Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
A LITTLE story from across the pond explaining why people bother to bribe and lobby politicians (to the extent that there is actually and difference between the two acts).
So, there’s one of these nutty green things that petrol refineries have to do over there, to blend ethanol into the petrol. And they’ve got to blend a certain amount in: if they don’t they’ve got to go buy a permit for not having blended it in. A bit like the carbon emission permits we’ve got over here. However, there’s not many of those permits for not blending available and they’re getting very expensive.
At which point we find out that one refinery, just the one mind, has been allowed to not have to buy permits and also not blend the ethanol in.
So it was more than a little curious that the EPA, as part of its rule, announced it was exempting just one mystery refinery (out of 143) from this year’s mandate. The dispensation amounts to a significant financial favor to one lucky player, as I wrote in the Journal on Friday. Further reporting has revealed that the refinery is Alon USA Energy’s Krotz Springs facility in Louisiana. There’s reason to wonder why Krotz Springs alone got a deal.
OK, so this isn’t going to be an argument about stunning accuracy in anything. But we’ve two massive chaotic systems: the weather and the economy. Chaotic systems, especially massive ones, are terribly difficult to predict. Yet people keep trying with both.
OK, so who is better?
MARY Macleod MP has just shown that she’s got absolutely no clue at all about the gender pay gap:
“The gender pay gap should not exist. But it does, as we were reminded today by the Chartered Management Institute report on corporate pay. It is simply unacceptable for a man to get paid more than a woman for doing the same job.”
It’s not just unacceptable it’s also illegal. And it also doesn’t happen.
ONE of those little conundrums of life, that you can’t have two desirable things at the same time.
I think we’d all agree that we’d like to have safer banks. You know, ones less likely to go tits up when the gamble away some fraction of their money. Excellent, that means that they have to have more capital.
I think we’d all also agree that we’d like banks to be lending more to people. For banks lending to people is what pulls us up out of recession. However, it’s really very difficult indeed to have both at the same time:
Europe’s smallest banks will have to undergo the biggest transformation by 2018 to meet the new Basel III regulations, according to research by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Up to €2.6tn will need to be cut from the balance sheets of smaller banks in Europe, which could potentially lead to another contraction in lending to small and medium-sized businesses.
However, Europe’s largest banks will also have to shrink their assets by €661bn and raise a further €47bn of capital to meet the regulations.
ONE of the less surprising findings from Forbes magazine this year is that the top earning author in the world is EL James. You know, Shades of Grey stuff:
Then there’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
E.L. James — known to her friends and family as Erika Leonard — didn’t follow any of the rules for getting to the top, but she’s there all the same, debuting on the 2013 top-earning authors list with an estimated $95 million in earnings. (FORBES bases its estimates on sales data, published figures and information from industry sources between June 2012 and June 2013.)
IT’S a general theme here in the UK that supermarkets just ruin everything. You know the drill, you should buy your food from the local butcher and baker, patronise the high street, damn those clone towns and the industrial farming that supplies the out of town big box stores.
Except, there’s actually some point to these supermarket things with their logistics chains:
It hoped foreign supermarkets like Tesco and Walmart would come in and revolutionise India’s backward agricultural sector. Forty per cent of all Indian produce rots on clunky bullock carts and rough baked roads before reaching the market. When they arrive, farmers get a tiny fraction on the retail price as as they pass through at least five agents, each taking their cut. Of the eighty rupees per kilo they were selling for last week, the farmer’s share was just eight.
India needs new smooth roads, cold-chain storage and modern transport logistics to replace sweaty bullock carts, and direct sales from farmer to retailer to stabilise prices, increase farm incomes and reduce food inflation – one of the country’s most politically sensitive issues.
Maybe the supermarkets aren’t all that great: but not having them is much worse.
AS Robert Peston at the BBC reports:
That said, the profit for Vodafone looks to be many tens of billions of dollars.
Which of course begs the question how much capital gains tax Vodafone will pay to the British taxman, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
I have learned that the British taxman will not get a penny, which may prove to be controversial.
He gets the reason there won’t be any tax wrong. But he is right to say that the UK won’t get any cash out of Vodafone.
SO. Microsoft has taken the plunge and bought out Nokia’s handset business. They didn’t pay that much for it, under £5 billion all in, which is a good insight into what a parlous state the business is in. This leaves Nokia still making all the kit and towers and radio equipment etc that the handsets use to connect to the network, but they’re leaving the handset business altogether.
For Microsoft the deal looks rather different. They’ve been finding it very hard to get handset makers to start using Windows Phone (surprisingly, a rather good little operating system) and their market share is sputtering. Nokia were the only people who had committed to it in a large way. But there were still problems in integrating the software and the hardware. Buying the manufacturing operation now means that Microsoft can design the OS for the hardware and the hardware for the OS: essentially, starting to do what Apple has been doing all along.
SO it looks like the Co Op Banks has only just managed to avoid going tits up:
The Co-operative Group has plunged to a £559m first-half loss as bad debts in its banking arm wiped out profits from its supermarkets.
The group said there would be no quick fixes as it embarked on a four-year turnaround plan, after reporting pre-tax losses of £709.4m in the Co-operative Bank in the six months to the end of June.
IN the US fast food workers went on strike to demand a $15 an hour pay settlement. Up from the current $8 or so they get.
The Guardian rolled out one of the strikers to tell us all what it was about. She raised two children as a single mother, which isn’t the easiest of things to do. She worked long shifts to do so too. But then we get this:
My hours, like many of my coworkers, were cut this year, and I now work only 25 to 28 hours each week. I can’t afford to pay my bills working part time and making $7.85,
What the hell?
LOOKS like the Germans are finally waking up to reality here, admitting that Greece will need another bailout.
Ms Merkel’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, admitted last month that Greece will need another bailout, raising fears among Germans that they will have to foot the bill.
On Sunday, the Chancellor refused to rule out another aid package but dismissed debt haircuts, which would hurt Germany as the country with the largest exposure to Greece.
“I am expressly warning against a haircut,” she said. “It could create a domino effect of uncertainty … in the eurozone.”
On Monday, Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras said his country may have to renegotiate its bailout terms in a bid to ease its debt burden.
He told a German newspaper this could involve lower interest payments and more time to repay €240bn in loans.
Greece also faces a finance black hole of up to €10bn (£8.6bn).
ANNOYED by cold callers, In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT for a premium rate 0871 line. Calls to the number cost 10p, of which he gets 7p. Mr Beaumont has made £300 from cold callers. He told the BBC:
”I don’t use my normal Leeds number for anyone but my friends and family… Because I’m getting annoyed with PPI phone calls when I’m trying to watch Coronation Street so I’d rather make 10p a minute.”
Next time M&S Money or a window company calls, put them on hold…
I REALLY do like this story. Bloke in Italy, company’s not making any money. And it’s Italy, so he can’t fire anybody or lower wages or anything. So, over the annual shutdown he simply packs up all the kit and exports it to Poland:
Earlier this month, Fabrizio Pedroni wished his employees a happy summer holiday and told them to return to work in three weeks. That night, he began dismantling his electric component factory in northern Italy and packing its machinery off to Poland.
“Had I told them earlier about any plans to shift the production abroad, they would have occupied my factory and seized all my stuff,” Pedroni said in an Aug. 21 telephone interview from Poland. “The plain truth is that I wanted my business to survive and there weren’t the right conditions for me to operate in Italy any longer.”
The news that Firem Srl, based in Formigine near Modena, was shifting to Eastern Europe reached the 40 employees too late. On Aug. 13, 11 days after Pedroni activated his plan, a group of employees suspicious of the movements around the plant rushed to its gates just in time to stop the last of 20 lorries packed with machinery.
HAVE more sex to earn more money. That’s what seems to be the message of this new economics paper. People who have more sex earn more money than those who have less sex:
Using two stage estimations we examine the relationship between adult sexual activity and wages. We estimate that there is a monotonic relationshipbetween the frequency of sexual activity and wage returns, whilst the returns to sexual activity are higher for those between 26 and 50 years of age.
THE Chinese are known for their duplicates. Even the nation’s zoos are trying the same tactic:
A Chinese zoo’s supposed “African lion” was exposed as a fraud when the dog used as a substitute started barking.
Come see the barking cat!
THE Guardian is ranting and railing about how appallingly BT is rolling out fast broadband around the countryside. There’s a useful economic point to be made about this:
Given that everyone agrees that getting Britain online is a public good, what do those giants at the Department for Culture do? Why, award juicy subsidies to private companies to bribe them to do the work.
AN interesting little piece of mathematics here which should be, but isn’t, used to show that zombies cannot possibly exist. The point being that they show that there’s no stable equilibrium: there’s no way to have there be some zombies without all becoming zombies:
A Canadian mathematician believes only frequent coordinated attacks against the living dead can save the human race.
A mathematical calculation by a professor at the University of Ottawa – (bN)(S/N)Z = bSZ – describes the rate that humans would become zombies as they are gradually infected by the living dead.
The maths might seem bizarre, but it can be used to model the spread of disease in the modern world.
MAKING people rich that is, that’s the justification for all this neoliberal globalisation stuff. And it works too: it’s just not us that are getting rich.
Nearly 1.7 billion people planet-wide live in countries where the average income per capita was above $10,000 in 2010. That’s above the average income in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in 1960. And more than 3.5 billion people worldwide—around half the planet—live in countries with a 2010 average income of $6,000 or above according to the Penn Tables. That’s nearly as high as the GDP per capita of Italy in 1960 and above that of Ireland or Spain in the same year.
YOU’LL have seen all the furore about how Amazon are such bastards for not paying any taxes on their vast profits made by selling us stuff for cheap. You know, there’s shouts from the supermarkets that there should be a special, extra, tax on those who sell online. About how appalling it is that Amazon has all these warehouses here and yet sells to us from Luxembourg: thus paying no UK tax.
They’re even talking about completely changing the international tax system just to make sure that amazon does indeed pay taxes in the UK. And Germany, France…..there’s only really one basic problem with this idea:
The company reported a net loss of $7m (£4.5m) in the quarter to June 30, compared with a profit of $7m a year earlier, as revenues grew to $15.7bn. The world’s largest online retailer has been spending heavily on order fulfilment and digital content rights, which continue to weigh on margins.
THIS tax story is really getting out of hand: they’re insisting that Real Madrid and Barca are tax scams now:
Those four are Real Madrid and Barcelona, who also take around 50 per cent of La Liga’s total television revenue for themselves, as well as Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna. They have been permitted to retain their status as sports clubs, owned by their members, and to add insult to injury for the rest, the Government refused to disclose how much debt the four owed to the Spanish purse.
As well as being treated as not-for-profit organisations, the four exempted clubs benefit under corporation and property tax laws.
Jeebus. They’re treated as not for profit organisations because they are not for profit organisations. This is pretty simple to understand really.
ONE of the odder parts of the furore over the banks, greed, financial crashes and what causes them is this idea that if we cut bankers’ bonuses then everything will be better. The problem with this idea is that everything has more than just the one effect: and those side effects can be worse than the original problem anyone is trying to cure.
As with these caps on bankers’ bonuses:
Hundreds of the highest earners at HSBC could be in line for a bumper pay rise as the lender tries to swerve a new bonus cap from Brussels.
The chairman of HSBC admitted yesterday that it was considering plans to hike salaries for employees to ensure they do not leave for better paid jobs with US or Asian rivals.
Douglas Flint, who received a £2.4 million package last year, said the lender would ‘comply with the law’ but needs to ‘remain competitive’.
I HAVE to admit that there are certain minds that I just cannot worm my way into. Just cannot grasp what is going on in the minds of people who say such stupid things:
George Osborne has infuriated environmentalists by announcing big tax breaks for the fracking industry
Has he? My word.
Lawrence Carter, a Greenpeace energy campaigner, said: “The chancellor is telling anyone who will listen that UK shale gas is set to be an economic miracle, yet he’s had to offer the industry sweetheart tax deals just to reassure them that fracking would be profitable.
APPLE’S being complete bastards to Chinese workers. Well, so says a new report out today from China Labor Watch: Apple’s still being entirely bastardly towards the workers in China that make so much of their kits. After all that stuff over the suicides at Foxconn a couple of years back, this new report insists that everything is still terrible at the new company, Pegatron, that Apple is using.
The heinous crimes against worker rights include:
For example, at AVY there are 10 showerheads for about 120 workers.
THE big thing no one was really sure about with Facebook was how it was going to deal with the move to mobile. The recent results give us some insight into that and the shares have risen 17% as a result.
On Wednesday, Facebook easily beat second-quarter profit and sale expectations, sending its shares up 17% in late trading. The company swung to a profit as its sales rose 53% to $1.81 billion from a year ago, boosted by a surge in mobile and local ad sales. The company booked a profit of $333 million, or 13 cents a share.