Monthly Archive for December, 2011


Currys/Dixons/PC World/Phones4U fail

It’s cold in London in mid December.  Today, as I ran in to university, it was 1 degree Celcius and there was a pretty lethal frost on the paths in the parks.  As I was running in, I remembered that the central heating in my office would be turned off (it’s a weekend and LSE likes to save money where it can), so I pulled the run up short at the big Currys/Dixons/PC World/Phones4U shop near Warren Street Underground Station so I could buy a little electric heater.  As it happens, I also wanted to get a USB-to-micro-USB cable for my phone and figured I could kill two birds with one stone.

Now, Curixorld4U (as I have affectionately decided to call them) bill themselves as something of an electrical superstore.  Clearly they don’t mean of the American style Big Box variety, but still … they want you to think of them as a supermarket for electrical goods.  It should be easy to find what I want, right?  Wrong.  Here’s what they had:

  • A Dyson heater for £6 million; and
  • A multi-use recharging cable with 375 different dongles to allow for every conceivable phone ever built for £14.

So I went over the road to Robert Dyas and bought a little electric heater for £12.  They didn’t have the cable I wanted, but as I was walking down to LSE, I passed by the ULU and they were hosting a computer fair today.  I popped in and got exactly the cable I wanted for £5.

Note to Curixorld4U:  I understand that selling me the things I was looking for is a low margin business, but surely that’s better than no business at all?  Besides … isn’t one of the benefits of convincing people that you’re a one-stop-shop that you can exploit their search costs to slap on a fierce mark-up?  Have you even heard of price discrimination?  It doesn’t work if you only offer one version of each thing, you know.  Wouldn’t you have been better off stocking the cable I wanted for £10 and the heater I wanted for £20, perhaps in home-brand-style “charity” packaging to make them seem functional-but-unappealing?  I still would have gasped a little at the prices, but I’m a lazy man.  I would have paid.


Today’s community service announcement …

… comes from the language of scientific (well, economic) argument.

The phrase “X is consistent with Y” is actually a very, very weak statement.  All it’s saying is that X doesn’t provide evidence against Y.  Here’s a handy flow chart:

X is … Y:    “consistent with” < “suggestive of” < “evidence for” < “proof of”


It’s not a fiscal union and Cameron didn’t veto it

A fiscal union would have transfers from various parts of the union to various other parts over the business cycle.  A guarantee to stand behind somebody’s debt while simultaneously insisting that you’ll never actually need to cough up a cent because you’ve made them pinky swear is not a fiscal union.

A veto stops a thing from happening (think of the UN Security Council).  The fiscal compact is going to go ahead, just without Britain.  Therefore, Britain did not veto it; they declined to take part.

That is all.

Update:

Okay, that isn’t quite all.  Just to be clear, I think that Cameron did the wrong thing.  I believe that, at a minimum, he should have committed to bringing the proposal to the UK parliament.  It may well have been voted down at that point, but nevertheless it should have happened.  Parliament is sovereign in the UK.  This was a serious proposal with potentially significant consequences from either agreeing to it or walking away from it; the people of Britain deserved to have their elected representatives decide.

I am undecided on whether signing up to the pact would be in the best interests of the UK.