Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
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.
What they’ve done is go to Google, typed in part of a query and seen how Google autocomplete finishes it off:
ONE of the things that grates, now that we have to share this EU system of government with them, is the way in which the French ruling classes seem not to have the first clue about economics:
In a rare alliance, France’s ruling Socialist Party and the opposition UMP Party approved a new bill banning the company and other online retailers from shipping discounted books for free. It comes in the form of an amendment to a 32-year-old law that sets the value of new books at fixed prices.
TO shave or not to shave? What says the judge who oversaw a case costing £350,000 that hinged on whether a disabled 23-year-old Muslim woman should have shaved pubic hair?
Her parents wanted it shaved before she returned home to live with them. They said it was a Muslim matter. The council, which cares for the woman, said it was unsure if the woman understood what the procedure meant. So. It went to court.
WHY do people live so long in Eastbourne? This is interesting:
Eastbourne has become the first place in the country to boast a population with an average age of more than 70.
The Meads district of the famously genteel East Sussex town was identified by the Office for National Statistics as having the oldest residents in England and Wales.
Named by officials as Eastbourne 012B, the well-heeled area has a population with an average age of 71.1, compared with the national average of 39.7.
ONE investor in Apple, Carl Icahn, has demanded that Apple should throw $150 billion of the company’s money at shareholders. It seems like a reasonable enough idea, given that the company’s money does actually belong to the shareholders, but there’s a couple of minor problems. The most obvious being that despite Apple having $150 billion in cash it would have to go and borrow to pay that amount to the shareholders:
Mr Icahn took to Twitter to disclose that he had used a dinner meeting to press the tech giant’s chief executive Tim Cook to carry out further share buybacks. He said he had “pushed hard” for more share purchases by the iPhone and iPad maker.
Buybacks reward investors by lifting earnings per share and Apple shares rose 2.4pc on the news the influential investor was pressing the company over its share purchases.
“Had a cordial dinner with Tim last night,” Mr Icahn said on Twitter. “We pushed hard for a $150bn buyback. We decided to continue dialogue in about three weeks.”
Mr Icahn later told CNBC that he had invested $2bn in Apple. He added that the tech group’s finance chief had also attended the meal with Mr Cook.
ONE of the things that’s become increasingly apparent in the development of this ‘ere internet thing over the last couple of decades is that everyone’s reading it at work. We seem to have shifted the “finding out the news” thing away from free or leisure time into the working hours of the day and the week.
Anyone who has ever run a website knows this little point: traffic starts to rise from a particular timezone as people start to arrive at work in that timezone. UK traffic is pitiful before about 8.30 am and rises strongly after 9.30 am. It then falls away again around 5 pm. US traffic starts to rise around 8 am East Coast Time and continues to rise until the Californians get in several hours later.
IT’S a strange thing to be boasting about goings on in Hinkley Point, Somerset.
David Cameron has hailed as “brilliant news” the £16bn of new investment and 25,000 jobs he says will come to Britain as the Government struck a deal for the country’s first new nuclear plant in a generation on Monday.
Yes, it’s great that they’re finally going to build the damn nuke. It’ll reduce carbon emissions and the likelihood that the lights will go out. But it always astonishes me when politicians tells us how many jobs are going to be created by their plans.
IT appears that the next part of the increasingly creaky tax campaign is to go after Boots:
Alliance Boots, which became Britain’s biggest private equity buyout in 2007, could have received UK tax bills of more than £1.1bn over the last six years, had colossal interest payments on the group’s billions of pounds of borrowings not depressed the chemist and retail group’s UK profits, according to tax campaigners.
A report, commissioned by Unite, War on Want and US union group Change to Win, found that Alliance Boots generated UK taxable profits, before interest costs, of £4.5bn between 2008 and 2013. But it also incurred financing costs of £4.2bn over the same period, reducing its UK taxable profits to just £313m.
That’s a bit weird. For there’s no such thing as taxable profits before interest. Interest is an expense of the company so therefore it gets taken off gross profits before they become taxable profits.
LI Hui is a cigarette tester. She tests them by smoking them. And she loves her job:
As one of hundreds of “tobacco appraisers” in China, Li Hui, a petite, pony-tailed mother, has been smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day for more than 20 years. “It’s my job, and I like it,” Li explained in a long profile in the Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper. “Besides, I haven’t seen anyone around me or my friends getting sick from smoking yet.”
Li’s attitude, and the fact that she works for an officially-sanctioned company, Heilongjiang Tobacco Industrial, encapsulate the paradoxes China faces in dealing with a smoking epidemic. The country has over 320 million smokers, more than the population of the United States and over one-third of the world’s total, and the government has been taking small steps to try to discourage smoking, as Quartz previously reported. But with the country’s tobacco regulator and much of the tobacco industry controlled by the state – and tobacco taxes making up as much as 10 percent of state revenues – it’s a tough battle.
WOULD you like to be a Sherpa? No, not a Himalayan Sherpa, who risk life and limb for glory. A man or woman (surely guy? ed) who can do the jobs the gofer did before they got a YouTube Channel and stock:
The job title shows up as a branding tool: strategy sherpa and ideas sherpas; on Twitter and LinkedIn there’s the Gym Sherpa, the Human Resources Sherpa, the Tech Sherpa, and a startup sherpa or two, as well as quite a few social media sherpas. The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development has two staff members with sherpa in their titles, including its chief of staff Gabriela Ramos. Hannah Morgan has been known as the Career Sherpa since 2008. “One reason the sherpa term has become hip is because it sounds less arrogant than expert or guru. And it sounds more unique than ‘guide,’” said Morgan.
Only, Morgan, it can make you sounds like a otherworldly dick. Tread carefully…
IT’S certainly true that we’re seeing more people turning up at foodbanks hoping to get some free food. And yes, we do indeed agree that most people would be somewhat embarrassed at doing so: this isn’t just people clocking on to the idea that they can get something for free.
OR rather, the Mail might want to try and find a different measure of failure. For Apple has, as we all know, released two new iPhones, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. Which seem to be selling pretty well: they shifted 9 million pieces over their first weekend which is many, many, more than they’ve done in the first few days of any other iPhone model. But here’s the Mail:
Is the iPhone5C a failure? Apple ‘halves’ production and slashes the price of its handset in China due to ‘dismal sales’
WE’VE got a great little example here of how markets and bureaucrats work. Steely Neelie, the EU telecoms Tsar, is insisting that the mobile telephone companies will have to stop charging people for data roaming. That’s the idea that when you cross a border you start getting charged a fortune for your online access.
Europe’s digital tsar Neelie Kroes has been defending her call for greater integration of telcos across Europe, and appears to be arguing that what she described as “artificial” lowered roaming revenues should not hinder the telcos’ greater investment in European infrastructure.
Neelie’s plan is to get rid roaming charges across Europe by forcing operators to scrape them altogether, or offer customers the almost-impractical option of an Alternative Roaming Partner, but operators won’t give up on their revenue stream so easily and are lobbying to water down the legislation before it goes to the vote.
BANKSY, the muralist, has been decorating walls in New York City. The locals can’y get enough of him. For a few dollars they’ll let you see his artwork.
capnyc took a video:
I’M really not sure that this is all that appropriate you know. Is overpriced golden blong really the way to celebrate the best of black and urban music at the MOBO Awards?
Because that’s what they’re doing:
Still, HTC has just announced a new model that’ll put their scarcity to shame: an 18 carat gold HTC One priced at £2,750 (about $4,400). Only five copies will be made to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the MOBO awards, which honors black artists and urban music in the UK. It’s the “most exclusive and expensive smartphone every produced by HTC,” according to MOBO, and features a MOBO 18 logo laser etched on the back.
THE mobile phone companies have got all hot under the collar about new fees they’ve got to pay for the spectrum they use to provide the service. So much so that they’ve actually started lying about it. For this rise in fees will have absolutely no effect at all on the prices the companies charge us:
The communications regulator on Thursday unveiled plans to increase the amount it charges EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three for using certain bands of the airwaves by between 330pc and 433pc, meaning an increase in combined annual fees from £64.4m to £309m.
The move will provide a £245m a year boost to the Treasury, but the mobile operators said that it would discourage investment in new 4G services and labelled the price rises “excessive”.
Industry sources said they were digesting the likely implications of the new fees, adding that they may have to charge customers extra in order to protect margins.
DEAR Lord the egregious Margaret Hodge is getting boring on this subject. She seems to ignore the manner in which every time she opens her gob on the subject of corporate tax she has to be corrected. It simply is not true that Facebook is avoiding tax in the UK:
However, those numbers are not reflected in its accounts. In common with fellow American technology leaders Google and Apple, Facebook funnels the vast majority of its income from advertisers targeting its 33 million British users through Ireland. “This is yet another example of what appears to be deliberate manipulation of accounts of economic activity to deprive the British taxpayer of a rightful tax contribution, according to the profits they make in the UK,” said Commons public accounts committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge. “I am getting fed up of this constant stream of stories and little sign of a challenge from HMRC and a strange silence from government.”
YOU’LL have seen the news that Silk Road, the online drug bazar, has been taken down by the FBI. There’s a number of fun questions surrounding what actually happened.
For those who don’t know Silk Road was part of the “deep web”, the bit where Google doesn’t go. And it was a trading shop for just about anything: from heroin through computer trojans and all the way to hit men. All highly illegal of course and it seems the the bloke running it was a bit of an extreme libertarian. Which is going to cause problems for nice cuddly libertarians like me of course.
WE are indebted to @@chunkymark for pointing us towards this advert at the Job Centre for go-ahead 18-24 years olds living in Markethill, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.
As he says:
Job Centre: Vacancy: Fry Cook (Chippy) Contract:6mths Hours:30/40per week Pay: £No pounds
Job Centre: Vacancy: Fry Cook (Chippy) Contract:6mths Hours:30/40per week Pay: £No pounds
A quite wonderful piece of failure here by The Guardian on the subject of Google’s taxes today.
They’ve noticed that Google doesn’t pay very much tax in the UK. OK, fine, but the figures that they then use to illustrate this show that Google might well be paying too much in tax in the UK. No, really:
Google paid just £11.6m in UK corporation tax last year, despite revenues of £506m and a £36.8m profit, according to documents filed at Companies House.
A VERY nice little piece of logic from Don Boudreaux over in the US. We do all agree that capitalists are swine, I hope? That profit is the only thing they care about?
When the subject is international trade you correctly recognize that, all other things equal, firms prefer to pay workers lower rather than higher wages and will, as a result, actively exploit all available profit-enhancing opportunities to lower their production costs. So why do you not recognize that the same economic motivation and opportunities exist when the subject is the minimum wage?
THIS is a very clever way of looking at the minimum wage:
The most direct evidence that advocates for minimum wage laws do not believe their own argument is the fact that they propose fines for companies that pay less than the legislated minimum. How are fines suppose to motivate businesses that are indifferent to costs?
Think about it for a moment.
And yes, we do fine people who don’t pay the minimum wage:
HMRC said on top of forcing wage payments, they had issued fines to 708 employers with 51 receiving the maximum penalty of £5,000.
So, the argument is that paying the minimum wage is something good for business. Certainly, you’ve got all those Living Wage people saying that it does wonders for morale and staff turnover to be paying higher wages. So, why, when people don’t pay the higher wages, do we fine them?
For at that point we’re obviously saying that taking more of the businesses’ money away is a punishment. But at the same time we’re saying that taking more of the businesses’ money away is good for the business.
Well, which is it?
ED Miliband has rather stunned the business world with his announcement that if Labour’s elected next time they’re going to bring back price controls. Because, you know, Ed Miliband, in his previous job as Climate Change Wallah in the Government made electricity too expensive for us all. The problem with this of course is that price controls simply do not work:
Mr Miliband has pledged that one of his first acts in office would be to pass emergency legislation forbidding energy companies from increasing domestic prices until 2017.
His promise is designed to persuade voters that only Labour can restore living standards eroded by years of prices rising faster than incomes.
However, energy chiefs and political opponents have warned that his plans could in fact lead to higher bills in the short term as well as blackouts and power shortages.
If you were told that in two years’ time you were not allowed to raise your prices what would you be doing in the next two years before that ban?