Category Archives: economics

Sunset, finally?

Simon Phipps comments on Oracle’s decision to close down the SPARC and Solaris business units. He  was close to the politics of Sun’s “Dash to Open” in the mid noughties. My feeling is that Sun had failed before Schwartz was appointed; there was no longer room for differentiated hardware company; Oracle’s failure to monetise the SPARC product line may have been caused by management hubris, but the long term economics

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Tax Fairness

Over the weekend, John McDonnell promised that Income Tax would not rise for most of the country but that a higher rate would be levied on those earning more than £80,000. Tax reform can be pretty technical; and so one needs to look at one or two things without losing sight of the idea that the richer should pay their share. Each tax payer has a personal allowance of £11,500 i.e. the first £11,500 of earnings is not taxed; this is clawed back if one’s income is £100,00 or more by levying a 60% marginal rate on those earning between £100,000 and £121,200. There is probably enough room for a new additional rate between the 40% levied at £42,000 and 60% levied at £100,000 and £80,000 p.a. is a lot of money; only 3% of income earners get that much. It will remain necessary to increase the amount paid by those earning more than £145,000 and redress the regressive nature of National Insurance, which negates much of the 20% band, converting it into a 32% tax burden. Labour’s promise is also that there will be no increase in employee NICs nor in VAT, although again that’s not enough … VAT has to come down from 20%.

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On the coming Robot Revolution

AI at Work

At the Real World Economics blog, Dean Baker argues that, those proposing the Reign of the Robots, have some evidence to find and that (US) economic policy makers are pursuing policies in direct contradiction to the implications of such an event.

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Hacker’s Guide to Economics

I went over to Hackney to attend the People’s PPE. This, their second event was called the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Economics and I have produced a storify here which is a collection of tweets and other social media comments about the event. The rest of this blog is based on my notes and the thoughts it provoked, on debt, banking regulation and Islamic finance, a bit less about the class war.

Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME, opened the session, stating that the problem was debt and the banks, which create debt.

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Beyond People’s QE

A day or two ago, Alex Little, published a blog post called ‘Lessons for Corbyn in “Lerner’s Law”’. Lerner’s law suggests that using your opponents language limits your ability to make the argument. Little quotes Bill Mitchell, the inventor of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as to how Labour’s leadership in articulating the Darling Plan and its successors talk about balancing the budget and fixing the deficit concede the argument to the Tories. Little’s article also points at Lerner’s economic theories, described as “functional finance” and points at the wikipedia article on it. He argues that by describing the proposed pump priming as PQE, and accepting that when growth takes off, the government may transition to bond financing, by even accepting that we need to live within our means, the theory and benefits from the a more overt radical financing will be lost.

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Banks Eh?

Have you got outraged over FATCA yet? Over the last quarter, I have received several pieces of correspondence from different banks asking me to certify that I have no income that the US Government might be interested in. It goes to show just how poor, the Banks’ whole person/customer knowledge is.

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Is I.T. a utility?

The power companies are starting to enable homes to act as power sources as well as consumers. People can sell back any surplus. In the UK, about ⅓ of the power generated is lost during the distribution. The UK consumed[1] 647 Terawatts (1012) in 2013. This implies that 219 Terawatts are generated and lost p.a. with a market value[2] of £20bn. The loss is dependent on the distance travelled and so one policy response would be to build community micro- or meso-generators. On the whole older power stations are

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Watching Game of Thrones (again)

Yup, I am! Artistically, now I know what happens, I can concentrate on relevant harbingers since we know what they are. There’s quite a few, I was obviously concentrating on the wrong plot points the first time through.  If I was really concerned, I could probably organise my life better; I deleted my older copies of the show from my skybox and so short of buying the box set, £32 for S1-3 I am stuck waiting for them to show repeats and so I took the opportunity over Xmas. Great show but the opportunity to whinge about Sky & HBO’s monetisation strategies is too great.

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monopoly in film

On the 27th Sept, Torrentfeak comments on an MPAA funded report on film distribution in the USA.  It highlights the oddity that the most used service (Netflix) has the weakest catalogue. Later in the year, the researcher, KPMG LLP published a report on the UK market, which Torrentfreak commented on here…. The headline was that a film fan wanting the best catalogue would need to subscribe to 27 services, which seems a bit excessive.

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Value, Solidarity and Exchange

A couple of thoughts provoked by my trip to Labour Party Conference, one on the value of copyright, one on solidarity and one on the unfinished Hargreaves Review reform, the establishment of a digital exchange.

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Booze & Borrowing

Had a swift pint in the Nag’s Head, and the TV reported Ed Ball’s speech, in which he promised no more borrowing. Just have to wonder where the Bloomberg man has gone. Though Cowards Flinch reported it here, however, Jon Lansman, I think is more accurate in this article. When writing my thoughts about the NPF I withheld much of what I thought the impact on the Party would be but this speech is the natural corollary of the victory of Labour’s “Right Keynesians”. I think we all know if the National Policy Forum, the Conference or the Party were to vote, this isn’t what we would decide. The leadership, or parts of it are still triangulating, and don’t realise that the deficit does not matter as much as jobs and wages, which are more important. People need hope, and we can’t undo the damage the Tories are doing without growth. My fear is it’s too late to change the politics of the election.

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Daten Kraken

The EU’s anti-monopoly probe into Google is explored in an article in the Guardian. The Commission have decided to re-open it. The enquiry has been focused on search, but been given greater relevance by the consumer move to phones. Unlike Microsoft in the last century, Google have engaged with the Commission while defending their business model, which is to build queries that users want. The allegation is that they prefer their own property to that of others. The Commission was about to publish a settlement but Google’s competitors, including Microsoft and the French & German governments objected.

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TTIP is forever

While the secrecy, harmonisation and the inclusion of investor state dispute resolution are bad enough aspects of TTIP, it seems this is another ‘Living Agreement’. Not only will the courts that interpret these agreements be beyond public accountability, any amendments to the treaty and agreements will be so too. I found this out at the meeting called by the Open Rights Group where Nick Dearden of the World Development Movement came to speak.

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