Monday, 24 July 2017

The Long March

The Marxist Antonio Gramsci famously advocated advancing the revolution by undertaking a 'long march through the institutions'.  They've been at it for decades, of course, and over the weekend there was a little snapshot of their progress.
Sixty-six of the world’s leading minds were announced as Fellows of the British Academy ... the very best of humanities and social sciences research.  This year’s new Fellows are experts in subjects ranging from feminist theory to the economic development of Africa ... The British Academy’s newest cohort of Fellows also reflects the growing diversity of research in the UK. The proportion of women elected to the Fellowship has doubled in the last five years. This year, 38% of the new Fellows are women, exceeding the 24% share of female Professors in UK universities.
Sounds exciting.  What have these folks been researching?  Here are some extracts.  For the avoidance of doubt, I haven't made up any of this.   Well, you couldn't make it up - could you? 

Young women and mass media, feminist theory, gender and popular culture, British fashion industry, creative economy, fashion start-ups and micro-enterprises in the urban environment
Theory and politics of multiculturalism, secularism, Islamophobia, racial equality; sociology of ethnic minorities in higher education and employment; with special reference to Muslims in Western Europe
Inequality in education and labour market outcomes, educational efficiency, school and teacher effectiveness, social mobility 
Fundamental rights, interdisciplinary studies of law, gender studies, critical and feminist legal theory 

Colonialism and post-colonialism; civil wars and extreme violence in Africa; political violence and political justice; decolonization of the university and higher education; war on terror 

Comparative welfare state studies; social policies and gender inequality; theorisation and measurement of contemporary poverty; family policies within a comparative perspective; social care in contemporary states and societies; European Union social policy 

Legal recognition of family ties, the consequences of relationship breakdown, and experiences of the family justice system 

Inequality, wage structures, minimum wages; peer effects; the economics of migration 

Feminism in philosophy 

Contemporary social and cultural geography; agri-food studies; moral economies and consumer practice 

Language and migration; new dialects; multicultural youth language; language and social structure; sociolinguistics of West Africa 

Global development and social change; issues of inequality, gender, environmental sustainability, health and infectious disease in Africa and beyond; interfaces between social science, science and policy
ND

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Everyone's Favourite Topic: Trains

Well, OK probably the weather - but trains run it a close second.

This past week something quite significant happened: the government scrapped plans to electrify the tracks in areas across Wales, the West Midlands and further up the West Coast.  Cue outrage from the greenies.

Why significant?  Because electricification is the only known strategy for getting anywhere near the UK's decarbonisation "legally binding targets" of 57% by 2030, 80% by 2050.  Electrification of transport and (even more dramatically), of space-heating, see below.  Most eyes - and subsidies - have been on decarbonisation of power generation thus far, because it's the easy target.  But transport (= oil) is about a third of our energy consumption and space-heating (= gas) another third.  So, the theory goes, when you've figured out how to de-carb power generation, you shift as much as possible of transport and heating onto the leccy.  Simples.

Accepting that 2050 is a long time in the future, you'd still expect government to be plodding methodically in that direction if it had these targets as a serious policy priority.  Around these parts we all know, don't we, that GDP trumps GHG - so we're less surprised.  But hard evidence of this important political principle is always interesting to come by.


Notwithstanding what a great topic trains is (cue our good friend Kev ...), space-heating is a really juicy one for fans of irrational policy-making.  Above is a graphic from the really quite diligent Energy Technologies Institute which crunches a lot of numbers on these matters.  The dark bands at the bottom is energy capacity used in the form of electricity in this country through a particular year (it's 2010, for reference).  A bit more in winter months than in summer.  And proving very difficult to decarbonise.

Now look at the red plot - that's energy capacity required for space-heating, largely gas-fuelled.  What kind of expansion in the grid will we require to switch from gas to electricity?  How will it cope with those winter peaks?  How much will need to be spent on replacing 20 million-odd old boilers?  Paid for by whom?   etc etc etc.

In the immortal words of ISIRTA: "I'm sorry, it can't be done!"  And I think the government knows it.

ND

Friday, 21 July 2017

Interest Only mortgages - a scam from the city?

Real non-story in the FT today.


Under their usual remoaning headline of course.


With PPI coming to an end there is an industry of ambulance chasers looking for some more victims.





Here the 'victims' are people with interest-only mortgages.




Given that property prices in the UK have followed a pattern, see graph above, why would anyone ever care about not repaying the principal?
You will always over time have a capital gain bigger than your mortgage, normally over 20 years by at least 100%.


You have to be historically unlucky, taking out a large mortgage right at a market top, to not manage to make a capital gain over 10 years, let alone 20 years.


This is just a non-issue. In fact I would consider it back to front - surely the scam is making people re-pay mortgages and forfeit their wealth for no reason when they are earning more in their property anyway? That must be the real scam, how much money the banks make on excessive interest rate charges on secured lending. All pushed even harder by the FCA since 2009!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BBC Salaries explained


Image result for bbc your

BBC reveal the salaries of their top talent.
To inevitable controversy.

A spokesperson for the BBc contacted C@W to explain.

 "We compete for those first class Remainers in a very competitive market.
Whilst it is true that many of the leading Remainers would work for the Remain supporting, EU loving, BBC for less than they might at the evil Murdochian SKY, it would be unfair not to give these Remoaners the sorts of sums they, and we, feel they should have.

A commercial environment can be very competitive, so I'm told. I have no idea as I work for the public sector BBC. 

But assuming that commercial rates do have an impact, you can see that the BBC needs to pay the very best to attract the best Remoaners out there.

I mean, we would love to have Jon Snow. Love too! Openly Anti-Tory. The very personification of the Guardian. But we just cannot match the significant package that he gets at C4.
You see, Channel 4 is a major source of Remainer, Anti-Brexit media people competition for the BBC. We have to try and keep as near as possible to the vast salaries they pay themselves, just to hang on to our own Europhiles. Like Gary Lineker. John Humphrys. David Dimbleby. Laura Kuenssberg. We simply have to pay them huge sums to keep them. Have too!


And our, ahem..I mean ..your top talent are left wing too. Which is wonderful. 

But as you must be aware, the rise of Corbyn has caused a shift in political allegiance.
It used to be axiomatic that all potential BBC 'talent,' in the arts. Comedy. Literature. Academia. News. Sport, and social affairs, were lefties. And they would be ardently pro-EU.


But since Corbyn, senior left wing media people cannot be assumed to be signed up European Federalists!
This obviously puts a premium on the totally committed, 'ignore the referendum', Remainers, we already have.

Graham Norton, Claudia Winkleman, Chris Evans. Fiona Bruce, Andrew Marr, and political editor Laura Kuenssberg.Huw Edwards. NickyCampbell. Its people like these we must retain.

And anyway, the EU does make a significant contribution to these elite virtue signalers salaries. So in a way, it doesn't cost the public anything at all.

Unless you want to bring up that old chestnut that EU money is somehow just taxpayer's money redistributed. With an admin fee taken out."

If you wish to receive BBC content contact  http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ and make an annual payment of £147.00.
If you do not wish to receive BBC content you must still make an annual payment of £147.00 anyway.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Interesting; Brexit Migration Map



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Bending The Rules for Saudi Aramco

You gotta laugh at all the gnashing of teeth as the City gears up to change the rules for "sovereign-owned" flotations - manifestly, to win the Aramco business.

Many months ago I wrote
the government now needs to conduct itself as if we were at war. Yes, it's big and serious! Full attention and maximum effort required on all fronts. Melt down some of the family silver. Tighten the belt. Grown-ups to the front. Now is the hour.
and
... 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. 

Frankly it wouldn't surprise me to see Gib and the Falklands 'sold' as this one pans out.

ND 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Uherd - will this work?

Enough of meaty topics this week!


Since I started blogging, I have always had time for Tim Montgomerie - perhaps this is related to him making time for me!


His new news venture is an interesting one, having left The Times. He intends to have a long-piece magazine-style website, not focusing on short-term themes. He certainly has lined up an, err, interesting mix of writers contributing.


The first topic, of the influence of rolling news and social media is an interesting one - if a little rhetorical - of course rolling news and social media are affecting the government - we can all see Jeremy Corbyn FFS!.


Perhaps some light will be drawn as to what exactly we are supposed to do about this, but I am less convinced when you get Alistair Campbell, the arch-creator of this mess, to opine from afar.


However, does the world need another alternative to the Spectator - indeed, can something like this work? I kind of hope so, because with news commentary declining in relevance and readership I do see around me that people are becoming less informed about the facts of the world than we previously the case.


Am I right to think that or just getting old?

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

UK economy is still going Japanese

We warned on here many, many years ago that the policy prescriptions coming out of the Great Recession would induce a Japan like coma on the UK economy.


High levels of quantitative easing and low inflation would lead to an investment strike and a huge debt over-hang simultaneously on the public and private sector balance sheet.


Low, it has come to pass.


Today's good news, of the unemployment rate dropping to 4.2% is sadly not the triumph that it should be for the UK economy. Due to low investment by corporates, the productivity of UK workers is low and still below 2007 figures in 2017 - 10 years of effectively no productivity growth at all!


As a result of this, it is unsurprising that wage growth is so low - companies are not making extra returns on their staff and so cannot reward them with more pay for the same productivity.


Adding to this, massive immigration supplies plenty of low wage workers, so that less business investment is made and there are more people with which to share the slowly growing GDP (hence GDP per capita has also grown only 2% since 2006, and only 4% from the 2009 trough!).


At the moment, this feels worse as the Brexit induced currency fall in Sterling has also pushed inflation to 2.4% - ahead of wage growth. No wonder Jeremy Corbyn is riding high, it is a time of economic malaise (not a crisis, but not nice either!).


Of course, this could be Japan or the UK in terms of the economic issues - the Bank of England has seemingly little room to move, keeping interest rates low and the QE piled up.


There is though a chance to change. We need desperately now to end QE which is no longer the prescription for our 2017 economy - it went to far in 2011 anyway. Ending QE will raise interest rates and harm the housing market - but will improve the saving rate for younger people and will encourage older people to spend - like they used to, in a normal economy.


Also essential is a continuation of the lowering of income tax to help generate demand. The continued Brexit issues may help in an odd way - the low currency effect will stimulate also demand, as will the now small growth the EU has managed to spark with its own ill-thought out QE program.


If we had not already reached £1.7 trillion of debt, there would be a fiscal loosening room too, but we don't have that luxury when we need to reduce QE as it is.



Monday, 10 July 2017

The Blarney

OK, so I am in Ireland just now, working (as ever) on an energy project, which requires me to grapple with the electricity market rules that will be coming into effect in a year or so when the two parts of the overall Irish grid system (North and Republic) harmonise into a single market regime.  Needless to say, this will be broadly along the lines pioneered in the rest of Great Britain nearly 20 years ago, with some very excellent new Irish twists, such as: wind farms must take their chances in to grid along with everyone else, and pay for their own imbalances.  Fair play to the lads! - we could benefit from that here.

Anyhow, as always, the rules are extremely complex, so the designated market operator 'SEMO' has kindly provided a handy guide: "Imbalance Settlement Plain English Version".

And here's an extract (I think it's in gaelic).

Still, that is the simplified version, as they say.  Wish me luck, boys, I'm going in ...

ND

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Fabian Phil

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ab/N26FabiusCunctator.jpg/300px-N26FabiusCunctator.jpg 
Philip Hammond is still advocating the very slow, almost glacial exit of the UK from the EU.
A google search reveals that Spreadsheet Phil likes to bring up the transitional arrangement about once a fortnight. And he has been doing so since November 2016.

Mr Hammond must be buoyed by the EU-funded C.B.I, the Confederation of Brussels Industrialists, wailing that an end to the uninhibited movement of goods will cause a 1929 recession and end the world. The CBI much prefers a more nuanced and slower exit. No cliff edge. 
Instead the UK gradually removes itself from the current EU arrangements and languidly replaces  them with new arrangements, that are in effect identical. 
Except they will have a different title and be contained in a different coloured folder. And will undoubtedly be slightly or even significantly worse than the current agreements that the UK has with the European Union.

Chancellor and hostage survivor Philip Hammond is very much in favour of a leisurely transitional Brexit. A process that he would be happy if it took anything from three years, to five years, to five hundred years.
 Mr Hammond is the great hope for Remain. 

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, was a Roman general who fought Hannibal. At the time Roman armies were being destroyed by the invading Carthaginian forces. Each new legion created, met with defeat and panic ensued across the Roman republic.
Quintus developed the strategy of guerilla warfare. Harassing the invaders, without engaging them directly. Conserving his own forces whilst whittling down the enemy. 
Quintus understood he could not defeat the enemy head on. But he could slow them down. Giving time for his untrained army to develop. He realised that trading space for time, could be a winning tactic.

His fellow Romans were incensed with him. This wasn't how Romans fought! Hiding in bushes and running away after each javelin throw. They  added the name 'Cunctator' to his titles. 
Cunctator translates roughly from the Latin as  'To Linger' or to 'Delay.' 

Quintus The Delayer. Ultimately this originally unpromising senator, unlikely military hero,  defeated the Carthaginians and became dictator of Rome.A national hero.  He was revered and celebrated in history long after his death. Fabian Strategy has survived the 2000 years since his death and is still a term in use today. The word Fabian is derived directly from his achievements.

'Fabian Phil' must be aware that if we remain after the end of the negotiations, on a transitional deal, that we would still be subject to EU regulation. Still required to make payments to the EU of a similar, or larger amount than we do now. That we could not begin to make new trade deals on our own. That we would still be subject to the freedom of movement of EU citizens. And still be subject to the laws of the European Court, that have a higher status than our own.
That we not have, in any way on any area, Taken Back Control.

In effect, we would not have left at all. And would probably have a more costly and less favourable arrangement than we have now. With no fixed timetable to do anything to change the terms and conditions.

That is why, despite all the very sensible reasons,from very sensible people, for having a transitional arrangement, we should avoid it at all costs. 

It simply keeps the guerilla war in being. It keeps the insurgency fighting and gives heart to the partisan sniping until the will to carry on fades and the campaign is lost.

Fabian Phil is well aware of the power and effect of procrastination. 

He's a bit of a Cunctator himself.


Thursday, 6 July 2017

We Are Looking Into The Abyss

The excellent BTL comments around here over the past few days indicate that C@W readers are looking over the rim of the abyss and shrewdly identifying all manner of appalling prospects.  Would that Crass Team May had been equally prescient before so blithely throwing everything away.  The status quo parties and their 'supporters' are hanging on the edge by their fingertips in the hope their grip holds for a full parliamentary term, and that 5 years in politics is time enough.

I am reluctant to share some of my own nightmares for fear of giving the other side ideas: one of our commenters has already pinpointed votes for 16-year olds ...  (You may like to know C@W is on the reading list of Team Corbyn.)   But it has to be said, the Grenfell catastrophe is more pregnant with possibility than almost anything I can remember.  We have already seen 'the community' (led by the usual suspects) demanding, inter alia:
  • the Inquiry to dance to their tunes; 
  • a "properly diverse expert panel with suitable experience of equality, diversity and socila welfare considerations" to sit on the Inquiry  
  • the new leader of K&C to be chosen 'by the community';
  • K&C be taken over by commissioners;  
  • an amnesty for illegals (swiftly granted);  
  • "undocumented survivors to be granted UK citizenship forthwith"
  • everyone be rehoused in a property of their choice ...
  • etc etc
It doesn't take much imagination to come up with a scenario in which tower blocks in every major city become the barricades of McDonnell's revolution.

On 'our side', people are wondering which building firms will profit most from the large-scale remedial works that will be required the length and breadth of the land ...  Oh, and Rupert Murdoch is on manoeuvres, puffing Gove for PM.

I still think there is absolutely everything to play for, both on the domestic front and with Brexit.  But, by Heaven, it will take serious players to bring it home.  I doubt many of us feel confidence in the players we have.

But: as a final note of optimism - there is another historical precedent to add to our list of regimes hanging on in there successfully against all odds.  It is our very own HM the Q.  At the death of the sainted Diana all looked lost there, in the face of apparent mass popular ressentiment and veneration of a cult figure (- any echos?)  And yet, heeding good advice and making a few deft changes, the royal family have made it through another two decades in surprisingly good shape.  Think on, Mrs May.

ND

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Great Migration resumes, will the EU sit and watch?

Just as the EU was getting all excited about besting the UK, reality is intervening once more to show its utter failure as an institution.


It is all great fun for the remainers and liberal media to have a jolly good laugh at the recent election victors and to praise the idiotic socialists. they are really enjoying their summer, never in my lifetime has a losing side been so happy with the world.


Reality in this case, is the arrival of economic migrants from Africa into Europe, now primarily via Italy - aided and abetted by 'friendly' NGO's who don't recognise borders etc in their utopian dreams.




So far this year, Italy has received double the amount of migrants that it did last year. Whilst Greece is still under pressure, really this all falls on Italy.


Of course, there is not much the EU can do. Eastern European countries are rightly refusing to take on the migrants in order to protect their culture. Merkel's 2015 statements on wanting to take them all in Germany are no longer so popular, plus she has an election to fight in a few months.


So Italy is left to confront the humanitarian disaster alone, Italy with its already high youth unemployment and sclerotic economy.


Much harder solutions are needed to stem the flow and close the door. There are over one billion people in Africa and the majority live in poverty, they can't all come to Europe en masse without also destroying the European states.


But of course, the EU is led by socialists and Marxists, obsessed with racism and intent on fixing the world's ills. In addition, they are bound by getting agreement and funds from the EU countries who are not co-operating. It is a very tough situation for the EU to handle - one which really exposes its weaknesses as a non-state actor.



Monday, 3 July 2017

Disturbing news for the reality-based community

Why do I keep meeting people who are spouting commie nonsense. Only today I have met some senior executives who should know better. They are bemoaning the state of the country post-Grenfell and saying how rubbish we are governed and how things must change....


How the rich (err, them?) have got richer and the poor poorer. How neo-liberal economics has taken us there, how terrible Brexit is for the Country.


Basically, the Corbyn mantra is working. The Tories too are wrongly adopting this nonsense instead of rallying around their own message.


Very worrying - is it just me or is this becoming common, that people have lost sight of the reality of the Hard Left and are instead running to its, umm, warm embrace?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Not Looking Great for OPEC & Co

The complexities of the internal politics of OPEC leave me reeling, but they won't get any less fraught with this as the backdrop.



Yes, the great effort to sustain $55 looks to have failed comprehensively, and US shale production storms ahead anyway. 

$45 it is, then, which looks like serious trouble ahead, from Nigeria to Saudi to Moscow.  Economic migrants?  We ain't seen nothing yet.  One that saddens me is the hard times that have befallen Oman, my favourite Gulf state, a country I keep up-to-date with in an occasional way.   It's a benign little regime, and used to be able to afford all manner of nice civilities: but all that largesse had to come from somewhere.

Yes, casualties aplenty and worse to come, no doubt.  As noted before, perhaps $100 oil was the 'tax' we paid to keep everyone happy.

ND