Showing posts with label capitalists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label capitalists. Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2013

Stealing candy from children

University of California’s Paul Piff led a series of experiments that delved into the behavior associated with inequality in the United States.

 In one experiment, Piff placed an individual in a room with a bowl of candy on the table. He said the candy was intended for a study being done with children later, but they were welcome to have a few pieces, but not very much. Wealthier participants took two times as much candy from children as the poorer participants.

Piff then tested honesty in reporting dice rolls, when a cash prize was on the line.  They found that people in the upper income brackets, that were making $150,000-$200,000 were four times more likely to cheat than people in lower income brackets just to win credits for a $50 cash prize.

Piff led another experiment where he simply made people feel rich in the office.  He did this through a simple game of monopoly, played with two people. One person begins the game more well off.  They get $2,000 to the poorer person’s $1,000.  They get to start the game with the Rolls-Royce, instead of an old boot-playing piece.  And finally, they get to roll two die, instead of just one. The game was rigged for the player who started out wealthier to win.

While the rich players are determined randomly, by the end of the game, when the richer players are asked whether they deserved to win the game, the answer was unanimously, yes.  They attributed success to themselves, even though it was simply a coin flip that got them on the rich side of the monopoly board.  In a game as simple as this, we see that the richer individual in the game, starts to attribute success more and more to their own character, and less and less to all of the other factors that influenced their success.

It is clear that inequality produces behaviors that rationalize where we fall on the economic ladder.

Those who were on the rich side of the board were more likely to eat from a bowl of pretzels positioned on the table. The talked with their mouths full so they were a little ruder.  But, the psychologically poor become way more generous, charitable, and much more likely to offer help to another person.

See here

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Scottish Capitalist Class get 58% Richer

This year’s Sunday Times UK rich list, which includes a total of 78 people from Scotland in its top 1,000, the most to feature in a decade. There are now six billionaires from north of the Border on the list, one more than in 2012. £21bn of wealth has been accrued by the top 100 millionaires.

Scotland’s rich are getting richer as the rest of Scots continues to struggle economically. The most affluent Scots saw their personal wealth soar by up to 58 per cent.

Highland Spring owner Mahdi al-Tajir is still Scotland’s richest man, and the 44th wealthiest in the UK, now boasting a fortune of £1,656 million up £56 million on 2012.

Banffshire distiller William Grant remain in second place on the list with family wealth totalling £1,400 million.

Sir Ian Wood’s, former chairman of Aberdeen-based Wood group, personal wealth now stands at £1,200m.

Ian Coxon, the rich list editor, said: “The 2013 rich list shows that business is booming in Scotland from Aberdeen to Ayr.”

Yup, capitalism is okay for some while we all face rising bills and less income to pay them.

Monday, March 04, 2013

The greedy thieving lying cheats

Four Psychology professors from the University of California at Berkeley and a Business professor from the University of Toronto—conducted two “naturalistic” field studies to determine if the rich were more likely to break the law while driving, and five laboratory studies gauging upper-class attitudes and propensities toward unethical decision-making. In all seven studies, the rich subjects behaved more unethically and harbored positive opinions of greed that helped justify their selfishness.

The results were that the rich are more likely to break traffic laws, to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies, to take things of value from others, to lie in a negotiation, to cheat to win a game, and to endorse unethical behavior at work, than were lower-class individuals. Moreover, the data showed that a positive attitude toward greed was the main driver for the wealthy’s tolerance of and participation in unethical conduct.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Poor Rich

Europe's richest families are suffering, the poor wee souls. Having had returns on investments of 8 percent in 2011 and nearly 12 percent in 2010 the annual return dropped to 3.6 percent. They could have performed better if they hadn't held so much low-performing cash, or real estate, because some stock markets and asset classes such as government bonds moved ahead strongly. Rather than speculate in shares, the rich have hoarded in the safety of bank deposits and land.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

trumped by the capitalist

Donald Trump opened his new £100m golf course. Trump had flown into Aberdeen on a private jet emblazoned in gold with the Trump brand.

The course is built across a stretch of stunning land overlooking the North Sea, some of which had been designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) because of the way the dunes moved northwards over time. Trump claims to have stabilised the land to create the "greatest golf course in the world". The Golf Environment Organisation, which vets courses and is backed by the European Tour, complained of the course's "considerable negative impact on what was one of the UK's most valuable mobile sand dune systems".

Trump denying there were any protesters, declaring after the first nine holes: "The environmentalists love what I have done." A second question about the environmental impact saw the billionaire shepherded by an aide away from the media and towards the VIP refreshment tent.

Later Trump said "Nothing will ever be built around this course because I own all the land around it," he said with a smile. "It's nice to own land."

Susan Monro home is just 100 metres away from the course clubhouse and she refused to sell up so Trump  piled an 8 metre high sand berm around her house, blocking her sea views. Huge gates have been erected at the end of her lane and she complains Trump's security staff shine lights into her home at night.

Another local who resisted Trump's attempts to buy him out is now forced to live behind a row of tall spruce trees planted on Trump's orders at the edge of his property which screen off spectacular views of the dunes and the sea.

Trump once declared "It's our property, we can do what we want."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Room with a view - £7 million

Scotland’s most expensive flat, yours for £7m. The penthouse is priced at offers of more than £6.3m or a fixed price of £7.3m to take it off the market immediately – smashing the previous record for a Scottish apartment, thought to be Whittingehame House in East Lothian, priced at £2.5m which sold in 2010. Selling prices in Edinburgh for whole houses have nudged £5m, while rural estates can go for far more.

It is no surprise that the newly-refurbished Hamilton Grand in St Andrews is the most expensive apartments in Scotland. The former hotel towers looks across the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and therefore has a legitimate claim to “the best view in golf”. It was bought in 2009 by US billionaire Herb Kohler’s company, which is creating 26 apartments, with prices starting from £2.2m and ranging in size from 1,133 to 2,780 square feet. Owners will share a roof garden with sweeping vistas over the golf course and coast, and the penthouse will have its own private terrace along two sides overlooking the 18th green. Jamie Macnab of Savills, which is marketing the Hamilton Grand in the UK, said buyers are likely to come from abroad. There will be a golf concierge and butler service in the building and residents will have access to the Old Course Hotel facilities and spa. Complimentary membership of the Duke’s Course is included and permanent residents can apply for a yearly golf ticket for the more famous links courses.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Red Capitalists

For much of the last decade, while Bo Xilai, Communist Party chief in the city of Chongqing, a large metropolis with province status, and a member of the Politburo, was busy moving up the ranks of the Communist Party, and even striking populist themes aimed at improving the lot of the poor, his relatives were quietly amassing a fortune estimated at more than $160 million. His elder brother accumulated millions of dollars’ worth of shares in one of the country’s biggest state-owned conglomerates. His sister-in-law owns a significant stake in a printing company she started that was recently valued at $400 million. And even Mr. Bo’s 24-year-old son, now studying at Harvard, got into business in 2010, registering a technology company with $320,000 in start-up capital.

Just a few weeks before his fall from power, Bo Xilai wrote an inscription in calligraphy, praising the Chongqing Water Assets Management Company, and urging support for its operations. What he did not say was that a foundation controlled by his younger brother, Bo Xicheng, had acquired a stake in a subsidiary of the water company. Mr. Bo had done something similar in 2003, while serving as governor here in Liaoning Province. He said his province would make supporting the Dalian Daxian company, a conglomerate engaged primarily in electronics manufacturing, one of the most important tasks of the next five years. A few years earlier, another company controlled by the same younger brother was listed as the owner of nearly a million shares in Dalian Daxian, worth about $1.2 million.

Bo Xilai’s downfall has cast the spotlight on the hidden wealth and power accumulated by the Communist Party’s revolutionary families, and by the sons, daughters, wives and close relatives of the nation’s high-ranking leaders. Two of Bo Xilai’s three brothers are well-established businessmen with close ties to state companies.

 His elder brother, Bo Xiyong, 64, has invested over the years, according to Hong Kong records, in a series of offshore investment vehicles like Advanced Technology and Economic Development, partly owned by a British Virgin Islands entity, and Far Eastern Industries. But little about the companies is publicly available. Bo Xiyong is also vice chairman of China Everbright International, a division of the Everbright Group, a giant state-owned company. His annual salary is about $200,000 and his stake in the company during the past decade is about $10 million, based on shares he has sold and the value of his current stock options, according to public filings. In addition, Bo Xiyong is a deputy of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a government advisory body, and until recently he served as deputy chairman of HKC Holdings, a Hong Kong company controlled by the family of an Indonesian billionaire. In 2010, the big American private equity firm TPG invested about $25 million in HKC, which specializes in infrastructure and alternative energy projects in China and has won numerous state contracts.

Bo Xicheng, the younger brother, Bo Xicheng has served as a director of several big state-owned companies, including Citic Securities, one of China’s largest investment houses. He is also the founder of a small company that makes fire extinguishers and other equipment, called Beijing Liuhean Firefighting Science and Technology, whose products are used in government agencies, luxury hotels, power plants and in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. He has ties to several companies that operated in Dalian and Chongqing, the two cities where Bo Xilai served as a high-ranking official. His charitable foundation, the Beijing Xingda Educational Foundation, has on its board of directors the heads of two real estate developers, the Dalian Huanan Group and Chongqing Tianyou, as well as Weng Zhenjie, the chief executive of the Chongqing International Trust Company. Among the advisers to the foundation, which has already raised more than $20 million, are two academics from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who publicly supported Bo Xilai’s “Chongqing model” of development. The foundation owns a $2 million stake in Chongqing Water Group, a company now valued at about $5 billion.

Two of Bo Xilai sisters-in-law - Gu Wangjiang and Gu Wangning - have earned millions of dollars in publishing, real estate and other ventures. Together they own about $120 million worth of shares in the TungKong Security Printing Company in eastern China. The TungKong Web site says the company has contracts with some of China’s biggest state-owned enterprises and government agencies, including the tax authorities and the Central Bank. Gu Wangning also helped Bo Guagua establish a technology company in Beijing in 2010.

Bo Zhiyue, a senior fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute. “The relatives of other party leaders are also doing lots of business deals, and people will begin to ask: What about them? Was the Bo family the only one doing this kind of thing?”

They are conduits of power. Laurence Brahm, a former lawyer who has written books on China’s economy and political scene explained “By virtue of the fact that they are a son or daughter of someone, when they visit the provinces they’ll get red carpet treatment from the leaders there. The businesspeople can tag along.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It's odds on you'll stay poor

The Sunday Times Rich List reveals there are five billionaires living in Scotland.

The richest man in Scotland with £1.6billion remains Mahdi al-Tajir, who owns mineral water firm Highland Spring. His wealth has risen by £50million in the last year,

In second place is the Grant and Gordon family who own the William Grant and Sons whisky distillery. Their wealth increased by £450million to £1.4billion.

At third, Alastair Salvesen, of the  Glasgow plant hire firm Aggreko. His fortune is £1.3billion, up £460million from last year.

Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood’s with £1.2billion is in 4th position

Engineering magnate Jim McColl, has assets of £1billion.

While ordinary people struggle to make ends meet, the total number of Scots on the list of the UK’s 1000 wealthiest people has risen from 70 to 74.

Of course, it could have been you. Largs couple Colin and Chris Weir after their £161million EuroMillions win are the 23rd richest people in Scotland - at odds of over 116 million to one.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weir the people

The board of Weir Group has rewarded chief executive Keith Cochrane with a near-£1 million bonus and double-digit pay rise.

Cochrane received a £625,000 salary and £975,000 bonus as part of a £1.62m package, up from £1.26m the previous year.

Finance director Jon Stanton will receive a 5 per cent rise to £420,000 from next month. For last year Stanton received a £392,500 salary and £400,000 bonus as part of an £806,957 package, up from £732,573.

Legal and commercial director Alan Mitchelson, who is standing down at the forthcoming AGM, received a £344,127 salary and £350,000 bonus as part of a £708,584 package, up from £665,887.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Gone Fishin'

A mile long stretch of river with an average catch is 135 fish a year, plus one wooden hut, and a £1 million pound price.

"...It is great owning your own stretch of water and being able to bring your family and friends for a day’s fishing.” - William Jackson, the agent

Friday, October 21, 2011

Who owns Scotland

The book "Scotland: Land and Power (The Agenda for Land Reform)" by Andy Wightman explains that 1252 landowners own two-thirds of the 16 million-plus acres of private rural land in Scotland.

It is a legacy of the universal process behind the rise of capitalism: the war on common ownership and the separation of people from land, by sword and by fraud (The Clearances).

Once enough people were denied the autonomy that access to land provided, a class of exploitable wage workers was produced and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oily capitalists

Ian Suttie is currently ranked at 13th on Scotland's Rich List with an estimated fortune of £340 million. But the Aberdeen-based tycoon might overtake both metals magnate Mahdi al Tajir, worth about £1.55bn, and Sir Ian Wood, head of the Wood Group and worth £1.119bn, as a result of his company's stake in a significant oil find. Suttie is head of First Oil & Gas, an independent company which has a 30 per cent stake in the Kraken Field discovery. His firm's potential share is estimated at about £3.2bn. Even after development and tax costs, First Oil and Mr Suttie stand to gain more than £1bn once the field begins producing oil in 2015.

Suttie, a director of 40 companies, has had a chequered career since he started out as a chartered accountant. Nine years ago, he took over the Richards textile factory in Aberdeen after the Broadford plant, once one of the city's leading employers, went bust, leaving hundreds of workers without a pension. As part of the deal, the sprawling 8.5-acre site was sold for £5m to a company called Hawkrow, of which Mr Suttie was the sole director. Mr Suttie moved the company's operations to the Northfield area of the city. But the textile firm he created went into receivership in November 2004, leaving the 196 remaining workers without a job. Union leaders accused him of asset-stripping after it was revealed that First Construction, the successor company to Hawkrow, was behind ambitious plans for a £50m urban village development at the Broadford site.

In November 2005, he was cleared of cheating the Inland Revenue out of thousands of pounds in tax which should have been paid on the interest on one of his bank accounts. He had been charged with four counts of fraud in connection with his tax returns over a four-year period, but walked free after he told his trial at the Sheriff Court in Aberdeen he was unaware that his £1m Bank of Scotland account at the centre of the case was an interest- bearing account because he never looked at his statements!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rich Scotland

Scotland's million-pound-plus property market is bucking the trend as wealthy foreign buyers snap up prime residential homes across the country. Georgian townhouses in Edinburgh, properties within putting distance of a golf course in St Andrews and Highland sporting estates are particularly in demand by international buyers.

Figures released by the selling agents Savills yesterday show the top end of the property market performing well, with 146 high-value homes costing £1 million or more selling in 2010, compared with 106 in 2009. Sales at £1 million and more during the first six months of this year were up by a third on last year, from 50 to almost 70.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

sharing the pain?

In 2006 Andy Hornby was appointed chief executive of HBOS. One analyst wrote in a City circular: "Andy Hornby is a superstar." He was said to have been devastated by the collapse of HBOS in 2008. But within nine months he was back with Alliance Boots. He was the highest paid member of the Alliance Boots' board, with a pay package of £2.4 million which included £750,000 of bonuses, plus bene-fits and pension supplements. But he quit Boots after less than two years in charge, stating that he needed to step back from corporate life. Executive chairman Stefano Pessina said that Hornby was stressed and required a break. At the time the company said he would not receive a pay-off but the annual report revealed he received a £450,000 cheque to stop him joining a rival healthcare group.

Hornby is back in another top job - the head of the bookmaker chain Coral. He joined Gala Coral Group as chief executive with the job of reviving the bookmaking arm of the gambling company. He will take control over 1,670 shops as well as online and telephone betting services.

So from the stock market casino to the bookies, Hornby gambles on and while we lose , he wins.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

all at sea

How the other half live and more accurately how the 0.00002 per cent live. CRN Spa, builders of mega-yachts, estimates that there are just 1,500 people in the world wealthy enough to consider buying a boat from them. ( there is also, of course, the "ultra-mega yachts" of the type recently purchased by the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the world's biggest, featuring two helipads and a submersible escape submarine.)

"I know the names of all our clients," says the boatyard's chairman, "They're not famous people. You won't have heard of them." But, chances are, in one way or another, money that was once in your bank account is now in theirs'.

A few years ago an American client arrived and had signed a contract to buy a 43-metre yacht within two hours, with a price tag of €25m (£21.6m). He had never owned a boat before. "He told us: 'The interiors, the colours, the finishes, I don't care. The only thing I care about is the safety of my dog, as the boat is a present for her.'" On boats you have big holes, big gaps, big open spaces where a dog might fall. In the end he spent over a million euros having the holes closed over with glass and netting.

One wife of an Eastern European gentlemen, apparently, spent €3.5m on Swarovski crystals, which were attached to everything. In the finished vessel, the great chandelier in the main dining room matched the flip-flops worn by guests. She also requested a real wood fire, right next to a silk and cashmere carpet that cost €750 per square metre.
One of CRN's yach
ts, Maraya, has been chartered several times by P Diddy (with an estimated wealth of only $475m, or £288m, he doesn't quite make the 1,500), at a cost of €400,000 a week.

1. 'Eclipse' 557ft Roman Abramovich Features a missile-detection system and a laser shield to hinder the paparazzi's cameras. It also holds the distinction of being the world's largest.
2. 'Dubai' 532ft Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum This floating palace has seven decks, with jacuzzis and a mosaic swimming pool. It can also support a nine-tonne helicopter.
3. 'Al Said' 508ft Qaboos bin Said al Said The Sultan of Oman's yacht has a heli-pad, a cinema and a concert hall which can accommodate a 50-strong orchestra.
4. 'Prince Abdulaziz' 482ft Saudi Royal Family The world's largest and most expensive yacht when it was built in 1984. Its luxurious lobby was inspired by that of the doomed Titanic ocean liner

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Russians are coming !!

Thanks to big-spending wealthy Russians visitors Scotland's tourism industry is withstanding the economic downturn.

Hotel bills of around £20,000 for a 10-day stay for two are said to be commonplace while some small family groups are reported to have spent £100,000.

The Scotsman has learned of guests hiring a castle for £7,000 a night and shopping sprees lasting just half an hour have notched up the same bill. Two Russian guests were said to have hired out the Royal Yacht Britannia, in Leith.

Moscow is home to the world's second-largest concentration of billionaires after New York.

Denise Hill, head of international marketing of VisitScotland, said:"We are getting a lot of oligarchs visiting, for whom money is no object, as well as growing numbers on incentive trips through their businesses. Some groups will spend £20,000 on whiskies in a hotel without even thinking about it."

David Tobin, founder of Dream Escape, which provides tailor-made luxury holiday packages in Scotland, said many Russian clients arrived in their own private jets and travelled around Scotland by helicopter. "Many of them will own property in London and come up to Scotland on holiday when they are in the UK," he said. "They are used to spending several thousand pounds on hotel suites around the world, so they think nothing of spending the same on a private hire of a castle...I know of four guests popping into the House of Bruar in Perthshire for half an hour and spending around £7,000."

Dorothy Welsh, director of sales and marketing at Gleneagles, said: "A stay of 10 nights in one of our best suites is certainly not unusual and some guests will spend as much as £20,000 here."

Monday, May 16, 2011


The Guardian columnist describes what is called "funemployment"

Workshy, embracing unemployment as a lifestyle choice, sometimes one inherited from the parents, and spending money scrounged off others on booze and drugs. No, not the feckless "chav" caricatures who regularly feature in tabloid horror stories, used to justify further attacks on Britain's besieged welfare state. It's a new generation of young, wealthy freeloaders - the "funemployed".

It might seem perverse to associate fun with the trauma of unemployment. Around 2.5 million Britons are officially without work; youth unemployment is currently running at over 20%. But in a society where Jobseekers Allowance is just £67.50 – among the lowest of comparable western European nations – it's a right that only a small elite can meaningfully exercise. While most Britons are suffering the biggest squeeze on living standards for nearly a century, there is plenty of money around for the uber-wealthy to splash out on their kids. The wealth of the top 1,000 people went up by nearly a fifth in the last year.

Public, an exclusive Chelsea nightclub set up by Prince William's best friend Guy Pelly, has only been open for five months, but more than a hundred residents and businesses have called for it to be closed because of the disorderly behaviour of its privileged clientele: noisiness, vomiting and used condoms left littering the streets.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Scottish Rich

Scotland's richest have increased their fortunes. The Sunday Times Rich List found Highland Spring and Park Hotels owner Mahdi al-Tajir is still the wealthiest Scot, with a fortune of £1,550 million, up £50m in a year. Sir Ian Wood and his family remain at number two, with an increase of £157m from their oil services and fishing business.

With a combined fortune of £18.257 billion, many of Scotland's richest 100 men and women have seen their fortunes increase in the past year. The top multi-millionaires added a combined £60.2bn to their £395.8bn wealth.

The Daily Record provided lesson on capitalist economics - the rich get richer while the poor get poorer .

This is how it comes about. On a simple level, if you have money, you're earning interest. If you have loans, you're paying interest. The result is that the rich are always moving forwards while the poor are always going backwards - and bear in mind that there are different speeds involved. If the rich are earning five per cent interest on their money, the poor are probably paying around 25 per cent on their loans.

If you are poor, you have lost control. If you're rich, you have it and you use it to spread your money around. If you are poor, you have lost control. If you're rich, you have it and you use it to spread your money around.

This is the first rule of wealth creation - diversify. Sell shares if you think the stock market looks ropey and buy something else - gold or shares in an Indian computer company. People with little money tend to have most of it invested in UK shares and their wealth rises or falls with the market. Not the rich. They spread their money between a wide range of investments to make sure that if one is falling, another is rising.

Our economy may have been feeble for a few years, but there have been plenty of countries that have been powering ahead. If you switched your money from here to Brazil in 2008, you'd be patting yourself on the back. If we in the UK are suffering because of high oil prices, why not buy oil futures that give you a profit as the price goes up? The simple fact is that while one market is weak, another is strong. If you have wealth, you can keep your fingers in as many financial pies as possible. The rich do this with their personal money and businesses. Very few top people have stayed in one small area of the business world. They recognise they have to make money in recessions as well as boom times and diversify accordingly. It's all about swings and roundabouts.

The second way the rich make money in a recession is by switching from buying to selling. Professional investors can make money on falling markets just as they can on rising markets. Buying shares is simply a bet they will go up in price. Professionals can make similar bets that pay out if the market falls.

And they can also insure themselves. If they have a couple of million invested in the stock market, they can pay a premium and if the market does fall, the policy pays out. Heads they win, tails you lose.

There are quite a few bankers in the Rich List, but they've set themselves up so that they can make money no matter what. As long as markets move, there's money to be made. Commodity traders are also there in abundance. The Chinese economy has handed them huge profits as it consumed the world's commodity reserves.

Many have "inheritance" as an explanation for their wealth. The Duke of Westminster has got £7billion and a lot of it from property.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

one law for the rich ...

The millionaire owner of the House of Bruar retail complex escaped a driving ban and was allowed to stay on the road despite now having 14 points on his licence after persuading a court it would cause him exceptional hardship. Birkbeck claimed he would be forced to sack staff at the shopping complex if he was banned from the road as no-one else in the company was capable of buying the goods on display at the upmarket shopping centre. He was fined £300.

Birkbeck was driving a £70,000, 3.6 litre Range Rover Vogue TDV8 when he was detected by police speeding at 90mph on the M90 motorway.

“If he is disqualified for six months there will be a large number of redundancies at House of Bruar...He would have no option but to let people go – breadwinners who live in the local area." Solicitor David McKie, defending, said.

Actually, to Socialist Courier, that sounds very much like blackmail.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The rich get richer

Wage freeze for many. Benefit cuts for many.

Transport tycoon Brian Souter reveals the value of his investment portfolio has risen by 41% over three years totalling £400million.