Tuesday, 22 June 2010
"You can judge a society by the way it treats its ..... eldery, prisoners, animals, poor, toffee pops, etc., etc., (delete/insert your vested interest where appropriate)" is one of they pat, sanctimonious, rhetorical cliches used to claim the moral high ground when there's no actual facts, logic or what no to support the view being taken.
And yet as all those economists across Britain pore over the budget looking for some nugget to insert into the summaries they'll be pissing over the internet and thru intranets into already clogged up inboxes, for me right now its the appropriate position to adopt.
To be fair as budgets go I fair liked its transparency, especially the nice straightforward table near the back showing how income tax, VAT and national insurance pretty much pay for everything i.e. us, not corporation tax, something to bear in mind I think. Then tonight there were the usual city talking heads being asked to react, my personal favourite being the tool from Barings who popped up on newsnight. Yeah that's right Barings, the bank run by inbred schmoos too posh to realise they didn't know what they were doing until the whole thang whent phut. Anyhoo, yer Baring's bloke said some terribly, terribly interesting stuff, so interesting I was about to pass out until I thought I heard him say "ass wad". Was the interviewer that bad? Or was it "ass-wajj" instead? Am no sure, either way it sounded fuck all like "assuage".
But, aye, ass wad aside, what got me was the budget decision to make claiming disability living allowances harder than it already is. Lovely, lets pick on disabled people cos you bet they had it coming.
Wait a mo mebbes the bods who came up with that lovely wee zinger had confused DLA with incapacity benefit? Probably, but who cares, its no as if DLA claimants can put up much of a fight and if they do we'll unplug their electric wheelchairs and jobs a good 'un.
Monday, 14 June 2010
Cool, I get to be a pertinent for a change.
Between them Vic Reeves, Professor John Kay and Johnny Rotten provide the best guide available to the future direction and state of the British economy, one that’s far more accurate than the shite being issued by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Starting with Vic Reeves, his comment that 88.2% of statistics are made up on the spot doesn’t directly apply to economic forecasts, but the warning it gives about spurious precision does. Every forecast comes with the caveat ceteris paribus (all other things being equal) because every forecast is the product of a model that only takes a finite number of things into account when it predicts the future direction of an infinitely complex thing (the economy). This would be cool if right now infinite complexity didn’t involve all sorts of mad, unpredictable shit that may or may not have all sorts of mad degrees of significance attached to it, like a sovereign debt crisis of a major European economy and all the scope for contagion that entails in a completely impossible to model type style, except it does.
But, then if you go by Professor Kay’s sage suggestion (and you really, really should), about economics and economic forecasts and how while we may be able to accurately predict what team will win on Saturday (particularly if it's however is currently top of the league), predicting the score is a lot less certain, then that’s all good (the practical example here being if we could quantify the future with any meaningful degree of accuracy the pools would have gone bust years ago).
Except right now we’re being encouraged to attach importance to the 0.4% difference between the 3% rowth Treasury under Labour forecast compared to the 2.6% subsequently forecast by the OBR. Alternatively fuck that shite, fuck it long, hard, bad, rough and wrong because both views depict strong, above trend growth, which is a YAY! in my book.
Plus given recent events the more recent the forecast the more likely it is to be pessimistic and anyhoo in forecasting terms how big a difference is 0.4% anyhow? Like as of May 2010, if you wanted a forecast for UK economic growth in 2011 you could choose from hundreds of options including Goldman Sachs’ 3.4% and Capital Economics’ 1.5%, 2 views with a whopping great 1.9% spread between them. Or should we simply tell both of these august institutions to go and fuck themselves for being useless fuck nuggets? (Probably, but thats a different point).
The reality then is that forecasts are affected by recent events on an ongoing basis, they change on a regular basis as a result, are derived from different models that are more or less accurate over time in unpredictable ways and can only ever provide a general guide as to what is likely as opposed to what will happen; a diretion as it where as opposed to a step by step route map.
Except that don’t fit in with the political narrative being constructed as I type this which is because we’re in an economic crisis government spending needs to be hacked back hard. As ever the use of economic forecasts here to "objectively" legitmise political decision making is a reminder economics is actually political economics as opposed to a game of psuedo scientific mathematical wanking, which in turn reminds me of Johnny Rotten saying "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
(revised and arse picture added May 15th)
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Personally, I’ve always thought John Prescott epitomised everything shit about old Labour. Aside from the rank fucking hypocrisy of him using his prolier than thou shite to lend everything he said/says said some kind of moral authority in a lets pretend the man hasn’t spent most of his life in middle class jobs care of the labour movement type style, it was his utter fucking incompetence as Deputy Prime Minister that really stands out; all these grand 10 year plans for everything that delivered fuck all or less than fuck all (like the “Pathfinder” initiative) to the point where he had most of responsibilities taken away while still in office because he was such a joke. There again his clash with Zac Goldsmith about changes to laws governing where houses can get built was quite useful both for highlighting how fucking thick politicians are and some fucking obvious realities about the housing market.
You could focus on how the discussion and associated life histories read like something out the Sword of Honour trilogy, except that would be to credit both parties with being less fucking ignorant than they actually are. Instead, I’ll just stick to the main fact of the matter which is this - housebuilders lurve planning constraints.
They do, they fucking love them in a kinda totally fucking, blindingly obvious way. This is because British house prices are propped up by constraints on where, when and how you can build houses. The easier it is to build houses the more houses get built; supply increases and prices fall. End of. Plus all the landbank that make up the bulk of a housebuilder’s balance sheets would plummet in value.
Hence housebuilders moan all the time about planning regs and constraints, just not too much because planning laws essentially determine their profits. For Zac and John on the other hand it was all about, well fuck knows what really, point scoring essentially.
On a different note so there is the Stephanomics BBC blog going on about how the economist blerk chairing the Office for Budget Responsibility is a “distinguished public servant”. Except going by Wikipedia he’s only ever and I mean EVER, been a distinguished public servant under Tory governments. Am no saying the man has prejudices that will cloud his judgement or is anything other than scrupulously independent, but I will say choosing someone you know will give you the answers you want to chair a committee set up to give you “impartial” answers is a fucking obvious political tactic.
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Weird shit on radio 4 the other day – 2 commentators on the economy were being asked to opine on what the government needs to do. One was a pro free markets Austrian school influenced nutjob the other an old school Labour bod, yet both reached the same conclusion – cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts!!!!!
Given too much free market shite caused the current shite, having a pop at the free market bod is too easy, I mean ask this guy what time it is and he’d say “roll back the state and let free markets decide!” with all the frenzy of an Aberdonian cracking one off over a sheep. The Labour boy on the other hand was just an arsehole. The example he gave was that current higher education arrangements were a subsidy for the middle class and as such should be cut, except that is just fucking, utter, fucking shite – what he actually meant but was too up himself to refer to was the vastly different thing that is middle incomes as opposed to middle class. Anyhoo his subsidy is my investment in human capital formation that routinely and predictably generates higher life time earnings on a systematic basis and as a result significantly higher tax revenues than might otherwise be the case e.g. a big fat mucho net gain for the exchequer/us. And that’s kinda fucking obvious. End of to the point where its no even worth linking to the gawd knows how many studies that prove that exact point.
What really matters though is how in the current weird political environment bigoted tits like those two are dragged out and given a platform on which to preen while everyone else pretends and/or assumes they actually have something relevant to say. It’s like at the very time we’re now supposed to be being “engaged” with about a fundamental redrawing of the line between the public sector, the private sector and the “third” sector, organisations like the BBC that are constitutionally obliged to inform the public are avoiding any meaningful debate by only making the opinions and analysis of nutjobs or arseholes available and doing so in a form that pretends to be debate, but is actually all about providing post-hoc rationalisations and pretendy intellectual credibility that will obscure the efforts of anyone daft enough to actually assess the forthcoming “emergency” budget. In fact you’d almost think this was all an utter stitch-up. Cunts.
On a different note why the fuck have all these Japanese pornographers started adding comments to my random shite? Does someone swearing about economic policy get off yer average Tokyo salary man? Fuckin' weird.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
This stems from an increasingly drunken blether to an increasingly fabulous person the other day. It’s also evidence I’ve excruciatingly dull chat, but hey ho.
I’ve a major down on vague protests because if you’re going to use up some of your and my finite existence and attention on protesting at least make it worthwhile (althought the G8 tits were cool cos it meant I got a half day). This was/is something epitomised by the ghastly (mis) use of Father Ted on anti-globalization marches that has “humorously” lent making perfectly clear you do not having a fucking clue what’s being protested about, for or against a self-justifying sheen of facile irony.
The tragedy, of course, is that direct action is a fundamental part of the polity in a lets all read EP Thompson talking about the mob type style. More importantly direct action delivers on a consistent basis far more than any elected politician would ever care to admit. In fact direct action delivers oodles if you think of say Northern Ireland, the road haulier blockades or the willingness of French farmers to set sheep on fire every time someone even thinks about reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy. Then there’s the dirty protest, my personal favourite and the one I think about every time someone leaves a negotiation claiming they tried everything to persuade the other side.
From the above it’s easy to draw 2 lessons
1) To matter a fuck protests/direct action need a clear political objective
2) To affect change protests/direct action actually need to directly affect people who can make and/or influence change
Hence, if I chose to protest against “this sort of thing” by say rubbing my shite all over the lovely wallpaper the Queen of Sweden bought from IKEA to do her front room, chances are it wouldn’t achieve a great deal.
And so to Fife where people are protesting against the decision already taken by the Council to hack back their spending on musical tuition for school children, which is a shame given that’s exactly the kind of thing that makes life better for all of us. Except there’s a bigger picture here which is public spending on everything is now in the process of being cut back, hence those so inclined to protest are likely to do so only after driving along roads littered with more potholes than before and did you hear Mrs McNulty lost her home help because she’s no longer deemed poorly enough to qualify?
Any Council worth its salt would respond to a protest about well anything really by claiming it was cash-strapped, then highlighting the very real cut backs now being made to the central government funding they are reliant upon in a central government fucks local government because its politically more palatable to blame council inefficiencies type style. The council might even say, well go on then, if we don’t cut that what exactly should we cut?
Except, that’s to miss the point; local government is central government’s bitch, so if you’re bothered about Fife Council’s musical policy, take it up with central government in London or fuck off. And while you’re at it complaining about cuts to musical tuition is precise rather than clear, the clear issue is cuts in public spending
Except central government will say something that involves the following words – prudent, prudent, Labour profligacy, prudent, national crisis, Greece, maintain Britain’s triple A credit rating, sustainable, prudent, cut waste. Which all sounds terribly lovely, except it’s predicated upon the pile of fucktard shite that is rating agencies.
So really if you’re inclined to preserve musical tuition arrangements in Fife you’d do better to organise a simultaneous mass shit-in on the steps of Her Majesty’s Treasury and the global or at least the London headquarters of Fitch, Moody’s and/or Standard and Poor’s than you would Fife Council HQ.
This could be accompanied by some kind of manifesto that aspires to reworking current arrangements and remove the current reliance on cutting public spending to appease credit rating fucktards by saying things like –
1) Remove all regulatory requirements for assets to have rating agency credit ratings before being deemed acceptable by state agencies because doing so in practice supports a global oligopoly dominated by multinational corporations whose “expertise” has been called into question by systemic conflicts of interest.
2) The scope for credit rating arbitrage and resultant pressure on agencies to fall into line undermines the notion of independence and with it any benefits of what competition there is given the current reliance on selling credit ratings as a product; hence de-commodifying, at the very least when it comes to sovereign debt, credit ratings is a necessary first step to establishing a more transparent, fair and prudent global financial system.
Except those aren’t especially catchy. But that’s cool cos it’s easy to do more slogany things:
1) Given sub-prime debt sellers paid rating agencies to rate their debt so they could sell them you could chant “conflict of interest, there’s only conflict of interest, there’s only conflict of interest, etc.”
2) Or given until just the other day rating agencies gave Spain the same rating as Germany i.e. thought it was as creditworthy as a country mad scared of inflation with a HUGE trade surplus as opposed to a construction and property bubble for an economy, you could go with “Rating scales? What a load of rubbish, what a load of rubbish”.
3) Or given economic forecasts are being used to justify the Spanish downgrade you could just tell them to fuck off, seriously. Fer instance, HM Treasury’s May summary of economic forecasts for Britain in 2010 lists the latest economic forecasts produced by 37 different organisations ranging from Goldman Sachs to the IMF; this particular sack of cats thinks the UK economy will grow anything from 0.8% (weak) to 2.2% (close to trend) this year i.e. with only 7 months to go no one has a fucking clue. And yet this selfsame confused, overlapping contradictory shite is being used to justify decisions that are fucking public spending and public lives. To me that prompts the following “you can stick yer fucking forecasts up yer arse, you can stick yer fucking forecasts up yer arse, you can, etc.”
4) Or more generally just stand outside the various offices and shout personal abuse at people whose “expert judgement” has already seen Ireland cut child benefits fer chrissakes.
So rather than down with this sort of thing, I think doing shit like all of the above would be more likely to preserve current levels of state funded musical tuition in Fife. I wonder if fabulous person agrees.
As a P.S. here is how Professor Paul De Grauwe summarises recent raging agency behaviour and the current fucked up situation in an excellent article called “Greece: The start of a systemic crisis of the Eurozone?” off voxeu.org
“the rating agencies were completely caught off guard by the credit crisis. It was again the case during the last few weeks. Only after Dubai postponed the repayment of its bonds and we had all read about it in the FT, did the rating agencies realise there was a crisis and did they downgrade Dubai’s bonds.
Credit rating agencies playing catch-up
Having failed so miserably in forecasting a sovereign debt crisis, they went on a frantic search for possible other sovereign bond crises. They found Greece, and other Eurozone countries with high budget deficits, and started the process of downgrading. This in turn led to a significant increase in government bond rates in countries “visited” by the agencies. Add to this that the ECB is still using the ratings produced by the same agencies to accept or refuse collateral presented by banks in the Eurozone”