Financeblogger playground spat

When I grow up, I wouldn’t object to being an incredibly rich, disgraced, highly influential, not-proven-guilty-of-fraud Wall Street figure and would-be press baron.

However, unlike Henry Blodget, I don’t think I’d devote a day’s worth of output to slating other financial commentators for being insufficiently productive, hard-working, etc. Worrying about the productivity of people who actually work for you is stressful enough – and besides, I’d want to leave at least eight waking hours a day outside of work to enjoy my enormous pile of ill-gotten gains.

(I am, however, also a little jealous of Felix Salmon. If any multinational news organisations want to pay me a decent-ish New York salary to tweet and blog about finance and the economy all day, then you know where to find me…)

This blog may be of some use after all

Someone found the blog yesterday by Googling for “my right testicle is as big as a kiwi”. I hope the story they read had the desired effect – but just to reiterate, if your right testicle is as big as a kiwi, then go see a goddamn doctor RIGHT NOW. Indeed, even if it’s only as big as a kiwi fruit, go see a goddamn doctor right now.

In other news, Sydney remains excellent. The drive to attract freelance work continues, and I’ve poshed up my personal site as part of the hunting process. Which has taught me that CSS is fun when you get to know it (this is the first website I’ve built without using tables, which makes me geekily happy), and that PHP was invented by the Devil (possibly as a way of making ASP seem fun, sensible and intuitive by comparison).

Incidentally, if you want to waste time on online things that are more interesting and less frustrating than PHP, then I’d thoroughly recommend Only Connect and Echo Bazaar. The former will steal your lunchtime; the latter will steal your life.

Feared by the banks, loved by the gullible

In explaining how he avoided falling into the common liberal trap of supporting the Iraq war, Dan Davies listed the maximGood ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance“. The fact that all the main proponents of the Iraq war were lying like rugs about WMDs inherently casts doubt on the case for war, even if you believe that a war for regime change would have been justifiable in its own right.

I was reminded of this when looking at the website for the Robin Hood Tax campaign (the Robin Hood Tax is the new, nauseatingly cute, name for the Tobin Tax on financial transactions):

The Robin Hood Tax will not impact on personal banking or on retail banking. That’s because it targets a distinct area of bank operations – high-frequency large-volume trading, undertaken by financial institutions in the ‘casino economy’. 

If you change money to go on holiday, send remittances abroad, invest in a pension fund or take out a mortgage, you will not be affected by this tiny tax.

The Robin Hood Tax consists of a levy on:

financial assets such as stocks, bonds and foreign exchange, traded both physically and as derivatives (options, forwards, futures and swaps).

Hence, any money you change (whether for a holiday or for remittances) and any investments that your pension fund makes will, very obviously, be taxed under it. The tax will, definitely have a negative impact on ‘good’, non-casino-y transactions like people buying shares in companies to generate income for their retirement, or companies converting euros from their export sales into pounds.

This doesn’t, in and of itself, make the Robin Hood Tax a bad idea. That negative impact could well be outweighed by the benefits of the revenue raised and of dampening the speculative excesses of the global financial system (I’m sceptical of the latter: we all know with each successive crisis the speculative excesses of the GFS turn out to be concentrated in areas that aren’t regulated or taxed or indeed understood. But that’s for another day).

But the tax’s proponents are simply lying that the negative consequences for the real economy simply don’t exist, rather than acknowledging them and saying that the benefits are larger. And that definitely triggers my Iraq filter.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-03-21

  • Sarcasm aside, seems fair skills-wise -> RT @davecoleDOTorg
    Salary for Palace of Westminster lift attendant: £17277 Salary for MP: £64766 #
  • Sitting on world's most excellent view-featuring balcony. Shortly off to remote island for camel rides. Later will fish for oysters. Oh yeah #
  • Any occasion that involves A. Gilligan being roundly told to get lost is delightful. Hence, this is delightful: #
  • This I like: #
  • Great and sad news – the Koala is moving on: #
  • RT @bloggerheads: David Cameron's head on a stick now charting. Please 'favourite' or rate it now to kick it up further #
  • Tasmania is beautiful. Like Wales, but with sunshine. Quick #ebz before bed, then another day of outdoors #
  • RT @timoreilly the end of publishing as we know it. Watch to the end (via @bengoldacre) #
  • Superb piece from @Heresy_Corner on His Holiness The Pope (spoiler: she's not a big fan) – #
  • This is ace. If you had any spare time, you now don't: #
  • What % of people opposing lack of MP scrutiny of copyright bill were also outraged by Tories forcing MP scrutiny of 3rd world debt bill…? #
  • (I support anti-vulture plans and oppose copyright plans, but that shouldn't affect one's views on procedure…) #
  • We found this chap's card in a café in Cygnet, TA – he's perhaps the most promising new author of a generation: #
  • This is not my country, but The Editors are right: – see also, Anyone Who Doesn't Think Keeping The Tories Out Matters #
  • Actually, I'd go further than that. Anyone who publicly criticises Labour or the LDs over the next 3 months is pro-Tory, and can piss off #
  • I'm not a Labour supporter, but we have an FPTP election pending, and in a Lab/Tory marginal anyone with a soul should vote Lab. #
  • In other consituencies vote for meh, whoever, but anyone who's even slightly progressive/not evil should fucking do this shit #
  • Task for next week: work out which crook is paying these crooks to publish this bullshit – – reads rather like Spiked #
  • Much as I love the Tube and hate the Tories, closing pointless ticket offices now that everyone has Oyster is actually Not All That Bad… #
  • …alternative is cutting services, cutting refurbs, cutting new trains, raising fares, all of which are rather worse. #
  • For any halfwits thinking of voting Tory because of Labour illiberalism – – send-14-year-olds-to-jail-for-shagging-w00t #
  • #ebz Back from Tassie's wild west coast, into the worlds of Internet reception #
  • is hung over. Yes, I know it's 7:20pm here. This doesn't make me happy either. #
  • Linkous and now Chilton: Not a good month for depressive substance-fond jangly indie types. Hope someone's keeping an eye on Bobby Gillespie #
  • I wonder how much "we won't hang your guys" affected the price RTZ paid…? #
  • Paralympic Cricket Joke: "was that an LBW?" "Well, not technically, but it did hit the stumps…" #
  • All iPhone apps are gay, so not sure what the issue is here -> RT @MayorWatch New article: Tourism bosses unveil Gay London iPhone app #
  • RT @slideshowbrain
    I'll follow @Patrick_Myles FF's because I trust his brain – Hello @PeterDixie @lilmamisayo @timabrahams @Dion_Star #
  • Steve Hodder-Watt is an arse; whilst I love my new adopted country, its willingness to appease his kind is distressing: #
  • ("his kind" refers to litigious, humourless pro-censorship gits of any race, religion or creed, obviously) #
  • This is good, from young Mr Hari – – also applies to my Enyclopedia Dramatica comment from earlier #
  • This doctor deserves 10,000 medals for EXCELLENT SKILLS: #
  • #ebz Back in civilisation, & my wireless modem works. Well, Hobart Airport, which is almost civilisation #
  • Hurrah for juries: #
  • Christing hell, in a normal banana republic, media sucks balls of the government, not the assholes trying to take over: #
  • Venezuela = obvious exception – 1 of the things which makes anyone w/any decency feel some affection for maniac-in-charge #obviousparallels #
  • I love reading @diamondgeezer, but I hate (not solely related to him) this kind of paranoid lunacy #
  • Yes, of course someone who gives a shit can steal your medical records. But unless you're actually Michael Jackson, nobody does. #
  • I think this is supposed to be funny and on S Singh's side, but both are purely based on contextual clues not the text: #
  • This isn't like my last Clarkson link – most of piece is nonsense – but final para 100% accurate: #campBAcabincrewrule #
  • Safari really is the most annoying browser ever. So glad I've got Chrome for day-to-day and Firefox for anything else. Would rather use IE7 #
  • If your name's Slaughter, probably best not get involved in the healthcare debate. The Slaughter Solution is a bit of a branding fail… #
  • Why's the BBC running a non-story about petty vandalism on its international news front page? #

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The idle musings of John B