Commodity prices up but so is $NZ

May 5, 2009

The good news is that the ANZ Commodity Price Index showed an increase for the second month in the row.

Unfortunately that 2.5% % increase was counteracted by an increase in the value of our currency which meant commodity prices fell 2.8% in New Zealand dollar terms between March and April.

The price of eight commodities rose last month, two were flat, and apples, seafood and logs fell.

The largest rise was for aluminium, up 6.6 percent for the month, followed by lamb, up 6.4 percent to a record high.

Beef prices rose 3.2 percent, dairy was up 3.1 percent, skin prices rose 2.3 percent, venison was up 1.6 percent and the price of wool rose 1.3 percent.

That’s encouraging for sheep and beef farmers, especially those in drought-hit areas who’re being forced to sell stock who might get some small comfort that they’re selling on a strong market.

The increase in skins and wool, though small, is a welcome change from what looked like a permanent downward trend.


Tuesday’s answers

May 5, 2009

Gravedodger got three out of five in yesterday’s quiz.

The answer’s are:

1. What’s the name of the mother of Dog’s pups in Footrot Flats?

Jess.

2. Who wrote Backblocks Baby Doctor?

Doris Gordon, one of the first women doctors in New Zealand.

3. Where was Phar Lap born?

At Seadown, near Timaru. His sire Night Raid, stood at Elderslie near Enfield in North Otago and his dam Entreaty was brought down for the mating in 1925 according to the book From Teaneraki to Enfield by Lindsay Malcolm where I found this photo.

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Night Raid is in the stall, Entreaty is the horse on the right; the horse on the left and the foal were full siblings of Phar Lap.

4. Who said, “No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well.”?

Margaret Thatcher – The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says it was in a television interview on January 6, 1986 and in The Times  six days later.

5. The Corriedale was the result of crossing which breeds of sheep?

Lincoln & Merino. James Little came from Scotland to Corriedale in North Otago where he started cross breeding merinos and continued experimenting until he developed the breed after moving to North Canterbury.


Hottest & Hunkiest – How Sad is That?

May 5, 2009

If bloggers were lined up across the politcial spectrum, the erstwhile MP for Eketahuna Alf Grumble would generally be at the blue end and the women at the Hand Mirror would be at the pink to red end.

But today they are in accord over the quest for the hottest businessswoman and hunkiest businessman.

Alf says:

Much more fundamentally, Alf is flabbergasted that the Fairfax clowns have the gall to contend:

Here at BusinessDay we take business very seriously.

. . . Yes, Alf is only too aware of the recessionary bite. It is chewing up jobs and it is corroding people’s investments.

That’s precisely why he doesn’t give a toss about who is the hottest or the hunkiest. . .

Deborah at The Hand Mirror says:

Mind you, it is at least an equal opportunity *headdesk*. They’re promising a poll on NZ’s hottest businessman tomorrow.

Sigh…

There’s a place for  judging people on their appearances but it’s not the business pages of media which wish to be taken seriously and there are far more intelligent ways to bring a bit of lightness and humour if they feel the need to  counteract the economic gloom.


How much would it take to buy an MP?

May 5, 2009

The $999 limit for donations from individuals and $9,999 from organisations before they have to be disclosed has always struck me as ludicrous.

MPs may not be held in high regard by many people, but does anyone seriously believe one or more could be bought for that little?

 Stephen Franks reveals  that MPs definitely thought it was far too low:

During that debate (behind closed doors) the United Future MP Murray Smith, persuaded us to have a frank discussion about what amount of money we thought would actually be likely to influence a party’s manifesto. We eventually reached a consensus that it was around $50k.

I may be naive but I don’t think an MP or party could be bought for that amount either, but at least it’s a sum which would allow most of those who, for good reasons, might wish to donate to a political party to do so anonymously if they chose to.

Those good reasons include:

* Modesty – I know a lot of people who donate anonymously to all sorts of organisations because they don’t want any publicity.

* Wanting to keep the donation a secret from a partner, family or friends. Not everyone feels free to disclose their political views, especially if they’re in an unequal relationship where they’re the less powerful person.

* Wanting to keep the donation secret from an employer. Some employees may feel their employers don’t share their political views and may be concerned that a public donation might put them at a disadvantage.

*Wanting to keep the donation secret from employees. Some employers may not wish their staff to know their political allegances.

* Wanting to keep the donation secret from associates or clients because the donor might feel it could harm their business.

* Wanting to keep donations secret from other parties. Some people give to more than one party and might not want them all to know that.

Many of those who want full disclosure of donations argue it’s to stop big business and wealthy individuals buying influence. But if the amount is set too low it catches a whole lot of “little” people who want to help a party whose policies they support but don’t want others to know they’re doing it.

Apropos of this, Labour secretary Mike Smith says big donations are drying up.

Would that have anything to do with the Electoral Finance Act, the unpopularity of his party’s policies and the recession?


Nothing New in Buddy MPs

May 5, 2009

The misunderstanding by TV1 and the NZ Herald  over Melissa Lee as the List MP for Mount Albert has raised the subject of Buddy MPs.

In the old days under First Past the Post Labour and National used to assign MPs to neighbouring electorates which the party didn’t hold.

These Buddy MPs didn’t have offices, but they provided an alternative advocate from the sitting MP for constituents and also provided a focus for party members and supporters.

MMP has changed things a bit because electorates have increased in geographical size and the number of constituents and other parties have entered parliament.

The wee parties with only a handful of MPs can’t spread themselves over all the electorates in the country. But Labour and National have tried to ensure they have a presence in each electorate they don’t hold and because list MPs have an allowance for a base and staff they often set up an office.

David Parker, who lost Otago to Jacqui Dean in 2005, kept a staffed office in Oamaru and an empty one in Alexandra for the next three years and called himself the Otago Labour MP or variations on that theme.  I haven’t noticed any signage for the offices since the last election and as his party holds only two electorates south of Christchurch it may indicate the party has given up on the big rural electorate to have a presence in Invercargill and/or Timaru.

Katherine Rich had an office in Dunedin and was known as that city’s National list MP throughout her term in parliament.  Her successor Michael Woodhouse has a Dunedin base and is referred to as Dunedin list MP.

Labour kept an office in Timaru after losing the Aoraki electorate to Jo Goodhew in 2005 and regularly advertised it as the base for Labour’s Timaru electorate MP, although there isn’t a Timaru Electorate and hasn’t been one since 1996.

Buddy MPs may be motivated at least as much by a desire to promote themselves and their parties as they are by helping people but they do give people an alternative point of contact for assistance or advocacy.

They also help keep electorate MPs’ attention on their electorates and constituents because they know the Buddy MPs will take any opportunity they give them to make political capital from any shortcomings – real or perceived – in their performance.


Rural Confidence Down but Business Intentions Robust

May 5, 2009

Farmers’ concerns about  world commodity prices contributed to an increase in those expecting the agricultural economy to worsen in the next 12 months.

The latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey shows 33% of farmers expect the agricultural economy to deteriorate in the next year, up from 29% who had a gloomy outlook in November last year.

The number of farmers expecting stability dropped from 44% to 38% but there was a slight increase in those expecting an improvement, 27% compared with 26% in the previous survey.

Sheep and Beef farmers’ outlook had improved and dairy confidence had stabilised.

Rabobank general manager Rural New Zealand Ben Russell said . . . “Although dairy farmer confidence remains at subdued levels on a net basis, the over-riding message coming from dairy producers appears to be one of anticipated volatility.”

The survey was taken before last week’s announcement from Fonterra of a 10 cent increase in the forecast payout.

The last two on-line auctions for Fonterra’s globalDairyTrade have shown a slight improvement in price, the next one is scheduled for tonight.

Sheep and beef farmers were more confident with 74% expecting conditions to improve or stay the same compared with 70% in the previous survey and only 23% expecting a deterioration in the agricultural economy.

The improvement is attributed to a lower New Zealand dollar and decreased supply here and in competing markets

Uncertainty about commodity prices was the factor cited most by those who expect conditions to deteriorate and improve.

“It appears to be a case of a glass half full or glass half empty whent it comes to commodity prices, Mr Russell said. “Of those farmers expecting conditions to worsen, 47% nominated falling commodity prices as a concern. But for those anticipating the agricultural economy to improve, 44% cited rising commodity prices as a reason.”

Farmers were more optimistic about their own businesses than about the rural economy in general.

Of those surveyed, 34% expected their farm businesses to perform better in the next 12 months, while just 23% expected their own business performance to worsen.

The difference was most marked in sheep and beef and mixed farmers with 23% expecting the rural economy to worsen but only eight percent predicting things to get worse on their own farms.

Farmers’ investment intentions remained relatively robust, the survey showed, with more than half of those surveyed, (57%) indicating they would maintain the same level of investment in their farm enterprise, while 22% expected to increase investment.

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It may be crystal ball gazing but confidence is important because farmers who aren’t confident about their own businesses stop spending which impacts on the people who work for, contract to, supply and service them.


$1000 for feijoa

May 5, 2009

Don’t tell the inflation police – a single feijoa has sold for $1000 on TradeMe.

But it was no ordinary feijoa, it was kiwi shaped and bought by businessman Mike Pero who is using it to promote his latest venutre Safe Kiwi and reckons he’s already got his money’s worth in publicity.


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