Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
DID you know that the Metropolitan Police Force spent £35,000 on the Speaking Clock in the past two years? It’s true. You can ask a policeman the time secure in the knowledge that he will check his sources and deliver the truth.
Londonist reports that “by May 2012 there are predicted to be 32,510 officers on the Met’s payroll“. There are also over 14,00o other staff on the books. That’s 46,000 people spending £35,000 on the Speaking Clock over two years. These workers between them made 110,000 calls to the Speaking Clock. That works out between one and two calls per worker per year.
Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said this was “incredible”.
The reason being that the eurozone just doesn’t have enough money to keep Italy’s borrowing costs down. So everyone needs to know that Italy isn’t going to increase the debt they’ve already got. However, obviously, in a recession, this isn’t possible, debt is going to increase.
So, recession in Italy means that whatever people try and cobble together to keep Italian borrowing rates down won’t work: at which point Italy goes bust like Greece.
WHAT’S the problem with Ikea? Should it be broken up? And why does it prove that Marx was wrong?
Anders Dahlvig, the flat-pack pioneer’s boss from 1999 until 2009, said IKEA faced the prospect of slowing growth and rising costs. He said the chain had struggled under his watch to come to terms with its scale and develop the processes required to manage a company with £20bn of revenue and operating in 41 countries.
Mr Dahlvig said it had taken his 10 years at the helm to introduce benchmarking disciplines but that he had underestimated the “forces” within IKEA opposed to the changes and had left with the job “only 50pc there”. Instead, he argued that IKEA’s octogenarian founder Ingvar Kamprad and his three sons, who own the company through a Dutch foundation, should consider splitting the business in three.
“Let’s say we cut Ikea in three pieces – one in North America, one in Europe and one in Asia – everyone do their own product development; their own supply chain. Their own thing,” said Mr Dahlvig.
THE Government was right to force Ms. Cait Reilly, the University of Birmingham geology graduate, and you to work at Poundland. This is aimed directly at you, Reilly:
“Forcing young people like me into unpaid work is wrong – and evidence shows it won’t solve the unemployment crisis.”
GOOD news for anyone looking for a Spanish sparrow. One’s been spotted in Calshot Close in Calshot near Southampton. It’s an adult male Spanish sparrow thought to be from Spain, Turkey or North Africa.
Background checks are being run on the foreign invader. Says one Cockney Sparrow: “I had 27 of them in the back of my hedgerow once…”
WE normally rather like it when banks are accurate. You know, count our money correctly, manage to send the new credit card to the right address, that sort of thing. But it is possible for them to perhaps be just a little bit over-enthusiastic.
Measuring from my parent’s house to the nearest HSBC branch it tells me that it is 0.5320458941752867 miles.
This is perhaps rather more accuracy that we really need:
17 decimal places represents atomic-scale accuracy. This means we now know just how far it is to our handiest HSBC to within a few electrons, which is extremely useful.
As is pointed out:
Despite all this “chronic” piracy going on, Adele’s album has sold more copies in a year than any album has ever sold. More than a Michael Jackson album managed in a year, even the good one. More than a Beatles album ever managed to whisk out the shops in twelve months. More, even, than the third Charlatans album sold in a year.
MILTON Friedman was not right about everything, certainly, but there was much more to his views than just that the working class should have their faces ground in the dust and the 1% should be allowed to enjoy ever rising profits without hindrance.
My point being that whatever you might think about his views of what was a desirable world, he was in fact a very good economist indeed.
As shown by these few quotes:
“The euro will not survive the first major European recession”
THIS is one of those things that really rather gets the dander up:
The taxpayers’ subsidy for the bars and restaurants in the Houses of Commons has risen to £5.8m a year, despite promises by parliamentary official to cut public funding for politicians’ meals and drinks.
That’s right, even after all that expenses stuff, the jailing of a few of them, they’re still snouts in the trough. And no, this isn’t just Bastard Tories or anything, this is the whole lot of them.
But in the Members Dining Room, MPs are served an artichoke and tomato salad with truffle dressing for £2.05, or a seared breast of pigeon with aubergine purée and spiced couscous for just £4.15.
DO newspapers understand tax? No. We sorta expect this sort of thing from the Guardian or the Mirror. Not just whipping up people into paroxysms of rage about companies not paying their tax but not actually understanding what’s going on in the first place.
Now we appear to have the Telegraph again, not just whipping people up, but actually not understanding what in buggery’s going on at all.
Barclays stockpiles ‘losses’ to soften tax obligations
Barclays has amassed a war chest of “losses” to offset against future tax payments that can almost rival those at the crippled state-backed banks, despite remaining strongly profitable.
Yep, if you make a loss you can carry that loss forward to when you make a profit and set it off against that profit. Obviously.
YOU’VE heard all the shouting no doubt, that our big problem is that we just don’t tax the rich enough. If only we made the tax system more progressive, if only the fat cats had a larger slice taken out of their paycheques then everything would be lovely. Or better. Or fairer. Or something anyway.
The problem with this is that the UK already has a progressive income tax system. In fact, among the major economies (ie, the G-8, which is the 7 biggest plus Russia) the UK has the most progressive income tax system.
You can also get some interesting information about progressivity from the two charts. A rough measure of that is the difference in the (average) tax rate shown on the two charts. A bigger difference shows a more progressive tax system:
- U.K.: 22.3%
- Italy: 21.1%
- America: 20.7%
- Canada: 20.1%
- Japan: 18.8%
- Germany: 16.6%
- France: 16.2%
- Russia: 0%
Not surprisingly, England tops the list: that’s why all their rock, movie, and sports stars live in other countries.
NO longer are all horse racing gamblers living in bedsits over shops in provincial towns. Thanks to Betfair, they are now all rich. The online bookie offered Odds of 28-1 had been offered 28-1 on the favourite Voler La Vedette in 2pm woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Only Betfair then declined to honour the bets. As the company says:
“Customers betting in-play on this race will have seen that Voler La Vedette was available to back at 29 when the in-running market was suspended, and that a considerable sum was matched on the clear winner at that price. An investigation has revealed that this was due to an obvious technical failure which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit. In accordance with our terms and conditions, all in running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void. We fully appreciate the dissatisfaction this will cause many customers, and apologise for a very poor customer and betting experience.”
IT’S a general truism that politics doesn’t actually solve much: it’s really just a way of working out who gets what without resorting to slaughter and rapine as a method of division. However, in that solving not very much part of each political solution is the kernel of the next grievance which we need to use politics to resolve.
Take, for example, the little spat in the US over High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and sugar. It’s all a he said/she said nonsense over what you can say about the two different sweetners.
Big Corn and Big Sugar are locked in a legal and public relations fight in the US over a plan to change the name of a corn-based sweetener that has gotten a bad name.
The fight began last year when Corn Refiners Association, a trade association, proposed changing the name of high-fructose corn syrup to merely “corn sugar.”
The group said the new name “more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike.”
But the sugar industry argued this change would be a bitter pill for US consumers and would only add to the confusion about a sweetener that has drawn criticism by some health advocates.
Sugar producers have filed suit alleging the corn industry has spent $50 million in “a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting falsely that HFCS is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets.”
OK, so this example is from the US but the same things happens in the UK as well. It’s an example of a basic truth about money and business: whoever has the scarce thing gets to make all the money.
That’s because every time a new iPhone model comes out, it’s the carriers—not consumers—that shell out the biggest bucks. Analysts estimate that carriers pay Apple a subsidy of about $400 each time a consumer buys an iPhone with a two-year contract.
AT&T and other wireless carriers say that subsidizing the iPhone heavily amounts to an investment that will make their customers more likely to stay and increase the amount of money they’re willing to spend for the carrier’s services. But some analysts say those benefits have yet to materialize.
At AT&T, Nomura Securities analyst Michael McCormack says, the profit margins on wireless service haven’t meaningfully improved since the company started carrying the iPhone in 2007.
“For the most part, it’s really been a wealth transfer from AT&T shareholders to Apple shareholders,” said Mr. McCormack, who predicts AT&T’s fourth-quarter profit margin will fall to 30% from 44% in the third quarter.
EU can make airlines pay for carbon emissions. That’s the headline from Reuters this morning. That the European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU can indeed make airlines pay for the carbon emissions of their flights.
And of course the answer is that “Oh no they can’t ” (It is, after all, panto season).
The court can certainly insist that payments are made for the carbon emissions but they cannot insist that the airlines pay it. In fact, it’s impossible for them to make the airlines pay it.
The reason is that companies, corporations, do not pay taxes. Ever. Sure, they might hand over the cheque but it’s not them really paying the money. For a tax always means that the wallet of some live human being is made lighter. And companies aren’t human beings so they don’t pay it.
Or if you’d prefer, everyone who writes about it lies about it in the same way.
“Wealth inequality is very much greater than income inequality, and widening,” Clegg said. “The bottom third of households hold just 3% of the nation’s wealth. The top third hold three-quarters of it. This inequality of wealth then cascades down the generations, potentially widening the opportunity gap.”
Now it’s true that wealth is unequally distributed and it’s also true that wealth inequality is greater than income inequality. However, that 3% to 75% ratio is entire cock and bull, invented shite.
SO here’s a little missive from a UK Uncut protestor who was released from a police cell after protesting at TopShop about Phillip Green.
Well, Philip Green pays no tax on his company dividends.
I agree that we might have to beat this into the fool with a cluebat but the reason that Philip Green doesn’t pay any tax on his company dividends is that Philip Green doesn’t receive any company dividends.
Not a penny, not one iota. And we don’t demand that people pay tax on money that they don’t get. Strange that but we don’t.
2011 was a great year for money, wasn’t it. But what was the best bit? Well, we’ve got the 10 best economic graphs of the year? Want to see them? Of course you do:
I’M sure you’ve seen this little piece, the Great Butter Famine going on in Norway?
Yes, isn’t it terribly amusing when one of the richest nations in the world runs out of a basic food stuff. There’s got to be some craziness behind it all. And indeed there is.
Norway is one of the very few places with farming policies even more stupid than our own dearly beloved EU. They “protect” their farmers even more than Brussels does. Part of that protection is that there is a quota and then a tax upon the top of the quota on importing butter into the nation.
THE South Korean skyline will soon feature The Cloud, a pair of skyscraper seemingly modelled on the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. In 2016, office workers in Seoul’s redeveloped Yongsan business district will be able to toil at their desks just like the thousands of people did at the World Trade Centre before they were murdered by militant Islamists.
Any idea that the 54 and 60 storey towers by Dutch architects MVRDV are in poor taste are dismissed by White Paik, spokesman for the Yongsan Development Corporation:
“Allegations that it [the design] was inspired by the 9/11 attacks are groundless. There will be no revision or change in our project.”
However, the problem seems to be that such regulation doesn’t actually work:
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has conceded that it was outwitted by hedge funds who realised that the bank’s loan book could not be as healthy as stated by the figures using the International Financial Reporting Standards (IRFS).
The regulator’s report found the “anticipation that large loan loss provisions might arise…. was highly relevant to the collapse in confidence in RBS in autumn 2008. And while this confidence effect was general across the banking system, RBS was particularly affected because of market concerns that its loan portfolio might be of relatively poor quality.”
But rather than blaming the “speculators” the FSA agreed their view was correct. “This perception of relatively poor loan quality (compared with some, but not all, other banks) was confirmed post facto by the scale of RBS’s provisions in 2009 and 2010,” it found.
This isn’t confined to the UK and the FSA either. Germany spent even more cleaning up their banking system than we did ours, Eire famously allowed the banks to bankrupt the entire country and in the US the SEC was just as gobsmacked as everyone else.
OF course, saving the banks is an inportant thing to do: a world without banks is one which is much poorer than the one we live in. However, really, last week’s eurodeal, that is all they’ve done: saved the banks:
What the ECB can do is pull out all the stops to save Euroland’s €23 trillion banking system, and that is what it did last week by extending unlimited credit to banks (LTRO’s) to three years, halving the reserve ratio to 1pc, and relaxing collateral rules to allow banks running out of eligible “kit” to pawn almost anything at Frankfurt’s lending window.
This is the closest we have come a “game-changer” in two years of rolling crisis. The banks can play the “carry trade”, borrowing at 1pc until 2015 with gearing to buy Italian debt at 6.4pc. That is how you rebuild a shattered banking system, and how to finance governments covertly without breaching any Treaty clause.
Everything else is just, well, we’ll agree to agree about something some other time. This however does indeed work.
BREAKING NEWS: David Cameron Evicted After Neighbours Complain Of Drunken Anti-Social Behaviour, Foul Language And Urinating In The Street
Sadly though that’s not quite what the story refers to. It’s rather an old thing that local newspapers rather delight in doing. Finding that they’ve got some local miscreant with the same name as someone more famous and then plastering the misdeeds all over the headlines. This one is from the Northampton Chronicle and the David Cameron referred to is a 60 year old with multiple ASBOs.
It’s all about the payday loan industry. You know, those appalling people that some 3 million of us borrow from each year. Usually for a lower cost than we’d have to pay a bank for arranging an overdraft, if they would even give us one.
But still, some have decided they’re evil and must be pursued. So we end up with things like this:
My Home Finance loans are not subsidised, and a borrower would pay £7.09 a week for 52 weeks to repay £300, producing a total repayment of £383.68 over the year including interest of £68.68 and an administration charge of £15. The same borrower taking out £300 from Wonga for just 31 days would repay a total of £398.91.
The dog poo collectors have so far collected 14,000 bags of turds.
Says Lai Lien-chueh, of the city’s environmental protection bureau:
“The outcome of the campaign beat all our expectations.”