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.
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
© Copyright Anthony O'Neil and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

Worstall on Wednesday I find myself watching current politics completely open-mouthed in amazement. The number of what are, if we are to be unkind about it, simply outright lies that have become common truths astonishes me. I refer, of course, to the latest revelations of the tax affairs of the nation. The latest round is those revelations from HSBC' …
Tim Worstall, 18 Feb 2015
Photo of Kermit the Frog at NASA

It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Worstall @ the Weekend Following on from last week's approbation of one Green Party policy, it is possibly time for me to get off my chest an issue over the policy general of said greenery luvvies that really, really, bugs me. Specifically, it is this idea that we should rely upon markets less and do more things "for ourselves". As I'll explain, from …
Tim Worstall, 15 Feb 2015

Skin colour's irrelevant. Just hire competent folk on their merits, FFS

Worstall on Wednesday I note from a technical publication of repute that Microsoft has announced that marriage equality is a fundamental and core value for the company itself. To which, OK, great, and why not? As I pointed out previously, “taste” discrimination against people because of anything other than their working skills is a costly endeavour …
Tim Worstall, 11 Feb 2015

Basic minimum income is a BRILLIANT idea. Small problem: it doesn't work as planned

Worstall @ the Weekend Given that we've a general election coming up, people are starting to actually pay attention to what the various politicians are saying. Which is, of course, interesting, for it's often the first time that said politicos are asked whether their sums add up. So it was when Natalie Bennett of the Green Party was “questioned” - …
Tim Worstall, 08 Feb 2015
Making conversation Google Glass style

Google gets my data, I get search and email and that. Help help, I'm being REPRESSED!

Worstall on Wednesday When munching that third slice of toast and marmalade I allow myself on a Sunday morning (diet is so important to us middle-aged types) I find that John Naughton's piece on personal data leads me to spluttering Seville's finest all over the kittens as they angle for the remains of the fry-up. He opens with this phrase: “ …
Tim Worstall, 04 Feb 2015

Chipotle insider trading: Disproving the efficient markets hypothesis

Worstall @ the Weekend We had a distressing little incident here recently among the commentards over the meaning of the efficient markets hypothesis. So I'll explain what it is, using a current little story to prove that one version of it must be wrong as well. That little efficient markets hypothesis (EMH) incident was an insider trading case …
Tim Worstall, 01 Feb 2015

Does Big Tech hire white boys ahead of more skilled black people and/or women?

Worstall on Weds (on Thurs) I've been watching with some amusement a little story about Pinterest noting that it's got a user base that leans heavily female. It's doing the rounds as the company thinks, well, it would be nice to be stuffing men full of ads as well (when it actually starts slinging ads) so, umm, why don't we go out and try and find some …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jan 2015

Uber isn't limited by the taxi market: It's limited by the Electronic Thumb market

Worstall @ the Weekend We've had a look before at that valuation of Uber at $40k bar** and mulled over whether it makes any sense or not. And there's a little snippet of news out that shows that there might be more substance to it than most of us tend to think there is. It could, of course it could, still be just an absurdly over-hyped product of …
Tim Worstall, 25 Jan 2015
The final page of that Facebook storyboard

Facebook worth more than Portugal? Hell, it's worth a LOT more than THAT

Worstall on Wednesday As an esteemed editor said, one not a million miles away from here, the fact that Facebook has commissioned a report showing what vast amounts of wonderful, beneficial economic activity it is responsible for indicates that the company in fact contributes nothing. Stands to reason, that does. And even once one allows for a …
Tim Worstall, 21 Jan 2015
Clapping children

'It's NOT FAIR!' yell RICH KIDS ... and that's a GOOD THING

Worstall @ the Weekend Having the Daily Mail as a starting point to the edges of human knowledge doesn't sound all that likely, I know, not unless we're talking about approaching human knowledge from the outside of a story about "foreign" pomegranates causing cancers and damaging house prices. But that is how this little journey started, with this …
Tim Worstall, 18 Jan 2015
A rusty petrol pump at an abandoned gas station. Pic by Silvia B. Jakiello via shutterstock

What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

Worstall on Wednesday Economics, of course, is simply a bunch of mumbo-jumbo – as evidenced by its failure to answer the Queen's question regarding the crash: "Why did nobody see it coming?" Theory of Finance scribe and Nobel laureate Eugene Fama's answer – that economic theory insists it is impossible to predict such things – tends not to convince …
Tim Worstall, 14 Jan 2015