Saturday, September 28, 2013

In re GB v EU (part 2)

The proposed bankers' bonus cap is not the only threat that the plucky Chancellor is going to law to see off. Brussels bureaucrats plan to inflict yet another tax on the hard pressed, hard working families of Great Britain. The plan is to introduce a "financial transaction tax".

Q: Good grief! A tax on every transaction. That'll be ruinous won't it? We already pay vat at 20%. What rate are the idiots proposing?
A: A range. Between 0.01% and 0.1%.
Q: Well, ok, but still. Why should I have to pay the bloated, bungling Brussels bureaucrats even a penny?
A: You won't.
Q: What?
A: There's an exemption for the day-to-day financial activities of citizens.
Q: Ah yes, but what about the day-to-day financial activities of our hard-pressed businesses, smart arse?
A: They're exempt too.
Q: What?
A: They're exempt too.
Q: How do you mean?
A: They're exempt too.
Q: Well, ok, but what about non-day-to-day transactions. What about business investment, banking activities in the context of raising capital?
A: They're exempt too.
Q: Right. What about businesses that are in trouble and are trying to save themselves and the jobs of all those who work in them? What about transactions carried out as part of restructuring operations?
A: They're exempt too.
Q: Oh ffs. Really?
A: Yes. Would you like me to explain what it does apply to?
Q: That'd be good, yes.
A: Essentially, not the real economy but to the exchange of shares, bonds and derivative contracts.
Q: Well, ok. But what's the point?
A: The revenue raised would be between €16.4bn and €43.4bn per year, or 0.13% to 0.35% of GDP. If the tax rate is increased to 0.1%, total estimated revenues would be between €73.3bn and €433.9bn.
Q: Well, on reflection, that all sounds ok. I don't think a 0.01% tax is going to put anyone off doing anything, ever. Certainly not a bond trader. Why's it not happening again?
A: Because the UK is going to law to stop it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In re GB v EU (part 1)

As we all know, the culture of bonuses was blamed for encouraging excessive risk-taking amongst bankers. The EU voted 26 to 1 to cap bankers' bonuses. The "cap" will ensure that bonuses are slashed to a swingeing...err...100% of salary. That'll work. Who can imagine a banker deciding to take a risk simply to double his salary?

Anyway, no need to guess who the "1" was? More bankers earn over £1m in the UK than everywhere else in the EU COMBINED. So, to protect this vital interest, the United Kingdom government is going to court.

The expected cost to the tax payer in legal fees is £1m.

It's not all about identity. But if it was...

I don't normally care about this kind of thing but thought it's interesting. The reason it's interesting is the often-made claim that lots of people are comfortable being Scottish AND British. Firstly, no doubt they are. So am I. But the arguments being made are grown-up ones about governance, social justice and economic prosperity, not flags, and if you can be Scottish and British in a British state (which you can) you must be able to be Scottish and British in a Scottish state. Like you could be Norwegian and Scandinavian both before and after Norwegian independence from Sweden. I feel more of an affinity with someone from Dublin than someone from France (or, for that matter Norway or the US) but so what?

But anyway, and in any event, the next part of the 2011 census results are out today. Given the choice, 62% described themselves as "Scottish only". Just 18% said "Scottish and British". As I say, doesn't matter to me but I'll bear it in mind next time the point is taken.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Again with the oil

A report from the industry body, Oil & Gas UK, contains so much detailed, independent, positive analysis that even the Telegraph says that " the bullish assessment will raise the profile and importance of North Sea oil and gas in the independence debate and provide [Yes Scotland] with more economic leverage [and that].. the fresh lease of life projected in today's analysis provides a considerable boost".

Where to start?

• North Sea investment this year will be the biggest and most extensive for 30 years.

• Producers say they are ready to embark on the biggest exploration programme for six years. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pensioned off

An interesting table showing comparative pension entitlements in various countries.

Pensions and welfare spending represents a lower proportion of Scotland’s GDP than that of the UK – 14.4% for Scotland and 15.9% for the UK in 2011-12.

Over the next 40 years, the pension age population in the UK is projected to rise by 48%. In Scotland, the projection is 37%.

Scotland raises 9.9% of the UK's tax for Westminster but gets back only 9.3% in public spending. The difference amounted to £4.4bn last year. There's been a similar surplus relative to the UK over the last 30 years, amounting to a total of £19bn.

Amongst the many other things independence would allow us to do, we can well afford safer and fairer pensions for our elderly.

Moving to Yes

This is the kind of thing I've now seen loads of times. There's an audience and a vote of who's Yes, No or don't know. There's then a debate. After that, there's a fresh vote. I have never yet seen there be anything but a big swing to yes. At Abertay, there were 200 first year students. Before the debate, 59% were No and 21% Yes. After it, 51% were Yes and 38% No. That's a 25% swing.

I have never - not once - read of the opposite happening: of the No vote increasing after a debate. When people hear the arguments and engage in the debate, they move to Yes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Uncertain emotions force an uncertain smile

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back to the future

So. Just how good are Her Majesty's Government at predicting future oil prices?

Turns out, not very. Really not very, at all. You'd almost think they were doing it deliberately.