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Money | Anorak - Part 32

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

Is Microsoft’s Excel the most dangerous software in the world?

IS Microsoft’s Excel the most dangerous software in thewWorld? It could be actually. That is, that the very existence of Excel itself makes it the most dangerous software in the world.

There’s two parts to this. One is that we’ve got the regulators trying to warn banks on the dangers of using it badly.

Both the Switzerland-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision1 (BCBS) and the Financial Services Authority2 (FSA) in the UK have recently made it clear that when relying on manual processes, desktop applications or key internal data flow systems such as spreadsheets, banks and insurers should have effective controls in place that are consistently applied to manage risks around incorrect, false or even fraudulent data. The citation by the BCBS is the first time that spreadsheet management has ever been specifically referenced at such a high level, a watermark in the approach to spreadsheet risk.

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Posted: 13th, February 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment


Now that’s what I call tax avoidance: the Cup Trust

THIS story is really rather mindboggling. A charity that raked in £176 million over two years and then donated £55,000 to other charities. The rest of the £176 million went on fund raising costs. I have to say that I’m stunned by the audacity of it to be honest.

It’s entirely different from all of the various bits of corporate tax avoidance that the newspapers have been full of. Starbucks, as an example, simply didn’t make UK profits so they shouldn’t be paying any UK profit tax. The Vodafone thing was about who rules? UK law or EU? To which the answer is EU. And it’s possible to go on down the list of all of the UK Uncut campaigns and point out that they’re just not tax avoidance.

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Posted: 11th, February 2013 | In: Money | Comment


Those tax dodging swine at Amazon!

GRRR! Amazon! Coming over here, making vast sales, and not a penny of tax do we see out of them. Or something like that. You know, all they’re doing is providing people with what they want, cheap, and where’s the public value in that?

Unfortunately the Guardian seems to be running their corporate tax pieces on boilerplate language these days. For they tell us that Amazon doesn’t pay tax because:

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Posted: 8th, February 2013 | In: Money | Comment


John Redwood Does Sarcasm

JOHN Redwood can be sarcastic:

The top 1% took home 11.2% of the nation’s net income under unequal Labour in 2009-10, and a much lower 7% this year under the much more equal Coalition. This fall goes all the way down through the top half of earners. The top 50% received  75% of total net income in 2009-10, and only 60% this year. Meanwhile the bottom half receives a bigger share of the income than at any time this century.

All those who wanted a more equal society should rejoice. Indeed, they should be voting for Coalition parties out of gratitude. The Coalition has done something Labour was quite unable to do during its period in office, when the UK became less equal.

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Posted: 6th, February 2013 | In: Money, Politicians | Comments (2)


This is a damn good way to spend the education budget: more orgasms

THIS is a damn good way to spend the education budget:

The University of Minnesota is spending $3,400 to host a symposium this spring specifically designed to help its female undergraduate students achieve bigger, better and more orgasms.

It’s possible to be serious about this of course. Universities are indeed places of education, training pit stops on the path through life. And there’s little that’s going to make your life more pleasant than understanding the female orgasm.

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Posted: 6th, February 2013 | In: Money | Comment


No, really, Apple still isn’t avoiding UK tax

THE Sunday Times has done yet another of its pieces on how tech comapnies are avoiding tax in the UK. Given that that paper’s gated, here’s the Telegraph telling us all about it. The real problem here is that Apple just isn’t indulging in tax avoidance: this is what the system is set up to encourage it to do

Apple is estimated to have avoided more than £550m in tax in Britain in 2011. Its latest accounts show UK turnover at just over £1bn and profit at £81.3m, generating a tax bill of £14.4m.

However, analysis of its filings in America suggest a more realistic figure for UK turnover is £6.7bn. This would imply an estimated profit of £2.2bn and, at the then corporation tax rate of 26pc, a £570m tax bill, the Sunday Times reports.

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Posted: 5th, February 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment


Why is David Beckham only playing in France for 5 months: tax

A VERY nice little catch here by The Mirror on why David Beckham is only playing in France for five months:

The star’s contract at PSG runs for only five months.

If he stayed any longer than six he could become liable to a proposed 75% tax on his entire multi-million pound earnings by the socialist French government.

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Posted: 4th, February 2013 | In: Money, Sports | Comment


Behavioural economics: oh yes the French do move because of taxes!

ONE of the great current tropes is that the rich must pay more in taxes because that is fair. One of the current answers is that try taxing too much and the rich will leave. Which gets called unfair again.

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


Oh Noes! EU carbon price is too low!

I’M not sure what hope there is for the human race when even the FT gets things like this wrong. Everyone and their mother is complaining that the carbon credits price under the EU scheme to deal with climate change is too low. We’ve even had our won government insisting that there must be a carbon floor price.

The EU carbon market has been miserable for most of the past few years, with prices staggering downwards from their c.€30 levels on the scheme’s launch in 2005. But it’s become very gloomy in the past couple of weeks, with mid single digits prices falling as much as 40 per cent to a record low of €2.81 last Thursday.

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Posted: 31st, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment


Apple’s sales rise, profits rise, shares tank: WTF?

A USEFUL little reminder of something that economists keep trying to tell people but which often doesn’t seem to get through. Stock markets are forward looking.

So, we have Apple reporting its financial results for the most recent quarter. Profits were up (only very slightly, but they were). Sales were well up. Everything’s looking pretty rosy in hte Cupertino garden. At which point the shares drop 10% in minutes.

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Posted: 29th, January 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment


This sexual equality thing’s gone a bit too far now, hasn’t it?

IT’S most certainly true that we didn’t go far enough with this equality thing in the past. Heck, it was only in the 1970s that a woman could have a bank account without some bloke signing for her. Only in the 80s that mortgages became unisex. And only in the late 80s that the tax system started to treat women as economic individuals rather than just hangers on to any household they belonged to. So, Hurrah! Civilisation has improved.

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Posted: 28th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comments (7)


China shows why Microsoft is screwed

THERE been some recent whining from Microsoft about how they get to sell bugger all in China. As opposed to Apple who can’t make things fast enough. Some of this is of course because Microsoft sells software, something often ripped off in that lovely country. But there’s something else as well: and it’s a neat illustration of why Microsoft is, essentially, screwed.

China’s Internet population surges to 564 million, 75 percent on mobile

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


Now That Europe’s Got A Robin Hood Tax Let’s Not Have One

THE Robin Hood Tax people are all ever so excited. Half the countries over in the eurozone have now been given permission to have one and it looks like France will get one around the end of 2014. The argument is thus that because they’re all getting such a lovely financial transactions tax therefore we should immediately run off and do the same thing.

However, the correct argument would be, well, seeing as they’re doing this experiemtn why don’t we wait and see what the results are? You know, just check that all hte claims being made about such a tax are in fact correct?

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Posted: 24th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comments (6)


Comment is free? Guardian worker writes of executives lavish excess

THE Guardian is heading Down Under to Australia. What do the workers think of the idea? This letter appeared on the Guardian/Observer Weekend section:

 ”Afternoon Alan – I’m a member of Guardian staff, posting anonymously.

 As you know, it’s a tough time for your journalists at the moment – especially for those of us way down the food chain: the production grunts, the desk-bound, the ones who actually produce the content.

We’re working harder and harder (because we love the papers), coping with dwindling resources and morale, we’re badly mismanaged, and trying to cope with the life-changing threat of compulsory redundancies – all a result of the company’s long-term financial illiteracy and lavish excess at the top.

So I just want to say thanks for the series of articles – three now, isn’t it? – about learning to play your Fazioli piano. They’re brilliantly timed, and I know they’ll lift spirits. We always wondered how you filled your days, how you spent your fortune. Now we know.”

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Posted: 23rd, January 2013 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment (1)


Verizon worker outsources own job to China

BORED in your job? Don’t worry. Someone in China will do it for less. This man outsourced his own job:

It’s a worst-case scenario for most employees: There’s someone in China who can do your job quickly, efficiently and for about one-fifth of your salary, and your boss absolutely loves his work.

But one U.S. software developer turned this nightmare on its head and actually benefited from outsourcing, a report says. That’s because, unbeknownst to his bosses, he hired a Chinese developer to do his job, allowing him to take home impeccable performance reviews while actually spending the day watching cat videos and shopping on EBay.

According to Andrew Valentine, who works on the Verizon Risk Team investigating data breaches, the employee, who Valentine calls Bob, had pulled off the stunt for some time, allowing him to relax and earn a good salary while someone in China did his job for him. . . . Suffice it to say, Bob is no longer working for the company. It’s possible that he is missed, though. His performance reviews were impeccable, and his company considered him the best developer in the building.

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Posted: 21st, January 2013 | In: Money | Comments (2)


Let’s tax fuel to reduce fuel poverty!

THERE really are loons out there. Here’s a case in point. The argument is that energy is getting more expensive. This puts some people into “fuel poverty” where they are spending more than 10% of their incomes on fuel. Hmm.

So, what might we do to address this situation? Hey, why don’t we put a tax on fuel to make it more expensive! That’ll work, right?

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Posted: 21st, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)


Law graduate robs bank to pay student loan debt

WHY did Randall H. Hubatch, 49, of Madison, dress up to rob a bank? To pay his student loan debt:

A man who wore a three-dimensional Bucky Badger hat when he allegedly robbed an East Side credit union last week told police that he wants to go to prison and needed the money because he has $250,000 in student debt…

An online UW-Madison directory lists Hubatch as a lead custodian at Union South on the UW-Madison campus. University spokesman John Lucas said Hubatch is not a current student but earned a bachelor’s in English in 1998 and a law degree in 2004.

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Posted: 20th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment


What the hell’s wrong with Goldman Sachs’ profits going to the workers?

I DO desperately struggle to understand what it is that people are whining about here

Goldman Sachs was accused of a ‘lack of sensitivity’ last night after handing out average pay and perks of £250,000 – a rise of 5 per cent.

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Posted: 18th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment (1)


The greatest newspaper graphic of all time: America’s huddled rich

ABOVE is the graphic the Wall Street Times published to illustrate its story about rising taxes in the US.

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Posted: 18th, January 2013 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comments (4)


So what has this neoliberalism ever done for us?

WHAT has neoliberalism done for us. So asks George Monbiot this morning. All this pandering to the rich, allowing offshoring, the hollowing out of all that was good and wondrous in the British economy. What good has it done he asks us:

The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.

Total failure eh? Rather depends where you look really.

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


How the inconsistent rich and rewarded socialists want us to live

DAVID Thompson nails them:

For some, professions of egalitarianism and socialist belly fire are a kind of rhetorical chaff – a way to elevate oneself as More Compassionate Than Thou, while deflecting envy from below. (“Please don’t hate me for being richer than you. Look, over there – they have even more, or almost as much – let’s all hiss at them!”) Vicarious philanthropy – giving away freely other people’s earnings – is a remarkably effective ruse, so much so it seems to encourage a certain disregard for dissonance, as demonstrated, for example, by the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger in this comical exchange with Piers Morgan. And by the Guardian’s imperious class warrior Polly Toynbee, whose rhetoric was contrasted with her actual lifestyle and was promptly reduced to indignant spluttering on national television. Similar obliviousness is also displayed by the millionaire actor Jeremy Irons, who denounces consumerism and asks, “How many clothes do people need?” All while owning no fewer than seven houses, one of which is a peach-coloured castle. No, you’re not allowed to laugh. Because his wife is also very Green and “deeply socialist.”

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Posted: 14th, January 2013 | In: Celebrities, Money | Comments (2)


Sugar: the latest godawful health scare

IT has to be the Mail reporting this, doesn’t it? But here it is, the shocking news that UK cereals contain more sugar than US cereals.

Breakfast cereals sold in Britain contain as much as 30 per cent more sugar than the same products in the United States.

Cue wails, outrage, you must do more, you’re poisoning us you bastards etc.

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Posted: 14th, January 2013 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


How the piggy bank got it name

WHY is it caalled a piggy bank? Megan Cohen knows (it’s nothing to do with pigs):

In [the Midde Ages], when the question of where to keep money arose, people didn’t typically have the option of a local bank. Instead, the answer oftentimes involved keeping their valuables in a vessel made of pygg. 

What was pygg, exactly? Pygg, a word with Old English origins, was a type of dense orange clay, popular in Western Europe for its use in the creation of a wide variety of containers, jars, and cups. The common name for these containers was “pygg jars.” As the pygg jars were fairly ubiquitous, they were used for storing a variety of items, including money. 

Pigs and banking fits, doen’t it?

Posted: 11th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment


No, we shouldn’t pay MPs more

THEY’RE whining again. They’re very important people doncha know, these Members of Parliament. And as they’re very important people they should be paid lots more of our money:

Seven in 10 MPs said they were underpaid on £65,738 a year, according to a survey by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). On average, MPs said they deserved salaries of £86,250 — a 32 per cent rise.

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Posted: 11th, January 2013 | In: Money, Politicians | Comments (3)


Whitehaven Coal v Jonathan Moylan

SURELY this will see the fraudsters end up in prison:

Environmental campaigners sparked a 9pc dive in the share price of Australian miner Whitehaven Coal after issuing a fake press release regarding a multi-million dollar funding facility.

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Posted: 10th, January 2013 | In: Money | Comment