Alt-country band rather than rock star

February 23, 2014

HSBC economist Paul Bloxham labelled our economy a rock-star one.

In the print edition of the NBR, (not on-line) Rob Hosking cautions points out the dangers in that:

New Zealand’s economic rock-star excesses of the 1970s led to a long and painful rehabilitation in the 1980s and 1990s.

New Zealand’s economy is in fact more of a good solid alt-country band – one whose members have been through rehab, kicked the worst of their nasty habits (though not all – see those household debt figures mentioned above) and which is now carving out a more mature, less over-the-top style.

It is one we should stick to.

New Zealand’s economy is growing again and it needs to keep doing so.

It’s the only way we can afford to repay debt and afford the first world goods, service and infrastructure, public and private, we want.

Falling off the responsible wagon will return us to the over-indulgence and excesses funded by over-taxing and spending which put New Zealand into recession long before the GFC.

The damage that would do would eventually require another long and painful rehabilitation and we don’t want to go back there.

Friday’s announcement that the operating deficit before gains and losses was $379 million higher than forecast shows there is no capacity for excess.

. . . “Given the large size of both the revenue and spending bases, overall we are still tracking reasonably close to forecast for the first six months of the financial year,” Mr English says. “And we remain on track to surplus in 2014/15. As we’ve said many times, this will require ongoing discipline and responsible fiscal and economic management. “New Zealand certainly doesn’t need irresponsible and expensive spending promises – which we’re already seeing from other political parties – more than a year before we’ve even posted a surplus.” . . .

What we need is more of what we’ve got – disciplined spending and policies which promote growth.


Another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes

January 16, 2014

The Internet Party hasn’t even been launched and it’s already getting headlines for all the wrong reasons - Whaleoil has a scoop revealing its strategy:

The strategy paper (below) reveals that Martyn Bradbury is working for Kim Dotcom and is charging him $8000 per month plus GST for political strategy, on top of a $5000 payment to allow him to upgrade his computer, cellphone and tablet devices. . .

Further, the strategy document, which Trotter so clearly expands upon, shows that Martyn Bradbury intends to stand in Auckland Central as the Internet Party candidate, and be paid for the privilege of doing so. His strategy document outlines the need to establish an office.

The media compromise:

However the subterfuge is deeper than that. Sources have revealed that Scoop Media’s General Manager Alistair Thompson is to be the Party Secretary and has already registered the domain names under the Scoop Media banner. Scoop Media is also the name server registrant for the domain name and also that of internetparty.co.nz . . .

Summary:

  • Martyn Bradbury to stand in Auckland Central
  • Martyn Bradbury on payroll for $8000 per month plus $5000 advance payment for technology upgrades
  • Graeme Edgeler produced a report, allegedly for $3000
  • Plans for so far unnamed candidate in Upper Harbour, reputedly a broadcaster.
  • Focus on Auckland Central and Upper Harbour
  • Plans to win at least 3 seats

If I was drawing up a long list of people to attract votes from the right in general and National in particular, Bradbury’s name wouldn’t be on it.

If he stands and gets any votes he’ll be getting them from the left.

This isn’t a party that is likely to threaten the right, it’s another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes.

It’s also one that can’t even get it’s launch right:

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307834827100160

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307985939492864

Presumably someone told Dotcom about that the party to launch his party would be considered treating which is an offence under electoral law.

The scoop though, is great for Whaleoil who has already  collected another scalp with it:

Journalist Alastair Thompson has resigned from internet-based news service Scoop this afternoon in the wake of claims he was to be Internet Party general-secretary and had registered a domain name.

Scoop’s controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, confirmed he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson’s involvement with the party.

After the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

Pellett said that while he understood Thompson’s passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism. . . .

Cameron Slater is defending a judgement that he isn’t a journalist and therefore doesn’t have the protection journalists do in not revealing sources.

If publishing a scoop like this isn’t journalism, what is it?

Update: – tweet of the day on this issue:

https://twitter.com/robhosking/status/423290461747306496


Economic policy crucial for election

September 30, 2013

For all the sideshows and media circuses around particular policies, people and events, when it comes to elections what really matters most to most voters are the economy, education, health, welfare and security.

The ability to make significant progress in the last three depends on the first.

The economy really does matter most and, as Rob Hosking points out in the print edition of the NBR (not online), economic policy will be crucial in the election and that’s an area of tension for the opposition.

While attention has been on likely tensions between Labour and the Greens, there are also tensions within Labour – tensions between those who kind of get the importance of economic growth and those for whom it is more an academic exercise.

This group is never exactly anti-economic growth; they just view the policies required to produce that growth with a degree of disdain and, by and large, they would rather talk about climate change and taxing things more.

And Mr Parker is definitely from this wing of Labour.

With a preference for talking about climate change and taxing more, that wing has a lot in common with the Greens.

The phalanx of economic spokesperson-ships Mr Cunliffe announced on Monday is not, if labour were to form a government, just there to form a human shield around Beehive photocopiers so Russel Norman doesn’t go berserk with the currency.

It is also to balance out Labour’s own tensions.

A party with internal tensions over economic policy isn’t one best placed to run the economy.

Against this, National will have the known quantity of Mr English, who should be able to offer a return to surplus and, no doubt some election sweeteners (probably on savings and investment policy) and a track record of having got through the worst economic crisis since the 1930s in what is actually quite remarkably good shape.

That is going to be as important a match up as the John Key/David Cunliffe battle.

John Key and Bill English against Davids Cunliffe and Parker with Russel Norman wanting a major role too?

That’s sound economic policy that is working against a lurch to the left that has failed every time it’s been tried.


Greens’ bogus branding exercise

September 3, 2013

Rob Hosking describes the politicians’ initiated referendum as a bogus branding exercise for the Green Party.

If this is their brand it’s a bad one.

It says they’re a party that:

*  subverted the citizens’ initiated referendum process and turned it into a politicians’ one, funded by taxpayers.

* doesn’t care about wasting the $9 million, or more, it will cost for the referendum which will change nothing.

* is still focussed on debating an issue which was decided in the election nearly two years ago.

The Greens have been starved of publicity since the focus went on Labour and its leadership.

The referendum has got them back in the news, but this bogus branding exercise isn’t good news for them or the taxpayers who are funding it.

 

 


Word of the day

August 31, 2013

Fissiparous – tending to break up into parts or break away from a main body; tending to break into factions; factious; divisive tendencies in a political party; inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups; reproducing by biological fission.

Hat tip: Rob Hosking in dissection of the Labour Party and its three leadership aspirants in the print edition of the NBR.


Some even more unequal than others

August 28, 2013

Labour’s rules allowing affiliate unions to vote for its leader makes some members more equal than others.

Those who are both individual members of the party and a voting delegate of an affiliate union or a member of a union which will allow all its members a vote will get two votes.

Rob Hosking points out that a few members are even more unequal.

All MPs get two votes, one as a member of caucus and the second as a member of the party. But those who are members of affiliate union will get a third vote.

That is a perversion of democracy where all people are supposed to be equally equal.


Does Labour have a research unit?

July 30, 2013

Political parties get public funding for parliamentary support services.

That could and usually does include researchers.

They’re the people whose duties ought to include looking carefully at policy proposals.

Does Labour have a research unit and if so was the xenophobic policy barring all foreigners except Australians from buying houses examined by it?

If so why didn’t they see two large fish hooks spotted by a journalist and a lawyer?

Not long after the policy was announced for Rob Hosking pointed out the numbers of non-resident “foreigners” owning houses David Shearer was quoting included ex-pat New Zealanders.

Shortly after that Stephen Franks pointed out the policy almost certainly breached the Free Trade Agreement with China:

. . . Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment)  all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal”  no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.

So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139. . .

. . . What would happen if Labour got the numbers to legislate such a policy irrespective of the FTA? Parliament can, after all, legislate contrary to international law.

There would be serious legal, economic and political ramifications. The Chinese government could invoke the dispute settlement procedures in the agreement.  NZ exporters may lose their benefits under the NZ China FTA. NZ’s international standing as a good treaty partner would suffer. . .

The FTA was signed by a Labour government , several members of which are still in the Labour caucus.

What did they have to say about the FTA and Labour’s xenophobic policy?

. . . Their Leader said this evening to NewsTalk ZB’s Susan Wood that his colleagues responsible for the China FTA tell him it was not meant to prevent NZ from barring investment it does not want.

If that was what they meant, it is not what they signed. . .

The sooo boring detail of deals that stitch us up may have eluded the politicians who actually signed them, but until they are properly understood Mr Shearer, stop digging.

Did his colleagues not understand what they signed, or did they understand but fail to explain the fine print to their leader?

Either way it reflects poorly on them.

It also raises questions about the party’s research unit. They’re the ones who are supposed to look at boring details.

Did anyone bother to run the policy past them?

If not why not?

And if so why did the researchers fail to spot the flaws uncovered so quickly by a journalist and a lawyer?

Could it be the research unit is as disillusioned and dysfunctional as the caucus?


Clark part of Auckland housing problem

July 29, 2013

The imbalance between supply and demand for houses in Auckland which is the biggest factor behind swiftly rising prices there didn’t happen overnight.

It has been building for more than a decade and local and central governments should have been addressing the issue years ago before it got this bad.

Who was leading the government for nearly a decade as the prices soared?

Oh yes, Helen Clark and she’s part of the problem of houses owned by foreigners.

Rob Hosking points out:

It’s a mark of how bogus the housing debate has become that Labour’s figures about foreign owners of New Zealand houses almost certainly include former leader Helen Clark and her four houses. . .

Labour says more than 11,000 foreigners own houses here they don’t live in.

. . . What Mr Shearer didn’t say is the figure comes from “non-resident” taxpayers who pay tax on houses they own in New Zealand.

Most of those are ex-pat Kiwis who are renting out property they own here while working overseas.

How could Labour put out a policy so badly researched?

This conversation on twitter explains it:

 

  1. Shearer’s ‘foreign investor’ figures are mostly expat Kiwis – people like Helen Clark & her four houses [PAID] http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/shearers-foreign-investor-figures-are-mostly-expat-nzers-rh-p-143493 …

     
  2. .@robhosking This is frustrating. It took you less than a day to find the holes – why aren’t Labour peer reviewing before policy release?

     
  3. @MeganCampbellNZ Own arse. Both hands. Lack of a GPS navigational device not to mention basic hand/eye co-ordination.

But it gets worse – Labour’s policy is not only based on faulty figures, it also contravenes the Free Trade Agreement with China that was negotiated by the last Labour government.

  1. Lemme get this right. Labour’s housing ban stops expat Kiwis from buying homes here but the FTA lets Chinese buy, along with Aussies? WTF?

     
  2. @BillyRalston very slightly rushed out policy, you reckon?

     
  3. @toby_etc I think someone in Shearer’s office had a brain bypass.

     
  4. @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc C’mon you can’t put this FAIL on the ‘office’. Good politicians ask questions &understand own policy

     
  5. @MeganCampbellNZ @CactusKate2 @BillyRalston @toby_etc EXACTLY. Blaming minions is what Aaron Gilmores of this world do, not would-be PMs.

Oh dear, faulty figures based on incomplete understanding and no idea about the FTA a Labour government negotiated – is anyone in Labour thinking?

Hat tip: Keeping Stock

P.S. – in case you think I’m guilty of Clark derangement syndrome.The post is to show Labour’s shortcomings – in government for not recognising and acting on the growing imbalance between supply and demand of houses and now for this ill-thought out policy -  not to comment on her investment decisions about which I have no criticism.


Their problems not necessarily ours

July 21, 2013

Visiting academic Robert Wade made the most of his opportunity on Q&A last week to opine about inequality in New Zealand.

He was alter forced to admit he’d been a bit sloppy and shouldn’t have included New Zealand in his view about the 1% ruling for the 1%.

He was wrong about growing inequality too. Brian Fallow writes:

The idea that New Zealand has become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world is just not supported by the data. . .

A standard measure of income inequality is a thing called the Gini coefficient; the higher it is, the greater the inequality.

Since the global financial crisis New Zealand’s has whipped around – it fell in the latest survey, reversing a jump in the one before – but the trend line through it is flat at a value of 33.

That is similar to the Gini scores of Australia, Canada and Japan, which ranged from 32 to 34, well below the United States’ 38 and a little above the OECD median of 31.

Another way of measuring income inequality is to look at the income of the top decile or 10 per cent of households (when ranked by income) and compare it with the bottom decile’s.

The average over the past four household economic surveys is that the top decile have received 8.5 times the income of the bottom one, after tax and transfers.

That puts us in the middle of the OECD rankings, and lower than Australia and Canada (8.9 times), Britain (10 times) and the United States (16 times).

The definition of income here is household disposable (or after-tax) cash income from all sources. So it includes transfer payments like New Zealand superannuation, Working for Families tax credits and welfare benefits.

The tax and transfer system dramatically reduces income inequality among the working age population compared with market incomes alone, reducing the Gini score by 22 per cent.

Again, this is similar to Australia (23 per cent) and not much worse than the OECD norm (25 per cent). . .

“For many OECD countries, lower income households tended to lose more, or gain less, than high income families,” the report says.

For New Zealand, however, there was a small gain for bottom-decile households of 1 to 3 per cent and a net fall, of around 8 per cent, for the top decile.

These facts don’t fit the narrative of a crisis of inequality which the left keep labouring.

There is poverty here but Rob Hosking points out that won’t be solved by importing solutions to other people’s problems .

Visiting academic Robert Wade brought in all the rhetoric about the “austerity” and “top one per cent” to these shores and imported them, holus bolus, into the New Zealand context.

Professor Wade later backtracked from his comments, but the important point is not a “sloppy” – to use his own description of his language – sermon from a British academic.

Rather, the important point is the way local “progressives”, as they like to call themselves, lap this stuff up. . . .

This goes further than the colonial cringe – it’s a kind of colonial S&M. Oh please humiliate us, the local anti-colonist progressives plead to their lofty offshore masters. Tell us how bad we are. Beat us, hurt us, and make us feel cheap.

Bring in all that guff about austerity measures, the top 1% of the country holding most of the wealth and making all the decisions and we’ll all just pretend we’ve got the same issues as the US or the UK.

It would not matter – apart from perhaps being a fascinating if rather hilarious study in group psychology – if it were not the fact this group then advocate importing their favourite solutions from their colonial, tenured masters northern hemisphere academia.

Fortuitously, the same week Professor Wade was titillating his local progressive followers with how dire New Zealand is the latest figures on inequality here came out.

And New Zealand is pretty well OK. Inequality isn’t growing – in fact, it has shrunk a bit in recent years – and the top 1% here get 8% of all taxable income – comparable with Sweden, Norway, France and Australia, and much lower than the UK (14%) and the US (17%). . .

So our colonised progressive movement is rather off the beam on this one and it is probably why the left in New Zealand is just not connecting with voters at present.

If you want to get elected you need to demonstrate you understand the concerns of the people you want to elect you, and that you have solutions to deal with those concerns.

Pretending the issues here are the same as the UK or the US, and getting academics in to pontificate about the solutions to deal with those other countries’ problems, is perhaps not the best way to go about this.

Nor does it seem particularly progressive.

That the left has to import other countries’ problems and solutions shows things aren’t nearly as bad here as they’re trying to paint them.

If they were they’d have plenty of local examples, supported by facts and figures and wouldn’t have to rely on those from foreign academics who have little knowledge of how things work here.


Friday’s answers

June 21, 2013

Thursday’s questions were provided by Andrei and Rob:

(1) Who wrote “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.

And what book is this quote taken from?

(2) The ubiquitous “Wedding March” by Mendelssohn was part of his Op 61 written as incidental music – what was this written for?

(3) It is novia in Spanish, sposa in Italian, mariée in French and Невеста (nevesta) in Russian.

What is it in English?

(4) Who wrote the musical “Kiss Me, Kate” and what earlier work does it reference and mirror?

(5) The author of the quotation in the first question also wrote
“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.”

Agree/disagree – do you have your own recipe for marital bliss?

1. What is a ‘brass monkey’ and why are its appendages used as a temperature gauge?

2. What is an ‘oodle’ and where and how did the plural of this word become a term for a lot of things?

3. What is a ‘great wadge’ of something and is this a measurable amount?

4. For the agriculturally minded (and completely unseasonably): hay turner, hay tedder or hay rake?

5. June 22 1982: what did Robert Muldoon do?

(nb: I only know the answer to one of these questions)

They both win an electronic sticky date pudding for stumping us all.

They can be collected by leaving the answers below.


Green’s not for growth

May 3, 2013

The Green party is soliciting funds for its election campaign with an email that says:

 . . . National’s policies of more mining, weakening environmental protections, poor economic management and growing inequality are not the recipe for a fair society and a better future.

 In contrast to National, we have the ideas to deliver a richer New Zealand. . .

Green is supposed to be the colour of growth but these Greens are really reds promoting the policies that have failed in the past.

Take their plan to bring down the exchange rate. Prime Minister John Key says currency intervention and printing money won’t work:

. . . “It didn’t work very well for Argentina, or Venezuela or Zimbabwe and it could never be done in New Zealand at the sort of magnitude we’ve seen in the United States,” said Key.

As for the New Zealand dollar versus its United States counterpart, Key used a seesaw analogy.

“It’s a bit like being a seesaw and if I weigh 85 kilos and you weigh 170 kilos, I’m going to go up when you sit on the seesaw and you’re going to go down. And that’s really the situation we’ve got at the moment.”

“We kind of weigh 85 kilos and the United States weights 850 tonnes. Right up to this point it (the US) has been very unwell. It has got everything from aids to bird flu. It has really been pretty unwell so the market’s just massively adjusting what they’re doing.”

When people say the Reserve Bank should be printing money, Key said you wouldn’t do that with base rates – the Official Cash Rate – at 2.5%.

“All you do is cut interest rates for a start off. The second thing was even if you printed money, it’s never going to work. I think they’ve printed US$5.5 trillion in the US. I mean it’s massive. So what would we print? NZ$50 billion or something? It wouldn’t make an iota of difference.”

“So my view would be I know we want to get the exchange rate down and I know it’s hurting a lot of companies. But it’s a cycle you’re going to have to ride through and all the Government can do is control the things that are in our control. So get out there and reform the Resource Management Act, make sure we don’t spend too much money, make sure we keep pressure off interest rates, manage the place well,” Key said. . . .

The reds want to increase the burden of government, their policies will lead to higher interest rates and they haven’t a clue about good economic management.

. . . Furthermore, he said intervention in the currency markets never works.

Here Key cited an example from his previous career at Merrill Lynch, where at one time he was head of global foreign exchange. One of Merrill Lynch’s biggest clients was the Bank of Japan, which used to intervene in the currency markets through Merrill Lynch.

“To tell you how bad it got, one night we were sitting there and the Bank of Japan rang up and the US$-yen was about 90 or something and they didn’t want it to go down lower. And the guy said to me ‘I want you to start buying dollars at 90′. And I said ‘how many do you want me to buy’, and he said ‘well, I’m going out for three hours so I’ll give you a yell when I get home.’ And I said ‘yeah, but how many do you want me to buy?’ And he said ‘I’m going out for three hours, don’t you understand the conversation?’

“I bought US$4.5 billion in three hours. He said ‘where is it (the US dollar-yen exchange rate)’ and I said ‘it’s 90, you bought US$4.5 billion. And he said ‘ah, well I’m off to bed now give me a ring in the morning’,” said Key.

“It never worked, it just never worked. I don’t know how much money they lost on intervention but it was massive.” . . .

Who do you believe – someone who has worked in international finance and has managed the country through the global financial crisis or people who want to print money and whose power policy would have a chilling effect on on private investment? Rob Hosking writes:

. . . There is something essentially frivolous about anyone who would cheerfully rip up the value of some of the country’s largest firms, and the value of the investment in those firms, simply for a political positioning exercise.

This is why the exchange caught by TV3 between Green energy spokesman Gareth Hughes and party spin zambuck Clint Smith was so telling.

For those who missed it, Mr Hughes was asked if the party was pleased at the reaction: Mr Hughes paused, turned to Mr Smith and asked “Hey, Clint – are we pleased?”

It was telling that he even had to ask.

But the almost palpable glee coming out of the Green and Labour camps at the destructive impact of their policy is highly revealing. 

It underlines – not for the first time – the problem with the makeup of both parties. They are dominated at the MP and the staff level by the sub-genus homo politicus.

That is, they are full of people who have done nothing in their lives apart from politics. All parties have a complement of this group, but with Labour and the Greens the group has reached critical mass.

This group has been involved in politics at university, moved from there to various political/union offices and then into parliament. 

There is little real world experience and everything is viewed through a very narrow prism of political advantage.

It’s the sort of attitude which means the value destruction seen this week can be just laughed off.

There will, unless we are careful, be more such frivolous policies to come.

I would use a far stronger word than frivolous and the business community certainly isn’t taking it lightly.

In an open letter to LabourGreen they say the policy would harm jobs, growth and investment, causing interest rates to rise, reducing KiwiSaver retirement savings and making people less well off.

. . .Business shares your concerns about constantly rising power prices and their impact on our global competitiveness. Businesses and consumers work hard every day to minimise their spending on electricity in order to stay in business and

to make their household budgets stretch further.
However, we do not think that electricity policies based on subsidies and greater state control are the right answers. Such policies have been tried in the past and have been shown to be incapable of meeting the challenges of a modern economy
with a complex, real-time electricity market.
 
Putting aside the sheer complexity of their implementation, policies that protect businesses from the full costs of the inputs they use ultimately dull the incentive to innovate and make them less, not more internationally competitive. Reducing retail
prices below the full marginal cost of production encourages households to use more than they should.
Of particular concern with the policies announced is their chilling effect on investment across the entire economy.
 
We are especially concerned at investment analyst reports noting the potential for $1.4 billion of shareholder value to be wiped off the books of the private power companies. A similar amount, if not more, will come off the value of the public power companies.
 
 
Capital destruction on such a scale will severely undermine business confidence.
It sends signals to investors, on whom the New Zealand economy relies, that their wealth and the benefits it provides are not welcome.
 
Investment plans and job creation opportunities are foregone.
 
Rather than remote and intangible, this dampening of investment intentions will have a direct and real economic impact on those of all walks of life who seek to accumulate wealth by working hard to save, invest and grow. It causes interest rates
to rise, depletes retirement savings held in KiwiSaver accounts and means that other economic opportunities such as first homes are foregone and new business ventures as savings are unexpectedly reduced.
 
Individuals are less well-off as a result.
 
With the good of all New Zealanders in mind we ask you to withdraw these damaging policies. We offer to work with you in increasing public understanding of the operation of the electricity market and in ensuring consumers, both small and large,
have better choice from one of the increasingly competitive electricity markets in the world.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 Phil O’Reilly Chief Executive BusinessNZ
 
Ken Shirley Chief Executive Officer Road Transport Forum
 
Catherine Beard Executive Director Manufacturing NZ
 
Ralph Matthes Executive Director Major Electricity Users Group
Chris Baker Chief Executive Straterra

John Scandrett Chief Executive Officer Otago Southland  Employers’ Association

Raewyn Bleakley Chief Executive  Business Central–Wellington

Kim Campbell Chief Executive EMA

Peter Townsend Chief Executive CECC

Michael Barnett Director  New Zealand Chambers of Commerce

These people represent people who employ people, the ones who need certainty and confidence to make investment that creates jobs, earn export income and pay taxes.

These are people who work in the real world.

They know there’s nothing funny about bad policy that would take the country backwards, cost jobs and make us all poorer.

They know that Green isn’t for growth and it doesn’t mean go.

Green economic policy is bright red and it will mean stop to economic growth and job creation.


Own vision beats government’s

January 28, 2013

Quote of the day:

Individuals in a free and open society should not need politicians to articulate visions on their behalf.

What kind of shrivelled and gutless soul needs a government to set out a vision for them?

The only vision any government should require is fostering a society where each of us can pursue our own visions. That is the only vision worthy of its name.

All the rest is just politicians’ windbaggery and ego-boosting, which is funded, of course, by taxpayers . . . 

These wise words came from Rob Hosking in the print edition of the NBR.

They were written before David Shearer made his threat to run a more hands-on government but serve as a warning against state interference in matters best left to the people.


Ignorant or shameless?

January 14, 2013

Supporters of David Cunliffe criticise David Shearer for erring towards the centre rather than the left.

That says more about their place on the political spectrum than Shearer’s, but how different are the policies of the two men anyway?

Rob Hosking  says they’re not:

Nothing in Labour leader David Shearer’s Sunday speech was at odds with anything economic development spokesman David Cunliffe has been saying, not only this year but before the election, before his demotion from the finance spokesmanship. . .

But there is a problem:

. . . It should be stated that all these policies or goals are not bad in themselves. Some are highly desirable.

It is just they do not hang together as a coherent programme. Economically, they are contradictory and they will cause more problems than they solve.

And this is the first difference between the two. Mr Cunliffe is economically qualified enough to know they are incoherent and will strain against each other. Mr Shearer has no such knowledge and probably believes what he is saying. . .

What’s worse – a party leader who is ignorant of economics doesn’t understand economics or one who wants to be leader and pretends ignorance?

. . . As noted, Mr Cunliffe is economically savvy enough to know all this, and is shameless enough to peddle it to people who do not know any better. It is one of the ironies of all this that many of those who do not know any better are in the Labour Party and include its current leader. . .

Many of those who don’t know any better support the party too.

The only other reason they could favour policies which would increase spending, taxation, and welfare for people in greed rather than need is putting their short term interests before the longer term interests of the country.


Has the screech been silenced?

December 27, 2012

Rob Hosking writes it’s all in the numbers for 2013 and starts with the Labour Party:

Start the year with the calculus involved in Labour’s new electoral college: from February any leadership change will be determined by 40% of caucus vote, 40% membership vote and 20% union vote.

This need not be destabilising over the medium to long term but it will almost definitely be so in the short term. Any new voting system takes a while for people to adjust to, and the first round or two inevitably suffer from that instinctive human desire to test the limits of any new toy. This ‘what’s this button do?’ syndrome is as prevalent among political operatives as it is among children and computer users and there are inevitable scabs on knees and viruses as a result. For reference in the political sphere, examine closely New Zealand’s first MMP election in 1996, and the first few leadership changes in UK Conservative and Labour parties after they gave their members greater voting powers.

If Labour’s members were content with their caucus and leadership this would not matter so much. But Labour members so manifestly are unhappy: the 2012 conference was a screech of rage aimed at its MP. . .

Has that screech of rage been silenced or is it still fomenting?


Conspiracy theory

November 26, 2012

Finding it difficult to believe just how stupid the Labour Party constitutional changes and leadership debacle are?

What if it’s a deliberate ploy to take attention away from its policies?

Fortunately at least one journalist is on to them.

Rob Hosking writes in the NBR (not online) about former Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s avoidance of economic matters and continues:

Mr Shearer appears to be similarly uncomfortable with economic issues. The focus of his speech was the symbolism of the era; what has been called “candyfloss liberalism” . . .

Labour’s new housing policy . . .  is pure 1970s feel good socialism with little regard to economic realities.

Housing will be made affordable by government fiat, by way of a national policy statement under the Resource Management Act. Implicitly, the policy requires price control either on house sales or on the building and construction industry. . .

In short, Mr Shearer presented himself as a political leader with Kirk’s wilful blindness of economic issues and Rowling’s charisma. . .

Few if any in Labour can be enjoying the attention the party’s internal strife is getting.

But they’d be even more unhappy if attention shifted from that to the economic stupidity of their policies.


Who would do better?

November 14, 2012

Richard Long ends his parting shot in Dominion Post by telling Labour to take it easy on David Shearer.

. . . He’s got what the public relations people describe as the ideal “legend” to make an outstanding Labour leader. He’s also doing better than Helen Clark in Opposition: her polling was in margin-of-error territory. Give the man a break.

What he hasn’t got is traction with the public nor any significant runs on the board against the government.

But Rob Hosking points out no-one else in his caucus has done much either.

. . . And while Mr Shearer’s performance has been somewhat ill-starred, look at the rest of the caucus.

Few have managed any substantial hits on the government. . .

. . . It can be argued Mr Shearer should be judged by the same standard he set his MPs, and by that standard there is no doubt too many opportunities have gone begging.

On the eve of Labour’s annual conference later this week, the party’s question is whether any of the alternatives could do any better.

On recent performance the answer to that question would be no.

 

 

 


Marriage Bill good news for Conservatives

July 29, 2012

It’s not easy for a party with no MPs to get into parliament.

The Maori and Mana Parties managed it in by-elections but their candidates had just resigned to stand under a new banner. NZ First got lucky at the last election but it and, more significantly for its supporters, its leader had been there before.

A party with neither at least one MP nor a previous term in parliament has yet to win a seat in an election.

But Patrick Gower thinks Labour MP Louisa Walls might have improved the chances of the Conservative Party doing that.

. . . On  the other hand, Key and  National may want to look liberal; the party has just  taken up the idea of  same-sex adoption. Going for the bill could help Key in the   centre-ground.

And  that, of course, would open  up room on the right for, guess who? The  Conservatives leader Colin  Craig. . .

Rob Hosking has a similar thought:

New Zealanders are increasingly liberal on the issue of gay marriage – the National Party conference, which, pretty much by definition, is one of the country’s more conservative bodies, voted last weekend in favour of gay adoption.

And various polls show a fair majority of New Zealanders polled are in favour of allowing gay marriage. . .

I was at a marriage celebrants’ education forum yesterday. Walls’ Bill came up during a panel discussion, none of the panelists had any objection and the body language of the audience suggested theyw ere reflecting the views of the majority of the audience.

But a small but significant chunk of New Zealand voters march to a different drum.

One poll, in the run up to the 2008 election, showed that about 15% of New Zealanders polled would consider voting for a Christian-based party. . .

It is not too difficult to see a Christian-based party pulling in some churchgoing Labour voters, especially from the Pasifika community.

Mr Craig is already campaigning hard on the issue. It is a gift from Heaven for his party, and his party’s approach to politics is much more aligned with that of National than of Labour. . .

Craig has been pilloried for saying that it is “not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal”.

He’d need a far more intelligent argument than that to change the minds of people who aren’t opposed to the idea of liberalising marriage laws but those aren’t the voters he’s chasing.

His party is Conservative by name and it’s moral conservatives whose votes he’s after.

Walls’ Bill could make it a lot easier for him to get them.


Rural round-up

April 21, 2012

Crafar decision imposes defacto tax on foreigners says lawyer – Rob Hosking:

There is still a higher hurdle for foreigners buying New Zealand land after today’s decision, says Wellington lawyer Mark Ford.

The decision by ministers to approve the deal for Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy the 7892 hectare, 16 Crafar Farms properties is accompanied by a series of conditions . . .

Good riddance baby boomers; Why the sale of the Crafar Farms to the Chinese serves you right, from generation Y - Alex Tarrant:

I’ve been asked to pen my thoughts as a Gen-Yer over the sale of the Crafar Farms to a Chinese company

Well, I have to say, I’m actually loving watching and hearing our Baby Boomer politicians, media commentators, and talkback hosts getting all up in arms over it.

What a travesty, they all argue, the way we sell to the highest foreign bidder. These farms shouldn’t be allowed to be sold overseas. Kiwis can’t compete with the vast hordes of cash foreigners have.

First of all, I don’t buy that. If a Kiwi investor, or a group of Kiwis, believed it was economical enough to pay what Pengxin’s offering for those 16 run-down farms, I’m sure they would have found the money.

We supposedly know about farming here. We supposedly know the economics behind it. We supposedly know the business models.

The fact no Kiwi bidder put up over NZ$210 million for the farms should be a sign that Pengxin is paying way too much for them. So good luck trying to turn it into an economic business. Let them pick up the pieces for a failed piece of lending by Westpac and Rabobank. . .

From socialite to sheep farmer:

It is an extraordinary landscape – one of this country’s iconic high country  stations and it is up for sale.

For the last eight years Canterbury’s Castle Hill has been owned by Christine  Fernyhough – the one time darling of the Auckland social scene and now a  successful sheep farmer. . .

Video here.

Legendary farming education centre for sale:

A pioneering rural education institution that taught thousands of young New Zealanders the rudimentary skills of farming has been placed on the marked for sale.

Flock House near Bulls in the Manawatu was founded in 1924 and was initially used to accommodate and train the sons of British Naval personnel who died during World War One.

In 1947 the school was opened to young New Zealand boy aged between 14 – 18 years of age wishing to gain an education in farming. The introduction of a ‘full fee’ structure in the 1980s led to a dramatic fall in student numbers, and in 1988 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which administered Flock House, closed the centre. . .

Little impact on farmers from latest strike:

Affco says the latest strike action from the Meat Workers Union will have little impact on farmers sending stock for processing.

The latest strike began at 5:00am this morning. The week-long strike is the 16th by the union since negotiations over a collective agreement started in December.

Affco Operations Director, Rowan Ogg said all of Affco’s plants are fully operational with the majority of Affco’s staff not impacted by the dispute and many union members had chosen not to strike. “Good conditions through summer and autumn also mean there is no shortage of feed giving farmers more flexibility in when they send stock away.” . .

Last call for applications for 2012 farm managers’ programme:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for young farmers to join this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, a course specifically designed to strengthen the operational and strategic management skills of emerging farm leaders.

The program, now in its seventh year, is open to all progressive young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia from a range of agricultural commodities. .


Dare we hope?

April 13, 2012

Dare we hope that Rob Hosking is right:

. . . Underlying this appears to be a further calculation: that the Kyoto Protocol and its various policy offshoots is not going to be around, at least in its current form, by the time anyone has to make a decision on this. . . .

The Kyoto Protocol is the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and sense.

Initiatives like the Global Research Alliance which Climate Change Minister Tim Groser launched in Copenhagen are far more likely to do some good for the environment than the protocol which in some instances will do more harm than good.

Whether or not the suggestion that the protocol won’t survive is right, it does appear the government is sticking to its word that it won’t force agriculture into the ETS until the industry has the technology to counter emissions and our competitors face similar measures and the costs which go with them.


Quote of the day

February 18, 2012

. . . Anyone decrying Mr English’s comments as some big revelation is showing not only their ignorance of economics but also the worst kind of old fashioned, command-economy statist mentality.

Of course it’s just a guess. No one is going to know for certain until the shares are floated on the market. That’s how markets work.

The idea that someone can sit in the Treasury – or the Minister’s office – and come up with a sure fire figure on what the market is going to pay for those shares is living in some kind of economic fantasy land. . . Rob Hosking.


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