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.

Tesla's TOP SECRET gigafactories: Lithium to power world's vehicles? Let's do the sums

Worstall on Wednesday As we all know, Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk – with that forward-thinking "vision" the hyperloop hoper is known for – is touting around plans for a “gigafactory”. The top-secret factory – for it seems there will only be one to begin with – will build lithium battery packs for Musk's own electro-vehicle firm, Tesla …
Tim Worstall, 28 May 2014
The northern end of the huge water-filled pit, showing the coal seams in the rock at Broken Cross Muir opencast coal mine

You know all those resources we're about to run out of? No, we aren't

Comment Among the more surprising things that the BBC revealed to us last week was that the UK was going to run out of coal within the next five years. Given that the island is pretty much built on a bed of coal, this is something of a puzzler. The northern end of the huge water-filled pit, showing the coal seams in the rock at Broken …
Tim Worstall, 22 May 2014

Be the next tech hotshot – by staying the hell away from regulators

Column Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things – that's Adam Smith, by the way. I'm often left rather scratching my head as I read the latest …
Tim Worstall, 15 May 2014
The wing begins to emerge from the nylon powder

Suffering from IPO interruptus? Perhaps your Box is full of the same soap as the others

You don't have to have a monopoly to build a successful company, but it sure helps. And if you've not got a monopoly then you do need something, anything, to differentiate your product so that there's actually some compelling reason why customers might actually use your services and pay you a margin. There'd better be something …
Tim Worstall, 09 May 2014
Apple stock price

EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?

Hurrah! The European Union has decided to save us from the perils of automatic trading! Also known as High Frequency Trading (HFT) or algo trading, this is simply the practice of writing a piece of code to do the buying and selling faster than a human being can possibly do it. We've talked about the basics of it here before at …
Tim Worstall, 23 Apr 2014
Stock ticker board

No, we're not in an IT 'stockapoclyse' – boom (and bust) is exactly what tech world needs

Is this the stockapoclyse, as tech shares crater into the ground and no more money gets invested into the sector? Or is that 20 per cent fall in the largest internet-based companies – Netflix, Flicker and Twitter – that $275bn drop in collective value over the last month, just an overdue correction to recent price run ups? Well …
Tim Worstall, 09 Apr 2014

Hey, Michael Lewis: Stop DEMONISING Wall Street’s SUPERHUMAN high-speed trading

Yesterday's energetic debate on CNBC between BATS Global Markets president William O'Brien and Flash Boys author Michael Lewis and IEX's Brad Katsuyama put the cat among the pigeons over high-frequency trading. It was all provoked by Moneyball writer Lewis' new book, Flash Boys, which, among other things, makes the claim that …
Tim Worstall, 02 Apr 2014
Gordo: EPIC FAIL

Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

As I become ever more viciously right wing with age, I become ever more disappointed with Oxfam. It's not just because I have left behind the views of Genghis and am galloping up close behind Attila. It's rather that the organisation itself has changed from being that well-meaning, thoroughly humanitarian organisation that doled …
Tim Worstall, 20 Mar 2014

SMELT YOU LATER: Apple announces conflict-free status

Comment Apple has announced that it is now at least partially conflict-mineral-free after confirming that its suppliers use only ethically sourced tantalum. This follows hot on the heels of Intel announcing that they've achieved the same feat. While it's not a perfect result, it is an advance in civilisation and doing the right thing. …
Tim Worstall, 18 Feb 2014

Yes, Google can afford to lose $9bn in Motorola sale. But did it really?

Comment So just how much has Google lost on buying and selling Motorola Mobility? $9bn - as The Telegraph seems to think? $7bn as simple arithmetic would seem to indicate? Or how about a very decent indeed profit as the vagaries of tax law might indicate - with that tasty patent portfolio thrown in for free? Let's start with a number …
Tim Worstall, 30 Jan 2014
Communist hammer and sickle

Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

Opinion We should have more Marxist analysis of the tech business. So here is some, looking at the manner in which the major firms of Silicon Valley are being accused of perpetrating monopoly capitalism upon the rest of us. The full story in all its tedious detail is over at Pando Daily*, but the basic allegation (and yes, it is all …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jan 2014
tantalum_capacitor

Has Intel side-stepped NGOs on conflict minerals in its chips?

Analysis Intel has just announced that it is the proud producer of the world's first conflict-free processors. What they actually mean is that they are making their processors without the use of “conflict minerals”, which is a handy term for materials that come from the dodgy bastards who enslave people in Eastern Congo. This is a jolly …
Tim Worstall, 07 Jan 2014

How to kill trolls and influence Apple people: A patent solution

Having decided that the patent problem is an attempt to solve a public goods problem, as we did in part 1, let's have a look at the specific ways that we put our oar into those perfect and competitive free markets. It's worth just noting that patents and copyright are not, absolutely not, the product of some fevered free market …
Tim Worstall, 06 Jan 2014
Asteroid mining

MINING in SPAAAACE! Asteroid-scoopers? Nah - consumers will be the real winners

Given the venal nature of what passes for a heart beating in this chest of mine, what really interests me is who is going to make all the moolah from this rushing off into space and mining 'n' stuff. But this isn't a question that appears to have a simple answer, for there are five groups here and each will have a problem with …
Tim Worstall, 04 Dec 2013

How much should an ethical phone cost? An extra penny? Or $4bn

As the Dodd Frank regulations about conflict minerals approach the date at which people actually have to do something about them, it's worth seeing if they're really the monstrously ghastly clusterfuck I've been predicting they will be. Much to my surprise they're not: they're worse. Previous El Reg near-annual installments of …
Tim Worstall, 25 Nov 2013
apple with ladybird

Patent law? It's all about Apples, Newton and iPads

Part 1 of 2 As regular readers will know, I'm about as froth-mouthed free market as it is possible to get without descending into Randian lunacy. Yet even I support government interventions into the economy at times: it's only the times and methods used that are to be argued about. A case in point is the existence of the patent system. I'm …
Tim Worstall, 19 Nov 2013
Hitachi glass storage

Secrets of Apple's mysterious Arizona sapphire factory: Our expert whispers all

As already noted here at El Reg, Apple is spending some of its vast cash pile on setting up a sapphire production plant in Arizona. It has not been silly enough to try and manage the plant itself – that will be the responsibility of partner mineral crystal firm GT Advanced Technologies – but it is providing a vast pre-order for …
Tim Worstall, 05 Nov 2013

Why a Robin Hood tax on filthy rich City types is the very LAST thing needed

Analysis The lovely thing about this year's Nobel Prize in Economics is that it entirely borks the case for a Robin Hood Tax - a levy on the financial sector's transactions, in other words. Not that the judging panel's decision will stop efforts to implement the tax; everyone's moved beyond intellectual arguments to instead howl in the …
Tim Worstall, 15 Oct 2013

Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

Comment So we're all back from our hols, noses down to the grindstone for the run into Crimble: time for some idle speculation on the future of our energy production systems. Or if we're to be purist about it, our energy production/transformation systems. We will, thankfully, leave entirely aside the complete dog's dinner that our …
Tim Worstall, 27 Sep 2013

Want FREE BEER for the rest of your life?

We'd all like to save money on beer: we journos perhaps more than most as we are a notoriously thirsty bunch and expense accounts just aren't what they were in the old days. The most obvious method of doing so, rising up and slaughtering those who tax and water the workers' beer, isn't really viable. So, as so often in this …
Tim Worstall, 23 Sep 2013
Asimo

I, for one, welcome our robotic communist jobless future

Comment Various of the concerned intelligensia seem to be worried at present that the computers and the robots are going to come and take all our jobs. None of us will have anything to do, we'll starve and the capitalists who own the robots will end up with everything. Often, the solution offered is that we should therefore tax capital …
Tim Worstall, 19 Sep 2013
grab_that_cash

Tax dodging? It's harder to do - and rarer - than you think

Video So you'd like to know how to avoid tax. After all, everyone else seems to be doing it, so why end up as the Muggins who has to pay while everyone else mugs the Treasury? The simplest and most obvious method of not paying taxes is simply to avoid doing anything. If you're not taking part in economic activity then no one will be …
Tim Worstall, 07 Aug 2013
Apple's solar array in Maiden, North Carolina

Water, sunshine or pig s***: How will YOU power your data centre?

So you've decided to clean up in Big Data. You're going to have the server farms of all server farms, run the cloud for the world's megacorporations and of course there's this bloke in Silicon Roundabout willing to give you the money. What's your first decision then? It should be to go and steal an idea from another industry …
Tim Worstall, 17 Jul 2013
Zenergy Prototype House exterior. Credit: REAS

IT mercenaries and buy-to-let landlords are my HEROES - here's why

Comment High rates of home ownership increase the unemployment rate, says a new study. This doesn't, at first, sound very sensible; we'd probably think that anyone with a house is working so damned hard to pay the mortgage that they'd have no time to be unemployed. However, it is actually true that there is a correlation between the two …
Tim Worstall, 19 Jun 2013
Cash changing hands

What do you mean WHY is Sony PS4 so pricey in Oz?

Opinion You'd think that Guardianistas would know something about capitalism: they are so critical of it after all. But no, in the G's new Oz site we find the same gormless no-cluebat ignorance that we get in our own dear and beloved home version of the paper. To quote the Down Under edition: Why is the PS4 so expensive in Australia …
Tim Worstall, 13 Jun 2013

Desperate Venezuelans wiped clean of bog roll

Where in the world would you need a smartphone app to be able to buy toilet paper? Why in the world would you need such high tech in order to be able to manage something so fundamental as bog roll? You don't have to be quite such a froth-mouthed free marketeer as I am to think that perhaps this is a result of government fucking …
Tim Worstall, 13 Jun 2013
Funnel of cash. Credit: via SXC – http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Leonardini

Tech giants' offshore cash-stashing is only ever a delaying tactic

Comment Do companies have a duty to their shareholders to dodge as much tax as possible? Are Google, Apple and Facebook simply following the law as they ought to by shovelling everything through Ireland and Bermuda? Unsurprisingly, it depends on which law you think they're supposed to follow, for the law does, in fact, vary across …
Tim Worstall, 11 Jun 2013
Bond on train Patrice Skyfall

Mobile tech destroys the case for the HS2 £multi-beellion train set

Comment Finally people seem to be waking up to the dog's breakfast which is the economic case for the proposed High Speed Two London-Birmingham rail link. You know, this lovely train set that the politicians want to plonk down in the middle of England. I've never quite been sure why it is that politicians love such train sets: most of …
Tim Worstall, 16 May 2013
Parts for the Liberator 3D printed pistol

You want to put 3D gun designs on the web? You'll need a 2D printer

Comment Much fun has been had over the Liberator, the 3D printed plastic gun. Our editor - a man who knows about such things - here at El Reg has pronounced it a piece of crap. Innumerable people have declared that it's either the end of civilisation as we know it or proof perfect that the Commie statists will never win. My own …
Tim Worstall, 14 May 2013
Adobe's Creative Cloud replaces Creative Suite

Adobe price hike: Your money or your files, frappuccino sippers

Analysis So, Adobe: can it justify shifting its Creative Suite to a contentious new licensing model? Some say it is making life more difficult and expensive for those users who'd prefer to simply purchase the software outright, while others say it's just a decent business trying to do right by everybody. I refer, of course, to the …
Tim Worstall, 13 May 2013
Auch stained glass window part

Why next iPhone screen could be made of SAPPHIRE - and a steal...

Man-made sapphire could replace Gorilla Glass as the material of choice for scratch-and-crack-resistant mobile phone screens in the near future, according to a recent speculative piece from MIT Technology Review. According to the research university's mag: Manufactured sapphire — a material that’s used as transparent armor on …
Tim Worstall, 02 May 2013

Bitcoins: A GIANT BUBBLE? Maybe, but currency could still be worthwhile

The Bitcoin economy is a bubble and it'll all end in tears. Bitcoin is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will change the world forever. What might surprise some of you is that there's no contradiction between these two statements. Whether the internet currency is in a bubble or not, and whether that bubble bursts and …
Tim Worstall, 15 Apr 2013
The Playmobil bank set, complete with armed robber

Gov report: Actually, evil City traders DIDN'T cause the banking crash

So we've now got the official report on the glorious cock-up that was Halifax Bank of Scotland. There will of course be cries that lessons must be learned, such things must never be allowed to happen again and that the guilty must be punished, as is traditional in such post mortems. But the important thing is that the right …
Tim Worstall, 05 Apr 2013
Photoshopped image showing North Korean hovercraft amphibious assault

How I nearly sold rocket windows to the crazy North Koreans

The North Koreans are rattling the war drums and claiming that they're about to drop the odd bomb on either South Korea or the US (and possibly Japan as well). And so El Reg asks the resident metals wide-boy (me) to explain it all to you, something that might seem odd until you realise quite how wide this boy is. For I've some …
Tim Worstall, 05 Apr 2013
Dell chairman and CEO, Michael Dell

Will Michael Dell become the Marlboro man of the PC age?

Comment The mooted Dell takeover, the one to take it private again, is now happening. The big question is why? Why come off the public markets to operate as a private company again? The obvious and logical answer here being that the people buying the company think they can make more money this way than by not doing it. Why do they think …
Tim Worstall, 06 Feb 2013
distribution_channel

Why mergers LOSE money, but are GOOD for the economy

So the distribution sector has had yet another round of consolidation. Mergers, takeovers - these are the things that make an M&A banker's heart* thumpety-thump with joy. The big question, though, is whether this actually does any good for the shareholders of the various companies - you know, the people who actually own them? …
Tim Worstall, 11 Jan 2013

Hm, nice idea that. But somebody's already doing it less well

We know there's massive amounts of invention going on. Innovations are popping up all over the place. And while this should be increasing economic growth, none of this invention and innovation is being reflected in our economies. My own diagnosis: when it comes to the "creative destruction" that capitalism is supposed to be good …
Tim Worstall, 31 Dec 2012

Feeling poor? WHO took all your money? NOT capitalist bastards?

Comment Lies, damned lies and statistics: we all know the saying, but you'd be surprised just how many of these “facts” manage to enter the national consciousness, emerging as Guardian headlines and stories on Radio 4's Today. Allow me to tiptoe through the process as to how this happens. Let's start with this lovely little chart: A …
Tim Worstall, 27 Dec 2012

El Reg man: Too bad, China - I was RIGHT about hoarding rare earths

So this is where El Reg's rare earths spiv gets to do the victory dance. That would be me then, bopping around the dance floor as only a middle aged white man can. For I've been saying for years now that this "China will control all the rare earths" thing is nonsense and so it has turned out to be: nonsense. Not that it hasn't …
Tim Worstall, 23 Dec 2012

Google, Apple, eBay shouldn't pay taxes - people should pay taxes

Opinion eBay is not paying enough tax in the UK because it sells everything through PayPal Luxembourg. So the Sunday papers tell us, adding to the stream of stories about how Starbucks ain't payin' enough tax, Google ain't, Apple isn't and... well, we're being taken to the cleaners as a nation, aren't we? We provide this lovely country …
Tim Worstall, 25 Nov 2012
Earth viewed from space. Image via NASA

Asteroid miners hunt for platinum, leave all common sense in glovebox

Analysis Isn't it exciting that Planetary Resources is going to jet off and mine the asteroids? This is every teenage sci-fi geek's dream, that everything we imbibed from Verne through Heinlein to Pournelle is going to come true! But there's always someone, isn't there, someone like me, ready to spoil the party. The bit that I cannot …
Tim Worstall, 24 Nov 2012
Thanks from Facebook employees

Facebook's IPO was a disaster? RUBBISH, you FOOLS

Woe, woe and thrice woe unto the capitalist system: for Facebook's IPO has been a failure. Mere months after they floated the thing off, the share price is under half what it was and this is indeed, as those like The Guardian tell us, a large and serious problem, prompting headlines such as: Why has Facebook's stock market …
Tim Worstall, 10 Nov 2012

US patent office prepares to kill off Apple's bounce-back patent

The US Patent Office (USPTO) appears to have provisionally invalidated one of the major patents that Apple was using against Samsung... And it's possible that large parts of the case will go “kablooie” as a result. Given that it's not Friday afternoon yet, everyone will remember that the Cupertinians were most insistent that the …
Tim Worstall, 23 Oct 2012

New rule on blood-soaked metals in mobes is POINTLESS

Analysis There's been much trumpeting of new rules that require companies to 'fess up if they use minerals extracted from war-torn African nations. If this is news to you, try this handy guide El Reg made earlier. Having actually gone and read the directive [PDF], freshly issued by US watchdog SEC, I cannot see that it achieves anything …
Tim Worstall, 29 Aug 2012
The Register breaking news

Global warming: It's GOOD for the environment

Climate change, this global warming thing, it's going to mean that the tropical forests frazzle up and then we all die, right? It will mena the death of the "lungs of the planet" – such as the miles upon miles of Amazon jungle – which turn CO2 into the O2 that we inhale. It's titsup for humanity, basically. Except, according to …
Tim Worstall, 08 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

RBS IT cockup: This sort of thing can destroy a bank, normally

Analysis The thing you have to remember about banking is that it's a confidence trick. As with all such things, once the confidence is gone the trick no longer works. That's what should be worrying the executives at NatWest and RBS over the shambles in their computer systems this week. As to what actually caused the problems, I'm reading …
Tim Worstall, 25 Jun 2012
Tim Worstall

iOS was SO much more valuable to Google than Android - until Maps

Opinion So what about this Apple Maps thing then? Isn't it just so wonderful that Cupertino wants to improve the fanboi experience and thus has decided to replicate a perfectly serviceable alternative from a competitor? Sorry, become a competitor to its previous supplier... As we might expect the reality is all about money and really …
Tim Worstall, 18 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

Blighty's new anti-bribe law will do more HARM than good

Analysis We used to draw a distinct line between what was acceptable business conduct here at home and what we did abroad with Johnny Foreigner. Inviting Bertie from your major customer to Henley or the Derby, or waving Cup Final and Olympic tickets in his face was entirely acceptable. Slipping him £500 for an order was bribery and both …
Tim Worstall, 13 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

Facebook stock plunge leaves tax-dodge Saverin WORSE off. Haa ha

While taking a break from sipping Cristal Champagne at his home in tax-haven Singapore, Eduardo Saverin - who stumped up $30,000 to get Facebook going when he was Mark Zuckerberg's roommate at Harvard - sparked a political firestorm last month when he renounced his American citizenship ahead of the social network's stock market …
Tim Worstall, 01 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

The truth about Apple's mind-boggling low tax rate

Analysis The New York Times has revealed, as a simple matter of fact, that Apple's cash-paid tax rate for 2011 was only 9.8 per cent. Which is a stunningly good result from the fruity tech titan's bean counters and one that should be applauded by us all, if only it hadn't been calculated using the wrong tax year. First, let's look at …
Tim Worstall, 30 Apr 2012