Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds seemed to hint that the ad, in itself, was well put together."As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales-job is always better than the product. Buyer beware," he said. (BBC)Of course, if he makes this complaint too strenuously, then he risks coming across as saying that the McCain campaign's marketing has been worse than the Obama campaign's because the product could well be worse.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
For those new to this topic, international trade depends to a large degree on letters of credit. While they can help finance shipments, an even more fundamental role is that they assure the shipper that he will be paid for the cargo sent. Without banks using letters of credit as the means to send payment to exporters, parties that are new to each other or conduct business with each other infrequently could never trade with each other. In other words, the collapse of the Baltic Dry, the standard index for measuring international shipping trade, is a direct effect of the credit crunch and not purely demand-driven. Given that no country (except possibly North Korea, which is hardly a beacon of pretty much anything these days) is entirely self-sufficient in all that it consumes, a collapse in world trade will not only affect consumption of vital necessities like food, but also manufacturing, which will affect jobs.It's possible, of course, that credit will get moving again before these effects begin to show up seriously. Most countries and regions should have food stocks, and manufacturers can survive some time by giving their workers "hibernation orders", as one factory did recently. But if things carry on too long, then the effects will be serious, and it may perhaps be no exaggeration to say that what could be a simple recession could deepen into something worse. Source; see also, and also Alphaville.
because Porsche had not declared the proportion of VW shares it controlled, traders may have been indirectly and inadvertently borrowing shares from Porsche, selling them to Porsche, buying them back from Porsche and then returning them to Porsche.The FT reported, only a week ago, that Porsche was denying all reports of stock-lending. But surely they must have done: it would be a stroke of sheer evil corporate genius. Basically, you would do something like this.To begin, you will need a large amount of cash and a sizable chunk of the target company, and you need to be pretty sure that there's going to be some serious short interest in it. Oh, and you need to keep the whole thing quiet, or the plan's blown.Now you lend the stock to hedge funds and other interested traders, who sell it on the market. You make sure that you are the one buying the stock off them, so that each time you do this deal, someone owes you a share in your target.Repeat step two until the money runs out. Seriously: you can keep "buying" the company beyond the 100% limit this way.Once the money runs out, call in the hedgies' obligations. They'll start scrambling around, buying all the shares on the open market and sending them your way to repay the share debt they owe. The price will shoot up as a result.Eventually, they will have exhausted the open market, and the only person left with the shares is you, but there are still share-debts left to pay to you. At this point, you just drip shares into the market, and hedgies start paying you, at vastly inflated prices, in order to give the shares back to you.Laugh maniacally as you have just managed to pull off one of the greatest bank heists ever, wreck half a dozen hedge funds, and buy an entire company on the cheap and quiet into the bargain. Observe to yourself that not even a Bond villain could carry off such a nefarious scheme. And then chuckle as worried companies start to think seriously about moving their listings from Stuttgart and Frankfurt to London and New York, where the rules about transparency would stop anyone from managing to pull off a stunt like this.
"It's ten past eight, and I've got John Humphrys in the studio. Mr. Humphrys, why is it that banal village-pump BBC politics so frequently manages to get the prime slot on Britain's premier radio news programme?"But Mr. Humphrys, with respect, you're not answering the question. There is important news to be reporting on, and you're wasting time on two idiotic comedians who think it's funny to make disgusting phone calls to a retired actor? Get a grip!"No, Mr. Humphrys, I'm not taking a view on their actions, I was merely explaining the view which you evidently take, since you think what they did was so stupid. And it's not the first time this kind of thing happens. Aren't people entitled to take the view that these two don't deserve the oxygen of publicity?"Well, so you say. But does the BBC really think that it's an edifying exercise to air its laundry in public like this?"It was the BBC which first broke this story. Is it really the case that you're so strapped for serious news you have to broadcast rubbish and then report on the inevitable outcry?"
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister may like to know that BP made £6.4bn in the third quarter of 2008. Does he welcome this success of British industry working overseas, and does he welcome the increased revenue this will result in for the Exchequer, especially in the currently straitened circumstances?That's in response to the Labour MP who complained about BP's profits. Today's PMQs was exceptionally boisterous, and in leaders' questions, the PM basically refused to answer any questions from either the Leader of the Opposition or the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, except for the very last when Cleggy appeared to have drawn blood. I thought Cameron also landed some pretty hefty blows. The PM was, of course, far more informative for the backbenchers' questions.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The current Reformed Church profited from liberal currents in reformist theology including, pietism, neo-Lutheranism, Methodism, social Christianity etc.Well, Mr. Wikipedia, I beg to differ. So I changed it.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Dr Andrew Lilico, Europe Economics
John Greenwood, Chief Economist, Invesco
Richard Jeffrey, Cazenove Capital Management
Dr Ruth Lea, Economic Adviser, Arbuthnot Banking Group
Trevor Williams, Chief Economist, Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets
Dr Nigel Allington, University of Cambridge
Prof Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs
Prof Tim Congdon, Author, Keynes, the Keynesians and Monetarism
Prof Laurence Copeland, Cardiff Business School
Prof Kevin Dowd, University of Nottingham
Prof Kent Matthews, Cardiff Business School
Prof Alan Morrison, Said Business School
Prof Sir Alan Peacock, Former Chief Economic Adviser, Dept of Trade and Industry
Dr Mark Pennington, Queen Mary College, London
Prof David B. Smith, University of Derby
Prof Peter Spencer, University of York
Saturday, October 25, 2008
|Are you a heretic?|
Friday, October 24, 2008
He couldn't work out how it had stayed standing despite the winds. Then he discovered why. To keep it stable, I'd joined one of the uprights to the house with a single nail. He gave me a smile and said, 'Now I know that you can build the most elaborate structure, but if it's freestanding, winds will come and blow it down. But if you're joined at one point to something solid, immovable, you'll stay standing throughout the storm.' Then he added these words: 'The name of that nail is faith.'As you'll recognise, this is almost directly parallel to the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders, but—and this is the bit that makes me scream inside—although he knows that we must be joined by faith, he doesn't know the One to whom we must be joined, the One who was nailed to a wooden beam for us. How great it would be if the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom were to declare one day that he, too, had come to be a part of the remnant of Israel.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has spoken of "irresponsible lending" and ascribed our current economic woes to this cause. Will he accept that there is such a thing as "irresponsible borrowing"?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Senior Home Office officials have expressed concern about the Government's controversial plans to set up a new "Big Brother" national database, according to a leaked memo.Well, they may have designs on our DNA and fingerprints, but at least our phone calls and e-mails will be safe. It's policies like these which make me see the value of a written constitution.I ought also to alert you to Liberty's Common Values campaign, which aims to help people better to understand the Human Rights Act. Labour brought it in, to much fanfare, but now they seek to obviate it at every opportunity. Reactionaries and populists vilify it as a "charter for lawyers and crooks" (there is a distinction), but they're wrong: it is a setting-forth of those key, fundamental rights and freedoms which we all share and enjoy as members of a free society.
Historic liturgy … cool.I can never stop myself, when I hear this ad, asking myself, "Why?" Why historic liturgy? Why not liturgical dance? Why kneeling? What are your principles, and where do you get them from? On the same issue, Issues ran a very good interview last Friday. Obviously there were some theological disagreements, but they were mostly incidental to her point, and apart from those, it's well worth listening to for reasons why children should be involved in corporate worship, and for ideas on how to involve them. The best quote was, "If worship isn't for everyone in the family of God, then it's not for anyone."The interviewee plugs, at the end, a new resource, called Growing in Worship, for children in Lutheran churches. It presents the week's Collect and a blatant breach of the Second Commandment (*g*) regarding the week's Gospel reading. And I think it's a rather good idea, although it clearly only works in a setting where everyone will be praying and reading the same things. This kind of question forms the source for my theory that almost everyone actually believes in the Regulative Principle, but its application varies from loose to careful through to "mental".
Liturgical dance … not cool.
Kneeling for the Lords' body and blood on a Sunday … cool.
Sitting in your theatre-style seat with cupholder with your double mocha latte … not cool.
The Serious Fraud Office could launch an inquiry into BBC business editor Robert Peston's recent string of market-moving banking 'scoops' after David Cameron's Tories raised suspicions that he could have a 'mole' inside 10 Downing Street or the Treasury. (Grauniad)Good. I don't know whether anything fishy has gone on—that's why the police get asked to investigate, after all—but it has seemed uncanny, the way Robert Peston has seemed to know things almost before they happened.
Well, he wrote Gordon Brown's biography and had "unprecedented access" to Brown and friends for the project, so this may be a simple case of having an extremely good contacts book. But given quite how market-sensitive many of his "revelations" have been, I think it's quite reasonable to expect the SFO to investigate, so as to be absolutely certain that:
(a) he hasn't engaged in insider deals,
(b) the way he's obtained his information has been above-board, and
(c) the government hasn't been feeding him a line for their own ends.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Saint Mary's College, Indiana.The common thread, as it happens, is that they're all liberal arts colleges advertising for mathematicians. Not that I'm thinking about the need for a job which will press on me, if all goes well, in a bit over a year's time, anything like that…
Westminster College, Pennsylvania.
Concordia College, Minnesota.
Bellarmine University, Kentucky.
Ursinus College, Pennsylvania.
 If you write a call option then it means that you have the obligation to sell the underlying stock at a certain price. If you buy a call option, then you have a right to buy stock at a given price. Both of these rights cost money; the writers of options give a promise to act as counterparty and are paid for that promise.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Chancellor of the ExchequerYou can get in contact through the link given above; the deadline is 48 hours prior to the hearing, which has not yet been determined. I'm thinking carefully about what question/s I'd like to see put to them.In other news, the Guariand article begins with the good news that the Treasury is in talks regarding the Lloyds TSB dividend, which had effectively been cancelled by the preference deal, but which has so riled institutional investors that they are threatening to rub the HBOS deal out if the dividend isn't restored. For my own part, while I would understand wanting to shore up the balance sheet, the government's insistence preference dividends while forcing a cancellation of the ordinary looks like a way for the government to stick two fingers—or fewer—up to shareholders.This is particularly frustrating as it is the government's own rules and regulations which have slowly removed the controls, checks and balances which shareholders have over their companies. Nominee accounts make it difficult, if not impossible, to exercise voting rights, and the cosy relationship between government and the pensions industry has seen millions of people who might otherwise have been small shareholders coralled into huge blocs, whose votes on "fat cattery" and other City excesses are wielded by pension fund managers, themselves the ultimate fat cats.If we're to get back to an age of responsibility, then we could do worse than to start by ensuring that the policies aimed at encouraging people to put their money into the stock market allow those same investors to exercise real control over the companies they part-own. Perhaps something along those lines ought to be my question…
Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England
Lord Adair Turner, Chairman, Financial Services Authority
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The measures announced today must be bound to undertakings by the banks of no job losses, no repossessions and an end to the bonus culture.No repossessions, Derek? None? And lending at 2007 levels? Have we gone completely bonkers?At the Windy-pendant today, you can read Dominic Lawson on what is rapidly sounding like a very plausible claim, It all went wrong when we left the gold standard, and Mary Dejevsky on a similar topic, Don't blame Thatcher – she was all for sound money.I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find arguments against the proposition that having a system of currency which is known as fiat, where the government basically conjures up new money, and where fractional-reserve requirements allow the banking system effectively to do the same, is far too dangerous a basis on which to run our economy. While an under-grad, I had a friend who bemoaned the fact that we weren't on the gold standard and thought things had gone downhill since we abandoned it. Frankly, I'm beginning to understand his reasoning.
Monday, October 13, 2008
We screwed up on building more housing over the last ten years, so we'll be back to boom and bust a lot more quickly.From further down the article,
He said the UK problem was not shortage of demand for homes at "the right prices" but a shortage of mortgages "at the right prices for people to buy".The government's solution to this is to use its current leverage over the banks to make them lend at ridiculously cheap rates to people who can't really afford houses.If I had the ear of the Prime Minister, I'd have something very simple to tell him. Gordon, pay attention: despite the BBC's wildly optimistic headline, Brown's housing market confidence, this is not a Good Thing. In fact, a similar policy in America is demonstrably a significant part of the nexus of events which caused our current woes.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Jesus can't possibly be teaching salvation by works here…What's it all about? Well, have a look at Matt. 10 first, and then come back.Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. "The brethren" are the disciples, particularly in their aspect as witnesses to the gospel—note, there's an application here that all believers are called to witness—and those being judged are judged for their reception of the gospel, as evidenced by their treatment of those who preached the gospel.Dead easy, when you get that bit, to see the rest of the passage falling into place.I'm indebted to Knox Chamblin (pdf) and Keener, IVP (html); although not to Lin and VanderLinden, who seem to have popping just a few too many of the little white pills (html).
Saturday, October 11, 2008
McCain’s allies responded by suggesting that [Palin] had her own pastor problems, such as the African minister who prayed to Jesus to protect her from witchcraft when she was running for governor. (Source)Houses divided against themselves don't stand. The campaign's coming apart at the seams. And though at first, McCain's VP pick seemed tactically astute, it's become apparent that it was strategically lunacy—which is not to say that Joe Lieberman would, necessarily, have been a better choice.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sir Humphrey Appleby: If we do nothing we implicitly agree with the speech. Two: if we issue a statement we'll just look foolish. Three: if we lodge a protest it will be ignored. Four: we can't cut off aid because we don't give them any. Five: if we break off diplomatic relations we can't negotiate the oil rig contracts. And six: if we declare war it might just look as though we were over-reacting.Foreign Secretary: In the old days we'd have sent in a gunboat.But I think this calls for some real vigilantism. The population of Iceland is roughly the same as the number of Icesave customers ripped off by that government's refusal to honour its debts. Therefore, I modestly propose that we tool up all the angry customers and get the Navy to carry them over in longboats.I can just see the headlines now: "Britain in daring Viking raid on Iceland" (Times); "Raze-kjavik!" (Sun); "House prices in Iceland take a battering" (Mail); and "Hostile M&A activity in the North Sea" (FT).
Thursday, October 09, 2008
 But who has jurisdiction?
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
These are the days of Elijah,
Declaring the word of the Lord:
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
'Prepare ye the way of the Lord!'Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call;
Lift your voice, it's the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion's hill salvation comes.
These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh;
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!There's no God like Jehovah.(Source)
There's no God like Jehovah!
And all I want to do is find the person who wrote this and put a few simple questions to them.
- Elijah is dead and with the Lord; and John the Baptist is "the Elijah who was to come": in what sense are these "the days of Elijah"?
- How was righteousness restored in the days of Moses?
- Didn't Jesus also say that John the Baptist was the voice in the desert?
- What's a "temple of praise"? Where does it come from in Scripture?
- And anyway, didn't David pre-date the first temple, never mind re-building one?
- Did you even go near a Bible while writing this?
- Why, out of seven biblical images, do you manage to apply perhaps one-and-two-halves correctly?
- And the big one: why don't you mention—at any point, in any way—the One who definitively declared the word of Lord, constituted the holy temple of God, restored all righteousness and still raises dead souls to new life?
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
that members accrue an average £12,500 a year in debtwhich sounds like either a mis-reported statistic or a complete fabrication, but certainly £12,500 for a three year course is quite normal.Well, I'm not finishing till 2009 at the earliest, but as you might expect, I know a number of people who will find themselves "the students who walked into the cold"; I also wonder what happened to some of our former PhD graduates who went into high finance. It would be little surprise if the figures for teacher training courses also came out mich higher: not only do they provide something to do for a year, but as long as you're competent, teaching is pretty much a guaranteed job for life.The boom in house prices was described as a wealth transfer from the young to the old, as first-time buyers paid over the odds to get on the "ladder". And now, are the young paying once again?
Friday, October 03, 2008
 The point about the bow isn't just a quirk of English etymology: it's actually present in the Hebrew, too.
What is the proximate cause of the collapse of confidence in the world's banks? Millions of improvident loans to American housebuyers. Which organisations were on their own responsible for guaranteeing half of this $12 trillion market? Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the so-called Government Sponsored Enterprises which last month were formally nationalised to prevent their immediate and catastrophic collapse. Now, who do you think were among the leading figures blocking all the earlier attempts by President Bush – and other Republicans – to bring these lending behemoths under greater regulatory control? Step forward, Barney Frank [Democratic Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee] and Christopher Dodd [Democratic Chairman of the Senate's Banking Committee].The Democratic candidate, whose party and economic philosophy did so much—admittedly, not everything—to cause this problem , will no doubt win the Presidential election by painting his approach as the one which has solved it. And then will come what Lawson describes as "the saddest outcome of all this within America," that "for many years to come banks will demand the most stringent terms for mortgages to the least well off."Lawson commends Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for recently confessing the mistakes that his party made. It is to be hoped, although perhaps not expected, that others of his party will be willing to take the blame for all their hands have wrought. EDIT: I recall recently seeing a video of coverage from the relevant Congressional committees showing Democrats behaving in exactly the way Lawson describes, including a scene with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Cal.) lauding the Democratic policies which had led to "innovation" such as "the 100% mortgage". Head. In. Hands.
The letter to Number 10 predicts there is a potential clash with a future Obama Administration over Iran, even though British Embassy officials have consistently gone on record denying such claims.…While approving of his "progressive position on climate change" and "balanced approach to the big security issues", [Sir Nigel] raises concerns over Mr Obama's protectionist leanings on trade.I suspect that my concerns in overseas elections are broadly in line with classic British concerns: trade, security and foreign policy foremost, with environment, especially as regards the US, also high on the list. Obama, it would seem, gets a thumbs down on trade, a thumbs up on the environment and "could do better" on the security-foreign policy nexus.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Receive dividend from TATE.
Receive return-of-capital from UU.Aug 08
Receive dividend from UU.
Buy SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) at 1501.04p.Sep 08
Receive dividend from BT.
Receive dividend from DSGI.OutlookLooking into 2009Q3, payments have been announced by Trinity Mirror (3.2p), Old Mutual (2.45p) and Brixton (4.9p). Frankly, the way the markets are behaving at the moment, I don't care to call much more than that!