* Posts by Tim Worstal

1047 posts • joined 12 Feb 2008

Page:

Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Thoughts

Well:

"An underreported aspect of the Nationalised Industry structure was the provision of hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs,"

Jobs are a cost of doing something. We can tell this because paying wages comes under the costs part of he accounts of the organisation that pays them. That the nationalised industries provided many more well paid jobs than the privatised ones is all the proof we need to show that the nationalised industries were inefficient.

2
4
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: I don't think you're mad

The EIC's an interesting example, yes. I would put it over in the box marked "we don't want the people making the rules and the people running the business to be the same people" myself.

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: English translation please...?

I prefer to think of myself as an auteur, rather than author. I believe that means that you must adjust your reality to mine, not the other way around.

1
2
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Freight subsidises passenger, definitely.

The reason rail passenger systems are expensive is because they're not actually all that efficient.

They're great at something like shuffling people from Acton or Dorking to the City. But elsewhere, well, they're a technology that's well over a century old, aren't they?

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: I don't think you're mad

I think you'll find he complained pretty bitterly about the East India Company too. At least my version of Wealth of Nations has him doing so......

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

That's getting into far more detail than I know about. The division into track and operating company is an EU insistence. Further than that is before my time.

1
1
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: The Purpose of Government.

"Step back and think a moment of why we actually have governments. At it's most basic level it is to provide services."

Not quite. There's many services that could be provided by government that o not have to be provided by government. There's also certain things that must be provided and can only be provided by government. Finally, there's a set of things that it would be great to have which would be better provided by government.

so, in that first group we might put the notional National Food Service. The Soviet Union had one of those, government can definitely do it, and it was shit.

In the second we've got things like national defence and a criminal justice system. In the third we've got "public goods". These are not things that are good for the public, goods consumed by the public, but goods (and services) that are non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

We have to be very precise when we define these though. The common example is vaccination. But vaccination isn't the public good: because, obviously, if I am given a vaccine then you cannot have that same dose of vaccine (ie, it is rivalrous). Similarly, a vaccine is obviously excludable: I can give you one or not as I the producer decide.

However, the effect of 90% and up of the population being vaccinated, that herd immunity, is a public good. Once it exists we can't exclude anyone from benefiting from it, nor does someone doing so reduce the amount available to others.

Thus there's a very good case for government action to encourage vaccination up to the point that we all gain that herd immunity. Could be the way the NHS does it, paying for and providing it directly. Could be the american way, no school for the kiddies 'till they've had their shots (however much in the breach that is these days) .

Adam Smith though that being part of a generally literate and numerate society meant government subsidy of primary education was a good idea. So, all we've got to do now is design a state education system that makes people generally literate and numerate.

More specifically, things like short journey commuting in and out of London is probably a public good. There's just no way the place could work without commuter rail: so some subsidy seems fair enough. Long distance rail travel not so much really.

But there's nothing in this that says that government should be providing goods or services. That government may provide more of a public good can be used as a reason to provide certain good and or services, true, but the government provision is the route to the public good, not the delivery of the goods themselves being the point.

10
2

Hey, Sand Hill Exchange. Shouting 'blockchain!' won't stop the Feds

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Questions for TW

1) Two things. Firstly, purely sentiment, as you intuit. The more short pressure there is the more people think about going long. But also, markets do tend to connect. Because people will arbitrage between different versions of he same market (say, in a commodity, between physical, futures and options). So if there's more people going short in one section then that's going to get covered in another section and thus put proper downward pressure on prices. Wouldn't be all that efficient in he housing market, that second, but it would be there,.

2) The UK would be much easier to set this up than the US. FSA etc would allow Liffe (or whoever) to set up a new contract, no problems. You could base it on the Halifax index for example. Setting up a new exchange to do it would probably be contra-indicated. It would be howlingly difficult to get the volume of trade you'd like. But give the extant speculators something else to speculate in on a market they already use and it should work.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Generalizing 'market'

The Iowa market, yes. But the reason they don't run such markets in financial things is because....SEC regulation.

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Regulations. . .

If I could answer that properly then I'd be in Stockholm getting my fake Nobel.....

3
0

Apple pulls Civil War games in Confederate flag takedown

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Wolfenstein isn't available in Germany, where they do have laws about swastikas and so on. I checked this once, just to make sure. The servers won't download it to you if you're inside Germany (and, I assume, Austria, which has similar rules).

0
0

Tim Worstall dances to victory over resources scaremongerers

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Oi, reg! Show us some love.

I'm deeply unsure that tides and currents moving sand about is really relevant to a discussion of how much sand there is available to the human race to use. I'm talking about the latter.....

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Oi, reg! Show us some love.

I'm up for it, the difficulty is getting someone to pay for the flights and hotels.....

2
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: I thought you was a fat bloke, Tim?!

I was a fat bloke. And then the doctor told me that it would be a good idea to stop being a fat bloke. So, I did. As not doing so would precipitate not being a bloke at all.

15
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Duplicitous

Can I use that as a blurb for the book?

31
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Vulture

More like about 45 in the audience.

And the mike was really to provide the soundtrack for the video. You an hear the sound change a couple of minutes in, as it moves from picking me up on the microphone on the camera to being picked up by that radio mike.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: But...@Zoolander

Pound shop? Good grief, I don't spend that much on my clothes. That shirt was 10 korunna in the charity shop sale.

19
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Vulture

Radio pack for the microphone......

6
0

Why is it that women are consistently paid less than men?

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Statistics, etc.

The division into household (ie, unpaid) and market (paid) labour is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

8
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Italy

Labour force participation numbers for women here:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS

Italy is low, at 40%. Sweden, Switzerland at 60%, UK and US at 56%.

And a paper:

http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/low-fertility-and-labour-force-participation-of-italian-women_263482758546

"In Italy, as well as in other Southern European countries, low labor market participation rates of married women are observed together with low birth rates. Our proposed explanation for this apparent anomaly involves the Italian institutional structure, particularly as reflected in rigidities and imperfections in the labor market and characteristics of the publicly-funded child care system. These rigidities tend to simultaneously increase the costs of having children and to discourage the labor market participation of married women."

My "unusual" might have been a bit strong. "Very much less usual" would still be fair.

12
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Next question...

You could say that it's discrimination against parenthood. I would cast it the other way around, that people discriminate more about work when they are parents.

13
0

Foxconn's going to 'exploit' Indian labour? SCORE! Bye, poverty

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Affects on jobs in USA

Don't know about Xerox but Kodak went bust because of technology change, not trade. Coke is an input to virgin steel. The country as a whole uses much less virgin steel than it did because we now recycle more old steel. Again, that's technology change, not trade.

6
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Enjoy might not be quite le mot juste. But shadenfreude is enjoyable, yes. Because this is what all the critics of the euro (including myself, I really was saying just this in 97 and 98 on alt.econ etc) were saying would happen. An asymmetric shock will lead to deep recession/depression in a country as they could not devalue.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Entirely true. I've just finished a piece for another place running through this. The losers from globalisation are, roughly speaking, those who were already on lower than median incomes in the rich countries. They may not actually have lost, but they've not benefited at least.

At which point it becomes a value judgement. I think that billions coming up out of absolute poverty is worth widening in rich country inequality. Others might not agree.

15
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Standard economics says that trade has no effect on the number of jobs in a country. On the type of jobs, yes, but not on the number. The number of jobs is determined by aggregate demand. You may or may not go along with standard economics but this is indeed the normal model that all the central banks and governments run their plans on (roughly, it's a New Keynesian model).

8
1
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

I find it very difficult to use the word "bad" about something that eradicates absolute poverty.

7
1

Why is that idiot Osbo continuing with austerity when we know it doesn't work?

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

On which subject since the rise of the condom I believe that rather the point of such transactions is to make sure there is no such transfer of liquid assets.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Tim: Article on the "Economic Cycle"?

Hmm, economic cycle. There's not really enough there for a full piece. We know that there are such cycles. Bit like mood swings. We don't know how to predict them nor, really, cause them. Really they're things we can only see in history.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Article idea

Yes, will add to the list. Short answer: there's a motherhood pay gap, not a gender one.

15
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Top trolling

I find the pills the doctor gives me help.

9
1
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Worstall? Lefty?

Blimey, tough crowd.

23
2

MIT bods' digital economy babblings are tosh. C'mon guys, Economics 101

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: @Dawson

It's the speed of transition. At 2% or 4% of the labour force per year? No worries, that's very much lower than the transition we've been doing for a couple of centuries now. 50% in one year? Yeah,. bit tough then.

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: @Dawson

"The only ones who will be able to afford to consume will be those who already own the robots, or at least own the rights to their output. The rest of us get to starve."

This isn't possible. Because, if that production of the robots isn't being shared with us then we'll still be doing the sort of stuff we're doing now in order to feed ourselves, won't we?

It's just not possible to have a highly automated and highly productive economy and have people unable to consume stuff.

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

not really

"The part about doing something entirely different like "teaching yoga" seems bogus to me because there was nothing stopping people from teaching yoga profitably even before the technological advance. If there was a human desire for it, people didn't need to wait to be kicked out of the pin factory to do it. It is precisely the technological advance that is the driver for the new types of goods and services that didn't exist before."

We desire pins more than yoga. Thus, until we automated the pin making we didn't have the labour available to teach us yoga. Nor the leisure from pin making to take the classes.

Very much my point. The advancing production technology frees us to satiate other human desires.

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: @Dawson

So, the robots are making everything. Yes? That is your point?

Great, so, who's consuming everything? Got to be us humans 'coz there ain't no one else here. and we get to consume without labouring. The problem with this is?

0
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: And yet...

So, the robots make everything. There's no work left for us to do. But obviously we're already getting everything because the robots are making it all. And if there's anything that the robots aren't making, then we've all still got jobs, making what the robots don't....

0
1
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Will you feel differently..

The robots have already taken the bread and butter of financial journalism, writing up company reports for the papers. so, can feel that metallic breath on my neck already.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Sexbots, Tim

" a write-up of what the world will look like when ultra-realistic sexbots have been invented."

First thought is that rather fewer men will be paying for Jimmy Choos even if the same number of women are wearing them.

Which would seem to mean that we've got the Shoe Event Horizon sported out. Also that I'm a dreadful sexist pig but then we all knew that.

6
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Keep on buggering on really. We've been doing this since about 1750 after all....

5
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Displaced workers

As so often, it depends.

"but I want to know the mechanism by which these low-skilled people suddenly become yoga teachers or whatever."

The economist's answer is "entrepreneur". If you can spot something that people would like done, and you can also spot the resources with which that thing can be done, stick 'em together and you've got a business. If there's lots of spare labour floating around then people will think about new businesses that use labour.

The depends is in this:

"a driver in itself for creating new jobs where none previously existed? Or do these things even themselves out over a generation"

The jobs churn in the economy is immense. I always thought it was 10% of all jobs are destroyed each year, 10% created, but I've just seen figures of double that. Obviously, some of those jobs created are very similar to those destroyed. But almost none of them are exactly the same. So, while any one job might only be slightly changed from the previous one, at 10-20 % of all jobs every year we get a substantial shift over the decades in what jobs are being done.

That's to be cheerful: the robots would only be a minor addition to that normal churn. One estimate is 45% of jobs over 20 years. Not a lot if 20% each and every....

On the other hand, a lot of miners never did do anything else again. Leaving only that generational change to do it.

6
0

EU: Explain your tax affairs. Google, Amazon, Facebook: Mmm... nah

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: It is actually simple, but one needs to do it

This is proposed as a solution. It's called "unitary taxation".

The only real problem with it is that you've got to go around and entirely change the way that international tax law has operated for the past century. That's possible but ain't gonna be easy or immediate.

0
0

So why the hell didn't quantitative easing produce HUGE inflation?

Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: It's simple, really.

Wayull, not entirely. I think UK peak was 2008 or so. US is still growing. But generally you're right, only not exactly.

1
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Numbers don't lie, but liars fudge the numbers

"Unemployment figures (5.5% currently?) are a sick joke; the calculations are rigged to avoid embarrassment to any Administration currently in office. Try 18+% for a more realistic figure."

Very, very, difficult to get to that. 8%? Yes, would accept that without hesitation (a point I've made many times at Forbes). You're only counted as unemployed in he US if you're claiming unemployment insurance. This runs out after 6 months. so, long term unemployed are not in that unemployment number. Technically, this is the "U3" unemployment number. "U6" is the one that includes those others and that's not one generally reported. And it's generally accepted that there's 2-3% of the working age population that probably should be counted in that U3 but aren't.

However, it's not 13%. Which is what you would need to get to 18%. Because we can check the percentage of the working age population that is in employment, college, or not in anything. And there's just not room in that number for us to have another 13% of the population that would like to be working but cannot find work. Or, the other way around, if another 13% of that total population did go to work then we'd have an employment to working age population ratio higher than any society that we know of has ever had.

Unlikely....

"It's commonly accepted that worker's wages have been stagnant for 30-plus years; "

It's commonly accepted but it's not really relevant. The correct number to look at is not wages, but total compensation (ie, including all the benefits one gets, in the US health insurance) and that has been rising.

"Cost of living indexes ignore real costs of living. The formula is rigged to avoid COL formula-based payouts and adjustments. Fuel, housing, food, health care ... all have risen sharply and continue to rise."

Eh? Oil's just halved in price and food's the cheapest it ever has been in the history of our species.

I fear you may have been getting a little too much of your economics news from Salon....

7
2
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: color me skeptical that fiscal stimulus is irrelevant

I don't insist (although I do believe) that monetary policy definitely worked better than fiscal here.

However, I do insist something else. The standard Keynesian story is that at zero interest rates only fiscal policy can work. Recent years have shown that unconventional monetary policy (ie, QE) does work. Maybe not as well as fiscal, open to that idea. But the "we MUST" have fiscal at zero interest rates is now proven not to be true.

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Pratchett

Plays round with....well, sorta. Moniac is real. Was built, there's a working model of it out there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MONIAC_Computer

It's almost stereotypical Pratchett, to take something near absurd yet real and then play with it even more.

That playing being that Moniac moves from being positive economics (describing, as a model, what is) to normative (what ought to be). Almost French in fact: if we can get the model, the theory, right, then the real world will change to conform to it.

That's why when they do finally get Moniac right the gold flows back into the vault. It's a joke which shows a very deep understanding of economics.

3
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Pratchett

His five tests for joining the euro were very good. No, not just because I'm a 'Kipper. They're actually good economics as well as making the political point he wanted to make.

For example, he said that Britain would need long term fixed rate mortgages before we should join.

Much of the eurozone either has long term fixed rate mortgages, or a much smaller mortgage occupied housing sector. So, when we change interest rates in the UK that changes the income of, say, 40% of all households (65% owner occupied, something more than 50% of those with a mortgage? Sorta, around?).

Where there's fewer owner occupiers, or mortgages are fixed rate for the full term, a change in interest rates only affects those who are taking out new mortgages. Say, 1 or 2% of households. Again, sorta, around?

Having a single currency means, by definition, having a single monetary policy. But as we can see, given the underlying structure of housing market finance, the effect of an interest rate change (ie, a change in that single monetary policy) will have vastly disproportionate effects on different areas of that single currency area.

This isn't just a holding action to stop going into the euro. This is a real and serious problem that needs to be solved before we try it.

It also led to something quite marvellous. Will Hutton was banging on about how we should join the euro. And how this housing finance thing had to be solved. So, he shouted that we must have a GordonMac in order to fulfill the function that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae perform in the US. Because that is how the US gets to having 30 year fixed rate mortgages.

So far so good you might say. It's just that he published this demand two weeks before Freddie and Fannie went bankrupt....

6
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: The proper expression is

As someone whose AA Milne books were actually bought from Christopher Robin (he used to run the bookshop in Dartmouth, so this is not uncommon among sprogs of Naval families) I should of course have known that.

But simple brain and all that.....

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Pratchett

Yes, Brown's move from RPI to CPI (or was it the other way around?) is generally regarded as having been a mistake....

4
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: Is that the sound of a can being kicked down the road?

Definitely a worry. And UK housing prices ain't chopped liver at the moment, are they?

Still better than losing 10% or more of GDP to a recession though.

3
0
Tim Worstal
Silver badge

Re: However...

I have an interesting theory about that. No proof of it, none in the slightest, but will include it.

1
0

Page:

Forums