Sunday, 10 December 2017

Popular delusions and 18 years on from the dotcom crash, like clockwork or coincidence?

Copy and paste from BTL over at Coindesk (click to enlarge)...

Responding to the thesis that the smart money may be about to run for the exit via selling bitcoin futures contracts, Dennis says:

"Even if I DID want to indulge in CME Bitcoin futures, why the hell would I want to settle in a rapidly devaluing fiat dollar??? As a trader, I don't even trade pairs with fiat any more. All of my trades today are for arbitrage on other cryptocurrencies."

To Dennis it doesn't matter if bitcoin is being pumped and dumped, because Dennis never wants to see his 'fiat' again anyway.  He's made his mind up it's worthless and he wants to keep his coins and tokens thank you very much.  

The comments over there are a goldmine, here's another taster:

I wanted to write something clever and witty, but I think I'll just repeat some of the above comments word for word.  At this level of irony and lack of self-awareness there's really nothing much I can add.

"Yeah, I read that no actually Bitcoin is involved in anything having to do with this new futures market.  So. Yeah. This whole new phase seems ridiculous."

"They create markets out of thin air and run a casino Las Vegas probably idolizes.  All the while they say everyone else is some sort of immoral degenerate gambler.  But yeah, the CME futures for Bitcoin have nothing to do with actual Bitcoin."

Christmas Cars

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Daily Mail on top form

Married businessman, 45, accused of raping a 'flirty' woman after a heavy drinking session at his £1million family home

Friday, 8 December 2017

Like an early morning mist over County Down...

Graeme Leach on top form in City AM:

With free trade, the Irish border is an issue for the EU, not the UK

We are told this is a problem with no solution, that it will see us crashing out of the EU with no deal, or that the DUP won’t play ball, leading to the end of the party’s confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives.

The problem is seen as unfathomable because the solution has to deliver so much: no membership of the Single Market or Customs Union, no physical border crossings, and no red line through the Irish Sea. And just for good measure, it has to avoid the threat of a veto by the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

All of this can be addressed in one fell swoop. If the UK chose to pursue genuine free trade post-Brexit, the border issue would become an ex-problem. If Britain decided to exercise its sovereign power and implement zero tariff and non-tariff barriers to imports, the border issue would disappear like an early morning mist over County Down*.

* I don't know much about weather systems over the nothern part of Ireland, but I'll take his word for it that the early morning mists disappear quickly.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

That's put the cat among the pigeons...

When the Guardian or the Daily Mail publish something a bit edgy (judged by their readers' standards), they usually block comments, which The Daily Mail did for this article:

As UK land value hits 5 trillion pounds, calls for new tax rise

Land is Britain's most valuable asset, increasing more than fivefold since 1995, the country's statistics office said on Tuesday, prompting calls to introduce a new tax to curb a soaring housing market driven by rising land prices.

To my pleasant surprise, they allow three organisations to put in a favourable word for LVT (New Economics Foundation who are left-wing, the Institute for Economic Affairs who are right-wing and Shelter who are bleeding heart liberals) and no comments from Home-Owner-Ist organisations.

The underlying ONS statistics are most interesting:

To sum up:
Land - £5,018 bn
Buildings - £3,518 bn
Machinery and stocks - £1,097 bn
Intellectual property etc. - £189 bn
Deposits minus debts - £(21) bn
Total - £9,801 bn

Yup, land and buildings is 85% of the total, which illustrate why having a general wealth tax is completely pointless.

The net value of financial assets and liabilities is, unsurprisingly, plus/minus nothing, so not worth taxing. Firstly because financial assets are already taxed anyway (tax on interest income and inflation), and if you did impose a wealth tax on them as well, the corollary is you'd have to allow liabilities as a deduction, which encourages gearing and leveraging, which is part of what causes the problem in the first place.

Machinery and intellectual property generates income, which is already taxed, which is much easier than getting people to declare what they own and agreeing values. And we'd rather have more of this stuff not less (assuming that the real value of patents etc is unchanged when the statutory protection expires). For sure, privately owned/used cars and equipment don't generate taxable income in themselves, but so what? We still want more of this stuff, not less.

That leaves bare land (excluding actual buildings thereon, which are real capital), which makes up (by ONS measurement) more than half of total 'wealth', as the only major category worth taxing (doesn't depreciate, relatively easy to value and can't be shifted abroad).

My estimate of total rental value of UK land is about £250 billion, which works out (as I expected) at about 3% of the value of land and buildings, or 5% of the underlying land value. LVT is calculated on the basis of the land element but is secured on the building as well, so the 3% is the more relevant figure.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Daily Mail on top form

Serena Williams is ticketed $281 for speeding near her $2.5million Florida mansion

Economic Myths: "Rail unions blamed for rising train fares"

Via MBK, fimsy excuse of the week from The Times. The only actual hard facts in the article to back up that claim are:

However, in a direct challenge to Britain’s powerful rail unions, The Times understands that ministers will only consider the move to CPI if unions lower their wage demands. RPI is currently used to calculate pay rises and last year staffing costs on the railway reached more than £2.8 billion.

That £2.8 billion figure is meaningless unless you compare it with total revenues of their employers, which appear to be about £10 - £11 billion according to this.

That doesn't seem disproportionate to me. All things being equal, whether rail worker salaries go up by CPI or RPI should not have any major effect on ticket prices, which are set by demand (supply being largely fixed), regulations (price caps) and subsidies.

Whether rail companies are fundamentally over-staffed, or even under-staffed is a separate topic.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Fun Online Polls: Royal weddings, riots and Beatles-related Xmas hits

The results to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

Will there be riots after next year's Royal Wedding?

Probably - 35%
Probably not - 65%

OK, I'm in the minority on this, maybe this will be the Royal Extravagant Display of Wealth that bucks the trend and is not followed/accompanies by riots.

Thanks to all 69 who took part.
December wouldn't be December without an Xmas-related poll. I think I've already done real tree/artificial tree/neither, so let's do music again.

"Which is the most Christmassy Beatles-related song?"

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Oh Ho. Here we go...

There is nothing that governments hate more than competition, especially when it comes to the monopoly of money.  Hence I am entirely unsurprised by this.

The whole tax evasion / criminality meme is just an excuse.  I have no doubt at all that crims are using Bitcoin - but they use cash, especially USD, even more.  What was that story I heard about the Medellin narcotics cartel allowing for a 10% wastage in the accounting of their cash balances because rats were eating into its piles and piles of Dollar bills?  And the 1930's USA policy of making private gold holdings illegal and demanding that citizens exchange all their gold holdings for paper money?

When governments get desperate they always trend toward totalitarianism.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Good old-fashioned policing

From The Telegraph:

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: "Sam was in a critical condition and despite the best efforts of emergency services he sadly later died at hospital.

"He was a talented footballer who had recently started playing for Hattersley FC. He went to Audenshaw School with many friends and lived at home with his parents Sarah and Gary in Denton.

"He has a big brother called Scott, 21, and an older sister called Charlie, 20, and had just become an uncle to his brother’s new baby, Lilly.

"His family said they are completely heartbroken by their loss and although nothing will ever replace losing Sam they hope everyone remembers him for the fun, outgoing and friendly boy he will always be."

Sergeant Lee Westhead, of GMP's Serious Collision Unit, added: "My thoughts are with the victim's family who are being looked after by specially trained officers at this difficult time.

"Whilst we work to uncover how this has happened and piece together the moments before the collision, I am asking the public to help in any way that they can.

"If you were in the area at approximately 5.25pm on December 1 and saw a pedestrian on the motorway, or have dashcam images, please get in touch and share this information."

In accordance with time-honoured tradition, they thank the other emergency services, read out the victim's CV and make a brief eulogy before getting down to the ugly business of calling for witnesses.