Research, Ed Miliband, and Quantitative easing theory.

Some eclectic bollocks to round off the week

I frequently have doubts about Californians, and never more than when they decide to do some research.

When asked if they were ever uncertain or hesitant about getting married at an initial interview some years ago, 47% of husbands and 38% of wives told University of California Los Angeles researchers that yes, they did indeed have doubts . In the event, half the doubtful wives were divorced within four years, but with men less than a third were.

Ergo….(and I quote) ‘women found their niggles were more meaningful in predicting trouble after the wedding.’ Oh, and – you’ll never guess – people with no doubts at all tended to be far less likely to divorce. Well I never did.

The ergos the research bods extrapolated are, respectively, simplistic and obvious.

There now follows just a short selection of insights and hypotheses the researchers missed. The doubting blokes may have been just as hacked off with the bad marriage they ended up in, but decided to stick it out and have a quieter, less expensive life as a result. The doubting men stayed at home because the sveldt blonde at the copying machine said “In your dreams”. The doubting women were neurotic wombats who’d have doubts about whether the toast is macrobiotic enough. The doubting women were not neurotic, merely reckless, wombats: if they had that many doubts, they shouldn’t have put their dads through the expense of a marriage. Men are less keen on the idea of marriage per se. The doubting men were feckless creatures who would’ve preferred to carry on being led around by the dick. The 53% of marriages that survived did so because the participants displayed few if any of the foregoing features.

We do far, far too much research. And spend far, far too little time using informed training and experience in the process of analysing it.


Asked whether it is good to be rich, Ed Miliband told the Daily Telgraph today, “Yes, if you make it the hard way. It’s not for me to pass moral judgment.”

Oh dear Ed, just when you were starting to get a few things right, bean, you blow it by coming out with this puerile, half-baked soundbite.

1. Whether you make a lot of money the easy or hard way is not a determinant of whether you are likely to be a good social animal using that money for constructive and/or charitable reasons.

2. There is no moral judgement applicable to the making of money that is earned in a lawful, respectable manner. Ed saying it’s ‘not for him’ to make such a judgement is to be magnanimous towards the innocent.

What the Opposition Leader displays in that one short statement is his never-ending need to be careful. And what he fails to do is give a lead. He is not his own man – just as Cameron is not his own man  – and therefore he may yet win the next election, but he will never be a leader.

Anyway, rather than be always the critic and never the teacher, here’s what I would’ve said:

“Anyone who earns a great deal of money within the law, doesn’t evade tax – and as a result creates employment with no unpleasant social side-effects – is being an excellent citizen who should receive a tax rebate over time for their efforts”.

Now that’s a policy. It’s isn’t old Labour moralistic envy, and it isn’t Tory ‘anything goes to show we’re open for business’ slime. It is the right thing to say, in being both decent and commercial. The trouble with the Labour Party is that it can never take a rightful advantage, because it is always too busy trying to say what is opportune. Insert ‘Conservative’ for Labour there, and you have the problem with the political class in one.


Meet the new fiscal genius: Scott Sumner, an economics Prof at America’s Bentley University. He thinks QE is no use unless it ‘targets’. He calls his approach ‘Nominal Gross Domestic Product’ or ‘NGDP’. Other sites like Business Insider have extolled Scott’s virtues, and included an FAQs about his theory ‘in the simplest means possible’. Most pundits now think that Bernanke’s QE3 is based on Scott’s ideas.

I’ve read the FAQs and it seems to me that Scott Sumner is saying to Bernanke:

1. Succeed don’t fail

2. Do whatever the markets want

3. Buy everything toxic you can lay your hands on.

And no, I still have no glimmer of an idea WTF NGDP means. On the whole, I am very confused indeed. This bit in particular had me alternately yawning and twitching:

‘Once the Fed has set monetary policy at the level expected to produce on-target growth, then there is no role for fiscal stimulus, it can only make things worse….as long as the Fed targets 12 month forward NGDP or inflation, we don’t need to be worried about damaging inflation.  A temporary blip in inflation may occur from oil prices now and then, but it won’t feed into core inflation, and hence wages.’

Uh-huh. Like I said, succeed don’t fail. Why be crap when you can be great? Why be old when you can be young? Why be wrong when you can be right?

You may think otherwise, so by all means go to the FAQs – and let me know if they light your fire.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.