firms in this market” and has “very rarely revokes a company’s licence”,
THIS might not be good news for people who (follishly) invested in Facebook stock at the IPO. There’s a distinct possibility that we’ve already reached peak Facebook and that it’s just not going to get any better from here.
There’s four things that determine how much money Facebook can make. How many users it has, how much time they spend using it, how many ads Facebook can show them in that time and the price FB can charge for those ads. To boost profits Facebook would rather like all four to be rising. However, in the mature territories, that’s not what seems to be happening.
EEK! We’ve reached peak farmland: we’ll not expand the fields ever again. That, of course, spells doom for all of us human beans, as there will be ever less food for ever more people. Woe is us.
Except that’s not actually what is being predicted. Rather, that because we’re using farmland ever more efficiently we’ll never need to plough up more forest to make fields:
American corn farmers currently average about 180 bushels per acre, and the world average is around 82. Ausubel and his colleagues assume a modest 1.7 percent annual increase in corn yields between 2010 and 2060, which implies that “the average global yield in 2060 would resemble the average U.S. yield in 2010.”
One concern is that farmers may be approaching the biological limits of photosynthesis, which would constrain crop yields. But the authors note that the winners of the annual National Corn Yield Contest currently produce nonirrigated yields of around 300 bushels per acre, nearly double average U.S. yields. Ausubel suggests that the difference between the global average of 82 bushels and contest-winning 300 bushels per acre yields means that “much headroom remains.”
All that’s necessary is to get global average crop yields up to current US average crop yields and we’ll be fine. And the good thing about that is that we know how to get crop yileds up. For we do it today, so we must know how to do it.
BITCOIN’S this shiny new form of money that has hal the geeks and the libertarians shouting for joy. There’s no government involvement, it’s all entirely produced by code, there’s no nation attached to it and most importantly, there’s no name attached to an account. This makes it superb for anonymous shuffling of money around. And that, of course, is why it’s going to get killed by the bureaucracy:
With mounting pressure on online money exchanges from US regulators, payments processor OKPay has announced that it is suspending processing for all Bitcoin exchanges, including industry leader Mt. Gox.
ARE comics making more cash than footballers? Yes. So we’re told:
Laughing all the way to the bank: The comics who are earning a fortune and even overtaking Premier League footballers.
Peter Kay tops the list, pocketing £32.8million in the past two years.
Michael McIntyre next highest earner on the list with earnings topping £21m.
Third is John Bishop reporting profits of £6.3m in two years.
SO. You want to work on the Wimbledon Guardian?
Spotter: Omar Oakes
THIS is an interesting little piece of news from Marks and Spencer:
Marks & Spencer is to stop opening new general stores in the UK amid a shift to internet shopping.
The company will build four new large outlets over the next three years, but then call a halt to 129 years of bricks and mortar expansion.
Bosses believe that the popularity of ‘click and collect’ means people will be buying more online and either collecting from its existing stores or getting home deliveries.
THE Mail’s got itself all in a tither about a find of African money off the coast of Australia. Apparently this means that the entire history of the place has to be rewritten. Err, no, it doesn’t: it’s an interesting little find, to be sure, but it doesn’t change the history of Oz in any appreciable manner at all.
Five copper coins found in northern Australia could rewrite the country’s history.
The coins are thought to date back as early as the 900s and are believed to have originated in Africa.
Written history of Australia only dates back to 1606, when Dutch explorers landed in the region, and researchers from Indiana University want to find out how the thousand-year-old copper coins ended up on the other side of the Indian Ocean six centuries earlier.
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THIS is a fascinating little example of how the debate of climate change gets very skewed. In fact, the report is more interesting for what it says about that than it is in its intended actual result.
The number of people dying from unbearable heat in big cities could almost double because of climate change, according to new research.
A study in Manhattan found the number of fatalities caused by global warming will far outstrip the reductions in those perishing from the cold.
It follows a report last year by the Health Protection Agency that warned heat related deaths in the UK will increase by more than 10,000 annually – a fivefold rise.
It’s undoubtedly true that if and when global warming happens then more people will die of the heat than happens now. So the finding isn’t all that odd.
AFTER the inquiry into the crud oil prices is announced we’ve got the AA leaping in and insisting that there’s another group conspiring and manipulating to make the petrol made from crude more expensive.
Few of the traders’ names – including Glencore, Cargill, Gunvor and Trafigura – are known to consumers outside the oil industry, but their effect on Britain’s 33million motorists and the wider economy is profound.
They buy huge quantities of petroleum on the open market and store it until the price goes high enough to make them a handsome profit, at which point they sell.
RELIGIONS are often the first to point out how good charity is and that we should always reach out to those in need. However, one homeless chap has conducted an experiment which shows religious people aren’t taking their own advice.
The homeless man, as seen in a Reddit thread, bears a sign that says: “Which religion cares the most about the homeless?” There are nine begging bowls in front of him, each with money in them.
RYAN Lee Chiropractic Center is open for business. It might be an idea when advertising health remedies that not everyone agrees with to shy away from a “not-so-serious” commercial that features the chiropractor stood behind and on top of young, photogenic women:
HS2 is, as you know, this idea that we should build a great big train set to go through the middle of England. Politicians love train sets so all the politicians are in favour of it.
Unfortunately they’ve been lying about the numbers. Yes, lying is the correct word here. The problem is that they’ve been using 1960s figures not 00’s figures to justify it. And many people have told them that what they’re doing is wrong, misleading, lying. But they’ve carried on regardless:
The Labour MP added that transport bosses had ‘belatedly identified errors in their calculations that have wiped £12billion off the expected benefits’ and left themselves ‘no room for mistakes’.
DO you recall a year or so back when we were all having a lovely time shouting at the BBC stars who were all avoiding tax by being paid into companies? And the BBC promised to do something about it?
It’s a year later and not a lot has been done. For the terribly difficult question is, well, what should be done?
BBC plans to force freelance presenters back on to the employment books to end suspicions of tax avoidance have descended into chaos, it emerged last night,
Stars are being made to sign short-term contracts because the BBC has been unable to thrash out an acceptable way of paying them on a full time basis.
The corporation decided to act following concerns from MPs about the corporation’s use of so-called personal service companies as a way of channelling stars’ earnings.
THE French have decided it would be a good idea to tax all the smartphones, TVs, tablets and the rest in order to subsidise the creation of French movies n’ stuff that people can watch on their smartphones, tablets and TVs. This is truly insane:
The French government is considering creating a new tax on smartphones and tablets in a bid to raise millions to support the creation of digital cultural content inside France.
The proposal, handed to President Francois Hollande today, outlines a one per cent tax on the sale of Internet-compatible devices, targeting companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon.
The tax would yield about 86 million euros per year. The revenue would help cultural industries create French content such as music, images and videos.
ISNT this just wonderful?
Britain is the world’s leading exporter of power generators, as they are seen as manufacturers of the “best quality and are the most reliable”, according to latest research.
THE skill with which the EU has been managing the wider economy is shown delightfully in these new figures from Greece:
Overall unemployment has risen to an all-time high of 27 per cent, data showed on Thursday, while joblessness in the 15-to-24 age group jumped to 64.2 per cent in February from 59.3 per cent in January.
A 27% unemployment rate is higher than the United States had at the worst level of the Great Depression. And a 64% youth unemployment rate: that’s more like some godawful shanty town in the wilds of sub-Saharan Africa than anything else.
MUHAMMAD Yunus has done some pretty good things in his life: the founding of the Grameen Bank led to a Nobel Prize for example. Yet this really does have to be a silly idea: the idea of having an international minimum wage:
I propose that foreign buyers jointly fix a minimum international wage for the industry. This might be about 50 cents an hour, twice the level typically found in Bangladesh.
THOSE Big Bad Bankies, screwed up the entire world economic system and impoverished us all. Of course, what should happen is much greater regulation of what the banksters are doing with or money.
Which might even be true in fact. However, the problem is that you can’t actually regulate the banking system just by regulating the bankers. Because there are all sorts of companies out there that have money and which can and will step in to do business when we prevent banks from doing it.
Hedge funds using debt-trading strategies honed on Wall Street are expanding at a record pace as they profit from risks big banks are no longer taking.