Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FAKE titties that is. The government of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela is so bloody inefficient that they’ve managed to create a shortage of fake tits to be implanted into the local women. No, really, there’s a shortage of silicone breasts in the country.
Venezuela’s chronic shortages have begun to encroach on a cultural cornerstone: the boob job.
Beauty-obsessed Venezuelans face a scarcity of brand-name breast implants, and women are so desperate that they and their doctors are turning to devices that are the wrong size or made in China, with less rigorous quality standards.
Venezuelans once had easy access to implants approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. But doctors say they are now all-but impossible to find because restrictive currency controls have deprived local businesses of the cash to import foreign goods. It may not be the gravest shortfall facing the socialist South American country, but surgeons say the issue cuts to the psyche of the image-conscious Venezuelan woman.
THIS will come as a surprise to some and as a simple confirmation of reality to others. For it appears that our Prime Minister is simply ignorant of the constraints which the law puts around him.
The SWA, whose 56 members employ 35,000 people in Britain, argues that minimum unit pricing would be illegal under EU trade rules as it would amount to a domestic barrier to free trade.
In the letter, the trade organisation stresses that efforts in the past by other countries such as the Netherlands to introduce minimum pricing have been rebuffed by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
This is all about that idea of having minimum pricing for alcohol. We who actually understand that much of our law is now made in Brussels, not London, have been pointing this out for years. All those people arguing for that minimum pricing are simply being ignorant as well as stupid.
ONE little story about the police destroying £750,000’s worth of fake Mulberry bags. The problem with this story being that if they were real ones then they wouldn’t have been destroyed but beause they were fake ones they’re not worth £750,000.
Dealers attempted to smuggle more than 1,000 fake designer handbags worth more than £750,000 through Manchester Airport.
The fake Mulberry handbags were discovered by Border Force officers in a crackdown on counterfeit goods that arrived from Hong Kong.
SO. Apple’s brought out the iWatch and as a piece of tech it looks not half bad. It’s a phone, a fitness gadget, can help you read maps and, well, it’s actually a blindingly interesting piece of kit. Whether people will go mad for it we’ll just have to see.
However, there’s a certain problem at the top end of the range, where they’ve got a gold iWatch. Yes, OK, there’s lots of gold watches out there. So, obviously, there should be a gold version of the apple Watch? Yes or no?
FACES of the day: Costumed characters hold signs prior to a press conference held by NYC Artists United for a Smile at Times Square in New York, Tuesday, Aug.19, 2014. The artists called for the fair treatment and the right for performers to work for tips. (AP Photo/Vanessa A. Alvarez) Date: 19/08/2014
If it’s not that coffee causes cancer then it’s that coffee cures cancer at the Daily Mail, as we know. And if they ever managed to link cancer, immigrants and house prices in the one headline then the world as we know it will implode. But today we get another of those interesting headlines that aren’t true and that we can show aren’t true. This times it’s autism: is it ‘coz the kiddie got kicked in the head?
Is this what causes autism? Brain injury in the womb might be root of the disorder according to new research
No, it ain’t.
A new paper by Dr. Samuel Wang, a professor at Princeton, argues that damage to the cerebellum in the womb could be the root of autism
Though most associate the cerebellum with motor skills, Dr. Wang theorizes it plays a much larger role in a child’s early development
Early brain injury has a major impact on how a child forms normal social relationships according to Dr. Wang
All of those things could be true, of course they could be. But that still ain’t the cause of autism.
You see, autism isn’t actually a “disease”. It’s actually a condition. A symptom if you like. To take an odd example, you’ve got the sniffles, a runny nose. Is that because you’ve got a cold? Could be, sure. Might also be because you’ve got sinusitis, could be a hole in your skull and your brain’s leaking out (no, has happened) or could be you’ve got a broken nose. The sniffles are a condition, a symptom, not the disease itself.
Autism’s not a disease either, it’s part of the normal human spectrum but that’s another matter.
So it’s entirely possible that there are different causes of those symptoms we call autism. Could be that some get kicked in the head as a foetus and that causes it. But we know absolutely that it’s not the cause of all that we call autism. Because we know that runs in families. And if it runs in families it means that there’s a genetic component to it.
We also know that it’s vastly more prevalent in boys than it is in girls: another indication that there’s something genetic about it. And if it’s the genes then it ain’t about boots to the skull. QED.
SO a bloke goes along to Tesco and has a look at the apples on sale. He’s like to buy some lovely fresh British apples. And why not? They can be very scrummy indeed. Having looked at 22 varieties of apples on sale in that Tesco store he gets a bit miffed to find that there’s no British ones among them. Hmm, as he says:
Mr Deen, the town’s mayor Janet Jackson and Food4Macc, a campaigning group, are now calling for stores to stock more locally-sourced produce.
Mr Deen, 50, from Siddington, said: ‘When I couldn’t find an English apple I had to check twice. A member of staff checked as well and admitted they had none in stock. He was clearly embarrassed.
‘Supermarkets should be buying local or at least from the same country and supporting British farmers, not flying in apples from the other side of the world during peak apple season in this country.’
And that’s where the idiocy comes in.
THE British Humanist Association has a court case looming:
The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) are being sued by the wealthy evangelical preacher and ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio who has dubbed herself a ‘Lady Apostle’. Mrs Ukpabio claims to have expertise in identifying children and adults who are possessed with witchcraft spirits and in how they can be ‘delivered’ from those spirits. Her lawyers have informed the BHA and WHRIN that she is launching a legal case against them due to their criticism of her teachings and methods.
…Her legal case against the BHA is based on Mrs Ukpabio’s stating that she wrote that a child ‘under the age of two’ who is ‘possessed with black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits’ can be identified by features such as s/he ‘screams at night, cries, is always feverish, suddenly deteriorates in health, puts up an attitude of fear, and may not feed very well.’ Her teachings are to the effect that babies under the age of two who exhibit signs of illness or standard, entirely normal childhood behaviour (such as crying, not feeding well, screaming at night, having a fever) may be possessed by vampire witchcraft spirits. She also teaches that children who stamp their feet may be ‘trying to make signs… to communicate with gnomes, the witchcraft spirit in charge of the earth.’ Ukpabio claims that the BHA misrepresented her by saying that she ascribed these symptoms to Satanic possession and hence has damaged her reputation and livelihood to the sum of half a billion pounds.
IF you sell a vehicle and fail to cancel the insurance – and the new owner fails to get any insurance – you could be liable for any damge they cause. Sound fair?
Paul Duffy sold his Kawasaki Ninja motorbike to James Bryson on August 13 this year. Mr Duffy did not know that the buyer was serving a four year driving ban. He had no insurance. Seven days after the legal trade, Mr Bryson collided with a Toyota Yaris near Arbroath, Scotland.
Paul, 48, a carer for his wife whose recovering from leukaemia, is understandbly unhappy. He was , after all, neither the bike’s registerd keeper nor the owner.
“Lawyers said that because Mr Bryson had died and had no insurance, they would be paying out on my policy. Because he chose to buy my motorcycle, I am, in the eyes of the law, giving him permission to ride the bike and I am in breach of my contract. So if I have any assets, MCE can take them from me to recover costs. I am effectively having to pay for an uninsured driver having a fatal accident. I have never broken the law. I don’t even have as much as a speeding ticket. But I have been told this is the law, and I have no protection or rights. I honestly thought that once the bike was sold, it was no longer my responsibility. I feel this is something every law-abiding, insurance-paying person should be aware of.”
HERE’S a slightly odd little factoid about the upcoming Scottish independence vote. If Scotland does leave then both countries will become more equal. And given that we’re told that inequality is the defining scourge of our times, that’ll be nice, won’t it?
Not that anything will actually change in either country you understand: only that inequality the way we measure it will fall. No poor people will gain higher incomes as a result of this, no rich people will have their incomes reduced: but inequality will still fall. All of which rather tells us that the way we measure inequality isn’t, perhaps, as important as some might think.
A Disney Princesss is talking to the Mirror:
“I was hit on as Pocahontas more than Mulan or Silvermist, & it definitely has to do with the amount of clothing she’s wearing….there’s always the family that makes grandpa or the dad get a picture alone & they’d whisper how pretty I was or ask when I got off of work. I’d get slipped the occasional phone number on a napkin… Back when Toontown was still in the Magic Kingdom, there were three Princess rooms. One Cinderella, Aurora, & Belle in each one. If all three rooms were operating, that means when the girls went on break, other girls would replace them. So there were a total of six Cinderellas around the area at a time. None of the guests know this because there are attendants to take them into each room, one group at a time.
“It’s a very cool operation… Cinderella is in the Parade, doing breakfast, lunch, & dinner rotation at Cinderella’s castle, & she is in the princess room. At Epcot she is at the Norway breakfast. She’s also in the night time parade. She’s also in the main stage show at Magic Kingdom. That’s at least ten girls who are Cinderella in one day.
“It’s awesome to think about the fact that you never see two together.”
If you fancy Minnie Mouse, contact the security guard for directions to the cheese shoppe…
HOW much is qualification to the Champions’ League 2014 worth to Arsenal?
The Sun: “ALEXIS SANCHEZ paid off his entire transfer fee with one kick — firing Arsenal to a £50million Champions League place”
The Times: “…a goal worth roughly £30 million in prize money”
SO the Daily Mail tells us: we’re total and complete grossouts when we eat a barbecue. We eat far more at one than we do at a normal meal. All of which is terribly interesting but it is rather missing the point about a barbecue isn’t it? That they’re supposed to be the times when we pig out? It’s a bit like saying that we have more calories at dinner than we do with a lunchtime sandwich: that’s the bloody point!
It may not come as a surprise that a diet of sausages and ribs could leave you, well, a little porky.
But you probably didn’t realise that we eat up to three times more at a barbecue than in a normal meal.
WELL, nice to see one of the old patriarchal tropes has some empirical evidence behind it. Women who shag around before marriage seems to be less happy inside marriage than those who don’t. But for men sowing those wild oats seems to make no difference. Thus, sadly, our grandparents were right, women shouldn’t shag around while men may:
Women who have several sexual partners before getting married have less happy marriages – but men do no harm by playing the field,a study has found.
According to new research by the National Marriage Project, more than half of married women who had only ever slept with their future husband felt highly satisfied in their marriage.
But that percentage dropped to 42 per cent once the woman had had pre-marital sex with at least two partners. It dropped to 22 per cent for those with ten or more partners.
But, for men, the number of partners a man they appeared to have no bearing on how satisfied they felt within a marriage.
Researchers said the study showed that sex with many different partners ‘may be risky’ if the woman is in search of a high-quality marriage.
It concluded: ‘Remember that what you do before you say ‘I do’ seems to have a notable impact on your marital future. So decide wisely
Clearly, given the source, this “research” is highly biased.
WELL, what the stock market was worrying about has come to pass. King Digital is the maker of Candy Crush Saga, that game that’s been sucking the life out of the nation for the past couple of years. It’s also one of the great UK successes in the mobile games space. However, they’ve not been able to come up with anything to replace that now becoming ever less fashionable game: thus the stock sank like a stone:
King Digital Entertainment, the makers of mobile game Candy Crush Saga, has cut their 2014 forecast following the company’s poor performance at the New York Stock Exchange.