Friday 31 July 2015

"Cornish cow gets head stuck in a tree"

Spotted by Thomas Hall in The Plymouth Herald:

The young bullock was found tightly wedged by a visitor at National Trust property Trelissick House.

Staff at the property in Truro, Cornwall, were quickly alerted and it took two hours of removing branches and chiselling away at the tree for the bullock to finally be freed...

"We don't know why he put his head in there, but another cow has been back to the same spot so there must be some nutrient in there that they like. The second cow also got stuck but was freed easily as we had already widened the hole the first time around."

Wednesday 29 July 2015

"Southeastern train derailed by cows on line in Kent"

Spotted by James Higham in The Telegraph:

A Kent railway line has been closed after a train derailed when it hit cows that had strayed onto the track.

Southeastern said two carriages came off the rails when the Ashford-to-Canterbury service struck the livestock between the villages of Wye and Chilham on Sunday night. Around 70 passengers had to be evacuated by the emergency services and led to safety after the incident, at about 9.30pm.

Buses will replace trains between Ashford International and Ramsgate, via Canterbury West, all day on Monday - with the possibility that disruption might continue longer...

Southeastern said no staff or passengers were harmed, adding that the only casualties were "the poor cows"

Ah... but did the "poor cows" really "stray onto the track" or was it a suicide mission?

Friday 24 July 2015

"Harmful meddling among middle-class over-50s reaching dangerous levels"

From The Guardian:

Medical doctors and university researchers over 50 - who are healthy and highly educated - are more likely to engage in harmful meddling than their less privileged peers, says research.

A study of more than 9,000 self-appointed experts has concluded that prodnosing by the over-50s is a “middle class” phenomenon which thrives on the rush of bossing people about for no reason - a bit like your annoying elder sister when you were a kid - which should be targeted with explicit age-specific restrictions on bullshit output.

Age UK’s chief economist, Professor Jose Iparraguirre, author of the research, published in online journal BMJ Open, writes:

“Our findings suggest that harmful meddling in later life is more prevalent among public sector employees who are chronically overpaid and can't be bothered actually doing their jobs properly. And that's making the generous assumption that there is any point to their jobs in the first place.

"Constantly interfering in other people's lives and passing judgement on them may then lead to health and social problems for the less fortunate. Consequently, and based on our results, we recommend the explicit incorporation of bullshit limits to enable others to live out their lives in a gentle alcoholic haze.”

The disappearing homes conundrum.

From City AM, in amongst the usual Home-Owner-Ist drivel we would expect:

For the economy, [restricting relief for BTL mortgage interest] would be a disaster. Between 1986 and 2012, 57 per cent of all new dwellings created were private homes to rent, the majority of which were by individual landlords providing vital houses for those requiring accommodation, especially those needing to move for work or study. These homes were not “taken” from those who wished to buy.

Yes they very much were so taken.

The home builders land bankers have a certain profit maximising level of output (currently 150,000 or so new homes per year) and that is how many they will allow to be built. And they will sell those to whoever bids the highest price.

If BTL landlords were squeezed out of the equation somehow, then prices would probably fall, but as the land bankers are monopolists, it is quite possible that they would release more land in response. (Others observed that when oil prices fell, output increased in response, because petro-states have to get a certain amount of income from oil.)

The demand for these homes is from the people who will live in them, they are the ones paying for them, landlords merely step in as middlemen and gamble on creaming off a few per cent difference between rents received and interest paid.

So to suggest that landlords increase the supply of housing is nonsense, and they don't even increase demand. What he is saying is like saying "without the supermarkets, farmers would have nobody to sell their food to". If people didn't need to buy food to eat, then supermarkets wouldn't bother buying it either.

And, dear Mr Ward, if you think that BTL landlords should be treated like proper businesses for tax purposes, why aren't you calling for VAT on rents and Class 4 NIC on net profits? Just like proper businesses?

Thursday 23 July 2015

Stop moaning and give us all your money, you peasants.

From yesterday's City AM:

By Paul Stanworth, managing director of Legal & General Capital, founded in 2013 to help actively invest Legal & General's Group balance sheet.

Renting may be becoming the norm for large swathes of the UK’s population, certainly the under-40s, but a fundamental mindset change still needs to take place away from ingrained assumptions owning a home is preferable to renting it.

For many the idea of lifelong renting is something to strive away from at all costs. But renting should be seen as a positive lifestyle choice rather than a social or economic curse. I believe that the change in attitude will come as the range and standard of rental options available evolve.

Where it was previously a smaller segment of the market serviced by private landlords with sub-scale operations, the significant increase in demand coupled with public sector austerity has meant there is now a need for long term investors to fill the gap.

The good news is that the upswing in renting is coinciding with the development of a professional Build to Rent sector, with institutions looking to provide a new class of large scale, purpose-built rental stock. The strategic case for the sector is compelling. You need only to look at international examples, such as the US multi-family sector, or Dutch or German models, to see that where good quality large volume options exist there has been an overwhelming shift in attitudes towards renting.

Enhancing economic productivity through greater geographical flexibility, as well as providing affordability for those that are unable or choose not to join the owner occupation sector, this is about delivering higher quality, customised space, together with a more professional and flexible standard of tenant service that truly satisfies elective renters needs. It's also about accommodating all age groups and demographics, from retirees and families to time poor young professionals.

I believe there's a real opportunity to deliver well-designed homes in accessible, well-connected urban locations across the UK of a sufficient scale that they can be cost efficient and rental levels can be set at affordable levels.

In other words: this is essentially an opportunity to redefine what renting means in this county. A 24-hour concierge, onsite car-sharing clubs, state-of-the-art cycle facilities, gyms and integrated click-and-collect services are all potential features that we might expect to see carefully incorporated from the earliest design stages.

For us this is about using long term institutional money to support the future looking needs of the UK and working with forward thinking local authorities and best in-class partners to deliver this vision.

God Save the Queen....

... the fascist regime.

From Wizzed.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Only one-in-three? That's a bit worrying.

From The Daily Mail:

More than one in three homes will be owned outright within a decade, as baby boomers pay off their mortgages, a new report reveals. By 2025, 10.6million families will be living mortgage free, up from 8.4million today, most of them in their sixties and seventies.

But millions of younger people will never get on the property ladder as analysis shows there will be more people will be forced to rent privately than paying off a mortgage within a decade.

I'm a bit baffled why people who bought more than 15 years ago haven't paid off their mortgages yet; (I bought in 1998 and it took me ten years, so I am already one of the lucky one-in-three.)

The graph also highlights just how unequal land ownership (as extrapolated from home-ownership figures) will be if their 2025 forecasts are correct:

* 16% of households (social tenants) will be paying enough rent to cover running costs, but little or nothing for the land. They are in a break-even.

* 24% of households will be private tenants who own no land and have to pay full market rent for the privilege of living.

* 24% of households will be mortgage payers; about half of these will own no 'land' i.e. the outstanding mortgage will exceed the value of the land under their house (as distinct from the house on it).

* 34% will own their homes outright.

Those 24% private renters will be renting from 4% of households and presumably these 4% households also own their own homes, so on average, they own about seven homes each. For sure, there is some borrowing secured against this, let's call it four units of land each.

So there we have it:

* The bottom 52% own no land.
* 12% own some land (but less than one unit)
* 34% own one unit of land.
* The top 4% own four units each.

So the time honoured KLN "Land Value Tax would be regressive" is complete and utter horseshit. Imposing LVT in itself would level the land monopoly playing field; and it can't be rocket science to use the proceeds to replace the most regressive/economically damaging taxes. A more equal society with "hard working people" keeping more of their earned income. What's not to like?

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Solving one problem by causing another.

From Accountancy Live:

In his speech delivering the Budget, George Osborne said that the bank levy was introduced to raise revenue and increase the stability of balance sheets.

"And it’s worked – but now it risks doing harm unless we change it. So I will, over the next 6 years, gradually reduce the bank levy rate – and after that make sure it no longer applies to worldwide balance sheets. But to maintain a fair contribution from the banks, I will introduce a new 8% surcharge on bank profits from the 1st January next year," said Osborne.

The changes to the banking levy will bring in £1,6bn by 2020/21 and will affect UK banks, banking groups and building societies, foreign banking groups operating in the UK through permanent establishments or subsidiaries and UK banks and banking sub-groups in non-banking groups.

Ho hum.

Applying the bank levy/bank asset tax to worldwide assets of banks with a UK head office was a terrible idea from the start, so they are phasing it out. Good.

But why then take the retrograde step of making up the shortfall by taxing UK bank profits at 28% (i.e. normal corporation tax plus 8%)? All that will happen is that profits will be shuffled abroad again or reclassified as non-bank income taxed at 20%.

Far better to just leave corporation tax at 20%; restrict the bank levy to UK assets; and increase the rate significantly to soak up the 'rental' element of bank profits.

Monday 20 July 2015

"Kill the b*****d, kill the b*****d, tell them to bring knives and forks"

From The Daily Mail:

Mrs Olsen returned to find her neighbour pinned against a fence after the bull had dragged her approximately 20 feet...

Mrs Olsen decided the only option was to nudge the bull with the bonnet of her car, shifting the bull off its owner, who then scrambled into the car.

"All she kept saying was, 'Kill the bastard, kill the bastard, tell them to bring guns'", Mrs Olsen told The Sydney Morning Herald.

OK, I made up the bit about "knives and forks", but well played Mrs Olsen.

Fun Online Polls: Neo-liberalism & abroad

The results to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

When writing an article for The Guardian, how often should you use the word 'neo-liberal'?
About once every sentence - 70%
Less often - 12%
More often - 18%

This week: abroad. It all looks very grim and very tricky to me.

Take part here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Sunday 19 July 2015

A couple of theological questions for Sunday...

1. Several centuries ago, the Catholic Church decided that priests etc. had to be male and unmarried.

So what happened to all the priests etc. who were married when the rule was introduced? Surely they can't have all got divorced, because that's against the rules as well.

2. A couples of centuries later, lots of Christians left the Catholic church to form their own 'protestant' churches, for different reasons in different countries.

The power to declare somebody a saint has been the sole preserve of The Pope since about AD 400. For some reason, most protestant churches recognised all saints who had been declared saints before they broke away, but not those afterwards, and in the meantime, some protestant churches have had their own system for declaring somebody to be a saint, but that person only counts as a saint in his own territory.

So for example, you can see both Catholic and protestant churches called "St John" or "St Peter" (old saints), but after that, the systems have diverged. You won't see a Catholic churn called after a modern protestant saint or a protestant church called after a modern Catholic saint.

3. Can anybody reconcile this with any underlying logic?

Friday 17 July 2015

The impact of Sales Tax on selling prices

Using the same source for the relative price of goods for all US states (see previous post but one) and this handy table, from The Tax Foundation... we establish that there is no correlation whatsoever between the level of sales taxes (zero in three states, up to 9.46% in Tennessee)*.

Which is what we would expect. By and large, consumers have a lot of choice how to spend their money and whether to spend it or not; each business is set up to produce a fairly constant number of a narrow range of goods.

If demand is more price sensitive than supply, the supplier bears the tax (selling price unchanged and the supplier accepts lower profits per unit); and if supply is more price sensitive than demand, then the consumer bears the tax (prices go up by the amount of the tax).**

We've seen exactly the same with changes in the VAT rate in the UK and other European countries, selling prices remain unchanged, but profits and/or output levels change quite a lot - and nobody has ever produced any data to suggest otherwise. You can pick holes as much as you like, those are just observable and easily explainable facts.

* Actually, the coefficient of correlation between prices and the state average Sales Tax rate comes out as negative 0.16, heck knows how that happened.

** So land is at one extreme end of the spectrum and tobacco is at the other.

Life copies satire

From The Evening Standard:

The arrival of sandwich chain Pret A Manger in Brick Lane has sparked claims that one of the most creative neighbourhoods in London is losing its soul.

Opponents claim the opening is a sign of the Shoreditch area’s gentrification and called for the protection of independent businesses. The outlet, on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and the north section of Brick Lane, was formerly the Von Tromp pub, which closed in 1990, and was most recently the Benets of Cambridge ice cream parlour.

Jay Sword, 25, a global account manager, said: “It’s gentrification. I’ve lived here for four years and the area has become more commercial, pushing out smaller independents, which are friendlier. Pret have another branch just 200 metres away. It doesn’t have a soul.”

To his credit, the journalist managed to get sound bites from others with typical hipster job descriptions...

From the comments:

Red onion A Global account manager, a TV producer, a Costume maker and a Social media co-ordinator bemoan the way Brick Lane is being ‘gentrified’. You could not make it up.

Embedded rents.

Common sense and simple observation tell us that:

a) Goods in shops cost pretty much the same across any country;
b) Rents diverge wildly; the additional rent you pay in a high wage area soaks up most of the higher wages in that area.
c) There is an intermediate category; services (consumed at point of purchase), which are more expensive in high wage areas, but the differential is not as big as for pure rents. Part of what you are paying for is 'space', the cinema seat, the dentist's chair, the table at the bar etc; which I refer to as 'embedded rent'.

An American Home-Owner-Ist organisation called "The Tax Foundation" does some excellent statistics. They link through to The Bureau Of Economic Analysis.

Scroll down to page 9 and you will see that:

a) The price of 'goods' hardly varies across the country (lowest 94.1, highest 108.3)
b) Rents vary wildly (lowest 62.9, highest 158.7)
c) Services is somewhere in between (lowest 91.1, highest 115.9).

The co-efficient of correlation between (a) and (b) is 0.88, i.e. about 88% of the variation in the cost of goods can be explained by variations in rents. The co-efficient of correlation between (b) and (c) is 0.83, i.e. about 83% of the higher cost of services can be explained by the higher rents. And the causation could just as well be the other way round...

But either way, the influence which higher (or lower) rents has on the price of goods and services is small (one-fifth and one-third respectively). So for example, if rents are 10% higher, goods are only 2% more expensive and services are only 3% more expensive.
Which debunks, yet again, the silly KLN that a tax on the rental value of land would be passed on to consumers as higher prices. Higher rents themselves do not push up the price of goods and services (excl. the embedded rent element), and as the tax is paid out of the rent, the total rent cost does not change.

By and large, it is the number of units which can be shifted from any location which dictate the rent, even if the gross profit per unit is exactly the same in all cases.

"Half of your income now goes on rent"

From The Metro:

Young workers unable to afford their own homes are spending almost half their take-home pay on rent, a report reveals. The private tenants typically shell out £704 a month – 43 per cent of their wages...

Landlords put up prices by 8.2 per cent on average last year, the government’s English Housing Survey report shows.

Taking into account wage rises, the percentage of earnings spent on rent rose six per cent. Nearly half of 25- to 34-year-olds – 48 per cent – are now tenants, up from 21 per cent a decade ago.

The proportion of privately renting families has increased from nine per cent to 24 per cent.

It's worse than that.

Nearly half your earned income is taken in tax. The amount of Employer's NIC and VAT is nearly as much again as the PAYE you see deducted from your wages. Of the half that's left, nearly half goes in rent.

So broadly speaking about two-thirds of what you earn goes in publicly and privately collected tax (rent).

Thursday 16 July 2015

Now, I wonder if they will think this one through to the logical conclusion...


Better for 'rents', and better for Business Rates.

So how should they fund the parking costs?

Who's going to tell them?

Economic Myths: Share trading "encourages managers to think long-term"

From yesterday's City AM:

Long-term investment is critical for developing the intangible assets that are key to the success of the twenty-first century firm. Thus, locking in shareholders for the long term would seem sensible. So why did influential proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services, and major pension funds, vote against Toyota’s proposal [to pay higher dividends to 'long term investors'] ?

Because it’s not that simple. Short-term trading by investors need not equate to short-term behaviour by managers. Instead, short-term trading can be based on a firm’s long-term value, and thus encourage managers to think long-term.

Etc etc blah blah blah.

The article claims that 'short term trading' is just as good as 'long term investment' and is all well and good, but does not address the fundamental point: how are the unearned capital gains/losses made/suffered by people who buy, hold and sell shares of any benefit to the business? Why have traded shares in the first place? What about other forms of ownership?
For sure, every business has to be owned by somebody i.e. it starts off with a bloke or three who have a bright idea, tap their friends and family for a few bob and start up. If they don't fail, over time, some employees might take a lower salary in exchange for a higher profit share and become co-owners; they might tap a wider circle of people for cash if they need to expand and those people have to be promised a return; they might be a 'people business' which is owned by senior employees (a partnership) or an idealistic workers' co-operative etc.

These are all examples of businesses whose shares are not freely traded. Partnerships are owned by the partners; unit trusts are owned by unit holders; most limited companies are private limited companies (and most of those are run as quasi-partnerships, are family companies or are actually sole traders).

MORE IMPORTANTLY, a business can be open for the general public to invest in without having quoted shares. For example, building societies are owned by depositors; the general public can easily invest in a building society by depositing money with it, there's no reason why this model can't be used for any other large business.

There is nothing to suggest that businesses are less successful if they do not have quoted shares. If this economic myth were true, no quoted business would ever have been 'taken private' again. And instead of banks going bankrupt and building societies surviving during the recession, it would have been the other way round.

Whoever owns the business will want the best out of the employees as a whole. That includes everybody from senior managers down to the lowliest shop floor worker. In a classic partnership, every partner keeps tabs on the others; the top performers get promoted or a bigger profit share, the under-performers get demoted or booted out. If one building society offers better rates than another, then depositors will move to it.
What is infinitely more important than the share price is that shareholders have a vote (or did, until the boys in The City arranged things to sideline small investors. They are now enticed into giving their money to 'pensions funds' who'll do the voting for them, thank you very much).

It is shareholders at general meetings who have the power to sack directors (or did until the boys in The City etc, see above). If a shareholder votes management out, the management are out and shareholders (hopefully) win. If shareholders just dump their shares and cause the price to fall, then the shareholders are out and they lose.

So in real life, the share price only has an indirect influence on management behaviour, and this can be malign as much as benign (i.e. cooking the books, over-gearing, doing share buy-backs). It is or ought to be committed shareholders voting which have a positive influence on management.

And democratic decision making applies equally to all legal forms of business ownership, be it workers' co-operative, partnership, family-owned business, building society, whatever.

All these owners - however we label them - will be keen to see that they are getting the best return. If they are shareholders, they will waste oodles of time and energy tracking the share price, but if they own the business directly, they will only be looking at what really matters - current and future profits.
The article yaps on about 'efficient allocation of capital' while cheerfully admitting that this does not happen.

However good or bad a company is doing, the % return on shares is pretty much the same for all shares, because share prices adjust accordingly. So the dividend yield on under-performing Car Manufacturer X ends up being the same as the dividend yield for top-performing Car Manufacturer Y. The real capital (the plant and machinery, the know-how) is tied up in X and will not and cannot migrate across from Y to X. X will gradually go bankrupt, that wealth will be lost.

But what if car manufacturers were owned by depositors, like building societies? If Car Manufacturer X is paying 5% return on cash invested and Car Manufacturer Y is paying 10%, then depositors will withdraw from X and deposit with Y. So X will have to sell off some assets (ultimately to Y) to be able to repay them. Y takes over those assets and puts them to better use. Capital is being efficiently allocated. Overall output, employment and profits go up. Hooray.

(As it happens, this is exactly how it works with unit trusts, in which the public can easily invest, long story).
And it is output, employment and profits which really matter. As long as a business is producing something, employing somebody and creating a surplus, that is a good business (whoever owns it).

Share prices are a complete and utter irrelevance, play no part in the productive cycle and quite possibly damage it. Claiming that speculating in shares "encourages managers to think long-term" is almost as fatuous as claiming that the betting odds influence the outcome of a greyhound race. I doubt that even the maddest of mad statisticians would include changes in share prices in GDP, for example.

The "gender pay gap": Excellent list.

By Graeme Leach in City AM:

Ten reasons why gender pay differences don’t prove discrimination by employers

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (365)

Spotted by Carol W in The Independent:

It is odd that your correspondents (14 July), criticising the increase in value of homes liable for inheritance tax, cannot tell the difference between money (savings are cited) and a residential property.

Money is a liquid asset that can be spent in myriad ways. Property ownership gives one a fixed asset. The house or flat will remain when owners move out or otherwise quit the premises.(1)

Homeowners are really custodians. Care, maintenance and improvements are paid for out of taxed income and usually subject to VAT.(2)

They may enhance, but should at least retain, the value of the property. Other factors may reduce a property’s value – ask anyone living on the proposed route of HS2.(3)

It is because of the laws of supply and demand and government policies, not the fault of homeowners, that there is insufficient housing and thus high property prices.(4)

S Lawton, Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

Those are all textbook KLNs lifted straight from the KLN blog.

1. There is no money to pay the tax.

2. We paid for our homes out of taxed income.

3. Homeowners create the value of their home, so increases in value shouldn't be taxed. But simultaneously, homeowners have no influence over the value of their homes, so increases shouldn't be taxed. But they should be compensated if the government does something which causes falls in value.

4. It's all about lack of supply. Which has absolutely nothing to do with NIMBYism.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Great Analysis Deserves a Wider Audience

From the Cobden Centre, here.  I quote:

'What this exposes is that the principal determinant of productivity is not the relative skill and dedication of workers as suggested by the OECD’s figures, but the cost of employment.

An employer after paying employment and income taxes can less easily afford to pay a living wage in France and Italy. It seems bizarre that official indicators of productivity ignore employment costs, which is after all far more relevant to prospective employers.'

So, is that it then for witless Osborne's 'living wage' bollocks?

Stars make case for 'more cash' in letter to Prime Minister

From the BBC

More than two dozen figures from the world of arts and entertainment have called on the Prime Minister to protect them from cuts to the BBC's budget.

Regular BBC actress Dame Judi Dench (Mrs Henderson Presents, Mrs Brown, As Time Goes By, Middlemarch, Cranford, Return to Cranford, Roald Dahl's Esio Trot) is among the 29 signatories of an open letter calling for "a strong BBC at the centre of our income projections".

"A diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished bank account," the letter reads.

It comes ahead of a government green paper that is expected to call for a narrower range of BBC programming. BBC licence fee recipients JK Rowling (The Casual Vacancy), Stephen Fry (The Young Ones, Blackadder 2/3/4, Happy Families, QI, Absolute Power, Who do you think you Are) and screenwriter Richard Curtis (Not the Nine O'Clock News, Blackadder 1-4, Bernard and the Genie, The Vicar of Dibley, Robbie the Reindeer, The Girl in the Cafe, The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Roald Dahl's Esio Trot) have also put their name to the letter, which expresses a "concern that nothing should be done to diminish our income from the BBC or turn it from a club that keeps rewarding our mediocrity".

"The BBC is a very precious institution." the letter continues. "Precious to us, that is. Like all organisations, it has its faults but it is overwhelmingly a creative force for our good living".

Sigh. Not again...

From here.

No, the 'living wage' won't cost Council's a single penny. However it will cost tax and rate payers.


Actually thinking about it a bit more carefully, what this is is an increase in 'benefits'….

Tee hee. And give that man a pat on the back.

From the FT 9 October 2010:

Sir, The FT report on hedge fund managers moving to Switzerland (“Hedge fund shift costs UK £500m”, October 2) gives the impression that there will soon be a glut of empty offices in Mayfair and the City of London as hedge fund managers stampede to move to Switzerland.

In reality, this is not the case.

Frstly, immigration requirements in Switzerland are complex and not everyone from London will be eligible to work there. Secondly, for the principals of the business, relocating to a new country will be fraught with family and domestic considerations notably spousal consent, continuation of schooling arrangements for children, etc. Thirdly... the actual rate of tax savings on attributable non-Swiss earnings, on a marginal basis, is unlikely to be more than about 15 per cent [etc]

Joe Seet, Senior Partner, Sigma Partnership, London EC3.

From the FT, 12 July 2015:

Brevan Howard is moving some of its most senior traders back to London from Geneva, reversing a high-profile decision by the $27bn hedge fund to leave the UK and bucking concerns that the City’s status as Europe’s leading hub for the industry was under threat.

The decision comes as a number of other large hedge funds are also planning to expand or launch in the British capital, in a sign that international investors continue to gravitate to London.

Hedge fund managers and investors argue that low tax rates have failed to win over traders to the merits of life in Switzerland, with many leaving their families behind in London.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

The Magic Roundabout XXL

From Screenrant and Wikipedia

Picking up the story three years after Dougal, a shaggy, candy-loving puppy, bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, “The Magic Roundabout XXL” finds the remaining Kings of Tampa likewise ready to throw in the towel.

But they want to do it their way: burning down the house in one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach, and embarking on a dangerous journey in an effort to imprison their oppressor -- the evil ice sorcerer Zeebad (Zebedee's evil twin).

The world is placed in mortal danger when Zeebad wants to freeze everything there is. On the road to their final showdown, with whistle stops in Jacksonville and Savannah to renew old acquaintances, Dougal and his friends must recover three diamonds in order shake off the past in surprising ways.

This is News?

From the Telegraph

Scotland's first home-grown wine has been described as “undrinkable” by experts.
Christopher Trotter, from Aberdeen, set up his own vineyard in Fife three years ago in a bid to defy the wet Scottish climate.
The chef and food writer installed 200 vines at his home near Upper Largo and the first bottle of Chateau Largo was eagerly awaited by experts.
But he admitted his first vintage tasted "horrible" as he had failed to chill the grapes quickly enough, which allowed oxidisation to occur.
“It’s not great,” he said. “We have produced a vintage of, shall we say, a certain quality, but I’m confident the next will be much better.
“We have proved we can grow grapes in the Scottish climate.”

Well, yes, you can grow grapes, I'm sure. My father manages to grow a vine in the midlands. The problem is that wine relies on grapes maturing, producing sugars, and one of the factors in that is photosynthesis, which means getting sunlight. It's why Champagne is grown where it is - it's not a particularly sweet wine, because it doesn't get the sort of sun that you get down in Burgundy or the Rhone.

"Climate change studies have suggested that areas like Scotland will become more like the Loire Valley in 20 to 30 years," he told the Scottish Daily Mail.

Uh, no. Even with the worst IPCC band, it's 100+ years. If you're betting on climate change making your wine good, think again.

'If you look back to the English wine-making industry 30 years ago, it was the laughing stock of the wine-drinking world. It was not very nice stuff. But they persevered and now they are making some of finest wines in the world.
"Nyetimber (in southern England) now make sparkling wines every bit as good as a £50 bottle of Champagne.

Most of it still isn't very nice stuff. And certainly isn't good value. I've drank some of it. I'd much rather spend the same money on German wine. The main problem is that it just doesn't get enough fruit, so it's pretty thin. I even drank some £30/bottle Nyetimber to see what the fuss was about and was pretty underwhelmed. I'm not even sure it's as good as £30/bottle champagne, let alone what I can get elsewhere.

Please sir, the dog ate my homework. And may I have some more?

From the Evening Standard:

The Government’s announcement about changes to the planning system is a step in the right direction.

Yet policy-makers still fail to address the fundamental issue of development capacity across the industry and the ever-increasing cost of materials. From bricklayers to site managers, the lack of skilled construction workers and professionals in Britain is one of the largest factors that continues to constrain the supply of new homes. Until this is addressed, it is unlikely that we will see a marked difference.

Justin Gaze, Knight Frank’s joint head of residential development.

Mexican Entrepreneur Escapes Detention

From CNN

After Mexico's most notorious drug lord stepped into a shower and slipped into a tunnel to escape from a maximum-security prison, authorities vowed it wouldn't be long before the Sinaloa cartel chief was behind bars again.

Prison security cameras last recorded images of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on Saturday night, just before he apparently crawled through a hole in the shower area of his cell block at the Altiplano Federal Prison.

Authorities said they later discovered a lighted and ventilated tunnel nearly a mile long that stretched from the prison to a half-built house, where investigators were searching for signs of Guzman's whereabouts Sunday.

I really hope he had a poster of Raquel Welch covering it, just to properly take the piss.

Monday 13 July 2015

Daily Mail on top (form)

The DM's roving estate agent reporter gets some titillation.

"I'm so sorry the screams from my dungeon upset the tennis club": A surreal encounter with the suburban dominatrix (and ex-pastry chef) locked in a spanking great row with her wealthy neighbours

* Mistress Evilyne has run her dominatrix business in Kent for two years
* Neighbours of her 'torture chamber' were stunned to discover the business
* She runs her business from a £2,300-a-month five-bed suburban home
* Fellow residents insist they just want to know if the business is legal

Close to the perfect DM news story?

"Increase tax on doctors by 20%, say shoppers"

From the BBC:

An extra 20% income tax on doctors and GPs should be introduced to tackle the meddling crisis, British shoppers have said.

They estimate that doctors wasting time on things which are none of their business rather than treating illnesses is causing around 70,000 premature deaths each year.

In a major report on unhealthy obsessions with other people's diets, the consumer's body called for the extra money raised to be used to reduce VAT on luxury food items such as drinks and snacks.

The Food and Drink Federation said the measure would not change diets.

There have been growing concern about the damaging impact of doctors on health. In its Food for Thought report, Britain's mums warn that any 330 page report put out by the BMA and their ilk should be consumed with nine pinches of salt per page and is mostly "empty claims".

The report said taxing specific doctors' groups - such as the tax on dieticians introduced in Mexico - were shown to cut prodnosing by up to half.

Doctors cost the NHS £15 billion a year - more than obesity, alcohol, smoking and physical inactivity combined.

I really like this jacket, but the sleeves are much too long...

Spotted by Lola in The Telegraph:

[The couple has] no debts apart from a £40,000 mortgage on their home, which is worth £130,000. They bought the house for £50,000 through the Right to Buy scheme in 2013 and so they can’t sell it for another three years...

Georgina Partridge, partner at Plutus Wealth Management:

"Stuart’s goal to upsize to a three-bed house is certainly achievable on the couple’s current level of income. In three years, they expect the equity in their current home to be £70,000 [it's £90,000 already!]. This can be used as a deposit for their new property or split into a deposit for a new house and a buy-to-let.

A three-bed property in their area will cost around £160,000. If they put down the full £70,000 as a deposit, they will have access to good rates with most lenders. For a buy-to-let, they should be looking at a 25pc deposit. If they split the £70,000 equity, £40,000 could go towards the new home, leaving £30,000 for a buy-to-let."

Fun Online Polls: Bankers & The Guardian

The results to last weeks poll are as follows:

Compared to taking sweets from a baby, how hard is it for bankers to take money from the government?

Easier - 86%
About the same - 13%
Harder - 1%

This week's poll, again suggested by Ralph Musgrave:

"When writing an article for The Guardian, how often should you use the word 'neo-liberal?'

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Friday 10 July 2015

Just to cheer us all up after The Budget

George Osborne's Budget: Indian Bicycle Marketing?

Mike left this comment on my post Mildly reassuring:

Mark, I think you may be onto something with your "Indian Bicycle Marketing" idea.

Doesn't George Osborne's budget essentially deliver Labour's pre-election manifesto?


When you look at it, apart from the inheritance tax thing, there's really nothing that you couldn't imagine being in Ed Balls' first budget. Higher minimum wage, lots of stealth taxes, austerity cuts delivered at a slightly slower pace.


How do they get away with it?

They are all playing for the flabby centre ground, that's why (I guess). Labour and Tories can both get away with doing the same thing, they just pretend that they are different.

The same as Coca Cola and Pepsi selling essentially the same drink, all that is different is the label, the shape of the bottle and the advertising slant (Coca Cola is more wholesome; Pepsi is a teensy bit edgier).

New Georgism

We've had socialism.
We've had Thatcherism.
We've had the 'Third Way' Blairism.
Now following Wednesday we have Georgism,

Oh 'ang on. That can't be right. Er, can it?

Thursday 9 July 2015

Mildly reassuring.

Lola spotted the article in the Torygraph bemoaning and bewailing the fate of the poor hard-pressed buy-to-let landlords, some of whom might face ever so slightly higher income tax bills in future.

The first few comments are pure Home-Owner-Ist drivel, but the bulk of the rest of the comments are pretty rapaciously anti-BTL.

For example:


Good. Happiness, for us owner-occupiers, will be seeing the BTLers sell up and for us to gain neighbours who own their properties, care for them and connect to the local community. I hope this measure will lead to many more fellow citizens becoming owners-occupiers for the first time.


BTL is strangling the UK housing market - BTL parasites need to be taxed until their pips squeak as makes it easier for push-push Cuckoo immigrants to enter the UK job and housing markets both as Landlord and tenants and to be subsidised as Landlords on tax relief on mortgage interest tax relief.

BTL prevents young British families from getting on the housing ladder and causes UK rents and house prices to rise to unsustainable purchase prices for owner occupiers.

UK housing is now a special commodity and needs to managed as such... there is no housing shortage if the BTL parasite is fully taxed out of the market.

The Chancellors budget is welcome in reducing the size of the nanny interfering state that subsidises mass immigration to England but it has substantially failed to redress the UK obsession with subsidising the BTL parasites and as permanently damages the prospects for most British families in terms of them ever getting on the housing ladder and as damages investment in the real productive, industrial economy.

The main thing missing from the Chancellor's budget was a mechanism to allow private pensioners to invest in the real industrial economy and get a realistic rate of return.

BTL is killing the UK and is doing great damage.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Reader's Letter Of The Day

Things have come to a sorry pass when a Green Party candidate shows a better understanding of basic economic concepts like "opportunity costs" or "cost to the taxpayer" than the Tories (and just about everybody else).

From The Evening Standard:

Describing council rents as "subsidised" brings to mind cash payments to keep them low. But they're only subsidised in the sense that they're paying lower than private rents. It's like saying your energy bill is "subsidised" because you fixed a cheap deal.

Council tenants pay enough to meet the cost of building and maintaining their homes. Any up-front subsidy to build the homes is paid off in the long run through rents and benefit savings. Private rents are so high because the tenants pay the equivalent costs many times over, as landlords profits from rip-off rents and house price rises.

The unfairness isn't well-off council tenants enjoying a low rent that meets landlords' costs, it's private tenants being ripped off. We need rent controls and more social housing, not George Osborne's politics of envy.

Toim Chance, prospective Green Party mayoral candidate.

I'm a land value taxer and see things the other way round. Clearly, social tenants aren't paying the government for the real value of what they 'enjoy', but at least they are paying something, unlike private landowners, be they owner-occupiers, private landlords or land speculators.

Tuesday 7 July 2015



I was looking up 'austerity' in Wiki and this statement was in the article:-

"...Government spending contributes to gross domestic product (GDP), so reducing spending may result in a higher debt-to-GDP ratio...
This got me thinking.  How does Government Spending contribute to GDP?  Thing is there are two sources of government revenue - taxes and borrowing (we'll ignore money printing for the moment).  Taxes are money taken from the productive economy that the owners of that money would themselves use if the government hadn't taken it away. So government spending that cannot increase GDP.

So the implication then is that governments borrow to increase GDP.  That might make sense if those borrowings were invested, as in invested to make a cash return.  In the same that a company will borrow to buy machine tools, say.  But, by simple observation they aren't.  They are just spent on benefits of one kind or another.

Or is GDP just a crap measure?

Or am I missing something?

"Nobody move, or the puppy gets hurt!"

Landlords on fine form in The Times:

Landlords have threatened to raise their tenants’ rents if George Osborne uses the budget to end tax perks for buy-to-let borrowers.

1. We all know perfectly well that they can't, but if they could, why don't they do it now? Answer: because they are already charging as much as they can get.

2. They also know perfectly well that they can't - because if they could simply 'pass on' the higher tax bills then they wouldn't really care about the higher tax bills.

Compare them with the cigarette industry, they don't particularly like tobacco duty, but as supply is elastic and demand is price-insensitive they genuinely can pass on 99% of tobacco duty onto smokers, leaving their net profits pretty much untouched. Ditto petrol.

3. A tax is the opposite of a subsidy. How would landlords respond if Georgie Boy said "OK, keep your interest deduction, instead I will get that £5 billion a year back by halving the Housing Benefit you get". It's more or less exactly the same thing - but we know that if Housing Benefit were halved then rents would go down, however slightly.

4. They never say what non-leveraged landlords would do. Would they keep rents constant while leveraged landlords try to increase them? How's that going to work? Suffice to say, what would happen is that over-leveraged landlords, the highest cost operators, would sell up so we could argue that as a result, the average interest paid by landlords goes down so rents would go down (using their twisted and circular logic back at them).

5. In particular, it will be higher earning tenants who now buy the homes up for sale, meaning that remaining tenants have lower average incomes and so rents will come down to match.

6. If their logic were correct, they might as well call on the Chancellor to make all rental income entirely tax free.

In a letter to the chancellor, seen by The Times, the National Landlords Association warned that an assault on buy-to-let would damage the economy and work against first-time buyers.

Highly leveraged buy-to-let are a threat to the economy - even the Bank of England says so - not an assault thereon, we all know that as well, and how the f*** do they work out that squeezing a few buy-to-let landlords out of the market would not be interests of first-time buyers, i.e. the sitting tenants to whom the exiting landlords sell?

Landlords enjoy tax breaks that cost the exchequer about £5 billion a year, according to HM Revenue & Customs, the equivalent of more than a penny on the basic rate of income tax.

Yup. These greedy fuckers are 'investors' not businesses when it comes to grubby little taxes like National Insurance and VAT, so unlike proper businesses they don't pay those. But unlike proper investors who invest in shares, they can deduct their interest expense from taxable income... just like proper businesses. Best of both worlds, that is called. And then there's the 10% wear and tear allowance/giveaway.

Buy-to-let borrowers are allowed to deduct the cost of mortgage interest payments from their tax bill, a perk that makes buying property cheaper for landlords than for first-time buyers.

No, false comparison. Owner-occupiers pay less tax on their homes than landlords; strictly speaking, owner-occupation gets the most tax breaks. But at least an owner-occupier is only getting it on one home.

The fair comparison is with people who invest in shares (who can't claim a deduction for interest paid, see above). A perfectly sensibly policy, because it discourages credit-fuelled speculation in shares, which is what caused the 1930s Depression.

The letter from the NLA states: “...Landlords would be left with no other option than to recoup their increased costs through higher rents.”

Option 1 - accept lower net returns, option 2 - sell up. And that is the more likely one.

As a counter-point to all this, there are some interesting facts and figures in This Is Money:

* Average interest rate paid on BTL mortgages down from 5.77% to 4.69% over the last three years - so if tax relief for interest were withdrawn, the effective interest rate paid would be the same as three years ago (i.e. 5.77% less 20% tax relief = 4.69% without tax relief). Did landlords reduce their rents to 'pass on' the interest saving..?

* Nope. Average rents up from £660 to £734 over the last three years. If their logic were correct, then rents would have fallen to about £600.

Happy 8th Blogday To Us

With the benefit of hindsight, starting a blog on 07/07/07 was maybe a poorly chosen date - the second anniversary of the 7/7 Islamic murder rampage in central London - but we are where we are. But it's easy to remember at least.

If I had to correlate the start date to real life events, I would mention "Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister" and "the smoking ban", those were the two things which pushed me over the edge.

And here we are, 10,670 posts later...

"It was a waste of the taxpayers money from the start"

... says the man who won an appeal against a £75 littering penalty which ended up costing the taxpayer £8,000.

Whether the penalty was just or not (£75 seems a bit excessive in the circumstances as reported), if he cared about taxpayers' money then he would just have paid it.

Cronyism Rules OK?

From here:

I quote:

1. Pick a field where you can establish a monopoly – such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim who from 2010-2013 was ranked the richest person in the world after taking control of the country’s entire telecommunications market.

2. Expand as quickly as possible – Amazon has eschewed early profitability to becoming the “everything shop” and as a result investors have poured money in.

3. The worst place to do business is really the best – it is easier to dominate emerging markets due to the lack of competition and potential for growth.

4. Take risks with other people’s money – do all you can to encourage investors and then gamble their money rather than your own.

5. To get rich you need to own your own business and property rights – Bill Gates’s Microsoft at one point had a 95 per cent share of the operating systems market, protected by intellectual property rights.

6. Spin complex laws into gold – set up in industries bound by such convoluted regulation – for example agricultural subsidies and banking regulation - that it is easy to bend the rules as nobody understands [them] anyway.

7. Establish business networks – telecoms networks and shipping networks have created a lot of billionaires’ fortunes as they can squeeze out all competition.

No. 6 is my favourite...

Generally that's all about Private Enterprise, not Free Enterprise.

Monday 6 July 2015

Greek "Sun and sea vouchers": Part 2.

Random left a comment on Greek debt crisis solved: Greece to issue "Sun and sea vouchers":

Can they be used to pay taxes? ;)

Obviously. The vouchers are pre-paid tax.

Having issued the vouchers, the Greek government has to force the tourism industry to honour them by levying a tourism tax payable in vouchers (just like any other vouchers - be they rationing vouchers, nursery vouchers or coins and notes).

So, for example...

Tour operators buy the vouchers from The Troika for near face value and use them to part-pay the airline companies and hotel owners.

Airline companies have to pay a certain number of vouchers for the right to land a planeful of tourists; hotel owners have to pay a certain number of vouchers each year, depending on how big or favourable their site is. Or the government just levies a fairly high nominal tax rate on them and accepts the vouchers in lieu of cash payment.

The airline companies and hotel owners can keep the cash element (their "net of tax" income) and give the vouchers back to the government as "tax".

The government then chucks the vouchers on a bonfire.

Greek debt crisis solved: Greece to issue "Sun and sea vouchers"

In round numbers, seeing as Greece makes up a lot of statistics anyway:

* Greece owes the Troika €200 billion
* 20 million tourists per year.
* Average spend on air fares and hotels €1,000 each = €20 billion per year.
* Half of this is actual incremental costs.
* The other half of what tourists pay for is stuff which Greece gets for 'free' or which are already in existence/paid for i.e. airport infrastructure, hotel buildings, landscapes and historical sites, beaches, blue sea and sunshine.
* Additional cash spend by tourists €500 per holiday.

So what Greece could do is issue the Troika 400 million "Sun and sea vouchers" entitling the bearer to €500 off the cost of airfares and hotel stays, pre-dated 20 million a year for each of the next 20 years. So Greece will be redeeming its national debt by giving away value which they themselves get for free.

We can assume that balance of what tourists actually spend more than covers the incremental costs (the airport and hotel staff, the food and drink they consume and other tourist tat like fridge magnets), so that's a break even.

All the creditors - the IMF, banks, the ECB and so on - will be given the appropriate number of vouchers and they can sell these to travel agents for something approaching face value, who then pass on the discount to people who want to go to Greece on holiday, so over the next 20 years the creditors will get their money back (albeit indirectly).

A sunshine backed currency. What can possibly go wrong?

Gloriously obvious headline of the day: "Acropolis Now"

Having said that, the whole banking and currency system depends on people believing in it (or more uncharitably, it is a confidence trick).

If people expect it to work, it will work; if they expect chaos, they will get chaos.

To use a crude analogy, in hunter-gatherer days, people collected and stored their own nuts. It was hard work, and what you gathered was your to keep, not for sharing with the whole band.

Fresh meat on the other hand could not be stored as they hadn't invented fridges yet. So when lucky hunters came back from a successful hunt, they would share it with the rest of the clan, including that day's unlucky hunters, on the understanding that next time somebody else had a successful hunt, they would also share, so in the long run, the meat got shared out fairly equally and eaten up straight away.

If some 'hunters' cheated by neither gathering nuts and so on nor bothering to ever catch any animals (i.e. running up debts to the rest of the clan i.e. printing currency), sooner or later they would be excluded from the meat sharing exercise and nobody would want to give away their hard-earned nuts either (i.e. these lazier members of the clan have 'defaulted' and their credibility and hence currency would be deemed worthless), so they had a choice - start collecting nuts etc or try a bit harder with the whole hunting lark.

And presumably it worked or else we wouldn't be here.

Sunday 5 July 2015

We own land, give us money!

From the BBC:

But Mr Osborne also announced:

* The benefits cap - the total amount a family can claim a year - will be cut to £23,000 in London (the BBC understands the cap will be £20,000 per household outside of London)

Very few households get anywhere near £20,000 or £23,000 in non-housing related benefits, so by an large, this is a cap on Housing Benefit (a good thing, in and of itself). But as most MPs own buy-to-lets and a disproportionate number of those are buy-to-lets in London and many of their tenants receive Housing Benefit, they decided to cut back Housing Benefit a little bit less in London.
This bit either shows he is either stupid, lying or not prepared to say what he means:

Mr Osborne confirmed he would be seeking to make cuts to tax credits for people on low incomes, which had become a "very expensive" system, costing £30bn.

Very little of that £30 bn is actually Working Tax Credits, which would indeed be unnecessary if they increased the National Insurance threshold and the personal allowance for income tax.

The bulk of the £30 bn is Child Tax Credits, the bulk of which go to non- and very low earners. If he wants to cut Child Tax Credits, why doesn't he just say so? That might or might not be a good idea, but this is the bookend to him removing Child Benefit from households where one parent earns over £50,000. So basically he is now clobbering parents all the way up the income scale.
Their policies on social housing are all over the place:

Under the planned changes to housing subsidies, local authority and housing association tenants in England who earn more than £30,000 - or £40,000 in London - will have to pay up to the market rent, Mr Osborne will say.

Those are hardly ridiculously high salaries, so what he is saying is "Get a job and we will not just punish you with income tax and NIC, we'll punish you with higher rents as well" thus creating a whole new set of break-even calculations.

And wasn't their recent bright idea to sell off as much social housing as possible? Will the Right to Buy be restricted to people who earn less than £30,000 a year?

If 'no', then middle and higher earners' best strategy is to simply exercise their Right to Buy (which might be the thinking behind this) and makes a mockery of the whole thing - if these people don't deserve a discount to the market rent, why do they deserve a much bigger discount if they buy?

If 'yes', then their best strategy is to work part-time for a year, then exercise Right to Buy and then go back to work full-time.
But at least it is all for a good cause:

Extra money from those living in local authority properties will go straight to the Exchequer.

The Budget will also confirm the end of inheritance tax on family homes worth up to £1m.

Oooooo, the irony..

Building on my earlier post, there is also this gem from the same article:

"...One CDU member who used to work with Mrs Merkel agrees. "[The announcement of the referendum] was the moment that things changed. Up until then we'd all agreed to work with the Greeks, support the Greeks, pay for the Greeks. All that was OK if they were willing to reform. Many Germans go to Greece to enjoy the culture, the food, the history.

"But they also go there and see what the [Greek] government has wasted its money on.

[I'm sorry, just run that past me again? Whose money has it wasted exactly?]

You see these huge air-conditioned Daimler buses which go to nowhere with just one passenger. We've all seen them."...

This is those German made 'Daimler Buses' that Germany loaned money to Greece to buy, that he actually admits that they 'wasted their money on', when it was perfectly obvious that Greece didn't/would never have the wealth to pay for them in the first place.

As I asked, who are the mugs?

You couldn't make it up.

Saturday 4 July 2015

I hate to get involved in this, but...

"...I am 52 years old, and get a Pension of €1,400 per month, and dont know if i will get the next payment. I would vote NO, i have been retired since the age of 50 and get the money sent from Greece, and can use the council Gyms in London for free, free meals on wheels from Hackney Council, it is a good life...."

I would not be at all surprised if he also got housing benefits and council tax relief.

From here

Who are the mugs?

Personally, I am beginning to think that the whole thing - the EU - is some giant gerrymandering exercise based on creating the universal client state.

Friday 3 July 2015

Mutually Assured Destruction

Spotted by View From The Solent in The Telegraph:

Land banking? Nah, not us mate.

From City AM:

York-based Persimmon added 11,500 plots to its consented landbank of 92,400 plots...

Legal completions increased by seven per cent to 6,855 new homes, while total revenue surged by 12 per cent to £1.34bn in the six months to 30 June.

Don't just take my word for it, here's what their Chief Executive has to say:

We concentrate on the fundamentals of our business: maintaining a high quality landbank, maximising our strategic land capabilities, building sustainable homes, continuing to improve margins and providing good customer care.

So their number one and number two priorities are..?

Thursday 2 July 2015

True cost of Labour's pension tax raid: the square root of fuck all.

The Telegraph is still pumping out the line that Gordon Brown's Pension Raid has cost the "taxpayer" a cumulative £100 billion since 1997.


Rounded to the nearest £ billion or per cent...

Back in 1996-97

The mainstream corporation tax rate was 33% and the ACT credit which pension funds could reclaim was 1/4 of the cash dividend received.

* Total UK plc profits (say) £80 bn, corp tax payable £26 bn = post-tax profits £54 bn.
* Half of the £54 bn post-corp tax profits paid out as dividends.
* Half of retained profits and half of dividends belong to/paid to pension funds.
* Pension funds suffered £13 bn corp tax indirectly (half of £26 bn) and reclaimed £3 bn ACT (1/4 of the £13 bn cash dividends they received) = net direct and indirect tax bill £10 bn.
* Average tax rate 25% (£10 bn divided by half of £80 bn).


Mainstream corporation tax rate 31%.

* Total UK plc profits (say) £80 billion, corp tax payable £25 billion.
* Pension funds suffer half of that corporation tax = net indirect tax bill £12 bn.
* Average tax rate 30% (£12 bn divided by half of £80 bn)

So yes, initially this was a modest increase in their overall tax rate and a modest increase in their overall direct and indirect corporation tax bill of £2 or £3 bn.


The mainstream corporation tax rate is 20%, half paid out as dividends and half belongs to pension funds.

* Total UK plc profits (say) £160 bn, corp tax payable £32 bn.
* Pension funds suffer half that corporation tax = net indirect tax bill £16 bn.
* Average tax rate 20% (£16 billion divided by half of £160 bn).

This is now lower than the overall average rate they were suffering pre-raid.

In summary

You can reasonably argue that pension funds 'lost' £2 or £3 bn in 1997-98 compared to 1996-97 but in the meantime, they are 'winning' about £4 bn a year i.e. instead of paying overall rate 25% on their half of £160 bn, they are only paying 20% overall rate.

I'm not sure when the break-even year was, but all things considered, the losses and gains net off to a very small figure, nowhere near an overall loss of £100 bn and quite possibly a small overall gain. If you want the Excel formula, it is "=FA^0.5".

And of course, pension funds are not "the taxpayer". Everybody else is clearly miles ahead of the game as his overall indirect corporation tax bill is now 13% lower than eighteen years ago.

Bit Oversensitive, I'd Say

From the Guardian

The chairman of an organisation set up to honour the memories of the victims of the 7/7 terrorist strike on London has labelled a new trailer for the Hollywood disaster movie London Has Fallen “extremely insensitive”.

Babak Najafi’s film, a big budget sequel to 2013 action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman in the story of an attack on the capital. Chair of the Tavistock Square Memorial Trust, Philip Nelson, said the timing of the trailer’s release was wrong just a few days before the 10th anniversary of Britain’s worst terrorist strike of recent times.

So, how many days before should everyone not carry on with life? Does this also apply to things afterwards?

“This is not the first time that Hollywood has been insensitive,” he told the Mirror. “If the story is about terrorism then this is extremely insensitive. People have also recently died of a terrorist attack in Tunisia.

So, we shouldn't make any films involving terrorist plots, because someone will be offended?

“I have seen an image of Big Ben with the clock face blown out, that’s also insensitive. “[Our Trust] has had lots of help from America so I just think that these are the wrong images to portray. Is the summer the best time to be promoting this film anyway?”

Insensitive to who? Finn McMissile from Cars 2? Richard Hannay from the 39 Steps? Tim Burton for doing it first in Mars Attacks?

And, yes, the summer is the best time to be starting the promotion for this film. It's a teaser trailer. It's released months before to get people starting to talk about it.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Seems Appropriate

Daily Mail on top form

Spotted by MBK in The Daily Mail:

A failing businessman suspected of killing his wife and teenage daughter before fleeing to France and cutting his throat told relatives he had taken them on a surprise holiday.

Jonathan Anthony, 50, took his own life after suddenly turning up on the doorstep of a family friend in the south of France.

Within 24 hours police found the bodies of his wife Lisa, 47, and daughter Ava, 14, at the £1.8million detached five-bedroom home they shared.