Money | Anorak - Part 29

Money Category

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

Structural change not shopping is killing the High Street

marks and spencer online

THIS is an interesting little piece of news from Marks and Spencer:

Marks & Spencer is to stop opening new general stores in the UK amid a shift to internet shopping.

The company will build four new large outlets over the next three years, but then call a halt to 129 years of bricks and mortar expansion.

Bosses believe that the popularity of ‘click and collect’ means people will be buying more online and either collecting from its existing stores or getting home deliveries.

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Posted: 24th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)

African coins find does not mean we have to rewrite the history of Australia

african coins australia

THE Mail’s got itself all in a tither about a find of African money off the coast of Australia. Apparently this means that the entire history of the place has to be rewritten. Err, no, it doesn’t: it’s an interesting little find, to be sure, but it doesn’t change the history of Oz in any appreciable manner at all.

Five copper coins found in northern Australia could rewrite the country’s history.

The coins are thought to date back as early as the 900s and are believed to have originated in Africa.

Written history of Australia only dates back to 1606, when Dutch explorers landed in the region, and researchers from Indiana University want to find out how the thousand-year-old copper coins ended up on the other side of the Indian Ocean six centuries earlier.

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Posted: 24th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

James Dean returns from the dead to flog banking in this advert

james dean lived

WHAT if James Dean had lived? Allan Gray Investment bired King James agency to chew over that quesiton.

Allan Gray is a South African investment management company.

Our purpose is to help our investors build wealth over the long term and we seek to earn the trust of our clients by providing superior long-term investment performance, outstanding client service and holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards.

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Posted: 21st, May 2013 | In: Celebrities, Money, The Consumer | Comment

Global warming will boiled us all to death, say Manhattan experts

THIS is a fascinating little example of how the debate of climate change gets very skewed. In fact, the report is more interesting for what it says about that than it is in its intended actual result.

The number of people dying from unbearable heat in big cities could almost double because of climate change, according to new research.

A study in Manhattan found the number of fatalities caused by global warming will far outstrip the reductions in those perishing from the cold.

It follows a report last year by the Health Protection Agency that warned heat related deaths in the UK will increase by more than 10,000 annually – a fivefold rise.

It’s undoubtedly true that if and when global warming happens then more people will die of the heat than happens now. So the finding isn’t all that odd.

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Posted: 20th, May 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comments (2)

The elite are manipulating petrol prices

AFTER the inquiry into the crud oil prices is announced we’ve got the AA leaping in and insisting that there’s another group conspiring and manipulating to make the petrol made from crude more expensive.

Few of the traders’ names – including Glencore, Cargill, Gunvor and Trafigura – are known to consumers outside the oil industry, but their effect on Britain’s 33million motorists and the wider economy is profound.

They buy huge quantities of petroleum on the open market and store it until the price goes high enough to make them a handsome profit, at which point they sell.

There’s a slight problem with this sort of story. It assumes that these manipulators know that the price is going to rise in advance. That’s why they buy and store of course, because they know. And it’s not really possible to know that prices are going to rise: so there’s got to be something odd about the story itself.
So let’s think about what that might be. There’s a group of people out there who buy up lots of petrol from the refineries. They hang on to it for some amount of time and then they ship it on, in smaller amounts per sale but of course the same total amount, off to the petrol stations. They make a profit doing this.
What might we call these people? Possibly they’re wholesalers?
And that is indeed the business that those named companies are in. They might be speculating a little on the side, sure, but their main business is in transferring the very large amounts the refineries sell into the much smaller amounts that the petrol stations actually want to buy. Just like there are food wholesalers who buy shiploads of bananas and split them up into the truck loads that the supermarkets want.
We might even think that the AA has got the wrong end of the stick here….

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

Homeless man proves Atheists are more generous than Christians and Muslims

RELIGIONS are often the first to point out how good charity is and that we should always reach out to those in need. However, one homeless chap has conducted an experiment which shows religious people aren’t taking their own advice.

The homeless man, as seen in a Reddit thread, bears a sign that says: “Which religion cares the most about the homeless?” There are nine begging bowls in front of him, each with money in them.

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Posted: 16th, May 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1)

The Ryan Lee Chiropractic Center creates the most terrifying medical advert of all time

RYAN Lee Chiropractic Center is open for business. It might be an idea when advertising health remedies that not everyone agrees with to shy away from a “not-so-serious” commercial that features the chiropractor stood behind and on top of young, photogenic women:

ryan lee chiropractor

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Posted: 16th, May 2013 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comment

Why the case for HS2 is falling apart

HS2 courts ruling

HS2 is, as you know, this idea that we should build a great big train set to go through the middle of England. Politicians love train sets so all the politicians are in favour of it.

Unfortunately they’ve been lying about the numbers. Yes, lying is the correct word here. The problem is that they’ve been using 1960s figures not 00’s figures to justify it. And many people have told them that what they’re doing is wrong, misleading, lying. But they’ve carried on regardless:

The Labour MP added that transport bosses had ‘belatedly identified errors in their calculations that have wiped £12billion off the expected benefits’ and left themselves ‘no room for mistakes’.

The problem is quite simple. When you try and work out whether to build a train set of not (or indeed, embark on any other project) you do what is called a cost benefit analysis. If the costs are higher than the benefits then it’s a bad thing to do: benefits higher than costs then go for it.

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Posted: 16th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

This is how those sods at the BBC are dodging all their taxes

BBC tax

DO you recall a year or so back when we were all having a lovely time shouting at the BBC stars who were all avoiding tax by being paid into companies? And the BBC promised to do something about it?

It’s a year later and not a lot has been done. For the terribly difficult question is, well, what should be done?

BBC plans to force freelance presenters back on to the employment books to end suspicions of tax avoidance have descended into chaos, it emerged last night,

Stars are being made to sign short-term contracts because the BBC has been unable to thrash out an acceptable way of paying them on a full time basis.

The corporation decided to act following concerns from MPs about the corporation’s use of so-called personal service companies as a way of channelling stars’ earnings.

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Posted: 15th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

The entirely insane new tax in France on smartphones, laptops, TVs and tablets

smartphone tax

THE French have decided it would be a good idea to tax all the smartphones, TVs, tablets and the rest in order to subsidise the creation of French movies n’ stuff that people can watch on their smartphones, tablets and TVs. This is truly insane:

The French government is considering creating a new tax on smartphones and tablets in a bid to raise millions to support the creation of digital cultural content inside France.

The proposal, handed to President Francois Hollande today, outlines a one per cent tax on the sale of Internet-compatible devices, targeting companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

The tax would yield about 86 million euros per year. The revenue would help cultural industries create French content such as music, images and videos.

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Posted: 15th, May 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment (1)

Hurrah! Britain is the world’s best at manufacturing something!

ISNT this just wonderful?

Britain is the world’s leading exporter of power generators, as they are seen as manufacturers of the “best quality and are the most reliable”, according to latest research.

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Posted: 15th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

A hearty well done to the European Union for boosting unemployment to Sub-Saharan levels

Greece Financial Crisis

THE skill with which the EU has been managing the wider economy is shown delightfully in these new figures from Greece:

Overall unemployment has risen to an all-time high of 27 per cent, data showed on Thursday, while joblessness in the 15-to-24 age group jumped to 64.2 per cent in February from 59.3 per cent in January.

A 27% unemployment rate is higher than the United States had at the worst level of the Great Depression. And a 64% youth unemployment rate: that’s more like some godawful shanty town in the wilds of sub-Saharan Africa than anything else.

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Posted: 13th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comments (3)

The silly idea of an international minimum wage

Muhammad Yunus

MUHAMMAD Yunus has done some pretty good things in his life: the founding of the Grameen Bank led to a Nobel Prize for example. Yet this really does have to be a silly idea: the idea of having an international minimum wage:

I propose that foreign buyers jointly fix a minimum international wage for the industry. This might be about 50 cents an hour, twice the level typically found in Bangladesh.


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Posted: 13th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

You can’t regulate the banking system just by regulating the banks

THOSE Big Bad Bankies, screwed up the entire world economic system and impoverished us all. Of course, what should happen is much greater regulation of what the banksters are doing with or money.

Which might even be true in fact. However, the problem is that you can’t actually regulate the banking system just by regulating the bankers. Because there are all sorts of companies out there that have money and which can and will step in to do business when we prevent banks from doing it.

Hedge funds using debt-trading strategies honed on Wall Street are expanding at a record pace as they profit from risks big banks are no longer taking.

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Posted: 9th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment

Monaco tries to salve its chronic short man syndrome by seeping into the sea

Travel - City Views - Monaco

MONACO is, like Dubai, a country suffering from small-man syndrome. It wants to be bigger. It’s wearing the flashy gold watch, driving a sports car and attracting celebrity friends but it remains small. Monaco is further damaged by being a very small version of France, that venue for scholastic exchanges, romance, booze cruises, burning sheep and car-b-cues. Monaco’s a foreigner’s view of an al fresco French drawing room, a gilded, gaudy, snooty, ultra-conservative bastion of monied minds, opulence, esoteric watch brands and tackiness.

Maybe it can improve if it can grow? The country is taking bids for a six-hectare (14-acre) development project of land drained of the sea. You have until 23 July to design a new district for Monaco’s new district by 2024.

New Monaco will be environmentally friendly and favour pedestrians and cyclists. Residences will be blocks of flats. Can it be that New Monaco will look like an old Russian slum, the locals all emigres recapturing the mood of Stalin’s Steppes, their heads swaddled in Dr Nip ‘n’ Tuck’s scarves as they affect a look of a housewife taking a Siberian winter full in the face – at  least until the stitches mend?

Monaco is seeping into the Med like a sewage outlet of greed. It’s good for the little men, of course.

Come on in, the water’s shallow…

Posted: 9th, May 2013 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

MPs are greedy bastards aren’t they? They want us to pay for their booze

booze subsidy westminster

WE all know, or at least we should all know, that the browsing and sluicing of MPs is subsidised by the rest of us. Costs us about £5 million a year to provide cheap food and booze for them in Westminster.

However, that’s just the headline number of what we actually spend. There’s also a concept (very important in economics) called opportunity cost. This is the amount that we would have if we put whatever it is to a different use rather than doing whatever it is with it right now.

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Posted: 7th, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Global warming will force more women into prostitution

hot sex

I AGREE that global warming is a real problem, that it’s one we might want to do something about as well. But that doesn’t stop people from taking the arguments in favour of doing something a little too far. Like this recent bill introduced into the US Congress. Apparently we should fight global warming because more women will become prostitutes:

A group of American politicians has introduced a resolution into Congress saying that climate change (among many other bad things it does) forces women into prostitution, and that as a result the USA should use “gender sensitive frameworks” in battling the scourge of global warming.

Whereas women will disproportionately face harmful impacts from climate change …

… insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health …

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Posted: 2nd, May 2013 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Woman offered payrise to get branded for life with work’s logo

Rapid-Realty tattoo copy

SOME people are thundering bozos and will do anything to get noticed. Take for example, the gasping simpleton that works for a New York real estate agency called Rapid Realty. RR are offering their staff a pay rise if they get a tattoo of the company logo. (On your arse? – ed)

In exchange for carrying a logo of a corporation, you get a 15% wage increase. Astonishingly, 40 members of staff have already taken up the offer.

One member of staff says it isn’t about the money. Robert Trezza says:

“I think it’s a good opportunity to show commitment to a company that makes going to work fun every day.”

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

Apple’s Bond deal is the most glorious tax avoidance ruse

CERTAIN people are getting rather angry about yesterday’s bond deal by Apple:

As is par for the course, the financial media is telling a story about a major US company from the perspective of the investing classes, rather than the broader public.

The poster child is the New York Times’ Dealbook, in a story titled “To Satisfy Its Investors, Cash-Rich Apple Borrows Money.” It third paragraph reads:

Apple’s return to the debt markets raises a riddle: Why would a company with so much cash even bother to issue debt?

A full seven paragraphs later, the article gets around to the last, and arguably the most important reason:

By raising cheap debt for the shareholder payout, Apple also avoids a potentially big tax hit. About two-thirds of Apple’s cash — about $102 billion — sits overseas in lower-tax jurisdictions. If it returned some of that cash to the United States to reward its investors, it could have significant tax consequences for the company. In some ways, the bond issue is a response to that tax situation.

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Posted: 1st, May 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Waitrose raises property prices

DID you know that Waitrose raises property prices?

So says the Mail:

The Waitrose effect: How upmarket supermarket can add 50% to the value of your home

And given that it is the Mail of course they get it wrong. The truth lies in this qualification:

Miss Chick admitted there was ‘no real answer’ to whether Waitrose ‘gentrifies’ areas or if the chain only opens in areas which are already upmarket and so more expensive.

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Posted: 30th, April 2013 | In: Money | Comment

If Obamacare’s so great why doesn’t Congress want it?

Obamacare Whats in a Name

SOMETHING from the other side of the pond to consider today. Obamacare is of course the great hope of the progressive movement in the US. How glorious that finally everyone will be able to have affordable health care insurance!

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Posted: 30th, April 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Bangladeshi Building falls down: Primark to blame

Bangladesh Building Collapse

YOU’LL have seen the story all over the papers. That appalling disaster in Bangladesh where a building fell down killing hundreds.

As a result of which we’ve got the usual suspects crawling out of the woodwork insisting that the UK fashion chains are to blame for what happened. Primark, for example, should be running building inspectors over the factories and offices of all their suppliers.

All of which is really very slightly odd. The Bangladeshi Government itself is indicating that 90% of the buildings in the capital don’t in fact meet even local building codes. Someone in the UK is supposed to do better than this? Bring them up to scratch?

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

On the Guardian’s coverage of economics: Heidi Moore really doesn’t understand the subject

really doesn't understand the subject

OR, if I’m to be entirely fair, on the new US Guardian’s coverage of economics. They’ve hired some bird called Heidi Moore from one of the public radio programmes to be their US finance and economics editor. And today she said this:

For one, it will be harder for us to know when we’re in a recession. Right now, a recession means several quarters of negative GDP. Getting to negative from where we are now isn’t hard; getting there when we’re 3% higher will be. While it may seem useful to avoid recession right now, that is actually a bad thing: it means that in periods when we do get negative GDP, we’ll be in truly terrible shape.

Oh my word……

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Posted: 25th, April 2013 | In: Money | Comments (3)

Teen pregnancy makes you fat!

fat teen pregnant

TEEN pregnancy makes you fat. That’s according to the latest research at least. Getting pregnant under the age of 19 makes you fat in later life. This research suffers from the same problem that an awful lot of economics research suffers from: getting correlation and causality confused.

‘When taking care of teen mums, we often have so many immediate concerns – childcare, housing, school, social and financial support – that we don’t often think of long-term health effects.’

After controlling for factors such as race, education and background, the scientists found women who gave birth before 19 had a 32 per cent higher risk of obesity than women who had given birth at age 20 or later.

The survey by the University of Michigan of US women aged between 20 and 59 is believed to be the first to identify teen pregnancy as a predictor of obesity.

There’s a problem with this. For we know that fat birds are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour. Every young man out on the pull understands this entirely of course but perhaps academics don’t.

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Posted: 22nd, April 2013 | In: Money | Comment