News and politics that concern me and should concern you

More fuel on the austerity fire

European Commission Boss Barroso Signals the End of Austerity

© European Union, 1995-2012 Used under licenseFurther to my earlier post that Bill Gross of Bond Fund Pimco has come out against austerity, (http://www.ihatestevegould.com/IHSG/the-game-is-up-for-austerity.aspx) another important anti-austerity statement has come from Brussels.

José Manuel Barroso who heads the European Commission, in a story again from the Financial Times said at a press conference that while he defends austerity as being broadly right, he says it has "reached it's limits"!

Reading further down in the statement of 'what he actually said' on the commission web site (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-368_en.htm), he appears quite critical of the economists behind austerity, saying "I know that there are some technocratic advisors who tell us what is the perfect model to respond to a situation, but when we ask how we implement it, they say that is not my business."

My take on that statement is that he's saying the guys (and gals) who came up with this crazy plan did not tell me what to do and I ended up looking like a right plum.

He goes on to lay blame at the gate of "management, technology, policy, wrong or good decisions, policy and politics". Erm, being the head of the commission, isn't that kind of like his responsibilty? Isn't it the job of Barosso and his elk on the fat cat salaries to figure out what the right policies are and implement them?

 

 

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The game is up for austerity

Worlds largest Bond fund manager attacks austerity

18 hours ago another revealing story appeared in the Finacial Times. Bill Gross, the manager of PIMCO, the worlds largest bond fund has rounded on the austerity measures being pursued by the US and Europe. 

In a quote that I think will become famous, Mr Gross said:

The UK and almost all of Europe have erred in terms of believing that austerity, fiscal austerity in the short term, is the way to produce real growth. It is not.

Now the thing is you have to consider who this guy is. He's not a left wing trade-union activist. He is a mega-capitalist who makes money trading bonds - big bonds issued by governments. Also consider that this is a complete u-turn as in 2010 he was criticising the UK for carrying too much debt. At a guess he has changed his view after the Reinhart Rogoff fiasco came to light earlier in the week.

This story sheds light on how quickly the support for austerity is waning, and probably hints at a forthcoming about turn in government policy in Europe and the US, so lets get ready for the boom we've been waiting for for so long.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6c023bdc-a93c-11e2-a096-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2RHZBeAMZ

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Anti-Thatch Music Show

RNE3 plays an hour of protest songs from the 1980's

One of the many joys of living in Spain is the radio station RNE3, which was most aptly described by my partner as a station run by a load of John Peels. It's difficult to define the policy behind what they play but to give you an idea I've heard them play The Sex Pistols at 8am! They play Murcian folk music, Fada, Balinese gamalan ceremonial music and Fela Kuti, one after the other. They have won awards as best radio station in Europe over and over because there is no other station to touch them.

Well last week they surpassed themselves again. Just after Thatcher's death when the BBC were considering banning Ding dong (which made it to number two) RNE3 played an hour of music that captured the spirit of her time in office, which included many anti-Thatcher protest songs.

This Sunday, in 'Sonideros' we remember Margaret Thatcher related songs, perhaps the most controversial political figure of her time, and who aroused the most arguments and hatred. We hear pieces of resistance Britpop written during her years in office, rabid diatribes against her politics and harsh portraits of British society under her mandate by The Specials, The Beat, The Jam, Billy Bragg, The Blow Monkeys and yes, Ella Fitzgerald.

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/sonideros/sonideros-doctor-soul-rock-margaret-thatcher-14-04-13/1765287/

RNE3 Play songs from the Thatcher Era

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Austerity Rubbished

Economists behind it got sums wrong

I love this story that appeared in the Financial Times today. It's motto is something I've always suspected, that far from being run by evil geniuses, the control of the planet is in the hands of people who are just as stupid the rest of us. Laughing

Harvard professors Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart wrote an influential paper in 2010 called "Growth in a Time of Debt," which found that economies with ratios of public debt to gross domestic product above 90% tend to contract about 0.1% annually.

This paper scared the pants off many governments which at the time were struggling to get back on track after the financial crisis, often by taking on more debt. The paper was used to justify the austerity policies which are now in place in most Western economies, and was citied by many famous politicians including congressman Paul Ryan and Britain's George Osbourne.

Well to cut a long story short, these Harvard guys got their sums wrong. The paper was 'riddlled with errors'. For example, the spreadsheet used to prepare the stats in the paper had an incorrect formula so the magic figures on which they based their conclusions were just plain wrong.

The errors were identified in a new paper, by University of Massachusetts Amherst economics doctoral student Thomas Herndon and professors Michael Ash and Robert Pollin. They claim Reinhart and Rogoff were wrong in concluding that a high level of public debt dooms an economy to a long period of slow growth.

So that's just great. We're all under the economic cosh, government spending slashed, everyone's out of work and all because a couple of college boys are crap at Excel!

Link to the full FT article

 

 

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London Thing

Poem written and read by John Elbrow, my nephew.

This is a poem written and read by John Elbrow about London, the city where we both lived and worked. John chooses to live their still and volunteers each year to help the homeless at Crisis at Christmas. I chose not to live there and moved to Spain. Who was right - you decide!

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Insightful as Always

Richard Wolff - nice description of the Cyprus bailout fiasco.

Richard Wolff explains ecomonics in words of one syllable that even dumb folk (like me) can understand!

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A cracking day in Olvera

Feels like spring

Olvera is located in Andalucia about an hour and a half in the car from the Atlantic ocean. As such we do seem to get four proper seasons. This winter we had a ton of rain and for the last month or so there has still been the threat of changeability. Today however was different. Today we had 27 degrees. Today there was a wedding, a funeral and a communion. Today the water was cut off for the whole town for the whole of today. Today was different. Today was special.

View from the terrace I did try to take a photo to express what a nice day it is - this is the best I could come up with!

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Four Entrepreneur Risks

There are four main risk areas when setting up a new business.

Most new businesses fail. Google the stats as they are in your country but it's a big number - 90%  of businesses starting in 2013 won't be here in 2018.

The fact is that new business startups are vulnerable risky ventures. If you're starting up a new business it helps to do a risk assessment as part of your business plan.

Risk can be divided into four main areas, product risk, financial risk, team risk and market risk.

The trick is to realise that the first three are much more predictable and controlable than the latter. Of the four types of risk, market risk is more volatile.

Financial risk can be managed with budegeting, team risk mitigated with flexible empoyment policy, even product risk to a great extent minimised with good R&D and QC. The market knows no master, so it's dynamics will always be the one thing you can't control.

The logical thing to do then is to test the market as soon as you can before you spend much on product, team or borrow finance. Use models and test extensively before scaling up your product offering so you can determine the size, shape and demand of the market place as early as you can.

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Pope porn?

What those gentlemen in the Vatican State get up to behind closed doors.

Unless you're particularly interested in the innner workings of the Internet, you probably won't be aware how the IP address system works. To cut a long story short, there are only a finite amount of numbers in use and these are allocated in a per country (and per organisation) basis, so if you know a particular IP address you can be fairly sure where the user's computer is located.

One of the smallest countries to be allocated a range of IP addresses in the Vatican. The ever curious team over at Torrent Freak just looked at addresses for downloads coming from the Holy See and Holy Shit, guess what the Holy Saw - porn and pirate movies!!

  http://torrentfreak.com/priests-watch-dvd-screeners-while-pirates-download-filth-in-the-vatican-130407/

 

 

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An historic day

I launch this site on the day the iron lady dies.

Romeria, Olvera 2013

It was Romeria here in Olvera today. Romeria is a kind of picnic in the countryside that celebrates the event that happened in 1715. The story goes that there was an epic drought that caused huge losses of crops and livestock. The towns people decided to take action. They marched with the float of the virgin to the sanctuary of the los remedios, a church just outside of town,  held various religious ceremonies (and had a bit of a party by the sound of it) and henceforth it rained.

Now this is all very well if you buy into it. The issue I have is that we've just had one of the wettest winters I've seen in my life, so to re-enact a rain dance is the last thing you want to do - how about walking very quietly in the opposite direction?

As subtitled above, this is the first post of this new blog. I do have other blogs but they're all to do with one company or other, so I can't always say what I want to say.

What I want to say today is adios Thatcher. Everyone has their personal view and as we're seeing in the media these vary from dancing in the streets to making comparisons with Churchill.

At the end of the day though she did what all western politicians have done since the second world war which is to do is to impersonate king Canute. The inevitable decline of the West and movement of power and money to the East is the elephant in the room.

All Thatcher acheived with her destruction of manufacture, mining and industry and the creation of a raft of financial regulation to protect the city is to create a greater disparitiy between rich and poor, a more divided and unequal society and ultimately the seeds of the UK's eventual destruction. By creating an environment where borrowing is easy and cheap, where wages are frozen and where money can travel from one side of the world to another in the blink of an eye, there is a disaster brewing in the UK economy that will erupt one day like a volcano, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

"Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey"

 

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