Tag Archives: City University

The Update

This is not about specifics; this is about the latest updates on a few sides. First we get back to ‘The successful and the less so‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/26/the-successful-and-the-less-so/). We had the rundown on the Marvel movies and Spielberg’s Ready Player One. My view remains the same, the three movies were awesome and there is no denying that. What is however a shift is the impact that the Avengers: Infinity War had, I knew it was going to be big, but a 3 day global total up to April 29th of $640,000,000 (rounded down) is beyond what I would have ever expected (read: imagined). The total revenue of Ready Player One was surpassed in 3 days with 20% to boot. It will get worse (depending on your point of view). You see, I am hearing all around me that people want to see it again. There was so much to see. So not only will it surpass the one billion dollar marker in a 10 day stretch, the revenue of Infinity war on 4K and Blu-ray will surpass most records to date. It could even spell a drive for people to look for a 4K TV and a HD 4K player merely for this movie alone. So if there is a Christmas release planned, it will likely be a $999 deal for the 4K TV, the 4K Player and the movie, all neatly gift wrapped. Those who do not have a 4K TV at that time might leap at the option offered. Techspot gave us “the movie’s Sunday box office performance – Infinity War reportedly raked in a whopping $69.2 million, breaking yet another domestic record“, implying in part that the movie is set to break the records that the number 3 top placed movie has, as Infinity war is likely to surpass it. I don’t think that it will make the current number three sad, it took three years for a movie to do that and records were always meant to be broken at some point.

The second update is on ‘Flames of the blame game‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/27/flames-of-the-blame-game/), you see, the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/c532579a-416d-11e8-803a-295c97e6fd0b) has an issue with data sharing and the Kensington and Chelsea council has been fined £120,000. Now we can have all kinds of thoughts yet the quote “the perception that a large number of properties were left unoccupied by wealthy foreign owners — provoked greater scrutiny of the borough’s housing situation amid calls for empty homes to be used to house evacuees, and criticism of the approach of the Conservative-run council to public housing provision and maintenance” implies that there is a much larger issue in Kensington and Chelsea and that certain steps are being taken. They got an opening to make a shift and the Grenfell disaster gave them an option. The interesting part is that this goes back to 2017. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/02/revelations-about-empty-homes-in-grenfell-area-simply-unacceptable) reported “Labour has condemned as “simply unacceptable” the 1,652 unoccupied properties in the London borough where the Grenfell Tower fire took place, calling for government action to bring them back into use“, which is as I see it, hypocrisy at best. You see the previous Labour government under Tony Blair was very eager to call in the investors, yet down the line no one wants to pay for the fallout. This did not start recently, this has been going on since the late 90’s, the EU reported in a paper  (at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/events/2003/workshop/woodetal.pdf) by Forrest Capie, Geoffrey Wood and Frank Sensenbrenner by the City University, London: “confirmation is provided by the complete absence from mainstream political discourse is the notion that “multinationals” have somehow taken over, or impeded the actions of, national government. All this exemplifies, we conjecture, the relaxed attitude of a major foreign investor. At least at present levels, no-one much worries about “who owns” British industry, so long as British residents have savings somewhere. Foreign ownership is a non-issue in Britain“, a non-issue? Really? This was given in February 2003, so this has been going on for a while and yes the short term gain was clearly seen, millions upon millions, yet the long term play starting 5 years ago, when we see that 1650 unoccupied properties in one council alone is costing the infrastructure, 1650 households not needing energy, not needing food, not needing services, so those services in place is one thing, the fact that this group should be supporting half a dozen shop chains is now off the table. The UK did this to them self when they forgot basic math. So when we learn the setting of ‘a man’s home is his castle‘ and ‘trespass is actionable per se’, we see that these people have painted themselves in a corner. So even when we saw last year “London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he would make proposals this year to find a more effective way to tackle the issue” he basically doesn’t have a leg to stand on and now the council might have given it to the press, so that the journalists, in the light of the Grenfell disaster can up the ante by emotional reporting, and it only costs the council £120,000 to allegedly start using the press as a tool of convenience. This allegedly setting is seen in the Financial Times quote ““at the time of the security breach, the feeling of social inequality was running high in this wealthy borough. Such disclosures therefore required guidance and oversight,” the ICO said“, it seems to me that someone decided to play judge and jury on a setting that the government, especially the previous Labour government enabled in the first place. It is not a fluke; there is a whole range of insurances that are covering this. UKinsuranceNET is merely one of many examples. Most are immediately covered by ‘Owner is working away‘, ‘Non-UK residents are accepted‘ as well as:

  • Ensure that you have a friend or family member inspect the property regularly. A minor continual escape of water left for a period of months can devastate a property. This is why escape of water is not usually covered with unoccupied insurance policies without terms and conditions applying.
  • Home emergency cover, should a plumbing or electrical fault occur the person who is looking after your house will appreciate this. Remember standard home insurance will not provide cover as extensive as an unoccupied insurance policy.
  • Speak to your local council; you may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax.

So there is not just an issue, it is a much larger market, you see Huw Evans director general of the Association of British Insurers could have told them that when he had that large issue on the Grenfell building when he was talking about inadequate fire testing.

Yet in all this, these people will not learn. Now, I will accept that Mayor Sadiq Khan cannot be blamed in any way for the latest issue, oh yes, you see with: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already given his approval for the scheme“, yet the clarity (that in a very rare instance, the Sun brought), by giving us “Chelsea stadium plans hit by £1b sale of England home to Fulham and NFL owner Shahid Khan“, so even as we accept that ‘Shad Khan, is a Pakistani-American billionaire and business tycoon. He is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League‘, he is still a foreign investor and whatever happens next (besides the setting that if the sale goes through), billionaires tend to be modestly serious people and spending £1,000,000,000 on a building implies he can do with it what he wants. If he wants to turn it into a fabulous new Mosque (merely a speculative thought), there might be little to stop him. You can’t play your games on whining games regarding empty house penalties, whilst you are willingly, knowingly selling to a foreign investor. It seems that the slippery legislative slope they put themselves on could be the start of a lot more court proceedings and when you have a large number, followed by 9 zero’s and only after that a decimal point, you could hire 5 lawyers and give them one clear job description: ‘rain proceedings on these councils‘ and you’ll get £400 an hour for as long as you can do that. It could lock a council in legal proceedings for decades. Now that is merely my speculation, but there is a precedent. The ICBA reported a variant in 2016 with “Unlike the patent troll problem that ICBA fought all the way through Congress, however, this new crop of law firms is relying not on flimsy patent claims, but on detailed arguments that are already making headway in the courts“, when you consider that part, how vulnerable would any council or borough be? A dozen cases per council would lock up their legal division for up to two years at least. It ends up that close to nothing could be achieved. Now this is all merely speculation, but it is not that far-fetched with the Guardian reporting on “The number of solicitors qualified to work in England and Wales has rocketed over the past 30 years, according to new figures from the Law Society. The number holding certificates – which excludes retired lawyers and those no longer following a legal career – are at nearly 118,000“, so with 118,000 of them having hungry mouths to feed and the need to get revenue, do you still think that my view is far-fetched?

The Grenfell disaster is making all kinds of issues a lot more visible, one of them has been not to rely on foreign investors and their impact to such an extent, it has been an issue for close to well over a decade and not these birds have gone home (outside the UK) to roost, or is that to roast in the sunny sun at a tropical beach?

So in this, when I saw John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing minister state ““there were about 200,000 long-term vacant homes around the country, “including those bought and left empty by speculative investors”“, as well as “Labour would allow councils to charge a 300% empty-homes premium on properties that have been empty for more than a year and ask them to prepare empty-homes strategies to bring homes back into use in each area. We would also reverse the Conservatives’ weakening of councils’ powers to introduce empty dwelling management orders to bring homes back into use“, at what point would he also state that the previous government under Tony Blair got much (if not most) of  that damage done by opening the flood doors of foreign investors? In this, the end is nowhere in sight and even the councils realise that they are fighting an uphill battle against foundational legislation as the UK has had it for generations. It was part of the sales pitch that sold it so well, unravelling that would end up being devastating to the UK economy and these players know that (read: should truly be aware of the hazards) very well.

In finality there is the update on ‘Ferrari Mario (2018)‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/28/ferrari-mario-2018/). This is a larger one, because Phil Spencer according to several sources is setting the stage that Microsoft is having its own JRPG on the Xbox One. This is not something to sneer at. In one set of minds it is almost ludicrous and suicidal to go that way, but it is not anyone making that play, this comes from Phil Spencer and he knows games. So there is a play and it is about to be made. Now JRPG games tend to be a real game changer, it is a niche market that has a massive following. If Microsoft pulls that off, it would be such a blow to gaming (to their benefit), one that no one saw coming to that degree, this is the kind of victory shot that Microsoft desperately needs and if they do pull it off it will be a massive one! With that one ‘rumour’, one that came in several ways from Phil Spencer, towards several medium we see that Microsoft is starting to fight back, they will still take massive damage over the coming year but as to the options that limits deadly damage to the Xbox console this is certainly one that will have a large positive impact for Microsoft. Now, I refuse to go into the ‘what if it is a bad game‘ shot, because in the first I haven’t seen it, we will in 5 weeks see either something playable or a serious trailer/teaser that could bring the house down. In the second because JRPG are a vast setting of options and they are not all alike, what is a given is that when it does come it needs to be on a level of excellence that the JRPG fan expects, in story, in user experience, in graphics and atmosphere, to pull it off outside of ‘excellence driven Japan‘ has never been seen as an option, so the pressure will be on for Microsoft. If they do, then it will be one of three essential niche victories they will need, not to stop Nintendo, because that is a lost race. What will matter that three to four of these games would allow Microsoft to optionally regain the number two spot in the future, yet my personal forecast (speculative prediction is more accurate) is that they will need 3-4 of these games to be released in the next 18 months to pull that off, if they haven’t started on the additional 2-3 games at present, they might be too late, but let’s wait to see what the E3 brings before locking that gate, it is only fair that Microsoft gets that option to present that to us.

Three updates that needed to be made as the issues I talked about earlier are getting more traction and they are showing us the change that will come, even as the hearing into Grenfell aren’t seen for close to a month, the media is looking at many sides, many issues and Grenfell will be pulled into every emotional issue these politicians need, Jeremy Corbyn seems to live off that vibe, even as his co-players are not that enthusiastic to mention the previous Labour blunders that caused some of the damage we are seeing now.

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Behind the smiling numbers

An interesting story got to see the internet light by Nicholas Watt (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/16/income-tax-must-rise-3p-to-stop-nhs-staggering-from-year-to-year). The title ‘Income tax must rise 3p to stop NHS ‘staggering from year to year’‘, which implies initially that the NHS needs £1.95m, which might be OK. Yet the truth is far from that, the text gives us that Lord Kerslake stated “Income tax will have to increase by at least 3p in the pound…. “, which is another story entirely (and first evidence that members of the House of Lords are gifted with a decent sense of humour).

His lordship is quite correct when he states: “big questions needed to be asked to ensure that spending kept up with medical advances, an ageing population and the need to invest in hospitals“, yet these are mere facts that should have been asked almost a decade ago, there was a clear and near immediate danger to the health of the NHS. The logic we see after that becomes an issue (read: worry, concern, and both are debatable) “Health spending needs to rise at least in line with GDP. Arguably, we may need to go faster if we want to match European funding. You might argue there is a discount there because we have a more efficient system. But it’s got to be at least GDP-linked otherwise I don’t think we’ll get there“. So let’s take a look. First the Dutch version (at http://www.rijksbegroting.nl/2015/voorbereiding/begroting,kst199401_25.html) gives us two issues should we be willing to ignore language barrier. The BZK gets €71.3b, which is divided in €7.5b called budget financed expenditure and €63.8b from premium financed expenditures. So for argument sake, let’s take the total and divide that on a population of 17 million, this now implies that there is almost €4200 per person (remember that this is a terribly rough estimate).

Now for Belgium we get the VBO with €23.85b. Now we all know that Belgium is a much smaller nation (not that much smaller than the Netherlands in size) and with 11.5 million calling the Belgium nation their homestead we now see that they end up with €2075 per person (Rounded upwards). Perhaps his Lordship could give a slightly more detailed explanation for the remark “Health spending needs to rise at least in line with GDP. Arguably, we may need to go faster if we want to match European funding“. Considering that the Netherlands and Belgium are next to one another and their budgets per person are apart by a mere 49.404%.

This gets me to the core of the proclaimed matter, can anyone explain why we are linking healthcare to GDP? Perhaps, and this is merely a lose speculation, some people in the House of Lords had the time to read a paper by Santiago Lago Peñas (added at the end) called ‘On the relationship between GDP and Health Care expenditure; A new perspective‘, now that might be a good thing, there is nothing wrong with Spain taking the lead in matters (especially if it is a good idea). Santiago Lago Peñas as well as David Cantarero Prieto and Carla Blázquez Fernández have written an interesting paper.

First let’s take a look at part of the abstract, which states “Econometric results show that the long-run multiplier is close to unity, that health expenditure is more sensitive to per capita income cyclical movements than to trend movements, and that those countries with a higher share of private health expenditure fit faster and following a different pattern“. Now, I am not going to take a deep dive into this one (it is after all an abstract), but it gave me a few ideas on where to dig.

Next are a few quotes: “Attention is paid to several usually neglected dimensions of this link. With this aim, four different specifications are presented, with the logarithm of per capital total health care expenditure as the dependent variable in all cases” this doesn’t seem to be more than just a quote, but it will have impact down the track.

It is part 2 called previous evidence that is a first issue. When we accept the initial statement “the debate on this link has moved on whether the income elasticity of health expenditure is greater or less than 1 (Bac and Le Pen, 2002). An income elasticity less than 1 classified health expenditure and income inelastic, therefore, as a “necessary” good. On the other hand, if the elasticity is higher than 1, health will be classified as a “luxury” good“, which will do for now. You see, my issue is when we see the part that follows:

  • The seminal paper by Newhouse (1977)
  • An earlier study by Kleiman (1974) for a different set of countries
  • Leu (1986) using cross-sectional data for 19 OECD countries in 1974
  • Parkin et al. (1987) using similar methods and data from 1980
  • Brown (1987) using a sample of 20 OECD countries

Here we have the first issue. You see, this is not regarding the methodology, it is about the data, methods of data collection, usage of weights (if done), these numbers regarded in contrast towards those temporary populations in reflection to the whole. Health expenditure is one part, but based against which healthy part. Now consider the initial reflection I had on the Netherlands and Belgium. They have very different norms in respect to mental health care. Now consider the statements ‘19 OECD countries in 1974‘ and ‘20 OECD countries in 1987‘ I will again make a clear speculative declaration that the mental health norms are not equal, especially when considering economic differences, which gives my first thought, how useful is the paper on a whole (I am not attacking it) and how applicable this would be (read: could be) in reflection towards the whole.

You only need to scan for ‘psychology, psychiatry and mental health’ to see that the paper does not take this into consideration. As we know that the EEC nations have had their own approach to mental health in the past, is not a statement that they did anything wrong, but if this is the first element that does not align, what else will not align (there are a few). One that shines directly behind the ‘previous evidence‘. You see in my head the question comes to mind when I see “The econometric analysis relies on annual data for 31 OECD countries from 1970 to 2009 gathered from the OECD Health Data Set 2011“, so is this aggregated data or raw data. if it is aggregated data the foundation might not align giving an unbalanced and invalid view (in my personal opinion), if it is raw data, what ground line data (the full population) is added so that the individual record compares towards the national whole, if that is missing how can any calculation be truly reflective of what was, especially taking into account the data is reflective over different time zones with very different social pressures. In that case I wonder if I can get a similar result by calculating Z-scores and run a Crosstabs in IBM Statistics #JustSaying!

Now we get back to the article which comes with the image of a smiling Lord Kerslake. Does this paper validate or invalidate the idea? No it does not, but it leads to questions, serious ones.

The quote “John Appleby, the chief economist at the King’s Fund, has estimated that NHS spending is due to fall from 7.3% of GDP to 6.6% in 2020-21. If health spending were to keep pace with economic growth, Appleby estimates an extra £16bn would have to be found every year by 2020-21 to take the NHS budget to £158bn. This works out at 3p on all rates of income tax, according to the IFS” is next!

The term ‘NHS spending is due to fall‘ reads like an event Baron Munchausen could have come up with (the character from Raspe’s book in 1785, not the syndrome). Of course the prediction is 5 years away, which makes it speculative. Now we know that John Appleby is more than the Chief economist for The King’s fund. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics at City University and he has a whole range of publications to his name, so why am I opposed?

Well, part of this starts with his own article ‘Social care: a future we don’t yet know‘ (at http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2015/11/social-care-future), the two quotes that get the foreground are “In our submission to the Spending Review we called for social care to be protected from further cuts and for the money previously agreed for the postponed Care Act funding reforms to be retained and invested in social care. But non-protected departments have been asked by HM Treasury to model cuts of 25 and 40 per cent – so further cuts seem inevitable“, as well as “What would happen if the spending cuts applied to social care over the past five years continue over the next five? Spending on social care for people of all ages as a share of GDP has already begun to fall. It was roughly 1.2 per cent in 2009 but if cuts continue at the same rate it will have halved by the end of this parliament to barely more than a half of one per cent of GDP“. Now there is nothing wrong with any of the texts, John Appleby is not where he is because he is silly, he is very (read: extremely) clued in. I am stating that the environment has changed, it has changed drastically from 2011 onwards and in addition; the changes the UK faces over the next three years will take some of these prediction to town in not so nice a manner.

You will now ask why, which is the question you should ask!

We get part of this from the London School of Economics and Political science (at http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/special/cepsp26.pdf), the initial answer is given on page 13. Where we see “To summarise, treatments for the “common mental disorders” of depression and anxiety can be self-financing within the NHS. By spending more, we save even more. This is different from much of NHS expenditure. At the same time we relieve one of the main sources of suffering in our community“, in addition page 15 gives us “According to the 2007 survey, which covered a random sample of households, only 24% of people with depression and anxiety disorders were in any form of treatment“. This now gives us the first part in all this. The overall costs are not in league of the budgets because there is a missing foundations of equality on what falls ‘within’ the NHS. There is no option for the NHS other than to evolve into something ‘more’ complete. The UK is about to get 20,000 refugees from war torn Syria (over several years), the initial approved £1b seems to be nothing more than a drop of water on a hot plate, the ‘why’ will be clear shortly.

The UK has seen a massive rise in mental health issues in the last year alone. Depression and anxiety mainly due to economic events (cost of living) is now a serious concern, especially as the pressures of the economy are likely to continue a few more years. Consider my article two days ago (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/15/is-there-a-doctor-on-this-budget/) called ‘Is there a doctor on this budget?‘ where we saw the link to ‘Health Care for Undocumented Migrants: European Approaches‘. The graph shown on page 3 is the charm. If we consider the cube, we see that on the X-axis we see subcategories of undocumented migrants, yet the same expenditure would apply to refugees (or the population for that matter). Now consider the Y-axis which is about the type of services and the Z-axis are the funding arrangements. Now this can be treated like a glass with liquid. If we increase the base (X or Y) the funding arrangements go down, it is the simplest of physics, a bigger glass requires more fluid to fill, so we have a population with more health care needs, mental health care in this case and the types of services is not just against depression or anxiety, it will require the coverage of war trauma and shell shock. This will impact refugees of all ages. So the glass gets bigger and bigger and more and more funding will be required to keep funding arrangements on an equal level, this is merely the application of logic.

This is why I opposed John Appleby’s approach, it shows little application of a changing population, merely a greying one (which is a form of change), but it does not hold water against the massive change the UK has faced since 2013 and will face until 2019. This is why I am not in agreement with the statements of John Appleby. Now we get back to Lord Kerslake. You see, the paper I mentioned is an example. It might not even be the foundation of Lord Kerslake’s approach. Yet a multitude of papers clearly show that there seems to be no real no equality in the setting of healthcare (read: cost of health care). It seems to be wearing a different hat in nearly every European nation, it would already be a great leap forward if they all had the same colour, which does not seem to be the case either.

Now we get the quote that wakes us all up “Appleby estimates that NHS spending would have to increase by 30% or £43bn a year to take NHS total spending to the EU-15 average by 2020-21. The IFS estimates that this would involve an 8p increase on all rates of income tax“, which is one side of the option. How about the other side? When we see that AstraZeneca has been able to avoid corporation tax on a massive scale, which dwarves when we compare it to the mergers Pfizer and Allergan have achieved. Is it perhaps possible that his lordship looks at another solution like closing that tax abyss? Might I suggest an idea where any corporation involved in tax avoidance gets its medication ‘grey’ listed? Which means that any drug that could be begotten in a generic form from a place like India will be selected as a first solution? It could even result in India starting businesses in the UK (with the economic benefits that those places will give). It would also send a clear signal that if corporations would like to avoid taxation, which in legal correct way is just fine, but at that point other distributors of pharmaceuticals will be found. I reckon that between that announcement and the offer of reduced medications (read: less costs for the NHS) from pharmaceutical firms would be forthcoming within 24 hours of making the announcement.

Yet, this was not about the costing, it was about the increase and setting against the GDP. The fact that health spending and economic spending are on par reads more like an option for deferred payments to big pharma and medical supplier than anything else. In case of doctors it would mean that their incomes would go through the roof (which might be a deserved reality), but it is one that the coffers under the care of George Osborne cannot afford.

There is wisdom in his lordship stating that “a royal commission should be established to build a national consensus on NHS funding“, which sounds a lot more ‘reliable’ (read: acceptable) than the Labour party giving way by letting a banker (Sir Derek Wanless) set the NHS spending levels. It is of course desirable to go with the people and keep the directly funded NHS free at the point of use, yet that comes with a price tag that is no longer realistic in this day and age of deficit, in addition harder times are coming for a while longer, making the price tag we already have a non-linear shifting one. Yet I feel adamant to speak that mental health must be fully accepted as part of the NHS (for all people, anywhere in the UK), which slides the scales of budget by a lot. A reality many papers (as I expect it to be) did not take into account. Raising income taxation as implied could equally be an issue as that could potentially drive depression and suicide statistics overnight (the latter would lower rents but that seems just too harsh a solution).

What is a given is that Lord Kerslake is the catalyst that is making us ask several serious questions.

I am however not entirely convinced that his lordship took the best path in getting these issues out into the open.

On the relationship between GDP and Health Care expenditure; A new perspective

 

 

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