Money | Anorak - Part 21

Money Category

Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay

Well Of Course No One’s Paying For Streaming Music Services


THERE’S a bit of a logical disconnect in this idea that we’re all going to sign up for streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and so on. The problem being that the more free services there are competing for our custom then the fewer of us are going to bother to pay for it. This is indeed how it normally works you know, more suppliers thus lower prices to consumers:

Yet even as they have grown, streaming companies have encountered a stubborn problem: Music lovers will consume large amounts of music as long as it is free, but getting them to pay a monthly subscription has proved much more difficult.

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Posted: 16th, December 2013 | In: Money, Music, Technology, The Consumer | Comments (2)

Why Worry About Bitcoin? Why Not Just Start Your Own Currency?


I ALWAYS feel remarkable clever when I find the Financial Times agrees with one of my ideas. It seems like confirmation that I’ve had a good idea sorta thing. And here they’re saying that investing in Bitcoin doesn’t look all that good an idea. For you can start up your own digital currency instead.

Buying Bitcoins while their price is so bubbly is nothing more than a gamble. Investing in other online currencies, or in companies that can help the Bitcoin economy develop, looks like a sensible use of a venture capitalist’s money.

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Posted: 12th, December 2013 | In: Money, Reviews, Technology | Comment (1)

‘Snuggle House’ Gets Closed Because Everyone Thought It Was Filled With Prostitutes


HAVE you heard of the unique business is Wisconsin called Snuggle House? Chances are, you haven’t. The idea behind the place was to offer snuggles to anyone who wanted one. For £37 an hour. You could have a little intimacy and get your hair stroked and then be on your way.

That’s slightly odd, but kinda nice, right?

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Posted: 12th, December 2013 | In: Money, Reviews, The Consumer | Comment

This Just Isn’t The Way To Make An Economic Argument

DEAR Lord this is piffle:

This year, state government subsidies to corporations, partnerships, and other businesses in New York state alone will total $1.7 billion, triple the giveaways in 2005, according to the new study. That’s $235 taken from the average Empire State household this year and redistributed to business owners on the theory that redistribution will create jobs.

During those years, the number of jobs in New York declined, the state’s official jobs data website shows. The total number of New Yorkers employed in 2012 was down 175,000, or 2 percent, compared with 2005.

This is used to show that tax incentives to companies does not provide jobs. For, as you can see, we’ve been providing more subsidies but there are fewer jobs!

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Posted: 11th, December 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

The iPotty Is Declared Worst Toy Of The Year

ipotty anorak

IT is the season for the awards ceremonies and one organisation has declared that this, the iPotty, is the worst toy of the year. I have to admit that I can’t quite see it myself: either as the worst toy of this or any other year or as an actual product to be honest. What it actually is is simply a potty to be used, obviously, for potty training and containing a stand into which one can slip one of Apple’s iPads. And you might think that that’s about it and not something so heinous as to deserve this award:

BOSTON—December 9—It’s official. Fed up with the latest effort to insinuate screens into every nook and cranny of young children’s lives, members of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood selected the 2-In-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad by CTA Digital as winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for the Worst Toy of the Year.

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Posted: 11th, December 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

Inequality Caused By Cronyism Kills Economic Growth



INEQUALITY. Is it harmful? It can be. When caused by cronyism.

In other words, is it a bad thing for a country to have some really rich people? Again, it depends on how they got rich.

Sutirtha Bagchi of the University of Michigan’s business school and Jan Svejnar of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs studied how inequality correlates with economic growth. In general, more inequality meant slower growth, and less inequality meant faster growth.

But in many countries, over various time periods, growing inequality had no effect on economic growth. The new study suggests that an increase in inequality hurt the economy when the rich were getting rich through political connections.

That is, inequality hurts the economy when “a large share of the national wealth is held by a small number of politically connected families,” as the authors put it. . . . When a country’s wealthiest people got their wealth as Pangestu and Fridman did, inequality places a drag on the economy. When a country’s wealthiest got wealthy through market means, the resulting inequality has no negative effect on economic growth.

This jibes with what we know about free markets. If people can get rich by providing valuable things at good prices, then society will get more valuable things at good prices—and people across the income spectrum benefit. But if people get rich by pocketing subsidies and using the state to crush competitors, then they gained their wealth at the expense of everyone else.

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Posted: 9th, December 2013 | In: Money, Politicians, Reviews | Comment (1)

Candy Crush Saga: The Game That’s Too Successful To Float (See Zynga)


THIS is a fun little story. Candy Crush Saga is the all conquering barnstorming game of the moment and it’s made its maker, King, worth something like $5 billion. But it’s exactly that mega-success of the game that means that the maker cannot cash out by floating it on the stock market. Imagine that, being to successful to be able to sell yourself.

King, the mobile games maker behind Candy Crush Saga, has delayed its initial public offering until next year amid fears that the flagship game has been “too successful”.

The British company, which is gearing up for a potential $5bn (£3bn) flotation on the Nasdaq stock exchange, had considered listing by the end of this year. However, it has decided to wait to give it time to demonstrate that it has other hits in the pipeline and is not a “one hit wonder”.

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Posted: 9th, December 2013 | In: Money, Reviews, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

Osborne’s Shelving The Fuel Duty Escalator Is The Right, Green Thing To Do

THIS might sound a little odd and I’ll almost certainly be the only person telling you this. But George Osborne’s shelving of the fuel duty escalator is the right thing for him to be doing. No, not because it’s a tax cut, or not a tax rise, but because it’s the correct green thing to be doing for the environment. Yes, this is going to sound a little odd, isn’t it?

We need to go back a few years, to the Stern Review. In it the main recommendation was that we have to have a carbon tax at $80 per tonne CO2 emissions in order to beat climate change. This is the scientific consensus now, that we should have this tax.

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Posted: 6th, December 2013 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment

Why Raising The Pensions Age Makes Such Damn Good Sense


GEORGE Osborne’s announced that he’s going to raise the state pension age and this makes damn good sense. No, not just because we’re all pig-faced Tories who love shafting the poor.

In potentially one of the most far-reaching reforms since the introduction of the state pension in 1908, Osborne will say the pension age for men and women will rise to 70 by the 2060s under a new formula linked to average life expectancy. This means that people born in the 1990s, who are now entering the workforce, will have to work until at least the Biblical life expectancy of three score and ten.

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Posted: 6th, December 2013 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment

The Global iPhone 5 Price Index


THIS is a nice little piece of research showing the variation in price of the iPhone all over the world. You can set it to tell you the absolute price in any country and see the impact of taxes etc on an iPhone 5s. Or you can mix and match it with how rich the country is and so see what percentage of the average salary it is.

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Posted: 5th, December 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

So How Do You Train To Stick Your Finger Up A Man’s Bum?

cancer balls

THIS isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about: how do you go about training yourself to stick your finger up a man’s bum? No, no, not as part of the festivities on Hampstead Heath but rather, how does a doctor get trained to do prostate exams?

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Posted: 4th, December 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment

Coal Kills So We’d Better Go Nuclear Then

This is a fun little report. It’s also true (if perhaps a little exaggerated). The burning of coal to generate electricity does indeed kill people.

Labour will this week urge MPs to vote for tougher controls on Britain’s coal-fired power stations forcing them to reduce their emissions and pollution, as new figures show the old-style plants are responsible for 1,600 premature deaths a year. A report from the Health and Environment Alliance has found air pollution from coal plants causes respiratory problems that have a big impact on public health.

The charity released an analysis showing coal pollution leads to health complications resulting in more than 360,000 lost working days each year.

I wouldn’t take that 1,600 figure as being entirely and totally accurate but it is indeed well known that particularate emissions from coal burning do indeed kill some people each year. Fewer now that we filter the smoke, as we didn’t used to, but still some substantial number.

And we might check this against the number of deaths from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Which has been, so far at least, precisely zero. Or the deaths from Chernobyl 30 years ago. That total is guessed at as being some few hundred so far.

So, the two worst nuclear disasters ever have killed fewer people than the normal operation of coal fired plant does each and every year.

Sounds like we’d better go nuclear then, eh?

Ah, no, sorry, that doesn’t work, this report is sponsored by Greenpeace.

Posted: 2nd, December 2013 | In: Money | Comment

Man Arrested For Giving Away $1000

TO Minnesota, where the rain is made of currency. Serge Vorobyov has emptied $1,000 over the Mall of America in Bloomington. Vorobyov just wants to do something nice for people. And then the mall security staff arrested him.

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Posted: 2nd, December 2013 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment

Chap Does To Banks What They Do To You

NICELY done:



Posted: 30th, November 2013 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment (1)

Only TV’s Working Class Can Afford To Live In Fortress London: What If Shows Were Real?



AH, Eastenders the only London garden square non-oligarchs and trust-funded sados (sons and daughters of stars) can afford to live in. London is now so very expensive that it’s a fortress. If you’re not already in, forget about settling there. Best to accept the fact that you  can never live in the city.  Make your home town at the end of the long commute the epicentre of culture.

The only working class people who can afford London property prices are fictional. It’s true.

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Posted: 28th, November 2013 | In: Money, TV & Radio | Comment

Shocker: Daily Mail Australia NOT Modelled On Guardian Down Under

THE Daily Mail is going Down Under

Britain’s Daily Mail Group has announced it will launch an Australian version of its site with the goal of becoming this country’s leading news website. Daily Mail Australia will launch early next year and hire 50 local journalists, with an editor to be appointed in the next few weeks.

You might not like the Mail, but it makes money and employing local reporters is a sound move. They’re not the first UK organ to head to Oz. The Guardian has opened their version.

MailOnline publisher Martin Clarke said Australia was “an obvious market”.

“We are going very nakedly for a scale play,” he said … He dismissed comparisons with British rival Guardian Australia, which launched here six months ago. “I’m not hugely familiar with what they do in Australia,” he said. We won’t be copying their model.”

No sh*t.

Posted: 27th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

London Slaves: Giggles And Oh-Shits About The Culty Three


THERE’S been a certain amount of giggling about those three slaves that were liberated in London. It turns out that they were not in fact slaves, not anything like it, they were however the remnants of one of London’s more insane Maoist communes. The leader of that commune being on Comrade Bala who was, if the stories are correct, the inspiration for Wolfie Smith in the TV comedy, Citizen Smith. This has all been going on a long time.

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Posted: 26th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

London Slaves: Statement To Comrade Bala By The Central Committee of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) – August 1st, 1974

 Aravindan Balakrishnan

I’M sure you were as shocked as I was at that story of three women being held as slaves in London for 30 years. But the story is now moving from tragedy into proper giggle worthy territory. The suspected slave master has now been named as Aravindan Balakrishnan. Who was also known as Comrade Bala.

Yup, this is about a small Maoist commune that managed to stagger along from the 70s all the way to today. And not only did social services know all about it they were even providing them with the housing they were using.

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Posted: 25th, November 2013 | In: Key Posts, Money, Reviews | Comments (2)

The Real Reason For Bitcoin’s Surge In Price

I’VE long been a bit mystified by Bitcoin. You know this electronic currency that the geeks have been playing with for the past couple of years? As a little experiment yes, I can see it, but as a replacement for other currencies I tend to think that it won’t happen. But still, if people want to play with it, speculate on it, why the hell not?

Just in the last couple of days there’s been a surge in the price. And everyone’s been a bit puzzled by it but now there’s an explanation that does at least make sense. It may or may not be true, but it does actually make sense. That explanation is here:

Capital controls in China are strict. It’s easy to bring money into the country, but getting it out (to invest or spend) is more difficult. That means there are are plenty of wealthy Chinese citizens and residents looking to move their money around the world with greater freedom.
Ah, yes, now that does make sense. At least it does to me, someone who is old enough to have lived through the UK’s capital controls and also to have worked in other countries with similar policies.
Your big problem, if you make a bit of cash, is how do you get it out of the country? Because you know you’re living in a sorta wild west economy, where nothing around you is really safe. But in other countries there are safe and stable banks. So, how do you get the cash out? A suitcase through the airport? Use a crooked banker? Or just buy this electronic currency, get on the plane with your USB stick, then download the currency and sell it for $ outside the country?
Finally, someone’s found a real use for Bitcoins. Hurrah!

Posted: 25th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

Perhaps We Shouldn’t Have Expanded The Universities?



THERE’S a fairly basic economic concept which states that if you increase the supply of something then the price of that thing is going to go down. Other things being equal, of course. There are exceptions but they’re exceedingly rare (wheat noodles in North China and rice in South China being the only two proven examples of Giffen Goods known).

So, when we decide to move from 10-15% of the age group going to university to 50% of it doing so what do we think is going to happen to the price of graduates? Quite:

Almost half of all recent university leavers are now working in non-graduate jobs, as those with media studies degrees fare the worst, a new report shows.

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Posted: 25th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

A Wealth Tax Might Be Moral But It Would Be A Disaster In Practice

There’s an idea going around that perhaps we should have a one off wealth tax to restore the public finances. The rich bastards have oodles of cash so if we demanded that they paid over 10% of it all then all would be fine. It’s even being said that this would be a moral solution: but it would work out appallingly in practice:

Should advanced countries implement wealth taxes as a means of stabilising and reducing public debt over the medium term? The normally conservative International Monetary Fund has given the idea surprisingly emphatic support. The IMF calculates that a one-time 10% wealth levy, if introduced quickly and unexpectedly, could return many European countries to pre-crisis public debt/GDP ratios. It is an intriguing idea.

The moral case for a wealth tax is more compelling than usual today, with unemployment still at recession levels, and with deep economic inequality straining social norms. And, if it were really possible to ensure that the wealth levy would be temporary, such a tax would, in principle, be much less distortionary than imposing higher marginal tax rates on income. Unfortunately, while a wealth tax may be a sound way to help a country dig out of a deep fiscal pit, it is hardly a panacea.

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Posted: 21st, November 2013 | In: Money | Comment

London Hipperdrome Wants Dwarf Doormen For New Tiny Entrance


ARE you an angry dwarf who enjoys to look down on people? If you answered ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, then the Hippodrome Casino in London wants you. The venue is looking for door dwarfs. An advert says:

“The Hippodrome is seeking to create a team of Britain’s smallest bouncers – Door Dwarfs – for its new entrance in Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square. Duties include door control and customer relations. We welcome applications from those under 4ft 10 inches.”

Hippodrome Casino Door Dwarfs


How big is the entrance? And is it that small to allow only true celebrtities to pass through, it being a fact that everyone on the telly is tiny?


peter stringfellow dwarf


Says Hippodrome Casino owner Simon Thomas: “We wanted to add some extra spectacle to Leicester Square. The Hippodrome is a building with a rich tradition of theatrical innovation with a history of dwarf acts appearing here. It fits perfectly with the way we do things here – differently, with a lot of fun involved, and we think they will be very effective on the door.”

Got to keep the wrong sort of dwarfs out some how.




And if look like a cross between Gordon Ramsay and an Ewok, so much the better.

Posted: 20th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews, Strange But True | Comment

The Twitter Interview For Your Next Job

HMM, given the way that I eff and blind on Twitter this isn’t going to be good news for me next time I go out to look for a job:

Employers could use new personality profiling software on jobseekers’ tweets to see if they are right for a role.

IBM developers believe they can successfully assess a person’s psychological traits by analysing the 140 characters they use on Twitter.

The software scans the most recent tweets, be it hundreds or thousands, to develop a personality profile.

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Posted: 19th, November 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment

Why A Carbon Tax Would Work

PA-10416274 (1)

THE are various plans put forward for how we should deal with climate change. Some say we should do sod all, others go to the opposite extreme and demand the dismantling of capitalist industrialism in its entirety.

Certain of the brighter climate change scientists and almost all of the economists insist that it’s really terribly simple. Just add a carbon tax and then wait 20 years. The problem will then solve itself. When I say the brighter of the climate scientists I mean of course those who have been listening to the economists, people like James Hansen.

There’s an interesting illustration of why this would work in the Telegraph today:

Two-thirds of Britons are expecting to cut back on heating their home this winter, with more 25 to 34 year-olds likely to turn down the thermostat than pensioners.

A new report last night claimed 32 per cent of people will “definitely” turn down the heating or switch off lights over the coming weeks in a bid to save money. A further 35 per cent will “probably” act.

Some 88 per cent of households classified among those struggling with the rising cost of living fear they will have no choice but to use less gas or electricity.

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Posted: 19th, November 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

The Top 1% Now Pay 30% Of All Income Tax

NOW, you might say that the top 1% get more than 30% of the income so therefore they should be paying more in tax than this. But that isn’t actually true:

Britain’s top one per cent are now paying almost 30 per cent of all income tax – despite only earning 10 per cent of all income.

Whatever else you want to say about the UK’s income tax system there’s no doubt that it is highly progressive. The rich are indeed paying more than their share of it with regard to their share of the income and this is the definition of progressive.

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Posted: 19th, November 2013 | In: Money | Comment