Feeds

* Posts by Tim Worstal

515 posts • joined 12 Feb 2008

Page:

Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Amazingly

One known metal glass combination, a scandium/yttrium one, would make, in theory at least, the world's finest golf driver.

Materials cost, before manufacturing, would be around $1,000 for it though.

yours,

El Reg's friendly neighbourhood rare earths spiv.

7
0

No, we're not in an IT 'stockapoclyse' – boom (and bust) is exactly what tech world needs

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Progress requires stupidity

"Progress requires stupidity "

I like that, I like that a lot. I shall have to start using it myself. Sorry, but given that you've got yourself as an AC here no credit can or will be given.

1
1

Mt Gox's 'transaction malleability' claim rubbished by researchers

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

That paper goes on to make a very interesting point. A further very interesting one rather.

The vast majority of malleability attacks, or attempts at them, came *after* MtGox announced its troubles. That is, were driven by people hearing about it and seeing if it would work.

The total number of malleability attacks *before* the MtGox announcement wasn't large enough to have been responsible for the losses at MtGox. Yes, all such attacks everywhere on all exchanges were smaller than the reported losses at MtGox.

Which is really a rather interesting finding....

6
0

Hey, Michael Lewis: Stop DEMONISING Wall Street’s SUPERHUMAN high-speed trading

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: HFT adding value ?

"abusive naked shorting"

Could you define this? Is naked shorting abusive? Or is there some special kind of naked shorting which is abusive?

3
1
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Why do we have stock markets?

"1) The transaction tax - 0.5% should be invisible to a long-term investor"

Well, yes, lovely. Except my one and only (as yet) peer reviewed paper is on exactly this. And the problem is that it isn't. Even the EU itself, when working through the implications of an FTT, said that it would raise the cost of capital to companies. And the IFS, when looking at the same thing, said that it would reduce pension returns.

The assertion just is not true....,.

2
2
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: But why ?

The difference between the spread on a unit trust and the spread on a stock is, umm, the difference between buying a unit trust and buying a stock. The latter has always been much smaller.

2
1
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: hmmm.

""one, two, three, four, click, what do you mean its gone?" syndrome that was discussed."

Didn't see that part of it, sorry. NYT isn't playing nicely with me at present.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: But why ?

"It makes someone some money, sure. Presumably it costs someone else that money. There's no value added, is there ?"

Since I wrote this, early this morning, I've seen an interesting piece of news.

So, who loses here? Well, the people who used to get those spreads of 0,.2% of the order size and now don't as the spread is down to 0.002%. Investors win as they pay a smaller spread, the HFT houses win as they make profits from HFT (which are smaller than the old market maker profits from the 0,.2% spread) so it must be those old fashioned market makers who lose. And on that subject, Goldnam Sachs is reported as selling a stock market making company for $30 million. A company in bought in 2000 for $6 billion. So, one of the people losing from HFT is Goldman Sachs.

Shame, eh?

3
4
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

OK: Libor fixing. Came in two flavours. One, traders would get their own blokes to skew the quotes a basis point or two in order to favour their own trading books. Of minor importance in the scheme of things as the various traders would be randomly trying to influence the market their way. So no great danger to the market or society in general. Also illegal and people will rightly be going down for this.

Second flavour: the banks themselves misreporting Libor in the depths of the crisis. Note that what Libor is is the rate at which the bank thinks it can borrow, in that currency and for that time, in size. Note also that at the depths of the crisis no bank could borrow on any terms. The overnight market (which is what the Libor rate measures) simply disappeared. Everyone borrowed from the Bank of England instead. So, in this case, all the big money centre banks tell the Libor committee, well, to be wholly honest, we can't borrow at all. Interest rates are effectively infinite. Libor thus soars to what, 100%? More?

Think that does us any good in the depths of the crisis? No one's actually going to come out and say it publicly (well, me, but I mean anyone important) but everyone's damn glad that the banks were lying through their teeth that couple of weeks.

FX I did hear something about fixing but don't know the details, sorry. And commodity price fixing, what story is this? Sure, there's always been people who try to corner the commodity markets but the usually go bust, like the Bunker Hunts and that Sumitomo trader. But what story are you interested in today?

The banking meltdown, you may have noticed that some people did forsee it. Paulson for example: and he and his bet were the subject of an earlier book by, umm, Michael Lewis.

Enron was criminality, pure and simple. I hope we're not about to start claiming that without financial markets there would be no tea leaves?

11
7

Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Mixing measurements

and ounces are the same both sides

Not quite. The fluid ounce is different either side. Can't remember which way round it goes but it's something like 1.02:1

2
0

Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Somehow this came to mind....

"Um, yeah, but now we have two things that didn't exist in Marx's time.

Firstly, we have a labour surplus -- more workers than jobs."

What? Umm, Marx went on at some length about the reserve army of the unemployed.....

1
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Completely misunderstanding

"Actually, this is not obvious. In fact, if the Lorentz distributions that Gini uses were correct, this would certainly not be the case. For a Gini of 0.33, the bottom 20% owns/earns 4% of the total wealth/income. For the top 5 families of the UK (~ the top 0.00001%) to earn more than that, the Gini coefficient would have to be very close to 1."

Ouch. You're describing the income gini there. Yet all the rest of the discussion is about the wealth gini. And wealth is always hugely more unequally distributed than income. Can't recall the exact number but the wealth gini for the UK is up at 0.75 or 0.80 or so.

1
2
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: It's worse in France

It's even worse in Sweden. I've not checked this but at one point it was said that the Wallenberg family controlled a majority of the entire stock market of the country. Not owned, but controlled though majority shareholdings etc.

2
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: @ smurfette @codejunky

"Oh, if only things were as simple as 'I have no debt and a tenner therefore I am wealthier than you, with your £200k salary and your £1m outstanding mortgage'."

There's two possible situations here.

1) You have a house that goes along with that mortgage and that house is worth more than the outstanding mortgage. In which case my tenner does not beat your wealth.

2) You have a house that goes along with that mortgage and that house is worth less than the outstanding mortgage. In which case my tenner does beat your wealth.

Remember, wealth is a stock. So, we have to measure the stock in order to determine the wealth.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Deiberately missing the point???

In the UK going past £150k a year puts you into the top 1% by income. I would expect there to be readers of this site who manage that. Not me and possibly not you but there will be people coding in The City on that and more.

3
2
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Unless they're from the lucky sperm club they've got negative wealth

If you're the child in that position then you have indeed benefited from being in the lucky sperm club, haven't you?

7
0

French novel falls foul of Apple's breast inspectors

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: America's distorted view of Freedom®

Not so much weird as completely wrong.

" the constitutionally protected right to shoot each other and be racist bigots, but not the right to see boobs, apparently."

Pornography is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. It's a form of speech and therefore must be allowed.

That doesn't, of course, mean that any particular retailer must be forced to sell or handle it.

2
1

BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Not correct!

And how wonderful to see pendant being used correctly* here!

* It's a long story involving me and Polly Toynbee but yes, the above usage is indeed correct.

2
0

Academic blames US for tech titans' tax dodge

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: The money would come home...

"Corporation taxes have dropped from 30% of the total tax take to less than 5%, So what you are saying is demonstrably false."

Possibly. But corporation taxes provide between 2 and 4% of GDP in federal tax revenues. Inside the range that they've been since the Korean War.

It's that other federal tax revenues have risen.....

2
1

Apple 'hid AUD$9 BILLION' from Australia alone: Report

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Oh Dear

This is sadly wrong.

"This is because ASI and its parent, Apple Operations International, manage to fall between US and Irish tax law: America doesn't tax the operations because they're not US-registered; Ireland winks at them because they're managed in the US."

Those profits are indeed taxable in the US. But only if they are actually taken into the US. Because that's what US tax law says: foreign profits are taxed only if they are moved into the US.

This is why Apple has vast cash piles outside the US yet borrows money inside it to pay dividends and fund stock buybacks. Because it doesn't want to take those foreign profits in and then pay US tax.

This all might be a good idea or a bad one. But it is the way that it is and those Oz, "experts" really ought to try and understand what is going on before they pronounce.

1
1

Climate change will 'CAUSE huge increase in MURDER, ROBBERY and RAPE'

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

This paper is very simple indeed

It's true that crime goes up as temperatures in a given location do. More people outside running around for a start. Anyway, it's a well know correlation. However, from the paper itself:

"However, there is no obvious

cross-sectional relationship between the temperature zones and crime rates."

There is no relationship at all between generally higher temperatures in any location and the crime rate.

If climate change means that we get greater variance of temperature in each place then this guy's calculation could be right (please note "could"). But as the contention is that average temperatures will increase everywhere he's not. Because changes in average temp don't change crime rates, it's variance in temp that does.

4
0

Terrifying photo special: 'Electric Cannon' anal orgasmo-probe in use ... on a BULL

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

"I would rather prefer to be a horse than a bull in my next life."

Why not try to come back as an upper class Englishman? Much the same, you'll be shagging mares most of your life.....

0
0

Syrian Electronic Army slurps a MILLION reader passwords from Forbes

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Astonishing?

"Why is it astonishing that Forbes staff used forbes(xxxx) as a password? I would actually be shocked if that wasn't the case."

You'd be even less shocked if you knew the format of the password that was assigned to you when you first had a contributor account set up.....

2
0

SMELT YOU LATER: Apple announces conflict-free status

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: So is this the end for.....

Fairphone is trying to do something a little different.

They want to use the minerals from the area but only non-bandit ones. Everyone else is trying to make sure they do not use bandit ones. So Fairphone are deliberately going into the area (or their proxies etc are) acquiring local but non bandit ores to process.

So instead of a phone that doesn't use bandit stuff, we've a phone that is non-bandit but is also helping the legitimate artisanal miners in the area.

In the long run this will increase the difference in price between bandit and non-bandit ores which would be a good thing. It will increase the incentive to mine i a non-bandit manner in the area.

I've no idea whether it will work but happy to give them credit for the attempt.

3
0

Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Haven't these people heard of the division and specialisation of labour?

Sure, I was talking about what it was compulsory for children to be taught, not what people might want to learn on their own.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Haven't these people heard of the division and specialisation of labour?

We no more want everyone to be able to code than we do want everyone to know how to fly a plane or build a house.

There are some skills that we'd like pretty much everyone to have, yes. Literacy, numeracy, cooking, drive a car, these sorts of things. But coding just isn't one of them.

To be able to *use* a computer, sure. But not to program one.

In this gap in the timetable they could start teaching kids some economics. But then I would say that of course.,,,,

True story: Roy Hattersley, who was at one time Sec of State for Prices, and at another Shadow Chancellor, was 80 years old before he found out that Adam Smith had written not only Wealth of Nations but also A Theory of Moral Sentiments. At least we could try getting the people who attempt to run the country up to speed on the basics of economics, no?

4
1

Your personal data is worth a measly eight bucks a month

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Obviously....

Someone has read Jaron Lanier and taken him seriously.

Might not have been the very best idea that.

0
0

Devs: We'll bury Candy Crush King under HEAPS of candy apps

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Gotta love this

Well, yeah, but. Rounded corners is a design patent which actually operate much more like copyright/trademarks than patents.

2
0

Yes, Google can afford to lose $9bn in Motorola sale. But did it really?

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Superb article

Most kind. I'm sure the editor will be taking requests for pay rises soon......

3
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

I've since seen that Google is keeping the Project ARA bit. So they may well have an decent argument that they do get to keep those tax losses. They've sold out the assets, not the holding company perhaps?

1
0

Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Labour theory of Value

Yeah, that's one bit of Marx that is wrong unfortunately. It's entirely possible to construct a logical chain where this should be true but it just isn't the way that human beings actually act.

The way we do act is Adam Smith's theory of value: we value things at the value that they give to us. I value a corkscrew rather more highly than my teetotal aunt does for example.

Given that we don't actually value things according to the labour that went into their production we can't then try to plan our value system on that labour. Just doesn't work.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: The win-win

That's a pretty good description of the whole shebang there.

2
0

Margaret Hodge, PAC are scaring off new biz: Treasury source

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: How about...

"The UK operation buys ridiculously expensive coffee beans from the Swiss operation"

Hmm. 20% above cost actually. And the cost of beans is a terribly minor one for a coffee shop. Even when you add this 20% back in it doesn't make Starbucks UK make a profit.

And there should be some margin paid to the Swiss trading operation, shouldn't there? They are buying the coffee for all Starbucks across Europe. It is right that there should be a margin on such work? Y/N?

"As for paying to use the Starbucks name, what the f*ck? Starbucks UK is not a franchise,"

Starbucks does have franchises though. And they are charged the same rate that Starbucks UK is charged. And there is a value to being able to use the name, no? We would expect a shop called Starbucks to attract more custom than one called Fred's?

It's also worth noting that EU law actually bans the UK from charging tax on royalty streams going to another company based in the EU. Actually bans it. What's more, HMRC did have a look at the royalty rate and Starbucks lowered it (from 6% or so to 4.5% or so from memory). So it really has been looked at and everyone agrees that the practice is, at least now, just peachy.

Finally, even if you add all of these supposed dodges back in Starbucks UK *still* wasn't making a profit. We've even had Vince Cable stating this (as well as FT Alphaville and a number of accountants of my acquaintance).

2
1

Hey, G20. Please knock it off with the whole tax loophole thing - we're good guys, really

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Well of course they are

But they're not natural persons: they're legal persons.

What SCOTUS said was that certain constitutional provisions applies to the legal persons that are corporations. Like, for example, free speech (which is where the being able to donate to political campaigns comes from, that's regarded as an expression of free speech).

Certain other constitutional provisions do not apply to the legal persons that are corporations. Cruel and unusual punishment for example.

SCOTUS absolutely did not say that corporations are natural persons. They just defined which constitutional provisions apply to legal persons.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Well of course they are

"corporations are people according to SCOTUS."

A corporation is a legal person. And we're all very glad that they are too. For being a legal person is the definition of us being able to sue them.

If you're not a legal (nor natural) person then you can't commit crimes, sue or be sued. Or be taxed of course.

Given this would you prefer that corporations were not legal people?

0
1

China in MASSIVE rare earths industry consolidation

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: A monopoly is all we need

"In this situation a new hold in the ground would allow you to pull out tantalum and sell it at a profit even if the price of tantalum goes down a fair bit."

Hmm, but. There's two extant tantalum mines that are on a care and maintenance basis at present. Tanco and Sons of Gwalia. OK, at least, last time I looked around this market these two extant mines were there, capable of being operated, and weren't being operated.

Given this people just aren't very interested in the idea of new tantalum mines.

"The only reason it doesn't attract investors is because there is a greater profit to be made elsewhere."

Which sounds like an excellent idea really. There's a limited amount of capital in the world, profit is the measure of how much value is being added by deploying that capital. Thus we *want* people to be deploying their capital where it makes the largest profits.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: A monopoly is all we need

I'm afraid that there's a problem with this analysis. That being that you almost certainly wouldn't make a profit by mining for rare earths. Because other people have got there first. There's Molycorp, reopened the mine in California. And Lynas with their mine in Oz and processing plant in Malaysia. They're both up and running and production between the two will reach around 40k tonnes a year.

Which is around and about the non-China demand for rare earths anyway.

That sounds like a pretty good reason that people don't want to invest in rare earth mines really.

Quite apart from the fact that there are vastly cheaper places to get them from than by digging another damn hole in the ground. There's large amounts in the wastes from other processes for example: 20,000 tonnes a year in red mud from alumina production alone. And yes, they can be extracted: we've actually done that experiment ourselves. However, with those other people already in the market it's not profitable either....

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Hmm

Interesting....given that the new President of China's "family investment firm" owns a big chunk of the number two RE producer in China.

1
0

Intel shutters BRAND NEW chip factory as PC market storm rages

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Hmm

They've not left a multibillion fab unused. They built the building and then didn't put the fab into it.

Once you've actually built the whole damn thing, Si ingot makers, slicers, etchers and all the rest there's absolutely no way at all that you don't run the thing. For the running costs are entirely spit in relation to the capital costs of having got that far.

And it's all that gear that is "the fab", not the building itself.

Sure, Intel spent good money on the building but it's not multi-billions, no way.

One way of checking this is that if they had they would have already made a release to the SEC stating that they were going to take a multibillion write off of the cost of that plant. Which, at least as far as I know, they haven't. The costs of the walls and ceiling aren't sufficiently large to be relevant to Intel which is why they've not had to announce such a write off.

The above is all speculation BTW but it is how I read this story.

12
0

How to kill trolls and influence Apple people: A patent solution

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Proof by assertion

Worth noting that fashion is covered by trademark (you can't go around passing stuff off....very like Apple's design patents) and recipes are covered by copyright. "Lemon chicken" ain't copyright but the specific recipe, the words used to explain it, are.

7
0

iPhone fanbois outsmart fandroids in totally reliable test of brain power

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

I had a go at this test

And the way to get a fast time is not even read the questions. Just select a as the answer. If it's correct (25% chance) then on to the next. If not, hit b. If not, c and so on.

You get through it in perhaps 30 seconds.

So, fanbois are better at randomly pushing buttons to see what happens next?

20
0

JAILBREAK! US smut spam king Kilbride flees minimum security prison

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Hmm, Lompoc

It's a very old joke, sorry, An adaptation of the one where not drinking won't make you live longer but it will make it seem longer.

A week in Lompoc is so interesting that it seems like a month elsewhere......

The central coast of California is really wonderful.....as is, say, rural Somerset. But Lompoc is a bit like Radstock say./.....

0
0
Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Hmm, Lompoc

I spent a month there one week. Outside the jail of course but it's one of the few places I've been where inside might be more attractive.

3
0

What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Not quite

"Your great grandfather's introduction to aviation was something like this"

That was my grandfather's introduction to it. Sopwith Camels, SE5As etc etc...

1
0

Official: Apple hooks up with WORLD'S LARGEST MOBILE OPERATOR

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: 3G

Not quite. There are versions of both that are TD-SCDMA compatible but not all versions of the two iPhones are so compatible. All are TD-LTE compatible though.

0
0

Italy's 'Google tax law' could fall foul of EU discrimination rules

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Hmm

The actual proposal wouldn't have made any difference at all to Google or Facebook. Because it was all about VAT. Which is a tax on consumers, not producers.

Even if it were not found illegal under EU law (as I've been predicting it would be) all Google would need to do is appoint an agent in Rome, give him a 0.5% margin on all sales and still send all the cash to Ireland.

The people who proposed this are simply incompetent.

9
0

Vodafone dodges UK corporation tax bill - AGAIN

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Err, no

However they had made provision for a substantial payment in their accounts...

Not quite exactly.

What they did is say that we're going to bring some of these foreign profits into the UK in order to pay dividends to our nice shareholders. And all of us, Vodafone, HMRC, the courts, the EU, agree that when those profits come back into the UK to pay a dividend then corporation tax will be due.

That's actually what they did.

1
0

Resellers, distributors - your countdown to oblivion starts NOW

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

Re: Evolutionary pressures

I believe a better phrase is "winnowing of the weakest"

Yes, I like that. Will use it from now on.

2
0

Kiwi inventor's court win rains on Apple's parade

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

So why not call it DryPhone then?

Driza-bone. Oz company been making waterproofs since 1898.

Riffing off what would be a common identification around the Tasman Sea.

1
0

Facebook offshores HUGE WAD OF CASH to Caymans - via Ireland

Tim Worstal
Bronze badge

it's not admin costs

Facebook Irish company I did not pay over 1.75 billion in admin costs to Facebook Irish company 2. It was royalties for the use of the Facebook name and technology.

"But the method could soon be stamped out by bringing an end to "stateless companies" in Ireland, it's been reported."

Not so much. It's Apple that has a company with no tax domicile in its Double Irish structure. Facebook does not. Facebook Irish company 2 is tax domiciled in the Caymans. So cracking down on companies with no tax domicile won't make any difference to Facebook.

0
0

Page: