Tim Worstall

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Tim Worstall is an Englishman who has failed at many things. Thus his turn to writing, the last refuge of many who could make a living no other way. He is, as an example of his business and financial perspicacity, the head of the international scandium oligopoly: the only commodity which has not risen in price in the past decade.
A large hand flicks an icon of a little red man. Image via shutterstock (Lasse Kristensen)

Adam Smith was right about that invisible hand, you know

Worstall @ the Weekend We have a nice little empirical proof that Adam Smith really was right about us all being guided by that invisible hand. Yeah, I know, you're sooo tired of the free market maniac telling you that governments are all wet and laissez faire is where it should be. Except that's not something Smith ever said nor is it what he meant …
Tim Worstall, 05 Jul 2015

Teaching people to speak English? You just need Chatroulette without the dick pics

Worstall on Wednesday The latest of the X-Prizes is an attempt to increase adult literacy through the power of the mobile phone. Given that our own Prime Minister has been known to think that LOL means “lots of love”, it might not be a bad idea to update digital literacy. However, that's not quite what they mean: they want to take those adults who …
Tim Worstall, 01 Jul 2015
Boutique ISP, anyone?

Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Worstall @ the Weekend Given that I'm a Senior Fellow At the Adam Smith Institute and we pretty much invented – at least in the British political sense – the idea of privatisation, I've responded this week to an interesting request from the commentards as to why in the hell we did this. Especially since some of the best run privatised firms now seem …
Tim Worstall, 28 Jun 2015
Stacks of bitcoin CC2.0 attribution by FD Comite https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/

Hey, Sand Hill Exchange. Shouting 'blockchain!' won't stop the Feds

Worstall on Wednesday Matt Levine tells us the story of the Sand Hill Bitcoin Exchange, another one of those bright ideas that turned out not to be so bright and ended in a $20,000 fine from the SEC. The real underlying point is that it really was a bright idea: one that would improve the economy by making the valuations of large pre-IPO tech …
Tim Worstall, 24 Jun 2015

Why is it that women are consistently paid less than men?

Worstall @ the Weekend There is undoubtedly a gender pay gap in our society. Even a number of them across our various societies. In the US the usual number given is that women make 77 cents on the dollar that men do and here in the UK we've recently had a government shouting that the part time gender pay gap is as much as 37 per cent. This could …
Tim Worstall, 21 Jun 2015
happy_woman_at_desk

Foxconn's going to 'exploit' Indian labour? SCORE! Bye, poverty

Worstall on Wednesday El Reg serves us up the news that Foxconn is looking to India to set up production lines, presumably for the assembly of Apple's products. This is excellent news as it means that now Indian workers will get exploited and become rich, as those Chinese have in recent decades. And yes, it is indeed exploitation and yes they will …
Tim Worstall, 17 Jun 2015
Trainspotting

Why is that idiot Osbo continuing with austerity when we know it doesn't work?

Worstall @ the Weekend That austerity doesn't make the economy grow, is one of those things we all know to be true. And yet we've also got a government insisting that a recession, when there's spare capacity and we'd really rather like the economy to grow, is a great time to be cutting government spending and thus instituting that austerity. This …
Tim Worstall, 14 Jun 2015
Facepalm

MIT bods' digital economy babblings are tosh. C'mon guys, Economics 101

Worstall on Wednesday We've one of those lovely open letters floating around. Where the Great and the Good, the Wise Thinkers, tell us all how we've got to organise the world to accord with their prejudices about how it should be ordered. This particular one, an “Open Letter on the Digital Economy” (versions here and here) is about what we've got to …
Tim Worstall, 10 Jun 2015

So why the hell didn't quantitative easing produce HUGE inflation?

Worstall @ the Weekend There's two simple answers to the question of why quantitative easing (QE) didn't set off some massive burst of inflation (to answer commentard Gordon 10's question posted here). The first being that it did, the second being that some people, fortunately this time the people running the central banks, got their economics right. …
Tim Worstall, 07 Jun 2015

Elon Musk's $4.9 BEELLLION taxpayer windfall revealed

Worstall on Wednesday That Elon Musk is a decamillionaire is true. That he's a great salesman is also true. But to whom is he selling, and what is it that he sells so well? There's a very reasonable argument that what he's actually good at is selling to bureaucrats what bureaucrats want to buy with our money. And while that's obviously a useful …
Tim Worstall, 03 Jun 2015

The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found

Worstall @ the Weekend The scene is an early morning current affairs radio show. Very important people talk to the nation here. John Humphrys (for it is he): Mr. Worstall, why is it that your new report shows that soon all will be dead? Worstall: John, it's 7am. Currently there is food in the fridges of the nation for breakfast. But in two hours time …
Tim Worstall, 31 May 2015
Buzz Lightyear

Why are all the visual special effects studios going bust?

Worstall on Wednesday An interesting read popped up on Motherboard recently: if all and every movie now uses ever more visual effects, then why the heck are all the visual effects (VFX) studios going bust? The answer given was apparently that Avatar didn't win the right Oscars. This is both amusing and wrong. The actual answer is that this is how the …
Tim Worstall, 27 May 2015

NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

Worstall @ the Weekend What with another budget just coming up, to correct the one that chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne kidded everyone with before the election, it might be time to answer the question of whether deficits really matter? For Osborne is most certainly going to continue shouting that they do and, equally certainly, everyone to …
Tim Worstall, 24 May 2015
Flying Toaster screen saver rebuilt in CSS

Well YES, Silicon Valley VCs do think you're a CRETIN

Worstall on Wednesday A couple of weeks back I pointed to some rumours about what the stealth (and hugely VC backed) company 21 Inc was up to, with the idea being, seemingly, to stick a Bitcoin mining chip in your toaster. So, as well as that breakfast comestible you could lose money on your electricity bill by attempting to mine for Bitcoin, …
Tim Worstall, 20 May 2015
Canary Wharf at night

So why the hell do we bail banks out?

Worstall @ the Weekend Much to my joy, I have been asked a question I can actually answer. As opposed to those difficult ones, like does my bum look big in this, do you love me and has your cocaine use ever been more than recreational? That question, coming from commentard John Smith 19, and it is, in essence, well, why do we bail out the banks? One …
Tim Worstall, 17 May 2015

Why Joe Hockey's Oz tax proposals only get five out of 10

Worstall on Wednesday I was fascinated to see El Reg's report on the new proposals to change the Australian tax system, as put forward by Joe Hockey. It's a strange mixture: half is the very sensible plugging of a hole in the tax regime, while the other half shows shocking ignorance of the basis of another part of the international tax system. The …
Tim Worstall, 13 May 2015

The BIG stretch: Software and flexing your firm's size

A mathematician (a Fields Medal winner, so a real one) once asked an economist whether there was anything in economics that was non-obvious and non-trivial. Well, the answer that came back was: "It's all obvious or trivial except Ricardo on comparative advantage." So, once explained, this analogy is both obvious and trivial, …
Tim Worstall, 11 May 2015
By Henrik Ishihara licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Pinning a value on big tech's top names. Not as easy as it looks

Does the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH among friends) have any value when looking at tech companies in the enterprise and data centre world? EMH does not mean markets are the efficient way of doing things. There is no implication at all that healthcare, scientific research or the military should be delivered by market …
Tim Worstall, 11 May 2015

So what would the economic effect of leaving the EU be?

Worstall @ the Weekend Now that the election's over (result unknown as I write) it's possible to perform for a reader request: what would the economic effect of Britain leaving the European Union be? Given that I'm a known 'kipster I didn't want to do this pre-election: I'm here at El Reg despite my 'kipness, not because of it and thus wanted to steer …
Tim Worstall, 10 May 2015
David Cameron

Facebook echo chamber: Or, the British media and the election

Comment Given that the election results are nearly all in it's going to be some few femtoseconds before Guardian writer Polly Toynbee starts claiming that it's the right wing media that woefully misinformed the British public and that's why the forces of all that's good and proper didn't win. Given that that's not actually how the media …
Tim Worstall, 08 May 2015
Stacks of bitcoin CC2.0 attribution by FD Comite https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/

Hey! Want a FREE TOASTER that makes BITCOIN? What? You DO?

Worstall on Wednesday The Official Greatest Business Plan Of All Time was back at the time of the South Sea Bubble of the Georgian Age. A promoter made a stock offering for “A company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage but no one to know what it is.” What made it the officially greatest ever was that this was, obviously and clearly, a …
Tim Worstall, 06 May 2015
The Queen and Prince Philip visit Bletchley Park

Why OH WHY is economics so bleedin' awful, then?

Worstall @ the Weekend As Her Majesty the Queen remarked a few years back, why was it that no economist actually saw the crash coming? There's actually two answers to that. First, the cute one: that sort of violent change cannot be predicted. If it could be predicted then prices would move before it happened, meaning that it would have already …
Tim Worstall, 03 May 2015
Landfill. Pic: Bill McChesney

Free markets aren't rubbish – in fact, they solve our rubbish woes

Worstall on Wednesday The UN noted last week that there's rather a lot of computing and other electrical and electronic waste around. Meeellions upon millions of tonnes, in fact. As they say, it might be a good idea to think about recycling some of this crud. However, if we're going to do that then we need to get the economics of this right: and I've …
Tim Worstall, 29 Apr 2015
Steve Jobs memorial in Russia

Apple BIGGER than the U.S. ECONOMY? Or Australia? Or ... Luxembourg?

Analysis Apple's results are out - and it's time for the traditional game of trying to work out how much richer than which country the company is. With sales at $58 billion for the quarter, profits of $13.7 billion and depending upon how absurd we want to make our method of measurement this makes it the same as the US economy, the size …
Tim Worstall, 28 Apr 2015
Hungry goat licks lips. Pic: David Goehring

So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?

Worstall @ the Weekend To break with tradition: this week let's see if we can propose something sensible rather than doing our usual liverish snarling at whatever it is that grips my goat this week. So, let's see if we can work out how we should actually be taxing capital and the returns to it. This, of course, involves the taxation of corporations as …
Tim Worstall, 26 Apr 2015
Hungry goat licks lips. Pic: David Goehring

What is the REAL value of your precious, precious data?

Data Pair – Part 2 Multitudes are getting very excited about what all of this data flowing around the system is worth. If we can know lots and lots about lots and lots of things then obviously that's really valuable, yes? And to some extent this is even true. We're not just in a bubble here – the more we can do with data these days, the more that …
Tim Worstall, 22 Apr 2015
Stock market. Pic: Alberto Carrasco Casado

London man arrested over $40 MILLION HFT flash crash allegations

Comment As I've mentioned around here I'm a bit of an aficionado of scams and scammettes: not because I partake in them but because the inventiveness of the human mind in hoovering up cash never ceases to amuse me. This morning we've a classic of the genre, as one bloke working out of his mother's basement* in Hounslow is alleged to …
Tim Worstall, 22 Apr 2015
Google UK reception. Pic: Bob Dormon

Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Worstall on Wednesday So, the EU Commission is going to call Google in and give it a really hard talking to for offering what Google's users rather like to have. And if they decide that, well, Google has been giving the consumers what the consumers desire, good and hard, then they're going to fine the Chocolate Factory up to 10 per cent of global …
Tim Worstall, 22 Apr 2015

So why exactly does almost ALL tech live in Silicon Valley?

Worstall @ the Weekend It was Ben Bernanke who pointed out that economics isn't really all that much good at predicting the next recession (and the long-standing joke is that economists have predicted 11 out of the past three), but it is pretty good at working out why the world is the way it is. Which brings us to the cutting edge of modern economic …
Tim Worstall, 19 Apr 2015

In some ways, dating apps are the anti-internet

Worstall on Wednesday Given the massive, but not startling*, success of dating apps like Grindr and Tinder it might sound, well, it will sound, a little odd to state that in one way at least they're like the anti-internet. For what that internet does is abolish geography as a binding limit on who one can socialise with. From the earliest BBS through …
Tim Worstall, 15 Apr 2015

The Walton kids are ABSURDLY wealthy – and you're benefitting

Worstall @ the Weekend One of the great statistics being bandied about in the great inequality debate is that the Walton family have more wealth between the four siblings than the bottom 40 per cent of Americans do in total. Apparently this is something most shocking – and, of course, something must be done. I would argue that there's nothing very …
Tim Worstall, 12 Apr 2015
grab_that_cash

Instead of public sector non-jobbery, Martha, how about creating REAL entrepreneurs?

Worstall on Wednesday One of the general complaints about the British economy and its capitalism is that we don't seem to aim large. We are good at coming up with new ideas, we've even people who know how to make ideas work. Yet we very rarely seem to build up new entreprenurial companies that then go global. Why hasn't Britain (or even Europe?) …
Tim Worstall, 08 Apr 2015

To defend offshore finance bods looting developing countries of their tax cash

Worstall @ the Weekend I have been set a task by Reg Commentard Salamander: to critique or defend the offshore finance system. This should be easy enough as I'm clearly a pig dog running lackey of the plutocrats and so the answer is just yes. Whatever they pay me to say. Sadly, there are no plutocratic cheques flying around, just those from the …
Tim Worstall, 05 Apr 2015
David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah

Pumping billions into data centres won't guarantee you an empire

It's not a surprise for us, in economics, to find that we've got two (or more) different processes going on, each working in opposite directions. The final result will come from the interaction of the two and we're never really sure which is going to win out. Sometimes, in a certain society, one will beat the other, and at some …
Tim Worstall, 01 Apr 2015
Nuke blast

Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

Worstall on Wednesday There's a rather dry but absolutely fascinating document out from the US Department of Energy, which you can download in all its couple of hundred page glory here [PDF]. It's about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in New Mexico. This is where the Yanks send off all those barrels of radioactive nasties to sit …
Tim Worstall, 01 Apr 2015
Worstall Merkur 5 650p

Building a better society from the Czechs' version of Meccano

Worstall @ the Weekend To move a little off the normal sort of subject around here, something from an exhibition just around the corner here in Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic. The lads I hang out with here are 40ish professionals and they were terribly excited about an exhibition being put on of “Merkur”. They had to explain it to me a couple of …
Tim Worstall, 29 Mar 2015
Person throwing rock at tank

Big Data will shield the Apple Watch from Android onslaught

It's possible that the arrival of a firm like Apple into wearables with its watch validates the space, just as Apple validated smart phones eight years ago. Sure, smartphones existed before, but no-one thought they were much cop. Since then, everyone up to and including John the Baptist has plunged into the market and there's …
Tim Worstall, 27 Mar 2015
ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) is one of six detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – image by Maximilien Brice CERN/Science photo library

What is HPC actually good for? Just you wait and see

High Performance Computing (HPC) is all terribly exciting. We get announcements about this supercluster or that beating the number of teraflops of that other one (or, more likely these days, petaflops). Or maybe it's data throughput or storage size or even transfer rates. And, perhaps the most interesting way of thinking about …
Tim Worstall, 27 Mar 2015
My bowls of stew and rice

A Quid A Day for NOSH? Luxury!

WiF It's that time of year as El Reg limbers up for the Quid A Day Nosh campaign and I'm here to point out that in context this is actually a pretty easy challenge. It must be, in technical terms, if one billion mostly illiterate peasants manage it all year round every year. Which is rather the point of the challenge in fact, to …
Tim Worstall, 26 Mar 2015
Ancient cave frieze. Pic: Leon Yaakov

No, really, the $17,000 Apple Watch IS all about getting your leg over

Worstall on Wednesday There was a certain amount of consumer resistance to my assertion that the Apple Christometer's $17,000 worth of bling was all about sex. But I'm afraid that this really is so. Bling is about getting sex: and it's the women who decide that it is as well. We have a less than reputable source for this: …conspicuous consumption …
Tim Worstall, 25 Mar 2015
Guardian 2.0

Guardian: 'Oil reserves will soon be worth NOTHING!' (A bit like their stock tips, really)

Worstall @ the Weekend It's not going to come as all that much of a surprise that those who worry excessively about climate change aren't really all that up to speed with economics as a subject in general. But it should produce a little amazement (or a chortle or two perhaps) when said usual suspects launch a new campaign that deliberately ignores a …
Tim Worstall, 22 Mar 2015
Android icon desktop toys

$30 Landfill Android mobes are proof that capitalism ROCKS

Worstall on Wednesday I've mentioned around here before that the shipping container has been one of the most revolutionary technologies of our times. Similarly, I've said that the mobile phone has had a vast effect on human wealth. The TL;DR version of mobes is that 10 per cent of the population with a mobile increases GDP by 0.5 per cent each and …
Tim Worstall, 18 Mar 2015
Apple Watch lineup

Improved Apple Watches won't get more expensive? Hmmm

Worstall on Monday It really is true, economists are a bit weird, and this rubs off on those interested in the subject. Most people when confronted with the Christometer seem to think about the bling value. Or, when presented with the iPhone itself, those same people instead think about how great it is to do email while sitting on the lavvy. To me …
Tim Worstall, 16 Mar 2015

$17,000 Apple Watch: Pointless bling, right? HA! You're WRONG

Comment What's the point of Apple's $17,000 Christometer then? Apart from, you know, vulgar money? There's been a certain amount of quiet coughing and choking among the fanbois over the new Apple Watch Edition's Christometer's tag of $17,000 at the top end. That's a whole heap of Benjamins for a wrist computer, most especially as the …
Tim Worstall, 12 Mar 2015
Pac-Man Google game (taken from Google home page on anniversary of Pac-Man )

The voters hate Google. Heeeeyyyy... how about a 'Google Tax'?

Worstall on Wednesday As the tech news outlet of record has told us, UK chancellor George Osborne is preparing to bring in the “Google Tax”. Properly known as the Diverted Profits Tax, it is supposed to be a way of scraping tax revenue off those profits that the tech giants are diverting out of what should be righteously paid to HM Treasury and …
Tim Worstall, 11 Mar 2015

The secret of Warren Buffett's success at Berkshire Hathaway

Worstall @ the Weekend We've just had the 50th anniversary of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger taking over Berkshire Hathaway and that means we've also just had their 50th letter to shareholders. And this is the point where we try to puzzle over just how two guys managed to make so many hundreds of billions (if we include their own holdings and those …
Tim Worstall, 08 Mar 2015

Mummy, what's the point of Evgeny Morozov's tedious columns?

Worstall on Wednesday I often find myself mystified by Evgeny Morozov and his writings. I find it terribly difficult to work out what he's actually for, or what worldview it is that he thinks he's propagating. Unless, of course, it's just to piss off the libertarians or perhaps to show us how clever a Morozov can be in uncovering the feet of clay of …
Tim Worstall, 04 Mar 2015
Raphael's School of Athens

C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts

Worstall @ the Weekend As I write we've just got the latest news that Greece has been saved from default, bankruptcy, being thrown out of the euro and everything is going to be lovely for The Men Without Ties. Which is, of course, lovely, but there really wasn't quite as much to worry about as people seemed to think. It could, obviously, all have gone …
Tim Worstall, 01 Mar 2015
Funnel of cash. Credit: via SXC – http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Leonardini

Bloody TECH GIANTS... all they do is WASTE investors' MONEY

Worstall on Wednesday The idea that the tech giants are simply going to waste the pots of cash with which they have been entrusted is certainly counter-intuitive, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if they did. For that's pretty much the fate of all investment: to be wasted. It's an odd claim, because there do appear to be successful examples of …
Tim Worstall, 25 Feb 2015

Didn't the Left once want the WORKERS to get all the dosh?

Worstall @ the Weekend I'm old enough to remember when the British left really was dominated by Marxist thinking, however thinly or thickly that was covered by a layer of Fabianism or some other "socialism lite". I haven't forgotten that the old Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution, for example, insists that workers "by hand or brain" really …
Tim Worstall, 22 Feb 2015