Archive for the 'UK' Category

cry this

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Due to the given financial crisis governments worldwide are busy to bundle up “care packages”. Oversimplifying a bit one can describe the current scenario as follows:

Banks lost trust among themselves, therefore they tend to cease lending out money, therefore capital flow is in danger, therefore economy is in danger. Hence governments put guarantees, buy up problematic assets etc., which in the turn buffer the risk for the banks, so that the banks will again have more confidence into themselves.

This would be funny if it wouldn’t be funny at all.

In particular the german government will issue a “stabilization law”, which is intended to be pushed through by the end of the week and which I find hard to accept. Why?

Lets first put together the main points of this law:
(english handout):

-the german government provides a fund with a volume of 500 billion Euros (operated by the ministry of finance and administered by Deutsche Bank) , with which “measurements” such as recapitalization (which means more or less bying parts of banks/sharevalues/etc.)(80 billion Euro) and putting guarantees (400 billion Euro + 20 billion security reserve) can be taken.

In exchange for this public donation one can read today on the webpage of the ministry of finance that:

Der Bundesregierung ist wichtig, dass Manager harte Auflagen in Kauf nehmen müssen, wenn sie unter diesen Absicherungsschirm wollen. Neben der angemessen Vergütung für die Hilfen wird es für jedes Unternehmen, das Unterstützung braucht:

* eine Höchstgrenze für Vorstandsbezüge von 500.000 Euro geben müssen
* einen Verzicht auf Bonuszahlungen geben müssen
* einen Verzicht auf Dividendenausschüttungen geben müssen.

(translation without guarantee)
It is important for the german government that managers have to accept firm obligations, if they want to be eligible for safeguarding measurements. Besides an adequate compensation for the help it will be necessary to demand for each corporation, which is in need that

*there exists an upper limit of 500000 Euro for remuneration of members of the management
*a disclaimer for bonuses
*a disclaimer for dividends

In their draft for the new law these obligations are not mentioned explicitly, but it is written (§ 10) that the obligations which have to be complied with (zu erfüllenden Anforderungen) can be later on specified in socalled Rechtsverordnungen.

The above described help package of the german government is valid until Dec. 31. 2009.

What are my main problems with this package?

Among others (i have not really time for going into detail) it is the term “zu erfüllende Anforderungen” (demands which have to be complied with). Given that I understood correctly –

this means that only corporations, which are already in big troubles have to comply to remuneration regulating means.

Given this is true, I find that quite unacceptable.

Or in other words:

Why does the german government not take the chance to impose more regulatory influence ?
This could be e.g. done by demanding that companies, which want to be eligible to this kind of generous risk buffering package have to comply to restructure their remuneration system from today on and not only from the date on, when they are in trouble!

It is fairly obvious that a big part of the current disaster is due to –yes one should call what it is — “profitable and riskless gambling with the ressources of others”. In other words most of the current remuneration systems reward those who are successfully pushing the limits without (almost) any personal consequences. In particular it does not reward those, who may step back e.g. for moral and other reasons.

In this statement by Hector Sants from FSA (UK Financial Services Authority) Criteria for good and bad renumeration policies are outlined.

They are a bit too weak for my taste, but well they give at least some indication on what is darned necessary.

see also article by Bettina Schulz (in german)

book recommendation, vegetarian cooking

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008


Climate change will directly affect future food availability and compound the difficulties of feeding the world’s rapidly growing population, this could be more dramatic then previously assumed. It is also sort of wellknown that the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global and especially regarding global warming see e.g. this FAO report. So in principle for the environment it would be best to be vegan. (see also this cornell study)


ethics of progress

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

“no-clohning” artwork by On von Nomann

theatre + science by TANGLE – UNLIMITED THEATRE

A mind-melting, jargon-free, whistlestop tour of leading edge Quantum Physics.

a co-production with Oxford Playhouse
and Leeds Met Studio Theatre

” Mind-blowing stuff ” The Scotsman
” Unexpectedly gripping and improbably pleasurable ” The Guardian


on climate change games

Monday, November 26th, 2007

According to today -on French President Nicholas Sarkozy`s state visit to China- a deal was signed which ensures that

France’s national nuclear champion Areva will build two power reactors at Taishan, China and undertake a feasibility study for a used nuclear fuel reprocessing plant as part of an Eur8 billion deal ($12 billion).

Areva are also to provide “all the materials and services required to operate” the forthcoming 1600 MWe EPR units, to be sited at Taishan, 100 km southwest of Guangzhou and 150 km west of Hong Kong in Guangdong province.


about renewable energy targets

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Todays newspapers were full of mentioning yesterdays talk by Al Gore in Berlin.

about visiting greenwich

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I try to stay up to date with what’s going on in the math and physics world by e.g. reading blogs of scientists. One of the probably most famous blogs in the mathematical physics world is this week’s finds by John Baez whom I visited on Friday.


toll logistics

Friday, September 7th, 2007


Due to the tube strike I learned a lot about London bus, tube and train ticket systems (e.g. like the above oyster card, a 10 pounds recharge card). I am happy that my sister has an insight into the matter because the system is fairly complicated (e.g. for taking a longer trip a day ticket is better). However it is not as crazy as the subway system in Tokyo, where on a longer trip it may happen that one needs to pass several toll points and buy new tickets each time. As I understood this is mainly due to the fact that the lines have seperate owners. The Tokyo subway ticketing system reminded me a bit of the toll policy in Germany in medieval times, where virtually every feudal sovereign put up a toll station (it reminded me actually also of the german current network). And likewise the ticket problem in my last post seems to be at least partially due to national borders.

Despite of new means of communication such as cell phones, videoconferencing etc. you will still have to meet with your potential collaborators/business partners etc. in person. This implies that traffic will increase with growing globalization. So if one wants to reduce carbon output in traffic one of the first things one should think about is how to improve the train system as an alternative to planes. A better website may be a start.

phone simphoney

Monday, September 3rd, 2007


This overcrowded shop window of a stationary caught my attention.


hear and see London data

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

It seems to be a London week here at randform.
sensity is an audio-visual artwork that lets you hear and see data collected by wireless sensors around in London.

off to Hyde Park

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Yesterday I felt like going to Hyde Park.