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British Firms Produce 1/3 Of All European Profits?  
User currently offlineConcorde001 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1230 posts, RR: 3
Posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1793 times:

The media is reporting that a report by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) will show next week that British firms account for more than a third of all European profits....can this really be true???

According to the report (using the "Value Added Scoreboard" - which lists the companies making the largest contributions in the UK and in Europe):


  • British companies are dominant, making almost as much profit as French and German companies combined
  • British companies make more than a third of all European profits
  • British corporate profits are also rising faster (12.4% compared with 9.6% in France and 5.4% in Germany)


Source: Click Here

I know the British economy has been performing well for the past 15 years, but are our companies really performing this well? I am sceptical because while the German and French economies may be lagging, they have some very impressive companies which export much more than Britain. Germany is still the world's largest exporter and corporate profits in Germany are meant to be very healthy (just look at LH!). Also France is still one of the world's top 5 exporters (Britain is 7 overall but much higher for services / invisibles). Also I tend to be wary of stats as they can be easily manipulated - for example are these British companies dominant because there is a small group of very large money making corporations such as BP? I ask because according to the the British Chambers of Commerce, a survey of its members shows that 49% of its member firms think it is "much harder" to set up a new business in the UK compared to 1997 (when Blair came to power).

It is great if our companies are doing this well, but I was hoping some experts on a.net may be able to present a much more balanced picture than reports issued by governments!

[Edited 2007-04-16 23:12:55]

47 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1746 times:

Yes, I can imagine that this might be true, though I also agree with the linked article that the climate for start-ups isn't particularly friendly at the moment.

Britain has a much more entrepreneurial economic model than the other major European economies, driven by profit as the benchmark of success to a higher degree, though the Netherlands I would suspect also contributes to a level out of proportion to their relative size.

Invisibles will be the key to it, London is not just by far the main European financial centre, it's also seriously threatening New York's status as the world's leading financial centre. Part of the reason for that is the relatively light regulatory hand, meaning that a lot of companies have shifted their headquarters to London to take advantage of it. Undoubtedly the figures will therefore be skewed by companies nominally being British, but with their operations elsewhere.

But what does it mean, really? Britain does have an amazingly free market, quite possibly the freest of any major economy. Take the stock market; everything is for sale, including the stock market itself, something no other nation would even consider. So in such an environment, British companies will tend to be extremely highly focused on profits. In general terms, this is a Good Thing, and if it's maintained, then that's economically healthy. But I'm not sure it's that important as an isolated "fact".



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlinePelican From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 2531 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1731 times:

It could be true, although I'm still looking for a source with actual data.
While this may have a considerable impact on a nations economy I doubt it shows that the UK is winning in the Champions League of European business (whatever that may be).
The composition of one nation's business is probably the dominant factor. As Banco said London is by far the main European financial centre. The financial sector (banks, fonds...) tends to have much bigger profit margins than e.g. industries. That could explain the size of the British profits.

Quoting Banco (Reply 1):
Take the stock market; everything is for sale, including the stock market itself, something no other nation would even consider.

 Yeah sure How do you explain that the Deutsche Börse AG (German stock market) is a public traded company? The majority of share is held by hedge fonds from London. Prejudice...

pelican


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1696 times:

Quoting Pelican (Reply 2):
I doubt it shows that the UK is winning in the Champions League of European business (whatever that may be).

Oh, that's a politician speaking. I wouldn't pay the slightest attention to that.

Quoting Pelican (Reply 2):
How do you explain that the Deutsche Börse AG (German stock market) is a public traded company? The majority of share is held by hedge fonds from London. Prejudice...

Not at all. The Bourse can't be taken over by a foreign entity, it's against the regulations, nor can the NYSE, NASDAQ or any other major stock exchange. The LSE can, it is no different to any other company quoted on its own exchange in that regard.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlinePelican From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 2531 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1689 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 3):
Not at all. The Bourse can't be taken over by a foreign entity, it's against the regulations, nor can the NYSE, NASDAQ or any other major stock exchange. The LSE can, it is no different to any other company quoted on its own exchange in that regard.

We are talking about different things. I don't know about this regulation but I don't doubt you. I was talking about ownership and about 90% of the shares of the Deutsche Börse AG are held by foreign investors. I would consider this as "for sale" and sold.

pelican


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1683 times:

Quoting Pelican (Reply 4):
I was talking about ownership and about 90% of the shares of the Deutsche Börse AG are held by foreign investors. I would consider this as "for sale" and sold.

Yes, I understand what you mean there, but the difference is that the LSe can be bought, lock stock and barrel by anyone, and controlled elsewhere, which is part of the reason why the likes of the DB, NASDAQ and all the others launched takeover bids for it in recent years. It sparked off a debate about how right it was that the LSE could be bought when no other exchange can. some saying that it's simply unfair and should be prevented unless everyone else opened up their exchanges for potential purchase, others saying that you either have an open market or you don't, and that if any potential purchaser stuffed up the LSE, then someone else would simply start a new exchange to which everyone would migrate.

As it happened, they fended off the various approaches and retained their independence, but either way, it is markedly different to anyone else to even allow it, whilst the government take no interest in, or have any policy on, the ownership of the stock market. Institutional investors might hold high levels of ownership in other stock markets, but they aren't permitted to take control of them.

Incidentally, I'm not necessarily saying that the British way is a better one at all. Just very, very different. Unique in fact.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineJonathan-l From France, joined Mar 2002, 502 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1672 times:

Quoting Pelican (Reply 2):
the UK is winning in the Champions League of European business

And the real Champions League as well: Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester
3 out of 4 semi-finalists !


User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13031 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1666 times:

I would suspect that besides the items noted above, other advantages for UK companies vs. Euro based companies could include less regulation of labor (since the Thacher administration and limiting labor costs) thus more productive workers, a culture that encourages making a profit, that they speak English the dominate language of trade and commence and a well respected legal system.
Germany and France have fare more unionized labor, their workers are less productive in numbers of hours due to regulations like fewer working hours per worker and so on vs. the UK. The UK, unlike many Euro countries, does see making profits as a good thing. In the more socialistic Euro countries, making a big profit is seen as shameful, that all the money should go to the government or the workers. The colonial history of the UK means many countries in Africa and Asia use English as does the USA, so use the dominate language of trade and commence. The UK, including it's foreign territories (Bermuda, Br. Virgin Islands, Cayman Is.) have a well established and respected legal system as well as very supportive of business. In the Euro countries, the system is far to 'foreign', not favorable toward businesses, limits lawsuits to enforce contracts and so on.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1661 times:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 7):
I would suspect that besides the items noted above, other advantages for UK companies vs. Euro based companies could include less regulation of labor (since the Thacher administration and limiting labor costs) thus more productive workers,

One major difference is the ease of starting a business in the UK. All you need is about £150 to register the name and you're basically off. VAT isn't applicable until you earn more than £60,000-ish, you don't usually pay your first lot of taxes for about 2 years, which gives huge breathing space, and the tax applicable for companies up to £300,000 turnover is only 19% (though that's going up to 22%, thanks Gordon  grumpy  ). You don't need to have any kind of bond in the bank, which is common in mainland Europe. It does encourage people to start up businesses.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlinePelican From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 2531 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1599 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 5):
Yes, I understand what you mean there, but the difference is that the LSe can be bought, lock stock and barrel by anyone, and controlled elsewhere, which is part of the reason why the likes of the DB, NASDAQ and all the others launched takeover bids for it in recent years. It sparked off a debate about how right it was that the LSE could be bought when no other exchange can. some saying that it's simply unfair and should be prevented unless everyone else opened up their exchanges for potential purchase, others saying that you either have an open market or you don't, and that if any potential purchaser stuffed up the LSE, then someone else would simply start a new exchange to which everyone would migrate.

Sorry for my too fast conclusion (the prejudice thing) in reply 4.

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 7):
I would suspect that besides the items noted above, other advantages for UK companies vs. Euro based companies could include less regulation of labor (since the Thacher administration and limiting labor costs) thus more productive workers, a culture that encourages making a profit, that they speak English the dominate language of trade and commence and a well respected legal system.

Labour productivity has not much to do with profit margins. France and Germany have much higher labour productivity rates than the UK. France has an even higher than the US while Germany has the low productivity of the ex-GDR.
Source www.oecd.org/dataoecd/28/17/36396820.xls

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 7):
Germany and France have fare more unionized labor

Actually trade union membership figures of the UK are much higher than the figures of France - which has even lower figures than the US - and still considerable higher than German figures. Labour market regulation play a much more important role. But I doubt they have a huge impact on profit margins.
Source http://www.oecd.org/document/12/0,23...649_34495_31781132_1_1_1_1,00.html

Quoting Banco (Reply 8):
One major difference is the ease of starting a business in the UK.

While this is a good thing and Germany could learn a lot in this regard from the UK I doubt it makes any difference regarding the combined profits.

pelican


User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 3 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1578 times:

There´s just one reason for this :

The UK has privatized many Companies Thatcher and Blair have privatized almost all Companies which were public before
In Germany many Public Companies have been privatized but for example the Deutsche Bahn AG is still (still and hopefully for ever www.bahn-fuer-alle.de ) public . If the German Government would privatize all then it would be far bigger then the English one ...


User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1532 times:

Here you see German companies are the most valuated companies then the French and then I suppose the British :

"Deutsche Marken landeten - abgesehen von BMW - im Mittelfeld. Mit SAP (Platz 27), Mercedes (Platz 29), dem Sportwagenbauer Porsche (Platz 40), der Deutschen Bank (Platz 41), Siemens (Platz 71), T-Mobile (Rang 77) und Volkswagen (Rang 83) habe sich Deutschland aber vor Frankreich den Spitzenwert in Europa gesichert."

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/,ra3m5/wirtschaft/artikel/244/111133/

Konstantin


User currently offlineKaddyuk From Wallis and Futuna, joined Nov 2001, 4126 posts, RR: 26
Reply 12, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 1511 times:

Its companies like Tesco and the RBS which have announced record breaking profits stretching into billions of pounds which have boosted the british side.


Whoever said "laughter is the best medicine" never had Gonorrhea
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1499 times:

Quoting LHStarAlliance (Reply 11):
Here you see German companies are the most valuated companies then the French and then I suppose the British

That's not really any more meaningful than the idea that British companies produce a third of European profits idea. Britain tends not to have huge national champions in the way that Germany and France does, because if they get to that size, there's a serious temptation to flog off huge chunks of them because of the shareholder value idea. What you get instead are vast numbers of medium size businesses, which is why you have a FTSE 100, 200 and 500 of still fairly substantial operators.

Quoting LHStarAlliance (Reply 10):
The UK has privatized many Companies Thatcher and Blair have privatized almost all Companies which were public before

Most of those have either vanished, been sold off, broken up or otherwise disappeared. And that was 20 years ago or more, it's not really relevant to today.

For whatever reason, Britain has an entirely different approach to this to the other major European countries. Here, the idea (and the reality) is to flog anything that moves to the foreigners, extracting as much cash as possible from them and then using that to buy something else. The British system doesn't lend itself to a Vivendi, the shareholders would chuck out the board before they could say Vive la France.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6385 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1484 times:

I don't doubt those figures.

But as LHStarAlliance indicated in reply number 10, corporate profits are not always an indicator of general well-being.

For instance Germany and France may have the world's best railway systems, but since they are public they don't generate any profits. That's a tremendous asset compared to the privatised railways in Britain where the absence of competition generates massive profits and lousy service, both for passengers and cargo.

There are many industries which cannot be efficiently privatised, those where you cannot produce a normal competition. Among the most prominent such things are railways and airports - and all such infrastructure services which cannot easily be duplicated.

Sadly here in Denmark we have to some extent followed the British privatisation trend. For instance a few railway routes were privatised some years back. Luckily only a minor part intended as a "soft start". A British railroad company won the contract and immediately created such a disaster that it will last at least fifty years until any crazy politician next time dares to mention the word "railway privatisation".



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1477 times:

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 14):
A British railroad company won the contract and immediately created such a disaster

Now, what in God's name possessed you to think a British railway company would be a good idea?  Wink



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1469 times:

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 14):

For instance Germany and France may have the world's best railway systems, but since they are public they don't generate any profits. That's a tremendous asset compared to the privatised railways in Britain where the absence of competition generates massive profits and lousy service, both for passengers and cargo.

Well I assume that with Privatization = more competition . But the problem is : The Companies will just keep all what makes profit , so routes that are not profitable will be closed , making that many people will not have service .


User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1466 times:

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 14):

There are many industries which cannot be efficiently privatized, those where you cannot produce a normal competition. Among the most prominent such things are railways and airports - and all such infrastructure services which cannot easily be duplicated.

That´s it , the State must own such important infrastructure to guarantee the Service to all the Population also for the not profitable service .


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 18, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1462 times:

Quoting LHStarAlliance (Reply 16):
Well I assume that with Privatization = more competition .

That's the idea, but the trouble with rail is that creating genuine competition is extremely difficult, you only have one network of railways and a finite capacity on them. In reality, you can't have a free for all on routes and timings that you can in most transport systems. So, in the UK you ended up with a complete dog's breakfast of a system where franchises were awarded on a regional basis.

I don't think anyone thinks that the way it was done was the right one, and if anything the last fifteen years have been marked by various attempts to undo some of the damage. Trouble is, the franchises are necessarily long term, and it's a very bad idea for governments to suddenly pull the rug from underneath companies by making huge changes.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1453 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 18):

The privatization of the English Railway system was one of the "criminal" actions of thatcher ...


User currently offlineGkirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24906 posts, RR: 56
Reply 20, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1449 times:

Quoting LHStarAlliance (Reply 19):
The privatization of the English Railway system was one of the "criminal" actions of thatcher ...

FWIW, the whole British railway system was privatized...



When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6385 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1421 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 15):
Now, what in God's name possessed you to think a British railway company would be a good idea?

Stupid and shortsighted politicians did that.

We now have a name for that economic system of selling off public assets to private companies: "Tis i bukserne okonomi" (pie in the pants economy). It warms so nicely in the pocket of the finance minister, but only for a short while after which it is not pleasant at all. And in any case some corrective and often quite expensive measures are urgently needed, or the whole thing stinks. It's a very good name - Pie in the pants economy.

Quoting LHStarAlliance (Reply 16):
Well I assume that with Privatization = more competition.

Competition can only exist when you have two or more players. It is not possible to have more than one operator of a railway route.

Imagine that we only had one supermarket chain. We saw that in the former Soviet Union.

Privatising without competition is the same as re-inventing the Soviet Union.

Of course I believe in competition. But when competition is not possible, then we have to use the second best management system, to leave it in the hands of people who can be expelled at next elections when they foul up things.

The last option (expelling at next election) also lacked in the Soviet Union making their system fully as bad as privatisation without competition.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 22, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1414 times:

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 21):
We now have a name for that economic system of selling off public assets to private companies: "Tis i bukserne okonomi" (pie in the pants economy). It warms so nicely in the pocket of the finance minister, but only for a short while after which it is not pleasant at all. And in any case some corrective and often quite expensive measures are urgently needed, or the whole thing stinks. It's a very good name - Pie in the pants economy.

Generally speaking, it works very well. Barely anyone wants to go back to the days when companies were owned and (mis)managed by the government. Rail was a cock-up, but that's more or less the only one, really. All the others have done well, and it isn't the business of government to try to manage business, merely to create the conditions for business to thrive. Re-nationalising anything is pretty much unthinkable now. Britain has become such a laissez-faire economy that the IMF recently designated the City of London as a tax haven! Quite extraordinary.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineLHStarAlliance From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1403 times:

Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 21):

Competition can only exist when you have two or more players. It is not possible to have more than one operator of a railway route.

Imagine that we only had one supermarket chain. We saw that in the former Soviet Union.

Privatising without competition is the same as re-inventing the Soviet Union.

Of course I believe in competition. But when competition is not possible, then we have to use the second best management system, to leave it in the hands of people who can be expelled at next elections when they foul up things.

The last option (expelling at next election) also lacked in the Soviet Union making their system fully as bad as privatisation without competition.

Yea that´s right , but if the company stays public the government can control the prices ,etc


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6385 posts, RR: 54
Reply 24, posted (7 years 3 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 1389 times:

Quoting Banco (Reply 22):
Generally speaking, it works very well. Barely anyone wants to go back to the days when companies were owned and (mis)managed by the government. Rail was a cock-up, but...

You are so right, Banco. When there is competition, better privatize today than tomorrow.

But exactly railways are the most prominent example of an industry with which you cannot produce meaningful competition. Airports are another example.

And back to the original topic: Things are really going very well in Britain these days. I believe that it is to a large extent due to privatization of many industries, and also the "hire and fire" labor system which is very different to Germany and France. In Germany and France, if you are "lucky" to get a job, then you are more or less hired on a lifetime contract.

If an industry in Germany or France risks to have a workforce shrink in the future, then they are reluctant to hire more labor today, better outsource to a foreign country even if the cost is slightly higher. It is almost political suicide to propose to loosen the stiff labor rules.

Here in Denmark we also have the "hire and fire" system, or an ammended system which we call "Flexicurity" where the state provides individual economic security, job finding service and job qualification (education) service.

Lately we have had a minor invation of German and French politicians who wanted to study our Flexicurity system. But I guess that it all comes to nothing. When it is a hard won right to have a lifetime-job, then it is very difficult to change even if everybody can see that a more flexible system is needed.

And of course, when looking back into history, then it is unbelievable what the British state has been involved in. State run car factories (yes, I owned a Mini 1967), state run coal mines, even state run aircraft factories, shipyards and much more. A lot of the privatizations in Britain was very much needed, and in fact they came way too late.

Many industries were kept alive on public subsidices for way too long time, and then it spoils everything when it finally has to be closed down. I have seem coal districts in Wales where whole societies were broken up. Only few retired people were left behind with practically no services, and two out of three houses carried a sticker telling that it was for sale at £2,000.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
25 Prebennorholm : Yes, that's not the "perfect" situation. But when the only alternative is that prices are controlled by a capitalist monopole, then it is by far the
26 Post contains links Pelican : Tell that to DB (which is soon to be privatised. http://www.finanznachrichten.de/nach...ichten-2007-02/artikel-7687725.asp All in all I've to agree.
27 Post contains images ME AVN FAN : if the companies in the U.K. have such bad tax-declaration advisors why not '?
28 Post contains links Lhstaralliance : " target=_blank>http://www.finanznachrichten.de/nach...5.asp www.bahn-fuer-alle.de
29 NoUFO : Ok, finance and business is not were I'm at my best, but could it be that the British economy bases on small to medium sized companies, whereas in sa
30 Baroque : Are there any tax reasons for the difference. In Aus Keating introduced a system where dividends can have attached to them imputed credit for tax pai
31 Banco : Partly. Put it this way, had VW been a UK company, it would have been flogged off by now. The various mechanisms for preventing foreign takeovers in
32 Post contains links Prebennorholm : From www.db.de: Deutsche Bahn ist 2008 bereit für eine Teilprivatisierung (German Railway is in 2008 ready for partial prvatization). I would assume
33 Pelican : I just hope the reform process isn't stopped too early. The main export partners of Denmark are Germany, Sweden and the UK (in that order). The Danis
34 Prebennorholm : Huh, seems as if I'm still living in the (good) old days when Danish bacon and butter to Britain was our main export article. That was what I learned
35 Pyrex : Now the government may not necessarily be the best entity to RUN a coal mine but it is definitely the only entity that should be allowed to "own" one
36 Banco : Intreresting. Why should coal be different to oil? I didn't say it was the reason. That was just one element of a deeply complex system. Yes, that's
37 Baroque : Interesting. The tax imputation has made a huge difference to profit declaration in Aus. Costello (our Treasurer, who keeps on being slightly embarra
38 Banco : I don't think so. The government wouldn't want to get remotely involved in that. All they would do to encourage further exploration (if needed) would
39 Baroque : That will take them so far, but after that, the need for oil will take them down that route. It is basically the same reason that resulted in the ini
40 Pyrex : It shouldn't, that is what I was defending. Look, I am not here defending the government should OWN all the mines (coal and others), I just think tha
41 Banco : I don't see remotely how. British Gas was a massive drain on the public purse, along with most of the nationalised industries. There's no reason to t
42 Banco : And the same with oil fields? Because to some extent (I guess it's arguable) that's more or less what happens, isn't it? Certainly. Hence their repua
43 Pyrex : That is, in fact, what happens in some countries (I am not so sure about the US and the UK), and that is what I defend should happen with all natural
44 Banco : More or less. The oilfields remain UK property, and the companies are taxed on their revenues from North Sea oil and gas. It's a pretty light hand, i
45 Post contains images Baroque : Er well, I am not sure about the gas supply bit, that should never have been confused with the exploration arm. When it was sold, they effectively ga
46 Post contains images Banco : Oh, you can argue it was sold off too cheap, sure. But that's not the same as saying it shouldn't have been sold at all. That's going to happen anywa
47 Post contains images Baroque : There is a strange but neat thing called Zipf's law. You plot the log of the size of whatever it is on the ordinate, and the log of the rank of the w
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