Feeds

Tim Worstall

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
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.

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

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

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

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

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?

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?

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

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

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

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

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
head and chest shot wearing shirt and tie

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

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

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

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
The Register breaking news

Conflict mineral laws haven't helped Congolese

So the tantalum for the capacitors in our electronics comes from columbo-tantalite, which is coltan, which comes from militias in the Congo, so we should have a law making sure that no tantalum for our electronics comes from militias in the Congo. Fine, we do have that now, it's part of Dodd Frank*, and how's it working out? Not …
Tim Worstall, 14 Nov 2011
cloud_accounting2

How to make clouds and influence accountants

The cloud might mean that the corporate accountant becomes your new best buddy. Appalling thought, I know, but beancounters aren't all that bad: they can do sums even if they can't do algebra, which puts them a step ahead of the marketing department. Of course, this time of year, when bonuses are being decided, is a great time …
Tim Worstall, 11 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Eurozone crisis: We're all dooomed! Here's why

Quite what is actually happening over the Eurozone I can't actually tell you: it's not that things change too fast to write about them, it's that things change to fast to read about them. Berlusconi still PM? Italian bond yields over or under 7 per cent? That changes as often and as fast as Berlusconi does condoms. France to go …
Tim Worstall, 10 Nov 2011
Metal Wires. Credit: UNEP

Is your old hardware made of gold, or just DIRT?

So you want the money to pay for the office Christmas party, naturally. We're all told endlessly that all those piles of old electronics and high tech'n'stuff are denuding the planet of valuable metals, so you should be bundling up your kit and sending it off to people like me who will melt it down for the dosh, yes? I'll send …
Tim Worstall, 02 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Airbus brews Scandium smackdown for carbon Dreamliner

Having made its first commercial flight on October 26, with a chartered promotional flight to Hong Kong, the new 787 Dreamliner enters regular airline service today. This is of course a great excuse for us to talk about the competition between the differing technologies and market visions favoured by rival aerospace colossi …
Tim Worstall, 01 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Judge cracks down on Bayesian stats dodginess in court

A judge in a (sadly unnamed) British case has decided that Bayes' Theorem - a formula used in court to calculate the odds of whodunnit - shouldn't be used in criminal trials. Or at least, it shouldn't be relied upon as it has been in recent years: according to the judge, before any expert witness plugs data into the theorem to …
Tim Worstall, 05 Oct 2011
The Register breaking news

Attention metal thieves: Buy BT, get 75 MILLION miles of copper

British Telecom is, as a telecoms company, worth minus £30bn. Yes, that's a negative number there. And yet it is literally sitting on top of billions in assets. It all starts with this point made in relation to cable theft: BT’s network relies on more than 75 million miles of copper cable People are stealing the cable, as we …
Tim Worstall, 22 Sep 2011
The Register breaking news

Why do these traders get billions to play with, unchecked?

One of the most misunderstood concepts in all of finance is that of “arbitrage”. It looks very much like speculation from afar but it isn't, it's very much the opposite. There are also a lot of people who describe what they do as arbitrage and they're damned liars: they're speculators. Ivan Boesky used to claim to be an …
Tim Worstall, 21 Sep 2011
The Register breaking news

The real reason Google bought Motorola

I think we all know that Google's pretty good at, um, obeying tax laws to the letter. For example, they've paid an entire £8m in UK corporation tax on revenues of some £6bn from 2004 to 2010. Here the game is wrapped up in things like the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich", entirely legal moves which put the revenues …
Tim Worstall, 01 Sep 2011
The Register breaking news

French letter shock: Tax us more, demand rich people

So rich French people have written a letter demanding that they be taxed more. The text (fortunately in English) is here. The missive began: We, chairmen of companies and business leaders, business men and women, finance professionals or wealthy citizens, call for an exceptional levy that would target France's richest …
Tim Worstall, 25 Aug 2011
The Register breaking news

US and Russia to give uranium to ANYONE

So the US is making more nuclear fuel. And they're willing to offer that fuel, alongside the Russians, to countries who cannot get nuclear fuel for political reasons. Recklessness carried to extremes, surely? Well, no, that's not quite what is going on at all. What is going on is that the US and Russia are continuing to take …
Tim Worstall, 24 Aug 2011
The Register breaking news

Market rationalist pigs get the best choice of totty

One of the joys of The Guardian, or at least what I find to be one of the joys of the paper, is the clearly, obviously, bonkers insane stuff that sometimes manages to get in between those sheets of newsprint. You can be reading along and thinking, yes, OK, this might turn into something interesting, and then you're faced with …
Tim Worstall, 27 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

Four illegal ways to sort out the Euro finance crisis

Saving the euro isn't the easiest of things: solving the current problems actually would be quite easy, if expensive, except for all the laws and regulations that rule out all of the easy ways. The basic problem is well explained here. Don't worry too much about what the Taylor Rule is: just accept that if you're going to have a …
Tim Worstall, 22 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

Netflix splits DVD, streaming offers in 60% price hike

Netflix has announced that they're no longer offering a streaming-plus-DVD service. Instead, you can have either streaming or DVD, but if you want both, you'll have to pay for both. The old monthly plan was $9.99 per month, which allowed unlimited streaming of movies plus the ability to rent any one DVD at a time. Such DVDs were …
Tim Worstall, 13 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

Aussie carbon tax in actually-makes-sense shocker

So Oz has finally announced the details of its carbon tax plan, and actually, compared to the normal dogs' dinners that come out of the political process, it's not all that bad. Must be something to do with the way that the Green Party only gets to influence it rather than actually write it. emissions For those who want the …
Tim Worstall, 11 Jul 2011
For sale: £50m in used notes

Wikileaks loses briefly-open Icelandic payment channel

So WikiLeaks and Julian Assange™ have been frustrated again: on the money front that is. They're back to cash, Bitcoin and bank transfers as a method of receiving donations. There had been a hope last week that DataCell would be able to start processing donations, for it had made an agreement with the Icelandic bank Valitor to …
Tim Worstall, 11 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

HuffPo goes UK: But shills and pols writing for free isn't new

So HuffPo UK has launched and, my word, it is the future of journalism, isn't it? New, fresh faces telling us about the world in new and interesting ways... Online, centre left, news and views galore: sounds like the Guardian's Comment is Free really, doesn't it? Which is something the Guardian themselves might agree with, you …
Tim Worstall, 07 Jul 2011
Cat 5 cable

WTO: China being naughty over rare-earth exports

China's a naughty boy then according to the World Trade Organisation: they have just lost a case about their restrictions on the exports of raw materials. This has implications for every tecchie's favourite metals, the rare earths. You'll recall that Japan has found billions of tonnes of them under the Pacific, tonnes that may …
Tim Worstall, 07 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

Pacific rare-earth discovery: Actually just gigatonnes of dirt

There has been a lot of excitement over a recent paper by Japanese researchers who have discovered billions – hundreds of billions – of tonnes of rare earths under the Pacific Ocean. Those rare earths, you will recall, are essential to so much of modern technology, from those sweet little earbuds of your iPod and the magnets in …
Tim Worstall, 04 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

The freakonomics of smut: Does it actually cause rape?

Does porn cause rape? It could do: rape fantasies causing porn is a certainty. While there are many who would argue that porn causes rape, what we would really like to know is whether it is true. There's not much actual evidence that it does, that seeing graphic representations of sex, even violent sex, increases the acting out …
Tim Worstall, 30 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

90% of visitors declined ICO website's opt-out cookie

As we know, no one is on time in implementing the EU's cookies directive. Well, two countries managed to get their laws in place in time, the other 25 didn't bother. The UK has given everyone a year to comply, a year longer than we're supposed to have. Not fixing your website doesn't seem to be an option, given the £500,000 …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Does it pay to be bad? Silver Lake's Skype sale fine print

We knew there had to be something evil when Microsoft was involved but in this story of the purchase of Skype it isn't actually the Evil Empire of Redmond, at least not according to Reuters journo Felix Salmon. He's branded Silver Lake, the seller, as being evil, rather than Ballmer's Ball Boys*. It's an issue of semantics. The …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jun 2011
fingers pointing at man

Cloud storage survey FAIL: May have to, er, back up

The self-seeking company-commissioned survey is anathema to all right-thinking people. This is especially so when journos simply repeat its assertions without examining it for bias and agenda. However, when the research conducted by said company actually undermines the very case for the service that the company is trying to sell …
Tim Worstall, 28 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Groupon faces multitude of legal headaches in US

Groupon may have rather more legal woes than people generally think. The problem isn't particularly that it's doing anything wrong - it's that the major limitation on most innovation is the old way of doing things. In this case, that's the laws about the old ways of distributing and using coupons. Research from Harvard seems to …
Tim Worstall, 27 Jun 2011
Withings WiFi Scales

You have to have standards – or do you?

Given that so much of the time and effort expended by you technical and computing types revolves around standards, just how important are they in the larger sense? And if they are important, who ought to be devising them, and should they be voluntary or imposed? This might sound a tad odd in this modern age, for the default …
Tim Worstall, 27 Jun 2011