Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Difficult “compassionate” numbers from Greece

Reform to the Greek pension scheme was a major sticking point in recent “negotiations”  Some facts about the previous Greek pension system:

1. The average Greek pension equates to 95% of final salary, compared to an average 40% for Europe
2. Employees could retire and get the pension at age 55 if their occupation was deemed arduous
3. Hairdressing was deemed an arduous profession.
4.Greece has the highest number of 110 year olds in the world.
5. Families would keep claiming pensions of dead relatives

Other minor issues:

*  Greece has four times the numbers of teachers than Finland.
*  Finland ranks at the top of the education tables with the Greeks are at the bottom.
*  Greek teachers are better paid than Finnish teachers
*  Over 25% of Greeks in employment are government employees
*  The average wage for train workers is €66k ($NZD108,000)
*  The Institute for the conservation of the Kopias Lake employed 1763 people,
*  the lake that has been drained since 1930

By 2060 it is projected that 86% of the population will be dependent on the state.

Figures complied by David Farrar

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Seriously Disruptive–Get Your Head Around Blockchains

Blockchains offer arguably the biggest jump in the technology of exchange since the development of money. The concept challenges centralised government control of money and offers vast potential for sovereign individual trade.

Perhaps the most famous quote associated with blockchain technology came from an anonymous virtual currency user, who described the innovation as "a transfer of trust in a trustless world." The blockchain network allows for the unregulated exchange of digital assets, removing the need for financial or government intermediaries to verify and guarantee payments. In other words, virtual currencies survive based on blockchain networks.

The term "blockchain" was first popularized by the revolutionary cybercurrency Bitcoin. It refers to the secured transaction ledger that all Bitcoin users share simultaneously across the Bitcoin network. Any time a transaction is posted using Bitcoin, the blockchain captures it and automatically updates the user account balances for the entire system.

Functioning of Blockchains

Even though it is popular to discuss blockchains in terms of algorithms and accounting ledgers, since they appear to drive them, the real secret of blockchain technology is it is a self-executing history book. In other words, all current and past states of every program in the network are always publicly visible, making it incredibly difficult to tamper with or commit fraud. As long as the encryption on the blockchain remains trustworthy and intact, every single trade of goods and assets remains recorded in the blockchain in perpetuity.

Transfer of Power

The main reason so many people are fascinated with Bitcoin and other virtual currencies is the same reason most governments are loathe to accept them: they transfer power from central money control and distribute that power among the masses. This is only possible because of blockchains.

It is analogous to timekeeping technology. Before the popularization of watches, and eventually digital clocks, time was kept based on large central clock towers. These clock towers were expensive to build and maintain, but their need vanished when individuals could keep track of time themselves.

(adapted from Investopedia)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harsh Reality in Greece

“Harsh reality” for Greeks would seem to involve:

- A pension of around $1,440 a month (NZ equivalent $1,380) for the elderly

- Opening on Sundays

- Competing with supermarkets having lower priced goods

- Everybody paying the same GST

It is true that the new sales tax will be higher than NZ – but then we aren’t on our third bail out.

Perhaps what many in both places have in common “I was hoping for a deal where the rich people paid the debt.” Hope, I dare so springs as eternal as Greek debt and misplaced attribution

Read the NZ Herald article here  (Browser back button to return to our site)

Friday, July 3, 2015

“Oscar” is not another term for “MD”

Brand contamination is the curse of marketers. Where one’s brand becomes associated with just what you don’t want it to be – think palm oil and Cadbury or Nestle and bad recipe milo – is not what you want.

Unsolicited promotion of personal obsessions and factually flawed junk logic such as anti vaccine stances is a form of what we might term “reverse brand contamination”.

We should check facts before bowing to our love of celebrity by  confusing their entertainment skills with sound medical advice.

David Farrar is apposite on this:

Carrey, Kerr and Clement are experts in acting. If you want to learn how to be a better actor, you should listen to them.

However taking the advice of celebrity actors on whether you should vaccinate your children is stupid and dangerous - it's like getting medical advice from some bloke in a pub.

Even some of us musicians have learned the hard way that you don’t have to cut your wrists to play the blues…. many tragic but brilliant blues players notwithstanding.

Just how easy it is to get facts wrong is perhaps underlined by the fact that the Herald managed to spell Jim Carrey’s name wrongly twice within a paragraph on this subject.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brother can you spare a lazy $29 billion

It seems that any truth passes through three phases: ridicule, violent opposition and finally it appears self evident. Greece would appear to be on the doorstep of phase III. All believers in free (or stolen) lunches should watch with interest.