Saturday, 30 September 2017

Labour's 1970's conference.

Strikes.
Debt
Flying Pickets
Activism
Illegal Strikes
Socialism
Show of Hands Strikes
Antisemitism
MORE STRIKES!

Jeremy Corbyn {first name  - ooooohhh } and John McDonnell {first name - Semtex} came a step closer to their long held dream of getting all men of working age to stand around, warming their hands over planks of burning wood in an old oil drum. 

The conference with religious fervour, gushed their admiration as Mr McDonnell promised;

"Flares, beards, space-hoppers and Raleigh bikes.
Cresta fizzy drinks, Atari arcade machines and milk floats.
Rusty cars, lucazade reserved for illness. 
Two screen multiplexes, ice-rinks and crispy pancakes.

Car bombs, candles in wine bottles. Pink bathrooms, toffos, platform shoes and never been trimmed pubic hair.
Smoking carriages.White Finger.Lung Cancer and donkey jackets.

High Crime. Drink driving. Broken glass. Dog pooh. Half day closing, pornographic magazines and shutting the pubs at eleven!"

The old socialists in the hall applauded and wheezed through calcified lungs their support. As did the millennials, who had never even heard of 'Pubs. Banks. High Streets. Letters or Coal.'

They were cheering for the future of the past. Cheering for a brighter, dimmer, future.And cheering in the hope that their living God, might offer, along with the bad language and graphic violent imagery, some brief nudity.

 https://i1.wp.com/www.leftfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/JC-Apartheid.pnghttps://storage.gra1.cloud.ovh.net/v1/AUTH_10e1a9235c63431c95e5b84a247830db/prod/artwork/55547_1_l.jpg

The Capitalist@Work documentary team, have made this brief film, showing the highlights from the quasi-religious, economically illiterate rally. Where we learned from the shadow chancellor Labour has plans for emergency measures if their economic policies cause the economy to disintegrate.
They will "Blame the Jews."



Remember that tune? Excellent.

What could be more entertaining than  this recently released inmates from the asylum gathering?

The Tory Party conference is coming right up.

Friday, 29 September 2017

We Need To Talk About Uber

... don't we?  But somehow, we haven't ...

Open thread!

Actually, the best commentary is Paul Sinha's, here.  


Start 3:00 minutes in, if you've only got a minute.

ND

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Are the markets broken or is this an opportunity - Ryanair?













I never fly Ryanair, after many years ago they cancelled a flight on me the day before we were due to go, costing me a fortune to have to re-book the day before flying....an experience now being felt by a very wide number of people indeed.


So, it is a company I have always viewed as a parasite, but one which at least is a good capitalist business in that it appeals to a market keen on low prices above any service levels. And what a market it has cornered, long now the largest European airline by passenger numbers and value.


But this last two weeks, its mis-steps have caught up with it, a big mistake with holidays is being exploited by its pilots and now it is cancelling tens of thousands of flights for months in advance.


However if you look at the shareprice...not much has changed, it pretty much follows the pattern of its rivals with a maybe 8% dip overall this month. Today the price has started recovering a bit. The shareprice is still substantially above where it was at the start of the year.


I see this as an opportunity, investors are relaxed at its bullet-proof business model - but surely the intangible brand damage is huge. Where possible, people will think twice in the future about flying with Ryanair, I know I did! Also today the CAA has gotten involved, belatedly, as the PR mess gets out of control.


These kind of affairs rarely end well for a business, long-term Ryanair has a superior business model with its ruthless cost focus, but brand damage and perhaps a need to change its model to keep pilots a bit happier are going to cause problems - an 8% odd shareprice hit

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Run on the Pound? Yeah, Right

As McDonnell solemnly gears up for a flight of capital, let it not be forgotten he positively welcomes the 'forthcoming crisis of capitalism'.  He's stirring it now so that he'd be 'justified' in taking extraordinary measures on Day 1.   And what measures they'd be!

Run on the Pound?  Nothing would suit him better.

ND 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

ICO's - a 19th century fraud for the 21st century

What is an ICO?


It is an Initial Coin Offering, coming off the back of the wild success of Bitcoin, there are literally hundreds of companies now marketing their own currency for you to buy instead of Dollars or Euros or even Pound Sterling if your desperate.


These offering basically allow you to buy early into a currency at a discount to future price. The idea being that Bitcoins could be bought for $20 as recently as six years ago, now they are going for $4000 dollars. As supply is limited by the blockchain and algorithmic programming backing them, you will be onto a winner if you buy early.


Hence the ICO's. The money from the ICO's is spent broadly on marketing the new-fangled currency. This is of course, by its very definition, a Ponzi-Scheme. There is no intrinsic value, just what the next fool is willing to pay. It is not even shiny like gold with alternate uses, it is just bits of data.


In 1817 we had the Poyais scandal, which was both a master fraud and a good allegory, a non-existent but promising new land was to be explored and financed by Bonds issued in London. Many people, desperate for yielding investments, joined in. OF course, there was no such place and fools were parted from their money.


ICO's are the same idea, they are playing on the success of bitcoin, which is different. There is no trust in bitcoin, the whole system is open, no one controls it - indeed the inventor fled into anonymity. There is no Bitcoin company owner making profits, these have been left for everyone else. It is indeed almost surreal.


The other ICO's all require the issuing company to do something in order for trades to happen, to take a margin in some way. Thus they are not really currencies and over time there will be a route for the owners of the company to hold to ransom the owners of THEIR currency.


It is a huge scandal this crypto-currency arena, not one I have yet touched although Bitcoin does stand out as different.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Kremlin-Watching Corbyn

source:  Wiki
All the old Kremlin-watching skills - and speculation - will be in play this week, trying to figure out what the McDonnell Machine is going to do next with its potent position in British politics, its momentum, if you like.  There are several puzzles / runes to be read.

  • Brexit - the obvious one - is clearly driving half the Labour Party nuts.  We hear that it's not on the menu for Conference, which on the one hand is quite bizarre but on the other hand maybe shows the machine's smiling insolence.  Yes, we know this one cause cognitive dissonance amongst our hordes of naive supporters.  No, we're not going to be manoeuvred into taking a position on it!  Let the Blairites fume.  Apologists for this tactic of deafening silence are already queueing up: Little Owens Jones can't be far behind. 
  • Why such a quiet summer?   Not for me to put ideas in their heads, but let's simply notice that Grenfell was an issue that could very readily have been stirred up into something Very Ugly Indeed.  Instead, Momentum busied itself in 75 marginal constituencies.  Whenever the Inquiry gets into the news, the meejah finds members of "the Community" who say some very menacing things; so the dry tinder is there, all right.  Is McDonnell playing the long game instead?
  • What does the Long Game look like?  Because 5 years is such a very long time.  As we've noted around here before, even Gordon Brown - in '08 a seemingly nailed-on cert for utter oblivion in 2010 - managed to pull off a no-overall-majority game against Cameron.  Does McDonnell really think all he has to do is sit back and watch the Tory party disintegrate?
It's all a bit early for making conclusions: so we should settle back & watch the fun!

ND

Friday, 22 September 2017

Reception to Florence




The kindness of Strangers' {bar}

http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/photo_gallery_image_lightbox/public/photos/43_images/26406502.JPG?itok=0O7S0wpR

"Hello Prime Minister. Thank you for seeing me. I realise you are very busy. What with the press and the European Union and such. I've just been with the 1922...

They are all fine. Thank you for asking. ...How was the speech received there? Well, it was looked upon very positively....by some...I'm sure...Though they may not have expressed their admiration for walking the tricky Brexit tightrope in so many words.

No, not applause...nothing like that..You know how they are..Very reserved..Unlikely to show  ..erm...emotional expression.

Well...I'm sure you did as you thought best. And I'm sure your support from everyone is just where it was...the day after the election.

Oh I wouldn't say hostile, Prime Minister. That would indicate an undercurrent of anger. There was none of that! Heavens, no. Maybe the odd person asked if you were perhaps standing in front of a white screen or a white flag?
https://spectatorblogs.imgix.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/11/files/2017/09/Screen-Shot-2017-09-22-at-14.28.26.png?auto=compress,enhance,format&crop=faces,entropy,edges&fit=crop&w=820&h=550 
 There were a few voices murmuring about your own, actual delivery of the speech
..In what way?..

Well...I did hear mention of it being delivered a bit in the style of Hirohito.  "Brexit has developed not necessarily to Britain's advantage." That sort of thing..

And one or two suggested perhaps a better venue might have been a 19th century railway wagon.

In the Compi├Ęgne forest.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Waffenstillstand_gr.jpg/220px-Waffenstillstand_gr.jpg

Er...Quite correct PM, that is a military reference...as were the ones about Yorktown and Cornwallis. 2nd Afghan war. Suez '56.
 ...I did hear an amusing one about the Hundred years war..
Someone said that's what you have signed up to..With your 'period of implementation' unconditional offer.

Yes that is another historical reference. A very long conflict. Us and the French. 

Undeniably, they are a bit keen on their history. The 1922. Its kind of in the title. 
You studied geography, if memory serves? A fascinating subject I'm sure..Actually there was a geographic-historic point I overheard. I can't quite remember it all... but Senlac Hill got a mention.  And there were some more modern comparisons. Roy Hodgson. England vs Iceland, for one.

Oh, now Prime Minister. Don't look so downhearted. I'm sure the Europeans will recognise the difficulties you face. The complexities involved. And the chaps weren't out for blood. Really, they were very understanding. And they took it far better than the other day when you said you were going to stay on for ten more years.

They just wished there had been a bit more Churchill at Dunkirk and a bit less Percival at Singapore to it. You know? 
Erm..No PM. I meant nothing to do with temperate climates. Though it was a bit cool..the speech, I mean..Not the ...look...let's just leave the history-geography to one side, shall we?

Now the 1922, asked me to pop along to see you. Just to float an idea. 

As you know, conference is 1st October. And we all want a really rousing one after the erm..the...erm..abatement of our majority in June. 

So, we were considering ways of ensuring you receive a really, really spectacular standing ovation. Something you could have forever as a personal achievement. Something you could say to really make the conference come together. To reunite the party. Something to please both Brexiteers and Remainers.
That would be something to be proud of, wouldn't it, Prime Minister?

Well..I'll tell you..You see we thought, if the EU negotiators respond as we expect them to. To that ...erm..that ...interesting...speech you gave today, then we should have a response of our own.

Of course the choice would be up to you. The party is in no way favouring one option over another.
You could say "ill Health." or, "Spending More Time With Phillip." 

Just so long as you are gon...erm....you announce the decision during the conference. The handover details will all be worked out by then. Stay on as a caretaker until, say, November?  Give us time to sort the vacancy. Quash the civil war.

Pardon, Prime Minister?..  Alas, it was so Prime Minister. Unanimous. 

And you know, this really would be for the best. For you. For the party. For the country!

 Very difficult times. And who really needs all that abuse? All that criticism? You don't really want to read what George Osborne says about you every day, do you? Who needs it? Its a rotten job. 

You try your very best, and what thanks do you get? None at all. 
Just pages and pages in the Guardian about how you don't care about anyone, and the BBC complaining about your trouser suits.

And of course, once you are free from the chains of office, you can make a fortune on the diner circuit. Even old Brown is making as much Wayne Rooney for his self-promoting nonsense. 

And you'd be a Grandee.

Held in utmost regard. Instead of, as now, someone who is thought of as just a ...erm..I mean..higher regard! Held in higher regard as a Grandee. 

Just think, Theresa. No more campaigning. No more debates. No interviews. No fractious cabinet meetings. No more DUP demands. No more EU demands. No more worrying about tomorrows headlines. Not having to mix with people. And, thankfully for us all, no more speeches.

Far, far better to go now. At YOUR choosing. To a tumultuous applause. Not just from the party. But from the nation!
 .......
...
Much better to leave right now. With dignity. With grandeur and decorum.
..
..
..

Rather than with the knives in the back and front that must surely follow..... ...If you choose the other path.
..
..
Its for the best, Mrs May. It really is.
..
..


No..
No need for you to do that.

 I have an approved resignation speech from the committee, right here in my jacket pocket. Its even got a suitable choice of outfit and how long the applause will last. Its scripted beside each paragraph. 

As I said. Much better this way. Much..much better. 

Image result for check out 




















For everyone.


Deep in the Forest, Something Stirs

The Grauniad lets rip with an 'exclusive' today
UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants: from January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans ... part of Immigration Act 2016 measures to create a hostile environment for illegal migrants.
And why not? - you may say.  What did you imagine?  Joined-up government at last!  Yes, it sounds like more an issue for Graun readers to worry about than C@W: and it will most probably fall on deaf ears, like all these flash-in-the-pan exclusives.

However, it jogged a recent memory of something also very much data-trawl related.  I recently learned that Ofgem plans a major exercise in "data-matching" to assist with establishing the eligibilty of people for various schemes related to fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures, involving Ofgem getting automated access to everyone's tax and benefits information.  This is all possible, apparently, under the Digital Economy Act 2017 - which was rushed through in April of this year just before Parliament dissolved for the Election.   "... to make provision about data-sharing ... and for connected purposes".

You may well be straight back into Why Not? / What Did You Imagine? / Joined-up Government mode again.  Call me naive if you wish.  But I don't think you need to be an outright libertarian to wonder what's going on here.  "A number of expert witnesses to the Digital Economy Bill Committee expressed concerns about the bill", says wiki - them, plus the usual suspects: the 'Open Rights Group', 'Big Brother Watch' et al.  

The fact that they're the perennial awkward squad doesn't always mean they are wrong.  With the two stories above in mind, someone who has a bit of spare time might want to have a look at the detail of that Act again with a sceptical eye.  We know local authorities use anti-terror legislation to hunt down people suspected of mis-using wheelie-bins etc etc.  Do any of us trust Mrs May's instincts?  

Or Mr McDonnell's?

ND

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Logical failures when discussing the weather

Watching the terrible Hurricane season in the Caribbean has not been a lot of fun. Lovely island cities and cultures face ruin and the support is both hard to send and it needs to be plentiful. I wrote a piece last week showing how heartless some are and I read this week too that apparently these countries are too rich for aid.


What exactly is the logic in that?


I earn money and become rich, I buy a house, I invest all my money in it, the house is destroyed and I have no insurance. My money was the house, ergo I am no longer rich.


The logic of saying you are too rich to help clearly can't apply when a country is destroyed. Has no one recalled the Marshall Plan or the Berlin airlift? Bureaucracies are stupid, another reason to have less involvement with grandiose international institutions.


Then, following on from yesterday's post, I have spoken to quite a few people keen to opine that the Hurricane season this year is worse due to climate change. That as maybe, however their evidence is that this is a once-in-a-hundred-year event. Which, by definition means that it happened around a hundred years ago, before climate change. Where is the logic in their arguments? It would only make sense if this was the worst weather event ever or if it was now more frequent that in the past - that would be logic (and, neither of those statements it true as yet).


Who else has good current examples?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Monbiot Tells Truth Again Shock

I have always regarded the Moonbat with benevolent tolerance.  He's as mad as a cut snake and his knee-jerk reactions are all wrong but - and it's a Big But - he is an honest empiricist at heart, and when he stubs his toe on the Truth, with much wailing, gnashing of teeth, sack-cloth and ashes, he acknowledges it.  

Nice to see him catch up on yet another Fact of Life, which is that Germany is no sort of paragon when it comes to 'green' policies / sustainability etc etc.  The Energiewende is a nonsense, of course (how did it take you so long, George?) and Germany's CO2 emissions have been gently rising - in marked contrast to those wicked neoliberal despotisms, the US and the UK.  But, yes, Germany has faithfully been following the usual policy of GDP trumps GHG - albeit at the same time as pandering expensively to the greens.

And so George has summoned up his courage and written about it (in the Graun - check out some of the BTL comments).  He's personalised it, of course, holding Merkel to blame for the whole thing.  

The truly personal aspect is George's own private odyssey, bouncing from pillar to post as he wishes the world were other than it truly is.  This latest piece of breast-beating is just one in a long series: (a treasured memory is the one he wrote when, trying to live a self-sufficient eco-life in Wales, his vegetable crop failed and he suddenly realised we do actually need to do things on an industrial scale).  Poor, disillusioned George.

But, hey, he's an honest man; and there is more rejoicing in Heaven ...

ND

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The strange world of Brexit continues to evolve.





Even after 14 months now, the political world of Brexit I find a very odd place.


Here in the UK we have a Cabinet busy arguing over what type of Brexit they want. On the other side of the channel, there is an agreed position that either Britain pay £100-odd billion and retain open borders (via Ireland) and indeed EU citizenship for everyone or else it is a hard Brexit.


Given the European demands, hard Brexit it is. No one in the country, bar the noisiest remainers, really wants to engage in the EU terms offered.


And yet the papers are full of cabinet splits and tittle-tattle, when really preparing for a WTO world and avoiding various cliff-edge issues like flight paths is really what the focus should be on.


Indeed, this would have been the best way to send a message to the EU that it needed to bargain. Instead we have the EU merrily laughing at the UK as the politicians and media lay into one another day after day. Michel Barnier must feel like Lewis Hamilton did on Sunday after all his rivals crashed into one another and out of the race after 30 seconds.


Nonetheless Teresa May is going to have her speech on Friday, no one yet knows the full content, but it appears to be another attempt to try and find away around the EU red lines, which the EU have shown absolutely zero sign of wanting to change.


Still, popcorn viewing, of sorts.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Weekend Tale: the Moscow Mentality

BLT under CU's Iphone post, one of our anon's asked yesterday:  anyone know what kit the average Russian oligarch or Kremlin apparatchik has on their desks?

It's been quite a few years, but - History Corner here - when I was in Moscow I had a lot of Gazprom contacts.  Their offices were all identical, clearly kitted out on a hierarchical basis, and the senior ones all had the following inventory:
  • two desk telephones ...
  • ... one of them red!  A hot-line to the boss (I'm not kidding)
  • a Dell PC
  • an HP desk-top printer 
  • a Sony all-in-one TV + VHS (but I never caught anyone watching TV or vid)
  • a full-sized, admin-department-grade Xerox 
The whole package was quite clearly What They Thought Every Modern [western] Biznizman Has.

The red telephone was good for a smile: but it was the big Xerox that made me laugh.  Did they really think any westerner would be seen dead with the admin assistant's drudgery-box in his smart office?  Even David Brent left the photocopier in the hallway.

There was another amusing office phenomenon.  Gazprom was always in dread of being split up into multiple companies.   This made a lot of sense: the West is always railing at how big and awful a monopoly it is; and it is indeed so vast, there are loads of potentially modular (and quite marketable) companies you could break it down into, just as British Gas was de-merged into Transco / BG plc / Centrica etc etc.  

Gazprom's Cunning Plan for forestalling this was an organisation chart so complex, with lateral two-headed arrows and dotted-line reporting relationships all over the place, that no-one could point to a stand-alone chunk on the chart and say, well for starters you can obviously break out that division and sell it

However, I needed to understand how the empire really worked.  So I obtained an internal phone directory**, and guess what?  The extension numbers were organised in a perfectly logical, regular, hierarchical structure, from which the true set-up was readily inferred.  Easy when you know how.

ND 
_________________
** my Russian staff were really good at getting stuff like that.  Someow, they also got me an office pass for Gazprom HQ ... useful for engineering meetings etc but from their point of view it was so I could go into the Gazprom food hall and buy fresh rolls.  The Moscow city bakery only baked twice a week, but Big G baked daily!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Iphone X





This is jumping the shark, right?


I looked at a few reviews etc and this near £1,000 does almost exactly what every other iphone does, with a wider screen and the same software. Even the whole facial recognition thing is not really new or innovative.


Why would anyone want such a thing, excepting those for whom money is unlimited and showing off is the be all and end all.


More importantly, is this the end of Apple as the dominant consumer electronics company?


I recall Nokia, kings of all they surveyed, near 50% global market share. They really knew how to make phones, but when it came to smart phones, it was over.


With Apple, now that smart phones are ubiquitous, perhaps they are topping out on their competitive advantage. This is not to say they will follow the same path downwards, but perhaps this Iphone X launch is the top of the market signal from them?



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Readers' Letters


"Andrew" writes ...
Dear CU, I find myself in a dark place. As one of the few sort of remainers left I saw much that was good in the EU project. Though it had many faults, as a whole it could be thought of as a good thing in the round - a bit like a friendly, but faintly smelly dog. Now Mr Blair has spoilt it for me. As a general rule, from about the year 2000 just about everything he says can be taken as a not quite true, and any cause he supports can be taken as working against the interest of the 'man on the bus' in some small way. One good example of this is his sterling middle east peace envoy efforts that have run in close parallel to the rise of ISIL. Now it seems that he is in favour or the EU and thinks the UK is in trouble - especially the city. This means the EU is in a bad situation and the UK is not in trouble. Now it seems TB is buying UK property, which means means London is in trouble - especially if he intends to live there. It is difficult to keep a track of the many layers of his deceit, this is what John Le Carre is useful for and indeed it may soon come out that he is actually hunting the maltese falcon. Anyway, I am experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance as the EU cannot be both good and bad at the same time (or can it). What do I do? 6:59 pm
Dear Andrew, 
Unfortunately, lots of things in life start out seeming good, but eventually reveal an unpalatable side, or take a turn for the worse. Regrettably this means we have to review our allegiances, and sometimes change them. It's a question of balance. A Blairometer is generally quite a reliable device (I nearly wrote "trustworthy", but that isn't the right word!) and is probably giving an accurate reading. 

Cognitive dissonance is always unsettling. Some people swear by the tried and trusted technique of closing their eyes, placing an index-finger in either ear, and singing LahLahLah! very loudly. Others migrate to websites populated only by those who agree with what they'd like to believe.  (For students in many universities there are "Safe Spaces" which perform a similar role.)  In these places they will find a cozy world of mutual delusion, and people who devise really creative fallacious arguments in support of illogical positions. 

In this case you could try a course of "Owen Jones", a remedy that has soothed many people who, for example, become anxious when someone tells them that nice Mr Corbyn is a life-long Brexiteer who unrepentantly supports vile causes across the globe, and that '2+2' is not the same as '5'. Do write again and tell us how you are getting on.

ND

 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Bye By Bell Pottinger

How did it take a whole week to figure out administration of the UK business was the only answer?

Monday, 11 September 2017

London still top financial market #despitebrexit

In not very surprising news, the authoritative survey on financial markets that is out today shows only a slight fall in London in its rating as a Financial Services hub. There is a bigger fall for New York which comes second, only distant Frankfurt gets a better rating.


Really, whatever puffery appears in the press, this is not that surprising. The City is made up mainly of FX Brokers, for whom Brexit means nothing except profits due to volatile markets; insurance, which is a global business not really affected by Brexit - the US hurricanes are a much bigger worry this year; legal and accounting services - for whom Brexit is a payday in terms of advisory work...and then maybe Banking/Mergers and Acquisitions/IPO's.


The bit everyone gets excited about is the least important bit, just because it is understandable and full of alpha-male noisy vessels it gets the most press. The latter piece is also most affected by technology change and so Brexit, as discussed previously, provides a great fig leaf to cover for inevitable salary cuts, redundancies and moving to cheaper jurisdictions.


Brexit I feel though is having an effect, business seems to be slowing as the heat in the political argument grows - and boy is this growing. The main news channels and media are loving the Remainer moaning and indeed, given the believe it themselves, are keen to keep promoting this line. This aspect is definitely making overseas investors nervous and FX market makers are following trend and marking down the pound.


On balance, this is no bad thing as the economy in the UK is badly over-heated as it contains some very large asset bubbles, with no monetary or fiscal tools in place to try and limit these - as such a slow down in activity and consumer spending will at least act as a brake on pumping more air into the bubble. Certainly, weakness in the pound is useful for slowly re-kindling exports and reducing external investment further in favour of increasing inbound investment, even though it makes holidays less fun than they were for many.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Weekend Roundup - All the news we didn't print




Weekend Roundup


A few items that we didn't have the time, wish or will to comment on last week.

Jeremy Corbyn and his Backers managed to persuade the media that an unofficial, unrecognised strike at a McDonald's, that has the union's coal and ink stained fingers all over it, was a clear sign that broken Britain has abandoned capitalism. Or something..

The Great Oz went on to demand a £10 an hour minimum wage for  these essential workers in a key hospitality industry. 

Somehow or other the High Sparrow must have missed this hideous, unwelcome and unwanted intrusion onto the supermarkets and high streets. 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Self_checkout_using_NCR_Fastlane_machines.jpg
Primarily caused by the rising cost of wages at a time when most other fixed costs for the industry have been falling for a decade the self serve sucker has become a thing. I expect some bright university kid to be doing the fairly easy maths to discover how many jobs have been lost in the UK since these checkouts appeared and writing a mechanisation-unemployment paper on the results.

The most infuriating thing about these self-shaft machines is that we, who are now doing the work for the multiples, don't get any discount for using them. Not even a 5p free bag. 
{unless you press the button that says 'I have my own bag' and then take them anyway. The machine doesn't know. Its a machine.}

Where is my T.U.C representative? A fair checkout's pay for a fair self pack.


In almost the same breath that the unofficial Prime Minister was getting angry about low skilled workers receiving low pay, he did a U-turn on EU membership and decided open borders with the free, unlimited, unrestricted, unchecked movement of unskilled labour is the best way to achieve that higher wage aim.
 Is there any attempt at even a mild look at cause and effect of the policies they propose at Labour HQ? 
Probably not.

David Lammy MP, had articles on a report he helped to compile in favourable media outlets complaining about the number of minority kids in jail.
 How likely they are to go to prison for drug and firearms and offences and how unlikely they are to receive jobs once they are released. And his stats on the face of it are quite shocking. 
41% of under 18's are from minority backgrounds. But 48% of all prisoners are Christians. So do they also need special treatment? The 41% stat is only 5% of all prisoners. The total stat isn't given. If it was still 41% of ALL prisoners that would be a shocker. 

HMG gives the total figures, which have not changed much since 2005, as 12-13% black. 7-8% Asian. 4% mixed race. That's still bad as 2011 census tells us that only 3-4% of the country identifies as black. 

Where Lammy says this "I expected to find the youth justice system laser-focused on this issue. Instead, I have seen large parts of the system indifferent to issues of race," he is an idiot.
Of COURSE the justice system isn't concerned about race. Justice is blind. 
There is no quota system or each minority with excess offenders being let off. 
https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/labourclp27/pages/220/attachments/original/1429203192/BAME-Labour-New-Logo_%281%29.JPG?1429203192
Where he says "The disproportionate number of BAME young people in the justice system is a social time-bomb. It is beyond time to stop talking about this problem and to act" he is partly right. 
Asians making up 7-8% of the population make up 7-8% of the prison population, don't seem to be the problem.  So its more of a BME problem.

On the point of giving re-offenders a job, he might be right that only something like a tax incentive or salary payment will help.

As a young interviewer doing the choices for a shop management position I was going to propose someone with a spent criminal conviction. My boss advised against.
"Even if this person turns out to be manager of the year, you personally won't gain anything from it. No one will thank you. if they turn out to still be a criminal you have a lot of explaining to do."
The re offending rates are huge. The best risk would be a fifty-fifty. So I left it.

That said , my most senior manager was a black guy from a Croydon gang background. He always gave other BAME, and white bad news kids a chance. Always. Despite all my protestations not to do it. And he had about a 50% success rate with them. 
but I doubt this manager,  my friend, even with his gang tats and gold tooth and bandana would agree with much of where Lammy lays blame.

Feel free to comment away.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Richard Murphy wants to use natural disasters as left-wing leverage, nice

How about this corker from Richard Murphy today:


"Hurricane Irma is continuing to batter the Caribbean. At a human level there can only be concern for tall those affected, and a desire that all that can be done to restore normal life in the places impacted will happen.
But the Caribbean is not a politics free zone, and nor is Hurricane Irma. I will leave aside the obvious global warming issues and the politics of that. I will mention instead that many of the places affected are tax havens. And many of them are British.
I sincerely hope that the UK government does supply all the assistance required to these places, as they will also do to those other places without such support. But I make the point that if we are to honour our responsibilities, then so should they. The British Caribbean tax havens can only exist because of the guarantee that the UK supplies, the legal system that the UK supplies and the regulation that we support. There is a cost to that. We will bear ours, but it’s not unreasonable to expect that those places who need us to do so respond in kind. That means they deliver accounts on public record, registers of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts for all to inspect and new regimes of transparency in all that they do.
And for those who think this isn’t the time to ask I would point out that even neoliberals think that the role of government is to act as a back stop. When the governments of the UK’s Caribbean tax havens rely on us to take that role then now is precisely the time to remind them of their reciprocal responsibilities, whilst continuing to supply all the support that is needed."


http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2017/09/07/hurricane-irma-and-the-uks-caribbean-tax-havens/


This is some effort, it shows up some classic left-wing authoritarian thinking:


- Everything must be viewed through the prism of politics, even natural disasters.


- The UK is at fault and is the evil player here, supporting the poor colonials to become victims.


- Help should only be forthcoming to those who follow a particular political agenda or point of view.


It is a deeply depressing summary of the weltanshauung that has evolved on the left over the past few years; a huge intolerance of anyone or thing that is different - notably those of right-wing political views. It is an amazing outcome of a focus on identity politics that it turns into such a divisive monster, with the added  the zest of moral hatred for those who do not conform - and as shown here, a desire to use force to abuse those who do not choose the path of the Left.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Bell Pottinger does an 'Andersen'

It is all over fro Bell Pottinger, as a PR firm having your reputation besmirched (for entirely accurate an fair reasons), really is the end. They can go on about keeping clients etc, but nearly all their major accounts will be firing them today and that will be that. There will be no money to keep the payroll going and then there maybe spurious lawsuits to pay for with no cash to be found.


Stick a fork it in, it's done.


It is very reminiscent of the 2001/2 Enron scandal that ended Arthur Andersen as a global accounting business. They got caught colluding with Enron and that was that, all the clients left and the business was forced to do mini-mergers country by country with other firms, in the UK they joined Deloitte.


But this is a very good thing overall, you may think the UK losing a leading PR agency is a bad thing, but it really shows the rule of law in action and that immoral and irresponsible behaviour has consequences. At a time when all things British are being undermined by the EU, it is a strong signal that the UK remains a strong, rules-based Western democracy. Compare and contrast with South Africa where the people who hired the firm face no consequences and just laugh at the outcome.


Hopefully the better people at Bell Pottinger will get new jobs quickly enough and the world can move on, these experiences tend to be cathartic for an industry overall when the regulators and rules are driven to act.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Oil Price Forecast? 'Up' or 'Down' Would be Nice

Writing as someone whose willingness to be tempted to say stuff about future oil prices has (rightly) been mocked, I had to smile at these two adjacent headlines:
Oil Price: Hurricane Harvey Is A Disaster For OPEC ... refinery outages could eat into crude oil demand for quite some time: Goldman says that the supply outages could be outweighed by the destruction of demand.
Reuters: Harvey may succeed where OPEC has struggled by boosting oil prices ... according to a report from S&P Global Platts, onshore shale oil output was in the storm’s path ... and producers in the region have idled production.
See - nobody knows!  And that's before Fat Boy exploded his H-bomb: stew that one in!  The Beeb is in on it, too:
Why economic forecasting has always been a flawed science: Radio 4 examines why experts often get predictions wrong – and meets the people who get them right 
More like they met a handful of stopped clocks who presumably told the time correctly on a couple of occasions.  Nope: 'experts' can't even agree on up or down (and when they do, it's probably time to go contrarian).  There are many, many reasons to agree with Keynes, Galbraith and Drucker that price-forecasting based on 'fundamental analysis' or similar is not intellectually respectable.  That's quite apart from its track record being diabolical.

Still, people believing in forecasts are what makes the world go round.  The bookie always has a deal for you ... and all those spec assets become sunk costs.   Well - someone had to build the railways.

ND 

Friday, 1 September 2017

A smidge too far - The 2017 election story

 Theresa's Gamble.
The attempt to seize a corridor from the Tory Midlands to the North and open the way for the occupation of Labour's industrial heartlands.