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Money | Anorak - Part 46

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

The Times Says Copenhagen Is New Capital Of Sweden

THE Times’ Danny Forston has news that Sweden has been relocated:

We have it easy, don’t you know. Yes, the Big Six energy companies make big profits. And yes, one in four of us is “fuel poor”. But spare a thought for the poor Swedes. They pay four times what we do, on a cents per kilowatt hour basis, for gas. Electricity in Copenhagen is twice as dear as it is in London.


Posted: 26th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment (1)


When Governments Lie: Following The Argentina Model

GOVERNMENTS lie all the time of course for you know that a politician is lying when you see his lips move. However, there are lies and lies: we all know that “Vote for me a it’ll all be fine” is a lie. We might not know that “US poverty is at an all time high” or “Rents are unaffordable for many families” are for they depends upon detailed statistics which are simply too geektastic for most of us to give a shit.

But just as an example, Shelter released a report last week which said that private rents are now unaffordable in 55% of British cities. And, well, sorta, but not in the way it’s being reported. Yes, rents are high, because houses are expensive.

However, what Shelter said is that rents are too high as a percentage of take home pay. What is being reported they said is that rents are too high as a percentage of household income. These are not the same thing at all: take home income is wages after taxes. Household income is wages after taxes plus benefits.

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Posted: 24th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


How To Have Good Sex At Occupy Wall Street: Open A Czech Bank Account

ARE you having good sex with the love vibes at Occupy Wall Street?

The Man’s Guide To Love #603 from themansguidetolove on Vimeo.

Feel the love:

The Man’s Guide To Love #603 from themansguidetolove on Vimeo.

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Posted: 23rd, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


How Legalising Marijuana Can Save The Economy

TEXAS is doing well. You can thanks the Meixcan drugs trade:

[E]xperts who have studied the impact of drug money say it is undeniable that in a tough economy, trafficking has helped boost employment and economic growth in the state’s border regions, from the Rio Grande Valley to Laredo to El Paso. “It does play a role in the life of many people,” said Jay Garcia, a sociologist at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg who grew up in a migrant farm labor family in Starr County in deep South Texas. Drug money “trickles down to the drivers, the ‘mules,’ the leg breakers, people in all positions.”

It’s supply and demand…

Posted: 22nd, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


European Union To Ban Free Speech

THE European Union has banned free speech. That’s the implication of this little nugget of news:

BRUSSELS—The European Commission is leaning toward proposing a ban on the issuing of sovereign credit ratings for countries in bailout talks, a top official said on Thursday.

“I think it’s legitimate to have a special treatment when a country is in negotiation or is covered by an international solidarity program with the IMF or a European solidarity” program, said Michel Barnier, European internal market commissioner.

Should the commission, the executive arm of the European Union, come to view these sovereign ratings are inappropriate, “we could ban it or suspend the rating for the necessary time frame,” he said. “I am studying this matter very seriously.”

The thing is, you see, a credit rating is only Fitch (or S&P, or Moody’s, or any of the other 40 odd more minor ones) saying “You know, we think these peeps might find it difficult to pay back their debts“.

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Posted: 21st, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


More Banking Regulation Will Lead To Bigger Banks

MORE banking regulation will lead to bigger banks. There’s a certain, umm, tension, shall we say, between the various things that people are calling for over the banks.

On the one side everyone seems to agree that we’ve got too few really large banks. We should instead have a lot more but smaller banks so that they’re not too big to fail. Smaller banks, one goes bust, well, shareholders lose their money and the rest of us carry on. If we’ve only a few very large banks then one goes down and the entire financial system collapses into a pile of smoking rubble.

So, more but smaller banks please.

Can’t see anything wrong with that myself.

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Posted: 20th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Halifax Bank Offers New F*ck Account To Its Idiot Customers

HALIFAX bank would like customer Steve Smith to “fuck off”.
Smith, from Lancaster, received a letter addressed to “Dear Off”. Inside was an application form featuring the expletive in black ink.
Says Mr Smith:

“I couldn’t believe the bank has no system for picking up such profanity.”

This is the same trusty Halifax that was recently encouraged by the Financial Services Authority to offer 300,000 mortgage customers, up to a £500m total, having confusing customers about its right to charge them more for their standard variable rate mortgages.

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Posted: 20th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment (1)


Saving the Euro Could Bankrupt France

THIS saving the euro thing is decidedly difficult you know. The latest news is that if France does what might be necessary to save it, then France itself might go bust.

The U.S. ratings agency said late on Monday it may slap a negative outlook on France’s Aaa rating in the next three months if the costs for helping bail out banks and other euro zone members stretch its budget too much.

The warning, which sent the risk premium on French government bonds shooting up to a euro lifetime high, came as European Union leaders are preparing measures to protect the region’s financial system from a potential Greek debt default.

So here’s what the problem is. So Greece defaults, lots of banks lose money. Boo Hoo. But then maybe Ireland, Portugal will default? Still just Boo Hoo really. But, and here’s the biggie, this then puts pressure on Spain and Italy and if they default then the entire banking system goes down in flames.

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Posted: 18th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Actress Sues IMDB For Revealing Her Real Age

TO Seattle, where a law suit has been filed against Amazon, owners of the IMDB website, for $1,075,000. The plaintiff is an actress: The alleged crime: the website revealed her true age.

IMDB is owned by Amazon. The complaints runs:

The actress, who uses an Americanized stage name to avoid the “cultural disadvantage” of her real Asian name, says that the credit-card interception is the only way the company could have learned her real age. She says IMDb refuses to remove her birth date from her profile and that she has since lost work because “lesser-known 40-year-old actresses are not in demand in the movie business.”

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Posted: 17th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Small Frakking Earthquake in Blackpool: Nobody Hurt Looking For Shale Gas

WE’VE a report out today about those two earthquakes that happened in Lancashire a few months back. Seems they really could be linked with that drilling for shale gas around Blackpool:

CONTROVERSIAL gas drilling DID cause Fylde coast earthquakes.

And now energy chiefs have sent a stark warning to shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources – stop the tremors or we will shut you down.

It comes as the company this week held urgent talks with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to consider a report into the risk of earthquakes associated with fracking – the process used to extract shale gas from deep beneath the Fylde coast.

The meetings followed the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) conclusion two recent earth tremors felt nearby were most likely to have been caused by fracking.

At which point we’ve an interesting choice to make. There’s lots of gas down there. Lots ‘n’lots of it, enough to power the country for decades. Power the country far more cheaply than building yet more bloody windmills and trying to use solar power in a country famed for rain and cloud cover.

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Posted: 17th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


700 Reasons Why The Pastor’s Wife Should Spit Sperm Into A Cold Glass Jar

SPERM. Just what do you do with it? Well a report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the fertility watchdog, says there is lack of good quality sperm. In a bid to up the harvest, the £250 donors can claim in expenses for loss of earnings – you cannot be paid – may be increased to between £500 and £700. That is not too shabby.

The pastor’s wife may care to keep a chilled spittoon at the bedside:

Posted: 16th, October 2011 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comment (1)


How to Quit Your Job Like A Boss: Joey Quits And The What Cheer? Brigade

JOEY quits his job in New York, accompanied by the What Cheer? Brigade is from Providence, RI”

Posted: 15th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Google’s Tax Dodging Ways Explained

A REPORT out of the US about an investigation into Google’s tax dodging ways.

Google reported an effective tax rate of 18.8 percent in the second quarter, less than half the average combined U.S. and state statutory rate of 39.2 percent.

Something’s going on, obviously. What is actually going on is technically complex but can be, at the risk of losing a bit of detail, explained simply enough. There’s essentially two rules you need to understand.

1) An American company only pays the corporate income tax (what we call corporation tax) on profits it takes back into America. If an American company makes profits in, say, Ghana, the profits stay in Ghana or move anywhere in hte world other than the US, then the US doesn’t tax those profits.

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Posted: 14th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Yes, We Are Trying To Solve the Too Damn High Rents

SHELTER has a report out showing how rents are just too damn high.

In the majority of areas, typical rents from private landlords are over a third of the average take-home pay – the widely accepted measure of affordability.

From 1997 to 2007, rents increased at one and a half times the rate of incomes. Recent research by Shelter has also revealed that 38% of families with children who are renting privately have cut down on buying food to pay their rent.

OK, let’s accept their research as it is: what are we going to do about it?

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Posted: 14th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Boris Johnson To Privatise London’s Fire Services

BORIS Johnson wants to privatise London’s Fire Services. That’s the story according to Liberal Conspiracy at least, Boris is thinking of privatising the fire controls rooms in London and certainly some of his mukkers have muttered about privatising the whole shebang.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is planning to rush through the privatisation of the London Fire Brigade control centre.

It would be the start of privatisation within London’s fire services and open the door to further privatisation.

In 2008, Conservative London Assembly Member Brian Coleman, a key political ally of Boris, also refused to rule out privatising all of London’s fire services.

Coleman is now pushing plans to fully privatise the control centre by March 2012.

Sounds just absolutely appalling, doesn’t it? Letting private companies make money off saving lives, there ought to be a law against this sort of thing.

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Posted: 13th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment (1)


Property Porn: Photos Of Bill Gates’ Holiday Home

WANT to know what Microsoft boss Bill Gates is getting for the $600,00 a month rent he’s lashing out for his eldest daughter’s home?

The Sun-Sentinel looks at the property in Wellington, Florida, where 15-year-old Jennifer Gates will be an agonist at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Well, the 1997 home has: 4 acres; eight bedrooms; six bathrooms; 7,352 square feet of living space; a fountain with horse heads made of stone; a pool; lots of chairs and a wine cellar.

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Posted: 12th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Dave And Angela Dawes Win £102,203, 600.70: Chelsea Fan Might Yet Save Club

HATS off to unmarried lovers Dave and Angela Dawes from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, who have won £101,203,600.70 on the EuroMillions lottery.

Dave, 47, and Angela Dawes, 43, plan to continue living in their £70-a-week one-bedroom flat; she will continue her volunteer work for the British Heart Foundation; he will continue to work 12-hour shifts as a forklift truck driver for Premier Foods; and she will keep the ring her engagement ring her and not buy a larger stone.

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Posted: 11th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment (1)


There’s Blood In Your Mobile Phone, And Death

WE’VE another handwringing documentary coming to screens near us this month. Blood in Your Mobile is all about the appalling mining conditions in Congo

Umm, but hang on, haven’t we already had this? The stuff about coltan, the stuff that makes the tantalum which makes the capacitors in our phones? Why, yes, we have in fact already had this. And in fact there’s been a change in the law: makers of electronics, under the Frank Dodd rules, have to certify that their electronics, the 4 capacitors in them, didn’t come from minerals from conflict areas.

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Posted: 11th, October 2011 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comment


If You Really Want Something to Worry About: China Needs A Recession

OK, so we’re not having much fun at the moment with the Euro, Greece, the eurozone and all that. The US isn’t having a great time of it either. However, they’re rather trivia as compared to what might be happening in China.

They’ve been having 10% 0r so growth for the past three decades: that’s 10% per year mind you. So the economy is about 17 times larger than it was when I were a lad at university: something of a change really.

However, there’s a general rule of thumb that a booming economy covers up a multitude of sins. Hey, so what you made a mistake? The growth is so fast that it’ll come right anyway. It’s only in recessions that you see, as Warren Buffett says “who’s been skinny dipping” rather than wearing trunks. When growth is high or the tide is in you can’t tell.

There’s also another set of economic theories, usually known as “Austrian” that says, roughly, that in every boom there are those swimming without their trunks. And you need to occasional recession to uncover them, get rid of them, purge them from the economy.

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Posted: 10th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment (1)


Email Of The Day: The Chinese Translator

EMAIL of the Day reaches from Oliver Haiqing Hua, an “Economist, Business Consultant, Report Writer” who is offering his services as a translator:

I am a business consultant as well as avoluminous Chinese writer.

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Posted: 10th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comments (2)


Burying Steve Jobs: The Rotten Apple?

STEVE Jobs has died. After the hagiogrpahy, the pundits assess the legacy:

Mike Daisey in the New York Times:

The Steve Jobs who founded Apple as an anarchic company promoting the message of freedom, whose first projects with Stephen Wozniak were pirate boxes and computers with open schematics, would be taken aback by the future that Apple is forging. Today there is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself, a testament to how quickly power can corrupt.

Ryan Tate Gawker:

Rude, dismissive, hostile, spiteful: Apple employees—the ones not bound by confidentiality agreements—have had a different story to tell over the years about Jobs and the bullying, manipulation and fear that followed him around Apple. Jobs contributed to global problems, too. Apple’s success has been built literally on the backs of Chinese workers, many of them children and all of them enduring long shifts and the specter of brutal penalties for mistakes. And, for all his talk of enabling individual expression, Jobs imposed paranoid rules that centralized control of who could say what on his devices and in his company…

he internet allowed people around the world to express themselves more freely and more easily. With the App Store, Apple reversed that progress. The iPhone and iPad constitute the most popular platform for handheld computerizing in America, key venues for media and software. But to put anything on the devices, you need Apple’s permission. And the company wields its power aggressively.

In the name of protecting children from the evils of erotica — “freedom from porn” — and adults from one another, Jobs has banned from being installed on his devices gay art, gay travel guides,political cartoons, sexy pictures, Congressional candidate pamphlets, political caricature, Voguefashion spreads, systems invented by the opposition, and other things considered morally suspect.

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Posted: 7th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comments (2)


Stupid, Stupid, Stupid: Greece To Become Centre Of Europe’s Sun Belt

I’M not sure that I’ve actually seen anything quite this stupid for some time:

“Greece could become the showcase of solar development in Europe‘s ‘sun belt’ and that development could become the main driver of Greece’s green economic growth,” said Costas Karayiannis, chief executive of Greece’s only solar energy investment fund, Axeon Navitas. “Germany is the global leader in solar energy and it has a lot less sun than Greece. It makes a lot of sense for it to invest in this type of project here.”

Yes, we know that Greece is bust, yes, we know that the Greek Government has run out of money and yes, we also know that yer average Greek on the Corinth Omnibus hasn’t got any money either.

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Posted: 7th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Steve Jobs And The Options Grants

SO Steve Jobs is dead: long live Steve Jobs.

There are of course acres of newsprint devoted to him today but for me two little stories stand out.

It was only a couple of months ago that his biological father (Jobs was adopted) was revealed to still be working in a Nevada casino and that the two of them had never met or even talked on the phone as adults. I wonder if they did in these last couple of months?

The second is a minor financial story and given that this is the money column, an annoying little detail it’s worth correcting. It’s about backdated options grants. In his Telegraph obituary:

In 2001 he was granted stock options amounting to 7.5 million Apple shares, allegedly without the required authorisation from the company’s board of directors. Furthermore, the option came with an exercise price of $18.30.

But this price allegedly should have been $21.10, thereby incurring a taxable charge of $20 million that Jobs did not report as income.

There was a little spate of this going on in tech companies at the time and it became a minor scandal. However, it’s almost universally misunderstood.

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Posted: 6th, October 2011 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comment


Dexia Is Northern Rock

THERE’S a Belgian/French bank out there called Dexia. No, I’d not heard of it until a couple of days ago either. The reason I have heard of it, the reason it’s in the papers, is because it seems to be going bust.

At times during Tuesday’s trading session in Brussels, Dexia shares changed hands for less than €1 and at the close were quoted at €1.008, marking a 22.5pc fall for the day and close to a 60pc drop since the beginning of the year.

The collapse in Dexia’s market value, which currently stands at €1.96bn (£1.68bn), came as François Baroin, France’s finance minister, and Didier Reynders, Belgium’s finance minister, issued a statement saying they would “take all necessary measures for the security of depositors and creditors” and would “guarantee financing raised by Dexia”.

There’s two problems here, the second making the first much worse. The first is that they’ve blown most of the money, the capital of the bank that is, on buying Greek etc government bonds which are now worth 50%, 30%, of what they first paid for them. So the bank is teetering around being bust, having exhausted or nearly so all of its capital reserves.

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Posted: 5th, October 2011 | In: Money | Comment


Tube Drivers Deserve Their £50k: Blithering Bloody Nonsense

WE’RE told today that Tube drivers deserve their £50,000 a year pay packets because, well, because they deserve them:

But the drivers who take the millions of Londoners and visitors and tourists to their destinations every day are unsung heroes and heroines. They should be recognised as such in their pay packets, which the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union is still in the process of finalising, not least for having to deal with the lurking possibility of a “one under”. That’s what’s so special about those guys.

As the comments in The Guardian point out, you don’t in fact get £50k a year because people die in front of you: ask a few nurses, paramedics or Marines how much they get paid.

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Posted: 4th, October 2011 | In: Key Posts, Money | Comments (6)