Saturday, May 19, 2012

NZ Music Month: “Travellin’ On”

Remember this? Midge Marsden, Murray Grindley from the Underdogs (and countless TV jingles) with the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan roped in to set the song afire.

Not bad for a TV ad!

Another one-NZ-music-post-per-day for NZ Music Month.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Morning Ramble #666

Welcome to another end-of-the-week ramble. Here’s some stuff to check out over lunchtime—or maybe over the weekend.

Not exactly busy, are they.
The Ministers respond to the Christchurch housing crisis… – Holly Walker,  F R O G   B L O G

Winston is going gaga? Or Winston always was gaga? No matter, the evidence is now more clear.
Lunch with Winston Peters – Stephen Stratford,  Q U O T E   U N Q U O T E

Dunedin’s “stimulus” stadium continues to weigh them down. (It’s like the sovereign debt crisis in microcosm.)
Stadium blew budget by millions -  S T U F F

Every time the NZ Parliament passes a new act it costs the country an average of $3.5 million, according to a new study. And even just a piece of regulation costs around $530,000.  They included the cost of Parliamentary time and the cost of the policy analysts’ time. What they didn’t include was the effect of every piece of new legislation, and every new  regulation, in slowing down and making it harder for the folk who actually get things done to get things done.
Cost of legislation – V I S I B L E   H A N D   O F   E C O N O M I C S

Despite his many errors as a commentator Brian Gaynor is without doubt one of the country’s most successful fund managers. So when he notes the widespread impact of the Commerce Commission’s wealth destruction, it’s worth listening.
Shaky telco regulation spooks investors – Brian Gaynor,  N Z   H E R A L D

Set up by Roger Douglas, the culture of the Communist Commerce Commission needs to change. And the simplest way to change it is to close it down.
Sadly, a slap is all it gets.
Auditor General letter slaps Commerce Commission – W H A L E   O I L

The Green Party took forty years to gain currency. Lesson for those who choose to take it: in politics, ideological victory is a marathon, not a sprint.
Beyond Today: a values story, and the Greens’ story -  Claire Browning, F R O G  B L O G

There is no such thing as ‘rational’ debate. Well, certainly not at the Labour Party blog The Double Standard.
"There's no such thing as 'rational' debate!" – T H E   C O N T R A R I A N

“Sin taxes” on cigarettes and alcohol  are not designed to create abstinence. “Taxing goods which are price inelastic, especially those which are addictive, is far more likely to impoverish consumers than it is to turn them into abstainers.”
Sin taxes – Paul Walker,  A N T I    D I S M A L

Just in case you didn’t realise: “Sin taxes” on cigarettes and alcohol are not designed to improve public health; they are designed to boost revenue.
The Wages of Sin Taxes: The True Cost of Taxing Alcohol, Tobacco and Other "Vices" 
-  P I N   F A C T O R Y    B L O G

I hear folk screaming about the undue influence of Murdoch et al on politics. “What I am suggesting though is that those screaming about how awful it is that a private sector company should try to suck up to those with political power is, well, what the fuck did you expect? Your permission to run a newspaper business is dependent upon those politicians. Your spectrum allocation is dependent upon those politicians. How much domestic shite you’ve got to pump out over that spectrum is dependent upon those politicians. Which sporting events you’re even allowed to bid for is determined by those politicians. Whether you’re allowed to buy out the other shareholders in a company you already have management control of is determined by those politicians.”
When legislators decide what can be bought and sold…. – T I M  W O R S T A L L

In the USA we don't have a dictator controlling thought; we have a
culture of conformity that gets people to censor themselves.

        - William Greeley

“The nature of the regime created by Hamas in Gaza, and its strength and durability, has received insufficient attention in the West… An Islamist one-party quasi-state has been built in Gaza over the last half-decade. The prospects for this enclave and its importance in the period ahead have been immeasurably strengthened by the advances made by Hamas' fellow Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.”
A Bracing Look at the Reality of Hamas -  Jeffrey Goldberg, T H E   A T L A N T I C

The use of private prisons continues to increase. No wonder. Private prisons have a very simple blueprint for success: more lobbying, less security.
Private prisons' blueprint for success: more lobbying, less security – D E N V E R    W E S T W O R L D

Why is Louisiana the “prison capital of the world”? Simple: A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.
Incentives matter: prison file – Paul Walker, A N T I   D I S M A L

A plea from a European supply-sider:  Couldn’t every economy be more like Germany's - by embracing radical supply side reforms?
The importance of the supply-side – Ryan Bourne, C E N T R E   F O R  P O L I C Y   S T U D I E S

"[T]he present breakdown of America is not the failure of Capitalism,
but the result of men abandoning the principles of Capitalism...."
- Ayn Rand

Statisticians really will do anything to follow the government’s line, won’t they.
U.S. Government Spending Has Shrunk…When You Ignore 44 Percent of Government Spending
-  M E R C A T U S   C E N T E R

“Do reduced banking controls always equate with free market?” A free-marketeer makes a principled case for more regulation in the banking sector.
Does JP Morgan’s massive loss favour the argument for more controls?
– Frank Shostak, C O B D E N C E N T R E

Political leaders are always saying we should follow Sweden. This is what happened in Sweden following the GFC under Premier Anders Borg: “His ‘stimulus’ was a permanent tax cut. To critics, this was fiscal lunacy — the so-called ‘punk tax cutting’ agenda. Borg, on the other hand, thought lunacy meant repeating the economics of the 1970s and expecting a different result…. He continued to cut taxes and cut welfare-spending to pay for it; he even cut property taxes for the rich to lure entrepreneurs back to Sweden. The last bit was the most unpopular, but for Borg, economic recovery starts with entrepreneurs.,,
Three years on, it’s pretty clear who was right.”
The Swedish model – Steven Kates,  C A T A L L A X Y   F I L E S

Want to end financial repression? Then end the rule of the central banks.
Leave Money Production to the Market – Jeffrey Herbener,  M I S E S   D A I L Y
How Central Banks Are Delivering A Financial Repression 
– M O N E Y   M O R N I N G   A U S T R A L I A

Should insider trading be banned?

“Senior politicians must realise that hard work cannot produce prosperity without the right institutions. In addition to Adam Smith’s “peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice”, hard work must be rewarded with honest money which holds its value, not money which the commercial banks and the [central bank] can produce at the touch of a button.”
Hard work needs honest money – Steve Baker, MP,  C O B D E N    C E N T R E

“The economics and politics of the West are being ruined by the 101%, that brigade of citizens who feel it is their right to consume at least 101% of the value of the taxes they have themselves contributed. And, of course, we are not really talking about a mere 1% above their contributions but vast amounts beyond anything they have contributed themselves.”
The 101% - Steven Kates, C A T A L L A X Y F I L E S

If there is one thing about which to be happy: at least Greece is not Japan.
Japan's WTF Chart – Z E R O   H E D G E

Greece's tragedy should be a lesson in reality evasion - there is no alternative to living within your means.
Greece's tragedy should be lesson to all – L I B E R RT Y   S C O T T

As its “bad bank” becomes worse, Europe’s fourth-largest economy very publicly hits the skids,.
The Pain In Spain Is Mainly, Well, Everywhere -  Z E R O   H E D G E
Rearranging the New World Order - Bill Bonner,  D A I L Y   R E C K O N I N G ,   A U S T R A L I A

If you think this will be the first time there is a break-up in Europe, think again. 

“Serving others, I believe, is the highest calling for a person in our society.” Bollocks. Don’t serve: create.

Obama might yet regret making up his little state-worshipper, Julia.

What would Chicken Littles do if enough resources existed to fuel the world for a thousand years even with our present technology? Better not tell them about methane hydrates then.
The World Is Running Out Of Energy Scares – Stephen Milloy, J U N K   S C I E N C E

Meanwhile … last winter, on several occasions, Germany escaped only just large-scale power outages. Next winter the risk of large blackouts is even greater. The culprit for the looming crisis is the single most important instrument of German energy policy: so-called “Renewable Energy.”
Germany Faces Energy Disaster Next Winter – Stephen Milloy, J U N K S C I E N C E

Disobedience is not an issue if obedience is not the goal.
        - Daron Quinlan

From an interview with a safecracker:
Q: How realistic are movies that show people breaking into vaults?
A: Not very!
Interview With A Safecracker -  G E E K   P R E S S

Life’s too short to read some books. Like this latest piece of excrement by Sam Harris.
Life’s Too Short to Read Some Books -  T H E   P U R P O S E F U L   R E A D E R

Book porn. No, seriously.
B O O K S H E L F   P O R N

You want good food? Do ya?
Where do you get yours? (Food Edition) – Russell Brown,  H A R D   N E W S

Answering the vexed questions of the modern-day world: how to give Power Point presentations on your iPad:
Giving iPad PowerPoint Presentations Just Got a Lot Better -  R E A D   W R I T E   W E B

The Auckland Philharmonia were immense last night playing Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Best I’ve heard them. But the Vienna Philharmonic are no slouches either.

Donna Summer has died. She did one sixteen-minute song every teenage boy loved, whatever his musical persuasion—supposedly containing the sexiest "simulated" orgasms ever found on vinyl.

Your NZ Music for today is “Humanised,” by Sola Rosa (although Tommy Dorsey would recognise the main riff):

[Hat tips and thank yous to Nick Allen, Oren Kessler, Auckland Libraries, Maria Montessori, Oliver Cooper, Eric Crampton, Marijuana, Inc., Steve Baker MP., Daniel WahlStephen R. C. Hicks]

Cheers, and thanks for reading
Peter Cresswell

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

NZ Music Month: “What Sound is This?”

Oops. I just remembered that May is NZ Music Month.

And since I’m really enjoying The Verlaines’s new album* ‘Untimely Meditations,’ here’s the album’s closer. Bastard has been stuck in my head for a week.

Maybe I’ll try to post one great piece of NZ music a day to make up for my oversight. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments, (which, of course, I’ll feel perfectly free to ignore).

* Well, new to me ‘cos it’s been sitting around waiting for me to start playing it.

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Key Derangement Syndrome

There are certainly things about which the media should be attacking John Key. (Me, I’ve been doing it for years.) But attacking him for attacking them? Well, I heard Key’s interview on Leighton Smith’s show—heard it at the time—and I heard no attack. No whining. No slamming of the media. None at all.  Just comments about how the media seemed to have ended their love-fest with him, and a few (accurate) remarks about how the Herald and Sunday Star Slime have gone tabloid.

So subsequent stories and press suggesting there was a tantrum looks like a clear case of Key Derangement Syndrome.

And it leaves me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Bill Ralston.*

Mind you, it’s not a bad thing that the media’s rose-tinted Smile and Wave glasses have receded if it means we’ll now see honest criticism of the man instead of the hagiography we’ve been served up over the last four years.

Because there is so much to criticise--and you do not need to make it up.

* * * *  *

* Mind you, Ralston is completely wrong in that same post in defending Murray McCully. Not just because he’s defending a turd like McCully (something that should revolt every human being).  But, well, what exactly would be wrong with Foreign Ministers having meetings on Skype? Eh?

How (not) to design anything

Every designer will be familiar with how this story pans out. It starts with a commission to design a stop sign…

[Hat tip Noodle Food]

The philosophical baby: What children’s minds can teach us about the big questions

Here’s an event tonight worth putting on your winter coat for. A lecture on what children’s minds can teach adults.

Until recently, researchers thought that babies and young children were irrational, egocentric and amoral. But the last 30 years of scientific research has completely overturned that view - in some ways children are smarter, more caring and even more conscious than adults are.  This new view of babies and young children has brought new and sometimes startling insights about some of the Big Questions of philosophy: questions like How can we find the truth? Where does consciousness come from? What is the nature of morality?

Professor Alison Gopnik from California is a world leader in this research, which she presents in Auckland in three lectures tonight and next week.

Babies aren’t just defective adults, her research shows. Children are for learning she says, and—and this might surprise you—baby’s minds are the most powerful learning machines on the planet. This confirms some of what Ayn Rand observed, based on Maria Montessori’s work:

At birth [observed Rand], a child’s mind is tabula rasa; he has the potential of awareness—the mechanism of a human consciousness—but no content. Speaking metaphorically, he has a camera with an extremely sensitive, unexposed film (his conscious mind), and an extremely complex computer waiting to be programmed (his subconscious). Both are blank. He knows nothing of the external world. He faces an immense chaos which he must learn to perceive by means of the complex mechanism which he must learn to operate.
    If, in any two years of adult life, men could learn as much as an infant learns in his first two years, they would have the capacity of genius. To focus his eyes (which is not an innate, but an acquired skill), to perceive the things around him by integrating his sensations into percepts (which is not an innate, but an acquired skill), to coordinate his muscles for the task of crawling, then standing upright, then walking—and, ultimately, to grasp the process of concept-formation and learn to speak—these are some of an infant’s tasks and achievements whose magnitude is not equaled by most men in the rest of their lives.

What’s it like to be a baby? Says Gopnik, “It’s like being in love in Paris for the first time after you’ve had three double espressos.” 

So maybe instead of getting children to be more like adults, we adults should become more like children. 

It could be the pathway to genius.

* * * * *

See Alison Gopnik tonight and next week at Auckland University:

Thursday 17 May 2012 to Wednesday 23 May 2012, 7pm
Venue: Fisher & Paykel Auditorium, Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road
Cost: Free admission and all are welcome. No booking required
Contact info: For further information phone 373 7599 ext 87698
A series of three lectures by Professor Alison Gopnik.
17, 21, 23 May 2012.
More details here.

And until then (or if you can’t make it), enjoy her recent T.E.D. talk “ What Do Babies Think?:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Still no need to panic about global warming

It sounds like the start of a joke, i.e.:

Q: What do you get when two economists argue about global warming?

But the answer is less of joke than you might think.  In fact, in the exchange between William Nordhaus and Bob Murphy there’s more way more light than heat—much more than any exchange, rare as they are, between climate scientists who hold different views.

Nordhaus, a professor at Yale University and “one of the pioneers in the economics of climate change” took it upon himself to write a piece in the New York Review of Books  answering—or attempting to answer—the claims of 16 skeptical scientists  published in the January 26 Wall Street Journal as “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”

The title fairly expresses the view of the 16 scientists. The title of Nordhaus’s response, “Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong,” fairly represents his.

Murphy takes up the cudgels against Nordhaus because, he notes, “the article was an instant hit in certain circles [because] of Nordhaus’ stature in the profession, and because of his supposedly definitive claims.” Supposedly definitive claims which Murphy proceeds to demolish: “What Nordhaus gets wrong about climate change.”

Sinclair Davidson, David Friedman and David R. Henderson summarise Murphy’s devastating critique, which begins by showing Nordhaus was just a trifle naughty in his explanations.

Nordhaus identified six allegedly misleading claims made by the skeptics in their WSJ article, and proceeded (in his mind) to dismantle their bogus views. In the interest of brevity, I will in this post focus on just four of the claims. As we’ll see, it is Nordhaus who is playing fast and loose with the readers. Many of the objections raised by the skeptics are indeed legitimate.

Murphy proceeds to dismantle Nordhaus’s arguments on

  • climate models (climate models continue to be unable to accurately replicate the climate behaviour of the observable past, instead—and virtually always--predicting more warming than has actually occurred. “It is foolish to think that they will produce reliable climate projections of an uncertain future… Consequently, it is reckless to go forth with trillion-dollar taxation schemes on the basis of our limited understanding.”)
  • economic damage from global warming (the very study on which Nordhaus, “one of the pioneers in the economics of climate change,” relies is shown to assert the opposite to that which Nordhaus claims for it: quite clearly indicating the consensus of economic studies finds that global warming would be on net beneficial to human welfare, at least through 2C degrees of warming.” On this basis, using Nordhaus’s own preferred studies and the standard IPCC simulations, “the best estimates currently predict that unregulated greenhouse gas emissions will provide net benefits to human welfare for at least the next sixty years”)
  • the benefits or harms of carbon taxes (Nordhaus’s very own  model demonstrates that, even is the threat is as alleged, the dangers of an overly ambitious or inefficiently structured policy can easily swamp all the alleged benefits of even a perfectly calibrated and efficiently targeted tax of Emissions Trading Scheme. And a perfectly calibrated scheme does not exist. “The worst is Gore’s 2007 proposal to reduce CO2 emissions 90 percent by 2050; Nordhaus’s own study estimated that Gore’s plan would make the world more than $21 trillion poorer than it would be if there were no controls on carbon.”)

But perhaps the soundest thrashing is on global temperature, where Murphy takes to task the “gee-whiz graphs” used by Nordhaus and so beloved by his warmist colleagues.

It’s also interesting that Nordhaus invites his readers to not get caught up in the tiny details, and instead to take a step back and survey the grand picture of global temperatures. I agree. In that spirit, I suggest it can be misleading to focus—as Nordhaus does—on deviations of temperatures. Instead, let’s look at a graph of actual global temperatures, using the same three standard data sets that Nordhaus used for his own graph. (All we’re doing here is adding a base of 14 degrees Celsius to the deviations that Nordhaus plots.) The graph looks like this:

SOURCE: Data sets cited by Nordhaus, with 14C base global temperature added to deviations.

Seen in this light, it’s still true that temperatures of the last decade are higher than at any point since the late 19th century, yet this chart isn’t nearly as scary as the one Nordhaus showed.

It’s hardly scary at all, is it. Which is no doubt why warmists prefer the “gee-whiz graphs” and the tricked-up hockey sticks. Sinclair Davidson has his own plot of global mean temperature, with his source being the US Bureau of Meteorology:

imageSOURCE:  US Bureau of Meteorology Data http://www.bom.gov.au/web01/ncc/www/cli-chg/timeseries/global_t/0112/global/latest.txt

Gee. Barely scary at all, is it. 

And no sound reason to believe that’s likely to change soon.

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Europe on the edge

Here’s a short video with the great Johan Norberg on Europe’s woes. [Hat tip Cafe Hayek]

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What Isaac Newton Knew About House Prices …That the IMF Should

_Kris_SayceGuest post by KRIS SAYCE, from MONEY MORNING AUSTRALIA

‘Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi.’
          – Law Three, Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis,
Sir Isaac Newton

Or to non-Latin speakers (including your editor)…

‘To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and in the parts directed to contrary.’

Apparently, this is a new idea to the guys and gals at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But thanks to ‘three decades’ of research, the boffins at the IMF have finally found out what Sir Isaac Newton knew 325 years ago.

That is, every action creates an opposite and equal reaction.

It’s Newton’s Third Law.

OK. Newton’s third law doesn’t directly relate to house prices. And strictly speaking, he’s not saying that what goes up must come down.

Even so, you can easily apply the words from the Third Law to asset price action. And we strongly suggest you pay close attention to them.

Because the latest IMF report (World Economic Growth 2012: Growth Resuming, Dangers Remain) reveals the central bankers’ plan to ignore the laws of maths and physics. Instead, they’ve got their own ideas on how things should work.

Only this time, they assure you, things will be different…

We were stunned when we read this statement buried on page 89 of the latest IMF report:

‘Based on an analysis of advanced economies over the past three decades, we find that housing busts and recessions preceded by larger run-ups in household debt tend to be more severe and protracted.’

Really?

They’ve only just figured that out?

It’s taken them ‘three decades’?

Oy vey.

But that statement was nothing. We read on…

‘Based on case studies, we find that government policies can help prevent prolonged contractions in economic activity by addressing the problem of excessive household debt. In particular, bold household debt restructuring programs such as those implemented in the United States in the 1930s and in Iceland today can significantly reduce debt repayment burdens and the number of household defaults and foreclosures. Such policies can therefore help avert self-reinforcing cycles of household defaults, further house price declines, and additional contractions in output.’

Bottom line: it’s not the job of the State and the central banks to prevent asset bubbles. It’s the job of the State and central banks to inflate asset bubbles and then make sure they don’t burst.

How?

By implementing ‘bold household debt restructuring programs…’

You understand that’s shorthand. It means using private savings and taxpayer dollars to bail out those who get over their head in debt.

Of course, as we see it, the State and central banks cause the asset bubbles in the first place. So it’s no wonder there isn’t a peep from the IMF about government and central bank intervention causing price bubbles.

No, in their view the market causes all the problems and so the government must intervene.

Bubbles are good…busts are bad. That’s why they’re so keen to keep the ‘good’ stuff and get rid of the ‘bad’ stuff. Trouble is they ignore the fact that too much of the ‘good’ stuff causes the ‘bad’ stuff.

But the IMF commentary is more than just about house prices. It gives you a sneak peek inside the maniacal mind of central planners.

The Market is Sending Warning Signals

All around you, the market is screaming out. It’s sending warnings left, right and centre that something isn’t right. The message?

That the market needs a natural purge of all that’s bad…bad banks…bad economies…bad governments…bad central banks…

The whole darn lot needs a dose of economic Metamucil so world economies and the free market can start from scratch.

But that won’t happen anytime soon, because, as the IMF notes, it has a different take on things:

‘We also highlight the policy implications. In particular, we explain the circumstances under which government intervention can improve on a purely market-driven outcome.’

This morning Bloomberg News reports:

‘Spain said it would take over Bankia (BKIA) SA and may inject public funds into the banking group with the most Spanish real estate as the government prepares the fourth attempt to overhaul the financial system.’

According to the report, Spain will use 4.5 billion euros of taxpayer dollars to buy a 45% stake in Bankia.

And as the chart below shows, Spain’s biggest bank, Banco Santander, S.A. has fallen 64.2% since reaching a post-bust high in 2009:

Spain's biggest bank, Banco Santander, S.A. has fallen 64.2% since reaching a post-bust high in 2009Click here to enlarge
Source: Google Finance

Meanwhile, in the U.S., JP Morgan Chase & Co. [NYSE: JPM] announced a USD$2 billion loss due to… ‘synthetic credit securities…’

The banks will never learn as long as they know there’s a government and central bank to provide the ultimate backstop.

And finally, Bloomberg News reports the following comments from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, Dr. Ben S. Bernanke:

‘If no action were to be taken by the fiscal authorities, the size of the fiscal cliff is [so large that there's] absolutely no chance that the Federal Reserve would have any ability whatsoever to offset that effect on the economy.’

In other words – you got it – the government must spend more so the economy keeps growing. And as a result, they delay the necessary bust yet again.

We’re not a fan of former U.K. PM, Margaret Thatcher, but she got one thing right: ‘You can’t buck the market.’

It’s just a shame to see so much taxpayer money wasted in order to refute her—or rather, to save the bacon of politicians, bankers and other vested interests.

Cheers,
Kris.

This post originally appeared at Money Morning Australia on 11 May 2012

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brian Edwards gets a puppy dog [updated]

This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all morning. Yes, Labour’s gagging of David Cunliffe is funny enough [if true]. But Brian Edward’s description of Silent ‘T’ and his speech-making had me rolling around the floor.

But the real reason [for the gagging] was the party’s reaction to a ‘positioning’  speech given by Cunliffe to the New Lynn Women’s Branch of the Labour Party on 29 April. Judy and I both considered the speech brilliant…
    Anyway, ‘the top team’ didn’t like Cunliffe’s brilliant speech and he was apparently bawled out by Shearer and others and told the  speech was’ naive and stupid’ … This is so utterly stupid that it beggars belief. Cunliffe is not only intellectually brilliant, he is by far Labour’s most accomplished debater in the House and on television and radio.

I love it. Did you spot the use of the word “brilliant”? Brilliant, isn’t it.

And not only is The Great Man intellectually brilliant (and it’s the way the “not only” is used that really gets me—like “not only is Antarctica cold, it has penguins as well!)--not only is The Great Cunliffe intellectually brilliant but he can talk as well!  My god!  ( Can he can walk on water too, Brian? Be sure and let us know, won’t you.)

And that speech!  Not only brilliant, but doubly brilliant.

- We both considered the speech brilliant! 

-  Yes! Both me and my wife!

Boy, oh boy!  You can just feel the puppy dog’s tail wagging, can’t you.

It’s just possible the only one with a higher regard for Cunliffe’s brilliance than Cunliffe himself (and that’s saying something) is Brian. And his wife.

But seriously, Brian (and Judy, if you’re reading) you surely both have to be kidding. 

Because if your evidence for this “brilliance”  is that speech you and your wife both loved (“we both considered the speech brilliant”), then I hate to break it to you. Because of brilliance or vision there was none.

UPDATE: It gets even more hilarious. Chris Trotter goes in to bat for the “compellingly radical” Cunliffe, concluding “this sort of overt factional squabbling has not been seen in the Labour Party for more than fifteen years.” Just imagine: not since Helen Clark started squatting over the Labour Party’s tribal divisions like Marshal Tito once squatted over the traditional tribal conflicts in the Balkans.

And it’s taken a few years, but just as when Tito’s dictatorship collapsed (in his case with his death) the scab was well and truly ripped off every tribal and fratricidal conflict in the Balkans, so too with Clark’s departure  the scab has been well and truly ripped off every tribal and fratricidal conflict within Labour.

Which, this time, is fun to watch.

PS: Has it ever struck you that David Cunliffe looks like a hairy gibbon?

imageDavid Cunliffe

imageHairy Gibbon

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So, how about those melting ice caps then?

Five years ago climate “scientists” were saying, predicting, expostulating that the Arctic Ice Caps were going to disappear in five years time!  Gone away. Disappeared. Never to be seen again.  All our fault.

“The Arctic is screaming!” screamed Mark Serreze from the US govt’s snow and ice center in Boulder, Colorado.

“At this rate the Artic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012,” hyped the delightfully-named Jay Zwally, a “climate scientist” employed by NASA.

Yes, it’s only the start of the Northern Hemisphere summer at present. But d’you think this looks like those alleged scientists are going to win their bet?

image

More and more these “predictions” by alleged climate scientists look like the predictions made by those who formulated the Soviet Union’s Five Year Plans, when very five years they would announce the last five years went poorly, but this five year plan would take the Soviet economy to new heights. Five years later: rinse and repeat.

These days, with these alleged climate scientists, they just shrug, say their models have “improved,” and continue taking government money for pouring out bullshit.

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More money, higher house prices…

I’ve been interested at all this talk of rising house prices—houses, in our little economy, being one of the main reasons for which New Zealanders borrow money.

Or to put it another way, one of the main reasons for which debt is created.

In our system—and in most of the western world—the way new money comes into the system is by means of this new debt; debt organised into currency. An elastic currency:

And in New Zealand in recent years, new debt has been coming into the system at an increasing rate in recent years—almost at the pace it was coming in during the 2003-2007 boom. Which is to say, the year-on-year growth in our elastic currency is taking off again:

ReserveBankMay2012.
Growth in M2 and M3 Money Supply, 2003 to March 2012. Source: Reserve Bank: C1, Monetary Aggregates

So no wonder folk expect house prices to keep growing at the rate they were then.

Or to put it another way, no wonder some folks expect to see anther unsustainable “boom” in the housing market. And few, if any, affordable homes for a very long while.

It’s worth noting there is no social benefit whatsoever from attempting to accelerate economic growth by inflating the currency. Never has been; never will be:

The alleged benefit is that monetary inflation through credit expansion builds up the capital structure of the economy more fully than otherwise. Monetary inflation and credit expansion generate the boom-bust cycle, however, not economic growth

PS: It’s not an ideal graph by which to compare the year-on-year increase in money supply with the year-on-year increase in house prices, but the match between the two over the last decade (with a slight time lag to allow the money to flow from the money spigots into the market and do its inflationary work)  is unmistakable.

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PPS: Yes folks, this is what inflation always  looks like. In fact, this is what inflation is: the organisation of new debt into new currency put into new buyers hands for new purchases--as this study of American inflation across the whole of the last century fairly clearly demonstrates:

imageSource, http://www.nowandfutures.com/

You want to slow down (house price) inflation? Then slow down the creation of new money.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

We’re going to need a bigger stadium

Remember this billboard from 2008:

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John Key’s party didn’t make too many promises when they got elected in 2008 (their promises were as blancmange as their campaign), but these were two of them.

You didn’t get lower taxes—instead, GST was put up. 

And we didn’t see fewer people leaving the country in disgust—instead, we’ve had more.

A brighter future? More than 40,ooo people every year since John Key took office have been saying “No.”

In 2008 John Key stood in Wellington’s Cake Tin stadium lamenting the departure of a stadium-full of good New Zealanders every year under the stewardship of Helen Clark.

Yet very year since John Key took office, the numbers leaving for better things elsewhere have failed to reduce. Instead, they’ve climbed. And now with 53,330 New Zealanders last year seeing more opportunity overseas than here at home—a record high number at a time when things overseas are hardly optimistic—it’s clear that more than a stadium-and-a-half full of NZers have looked at what John Key’s government has done to New Zealand and concluded they have done nothing to give them any hope.

We’ve all heard the “Catch up with Australia” mantra. But with govts like we’ve endured in recent years, NZ can’t even catch up with Tasmania! We’re clearly going to need some actual ambition for New Zealand, and damn so0n.

Or else with figures like those below, we’re going to need a bigger stadium.

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