iPredict Fonterra futures launched


Online predictions website iPredict launched it’s first contracts on Fonterra payouts today.

When I checked the website it was showing A 99% probability the 2010/11 payout will be more than $7.90 before detentions; a 98.3% probability the payout will be more than $8.00; a 69% probability it will be more than $8.10; an 18.7% chance it will top $8.20; and a 4.7% chance of more than $8.30.

Word of the day


Yarrish – having a rough, dry taste.

Offender levy helps crime victims


The $50 offender levy has provided 2,091 grants and service for crime victims in its first year:

Since July last year, the levy has been imposed on all convicted offenders at the time of sentencing, regardless of the crime they commit. The levy is collected after reparation but before fines, and is in addition to any sentence or court order.

The levy was originally used to fund eight new entitlements and services for victims of serious crime, but five were added after the levy collected nearly double its first-year target of $2 million.

Justice Minister Simon Power pointed out that victims of crime find themselves in the criminal justice system through no fault of their own and the offender levy helps them through a very difficult time.

In its first year the levy paid out $1.64 million in services and entitlements for victims of crime and their families, including:

Families affected by homicide

• 296 people affected by homicide received assistance from the Homicide Support Service, which provides practical and emotional support throughout the criminal justice process.
• 96 grants were given to families to help with the loss of income and costs incurred immediately after the homicide.
• 322 family members received the $124 per day High Court attendance grant to help cover the loss of income incurred during High Court trials.
• 33 families received assistance with funeral or memorial service costs.
• 319 family members received assistance for expenses (such as travel, childcare, and accommodation) to help them attend court proceedings and Parole Board hearings.

Victims of sexual violence

• 298 victims received a one-off discretionary grant to cover immediate costs following a sexual assault.
• 539 victims were assisted by the Sexual Violence Court Support Service, which gives victims of sexual violence access to a trained and experienced victim adviser during the criminal court process.

Victims of serious crime

• 188 victims received assistance for expenses (such as travel, childcare, and accommodation) to help them attend court proceedings and Parole Board hearings.

Mr Power said the Offender Levy is an important part of the Government’s ongoing drive to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system.

It is sobering to think there are so many victims but good the justice system now offers them more help and that it I’d funded by those who commit the crimes.


Trade surplus in spite of high dollar


Statistics NZ reports the first July trade surplus in 30  20 years  and dairy products accounted for much of that:

The trade balance for the July 2011 month was a surplus of $129 million, or 3.5 percent of exports, Statistics New Zealand said today. “This is the first July surplus since 1991,” overseas trade manager Stuart Jones said. “It compares with an average July deficit of 18 percent of exports over the previous five years.”

The value of goods exported in July 2011 increased $166 million compared with July 2010, to reach $3.7 billion. The increase was led by milk powder, butter, and cheese exports, and crude oil.

The value of goods imported in July 2011 decreased $149 million compared with July 2010, to $3.6 billion, led by a fall in petroleum and products. Regular petrol and automotive diesel were down, and crude oil import quantities, which tend to be irregular, were significantly lower in July 2011.

The trend in the value of exports has increased 30 percent since its most recent low point in October 2009, and continues to reach new highs. The trend for import values is up 20 percent since the most recent low point in September 2009, but is still 9.9 percent below its overall peak in September 2008.

It is worth noting that the trade surplus happened in spite of the high dollar which makes exports more expensive and imports cheaper.

Job losses hard for individuals, better for country


One of the reasons for the creation of the Ministry for Primary Industries was to reduce costs which inevitably means a loss of jobs.

The announcement of job losses in the Ministries of  Agriculture and Fisheries which are merging to become the new ministry was expected.

That is very bad news for the people who will be made redundant.

But increased efficiency and lower costs are better for the country.

The public sector has grown too fast to be sustained and difficult as cuts like this are, they must be made to reduce the burden the state places on taxpayers.


Case for consitutional cap on debt


Spain plans to change its constitution to put a cap on public debt.

The rest of us have caps imposed on our borrowing by bank managers.

Countries do get to a limit eventually. But huge deficits facing several nations, including Spain, provide a very strong case for a self-imposed level of debt which prevents successive governments from getting into the danger zone.

There is a case for borrowing for long term projects so future generations who have to pay it back also get the benefits. The case for borrowing to fund for current spending is shakier, it’s like taking out a mortgage to buy groceries.

However, whatever the money is borrowed for it has to be serviced and repaid and that limits the amount of money a country has for other spending.

Imposing a cap would focus governments on responsible budgeting,  impose restraints on spending and help reduce the burden of the state.

Good policy bad politics, bad policy good politics


National’s plan to sell minority shares in a few State Owned Enterprises is good policy but bad politics.

Labour’s proposal for a Capital Gains Tax is bad policy and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s good politics it has got more support than the idea of asset sales.

Phil Goff and some other opposition MPs criticising the mixed ownership model were ministers in the Labour administration which sold assets in the 1980s  which ought to mean they have no credibility on this issue.

But they have managed to tap into the irrational belief that borrowing from mostly Chinese-owned banks is better than allowing New Zealand individuals and institutions like superannuation funds, ACC and Community Trusts to invest in domestic assets.

It’s a case of emotion trumping fact.

It happens too often and means that bad policy is enacted because it’s good politics and good policy isn’t because it’s bad politics.

August 24 in history


79   Mount Vesuvius erupted. The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae were buried in volcanic ash. 

1198 King Alexander II of Scotland, was born (d. 1249).


1200  King John of England married Isabella of Angouleme in Bordeaux Cathedral.

1215  Pope Innocent III declared Magna Carta invalid.


1349 Six thousand Jews were killed in Mainz  after being blamed for the bubonic plague.

1391  Jews  massacred in Palma de Mallorca.

1456  The printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed.

1511 Afonso de Albuquerque of Portugal conquered Malacca, the capital of the Sultanate of Malacca. 

1561 Willem of Orange married duchess Anna of Saxony.

1591 Robert Herrick, English poet, was born  (d. 1674). 

1662 Act of Uniformity required England to accept the Book of Common Prayer

1759 William Wilberforce, English abolitionist, was born (d. 1833).

1814  British troops invade Washington, D.C. and burned down the White House and several other buildings.

1815 The modern Constitution of the Netherlands was signed.

1821 The Treaty of Córdoba is signed Mexico, concluding the Mexican War of Independence. 

1857  The Panic of 1857 began. 

1870  The Wolseley Expedition reaches Manitoba to end the Red River Rebellion.

1875 Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the English Channel. 

1878  The Governor, the Marquess of Normanby, formally opened Wellington’s steam tram service, which was reportedly the first to operate in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wellington steam-tram service opened

1891  Thomas Edison patented the motion picture camera.

1898Count Muravyov, Foreign Minister of Russia presented a rescript that convoked the First Hague Peace Conference.

1899  Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine writer, was born (d. 1986).

1924 Jimmy Gardner , British actor, was born (d. 2010).

1927 David Ireland, Australian author, was born.

1929 Yasser Arafat, Palestinian leader, was born (d. 2004).


1929  Betty Dodson, American feminist and sex educator, was born.

1931 – Resignation of the United Kingdom’s Second Labour Government. Formation of the UK National Government.  

1932 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the United States non-stop (from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey). 

1936 A. S. Byatt, English novelist, was born.

1936  The Australian Antarctic Territory was created.


1937  In the Spanish Civil War, the Basque Army surrendered to the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie following the Santoña Agreement.

1938  – David Freiberg, American bassist (Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Starship), was born.


1942 : The Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Japanese aircraft carrier Ryūjō was sunk and US carrier Enterprise heavily damaged.

1945  Ken Hensley, English musician (Uriah Heep), was born.


1949  The treaty creating NATO went into effect.

1950  Edith Sampson became the first black U.S. delegate to the UN. 

1954  The Communist Control Act went into effect. The American Communist Party was outlawed.


1954 Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, president of Brazil, committed suicide and was succeeded by João Café Filho.

1960  A temperature of −88°C (−127°F) was measured in Vostok, Antarctica — a world-record low.

1963  The 200-metre freestyle was swum in less than 2 minutes for the first time by Don Schollander (1:58).

1967  Aa group of hippies led by Abbie Hoffman temporarily disrupted trading at the NYSE by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery, causing a cease in trading as the brokers scramble to grab them up.

1968  France exploded its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world’s fifth nuclear power.

1991 Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1991  Ukraine declared itself independent from the Soviet Union.

1992 – Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida as a Category 5 Hurricane. 

1995 Computer software developer Microsoft released their Windows 95 operating system.

1998 – First RFID human implantation tested in the United Kingdom.

2000  Argon fluorohydride, the first Argon compound ever known, was discovered at the University of Helsinki by Finnish scientists.


2001Air Transat Flight 236 ran out of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean and made an emergency landing in the Azores.


2004  89 passengers died when two airliners exploded after flying out of Domodedovo International Airport. The explosions were caused by suicide bombers.

2006 – The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term “planet” so that Pluto is considered a Dwarf Planet.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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