* Posts by Ossi

191 posts • joined 23 Jan 2010

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Chill, luvvies. The ‘unsustainable’ BBC Telly Tax stays – for now

Ossi
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Actually, it's perfectly legal to watch iPlayer without a licence, as long as you're not watching the current broadcast. iPlayer never asks if you have a Licence.

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Ossi
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Re: there is no means-tested element whatsoever

@Sooty

Surely you mean 'I think the BBC's a great thing. I get a decent salary and I watch it a lot. It's only fair that I chip in a bit more.'?

Some things for you to think about while you're telling the poor that they can't have a TV:

The cheapest TV in Argos is £90. A single year of Licence Fee is £145.50

Wonga offers loans as low as £50. The default loan on its website tool is £111.

You can't drive a car without using the road. You can watch TV without watching the BBC.

...or perhaps I'm just missing the joke.

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Re: Am I the only person...

It's terrible value if you don't use it.

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Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

Ossi
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Re: The reason is fairly simple

@Boris the Cockroach

I challenge you to find a single example that's actually followed that route - especially the 'moving the factory to China' and 'suing' bits.

If the company was ever to be a success the wine glass would have been made in China in the first place. You're going to sell your business for a lot more if it has solid patents and non-compete clauses to protect it from competition. It's in your interests not to go and set up a competitor (or, more to the point, not be able to do that) the minute you leave.

The "problem" (if there is one) is one that you do mention - investors want to cash out, not build something permanent. Sometimes the founders want to bale out as. All of this is neatly illustrated by one Lastminute.com.

But is this really a problem? That happens everywhere. All the big American internet businesses are constantly acquiring start ups, so someone must be selling them. The UK tech sector is doing fine. There are few to no equivalents to Google and Facebook anywhere else in the world without a Great Firewall. I sense collective 'wisdom' and confirmation bias at work here.

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Ossi
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Re: @hplasm: Just remember, in the 1980s

The number of mines and mining employment (with the odd blip) had been falling in the UK since 1938.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/

historical-coal-data-coal-production-availability-and-consumption-1853-to-2011

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To defend offshore finance bods looting developing countries of their tax cash

Ossi
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Re: The Commanding Hieghts

@ecofeco

I've not seen the series nor read the book. However, I understand the book was pro-market and pro-globalisation, and their concern is not that these trends *should* end but that they *might* end because of their flaws, taking away all the benefits they've brought. It's a call to address the flaws, not sweep away the system.

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Re: nice one tim....

@Phil

Well whether the ultimate burden of business taxes falls on workers, businesses or customers is rather complex and depends on the type of tax. Suffice to say that all or a combination of those groups could end up ultimately paying the tax.

So you won't be surprised to hear that the same logic applies to taxes on wages. In fact, employers would end up with a proportion of the burden, possibly the majority of it. To understand why, think about what happens when an income tax is applied. Workers suddenly get less pay. That means that fewer will be willing or able to work for you for any given salary. Thus, you have to raise wages to compensate at least partially.

But, I hear you say, if they get paid less, they'll get paid less everywhere. There's no more reason to change jobs now than before the income tax. One answer is that lower effective wages make employment a less enticing option. Some people will simply leave the workforce - think about those who are near retirement, for example. At the other end, some will stay in education. Others will leave the country. They'll be a shuffling effect as people move around. How much they can and want to shuffle out of your business determines how much of the income tax burden you'll have to stump up yourself.

But ultimately all the burden falls on humans, because humans ultmately own all the businesses.

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Ossi
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Re: nice one tim....

Phil,

"The mechanism of capitalism fails when there is essentially nothing to stop it destroying the system of one part of the planet to benefit another as they cross boundaries and distort the system. And I don't even mean oil, to pick an obvious example. I mean business can cross borders where *MANY* people cannot."

I'd like to respond, but I'm not sure what you mean. This is a very broad statement. Could you be more specific? What do you mean by 'destroying the system'? What 'system' are you referring to? How does it destroy it?

As for your tax point, there's a difference between costs and consumption. If you buy some flour for 80p, and sell your bread for £1, your income is 20p. You don't expect to get taxed on the cost of the flour (which the seller would have already paid tax on), but it seems reasonable to tax the income. If you then spend 10p of that income on a bus fare to the cinema, that's consumption - it's how you've chosen to spend your income. Now you might be able to persuade Mrs taxperson that it's a cost of business if the bus fare was to work and back, and she might go for it, but the distinction between costs and consumption seems a reasonable one to me.

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Ossi
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Re: To put it simply....

@Red Bren

Well the simple evidence of centuries of increasing productivity and simultaneously increasing wages and employment should be enough to answer your point. But just to explain a bit more, yes I am assuming that demand is not fixed - but I'm talking about aggregate demand in the economy.

You saw the logical impossibility of the cycle that you described, so you'll be pleased to know that it doesn't work like that. Even if we assume the (unlikely but possible) scenario where the quantity demanded of a product is completely unresponsive to price, then increased productivity will force down the price of that good (initially decreased cost of production would mean more profits - which is why you'd invest - but eventually competitors would be tempted by those profits and would invest and prices would be forced down until profits are at a level that doesn't tempt in new competitors but doesn't drive current competitors out - think what's happened to telecom prices, for example). That makes consumers richer, and they go and spend their money elsewhere. The laid off workers would then go off to the resulting new jobs.

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Re: nice one tim....

@Phil Dude

"Corporations live to maximise profit at any cost."

You say that likes it's a bad thing; like with that statement you've ended the argument. That's the starting assumption of the argument (although 'at any cost' is hyperbole - do you really think Tim Cook would order the murder of Satya Nadella?). Their desire for profit leads to investment, employment, competition, rising productivity and rising wages, given free markets. If you really want to make the world a better place, take the time to understand how and why.

Given the millennia-old inevitably of people (why stop at 'corporations'?) trying to make profits, that seems like a jolly sensible place to start from. If you find that immoral, then feel free to invest your pension fund in profit-free enterprises. But, come to think about it, what's actually immoral about profit?

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Ossi
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Re: To put it simply....

@Aitor 1

"Wages don't go up with increased productivity: they go down, as you need less workers, and there is more offer of workers than need."

Only if you assume that output is fixed and, well, it isn't. What actually happens is each worker produces more and output increases. As I say, the simple point is that if you want to have more stuff (i.e. increase wages across an economy) you have to make more stuff.

"You have to increase the company productivity in order to be able to pay more, and that is different from paying more. Completely different."

I'm not quite sure what you mean here, but if one company doesn't keep up with the productivity increases of its competitors then it will go bust. The economy will discard it and march on.

"You just pay as little as possible, and sell for as much as you can, that is the basics of a good deal.. there is no reason to pay more if you can pay less. Not only you have no reason, but it is bad management to do so."

Yep. Absolutely right. It's competition in the labour market that drives up wages. The more investment you have, the greater the ability (through increased productivity) to pay higher salaries and the greater the competition for labour forcing you to pay higher salaries. That's the transmission mechanism.

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And where would the nationalised monopoly get the funds to invest?

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Ossi
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To put it simply....

Wages only go up with productivity - a simple point that you ultimately can't have more without producing more. To increase productivity you need investment. To get investment you need profits. So tax dodging => profits => investment => rising incomes.

The profits => investment bit is the subtlety in the argument. Where capital is very mobile (like developing countries, because it comes from abroad) then the amount of investment is very sensitive to profits, much more than in the developed world. That's why Tim's careful to apply the argument to the developing world.

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A Quid A Day for NOSH? Luxury!

Ossi
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Re: True poverty still exists in the UK

"Indeedy. And every day. Certain people in politics, often on the left but not exclusively, like to try to lay claim to the moral high ground. It is very annoying. I choose to challenge it. It's often used as a device to close down debate on topics they don't like. Or to try and win the debate by painting the opposition as 'nasty'. I think they should grow up, and try to win the debate by showing their ideas will work better than the oppositions'."

Hear, hear!

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Ossi
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Re: True poverty still exists in the UK

"All economists have 20-20 vision with hindsight. They are fuck all use at fixing problems."

Ironic, then, that your judgement that economists are useless depends on you having no hindsight whatsoever.

Economists can never reach the stage of perfection that would seem to be good enough for you because they're dealing with a dynamic and ever-changing system. But so used to rising prosperity do you appear to have become that a relative blip (our level of prosperity went back to what it had been a few years before) appears to you to be good enough reason to damn the whole field of economics. It's interesting that the rising prosperity is not credited to the economists (or simply ignored because it's just seen as normal now) whilst they're blamed for the blips.

Would you really prefer to live in a world without an understanding of economics? Do you really think economics has contributed nothing? I invite you to develop hindsight.

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Guardian: 'Oil reserves will soon be worth NOTHING!' (A bit like their stock tips, really)

Ossi
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Re: Oh look...

"You have pointed out that they have incorrectly re-arranged the deckchairs on the Titanic!"

No, I think he's pointing out that the Guardian is claiming that rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic will help stop it sinking.

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Ossi
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Re: noise and mathematics...

@Phil Dude

"The problem is $Y is a complex function as it depends a great deal on the technology to extract as well as the location of the resources. Especially d$X/dT"

You've mixed up your 2 functions. "Y" does not depend on dX/dT. You've already clearly defined them as independent of each other. In fact, your Y function, the cost of production, can be known with some accuracy, especially after you start pumping...

"The reality of global energy, is that it is just that - global demand for a non-linear resource. But very few people get to choose the price they pay at the pump."

What is a "non-linear resource"? Do you mean a product whose price changes? That seems to more or less cover everything.

"Economics is as close to voodoo as you can get with a straight face and without a billowing cape."

Even ignoring my comments above, you've said nothing to justify this conclusion.

"The necessary descriptive differential equations rarely make it onto the Grauniad pages...."

The equations to describe what exactly? You talk as if something's being kept secret. Tim's argument only depends on the discount rate being applied. Feel free to Google the equation for 'Net Present Value'.

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Ossi
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Re: Oh look...

Companies are valued according to expected returns. It's important to note that buying a company's stock does not change the balance sheet of that company nor it's profit and loss, so they'll still make the same profits. Therefore, if a large enough group of investors decide not to invest in a business so that its stock value falls, that raises the rate of return (since you would have to invest less to get the same dividend). Should there be enough 'ethical' investors around to actually affect the market, they'll face lower returns than the rest of the market. The bottom limit to those returns would only be what the ethical investors' would/could tolerate.

Now that level of toleration might turn out to be not very low at all, thus placing a limit on the amount of ethical investment that could be done - in all probability the limit would be one that would put no pressure on any of these companies at all, and even causing those small changes would require enormous financial firepower. You're basically talking about trying to 'outvote' all the invested assets in the world.

Of course, these are the technical economic aspects. The ethical investors might also find themselves pretty uncomfortable when they realise that they're increasing returns for people they possible aren't too keen on.

Invest ethically by all means - there are, well, ethical reasons to do so. But do it in the knowledge that it won't be able to change the world, and even if it was it might be simply reinforcing the position of those who you might not consider ethical.

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Out of time: Huawei, LG unveil watches nobody wants to buy

Ossi
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A Smartwatch makes some kind of sense, but...

If you're happy to wear something in your wrist that's of very limited functionality - it can tell you the time and date only - then it's not illogical to wear something that can do more. From a purely functional point of view, wearing a smartwatch makes sense even if it can't do much more than a normal wristwatch; the point is that it can do more.

But I own a smartwatch (an LG G-Watch) and I don't often wear it. It has all the usual limitations - short battery life (not something that bothers me), bulky size (I'm pretty small - have smartphone manufacturers heard of "women"?) and crap UI.

But none of these are the reason I don't wear it. The reason is that it feels so conspicuous. Looking at your wrist all the time is just as noticeable as looking at your phone all the time, and as for talking to the damned thing, forget it. You also - and I didn't think about this - either have to keep tapping it to see the time or get a glow-in-the-dark wrist. E-ink is such an obvious choice for a smartwatch, but only one company's gone with it. I don't get that.

So, here's my advice to smartwatch manufacturers - make your devices more subtle, smaller, and cheaper - basically start to use E-ink - and then the fact that they don't do much will matter less because the alternative that everyone happily wears does very little at all. Pebble are the only guys who get this.

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Delving into Office 2016: Microsoft goes public with new preview

Ossi
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My prediction as a non-techie user of Office:

Have they fixed all the faults that have been around since year dot like problems with handling numbered lists in Word? No, thought not.

Have they added in fairly basic features that users have wanted for years like mail merge that can send an email with an attachment and a message, or an ability to easily animate individual cells in PowerPoint tables? Nope, thought not.

Have they added in a load of features that have little to do with user need but a lot to do with Microsoft's 'strategy'? Yep, thought so.

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Galileo! Galileo! Galileo good to go after six-week recovery effort

Ossi
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Re: Inservice dates anyone?

OT I know, but I'm not surprised this was railway renewal. Who'd think that a privatised railway with huge bureaucratic intervention is perhaps not the best way to do things? Not our political classes, apparently.

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Improved Apple Watches won't get more expensive? Hmmm

Ossi
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Re: Tell your stories to the millions of workers...

@well fuck you

Plucking the only thing that can be called an argument out of your comment, Craigness is not saying that he supports any such thing. He's simply a realist.

Idealism is both lovely and dangerous. It's lovely as it's obviously well meaning - and people like to think they're fighting for something. It's dangerous as it tends to (rather uncritically) assume that the ideal is possible and - as you comment demonstrates - has a possibly violent intolerance of the thought that it can't be done.

No one supports inequality per se. The more intelligent argument is the one that Craigness is trying to have - which is 'how do we do the best?' and 'what is the best that's possible?'.

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Ossi
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Re: Define vast majority

I read that as meaning 'the vast majority of people with health insurance' rather than 'the vast majority of the population', so in my reading it's a true statement. It's ambiguous though, I'll grant you.

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Re: Just a thought

@AC: What makes you think that the indices are 'clearly massaged'? Do you have any basis for saying this?

And why is Tim being downvoted for stating a fact? Condemning people for simply telling the truth is not a healthy precedent to be setting. If you have any evidence that he's wrong then please post it: we'll all benefit.

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Why is that rigging, unless you define the inclusion of any items that fall in price as 'rigging'? The TVs or whatever are there because we, you know, sometimes buy TVs. Their weighting in the index is appropriate to how much of our income we spend on TVs.

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Google gives Microsoft office an awkward hug with new plugin

Ossi
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Re: Not Free

Do Microsoft claim 'free' storage? The article called it that, but I'm not sure that Microsoft do. Certainly the Microsoft store doesn't use the term.

Regardless, 'free' is often understood to mean 'included in the price' as in 'free delivery' or 'free support'.

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$17,000 Apple Watch: Pointless bling, right? HA! You're WRONG

Ossi
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Re: Perceived value

"So your basic argument is, I should buy one to make shallow, vapid (albeit probably quite pretty) idiots shag me?"

I don't think he's arguing that you "should" do that. I think he's arguing that people "do" do that.

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The secret of Warren Buffett's success at Berkshire Hathaway

Ossi
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Re: Money, it's a crime...

I feel that we're going round in circles. What you've explained is their reserve - the 10% in my example. This is the proportion of their deposits kept aside, but it doesn't represent all their deposits. They would match their lending.

Please read Tim's explanation of the difference between leverage and FRB.

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Re: Money, it's a crime...

"A bank issuing a mortgage loan does not borrow the amount it lends out from someplace else. It lends this money as a multiple of an existing capital base. Hence the term "bank capitalization". A bank's capitalization determines how much - in Fractional Reserve Lending - a bank can lend."

Sorry, but you've misunderstood. As I explained above, banks can only lend what they borrow - they're balance sheets have to - you won't be surprised to hear - balance. If they take a deposit of £100, and keep a reserve of 10%, then they can lend £90, and that's all:

asset (the loan and reserve) = liability (the deposit) = £100.

The creation of money, as I tried to explain above, comes about as a result of the interaction of the bank and the wider economy.

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Re: Money, it's a crime...

"That's true, with full reserve a bank couldn't make a single mortgage at all. Because it would only be able to lend out money on the terms that money was lent to it. Given that no one at all makes 30 year deposits in banks then a bank would never be able to offer a 30 year mortgage."

@ST - This is a very important point, and one that should interest you. In 'the bubble' banks were offloading assets (and liabilities) into the securities market so they were, in effect, acting as intermediaries rather than as traditional banks - they effectively were just passing the money from the securities market to the mortgage borrower. A full reserve banking system, which you're a proponent of, would almost enforce that role on the banks - or some other intermediary - as banks' ability to originate loans would be severely curtailed. Are you sure that's what you want?

Really, if you want to take aim anywhere take aim at the securities market, not the banks. I think you'll find that the problems were largely there.

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Re: Money, it's a crime...

Thanks Tim for saving me the effort.

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Re: Money, it's a crime...

Fractional reserve banking is a much misunderstood idea. It is, in a sense, a 'licence to print money', but it doesn't enrich banks, or anyone for that matter. Money, at the end of the day, is just tokens that you pass around. Briefly, the idea behind fractional reserve banking is that banks only hold back in their vaults a proportion of their deposits as they don't expect to pay out all their deposits at the same time (if they did, that would be a run on the bank and that would be the end of the bank). Imagine, for simplicity, an economy where there is only a bank and one person, and all money is held as bank deposits.

We start with person A, who has £100 - so there's £100 in the economy. She puts the money in the bank, the bank keeps, say 10% as a reserve, and it can now lend £90. It lends £90 to her and that's deposited in the bank, so there's now £190 in the economy. The bank lends £81 of that etc.

Now, one important thing to realise is that the bank has not created free money - it has to pay interest on all that money deposited. The other important thing to realise is that the bank itself has not made the money - the interaction between the bank and the economy has made the money. My model had to have 2 actors in to work. The depositors are playing an equal part to the bank. Note that net assets in the economy are still £100, and that belongs to the person, not the bank.

Finally, both the bank and the economy have not in any sense been enriched. The assets in the economy have remained the same. The output of bread, hammers or whatever in the economy is the same. To see this, imagine a prison where cigarettes are used as currency. If there was a sudden influx of cigarettes, the prices would all go up but there wouldn't be more stuff to buy and sell in the prison 'economy'. The economy wouldn't be 'better off'.

This is why governments need monetary policy to control prices - they don't have direct control of the money supply, but they do need to control it.

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Forget 1,000 lashes for Facebook posts, Saudis now want to behead blogger Raif Badawi

Ossi
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Re: Women driving

Nice theory, but unemployment in the UK is lower than in Germany:

Unemployment in Germany: 6.5%

Unemployment in UK: 5.7%

I don't have figures for Muslims alone. Perhaps you would like to point me to where you got those from? However, it would be wrong to say that it's not a problem in Germany:

http://www.euro-islam.info/country-profiles/germany/

The proportion of Muslims in each population is approximately the same.

It might have more to do with the fact that Germany's Muslims have a largely Turkish heritage whilst the UK's have a South Asian one i.e. it has more to do with the culture of the Muslims than the host country. That would seem not entirely unlikely to me.

By the way, is there a kind of Godwin's law for blaming Thatcher?

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Re: Reproachless

It's not an 'either...or', it's a 'both...and'. Criticise corruption, despotism, inequality, and injustice wherever it is. Why confine yourself to one place? Does the rest of humanity not matter?

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C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts

Ossi
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"The statement that "low interest rates screwed Ireland" seems to be one of those shortcuts. I thought it was Ireland taking advantage of those low interest rates without any thought of the future that screwed them."

I think you're rather anthropomorphising a complex system there. It seems that by 'Ireland' you mean the Irish economy, which you can't credit with consciousness. It's odd to try to blame it. The reaction of the Irish economy to low interest rates was simply exactly how any economy would react.

If by 'Ireland' you mean the Irish government, then I think you'll find that it was fiscally responsible during this period and ran a surplus.

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He's baaack: Microsoft's axeman Nadella to give Chinese staff the chop

Ossi
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Nokia had started to make Android products, and wanted to sell its phone division. Microsoft really didn't have any choice.

The biggest problem with Microsoft's phone strategy is that they were far too late to market. That's a constant with Microsoft. When Microsoft do finally enter a market they get obsessed with a 'strategy' (to the exclusion of, you know, what the customer actually wants). The irony is that they're clearly a company with no forward-looking strategy or sense of direction at all.

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Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Ossi
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Re: We should pay for TV we dont want

"Er, this is kind of how public service and taxation works (for tax is what the license fee is).

See also:

Roads

Railways

The NHS

Schools

etc etc."

So your argument is that we pay for roads out of general taxation; therefore we should pay for a broadcaster out of it? Am I missing something here?

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Didn't the Left once want the WORKERS to get all the dosh?

Ossi
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Re: Captialism got rid of Racism!!

Erm, the 'spade' was clearly allegorical in both the above posts. He wasn't actually claiming that 'the' capitalist had invented it.

Surprised you missed that.

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Re: Captialism got rid of Racism!!

"The problem is that the Capitalist uses their financial power to exploit the workers who are more important to the creation of wealth than those who simply move money around."

I always find this 'the boss is an evil exploiter' talk curious. At what point do they become evil exploiters? When they've got a market stall and hire an assistant? When they've got a shop and they've got ten workers? When they get their second shop? Is there an 'evil boss' induction ceremony they have to attend?

Do you really think dividing the world into good guys and bad guys is a good way to understand it? Do you really think it's that simple?

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Re: Free markets or competitive markets?

"The author seems to ignore the Marxist policies of today"

In what sense has he 'ignored' them? In the sense that he hasn't discussed every single economic policy of government?

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Virgin Media to splurge BEELLIONS on UK network infrastructure expansion

Ossi
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Too late

I live in a part of London with high density expensive new housing. It sounds like an ISP's delight. However, all those brand new blocks had direct (and very long) lines to the exchange. No cabinet meant no FTTC. Broadband speeds were pathetic. Low hanging fruit for a company like Virgin, which had adjacent networks, doubly so when you consider they closed down an analogue network here, so presumably still have some infrastructure.

So what did they do with an area full of well-off people crushed together in a small space and desperate for decent broadband and with no effective competition? I'll tell you what - nothing. Other operators have moved in now and it's too late - the freeholders wouldn't let them in the building now. Idiots.

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Ossi
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Re: Let me get this right:

@Neil Barnes

Time is a scarce resource, so its value is never zero. In order to spend your time on one thing (and isn't it interesting that we can 'spend', 'save' and 'buy' time?) you have to give up another thing. There's a cost to using time. There's no revealed monetary value because there's no transaction, but that's the only reason.

In fact, we do put monetary value on our free time all the time. A simple example is when people choose to hire cleaners. I hear the objection that you might simply not like cleaning - but that is, in fact, the point: you value the time spent not cleaning higher than the cost of the cleaner.

I wonder how many parents here decided to look after their own children rather than send them to a nursery and go to work? That's what the article's getting at.

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Re: Yeah well...

Tim is not saying you shouldn't do your own plumbing. That's the retort.

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