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Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Nick wrote:
The Greek crisis was caused by the lies and deceptions of the Greek government when applying to join the Euro. This was compounded by profligate spending, and their unwillingness (or maybe political inability) to face up to it. Lending to a government is generally reckoned to be a safe option, suitable for widows and orphans, but this has not proved to be the case with Greece. The banks are in no way responsible for the Greek crisis. It is the Greek government and the Greek people.
All the banks did was trust them.
:laughter: Oh, please. (Or should that be purlease?)
Purlease, definitely! :laughter:

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The banks knew that they were taking risks in lending to Greece. They knew about the corruption and cronyism and the misspending and the widespread tax evasion.
Well, yes. The level of risk is shown by the different interest rates charged for lending to Greece. Though partially mitigated I think by credit default swaps they have always been higher than, say, Germany debt, and have been getting steadily worse over the years. To some extent, the market has been deceived by Greek aserions that we are all European now. The Greeks also kept interest rates down by shortening the loan period to a year or so (whereas the UK can still orow for 30 years). It has come to a pretty sad state of affairs when governments are not able to steer their budgets away from default.

Though I accept your point about corruption and low tax take and so on, I think the bigger problem is that electorates tend to vote for jam today. We saw that in the UK during the reign of NuLabour. Because Gordon Brown was lucky for the first half of his time as Chancellor, it became electorally impossible for the Tories to claim that he was spending too much, so they began to copy NuLabour's spending plans. In circumstances where democracy is weaker and more splintered, this sort of effect is much more accentuated. Italy is the prime example of this.

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Some of them may have known a little more than others — it does seem that Goldman Sachs and possibly other investment banks played a role in helping the (then) Greek government to understate its deficit, by arranging some kind of credit default swap deal that I don't begin to understand.
It was clear to everyone that Greece hadn't qualified to join the Euro. If Goldman Sachs were engaged in "off-balance sheet" activities, (I don't think it was likely to have been a credit default swap deal, but I don't know) just as Gordon Brown was with his PFI initiative and other wheezes, then it makes matters worse, but they should never have been allowed to join.

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That's not to say that the banks caused the Greek debt crisis. Of course successive Greek governments played the leading role in creating it. But the banks "helped", as Avaaz put it.
Hmmm... so if the banks had refused to lend to Greece earlier, what would they have said? Probably that this was some sort of strike by capital. We have seen widespread calls for credit reference agencies, Standard & Poors, Fitches and others, to be outlawed, as they somehow "cause" crises. Either by being wrong (which has been true), or for being right! In this case, when they downgrade a country they are accused of wrecking the credit-worthiness of the country, whereas they are giving advanced warning of future problems.

If Greece had not been a member of the Eurozone, their interest rates would have been higher, sooner. Not least because international money would have needed extra interest to counter a falling Drachma. Euro membership acted as a dam; at first it held back the tide, but when the pressure grew too much, the dam burst, with much greater devastation. The bail-outs have been a series of efforts to reinforce the dam, which have so far been too little, too late.

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And it is not an isolated crisis. It has occurred in the context of a global financial crisis in which banks clearly played a major role. I agree that it is simplistic to blame the banks for everything. But it is equally simplistic to put it all down to the Greek government and, especially, "the Greek people".
Maybe that's harsh, but I blame the Greek people for continuing to elect politicians who were not addressing the economic issues, but promising prosperity they culdnot deliver. That's always a problem with democracy. To a lesser extent, perhaps we saw this with the Labour government up to 1979. Eventually the electorate kicked them out. In Greece, not long a democracy, the government is now a bunch of technocrats. There is still a small danger that democracy will lose out to the army.

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Nick wrote:
Also a large proportion of the bonds which have lost their value belongs not to faceless banks but to ordinary pension savers, trying to secure their retirement incomes. Even the bank shares are largely owned by such people. The idea that it is only filthy rich money-grabbers bankers who have suffered is wildly wrong.
And not an idea I've ever claimed to espouse. Besides, I'm not arguing that banks or bankers or investors should be "punished" for any sins I'm claiming they have committed. I do think they are better able to afford to pay more to effect a solution than a Greek population that's already reeling from the effects of austerity measures.
Sorry if I have not accurately reflected your view. I have tended to generalise from your view to those more widely held. I'll try to be more careful in future.

As for the Greeks, I don't want them to be "punished" either, but because they are still in the Euro, they are between a rock and a hard place. They have to take tough decisions, eg to raise the pension age, and cut over-generous pensions, but as I don't need to point out, cuts are really difficult to orchestrate. What I'd like to see is the re-classifying of Greek debt into some sort of separate currency, so that the pain is shared between the Greek economy and the lenders, and the exit of Greece from the Euro, thus allowing the Greek economy to grow.

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Nick wrote:
100% of the money lent to Greece is being spent, by the Greek Government, on the Greek people. Not a cent goes to the banks, let alone the bankers.
But how can that be true? A significant proportion of the new debt must be going to pay interest on the old debt, surely.
Hmmm... except that the banks and their fundholders have taken a 50% hit on their capital, never mind the interest payments.

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Nick wrote:
And the idea that Avaaz had any effect whatsoever, yes, whatsoever, on the size of the "haircut" is ludicrous in the extreme. (Please don't take that personally, I'm not criticising you for raising it as a possibility, but I am blaming Avaaz for egging you on to believe it may be true.)
I did not raise it as a possibility. That's not what I was saying and not what I think. And Avaaz hasn't egged me on to believe it's true, either. I can't find any evidence that they've egged anyone on to believe that's true.
Oh. If I have misunderstood you, then my apologies. I thought you claimed that Avaaz were, at least partially, responsible for increasing the size of the "haircut". And you are too thoughtful a person to take anyone word for anything, whether Avaaz's or mine. And I'm probably coloured by what I see as arrogance from Avaaz. (In their latest poll about internet freedom, with which I have considerable sympathy, they seem to imply that Avaaz is standing alone against the end of freedom. They don't mention that Google, Microsoft, ebay, Myspace, Facebook and many others are actually very much against it too. Its as if they'd hate to be seen on the same side as filthy capitalist corporations....)

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Nick wrote:
Any other industries you want to nobble too?
Ooh, yeah. The arms industry, for starters. :D
Fair enough! I don't agree, but that's an entirely different topic, and some distance from economic policy.
I think it's a topic that's relevant to the Greek debt crisis. I think the Greek government's high military expenditure, and its repeated underreporting of that, has contributed significantly to the crisis. It was even claimed last year that France and Germany had been putting pressure on Greece to buy military equipment from them (Reuters).[/quote]OK, that's new to me. Wouldn't it be nice if military expenditure were lower, but it seems to me that the more insecure the government, the higher the proportion of the nation's income is spent on the military. The reasons for and suggested solutions to this go way byond economics, so that's for another time, or a thread of it's own.

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Nick wrote:
I agree that some aspects of banking need addressing, but I disagree, fundamenatally, that heaping abuse on the participants is the way to achieve it.
I wasn't advocating heaping abuse on anyone. I'd thought that metaphorical shin-kicking referred to painful financial losses.
Again, it appears I have been too hasty to lump you with other opinions expressed. If so, my bad. I must read your posts most carefully before replying.

Quote:
You are mixing two different types of financial professional. You are referring to financial pundits and fund managers.
Yes, I was giving them as examples of subcategories for which there is evidence that they aren't as good at what they do as they're cracked up to be. I wasn't claiming that I had any evidence that that's true of any other financial professionals. Just expressing, in fairly tentative language, my own niggling suspicions [/quote]OK.. then I'm pointing out the difference. I also think it supports my contention that the bankers are responding to the market, not driving it in any particualr direction. A bit like "the wisdom of crowds". Doesn't work well all the time of course, but much better than planned markets (eg the Soviet Union, as was) or the Euro.


Quote:
Yes, there's a lot of anti-banker populism around right now, and I can understand why it pisses you off. But there's quite a lot of anti-Greek abuse being hurled, too. And that's pretty unhelpful, too. If anyone's getting their shins kicked hard right now, and their knees and groins and solar plexuses too, it's the Greek people. And a lot of people seem to be suggesting, without any justification that I can see, that they're getting their comeuppance.
I don't think anyone is saying that the Greeks should be punished, as they say of the bankers. The problem is, that if the Greek situation does not change, they are going to have what they've always had: problems. Apparently, 70% of the Greek population want to remain in the Euro. I don't quite see what the Greek population think could be a real solution, apart from receiving money from the rest of the Euro area.... Hmmm... Any suggestions?


November 18th, 2011, 7:00 pm
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Alan H wrote:
We all know what that asshole Rastani is doing...


....he's appearing at an 'event' organised by Occupy LSX. :laughter:



(I kid you not.)


November 19th, 2011, 12:04 am
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:laughter: I might drop in and shake the asshole's hand.

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November 19th, 2011, 1:02 am
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Nick wrote:
Dave B wrote:
Is there a solution, a cure that does not mean it has to get worse? I fear not. I once jokingly suggested to the (presently 25 year old) son of a friend that his children may see the banning of private cars, now I wonder if it was such a joke.
It wouldn't surprise me if we have automatic driverless cars in a couple of generations. Fewer accidents, less congestion, more closely packed together. Just dial in a destination and sit back until you arrive. We already have the technology. We'll see.....
Nick, this is going back a bit and I am now on the outside of half a bottle of vino - and have been watching Star Wars: Episode III and am not sure why this thought struck me.

How many of these automatic driverless (I assume they will not be passengerless!) cars are there going to be? My old boss worked out how many buses would be needed to serve our small industrial estate (sorry "park") every morning and every evening if no-one was allowed to use their cars. I think it was about fifty even if all the companies allowed flexible working hours. That worked out to hundreds of buses employed for only half of the day and many extra hours of commuting for almost all concerned. (This boss was formerly employed doing rocket science - his math was excellent.)

So, how many non-private automatic driverless cars would we need to guarantee every person had a ride to work at the right time? Or do we legislate that no-one if allowed to work beyond walking distance of where they live? As I have said before, there was a movement in the 50s to set up industrial estates close to housing estates to reduce the traffic. Lasted less than 20 years before the estate livers drove ten miles or more elsewhere to work and others drove from elsewhere ten miles or more into the industrial estate. I drove eight, there were no buses.

The bus routes around Gloster have now been reduced, especially the Park-and-Ride ones. Not a good sign.

It will take near very strict and powerful legislation to cure this problem in the end I think.

Back to Star Wars . . .

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November 19th, 2011, 7:14 pm
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I'm not sure I follow your question, Dave, and I haven't even started on the vino! Is it the non-private nature you are highlighting? Hmmm... Could we just have driverless buses, or even driverless taxis....


November 19th, 2011, 7:43 pm
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Nick wrote:
I'm not sure I follow your question, Dave, and I haven't even started on the vino! Is it the non-private nature you are highlighting? Hmmm... Could we just have driverless buses, or even driverless taxis....
Ah, I thought you meant the driverless-for-use-by-anyone-taxi type vehicles often featured in sci-fi. There no-one has a private car, they just go to a station, enter a destination, press a button and the next available vehicle pulls up for them. So you use it to go to work and then it serves others through-out the day; you dial up for another when you want to go home. Bit like the public use bikes that are appearing in some cities. I think there are schemes afoot for electric drive yourself cars but that is only between charging stations - so fixed journeys with big financial penalties for leaving them elsewhere probably. You have to use some kind of charge car to activate them.

My suggestion to friend's son was that there simply would not be enough room or energy available for private cars in the future. Those who had a need of a vehicle, on-call doctors, service engineers etc., would have special permits, but no more driving off to Tescos for the shopping or out to the pub in the countryside for lunch possibly. An ever increasing population, ever increasing pollution (unless all electricity is generated by wind/water/solar power or from nuclear power stations), diminishing space on the roads (unless 8 lanes each way roads become the norm like some parts of America) . . . Motor bikes may come well back into fashion before that, the numbers are increasing again, as they did in the 60s, because fewer of the kids (or their parents for them) can afford to insure and run a car - that may be a limiting factor in this.

The bloke next door who was so proud of his 2 litre gas guzzler a year or so ago looks at my Aygo with jealous eyes now he has a kid and rising bills. It's the way it will go!

You are the man who does the financial sums it seems, work out what the total cost of that lot would be. Can we afford it? Ever?

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November 19th, 2011, 8:46 pm
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I'll come back to your question another time, if I may, Dave, as I need to unburden myself of some economic lunacy I have heard recently on Any Questions (or was it Question Time....?)

Some loony lefty, an MP to boot, said that there should be a bankers' bonus tax of £2billion to create 100,000 jobs. OK, leaving aside the equity of taxing a particular group of people, just because you don't like them (A sculptor, whose work will aprrently grace the Olympics nexy year, earned a reported 57 million last year. HJow about him?) it's the economics which upsets me.

Let's assume, for a moment, that Keynesian demand deficiency can be corrected by government expenditure. Economists argue about this a lot, but I won't bore you with the detail. But even such a defender of the workers as James Callaghan famously said (c 1978) that "I have to tell you, in all candour" that spending your way out of recession doesn't work.

The point is this: as a matter of policy, the budget deficit should be kept in manageable proportions, at less than 3% of GDP and up to 60% on an accumulated basis (not my figures, but those subscribed to by the Euro 17 in 1999). Similarly, Gordon Brown talked of balancing the budget over the business cycle (he missed his target by over £180 billion...) Therefore, if we were not deep in the doo-doo (which we cannot pin on the Labour government alone, by any means), then we would be seeing a deficit of, say £30 billion. Instead of which we are chuffing along at £170 billion, ie about 70 times as much as the stimulus being called for.

Likewise, with our inflation rate at around 5%, (though it will drop like a stone next year) in normal times we would see interest rates of maybe 6-7%. Instead of which they are .5%.

In addition, we have QE of several hundred million (and there may be more to come. ) which is equivalent in economic terms of a further decrease in interest rates of 1% or so.

We have also seen a decrease in the value of the pound by about 25%, which should, all things being equal (which they aren't in this crisis) mean an export boom.

It's like being in a sinking balloon and throwing out everything you can think of, including your own trousers. In such circumstances, the idea that a couple of billion will change anything for the better is just plain daft.

There, I feel a bit better now.


November 21st, 2011, 6:31 pm
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And while I'm at it, let's also have a swipe at the advice we are given for banks.

I've mentioned the fallacy of "too big to fail" before.

But with all the rumpus about the sale price of Northern Rock, a couple of points arise. The reason they have been making losses for the past few years, is because of the level of reserves pumped in, to make sure they couldn't fail. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does demonstrate that there can be such a thing as "too safe to succeed" too.

It also transpires that the Government faced a deadline, agreed by Mr Darling, so had to take the best likely offer in good time. Again, this as I would expect. I think I mentioned a query about EU Competition Policy in this context. (If I didn't I should have.) So both Darling and the current Government had/have precious little choice.

We are also pulling the banking sector in 2 opposite directions, which is crazy. I'll explain more later, but I've run outa time.


November 21st, 2011, 6:41 pm
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Back again!

As I said above, banks are being pulled in different directions at once.

They are being told they must be stronger, which generally means being bigger. But they are told they must not be too big to fail, so they must be smaller.

They are told they must lend more, especially to the risky, smaller businesses. But they have been criticised for lending too much to households which have security to back up the loan. Except that now they've cut down, they are being criticised all over again for that too.

The country having benefitted to the tune of billions of pounds in tax revenue by allowing retail and merchant banks to combine, with its accompanying cost savings. They are now being told to split up, reducing their revenues and reducing the tax-take. Except that they are being asked to pay more in special banking taxes or even tax on every single transaction.

We are told that the Tobin Tax is only a tiny amount. Except that is will raise vast sums. It can't be both tiny and vast. The current extra bank tax is £2 billion. The estimated tax from a Tobin Tax according to its supporters is £40 billion a year. In fact, the OECD have said that it will actually reduce the total tax take by reducing the economy by 2%.

The banks don't make £40 billion a year in profits, so the tax must be passed on. This means it is not the banks which are being taxed, but ultimately the consumers.

The banks are being told to increase their lending, but at the same time to increase their reserves. This can only come from reducing lending, or increasing profits. Not only are new regulations expected to reduce the profitability of banks significantly, but £2 billion p.a. extra is being drawn out. Exactly at the time when the Chancellor is reducing mainstream corporation tax in a supply-side reform to increase growth.

Some commentators are complaining that Northern Rock has been sold off cheaply, but by taxing the banks £2 billion a year it directy reduces the value of the shares by maybe £40 - 50 billion and reducing its saleability back to the private sector.

:sad2:


November 22nd, 2011, 2:41 pm
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A couple of suggestions. Student loans of 10's of thousands of pounds being lent to any student who can get into a university course, even if most are unlikely to ever use their degree in their career. (Sure, there are arguments that it develops the individual, and it also sorts out who is the most capable, but most do not lead directly to a job.) In contrast, such loans are totally missing from any other job-related training, brick-laying, plumbing, manufacturing, insurance, health-care, IT skills, and the thousands of jobs do not need a degree, but do need training. I think that would be a brilliant way of getting more people into jobs. It would be an incentive to train more people, the majority of whom are unable to afford, or unwilling to risk the expense of training for a job. Maybe also National Insurance payments could be diverted for employees under 25 taking such courses.

Secondly, instead of taxing banks an extra shin-kicking £2 billion a year, why not treat it as an insurance premium against a proportion of bad debts for new loans under certain conditions. This should mean that more loans are made to more businesses. I can't tell, without doing research which is beyond me, whether it would actually pay for itself, but it would increase the amount of business loans made, by reducing the risk threshold that the bank accepts, and hence helping the economy.

I would also expand the scope for a replacement to the Government Loan Guarantee Scheme. The trouble is that it is available only to those without assets. As soon as anyone has assets (a house, for example) the bank insist it is put up for security. On the one hand, fair enough; there should be personal liability for such a loan. But all too often, though there may be a sound reason for the loan, it is unreasonable for the spouse and children to also be directly exposed too. How about a scheme similar to the student loan scheme, where, if the business fails, the loan is repaid as a deduction from future income? Most people who take out business loans end up working somewhere in future. At the moment, all hell breaks loose if it fails, and the loss is crystalised. The bank has a problem, and the borrower has a problem. No job, no money, immediate loan repayment required. Surely there has to be a better way? It would involve compulsory deductions, but I think it's worth exploring.

Incidentally, banks usually demand that where a house is put up as security a spouse needs to show they have taen legal advice about the consequences. But ask a solicitor and they will tell you that as a matter of policy they either refuse, or advise their client not to do it, so that the solicitor remains in the clear!

Should all this be in the ranting section.....?


November 22nd, 2011, 3:12 pm
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Dave B wrote:
Nick wrote:
I'm not sure I follow your question, Dave, and I haven't even started on the vino! Is it the non-private nature you are highlighting? Hmmm... Could we just have driverless buses, or even driverless taxis....
Ah, I thought you meant the driverless-for-use-by-anyone-taxi type vehicles often featured in sci-fi. There no-one has a private car, they just go to a station, enter a destination, press a button and the next available vehicle pulls up for them. So you use it to go to work and then it serves others through-out the day; you dial up for another when you want to go home. Bit like the public use bikes that are appearing in some cities. I think there are schemes afoot for electric drive yourself cars but that is only between charging stations - so fixed journeys with big financial penalties for leaving them elsewhere probably. You have to use some kind of charge car to activate them.

My suggestion to friend's son was that there simply would not be enough room or energy available for private cars in the future. Those who had a need of a vehicle, on-call doctors, service engineers etc., would have special permits, but no more driving off to Tescos for the shopping or out to the pub in the countryside for lunch possibly. An ever increasing population, ever increasing pollution (unless all electricity is generated by wind/water/solar power or from nuclear power stations), diminishing space on the roads (unless 8 lanes each way roads become the norm like some parts of America) . . . Motor bikes may come well back into fashion before that, the numbers are increasing again, as they did in the 60s, because fewer of the kids (or their parents for them) can afford to insure and run a car - that may be a limiting factor in this.

The bloke next door who was so proud of his 2 litre gas guzzler a year or so ago looks at my Aygo with jealous eyes now he has a kid and rising bills. It's the way it will go!

You are the man who does the financial sums it seems, work out what the total cost of that lot would be. Can we afford it? Ever?


Hi Dave :)

Kind of you to think I might have a clue, but I think the furture is anyone's guess! For what it's worth, I think that at some point our energy problem will be solved. Maybe safe nuclear, fusion, perhaps, hydrogen power, carbon capture (not a likely long-term solution IMO). I also think our work patterns will continue to evolve, with more people commuting less. Maybe a multiple view webcam would be sufficient to engender some of the office bonhomie.

I am quite startled (and pleased) by the increase in cycling in London over the last 10 years. As more offices have shower facilities I think it will continue to grow. The more cyclists the safer each one is. And a comfy motorised cycle could evolve too; not as butch or lethal as a motor-bike, but allows you to get to your destination without smelling to high heaven or collapsing from exhaustion from the hills. And small enough ans slow enough to be parked and treated like a bicycle.

As for space saving, my suggestion would be some sort of cable-car system, like they use in ski-resorts, with, say, 4-man pods. These could be used in certain circumstances. Of course, they would probably be scuppered because you can't get a wheel-chair aboard. Sometimes that has to be faced; so long as an alternative is available, it doesn't make sense not to improve a system for everyone, just because not everyone can use it.


November 22nd, 2011, 3:40 pm
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My final questions were intended to be rhetorical, Nick :D

I hope that stable fusion will eventually be developed, that being about the only real solution. Hydrogen fuelled cars are almost as bad as electric ones, electricity being required to split the hydrogen from water - millions of electric/hydrogen cars will require the building of several new power stations, but what kind? Without renewable, fission or fusion power the may be no net improvement on the pollution front.

To get one kilowatt of energy into the wheels on the road can take several kilowatts up, literally in some ways, in smoke - you have to spend energy to get it from one form and place to another. Even that slice of bread you eat is partially consumed in its own digestion, starting with 100 calories in your hand gains you achieve somewhat less in terms of energy available for moving your body. The rest is consumed in the lifting, mastication, production of gastric fluids, various gurglings in the gut and walking to the loo and, er, etc. Then the body has to covert the various hydrocarbons into glucose and get those to the right places via the heart beating and pumping the blood. Plus all the ancillary body functions that simply keep us alive long enough to eat and digest the bread!

Now we hear that our dear politicians have left us so impoverished in terms of our research and knowledge of nuclear power stations we may have to buy in the technology and all the expertise required to build, operate, service and regulate such. That is liable to be very, very expensive since a lot of the rest of the world may be competing for the same resources and people.

So, cheer for the Culham Lab research centre and the JET project, it is one technology where we can hold up our head in pride (if the politicians do not decide to cut it off.)

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November 22nd, 2011, 6:34 pm
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Dave B wrote:
My final questions were intended to be rhetorical, Nick :D
I've found that so few people ever ask my opinion, Dave, that I leap at the chance to answer even rhetorical questions!

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I hope that stable fusion will eventually be developed, that being about the only real solution. Hydrogen fuelled cars are almost as bad as electric ones, electricity being required to split the hydrogen from water - millions of electric/hydrogen cars will require the building of several new power stations, but what kind? Without renewable, fission or fusion power the may be no net improvement on the pollution front.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that all our current technology (especially wind power) will be superceded by new technologies. I'd be surprised if wind can be developed much beyond its current level of technology, but other ideas... well, we'll have to wait and see.

Quote:
Now we hear that our dear politicians have left us so impoverished in terms of our research and knowledge of nuclear power stations we may have to buy in the technology and all the expertise required to build, operate, service and regulate such. That is liable to be very, very expensive since a lot of the rest of the world may be competing for the same resources and people.
I hears something about this on the Today Programme this morning. That in 20 years we won't have any significant indigenous nuclear industry, which would be bad news.

Quote:
So, cheer for the Culham Lab research centre and the JET project, it is one technology where we can hold up our head in pride (if the politicians do not decide to cut it off.)
Any more info on that, Dave?


November 22nd, 2011, 7:25 pm
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Well, looking at the available and possible sources of energy there seems to be few that have not been explored and found wanting in terms of producing giga-watts at an economic price without other aspects that are not nice for the environment.

There is one source that could be explored because it makes use of the billions of tonnes of waste product we generate every day - poo-power! There is a form of battery that uses simple, non-toxic, electrodes and fairly harmless bugs to produce dc current from crap - any kind of crap, human or animal. Of course we could also use that same crap to produce methane and run internal combustion engines from that. Some sewerage stations generate all their own electricity in this way. But it would take either square miles of digesters per town of lots of small ones to make enough. Combine this with the "combined heat and power" systems and there might be another gain. It would work best where people lived in concentrations, large blocks of flats etc. Distributed power generation works best in some ways, but does not suit all places.

Who is going to invest in developing this "alternative" technology when they can make sure profits out of gas, coal & oil? That carbon tax might make them think a little about it, but not until their pips squeak so much they can't stand it.

About Culham:
http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzYoQsxNc5I

Lots more stuff if you Google for it.


There is also another claim for "cold fusion" - but I will not get excited about this until, unlike the last claim, many people have repeated the experiment and got the same results. Cold fusion is the dream for having a fusion reactor in buses, maybe even cars - just top up with water every day. If fusion, hot or cold, becomes common place then whole economies will be in danger of collapse and even billions of cheap watts cannot grow more food unless town sized greenhouses are used to force the crops to grow 24x7x52.

Every time I think about the balance my poor mind boggles - used to enjoy working such things out once! The intransigence of vested interest in the status quo is a force that only global disaster can make a dent in. If then.

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November 22nd, 2011, 8:00 pm
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Nick wrote:
We are told that the Tobin Tax is only a tiny amount. Except that is will raise vast sums. It can't be both tiny and vast.
Don't be silly. Of course it can. It is a tiny fraction of each trade, but because there are so many trades it is a vast amount of money. Of course, it's still a tiny fraction of the overall amount traded, but that simply shows the vast sums being traded.
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The banks don't make £40 billion a year in profits, so the tax must be passed on. This means it is not the banks which are being taxed, but ultimately the consumers.
Yes, I guess that is what will happen - because the banks have the power to do that and pass the cost on to the poor consumer rather than it having the effect of making them more responsible. We need other measures to stop their bad habits.

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November 22nd, 2011, 9:43 pm
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Alan H wrote:
Nick wrote:
We are told that the Tobin Tax is only a tiny amount. Except that is will raise vast sums. It can't be both tiny and vast.
Don't be silly. Of course it can. It is a tiny fraction of each trade, but because there are so many trades it is a vast amount of money. Of course, it's still a tiny fraction of the overall amount traded, but that simply shows the vast sums being traded.
Oh dear.

If the "tiny fraction of the overall amount traded" adds up to several times the profits (and bonuses) of the banks, that simply cannot be mathematically true, can it? If the cost of trading is more than the potential profit, then kiss goodbye to any tax revenue whatsoever. As well as the benefits bestowed on the economy by the trades in the City (fixing the price of your next holiday, for example).

A simple example: Please explain to me how a tax on overnight deposits, which would be about 6 times the size of the interest earned, can ever work. The result? No more overnight deposits. Result: another credit crunch. Who's being silly, Alan?

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Quote:
The banks don't make £40 billion a year in profits, so the tax must be passed on. This means it is not the banks which are being taxed, but ultimately the consumers.
Yes, I guess that is what will happen - because the banks have the power to do that and pass the cost on to the poor consumer rather than it having the effect of making them more responsible. We need other measures to stop their bad habits.
So why don't the consumers stop using the banks then? Simple! You may have a point if you were to talk about competition policy, but no-one, but no-one is making that point. Less banking activity, more volatility, higher costs of capital, lower growth, lower overall tax revenue. How do you propose to replace the tax revenue your proposl will lose the tax-payer? And who would you blame for the increased market volatility? And it's not me saying that; it's the OECD and others.


November 22nd, 2011, 11:51 pm
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Quote:
A simple example: Please explain to me how a tax on overnight deposits, which would be about 6 times the size of the interest earned, can ever work. The result? No more overnight deposits

Why should human endeavour be so far away from folks actual needs? If there were no overnight deposits the world would not wobble on its axis. We don't need this expensive activity. If bankers want it, then Tobin tax away :)


November 23rd, 2011, 12:03 am
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Dave B wrote:
So, cheer for the Culham Lab research centre and the JET project, it is one technology where we can hold up our head in pride (if the politicians do not decide to cut it off.)
I think that's the one technology advance I'd like to see come to fruition in my lifetime. It will be a tremendous feat of science and engineering and may just get rid of the stranglehold that the oil companies have over us and create the (virtually) free energy we were promised with nuclear fission that never materialised.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:43 am
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Be careful with the "virtually free", Alan. When Michael Faraday was asked what the practical use of electricity was, by Gladstone, his reply was something like, "I am not sure, but one day you may tax it." Then remember the promises of the 50s that nuclear energy would be so cheap it would not be worth charging for it (along with we would only need to work three days a week)?

I think that I can be confident in predicting that even if the energy companies sell fusion energy cheap (whilst still making good profits) the government will work out a way of justifying taxing it heavily simply because we cannot do without it.

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November 23rd, 2011, 1:52 pm
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Dave B wrote:
Be careful with the "virtually free", Alan. When Michael Faraday was asked what the practical use of electricity was, by Gladstone, his reply was something like, "I am not sure, but one day you may tax it." Then remember the promises of the 50s that nuclear energy would be so cheap it would not be worth charging for it (along with we would only need to work three days a week)?
Yes, technology provided the answer (although the long term storage problems were played down), but it was then exploited by those who were able to make money from it (again, brushing aside the storage costs, leaving it to others to take care of the mess).

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I think that I can be confident in predicting that even if the energy companies sell fusion energy cheap (whilst still making good profits) the government will work out a way of justifying taxing it heavily simply because we cannot do without it.
Back to the problem of those with the power and money controlling everything. However, there is the possibility that, unlike fission reactors, fusion reactors could be fairly small and safe and possibly one in every town. That could put the power (literally) back in the hands of the people. That would be the greatest benefit to mankind.

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November 23rd, 2011, 2:38 pm
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