Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THE music streaming service, Spotify, now allows unlimited free listening. This is seen as a great step forward: the company’s technology is getting better, they’re getting better at selling ads and all that sort of stuff. This may or may not be the actual reason they’re lifting their previous limits though:
Spotify’s advertising engine and paid customer conversion funnel are finally working well enough that today it eliminated all limits on free, ad-supported web listening in all countries. It’s an important milestone for the scalability and sustainability of Spotify’s business that contrasts with other streaming music services like Ex.fm and Rdio that are stumbling or shutting down.
MY response to this appalling worry of modern life is that I’m just fine with children in restaurants although I will admit to preferring them boiled rather than fried. This isn’t quite how a Guardian writer called Ben Pobji sees things of course: he is insisting that he should be able to inflict his snotnoses on you:
Fine, say the kiddie-banners. Then hire a babysitter. Go out without the kids. Excellent. But guess what? Sometimes you can’t get a babysitter. Sometimes life happens and you’re stuck holding the nappies. But more than this – sometimes, believe it or not, we want to take our children to a nice restaurant. We all know that in general parenthood is a lifelong struggle to avoid spending time with the kids, but every now and then, incredibly, mum and dad might enjoy their children’s company and would rather have them around than dump them and run.
And perhaps most importantly, if you don’t allow kids in restaurants because of how they behave, what you’re doing is raising a whole bunch of kids who’ll never know how to behave in restaurants. I consider taking my kids out to eat an educational moment: teaching them while they gorge.
THIS is a bit of a surprise really, given RyanAir’s long standing policy on being listed upon any of the flight comparison sites like Skyscanner. That they’re going to team up with Google in order to build a site that will be incorporated into the Google home pages and search index:
There are some very exciting developments with Google, where we have been working with them on sharing the pricing.
We’ll be sharing the Ryanair pricing through all of the Google outlets, so when you go in, there’ll be route selections, cheapest prices and so on. Google are developing a price-comparison thing themselves.
They want to launch with us and we’re working with them on that kind of product. It’ll blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water.
IF only the French could fight their wars as bravely as they fight against markets, eh?
The latest is that several Parisian taxi drivers have beaten up someone driving an Uber limo: this is even after the French Government just passed a, quite probably illegal, law to favour the taxis over the Uber drivers:
It seems that protest turned to guerrilla warfare this morning as one Uber driver, carrying Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage & Kat Borlongan from the airport to Paris, was attacked by multiple assailants, who allegedly, after smashing one window and slashing two tires (as seen in the photo), as well as defacing one side of the car with glue, attempted to enter the vehicle. Borlongan says their Uber driver manoeuvered the two out of the situation before anything could happen, leaving the three stranded on the shoulder of the freeway.
LETTER of the day: why did you read the Financial Times:
IN the 1970s, a stripper performed at the Toronto stock Exchange.
Sexist? Or just fun?
Try and do it now and see what happens?
YES indeedy, as a signal that this altcoin market (Bitcoin, Litecoin and the like) you can become an instant millionaire in your own currency for the once only low low price of $100!
This is in fact true as well: although it’s not about to make anyone rich I would have thought. It’s just the sort of thing that happens when people get swept up in a financial bubble. This is tulips all over again, the South Sea Bubble, dotcom mania. It might even be that something useful comes out of it all at the end but there’s definitely going to be tears before bedtime.
THE world’s most humble business card is that handed over by Chen Guangbiao, a minted Chinese businessman who would be owner of the The New York Times.
THERE’S a fairly strong current of thought these days that we must make those bankster bastards pay for what they did to us and the economy. Hanging a drawing is sometimes thought to be too kind. However, those bankers complaining about what is being done also have a point. For what is being done is the banking levy and it’s not actually being applied in the right way:
In an interview with The Telegraph, Richard Meddings said that the levy, imposed on banks by the Treasury since the financial crisis, is unfairly focused on two banks — Standard Chartered and HSBC — which did not receive any taxpayer-backed support during the financial collapse.
“Standard Chartered went through the financial crisis without any assistance or help from government and there’s something awkward I think, or challenging, when the UK exchequer is taking a levy fundamentally on Singapore deposits being lent to fund Singapore deposits, or Bangladeshi deposits,” he said.
“I think given the hard target that exists for the amount the levy requires, as international banks have shrunk the assets booked in the UK, and as the definitions have changed, excluding in the main insured deposits, so Standard Chartered pays proportionally more than Lloyds, say, and so I think the structure of the levy is now clearly disproportionate.”
OR rather Intel declares that its processors are now made without the use of conflict minerals. These so called “conflict minerals” are the stuff mined by the rapists and murderers out in Eastern Congo. With such names as “coltan” and “wolframite” they’re the sources of some of the metals (tantalum for example) that go into making all of our electronics.
And obviously it’s a good idea that people aren’t being enslaved to produce these minerals for us:
Did you know violent militias and rebel groups control many mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries, reaping millions of dollars from the sale of minerals extracted by exploited workers to fund conflict and human rights violations? With a firm conviction that a corporation can make a positive difference in the lives of global citizens by changing the way it does business, Intel is leading efforts to help address this problem by striving to eliminate these so-called “conflict minerals” from our supply chain. And today we are proud to offer the world’s first conflict-free1 microprocessors as one major step on this continuing journey.
GIVEN that some businesses are now successfully using 3 D printers there’s a bit of technophile crowing that the whole world is about to change. That we’ll all have one at home, producing anything and everything we want, and we’ll finally be clear of this capitalism shite and live forever in peace and harmony.
It’s true that certain businesses are indeed using them successfully:
British defence giant BAE Systems has become the latest company to take advantage of 3D printing technology to help manufacture components for fighter planes.
The company said on Sunday that a Tornado fighter jet fitted with parts that were printed in a machine, completed a successful test flight, potentially paving the way for the wider use of the technique in other manufacturing processes. The flight is significant as it is claimed to be the first made by a combat aircraft fitted with such parts.
Many experts are predicting that 3D printing will transform manufacturing and reduce the cost of making a range of products from advanced technology to plastic toys, with consumers able to make their own products at home on demand.
NOT that many of us know what a quantum computer is of course but if the Americans spies are trying to make one it must be evil, right? And yes, this is the latest revelation from the Edward Snowden papers about what complete, total and utter bastards the NSA is.
In room-size metal boxes secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.
According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
HE’S written a new book he has, Jonathan Porritt, that leading environmental thinker of our age. And in it he’s described how we’re all going to get poorer. But the really crazy thing is that he’s just too dman stupid to understand why his suggestion makes us poorer.
Here’s the Mail giving an outline of it all:
In the vision of the UK in 2050 humans are doing less work – and not just because of robots.
In the fictional future, the EU’s ‘Maximum Working Time Directive’ is introduced and in 2045 people work for just under 25 hours a week in their regular job, compared to an average of 36.4 hours in 2010.
Alex writes that the change came about as unemployment continued to rise in the 1920s and there were protests to distribute jobs more fairly, resulting in GDP being scrapped in 2029 as a way of measuring a country’s wealth.
The ‘index of sustainable economic well being’ and a new model of working came in, which saw people swap labour for services via a local ‘time bank’ and earn extras outside their regular work.
AT the Royal Mint in Pontyclun, Wales, new coins have been minted. Five new coin designs will enter circulation in 2014 to commemorate historic events including the First World War and the Commonwealth Games.
ONE of the claims that was made over the break was that the NSA, the US crypto spies, could hack into anyone’s iPhone any time. This was all as a result of the Edward Snowden documents of course. The sad thing about this is that it was rather blown up out of proportion by one Jacob Appelbaum, one of the hangers on along with Glen Greenwald and Laura Poitras, around those Snowden documents.
Appelbaum went on to demand that Apple reveal which of the two dastardly things it had been doing: had it been cooperating with the NSA? Or had it just left the most appalling security breach open just for the hell of it?
THEY’RE whining about how train fares are going up again: and as usual, they’re managing to get entirely the wrong end of the stick. Here’s their complaint about fares:
Rail fares are rising so quickly that the government will soon be making a profit from the commuting public, campaigners claimed as the new year ushered in higher annual season ticket prices.
According to a report from the consultants Credo, for the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), by 2018 the fares collected from passengers will cover 103% of railways’ operating costs, compared with 80% in 2009.
There is a very slight problem with this analysis: operating profits are not profits. Operating profits are the costs of goods sold minus the costs of goods purchased. If you thought about Sainsbury’s for example, then it would be the cost of everything they sell minus the costs of buying the things that they sell. And the perceptive will note that those aren’t all the costs of running a supermarket. It’s necessary, for example, to have buildings in which to operate the supermarkets. Vans and trucks to move the stuff around. To pay for advertising to get people to come in and buy the stuff.
PORTUGAL’s Bin Men are rebelling against plans to privatise rubbish collections. They’ve gone on strike. So. People have reacted in a way we can only applaud: they’ve taken to delivering their rubbish to the banks.
WHO has the money in the USA?
Part of the reason Americans don’t understand class might be because true inequity is so excessive that we might well characterize it as unfathomable. That’s because one cannot show in any reasonable format, whether in print or on the web, both the wide distribution of people who have virtually no money, and the amount of money possessed by a very, very small portion of rich people.
If the 2.2 million+ viewers of the video were to expand, Gangnam style, to all 311 million Americans and everyone finally saw with clear eyes just how vast wealth inequality truly is in their country, things would change, right? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. Even leaving aside Republican resistance to measures that could dent the wealth gap, many Americans would likely remain opposed to measures that would be necessary to seriously address the problem.
Who has the power?
MANUFACTURING is coming back to the UK. That’s what Vince Cable claims at least, that there’s more manufacturing coming into the UK than there is leaving for places with cheaper labour:
Vince Cable has heralded the prospect of British manufacturing “becoming great again” as he revealed that twice as many small and medium sized manufacturers are bringing production back to the UK as are sending work overseas.
In what will be viewed as a boost for the British economy, Mr Cable, the Business Secretary, disclosed details of a new Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) survey which shows that 11pc of respondent’s reshored production to the UK in the past 12 months, against 5pc who had sent production overseas.
THE Italians have got themselves all het up over the fact that Google doesn’t pay any tax in that country. Or at least one or two politicians have got het up about it. You know, Google sits in Ireland, selling all that advertising into Italy and the poor Italian politicians don’t get to confiscate one red euro of that river of cash. Boo hoo, eh?
In order to try and get a bit of that cash they’ve decided to pass a new law. And one incredible little piece of it is as follows:
The advertising spaces online and sponsored links that appear in the results pages of search engines ( search advertising services ) , viewable on the Italian territory during the visit of a website or the use of an online service through landline or network and mobile devices, must be purchased exclusively through entities , such as publishers, advertising agencies , search engines or other advertiser , registered for VAT issued by the Italian tax . This provision shall also apply in cases where the sales transaction has been carried out through media centers , operators and third parties advertisers.
VODAFONE has just released the numbers for how much corporation tax it paid in the UK last year. Nowt.
Yup, they made a profit of £294 million in the UK and paid absolutely nothing in corporation tax on that number. We’ll no doubt see the kids from UKUncut having a demo outside one or two of the stores today.
Vodafone has issued a new defence of its tax affairs as revealed it again paid no corporation tax in the UK last year, the third year in a row.
The mobile giant paid £275m in direct UK taxes, down from £338m the previous year. Corporation tax accounted for almost none of the bill, which was made up of other forms of taxation such as business rates on Vodafone premises and VAT.
The company, which published the figures for the second time as part of a new transparency effort, accused critics of failing to understand that corporation tax is due on profits rather than revenues. It said Britain was “one of the least-profitable mobile markets anywhere in the world”.
Vodafone reported UK profits of £294m on a turnover of £5.2bn last year
NOW this is excellent news, the entire point of our having student loans to pay fees, rather than grants or the government paying, seems to have sunk through into the head of at least one student. The point is, of course, to get people concentrating on what the buggery they are doing at university:
My degree has been vital to my job, but it saddens me to say that, were I 18 again, I wouldn’t choose the subject about which I felt passionate – I’d make my choice based on job opportunities and pay.
THIS is a fairly strong prediction: that Facebook is actually dead and buried. At the same time as it manages to increase the number of users, increase the amount of time they spend on the site and also charge more money for each of the more ads they see. Sounds difficult that it could be dead as a result of all of that.
But the argument is actually a little different:
What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request. You just can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion. The desire for the new, also drives each new generation to find their own media and this is playing out now in social media. It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.