Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THIS isn’t, perhaps, entirely the wisest public complaint that a restauranteur or hotelier has ever made. The whine is that people are turning up and insisting that they’re very important reviewers on Tripadvisor. Therefore, give me a deal:
Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by ‘blackmailers’ who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on TripAdvisor, hospitality chiefs have warned.
The fraudsters are telling staff they will post bad comments on the review site if they don’t get better service, free food or upgrades.
Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners across the UK have reported a huge rise in the number of customers who use TripAdvisor as a threat.
SO. How do you get to marry actress and rubber glove model Helen Mirren? Thankfully, the guessing is over as Mirren told Hello! why she plighted her troth to Taylor Hackford.
“We didn’t get married for 15 years after we met each other… I couldn’t see the point until a financial adviser told me how much money we’d be saving. I was on board immediately.”
Love is… a widow’s pension…
THIS is going to cause an awful lot of shouting around and about the place but it’s also an excellent idea. That the NHS should start charging people when they make a doctor’s appointment. The shouting will come from those who insist that the NHS must be free at the point of use. The excellent part comes from the way in which the NHS should not be free at the point of use.
Here’s the report:
GPs are to hold a vote on charging for appointments.
The idea is to deter patients from missing consultations – a problem that costs £160million a year. The fees – possibly between £10 and £25 – would be the first since the NHS was founded in 1948.
One GP said an entire morning’s work was lost when 14 patients failed to turn up. Others believe the free care offered by the Health Service is unsustainable in the face of an aging and increasingly obese population.
It is feared however that charging would stop patients seeking help or encourage them to go to overstretched casualty units.
The proposal is to be debated at the British Medical Association’s local medical committee conference in York on May 22.
YOU may have noticed in all this talk about whether Pfizer should be allowed to buy AstraZeneca a certain amount of economic nationalism going on. You know, It’s ours, British, don’t let the bastard foreigners have it? That this isn’t in fact true, it’s not British, is obvious, as the Institute of Directors has pointed out:
“It is misleading to present AstraZeneca as some kind of UK national champion. The company is a truly multinational enterprise that was created through the earlier mergers of UK, Swedish and American companies. The majority of its employees are based outside Europe and its shareholders are overwhelmingly foreign institutional investors. It is run by a Frenchman and chaired by a Swede. It is a multinational company active in a global economy.”
A NOT uncommon question: why the hell do we have markets now in the NHS? Given that everything is being paid for by the taxpayer, shouldn’t we have the politicians, those representatives of the taxpayer, organising and running the NHS? Why should we let some private firm come in and skim some profit out of such a vital national resource?
The answer comes from something very few understand. Here’s a complaint about how much money the NHS needs as against how much it is getting:
The insatiable growth of the NHS’s demands for cash have never been more graphically illustrated than under the present government. Though “ringfenced” from the coalition’s spending cuts, the NHS is widely believed to be deteriorating to the point of collapse because it needs an annual budget increase of at least 4% (in real terms) to meet rising expectations. It probably needs more, as cuts in care services put extra burdens on GPs and hospitals.
IN what might not be the very best share tipping column ever the Daily Telegraph is telling us all that we should unload our Twitter shares immediately. This isn’t sensible advice: or rather, it might be but it isn’t for the reasons they’re giving. Which is that the lock in is about to end and thus lots of people might start selling their stock:
Twitter investors should sell shares now as a clause that prevented the majority of shares being sold is about to expire next Monday, May 5. This could cause another sharp fall in the share price as a flood of shares comes to the market from employees looking to bank gains.
When twitter floated last November it offered 70m shares for trading on the US stock markets. However, there are 589.5m shares in existence today but holders of those shares have their hands tied by a “lock-up” clause that prevented them from being sold for 180 days from the November 6.
PUNKS and money have always been a funny thing, mainly because the entire foundation for punk is to not give two hoots about cash. They mean it, maaan. Anti-establishment, lone wolf rock music, that does things on its own terms without caring about what the SUITS think.
Right on! And all that.
Of course, all punks soon get tired of being poor and living grottily, which prompts them to say everything was just one big Art Jape. Look at John Lydon – poster boy for punk, later, advertisements for butter and appearing on reality TV shows in the jungle. Har de har har, all that stuff about being real? It was a joke wasn’t it? And all the reunion tours and reissues of our old records? Yeah, when we said ‘no future’, it was supposed to be funny! This was always likely to end up being our pensions! Hark! We even say ‘we’re only in it for the money!’ and talk about ‘filthy lucre’!
WE all know that the London high end property market is out of control as all those rich bastards from other countries pile in to buy themselves a Mayfair mansion. And we all also know that there’s a terrible shortage of housing in London that normal people can actually afford to live in. Which makes it interesting what the Duke of Westminster is doing: flogging off some of those expensive Mayfair houses to rich foreign sods and then using the cash to build affordable housing that normal Londoners can actually afford to live in:
The property company owned by the Duke of Westminster has sold off £240million of luxury homes in central London amid fears the capital’s house price bubble may be about the burst.
Grosvenor Group said it was cutting its exposure to high-end residential properties after growing concerned that the rate of growth in the London luxury house price market was unsustainable.
IT has to be said that Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers basketball team, doesn’t sound like the very brightest of bunnies. He’s a billionaire, self-made, so obviously he has some brains. But if you had fairly racist views would you really go into a business where you’re going to end up paying black men tens of millions of dollars a year? Which is pretty much that the owner of a basketball team in the US NBA does end up doing.
THIS is a story to really take the cake. So, Chavez in Venezuela, decided to start spending the oil money on improving the society. OK, that’s a good idea. But then we come to what he actually started spending the money on. Like a farm with no water. No, really:
Work on William Lara, the rural version of the Steel City, stopped last year after about $120 million was spent on clearing the land and building the first 176 houses.
The construction will resume after the government figures out a way of bringing water to the site 125 miles south of Caracas, Agriculture Minister Yvan Gil said.
“This is a technical problem, that our specialists are working to resolve,” Gil, 41, said in an interview in his Caracas office on April 10. “The project is advancing.”
That’s a pretty big thing to overlook when you’re planning a farm, where the hell’s the water going to come from?
WE’VE all been bombarded with the spam about the herbal Viagras for so long now that none of us actually believe that they work, or are anything other than the most atrocious scam.
On the other hand, now that Viagra’s off patent anyone can make the drug itself: they can’t call it Viagra and you still need a prescription for it though. So, thinking through this problem some bright sparks decided to make a herbal stiffy making drink that really did work. OK, so they put Levitra, not Viagra, into it, but it sure as hell did work:
A herbal energy drink designed to give men a boost in the bedroom has been banned – because it also contained an erectile dysfunction drug.
MosKa is marketed around its natural ‘performance enhancing’ ingredients such as Red and Siberian Ginseng.
But its manufacturer has now discovered the drink also contained ‘an underclared ingredient’ – Vardenafil, or Levitra.
WHO wants to be Nigel Farage’s PA? That’s not euphemism. You won’t have to sleep with him. He’s not a Cabinet Minister.
Granted, his current PA does get to inhale his man-of-the-people’s breath after a night in the Pint & Castella. HE;s his wife – his German-born wife. And he can enter the contest to find her replacement on the website of recruitment firm Xpat Jobs.
HOW was the bedroom tax for you? Did you manage to save for your next egg? Did you keep up with payments? The Housing association Valleys to Coast in Bridgend thanks you for fighting on through the austerity crisis by sending you a letter in the post and the chance to pick up a 60p ‘Creme Egg’.
Locals are welcome to take their own (rotten) eggs round to the Money Matters team and return the favour.
YOU may or may not worry very much about some of the richest workers on the planet getting screwed over by the companies they work for. We tend to worry more about the poor getting so screwed. But Google, Apple, Intel and a number of other big Silicon Valley firms are getting sued by their engineers for the way in which they’ve screwed them over in recent years.
But next month, Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe will be in the dock to face the same opponent.
A group of technology executives is suing the companies for alleged collusion to suppress their wages, after they signed a series of “no-poach” pacts barring them from recruiting each other’s staff.
The companies, whose collective value tops $890bn (£530bn), could be forced to pay handsomely to compensate them for the losses, but they are likely to be far more worried about the details the case will expose.
THE claim is that garden centres lose £5,000 each by being forced to close on Easter Sunday. This is, of course, an intolerable imposition of Christian rules on a country that isn’t in fact very Christian any more.
However, it should be said that their claim doesn’t have quite as much power to it as they seem to think:
Garden centres want rules reviewed which force them to close on Easter Sunday, causing them to lose up to £75m in takings.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) said trading rules, which force shops of more than 3,000 sq ft (280 sq m) to close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day are old fashioned and should be reviewed, allowing families to enjoy garden centres for longer.
They also said the laws mean garden centres lose out on around £5,500 each by staying shut for the day.
Raoul Curtis-Machin of the HTA told BBC News: “That’s a potential economic boost to the country of up to £75m.”
It’s that economic boost to the country thing there that is wrong. It’s true that if those shops all stayed open and if they all sold £5,000 worth of gear then recorded GDP would change by £75 million. We would have £75 million more GDP recorded in the garden centre sector. However, just because garden centres are open on one extra day7 does not mean that shoppers are going to spend more in garden centres. We would expect at least some of that being spent to move from other days. Easter Monday takings, or Good Friday ones, might well fall as a result of being open on Easter Sunday.
And it’s also true that the total amount of what people spend on everything isn’t going to change as a result of people being able to buy aspidistras on Easter Sunday. What isn’t spent in garden centres will be spent in cafes, fish and chip shops, pubs, whatever.
Being open or not being open on Easter Sunday will really only change that portion of what we’re all going to spend anyway that goes to garden centres: and much of the extra turnover will be the movement of purchases at garden centres from one day to another. There won’t be any change in overall GDP as a result of their being able to open that one extra day.
All of this is nothing to do with whether they should be open on that day, whether we are being religiously sectarian in insisting upon these rules, but the argument they’re putting forward themselves just doesn’t really work.
AS two different people have now noted, Matt Yglesias and Matt Levine, Yahoo is now officially valued at less than nothing. Which, for a company that has a $40 billion price tag on the markets is a pretty strange thing to try and say. But it also happens to be true.
The conundrum is explained by the fact that there are really two different things here. One is the business that makes up Yahoo, the other the company that owns that business. And that company owns not just the business Yahoo but also good sized chunks of two other businesses, Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, a Chinese internet company (not unlike Amazon). If we take the value of Yahoo the company and subtract from it the value of the stake in Alibaba then we get a negative number. Take away the value of that stake in Yahoo Japan and it becomes even larger.
“THIS is the first time I have recovered gold from the stomach of a patient,” said C S Ramachandran, a senior surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi. He has just treated man who had been experiencing stomach aches. The man said he had rowed with his wife, and swallowed a bottle cap. Which is an easy thing to happen, a common occurrence that would raise no suspicions.
Says the surgeon of the 400g of gold he found inside the man: “I remember having taken out a bladder stone weighing 1kg from a patient. But finding gold in a patient’s stomach was something unbelievable.”
Dan Snay Invents A New Way To Upset Parents On Social Media: Boasting Florida Teen Costs Parents A Mint
DANA Snay cost her father £80,000. When dear Dana realised her headmaster father had won an age-discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, the Miami-based Gulliver Preparatory School, she started to boast.
She told her Facebook friends:
“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
OR at least Starbucks is going to be relocating it’s European HQ to the UK. Which, after all that fuss about how much tax Starbucks was or was not paying in this country is a bit of a turnaround.
The basic background for those who need a refresher: Starbucks was noted not to be paying any corporation tax in the UK. On the grounds that it wasn’t making any profit so why should it? Then in the details people noted that it was sending royalties, tax free, to Holland, and paying a margin on coffee it bought from lower tax Switzerland. Aha! so, tax avoidance! Except, when those were added back in then Starbucks was still making a loss. And then decided to cough up some tax anyway in order to get the loons from UKUncut off its premises.
IT was Sr. Barroso who told us, in a piece in The Times, that the aim and purpose of the European Union was to stop Germany from invading France. Again. So, every action of that European Union needs to be looked at in this light. Will it aid in preventing Germany from invading France? At which point we get the EU trying to legislate on the use of plastic bags:
Europe’s Committee of the Regions, a consultative body to the European Commission and Council, has suggested outlawing the free distribution of plastic bags at retail stores by 2020 or—even better—banning them entirely. The committee, comprised of 353 local representatives from across the EU, also wants mandatory targets for reducing per-capita plastic-bag use to 35 per person per year, from an estimated EU average of 198 per person per year currently.
Quite how this deals with Hun militarism isn’t certain.
IT looks like Facebook is going to open itself up as something of a bank. Why not, they’ve a billion users already and that could make them the largest bank in the world by a long way if they can pull it off. They’re starting over here in Europe too:
Not content with being just a platform to host cat photos and status updates, Facebook is readying itself to provide financial services in the form of remittances and electronic money.
The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process.
YOU may or may not know what Airbnb is. It’s a system whereby people can rent out their homes, or an extra bedroom, for a couple of days or a week or whatever. And therefore it’s also a website where you can rent a room in a town for a week or a night or two or whatever. Well, that’s great and it’s booming, currently worth some $10 billion as a company. But obviously, people have found a way to exploit that system as well:
Hookers are using the controversial Airbnb home-sharing Web site to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels, The Post has learned.
One escort service is even saving a bundle by renting Airbnb apartments instead of hotel rooms for clients’ quickies, says a 21-year-old call girl who works for the illicit business.
“It’s more discreet and much cheaper than The Waldorf,” said the sex worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Hotels have doormen and cameras. They ask questions. Apartments are usually buzz-in.”
THERE’S an interesting little tactic that Labour MPs are trying to use in the House of Commons these days. To ask questions about how much a department is spending on this or that and then when they get the answer they can chunter along about how poor widows are being thrown out of their homes over the bedroom tax so that Tory Ministers can spend £x on whatever it is they just asked about.
You know, Yah! Boo! The Tories and only Labour looks out for the working stiff.
This is a tactic that has just received some blowback as the answer given to the question, well, how much has Eric Pickles been spending on catering (given his size this would add another level of joy to the chuntering) was, well, a whole hell of a lot less than Labouir did when they were in power.
I’VE been saying for some time now that Bitcoin is a bubble. And we’re seeing the usual and classic bubble behaviour in its price too. It’s down to just under $400 today:
Bitcoin reached another milestone today, with the cryptocurrency falling below the $400 per-coin mark. Bitcoin sold for over $1,100 inside of the last 52 weeks.
What goes up like a rocket does usually come tumbling back down to Earth.
YES! We’ve another exciting instalment of the Apple v. Samsung patents battle and this time Apple are asking for over $2 billion in damages from the Korean firm. The problem is that they’ve used a very dodgy indeed method of trying to calculate those damages.
To determine how much individual software features were worth as part of its multi-billion dollar lawsuit, an Apple-paid expert surveyed less than 1,000 consumers about imaginary smartphones and tablets, and included features that weren’t even on trial. Another expert then estimated billions in fees for theoretical negotiations that might have occurred between the two companies, as well as how many smartphones and tablets Apple might have sold in their place.
So, they’ve gone off and asked people theoretical questions about what they might have done. And economists insist that this just isn’t the way that you can gauge people and their actions. It’s an idea called revealed preferences. You don’t believe what anyone tells you, you most certainly don’t believe what they vote for. You look at what they actually do and then calculate back from their actions to tell you what they value.