Monday, 31 October 2016

Lawyers for Uber mad

This whole Uber case really is a storm in a teacup.


In no way are Uber drivers really employees - they would pass every criteria for IR35, except that they have to work almost solely for Uber.


Plus the whole case is made on hours available (this is how you can get to such low pay of £5 per hour). But of course cabbies are never on the clock for the whole time they are at work.


Really, DLA Piper, who led the case for Uber should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They have given wind to a whole raft of hand-wringing happy stories in the Guardian about the fight for workers rights. All of it a waste of time as half-competent lawyers will easily win the next round of appeal at the Supreme Court.


Also, whilst I am riled, what is all this shit about a 'gig-economy' as if this is something new. What, for all of say 2000 years, are fruit-pickers? Other Cabbies? Chuggers?


The whole world is full of people who try to make ends meet by doing basically odd-jobs on a regular basis. The whole Lefty concept that this is some new type of capitalist overlordship is crazy; more so given it is written by journalists who exist in just such a space; perhaps it is their sympathy and angst at their own situation that makes them try to come up with such contorted story-telling?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Insurgents

Tony Blair has popped up again to mobilise the upper-middle-class establishment and metropolitan élites as "insurgents" against their plebian youngers and worsers who have demanded we leave the EU. Presumably MPs publicly announcing their intention to vote for the Article 50 and Great Repeal bills will have their letterboxes stuffed with humous.

Any excuse to revive this old classic.


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Press Freedoms On The Line

The writings of Roy Greenslade are frequently suspect, but on this occasion I think he deserves a hearing.

It's about what he reckons is a backdoor way of getting the shocking 'section 40' into law.  Section 40, if triggered, means that a publisher that has not signed up with the 'official UK press regulator' and gets sued for libel, must pay the legal costs of both sides, even if they win.  At the moment S40 is in abeyance.  This sword of damocles should be consigned to the furnace, not left lying around for malicious implementation.

What's wrong with forcing publishers to sign up?  Earlier this week it was IMPRESS, Max Mosley's vehicle for revenge on the press, that was annointed 'official UK press regulator'.  (The fact that JK Rowling and Rowntree are also involved does not make me feel any the more comfortable.)

And we consider ourselves a free nation?  You couldn't, as they say, make it up.  Heaven help us.

ND 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Nissan: The Shape of Things to Come

Watching Jon Snow present the C4 news yesterday evening was a delight.  What the hell's going on here, he blustered - GDP up!  and Nissan investing!  - but, but, ... how can this be?  It's supposed to be all doom and gloom - the government is obviously cheating!!

Jon-boy, this is war.  Whatever the government did or didn't do for Nissan, there'll be many a dark deed done on the road to a successful escape from the clutches of the Commission.  It gladdens the heart to see that some proper pragmatists are settling down to their three-year-long task of doing Whatever It Takes.  Perhaps the wretched remainers in the ranks of the Civil Service are being brought to heel.  Or side-lined.  Whatever: they'll get the message if it's relentlessly reinforced at every turn.  Johnson / Davis / Fox maybe up to the task after all.

The EC will get the message, too.  You won't talk to us?  You hold out nothing better than 'Britain must be punished'?  Why then, we'll cut our deals somewhere else.

Altogether more annoying was the spectacle of Hammond studiously avoiding any sign whatsoever of pleasure at the news.  He has every right to be cautious: but his sour, pessemistic line went beyond prudent management of expectations.  Being charitable, he must have signed off on whatever 'deal' was done for Nissan, which is the main issue on the practical side. 

But rhetoric matters, too.  Churchill, who never failed to give his listeners a blunt understanding of just how tough things were going to be, also never failed to give them a vision of ultimate victory, with a credible display of his personal conviction and determination.

He wasn't much given to toleration of obstructionist attitudes, either.  Get with the programme, Hammond - this is entirely do-able.  

ND

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Trouble in Baluchistan is Real Trouble

Scanning the news on return from a nil-by-wifi holiday, I read of dreadful deeds in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan.  Which awakens some 30-year old memories.

Back in the '80s I did some soldiering in Oman, a country with which we have very longstanding relations going back to when that part of the Arabian coast needed patrolling against Sinbad-the-sailor pirates making raids on our India-bound shipping routes.  The Omani army was run quite efficiently thirty years ago (and probably still today) mostly by British NCOs and Pakistani staff officers, and was a smart little affair.  I strongly imagined my father would have recognised it from his Indian Army days a generation before.  One day I will root out the photos and do a post on it.

Anyway, the average Omani soldier (native) was a pleasant chap, touchingly loyal to the Sultan and probably brave enough.  But there wasn't much of what we might think of as a serious martial tradition.  

Nonetheless, there was sporadic fighting to be done.  The relatively heavy stuff of the '50s (Jebel campaign)  and '70s (Dhofar) was over but there was a simmering border conflict with Yemen in the south west, not finally settled until 1992.  And this pleasant average Omani was not really the chap to creep up on an enemy observation post and make with the cold steel.

So they employed two battalions of Baluchis, in much the same way the British army has long retained the services of the Gurkhas.  And, much like a Gurkha, your taciturn Baluch tribesman is exactly the sort of chap for creeping around the hillsides with the cold steel at the ready.  In fact, they were some of the best soldiers I have encountered.

If Pakistan has troubles with Baluchistan, I'd guess they could be very problematic indeed.

ND

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Goldman Sachs is scaling back - in New York

Remaoner scaremongering is becoming a thing of legend. Endless stories of horror, few or indeed, any, yet to come true.


The classic one led by the odious British Bankers Association is that all banks are preparing to leave London before Xmas.


The thing is, every single company in the UK, EU and US is using Brexit as a perfect event excuse. Cut salaries - Brexit
Cut costs by firing staff - Brexit
Ripping off Customers - desperation, caused by Brexit.


It is the universal excuse and will remain so until 2020 at least.


Just for balance, here is an article about how Goldman Sachs, said to be considering 2000 jobs in London and whether to 're-locate', is anyway firing 500 odd people in New York. No doubt because of Brexit.


Unfortunately, you can never prove a counter-factual. Goldmans is getting rid of people because its business is changing and the environment is changing. Whether Brexit related or not, the answer will always be Brexit because it suits all management to blame someone or something else other than themselves.


The wider point is that Banking is changing massively, really massively, the internet is fast disintermediating humans from the process of banking and the likes of Blockchain are only going to accelerate this trend. The big bank model is likely on the wane and there will be a big shift in moving to FinTech companies and a more diverse supplier base of services. It is just that as this happens, every job loss will be blamed on Brexit when actually something more interesting, more dynamic, yes...more capitalistic, is occurring. Which will also be more fun to write about than fact-checking remoaner lies.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

It's Heathrow, but not Gatwick

So it has finally happened, a new runway maybe eventually get built at Heathrow after 7 years of dithering by various Governments. I can't say May is hesitant as Prime Minister.


Clearly, the UK needs more airport capacity in the South East, but why restrict it to Heathrow is beyond my ken. It is a very statist decision and there was a much more market based route of allowing competition that could have been taken. I guess this way the impact is felt now and in limited constituencies.


On the other hand, UK Gilt 10 Years bonds, although at near record lows thanks to QE, have gained 38 basis points in a month. Still they sit 35 points down on one year, but they are creeping up. Just as the Government decides on a nice big fat investment splurge for the future. the irony being we are doing this at the end of the low interest cycle when even Ed Balls was saying do it at the beginning of the cycle.


Still, 3 elections away before any of these issues (or indeed, projects) come home to roost.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Brexit - Is free movement a red line for the Out voters.

Last bit about Brexit for a while, promise.

 http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/139/590x/secondary/448598.jpg
However, an interesting, well managed, debate on LBC this morning. The Liberal Democrat, Remain voting presenter put the usual idea that people didn't understand that they were voting to actually quit the single market.
It went on to suggest that if Scotland and Northern Island were proposing to exit the UK, via a referendum, would the voters reconsider a second referendum to remain in the single market, with free movement, but possibly opting out of other areas of EU control instead.

This has been doing the rounds for a few weeks now. The idea that the UK fears a break-up enough to accept free movement. And the recent economic shocks have woken people up to the dangers of a go it alone exit.

Personally, I think not.

I doubt the Scots will call another referendum on Scottish independence. The $ oil price alone means that the economic arguments that they couldn't win last time will be harder this time. Plus the unlikelihood  of automatic EU membership being offered. {Spain will veto} makes an argument that was lost once, harder to win the second time. Not impossible. Brexit proves that. But hard to win.
It was 45% - 55% in a more favourable time. The way Sturgeon is only hinting she might do something, rather than saying she will definitely, demonstrates the SNP recognises that it may get more from bluff, than from call.

Northern Ireland won't vote to leave. The main fears, deliberately stoked up by project fear; the threat of a Berlin Wall style border and the threat of no trade with Ireland and repatriation of EU nationals, have all been shown to have been false. So N.I. is unlikely to vote in the same numbers that it did when its genuinely felt self-intrests were threatened.

And, the killer blow for such a Liberal scheme, is that the free movement was a central issue. Not a side issue but the first or second reason why people voted to leave in the first place.
An attempt to keep free movement, by the back door, would not be acceptable.

But, let's find out. Do you believe that if TM can do a deal with the EU, to remain in the single market, but to have free movement, with some restrictions on benefits claimed and possibly having to have a job arranged before coming, some kind of eurofudge that we are all well used to seeing.
Would that be enough for YOU to vote in favour of REMAIN, in a second referendum ?

Friday, 21 October 2016

A handy guide to the post brexit world

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/1819E/production/_90081789_eu_ref_results_map_promo976.png

What 'Brexit' really means for the political parties.

Conservative - Abandon any EU political regulation. Abandon EU immigration.  Ignore ECHR Judicial rulings. Have no intent to ever join the Euro.  Be ambivalent about remaining in the single market unless that prevents trade with the wider world. Refuse to pay any EU membership fees. Vaguely mention possibly rejoining the single market and the EU  'at some future point in time,' but without enthusiasm or any real intention to do so.

 Labour - Embrace some socialist EU political regulation. Embrace EU immigration. Encourage and respect ECHR Judicial rulings. Consider joining the Euro. Stay outside of the single market and discourage trade with the wider world, except with a soon to be formed Comecon of nations.
Willingly pay EU membership fees but do not take up membership.
Often mention possibly consider rejoining the single market and the EU 'at some future point in time,' with much enthusiasm but without any real intention to do so.

Liberal Democrats - Embrace all EU political regulation. Embrace EU immigration. Encourage and respect ECHR Judicial rulings. Demand UK joins the Euro. Sign up to the single market and ban trade with the wider world.
Willingly pay triple usual EU membership fees and fully take up membership.
Never mention possibly leaving the single market and the EU ' at some future point in time,' and never have any intention to do so

UKIP -  Abandon all EU political regulation. Ban EU immigration.  Ignore ECHR Judicial rulings. Have no intent to ever join the Euro.  Leave the single market and trade with the wider world. Refuse to pay any EU membership fees. Never mention possibly rejoining the single market and the EU  'at some future point in time,' and never have any intention to do so.

SNP -  - Embrace all EU political regulation. Embrace EU immigration. Encourage and respect ECHR Judicial rulings. Demand Scotland joins the Euro. Sign up to the single market and ban trade with the wider world, especially England.
Willingly pay quadruple the usual EU membership fees and fully take up the membership, whilst leaving the UK.
Never mention possibly considering leaving the single market and the EU 'at some future point in time,'  and never have any intention to do so.

The Greens - Embrace all EU political and environmental regulation. Embrace EU immigration. Encourage and respect ECHR Judicial rulings. Demand the UK joins the Euro. Ban all trade.
Willingly pay octuple the usual EU membership fees and fully take up the membership, but impose 100% import tariffs anyway.
Ban any mention of possibly considering leaving the single market and the EU  'at some future point in time,' and never have any intention to do so.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

UK Asylum Seeker Ages

SWEDEN is set to begin a controversial age testing scheme on more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children.

Child refugees coming alone to Sweden aren’t always children. According to workers at several different refugee housing facilities, many people say that they are younger than they actually are in order to get better treatment and avoid deportation.
Sometimes the difference in real age and given age can be upwards of ten years, leading to problems when it comes to schooling, medical care, and housing.
Radio Sweden 5 march 2010


Sweden has been overwhelmed with ‘unaccompanied minors’ in what critics suspect is a huge fraud
Daily Mail January 2016.

http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/galleries/x701/175491.jpg
So there is nothing very new in the story that of the first batch of children asylum seekers, some appear to be significantly older than the age they claim. This has been a serious issue in Sweden for quite a while. So serious that the most liberal of liberal governments in the entire world, had to step in and do something about a problem it would much rather have avoided. The Swedes asked the doctors to do a test. But the medics said the test wasn't accurate enough and could only provide an age range.
And that story continues on in Scandinavia without resolution.

Over here,the latest batch of over age children has caused something of a millennial revival. The Tory MP David Davies, who questioned the age of the refugees has been labeled a racist. That's a very new labour era method of trying to silence a debate when one side suspects it has no answer to the questions it is being asked and wants to just shut it all down.
 
Why is it 'racist' {Gary Lineker} or 'Unethical' {British dental Association}, or a 'shameful attempt to smear refugees' {Tim Farron} to assess the age of these asylum seekers?

Because if they are asylum seekers, and have been granted asylum, then their age does not really matter. If the UK has agreed to take 'x' number of asylum seekers, then we should take 'x' many. if some of these are over the age they say they probably would still have been granted asylum in the following weeks anyway.
 
However, if the UK public has been told that the UK is only taking children, in an attempt to soften the anti-immigration feeling in the country, then the children should be children. And if some sort of test is necessary, and does actually exist, why can't that be used to verify an age? 
 
Remember these people are coming from France, not Syria. they aren't in any immediate danger except from the willfully inept and deliberately uninterested French social services granting them asylum in France instead of the UK. Why certain sections of UK society are terribly upset over what appears a fairly reasonable request to verify the age of someone claiming to be a child is hard to understand. If these kids are kids, nothing happens. If they are older, they will be treated as adults. That's all. Better for them not be put into social, schooling, medical or asylum centres with children if they are actually adults.

I would remind the lefties who are having a good old virtue signal about this, and the Home Office, who ruled out 'inaccurate, inappropriate and unethical dental checks' that the drowning out and silencing of people's concerns about immigration for ten years; instead of engagement, explanation and resource allocation, had a very large impact on the decision of people of the United Kingdom voting to leave the EU.
 
If they want to make the case for allowing in any number of any age asylum seekers, then make the case for that. But don't suggest to the UK public that it is operating a 'Kindertransport' and then yell racist when someone asks for some proof of age. 
 
That can only end badly.



Heathrow expansion runs into the long grass



The current administration is doing a very good job of a swan impression. Above the surface it is all sweetness and light and peaceful serenity: no public clashes between Inners and Outers to speak of, a unified cabinet and party behind it, popular measures easing through Parliament, and so on. Below the surface there is an awful lot of swimming going on. Last week the papers were full of hints that the final final decision on Heathrow expansion was about to be announced. 

As the nation as a whole breathed a sigh of relief, the plotters set out their stall. Zac Goldsmith, whose political career ground to a shuddering halt after his woeful performance during the London mayoralty election campaign, threatened to derail the Conservative government by doing a David Davis. George Osborne popped up to say that it should be Heathrow or nothing, because if it isn't Heathrow and Heathrow only, then nothing will ever get built. George Osborne's constituency is, of course, 200 miles away. Meanwhile Stansted got in on the action to say hey, if you let Gatwick build something then we want something too.

This is the problem with a pluralist democracy, and a huge problem when the government has a tiny theoretical majority but the governing party is fractured along many, many lines. There are plenty of local issues competing with national ones. Too many compromises were made at the last couple of elections, and neither main party can claim any unity on the airports issue. There is probably a majority in Parliament for Heathrow, but to get it through without the support of the local Tory MPs would be grist to the mill. If only we could be more French...

The Capitalists' preferred answer is to say yes to everyone. Allow Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and even Birmingham to proceed with expansion plans if they want to. Allow each to beef up its transport links, but only at its own expense. Let competition rule the day: only the most plausible and efficient project will be funded by investors. Governments are rubbish at deciding these things, because they have so many competing interests.

Or is Theresa May's government playing a longer game? Will her actual policy be put in the Tories' next manifesto, giving her a proper mandate to crack on after a general election? That is my working theory on Grammar schools, so why not airports as well? Win the argument, lose the vote, call an election, win big with a policy agenda that could not be clearer. Or is that too cynical?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

1% Inflation, eh? How Times Change

Somehow the Grauniad manages to make the 1% announcement sound like something shocking.  Well, "City analysts had expected inflation to rise to 0.9%"  -  so Something's Gone Badly Wrong.

Next, they'll be telling us that soft house prices are an outrage.  If anyone could be arsed, I am guessing we could find past editorials stating how important it is for inflation to be somewhere around 2% and that soaring house prices are a blight on the younger generation.

Ho hum.

ND

Saturday, 15 October 2016

$50 Oil. Everything's Relative

We've long noted that everyone, from Saudi Arabia to the Green Party, misunderstands the logic of the US onshore oil & gas industry, namely that it (a) is rational; (b) is flexible; (c) understands sunk costs; (d) has ready access to equally flexible and rational finance; and (e) is constantly innovating - in the direction of reducing costs.  And thus it defies predictions every time.

This cartoon says it all really.


http://www.upstreamonline.com/
If you want some words to go with it, there's always Nick 'sometimes useless, sometimes not' Butler blogging in the FT.
[Saudi] strategy has not only failed but has caused serious damage to the Saudis themselves. Prices fell much further than anyone anticipated because other participants in the market did not respond as expected. The Saudi increase in production has not destroyed the US industry – American output has fallen only marginally despite a 70 per cent drop in prices. The kingdom simply underestimated the resilience of the US producers and their ability to cut costs.
Ain't that the truth.  

ND

Friday, 14 October 2016

Hard Brexit Baked in or off?

This subject always reminds of the old joke about how hard it is to give up innuendo.

However, the EU is in no mood to compromise. Hard brexit it is or else stay in the EU.

The current government policy must be to wait and see what happpens next;

- in the Italian referendum which may change the Government there.
- in the French election if Le Pen does well and is in a run-off with Sarkozy
- in Germany if Merkel quits at Xmas and says she won't run next year.
- in Holland if Geert Wilders gets in

All or any of the above could change the views of the EU next year....but I doubt it unless It is a full house. More likely the article 50 will be triggered and events set in train that will be too hard to stop.

So hard it is.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Blair return





I have heard, via the Tory Party conference, that Tony Blair and George Osborne are indeed in meetings re a new 3rd way initiative. Blair is keen to come back to politics to offer something to Lefties that is not Corybn Communism.


Equally, Osborne can see he is a busted flush with the Tories, he can only come back in the event of a cataclysm event which has somehow done for Mrs May - in which case he won't be PM anyway.


So perhaps instead, there is a path for them to forge this new, shiny, 3rd way party.


Lovely gossip I thought; apart from including Gordon Brown it is hard to consider how you could make a more voter repellent grouping than this?


What could be worse, suggestions in the comments....

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Hard Brexit


The panickers are panicking. We are going to leave the single market and the panickers are scared. There is no need. A fall in Sterling will more than cushion the potential blow from potential tariffs. In the global currency wars, the UK has stolen a march. The Eurozone of course will bear the main brunt of any UK-rEU trade war, as it simply cannot adapt as well as Britain can.

And that is before we start on the potential upsides of leaving the regulatory jurisdiction of the single market.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Can Donald Trump still win ?

https://www.dailywire.com/sites/default/files/uploads/2016/10/rcp_electoral_map_10.9.2016.jpg

The weird debate is over. for some reason the TV studios thought it best if the potential presidents had a stool to sit on, next to a really tiny table, and a wireless microphone with no stand.
So when it was Hillary's turn she walked right to the edge of the platform, as if to hug the person asking the question. Which, if she could have made a few more steps, I'm sure she would have. And a few cheek to cheek kisses too. Standing right at the edge like that meant that trump could be seen behind her. Walking about and trying to get into shot like Eric Morecambe with his raincoat and bag.
It was a strange way to present a show. But, it was a strange debate.
Trump has had a terrible two weeks and his numbers have fallen quite dramatically. Enough to make the Republican party that was tacitly, if unenthusiasticly supporting him, because he was doing well, abandon him now he looks like a loser.

So Trump went on the offensive and was offensive. Sparky, but angry too. He semi-closed out his lewd behaviour as locker room banter. But again couldn't reasonably explain his tax payments as Hillary can't reasonably explain why Bill paid off Paula Jones with $850,000.
He did much better than before. Hillary Clinton still has no answer to her email deletions. The spin she tried made it easy for Trump to call her a liar, and to tell her she should be in jail. Which did get a very loud round of applause from an audience told not to applause.

So, Trump did better. He did OK. Although post polling has given the debate to Clinton.
The problem for The Donald is needed to do much better than OK. He needs to do very, very well.

The map above is Oct 9th. On the face of it, its a Clinton win. She has 260 leaning votes and only needs one more mid sized state of the 7 still undecided to win. Trump has 165 votes. He needs to win at least eight  of the undecided nine. 

These are polls and not actual in the bag votes. Only the Darkest colours should be taken as 100% certainty. Which does give Trump slim hope. 
Hillary has 115 seats in the solid camp. Trump has 49.
Clinton's 115 are all 'safe' US Democrat seats. Most have been Liberal since 1992. When the other Clinton ended the Republican landslides. These aren't the states Team Trump will have been hoping to gain. If Donald Trump can finally nail down Texas, which has been Republican voting since 1980, his number goes from a very poor 49 to a better 87. That could give momentum to his campaign.

With his own party denouncing him, however, it does look like its all over already. It would take some really damaging evidence of a Hillary misdeed to come to light to boost him far enough to start taking states from her. And if Team Trump had any evidence, they would have used it already.

Trump must hoping for:

Millions of non-voters suddenly turning out with a real, fierce passion, because of powerful arguments such as immigration and sovereignty, which the opponent has no answer for. Voters willing to vote for someone portrayed as a hateful figure like Nigel Farage. Because they think he is on their side. Voters fed up with being told they are racist and stupid and with a desire to ignore the people who tell them that. People who also just stop listening to the endless warnings of all the dangers in voting against the status quo, and decide that even if it isn't in their own best interests they are prepared to do that anyway.

 There are parallels. And in the debates if you listen to Trump's somewhat incoherent message he is campaigning for the same issues as Brexit. 
Immigration controls. Lower taxes. Better healthcare. A say in the running of the country. American jobs for American workers.

It could happen. The Brexit miracle. 

But its more likely an even more damaging piece of information emerges about Trump. Possibly several more. Or he gaffes up again and again and again. After all, he hasn't been in office for donkey's years. Being schooled on the art of saying nothing too controversial. Making sure to stay on message and blandly platituding the masses. 

How the Republican's must wish they had seen this 'Corbyn' like figure coming. Their own Primaries were like the Labour leadership race. Bland long serving flippy-flops, not prepared to say anything at all that might alienate someone or noobie unknowns trying to go against the party voters grain.
Both not hearing the loud, banging drum of the next wave of politics.

Hillary Clinton  is a really vulnerable Democratic candidate.  But she is electable.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Crisis!



Even some small part of the Indy is now waking up to the realisation that the big fall in the Pound was a) long overdue and is b) hugely beneficial.

AEP nails it in the Telegraph, quoting Mervyn King:


"During the referendum campaign, someone said the real danger of Brexit is you'll end up with higher interest rates, lower house prices and a lower exchange rate, and I thought: dream on. Because that's what we've been trying to achieve for the past three years and now we have a chance of getting it." 

Roll on dollar parity.

Let The Fracking Commence. Maybe.

The go-ahead given by government for the resumption of exploration drilling by Cuadrilla in Lancs - in the face of refusal by the county council - presumably marks the start of the much-delayed Round 2 of UK shale-fracking activity.  

There was another, rather quirky shale-related development when the larger-than-life Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS shipped in a cargo of 'shale gas' to Grangemouth.  This ostentatious display was, I assume, designed to soften the Scotties up to the idea that shale gas is coming anyway, so we might as well develop it here.  They do need something to replace the North Sea revenues, after all - so maybe a bit of a conundrum for the SNP.

(Of course, what INEOS was shipping in was ethane - a by-product of natural gas production - for use as a chemical feedstock. As a fairly pure chemical, it would generally be difficult or indeed impossible to identify the precise source of a tankful of ethane; but maybe this batch came from a gas processing plant that only takes in shale gas in the first place.)

So there is at least the possibility of new shale-related activities in this country in several places at once.  This might then dilute the protesters' efforts, I suppose: but with the newfound enthusiasm for people with too much time on their hands taking to the streets evinced by Momentum et al, maybe it will stimulate significant new outbreaks of civil disobedience, and overtime for the Old Bill.

As we've noted many times before, the current surplus of gas worldwide (caused by shale production in the USA, and a massive over-development in LNG liquefaction capacity worldwide with more still to come onstream in the next 3-4 years) makes for depressed prices, which won't help a UK shale industry get off the ground.  But the motivation to explore, if not then to develop immediately, is always great.  Ding dong, seconds out, round 2 ...

ND

Friday, 7 October 2016

Crisis hit Pound to hit parity with Euro €

On ND's advice I am trying some different header titles.

There was a flash crash in the pound earlier today in Asisa, these things can happen when over 90 of trade is done by robots who are tracking news and every small event that may impact the markets (even this website gets hundreds of bot hits per day, likely for this reason).

Market sentiment in the days of algorithmic trading is a tough beast, as the Pound gets hammered and all sorts of nonsense is spoken about hard Brexit (as if there was another choice - again, remoaner fantasising) and how bad that will be. As such, I won;t be surprised to see the Pound hit parity for a while with the Euro and even the dollar may touch less than $1.20 for a few days.

The thing is, with a huge current account deficit and a desperate need to increase exports and FDI, then a falling pound is just what we need. OK, so a bit miffed about holiday money, but there you goes; also that is the ONLY downside I can yet see to Brexit so far. Everything else is good news, even the falling pound is just what we need at a macro-level.

Brexit is turning out just like 1992. The UK fell out of the ERM, the Government was humiliated, the recession was still working its way out of the system, everyone felt the country was going to the dogs. Fast forward a few years and it was the start of one of the longest economic booms in our history


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Thursday 6th October MOVED TO THE FRONT






This Thursday you may find ND, BE and CU at St. Stephens Tavern (in Westminster, opposite Big Ben) from around 7pm onwards, be delighted to by any of you a drink who can make it.

With the Tory conference in full swing, we shall likely be accompanied solely by bored Labour and SNP MP's in the place....



Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Brown/Balls/Osborne...and now May/Hammond

I don wonder sometimes, how the economic centre of UK politics has been dragged so far to the left.


Ever since Ken Clarke, a acknowledged lefty Tory, left office in 1997 we have not had a decent Chancellor or Prime Minister who believes in capitalism.


Yet we have had a few changes of Government and people during this time, getting on for 20 years now. If anything, the speech by Teresa May today is even more left -wing that one that Ed Milliband would have dared to give. In fact, perhaps she is intent on seeing off Corbyn by out-flanking him on the Marxist left.


Massive state intervention has never been a good idea, never. I give you the Soviet Union as a lesson, I also give you China in about 5 years time too. I give you 1970's UK.


But this is what May wants, already we can see in the horrific scarcity of talent on her front bench from the simply dreadful Amber Rudd to the gaffe-prone Brexiteers, they sing in unison an anti-business and anti-capitalist dirge.


Of course we want to limit immigration, but blaming companies is not the right answer nor is trying to turn them into a police state.


Of course, we want stable utility prices, but not by Government decree; this is how they try to do it in Venezuela and Zimbabwe and we have seen the end of the film already. We want steady prices because there is a balance between supply and demand.


Market and capital based solutions are often the best answer we have ever developed, not perfect, not without downsides, but better than nanny-knows-best Government dictat.


It is a disgrace that 20 years of Government have seen frankly no real development of thought or innovation and instead politicians decree the same statist nonsense whatever side of the floor they are from. Perhaps they think they are clever as this is big tent politics. maybe it is, but it is terrible for our living standards.


What a shower they are, Labour of course are even worse, led by genuine communists. I fear a frightful few years ahead of constant backtracking and obvious policy errors.



Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Regulating Plastic Surgery

Yes, plastic surgery is in the news, with the Royal College of Surgeons expressing concern that any doctor is permitted to offer such treatment without further specialist qualification.  (Is this perhaps related to Anne Robinson being all over our screens again?)  

Well, up to a point every good capitalist recognises the need to regulate.  We could probably do worse than adopt whatever approach it is that they use in Russia ...

ND