Monday, March 30, 2015

Reporting brilliance

Few pieces of media commentary are more asinine than reporters dealing with share prices… I have collected many over the years. A worthy addition recently. “Here are today’s major movers. Contact Energy was unchanged, Meridian……..”

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Regulatory brilliance… again

Having labelled food products to within an inch of their life to pacify the food worriers – and shoved the price up in process, I hear in my NW supermarket today, ads for “free” courses (read consumers pay) on how to interpret food labelling. MBIE would regard that as a regulatory win then?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Getting gray power into proportion–NZ is little different

Britain should stop subsidising the old and rich at the expense of the young and poor

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INVOKING the spirit of the Blitz, Britain’s Conservative-led government says that, when it comes to austerity, Britons are in it together. Yet the group born under the shadow of the country’s wartime trials is largely exempt. Since 2010 the basic state pension has risen by 16%—5% in real terms—under a formula that guarantees generous increases whatever the economic weather. Pensioners also enjoy free TV licences, free bus passes and a handout to help pay winter fuel bills. The government even subsidises their savings, by offering bonds yielding 4% interest—more than five times its own borrowing cost—exclusively to the over-65s. And if the Tories are returned to power at the general election in May, oldies can expect more of this largesse. On February 23rd David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, promised to protect their handouts on the basis that “these people have fought wars, seen us through recessions—made this the great country it is today” (see article).

That argument is economically senseless and morally indefensible. Over the past five years, the average British household has seen its income fall by about £500 as a result of coalition tax increases and spending cuts. The average two-pensioner household has taken a hit of just £23. Yet far from being the shivering, uncomplaining veterans of Tory spin, its members more typically came of age in the easy-living 1960s. Buoyed by generous pensions and decades of soaring house prices, the wealthiest fifth of pensioner households enjoy average incomes well over twice the British average: for such lucky wrinklies, the winter-fuel allowance is less an inducement to turn on the radiator than an invitation to chambre some decent wine. And as more British home-owners approach retirement, the numbers of rich pensioners will grow. The truth is Mr Cameron is motivated less by a desire to uphold the dignity of age than to bribe pensioners—the Britons most likely to vote Tory.

Contrast their treatment with that of younger Britons, whose taxes are paying for their pampered elders. Unlike state pensions, working-age handouts have been squeezed. Child benefit, previously a universal payment to parents, is now means-tested. The Tories have promised the young even more austerity, by making them work for unemployment benefits—which are already 21% less generous for the under-25s—and denying them housing benefit.

Transfers from young to old can be justified, both because many of the old cannot work and because technological progress means youngsters are likely to end up better off than their grandparents. Yet today’s low-skilled Britons, unlike their grandparents, have seen their incomes serially squeezed. At 14%, youth unemployment is high. And for those without property to inherit, exorbitant rents and house prices—the result of decades of failed planning—have dashed the dream of home-ownership to which Britons aspire.

Tough but fair

Britain’s next government must redress this imbalance, not worsen it, as Mr Cameron proposes. It should scrap the free bus tickets and other pensioner bungs, which would save £3 billion. By means-testing the state pension, it should bump up payments to poor pensioners and gradually withdraw them from the richest ones. Many oldies would feel aggrieved; the universal state pension has long been seen as a cornerstone of the welfare state. Yet money is short, and the scale of today’s redistribution from the poor to the rich is hard to defend. Moreover, reforming the pension could help preserve a more cherished cornerstone. Cutting the state pension bill by a fifth would save about £15 billion. That is about half the extra cash the National Health Service will soon require—if it is to meet the steeply rising

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to drive up the cost of borrowing for the poverty stricken

A bit of thinking beyond “Round one” and the “bleedin’ obvious” might have revealed that:

- Many small traders and businesses are Maori and Polynesian. They need their bills paid to stay in business

- Now the incentive is to take greater security over more things one can re-possess

- So expect the list of “things which can be re-possessed” to get longer

- And / or to increase the interest rate penalty for bad payers to cover the new situation

All ways round this drives up cost to both parties while only helping enforcement by a minimal amount.

 

The Radio NZ News Website reports as follows:

Debt collectors will soon have to have a licence if they want to repossess goods from people who have not paid their bills, and what they can take will be restricted.

From June, when debt collectors enter a property, they will only be able to take valuable items that have already been listed on a lending contract. Agents will also be stopped from taking important items like beds, or kitchen equipment.

The chief executive of Mangere Budgeting and Family Support Services, Darryl Evans, said his organisation had heard many horror stories about what's have taken.

"I've heard of people losing their beds, losing the microwave or in an extreme case I heard of somebody losing the stove. "With many of our Polynesian and Maori families cultural items such as mats and taonga, things that have significant value to the family."

He does not believe that people will be less inclined to pay their debts when some essential and treasured items are no longer up for grabs.

"Overwhelmingly I believe people want to pay, but unfortunately life happens, people lose jobs, they have reductions in working hours, or something has occurred so that they are not able to meet their obligations.

"Ninety percent of families we work with are committed to meeting repayments."

A company will pay $616 and a sole trader $510 to get registered and they will have to update their licence every five years. Those who breach the new rules could be fined up to $40,000.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith said the change was prompted by reports of unscrupulous practices in the industry.

But Ian Caddis who is general counsel for the debt collection agency Credit Link, said the changes would make no difference to dodgy operators.

"The people who are doing it unlawfully are generally the gangs, gangs are out there to do reposession work.

"They get rapid results - because they get rapid results they are attractive to potential clients, particularly desperate ones like smaller traders who are desperate to stay in business."

The Government does not hold figures on exactly how many agents or debt companies will need to be licenced by June, but Mr Goldsmith said he was confident everyone will be processed in time.

"We have the ability to give a temporary licence if people's full consideration has not gone through," he said.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It May Not Suit Some Agendas – But the Data is Important

We know that poverty has both absolute and relative aspects. The data on absolute poverty is clear and beyond contention….. the human condition has been improving dramatically on almost every measure since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We simply live longer and the quality of that living is better. Possibly inconvenient in the eyes of some but there you are… indisputable.

Relative poverty is a different matter. There is no end to the number of studies showing that how “poor” we feel or believe ourselves to be frequently depends on how poor we think others are. There are numerous versions of the “Shoebox? That were luxury. In ma day we had it tough” story. Relative poverty over time. Equally stories appeared in the New York Times last year claiming that child poverty included not having a cell phone. Keeping up with those Jones’s is popular and many stories about poverty fail to acknowledge this.

The numerous calls for “fairness” typically equate to equal incomes for all as remedies… and that idea is based on the largely meaningless and downright dangerous notion that fairness is a world of “equal” incomes. The danger comes in numerous forms – one especially pernicious version is that if we lower incomes enough we will be equal – as we have been in the past. Another is that with this kind of “fairness” you can largely forget “acknowledging differences, celebrating diversity, being tolerant, encouraging everyone’s legitimate uniqueness” and a variety of other fashionable objectives of the “fairness” advocates.

That is not necessarily to say that relative poverty is not somehow “real” or that it is acceptable (hence numerous references to “in this day and age”). It is to say that it is relative… and that it makes sense to know “relative to what”.

The following table enlightens in this respect:

After-Tax Value of Unemployment Benefits as a percentage of average workers wage: 2011

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Where Does the Carbon Dioxide Really Come From?

This from Ian Rutherford Plimer, an Australian geologist, Professor Emeritus of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne , Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide , and the Director of multiple mineral
exploration and mining companies. He has published 130 scientific papers, six books and edited the Encyclopedia of Geology.

Born: 12 February 1946 (age 67)
Residence: Australia
Nationality: Australian
Fields: Earth Science, Geology, Mining Engineering
Institutions: University of New England,University of Newcastle,University of Melbourne,University of Adelaide
Alma mater: University of New South Wales, Macquarie University
Thesis: The pipe deposits of tungsten-molybdenum-bismuth in eastern Australia (1976)
Notable awards: Eureka Prize (1995, 2002),Centenary Medal (2003), Clarke Medal (2004)

Where Does the Carbon Dioxide Really Come From?


Professor Ian Plimer could not have said it better! If you've read his book you will agree, this is a good summary.

PLIMER: "Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland . Since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet - all of you.
Of course, you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress - its that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans and all animal life.
I know....it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kids "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cent light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs..... well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes, FOUR DAYS - by that volcano in Iceland has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud at any one time - EVERY DAY.
I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth. Yes, folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year - think about it. Of course, I shouldn't spoil this 'touchy-feely tree-hugging' moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keeps happening despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change. And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud, but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and
Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year. Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you, on the basis of the bogus 'human-caused' climate-change scenario.

Hey, isn't it interesting how they don't mention 'Global Warming' anymore, but just "Climate Change"- you know why? It's because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming artists got caught with their pants down. And, just keep in mind that you might yet be stuck with an Emissions Trading Scheme - that whopping new tax - imposed on you that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won't stop any volcanoes from erupting, that's for sure!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What a Black Swan looks like…

This is my chart of the Euro Swiss cross as trading ended for the week today…

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These are daily rests. About a 22% fall in less than 30 minutes. The bar after the fall shows that the pull back over a day has been less than stunning. Yet another illustration of how central banks trying to “manage currencies” always ends in tears. And “yay” for the kiwi BTW.