Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
TWO interesting little bits about Netflix, the online on demand film and TV show service.
The first one is that they monitor what people are stealing over the BitTorrents to see what shows they should try to go and buy the rights for:
Netflix acknowledged this week that the company eyes piracy statistics to determine what kind of video content to offer subscribers and what kind of television programs they should buy.
YOU know, politician, lips moving and all that. But how he’s lying is just as important as grasping the fact that he is lying. Each particular thing that he says is more or less truthful but the overall impression left is entirely untruthful:
“North Sea gas didn’t significantly move UK prices – so we can’t expect UK shale production alone to have any effect,” Mr Davey said, pointing out that Britain is just one part of the wider European gas market.
He said it was “far from clear that UK shale gas production could ever replicate the price effects seen in the US”, where the shale gas boom has seen prices plummet.
The comments stand in stark contrast to those of David Cameron, who wrote in the Telegraph last month that “fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down”
INTERESTING news for those who support the Robin Hood Tax, or as it’s really called, the European Union’s Financial Transactions Tax. It’s illegal.
So much for Europe’s great sprint to tax financial transactions. In a leaked opinion dated September 6, the EU Council’s Legal Service argues that the proposed levy is “not compatible” with European Union treaties because it “infringes upon the taxing competences of non participating Member States.” Translated from the legalese, that means France, say, would be collecting revenue on certain trades conducted in the U.K. though the U.K. government hasn’t agreed to the tax.
So that would appear to be that. Another very stupid idea shot down because the people proposing it didn’t even bother to work out whether it was possible to do what they proposed.
HOW’S Gareth Bale getting along since moving to Real Madrid from Spurs?
Well, Real’s president Florentino Perez says that he got Bale at a great price. Sure, it was €100m (£85.3m) but that’s a a steal. As he says:
“Bale has come cheaply. Signing the best players out there is Madrid’s philosophy and Bale was the best available player on the market this summer. We had been following him for two years. Tottenham did not want to sell. We learned that Manchester United had made an offer and we made one ourselves.”
IT may have passed you by but the best economist you’ve never heard of, Ronald Coase, passed away last week. One of the reasons he was so highly regarded within the profession was that he brought out into the open things that no one had seen before: but which once they were out in the open became immediately obvious. And it’s this that leads to the observation that Apple’s biggest competitor is really Apple itself.
Had I had room, I would have quoted a question that my former University of Rochester colleague, Ron Schmidt, a master teacher, posed in about 1976 and that I got the wrong answer to. The question: “What is General Motors’s biggest competitor?” [Remember that this was before the Japanese producers were a large part of the market.] My (wrong) answer: “Ford.” Ron Schmidt’s answer: “The used car market.”
I THOUGHT this was a fascinating little snippet of information. OK, it’s about the US payday loan firms, not our own, but I still found it interesting:
“In a state with a $15 [fee] per $100 [loan] rate, an operator … will need a new customer to take out 4 to 5 loans before that customer becomes profitable. Indeed, Dan Feehan, C.E.O. of Cash America, remarked at a Jeffries Financial Services Conference in 2007, “[T]he theory in the business is [that] you’ve got to get that customer in, work to turn him into a repetitive customer, long-term customer, because that’s really where the profitability is.”
YOU’LL all recall a little while back there was that furore about how much Starbucks was or wasn’t paying in corporation tax. And one of the defences offered for the company was that as they weren’t making a profit then there wasn’t any tax that they should have been paying.
Then the conversation turned to the things they were doing inside their accounts. For example, they paid a royalty to a Dutch firm for using the Starbucks name. That did indeed dodge UK tax (actually, EU rules make it illegal for the UK to try and tax that amount). But even so, even if we add that money back in, Starbucks UK still wasn’t making a profit.
So we move on to the next bit, which is that Starbucks were paying a 20% fee on the coffee beans they bought from Switzerland. From another Starbucks company of course: there, that’s real tax dodging!
And then today the Mail tells us how much the coffee actually costs:
Cost of actual coffee in a medium £2.20 cappuccino amounts to 8p
MORE epic stuff from Bono, aka Mr G21. U2′s lead singer tells Tim Adams in yesterday’s Observer about tax and moving his money out of Ireland:
Tim Adams: “The other persistent criticism is about the band’s decision to offshore part of their income through the Netherlands to avoid tax. Was it not hypocrisy for you to try to hold the Irish government to account for its spending while going through fairly exhaustive efforts to avoid paying into the Irish exchequer yourself?”
Dragoncon: Epic cosplayers gets Cease and Dessist letter for the vomitous Marriott carpet design they copied
CONGRATULATIONS to the cosplayers at the 2013 Dragoncon who dressed as the hideous carpet at the Atlanta Marriott hotel. But when one of the carpet assassins offered to supply the outfit to others, the lawyers stepped in. The garish horror flooring is made by Couristan Inc. Not only were they not ashamed to say they created that stuff, they issued a a legal threat.
CARTOONIST Rick Geary has launched a Kickstarter campaign we can really get behind. He wants fans to fund a book called ‘A is for Antichrist: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet’.
Of course, everyone loves a conspiracy theory (and the more outlandish the better) and he wants to get the weirdest rumours around about the American president put them all together in one glorious alphabet book.
OK, so, let’s say that all this concern about climate change is correct. It’s happening, we’re responsible and we’ve got to do something about it. OK, fine, so, what should we be doing?
Well, obviously, we should be trying to find methods of producing electricity that doesn’t involve carbon emissions. This isn’t particularly sophisticated logic after all.
There are also various types of low carbon electricity, some more expensive than others. We’d clearly like to have more of the cheaper stuff and less of the more expensive. So, how would we do this? All of them require a subsidy but how do we get more of the cheaper and less of the more expensive?
I’M not sure how far they’ll get though, based on what it is that they seem to be investigating.
This is all about the Starbucks n’ Google n’ Vodafone n’ Apple stuff. How can they be doing so much business and paying so little in tax?
According to a US Senate report earlier this year Apple has a ‘special deal’ with Dublin and pays no more than two per cent tax on profits, at least 10 per cent below what some other businesses have to in Ireland.
GET A NEW X-rated Friends into (see above). News is that a Courtney Cox has been arrested for allegedly swimming naked in the fountain at the Horseshoe Casino Hotel in Bossier City. But it’s not that Courteney Cox.
THIS might come as a surprise to some, that having small balls and a low testosterone level will mean that you’ll be a better father. But this is an obvious result of the economics of the mating game. A blindingly obvious one in fact.
Anthropologists at Emory University found that men with smaller testes were more likely to be directly involved in the care of their toddlers. Smaller testes also correlated with more nurturing-related brain activity.
MICHAEL Dearing has created The Five Cognitive Distortions of People Who Get Stuff Done in Silicon Valley.They are:
Some common patterns of automatic thought among those who get a lot of stuff done / create tons of value
• Strong patterns of automatic thoughts = cognitive distortions
• Cognitive distortions are filters or lenses that influence thinking, shape interpretation of reality, basis for action
• The Big Five
o Personal exceptionalism
o Dichotomous thinking
o Correct overgeneralization
o Blank canvas thinking
THERE really are some handwringing feminists who need to get out a bit more. This particular one is wondering why it is that it’s men that usually pay for dates. The answer is very simple but not one that seems to have occurred to her.
When it comes to dating, even in 2013 and even among millennials, men are still largely expected to pick up the check.
There’s one detailed point where she is simply wrong:
And despite much bally-hooed talk about the “real” cause of the wage gap, the fact of the matter remains that, no matter how you caveat it, women make less than their peers in the same professions and much less than their male peers if you take into account their differing choices of professions (which some writers have noted are often driven by the experience of sexism in universities and professional settings).
So when it comes time to pull out one’s wallet at the end of the date for people under 30, the sad truth is that there might not be much money in either, but it’s statistically probable that there is less in the woman’s.
I’D never really had the Mail pegged as a paper that particularly cared about climate change but they’ve gone overboard on this story about how someone’s found the latest incredible technology that will save us all from Gaia murdering us in our beds. To the point that they are pondering whether it is the Holy Grail of the whole climate change thing:
Scientists believe they have achieved the ‘holy grail’ of the green economy by designing a hydrogen production plant that can split water with sunlight.The University of Colorado at Boulder envisages an array of mirrors that would focus sunlight onto a central tower several hundred feet tall.The tower would heat up to around 1,350 °C – enough to liberate hydrogen from steam with the help of a metal oxide compound.
THE Americans really do suffer from the not invented here syndrome. They’ve this really serious belief that the whole world is like the US: and if it isn’t that it should be made like it. One example is this, something I’d describe as one of the most stupid investigations into a bank that I’ve ever seen:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s anti-bribery unit is investigating whether JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) hired the children of Chinese officials to help its business, The New York Times reported, citing a confidential government document.
The bank hired the son of a former Chinese banking regulator who is currently chairman of China Everbright Group Ltd., a state-controlled financial company, while its Hong Kong office employed a Chinese railway official’s daughter, according to the report. After each appointment, the bank secured assignments from companies connected to the new hires’ parents, according to the report.
The bank has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to the report.
THE Daily Telegraph reports:
‘I lost 40pc on my quick house sale’
Many firms will offer to sell your house quickly – but some sellers are losing up to 53pc of their property value. Anne Baker lost £40,000 on the sale of her inherited home.
WE’VE the news about how much profit Wonga made last year:
One million hard-pressed borrowers prepared to pay interest at up to 5,853% have propelled Wonga.com into the league of Britain’s biggest lenders after the controversial payday loan company lent as much money last year as Britain’s biggest building society advanced in personal loans.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s promise to “compete Wonga out of existence” has failed to dent the group’s frenetic expansion, it emerged on Tuesday, as Wonga said its profits had leapt by more than a third to £62.5m, with the number of loans granted growing even faster.
During 2012 it handed out nearly four million loans, worth a total of £1.2bn, to one million customers in Britain, matching the amount Nationwide granted in personal loans.
JULIO Cou Cámara (see above and below) is the Mexico City sewer swimmer. He is one of a handful of divers whose job it is to free the sewers of any blockages. They earn about $500 a month.
THIS really does take the cake:
Dance music empire the Ministry of Sound is suing music streaming service Spotify to protect the value of its compilation albums, in an unusual test case of European intellectual property law.
The legendary clubbing empire launched proceedings in the UK High Court on Monday. It wants an injunction requiring Spotify to remove the playlists and also wants the music streaming service to permanently block other playlists that copy its compilations. The company is also seeking damages and costs.
No, they’re not suing them over having copied the music: Spotify already has all the licences it needs from the record companies. It’s not even something that Spotify is doing: it’s the users who are creating the playlists.
I THINK we’re all agreed that Britain’s latest hero, Mo Farah, should be allowed to have what he wants. I think we’re all also agreed that we want to stamp out tax evasion, drub money laundering and the abuse of the financial system by the big banks. Unfortunately it appears that we cannot have both at the same time.
Farah has been running a campaign to get Barclay’s to continue to service money transfer companies. There’s around 1,000 of them in the UK, they’re often used by immigrants to send a bit of cash to the old folks back home. Such remittances are in fact the largest reducer of poverty in the world. Vast sums flow through these systems. However, they’re only vast sums in aggregate: most of the actual remittances themselves are a couple of hundred quid or so. And that’s where the problem comes in:
A number of the world’s largest banks have pulled back on operations in profitable emerging markets as international anti-money laundering rules tighten.
Barclays’ decision follows a similar action by HSBC in the wake of its record $1.9bn settlement with US authorities over money-laundering allegations.
Barclay’s was one of the banks offering the basic banking services to those money transfer firms. They’re now a great deal less willing to do so: in fact, they’ve cut some 250 from the list they’re prepared to deal with, leaving only 25 that they will deal with. This list of 25 doesn’t include any at all in Somalia which is what Mo Farah is pissed about.
But the thing is, why should Barclay’s risk the sort of fines that HSBC had to pay? And it’s important to note that no one ever did prove that HSBC was laundering Mexican drug money: rather, the proof was that they weren’t running their bureaucratic system to check that they weren’t laundering Mexican drug money properly. So, what’s a bank to do? Refuse to deal with people who cannot follow the regulatory rules? Or keep open an essential lifeline to a poor country like Somalia?
Well, obviously, we do all demand that the bastard banks obey the law so yes, it’s the Somalis that get screwed.
There really are costs of regulation of an industry you know.
ONCE again we’ve the screaming about how we’re using everything up and soon ht planet will be nothing but a bare ball spiralling through space:
Humans have used up the natural resources the Earth can provide for the year and are now in ‘overdraft’, campaigners have warned.
The world has reached ‘earth overshoot day’, the point in the year that humans have exhausted supplies such land, trees and fish and outstripped the planet’s annual capacity to absorb waste products including carbon dioxide.
For the rest of the year, the world is in ecological debt, with fish stocks and forests being depleted, land degraded and carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere, the Global Footprint Network said.