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.

We can't all live by taking in each others' washing

Worstall @ the Weekend There's an old jokule, vaguely traced back to Mark Twain, that the people of the Isles of Scilly used to eke out a living by taking in each others' washing. Yes, another economic thigh slapper: but the really weird thing is that for all of us seven billion humans in aggregate, we do really do that. This is something that makes …
Tim Worstall, 25 Oct 2015
Data scientist image via Shutterstock

R&D money for science – from your taxes?

Worstall on Wednesday The Observer treats us to another one of those give us more money pieces. This time it's a call from Athene Donald, a professor of experimental physics at Cambridge, telling us all how neither the government nor private companies spend enough money on research and development. Therefore, of course, we must all be taxed so that …
Tim Worstall, 21 Oct 2015
Old beardy man thinking. Pic: Henadz via Flickr

So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

Worstall @ the Weekend So here's a fun little game for a Sunday morning: what was, or is, the third great invention of all time? I have a candidate for it and it's very much to do with what youse guys do all day. But I'm not entirely sure that it is the proper winner of third place: certainly, most economists wouldn't rate it there at all. Of course …
Tim Worstall, 18 Oct 2015
Don Draper is Sad

Dry those eyes, ad blockers are unlikely to kill the internet

There's worry out there that the spread of ad blockers will kill off the internet. Or at least, the idea that people are paid to create stuff for it but that people aren't charged to look at it. You know, like, umm, El Reg. This has all come up as Apple has allowed the technology in iOS9, and people started to offer the …
Tim Worstall, 14 Oct 2015
Househusband: Man in apron wields broom. Image via Shutterstock

OH GROSS! The real problem with GDP

Worstall @ the Weekend Last week, when I wrote a column about the nature of cold hard cash from a rabid free marketeer point of view, commenter Chris Miller asked about the intricacies of GDP: is it actually a bad measure of how well-off we all are or is it used just because it's simple to calculate? Basically, the answer is “yes”. With a few minor …
Tim Worstall, 11 Oct 2015
Uber launch party by https://www.flickr.com/photos/5chw4r7z/ CC2.0 sharelalike attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Join Uber in a tale of rent seeking and employment law

Worstall on Wednesday Dabbsy was chuntering on about Uber and TfL finally deigning to take note of the regulations under which they should offer services, and it reminded me that we've got three lovely pieces of economics wrapped up in this whole sharing economy story. The first is one well known to youse guys in the tech industry: network effects …
Tim Worstall, 07 Oct 2015
Apple logo on glass fronted building. Licensed under cc0 / editorial use only

'Apple's now as big as ALL of America's GDP!' Oh do shut UP, you fools

Worstall on Wednesday Apple's results are out and it's time for the traditional game of trying to work out which nation state the company is richer than. With sales at $58bn for the quarter, and profits of $13.7bn – and depending upon how absurd we want to make our method of measurement – this makes it the same as the US economy, the size of Ireland …
Tim Worstall, 07 Oct 2015
Trading Places

What is money? A rabid free marketeer puts his foot in lots of notes

Worstall @ the Weekend Several of you have asked for the skinny on what money actually is. So, here's the full fat Worstall take on cold, hard cash. Answer: It's a way of keeping score. Who has the right to call upon the resources of others in that same society? And that, other than a couple of footnotes which we'll deal with overleaf, is pretty …
Tim Worstall, 04 Oct 2015

It's the white heat of the tech revolution, again!

Worstall on Wednesday It's more normally Mr Orlowski around here shouting that Mariana Mazzucato is a poopyhead, but given that she's just been appointed to Corbyn's economic advisory team, perhaps it's time to add to the chorus? For Mazzucato is, as we all know, the economics professor who insists that actually government really invented the …
Tim Worstall, 30 Sep 2015
Oliver Twist

Dear do-gooders, you can't get rid of child labour just by banning it

Worstall @ the Weekend I think we'd all agree that we'd like the world to be a better place. And I think most of us would, if it didn't take too much effort, support attempts to make it such a better place. There's even some more energetic than I who go out there and do in fact make it a better place: and well done them. However, we do need to, …
Tim Worstall, 27 Sep 2015
Masai in red toga talks on his cell phone from the grasslands of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in North Kenya, Africa

Mobile phones are the greatest poverty-reducing tech EVER

Worstall on Wednesday I have mentioned before around here that the mobile phone seems to be, in terms of reducing poverty, the finest invention humanity has ever come up with. Details of exactly how it does so are here, talking about sardine fishermen off Kerala, and my discussion of the overall economic effect is here, just to revisit that overall …
Tim Worstall, 23 Sep 2015

You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

Worstall @ the Weekend Phillip from London writes in to note that I'm really not a fan of the minimum wage. So, given that we don't want the poor starving in the streets, or that we might actually think there is some minimum income that a rich country should provide just because, what's the recommended Worstall method of achieving this? To which the …
Tim Worstall, 20 Sep 2015

Robots, schmobots. The Rise of the Machines won't leave humanity on the dole

Worstall on Wednesday El Reg tells us that we journos are some of the least likely to have to worry about our jobs being eaten by the robots. Phew, gosh and that's lucky, eh? Although I'm not really all that certain about this: a Worstall Article Generator, along the lines of the PoMo one, should be easy enough to generate. Retell story, snark, …
Tim Worstall, 16 Sep 2015
De Vaartkapoen. Pic: Bianca Bueno

As we all know, snark always comes before a fall. Mea culpa

Worstall @ the Weekend So, to set the scene: a couple of weeks ago, when writing in another place, I commented upon a piece in the New York Times. It seems that researchers have shown that we use a certain part of our brain when thinking about valuations of things which we normally think about the valuations of; things that we value and purchase in …
Tim Worstall, 13 Sep 2015
Amazon Kindle Touch e-book reader

Well, what d'you know: Raising e-book prices doesn't raise sales

Worstall on Wednesday One of the things those within economics think that the subject gets generally correct is microeonomics, which itself is generally a discussion of the price system. There are those who insist that this is all well, true, insisting that since we're not all rational agents, don't have perfect knowledge, then that standard …
Tim Worstall, 09 Sep 2015
A garden gnome depicted stretched out across picnic table... with a pipe in one hand while the other props him up. Has a confrontational look in his eye...

So Quantitative Easing in the eurozone is working, then?

Worstall @ the Weekend Much as some of us love international biz editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard over in The Torygraph, it is true that he can occasionally get a little bit excited about whatever it is that he's spotted. His latest revelation about how eurozone money supply is growing is a case in point. Evans-Pritchard is looking at this information …
Tim Worstall, 06 Sep 2015
"Typical E-scrapping dismantling operation. 100,000 such migrant workers labor in Guiyu breaking down imported computers in hundreds of small operations like this one in a four village area surrounding the Lianjiang River."

Au oh, there's gold in them thar server farms, so lead the way

All these servers that we pack into the data centres have a limited life span, they're made of metal, metals even, and scrap metal has a value. So, what's the stuff that's in there and how much is it worth? As metal that is, once it's done its job of pumping the electrons around? Not a lot when you consider what they cost to …
Tim Worstall, 03 Sep 2015
The northern end of the huge water-filled pit, showing the coal seams in the rock at Broken Cross Muir opencast coal mine

West's only rare earth mine closes. Yet Chinese monopoly fears are baseless

Worstall on Wednesday As El Reg's dodgy metals dealer it's incumbent upon me to tell you all that Molycorp has just closed Mountain Pass, the western hemisphere's only rare earth mine. This will, of course, mean disaster because we've suddenly no source of those lovely minerals with which to build all sorts of exciting gadgetry. Prepare for a …
Tim Worstall, 02 Sep 2015
Human cannonball

So, was it really the Commies that caused the early 20th Century inequality collapse?

Worstall @ the Weekend What with both the Corbynistas and Sandersistas on their various sides of the pond bringing back into the political mainstream the somewhat discredited ideas of state directed economies and socialism lite, perhaps it's time to have a look at one of the arguments used to bolster those ideas. Which is that post World War Two …
Tim Worstall, 30 Aug 2015
Babel Fish

Perhaps the AIpocalypse ISN'T imminent – if Google Translate is anything to go by, that is

Worstall on Wednesday There's been quite the little chortle in this part of Central Europe this week regarding the actions of a tourist board in Moravia. To set the scene, Moravians are thought of as the slightly slower country brothers of the Bohemians, (or “true Czechs” ... one local bar has “We have Moravian and Czech wine” in the window) in …
Tim Worstall, 26 Aug 2015

The good burghers of Palo Alto are entirely insane

Worstall @ the Weekend El Reg treated us last weekend to the tale of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, where the owner has a small ethical dilemma to deal with. The 4.5 acre site is apparently worth $55 million and the city council would like to buy it, but they've only got $39 million. The dilemma is that if he sells to the city council …
Tim Worstall, 23 Aug 2015

Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

Worstall on Wednesday I get the point of driverless cars: once they actually work they're going to be great for everyone except the recreational driver, and it wouldn't be a surprise to find the technology being made mandatory for use on some of the public road network some decades down the line. But what I've not been able to grasp is why are all …
Tim Worstall, 19 Aug 2015

Hey, folks. Meet the economics 'genius' behind Jeremy Corbyn

Worstall @ the Weekend I recently read this piece in The Times. It tells the world a bit about Richard Murphy, the, uh, “economist” behind many of the ideas which make up Jeremy Corbyn's platform about money 'n' stuff. It piqued my interest as I've been waging a near decade-long battle against the ideas (and at times, the person) of Richard Murphy. …
Tim Worstall, 16 Aug 2015

Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines

Worstall on Wednesday One of the things we greybeards have a seriously difficult time getting over to the youngsters is quite how much life sucked back in the old days. It's easy enough to look at the bald economic statistics and see that incomes haven't moved up much (for the UK) or even at all (for the US) in recent decades. Yet when anyone who …
Tim Worstall, 12 Aug 2015
Road closed

Perhaps middle-aged blokes SHOULDN'T try 34-hour-long road trips

Worstall @ the Weekend As the result of a so far successful, but probably not worth it, piece of tax avoidance I can tell you three things. First, something that should be blindingly obvious: middle-aged men can't do long road trips with quite the ease that their younger selves could. The second is not so much to tell you but ask you: what's the …
Tim Worstall, 09 Aug 2015