Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
IT wasn’t derivatives that cauded the financial crash. Therefore regulating derivatives won’t be the magic wand that prevents another financial crash. This is something that they seem to have forgotten over at The Guardian:
The CFTC, under Gensler, has been a darling of the few remaining policymakers who listened to the complaints of Occupy Wall Street. The agency has been largely openly antagonistic towards Wall Street in the sense that it has insisted on more regulation of derivatives, the Jekyll-and-Hyde financial instruments that are as speculative as they are about reducing risk. The financial crisis showed us that derivatives, which are meant to help investors hedge against risk, are often abused as vehicles of profitable speculation. The question that is before Congress right now is: how do you allow derivatives while curbing the abuse?
THERE have indeed been some revelations from Edward Snowden and the rest over things that the NSA and GCHQ are doing that shouldn’t please the rest of us. Widespread spying on us, the citizens that actually pay for the spies for example, isn’t one of the things that we want them to do.
However, spying on the enemies who would do us harm sounds like an excellent thing for them to do doing. And they have been, they’ve been spying on OPEC:
The latest earth-shattering Snowden revelation emanating from the Russian Front (aka Der Spiegel) is that NSA and GCHC have spied on OPEC.
IT would appear that The Guardian is simply entirely ignorant of how this creative destruction stuff of capitalism works. Commenting on the Twitter IPO that made loads of millionaires they wonder why we the customers didn’t get any cash:
Finally, look at Twitter’s business. Or rather, look at its own assessment of its business, as stated in its S-1 stockmarket filing. Early on comes the delicious admission: “Our success depends on our ability to provide users of our products and services with valuable content, which in turn depends on the content contributed by our users.” Read that again: Twitter is in the business of selling us to us – our news and views and idle banter. Without those, without us, it is nothing. As with Facebook and Tumblr and all the other social media, we’re also part of Twitter’s workforce. But I bet you haven’t seen any stock options, either.
SO. Here’s an interesting little question. We’ve had several waves of social media sites already and none of them has really lasted more than a few years. Friends Get Divorced did ferociously well until it was passed by MySpace, which itself was rather pushed out of the way by Bebo which was then in turn flattened by Facebook. And we could think that Facebook will now rule the roost forever because it’s just so darn big: or we might think that we’re just waiting for the cool kids to find somewhere else to go.
Over at The Guardian they’ve found just the one line which makes it possible that it will be the latter:
Facebook made a startling admission in its earnings announcement this month: it was seeing a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”. In other words, teenagers are still on Facebook; they’re just not using it as much as they did. It was a landmark statement, since teens are the demographic who often point the rest of us towards the next big thing.
THIS is an interesting call:
Paul Massara took to his personal Twitter account to vent his anger over the ‘cartel’ claims minutes after they were made by several MPs in the House of Commons.
“Lots of wild talk about cartels but no evidence and the facts don’t support. Where is the evidence ????” he wrote. “Put up or shut up.”
The interesting thing about it is that no one as yet has in fact presented any evidence showing that there is a cartel in action. All we’ve been told is that they all put their prices up at the same time so therefore they musty be.
WHAT are the top 33 Whitest Jobs in the USA? One would hesitate to guess that Number 1 would be Head Klansman, followed by Ice Hockey Professional, national newspaper editor, ambassadors to European nations (all are white), spies in Russia and US Senators.
HOW’S Obamacare working out for you?
RYANAIR chief executive Michael O’Leary is man known for opening his mouth and letting absolutely anything fall out of it. He’s in the papers today saying that burkas should be banned in the UK and claimed the country is “leaning over far too much for some of these minority religions”.
He said: “I think we should ban burkas here in the UK. If you go to Saudi Arabia and they say the ladies have to veil up, you respect the local culture. If you want to come and live in Western society, I don’t think you should be allowed to walk around with some inalienable right to cover yourself up with only your eyes looking out.”
He also said he doesn’t buy into climate change, adding: “Temperatures have been moving up and down for 200 years yet every time you have a couple of warm summers they go — “Oooh, global warming’. There’s a degree of arrogance in thinking that any man-made phenomenon is going to change nature. Trying to reverse it by taxing air travel is absurd. We should encourage more driving and flying around because that kind of economic activity is what generates great wealth.”
Let us peer into his other views on the world.
On refunds: “You’re not getting a refund so f*ck off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”
On fat people: “Nobody wants to sit beside a really fat bastard on board. We have been frankly astonished at the number of customers who don’t only want to tax fat people but torture them.”
On people who forget to print their boarding pass: “We think [they] should pay 60 euros for being so stupid.”
On customer service: “People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they’re not. Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so.”
On Guardian readers: “The chattering bloody classes, or what I call the liberal Guardian readers, they’re all buying SUVs to drive around London. I smile at these loons who drive their SUVs down to Sainsbury’s and buy kiwi fruit from New Zealand. They’re flown in from New Zealand for Christ sakes. They’re the equivalent of environmental nuclear bombs!”
On green campaigners: “We want to annoy the fuckers whenever we can. The best thing you can do with environmentalists is shoot them. These headbangers want to make air travel the preserve of the rich. They are luddites marching us back to the 18th century. If preserving the environment means stopping poor people flying so the rich can fly, then screw it.”
On his popularity: “I don’t give a shit if no-one likes me. I am not a cloud bunny, I am not an aerosexual. I don’t like aeroplanes. I never wanted to be a pilot like those other platoons of goons who populate the airline industry.”
On a bomb scare in Scotland: “The police force were outstanding in their field. But all they did was stand in their field. They kept passengers on board while they played with a suspect package for two and three quarter hours. Extraordinary.”
Discussing his plans for a transatlantic Ryanair: “In economy no frills; in business class it’ll all be free – including the blowjobs”
On his wedding day, asked if the bride would be late: “Yes, she’s flying Aer Lingus”
On Michael O’Leary: “I’m probably just an obnoxious little bollocks. Who cares?”
On the future: “Making the world a better place… by taking a vow of silence”
IF we repealed the laws that ban child labour here in the UK then what do we think would happen to the number of children forced into going to work? Correct, pretty much nothing: almost no one wants to send their children to work and alomst no one wants to employ children.
However, we do also think that child labour is a pretty bad thing and we also argue that other places, other poorer places, should ban child labour as well. And things might not work out the same way elsewhere. For it can happen that if you ban child labour then the amount of child labour goes up, not down:
In this paper, we examine the consequences of India’s landmark legislation against child labor, the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986. Using data from employment surveys conducted before and after the ban, and using age restrictions that determined who the ban applied to, we show that child wages decrease and child labor increases after the ban. These results are consistent with a theoretical model building on the seminal work of Basu and Van (1998) and Basu (2005), where families use child labor to reach subsistence constraints and where child wages decrease in response to bans, leading poor families to utilize more child labor.
MAX Mosley has just won yet another court case about that sadomasochistic orgy he had a few years back. This time it’s against Google.
The original case was that by filming the fun and games the News of the World had breached his privacy: which seems fair enough really. If you pay out to have yourself whipped then you might expect that you’ve a right not to be filmed as it happens.
NIGERIAN scammers have found a way to reach Lottery winners and recipients of General Goodboy’s largesse: messages in bottles.
Tom Fenton, from Caversham, Berkshire, spotted bottles bobbin in the River Thames. He fished them out. Inside each were notes:
“Dear Friend, I am pleased that this letter has reached you safely. I was given your name as an honourable and upright person to do business with.
“Let me introduce myself; I am Umsloppogas Adinga a barrister working in the Nigerian inheritance court and have been assigned to the estate of a Mr Bates who has left an unclaimed estate totalling £4,500,000. If left, the money would revert to the government and I want to get the money safely to a western bank account. If you will allow me to use your bank account for this purpose, I would be happy to render 10 per cent of the estate to you as a fee for helping me with this transaction.
“If you are happy to help me with this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your details so that we can progress this and once you have paid any fees necessary the money can be transferred to your account. May the lord bless our business arrangements. Yours faithfully, Barrister Adinga (aka Impro)”
Did these cries for help bob all the way to the River Thames from Nigeria, fighting against the currents to head upstream? Is this epic journey a sign of God’s will?
Much to debate, especially how anyone without email and internet connection can reach Barrister Adinga? We’d suggest cramming fistfuls of cash into the toilet and hitting the flush. With a following wind and luck. he’ll get the messages he so richly deserves…
I’VE just realised that I was interviewed about the Call of Duty game back a while. They wanted to know how realistic was the plot point in the game where the Chinese exploited their monopoly of rare earths production.
Complete bollocks was my simple response. Here’s the set up:
Blockbuster video game Black Ops II last year enthralled gamers, with its premise that the world could be brought to the brink of war over China’s dominance of rare earth minerals (REM).
The premise is based on the scarcity of these minerals which are used for, among many other things, powerful batteries, camera lenses, MRI scanners, modern electronics, such as iPods, TVs and computers, and for renewable energies, such as solar panels and wind turbines, meaning they are integral to modern life.
Although obviously far fetched, at its inception Black Op II’s narrative didn’t seem so implausible. For many years, China had been responsible for producing 97% of all REMs. In recent years it has been known to use its monopoly of the industry as a geopolitical weapon, and to drive up the price of REMs. However, more recently China’s dominance has diminished and in November last year, the country closed its largest mine, Baotou Steel mine, in a bid to maintain falling prices.
As a direct result of China’s tactics, the exact opposite to Black Op II’s narrative has occurred – the world hasn’t fought China for its REM riches, but found its own.
MATT Buck’s cartoon on Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and payday loan company Wonga:
The talented Hack.
SO we’ve had the announcement of the new Living Wage. This is the amount someone would need to earn in order not to live in poverty in the UK: it’s 7.65 an hour, well above the national minimum wage of 6.31 an hour. This being the very point of the campaign of course: to point out that the minimum wage is too low, that it leaves people still living in poverty.
To give the campaign their due, they are calculating that poverty line correctly: they’re asking people what people need to be able to do in order to not be living in poverty. Answers are that they should be able to afford a couple of pints once a week, go out for a cheap dinner once a month, that sort of thing. Do note they’re not saying that the unemployed should necessarily be able to do these things: only that they would regard people who could not afford to do these things as living in poverty. And, if people think that not having enough money to do these things is poverty then that’s what the definition of poverty is.
THE Bank of England decided that they needed to get some women involved on our currency. The hooters and sneerers pointed out that The Queen was pretty ubiquitous on our money, but everyone else acknowledged that it was a bit of a sausagefest and that we’re lucky enough to have some incredible achievements from womenfolk and that should be celebrated.
And so, we ended up with Jane Austen, and no-one could argue with her outstanding contribution to the English language.
WHAT’S the worst part about working at Google ? That question was posed to readers of Business Insider. Some answers err on the creepy side of Norman Bates’ slippers. A selection now follow:
When it’s standard to be awesome, and the work isn’t particularly tough to begin with, it’s hard to differentiate…
Some people end up losing their drive by working at Google. They get accustomed to not trying their hardest, but still having an awesome day-to-day life.
Some caveats: Many Googlers are clearly among the brightest in the world in their field, and they’re able to run full stride in their work. If you take your career into your own hands, you can find a role that challenges and stretches you as much as any other job in the world.
DOES Apple lace its products with deliberate planned obsolescence? Err, no, despite the claims there isn’t any deliberate planned obsolescence in Apple’s iPhones. So much so that it’s really rather amazing that the New York Times published a piece even suggesting that there is.
Apple could be deliberately making your iPhone slower when a new model comes out, an influential tech columnist has claimed.
Catherine Rampell, who writes in the New York Times, said that Apple could be engineering the new operating system so it only works properly with the newest version of the product.
She added her iPhone 4 became a lot slower when she downloaded iOS 7 – and that the only solution seemed to be to buy the iPhone 5.
Rampell accused Apple of having run out of ideas so was trying to ‘brainwash’ its customers into buying the new iPhone 5S and 5C because they look nice.
Rampell’s claims are likely fuel conspiracy theorists who have long held that Apple engages in ‘planned obsolescence’, a term which has been around since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
VIRGINITY. A weird notion. A name given to something you haven’t done yet. Imagine if everything we hadn’t done had a special word. Is there a designated word for someone who hasn’t tried pickled onion Monster Munch yet? There should be because, when it comes down to it, someone’s virginity and pickled onion Monster Munch are about as important as each other (although the latter has more sustained and dependable pleasures).
Either way, people value virginities much more highly than things you can buy from the corner shop. While snacks cost under a quid, one Russian teenager has sold her virginity online for £17,000.
ANOTHER report out, another report insisting that it’s the inequality that’s killing people:
Women and children in the UK would have longer and healthier lives if they lived in Cyprus, Italy or Spain, and Britain is facing “a public health timebomb”, according to a study by an expert on inequality and health.
Sir Michael Marmot, who is known worldwide for his work on the social determinants of health, says much of the rest of Europe takes better care of its families. Life expectancy for women and death rates among the under-fives are worse in the UK, where there is also more child poverty.
The public health time bomb Marmot describes is caused by the large number of so-called Neets – young adults who are not in education, employment or training.
Well, it could be that. But there is a problem with Marmot and his research. He just never does look properly for all of the various things that could be causing the problems he notes.
THERE’S been intensive debate….well, let’s call that screaming matches….about whether Apple is avoiding tax or not. Everyone points to the Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich as irrefutable proof that they’re skiving swine.
The thing is that this isn’t tax avoidance. It’s most certainly not tax evasion for as all agree it’s wholly and entirely legal. But it’s not even tax avoidance: for this is how the corporate tax system is set up to work: this is how it was designed. Companies, when they sell overseas, are taxed on the profits they make in their home country. That’s it, that’s all. And Apple will indeed be taxed on their overseas profits as and when they take those profits back into the US. That’s also just it: there is no more to the story than that. At the very best the entire structure delays the payment of tax: but it most certainly does not mean that the tax has been avoided.
How to Stay on Top of your Finances this Christmas
While Christmas is undoubtedly a fabulous time of year, it’s also an expensive one! Some people start planning and saving in January, let alone October, especially when they’re part of a large family with lots of gifts to buy and mouths to feed. It’s essential that, when the festive period comes around, you stay in control of what you spend and keep an eye on your finances so that you’re not suffering once it’s all done and dusted.
SO. We’ve seen the earnestly Teenage Trot Russell Brand trot out his ignorance of economics for us all on Newsnight. This is the one line that made me cringe the most:
David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit.
Oh Dear God that’s nonsense.
GETTING footballers to show any sort of excitement, opinion or passion for anything is nigh on impossible. All over the world, they talk in monotone voices, all the life trained out of them and blurbling on and on, vaguely about results and teamwork.
Unless, of course, it involves money.
French professional football clubs have scrubbed all matches over one weekend in November to protest against President François Hollande’s 75% “super tax” on high salaries.
WAS Royal Mail sold on the cheap? Yes. But not for the reason you might think.
When they announced that they were going to privatise Royal Mail there were all sorts of shrieks and moans that this would just put cash into the pockets of the hedge funds. You know, the fly by night boys just looking for a quick turn on tyhe shares. And of course that’s not what the government wanted at all: rather, we want stable long term investors who will be with the company for years.
So, when the hedge funds all applied for shares in the share offering they were told to naff off. Or allocated very many fewer than they had asked for:
TCI, for its part, applied for
a whole presidential suite of rooms£200m of shares and was allocated just £1m. Many other hedge funds were similarly shunned.
FOR some reason the Daily Mail seems to think that Mumsnet has been taken over by a horde of sex crazed housewives. Something which is really very strange indeed. For most human beings are quite interested in sex so you don’t need to be sex craved to talk about it. Further, there’s something about mothers that indicates that they might actually have some experience of the subject at hand:
It is an internet forum where parents can share advice on subjects such as potty training and the spiralling cost of childcare.
But Mumsnet has also attracted thousands of posts on risqué topics, as women members clamour to share details of their explicit bedroom antics.
The website – popular with middle-class mothers – risks undermining its wholesome image because many users seem preoccupied with X-rated chatter.