The lucky country


Australia’s reputation as the lucky country has taken a beating this year with widespread bushfires and floods.

The news it’s beating the recession has helped to counter that, but is it luck?

The Age puts it down to two factors:

One is the economic story . . . Stunningly high coal and iron ore prices, a decent wheat harvest and the Federal Government’s rapid-fire stimulus have all done their bit to shield Australia from the worst of the crisis.

Yet only partially: output per head, the economy’s real bottom line, fell 1.6 per cent in the year to March. Unemployment has already surged by 175,000. We are part of the global recession.

But in one important way, we are not part of the global financial crisis. Our financial system has not collapsed. The Government has had to offer guarantees for bank debt . . . but unlike other governments, it has not had to provide capital to prop up the banks. The smaller banks are experiencing turbulence, some of it heavy. But the Big Four remain AA rated and highly profitable — a reminder to banks in other Western countries of how good life used to be.

Given most of our banks are Australian owned there’s some reassurance for New Zealand in this too.

Through the crisis, Australia has maintained a kind of normality. When the storm came, our house was found to be built on rock, not sand. . .

In other countries, the global financial crisis left the financial system broken: not here. Why not?

There is a broad consensus on what went right. Insiders and onlookers agree that a range of factors lay behind this success story. Some of it was luck. Some of it was good management. Some of it was good regulation. And some was due to all of these interacting in an environment that sustained traditional banking and made it profitable.

The article is worth reading in full so I’ll leave it there and finish with three questions:

* Do most of the factors which have kept Australia’s financial system fairly stable apply here?

* If our largest trading partner is growing, albeit by a very small amount, is it good for us too?

*We don’t have Australia’s mineral resources but we do have water to grow grass to feed a hungry world which our neighbour doesn’t. What’s stopping us from being a lucky country too?

Bridge Over Troubled Water


Whether there hasn’t been any good music since the 70s – or indeed whether music from 70s and earlier was good – are moot points.

But Simon and Garfunkel still take a lot of beating and in celebration of their concert next Saturday, here’s my favourite, from 1969:

Cheap, quick and healthy



song chart memes

Quick, cheap and healthy sounds like a Tui ad. It comes from GraphJam.

Golden oldies


Some of the artists of the 60s are revising their hits to reflect their age: 
  They include:
 Hermans Hermits – Mrs Brown you’ve got a lovely walker.
 Bee Gees – How can you mend a broken hip?
 Roberta Flack – First time ever I forgot your face.
 Paul Simon – 50 ways to lose your liver.
 The Commodores – Once,twice,three times to the bathroom.
  Procol Harem – A whiter shade of hair.
 Leo Sayer – You make me feel like napping.
  Abba – Denture Queen
 Helen Reddy – I am woman hear me snore.

Bain not eligible for compensation


David Bain isn’t eligible for compensation under current rules for the 13 years he spent in prison, Otago University Dean of Law Mark Henaghan says.

He said there were four requirements to satisfy for compensation:

The first was to be convicted of a crime, the second was to have it quashed in an appeal without an order of retrial, the third was to be alive and the fourth was to personally prove innocence.

Because the Privy Council “clearly ordered a retrial” when Mr Bain’s convictions were quashed, the Cabinet would need to reconsider the guidelines and the other two would still need to be satisfied.

If political pressure was strong enough, the Cabinet might change them, he said.

A not-guilty verdict counted for his acquittal but did not prove Mr Bain’s innocence, Prof Henaghan said.

Apropos the last point, the trial was held in Christchurch rather than Dunedin because of the difficulty of finding jurors who didn’t already have firm views on the case in the city where the murders took place.

We were in Dunedin yesterday where the case was the topic of conversations and we were with people from there last night. They all had very firm views and none of them agreed with the verdict.

But none of them was in court, heard all the evidence and had to make a decision beyond reasonable doubt.

And there views might not have been representative: an ODT poll asking opinions on the verdict has 50% of respondents agreeing with it, 30 disagreeing and 20% not sure.

June 6 in history: YMCA, Chrysler, D-Day,


The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in London on June 6, 1844.

The Chrysler Coroporation was founded in 1925.

The invasion of Normandy, began with D-Day,  in 1945  1944.

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