366 days of gratitude

September 5, 2016

The evenings are lengthening which persuaded my farmer it was light enough to barbecue the steak for this evening’s dinner.

I like this sharing of culinary duties – I cook the vegetables, he cooks the meat and the worst of the mess from that stays outside which makes cleaning up easier for which I’m grateful.


Word of the day

September 5, 2016

Minnock –  a favorite darling; person who is the object of one’s affection; to be over dainty in eating,.


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

Image may contain: text

Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Nikki Kaye fighting cancer

September 5, 2016

Prime Minister John Key has announced that Nikki Kaye will be taking leave from her Ministerial portfolios after being diagnosed with breast cancer on Friday.

“I have spoken with Nikki and assured her she has the full support of her colleagues and I as she deals with this difficult diagnosis,” Mr Key said.

“Her medical team is working hard to ensure a full recovery. Nikki will be dedicating her energy towards getting well, and I wish her all the best.

“I appointed Acting Ministers to Nikki’s portfolios on Friday and this will continue until she is able to return to her role.”

Gerry Brownlee will act as Minister of Civil Defence. Nathan Guy will act as Minister for ACC. Anne Tolley will act as Minister for Youth. Ms Kaye’s Associate Education responsibilities will be taken by Hekia Parata.

I first met Nikki before she was elected, when she was campaigning to win the Auckland Central seat – which she did. I wasn’t surprised when the promise she showed then was rewarded with promotion to cabinet.

She is fit – she runs marathons – and determined and those will help her as she undergoes treatment and recovery.


NZ’s ‘eye-popping’ recovery gives choices

September 5, 2016

A leading global economist’s view that New Zealand is showing an “eye-popping” recovery from the events of 2008-09, ought to be making headlines across the country.

Instead the only place I could find it  was in the print edition and on-line archives of the NBR.

“Whenever I come down here it feels like I’m entering a different planet,” Standard & Poor’s global chief economist Paul Sheard told a business breakfast in Auckland this week.

Comparing how different countries have recovered since the global financial crisis, Mr Sheard says New Zealand is a standout.

Measuring real GDP growth for different economies since the pre-global financial crisis peak, Mr Sheard says the US economy has grown 10.7%, the UK has grown 7.7% and the euro area has grown 0.7%.

“There are some big variances in the EU, obviously: Real GDP in Germany is up 6.2%. In Italy – and bear in mind Italy is the third largest economy in Europe – GDP growth is -8.4%. In Greece it is -27%. So that’s a huge dispersion rate.

“But when I looked at New Zealand my eyes nearly popped out – it’s up 32.5%.” Not even Australia has matched that – real GDP there is up 21% over the same period.

New Zealand is also in the position of having relatively low government debt, a budget surplus, and a central bank with room to cut interest rates if there is another downturn and/or offshore shock, he says. Few countries are in that happy position. . . 

Up 32.5%. That is eye-popping even without the earthquakes, droughts, floods and dairy downturn the country has faced in that time.

That growth brings both challenges and opportunities, a point Finance Minister Bill English makes:

. . . New Zealand’s economic prospects are good.

There are a lot of events going on around the world that cause concern on any day of the week. We can’t do much about any of them.

But domestically, a diversifying and strengthening export sector, solid growth in the construction sector and the boom in tourism mean that over the next two or three years the outlook for New Zealand households is positive.

One of the things we are trying to get to grips with is the impact of what – now look to be semi-permanent – low interest rates will be.

I’m not talking about the Reserve Bank Governor’s decisions about interest rates. In my view, far too much time is spent in the financial markets on this very short term focus on what central banks around the world are doing.

More important is the impact of interest rates on the real economy; in households and businesses.

So we should stand back a bit from the noise in the financial markets.

The prospect of longer-term low interest rates is only just starting to bed in.

When we were in Zambia in June, farmers we spoke to were paying interest of 25%. That’s similar to rates we were paying during the height of the ag-sag which makes life and business very, very difficult.

High inflation rates at the same time meant that people investing, even at high rates, were having the real value of their savings eroded.

Now we have the much healthier combination of low interest rates and low inflation.

When governments around the world issue debt over 10 to 15 years at interest rates of zero or below, it shows that at least some people think that interest rates are going to be quite low for quite some time.

The impacts of this in our own economy mean we are having to re-learn the relationships between different variables in the economy.

The first one is connected to housing markets.

One of the things that has encouraged the focus on housing in New Zealand has been that those who’ve gone into the housing market have largely been right when they’ve taken the view that house prices will keep rising.

One of the drivers of demand for housing has been what is now a 25 year track of decreases in interest rates.

Apart from the odd blip in the 2000’s, there has been a fairly consistent reduction in interest rates from 20 per cent down to around four per cent today.

That trend has probably continued for five years longer than we thought.

Following the GFC, it looked like interest rates had bottomed and they’d be up again by now to seven to eight per cent for mortgages. Anyone who has bet on them going down further has bet correctly – people are still making money out of government bonds which are being issued at negative interest rates.

When we look at house prices, supply matters a lot, particularly because of the cyclical effects in the housing market – that is, more flexible supply means prices will be less volatile.

But there’s no doubt that the increase in prices that we’ve seen – particularly in Auckland but, now, increasingly around the country – is driven by the fact that interest rates just keep on dropping.

And that affects all asset classes.

The New Zealand stock exchange, for example, has gone up a lot more than the housing market. And our exchange rate is regularly seen by anyone who analyses it as over-valued.

When Steven Joyce was in Oamaru last week he said we all want two dollars – a low one when we’re selling overseas and a high one when we’re buying.

That is, or course, impossible and no matter how strident the calls to manage our exchange rate, we should not go back there.

The value of the dollar is a reflection on the high regard investors have for our economy and while that does make it harder for exporters, it’s like the weather – something we have to contend with and learn to deal with but can’t influence.

If we expect to see interest rates continue where they are – or go lower – over the next 10 years, we will have to rethink the relationship to asset values. All other things being equal, these asset prices will stay up, if interest rates stay low.     

A simple measure of it is the cost of servicing household debt. While house prices have increased, debt servicing costs have remained remarkably stable over the last 20 years. Although, of course, there will be more risk to households who borrowed a lot at the bottom of the cycle, and could see significant interest rate increases over time from where they are now.

Another effect of low inflation and interest rates is that we are having significant real wage increases without people really noticing.

If you go out on the street and ask people, many will logically point to the nominal increase in their wages – and most of their pay rises are two-three per cent but some are less than that.

But inflation has been remarkably low.

It turns out that even though we have lower nominal wage increases compared to, say, the 15 years up to 2008, real wage increases that are significantly higher than they were pre-GFC.

In the past five years, for example, the average annual wage has gone up 13 per cent while inflation has been just 3.7 per cent.

Wage increases were much higher a few decades but their real value was eroded by inflation so people weren’t better-off. Lower increases coupled with low inflation have given significantly better real wage increases.

It does help explain why we’re not hearing a lot about ‘the cost of living crisis’ – it seems everything that is an issue becomes a ‘crisis’ – but it’s not a crisis. In fact, we’re not even having much of a discussion about it because people can see that prices are not moving up every time they go back to the shop.

Along with this increase in asset values, we’re seeing what are, by historical standards, quite high real wage increases. These moderate but consistent increases we’ve seen over the past five years are relatively unusual in the developed world.

Another effect of low interest rates, and the low inflation that goes with them, is the impact on government and fiscal discipline.

Traditionally we have relied on clearing budget deficits by economic recoveries that have generated five or six per cent inflation and, therefore, significant increases in tax revenues.

That’s not happening now and it means we have to try and beat the political cycle of tight fiscal management when things are tough and loosening up when higher inflation drives stronger increases in revenue.

Currently, you don’t have the increases in revenue to cover large increases in spending.

New Zealand experienced a number of decisive events in 2009/10 in the shape of the recession, earthquake and global financial crisis which forced us to change the way we managed government spending.

Those experiences taught us the need to move away from what has traditionally been a short term, ‘annual cash’ mind set which has had a negative effect on the effectiveness and on the efficiency of our agencies.

These are perpetual monopolies. Government agencies don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen to their revenue – they’re conditioned to the fact it will either stay the same or grow – and if they do a poor job, they’re not going to go out of business.

Agencies should be able to take a 10-15 year view of what they’re doing.

We are gradually trying to push the system to take those longer-term views where they consider their capital assets but, more importantly, their human services. That’s because about 25 per cent of the output that drives the economy is the provision of public services.

It’s my view that in a low inflation environment, a government won’t be able to conduct reasonable fiscal management without understanding much better what drives its costs, what drives its services, and what drives the long term impact that it’s trying to have.

With the use of data analytics, we’re now able to get much better insights into our customers – many of whom are with us in a kind of perpetual sense for 20-30 years. Take, for example, a 23 year old female with mild schizophrenia – she could be on our books for 30 years and will only move off to go onto national Super. We can now use analytics to show the need, to then intervene to change her life, and the trajectories of others like her. 

In the pasts governments have thrown money at social problems.

Government interventions have regularly failed to change lives, in fact, worse than that, they have rewarded failure.

As more people have demanded a service, more money has been thrown at it. The departments grow, the ‘business’ grows. They have effectively been servicing the misery.

Servicing the misery – that’s an indictment of failed policies of the past.

This is the wrong kind of incentive, and we’re trying to change it.

Thus far I’ve outlined three ways in which low interest rates are going to have a long term impact on the economy; higher asset values are becoming the norm, New Zealanders are getting real wage increases, and the government is changing its approach to the way it manages its books.

This will have an impact on an election.

The traditional model in a recovered economy is for parties to out-bid each other for showing how much they ‘care’ by using hundreds of millions of dollars of your money on projects or programmes that they have no idea will work or not.

However, we’re trying to reframe that debate away from how much is spent to how much of an impact can be made – and to show a willingness to be accountable for that impact.

A final point around low interest rates is that we shouldn’t let the discussion around central bank rate setting and deflationary risk leave the impression that low interest rates are somehow an inherently bad thing. Deflation certainly is. That’s why central banks around the world are creating the most unimaginable monetary policy that you won’t find in any text book – although, I hope you would now.

For most businesses and households, stable low interest rates are positive, not negative. Households are encouraged by that stability. The question is whether the worry that eventually those rates turn around will mean people hold off from investing and risk-taking to keep growth momentum going.

A little inflation is good for an economy because it encourages investment. Deflation discourages investment. People stop spending knowing whatever they want to buy will be cheaper in the future.

The Government, in the meantime, will focus our economic programme on some of the old fashioned stuff; micro-economic reform.

That includes the regulation of the housing market in New Zealand – it’s been shockingly economically ignorant – and the planning system needs to start understanding the impact of the decisions it makes on households, on costs and on the economy – not just on amenity value.

Another area we’re spending a lot of time on is the balance of environmental quality and economic growth, both through climate change and fresh water quality. Because we are a resource-based economy with an environmentally-based brand, getting these things wrong could cost us a lot of growth opportunity. Getting it right, though, could give us some real dynamism through the next ten years. 

We need environmental quality and economic growth, and with care and good science we can have both.

My final point is this; one of the unique opportunities we have in New Zealand is that we have choices. Most other developed economies are faced with a toxic mix of problems; aging populations, very high public debt levels, and low growth. Because of those factors, there are growing questions about their political institutions.

We, along with Australia, are very fortunate to be among a handful of countries where we have relatively low levels of public debt.

In New Zealand’s case we actually have budget surpluses – which only half a dozen other countries have. We have populations that are aging but not as fast as other countries – and are more open to immigration.

Therefore, we can make active choices about where to invest in more growth and about what we think about inequality and inequity in our country.

That is going to become more and more unique to New Zealand and Australia – and we look forward to being a part of that opportunity. 

 In a debate before the 2008 election Helen Clark and John Key were asked what it meant to be wealthy.

She gave a defensive answer which, from memory, included something about money not being important to her.

He said it gave you choices.

He’s right it does, whether you’re an individual, an organisation or a country.

There are both challenges and opportunities in growth but the government has got its books back into surplus and that gives it choices.


Quote of the day

September 5, 2016

Man keeps looking for a truth that fits his reality. Given our reality, the truth doesn’t fit. – Werner Erhard who celebrates his 81st birthday today.

He also said:

You don’t have to go looking for love when it’s where you come from.

And:

At all times and under all circumstances, we have the power to transform the quality of our lives.

And:

When my integrity is lacking, I am clear that I just got to be a bit smaller as a person. That keeps me working on my integrity. And the thing about integrity is it’s a mountain with no top.


September 5 in history

September 5, 2016

1661  Fall of Nicolas Fouquet:  Louis XIV’s Superintendent of Finances was arrested in Nantes by D’Artagnan, captain of the king’s musketeers.

1666  Great Fire of London ended: 10,000 buildings including St. Paul’s Cathedral were destroyed, but only 16 people were known to have died.

1698  In an effort to Westernize his nobility, Tsar Peter I of Russiaimposed a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry.

1725 Wedding of Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska.

1774  First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1781  Battle of the Chesapeake.

1793 French Revolution the French National Convention initiated the Reign of Terror.

1798  Conscription was made mandatory in France by the Jourdan law.

1800 Napoleon surrendered Malta to Great Britain.

1812 War of 1812:  The Siege of Fort Wayne began when Chief Winamac’s forces attacked two soldiers returning from the fort’s outhouses.

1816  Louis XVIII had to dissolve the Chambre introuvable (“Unobtainable Chamber”).

1836 – Justiniano Borgoño, Peruvian soldier and politician, 57th President of Peru, was born (d. 1921).

1836 Sam Houston was elected as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

1839  The First Opium War began in China.

1840  Premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un giorno di regno at La Scala, Milan.

1847  Jesse James, American outlaw, was born (d. 1882).

1850 Jack Daniel, Creator of Jack Daniel’s, was born (d. 1911).

1862  James Glaisher, pioneering meteorologist and Henry Tracey Coxwellbroke world record for altitude whilst collecting data in their balloon.

1877  Indian Wars: Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse was bayoneted by a United States soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse.

1880 – José María of Manila, Spanish-Filipino priest and martyr, was born (d. 1936).

1882  The first United States Labor Day parade was held in New York City.

1887  Fire at Theatre Royal in Exeter killed 186.

1899 – Helen Creighton, Canadian author and educator, was born (d. 1989).

1902 – Jean Dalrymple, American playwright, producer, manager, and publicist, was born (d. 1998).

1904 – Vera Bradford, Australian pianist and educator, was born (d. 2004).

1905  The Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt, ended the Russo-Japanese war.

1910 – Leila Mackinlay, English author, was born (d. 1996).

1914 World War I: First Battle of the Marne begins. Northeast of Paris, the French attack and defeat German forces who are advancing on the capital.

1915 The pacifist Zimmerwald Conference began.

1918 – Buddy Williams, Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, was born (d. 1986).

1918 Decree “On Red Terror” was published in Russia.

1927  The first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Trolley Troubles, produced by Walt Disney, was released by Universal Pictures.

1929 Bob Newhart, American actor and comedian, was born.

1932  The French Upper Volta was broken apart between Ivory Coast,French Sudan, and Niger.

1935  – Werner Erhard, American author and philanthropist, founded Werner Erhard and Associates and The Hunger Project, was born.

1938  A group of youths affiliated with the fascist National Socialist Movement of Chile were assassinated in the Seguro Obrero massacre.

1939 Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, declared New Zealand’s support for Britain and attacked Nazism.

PM declares NZ's support for Britain

1939 John Stewart, American musician (The Kingston Trio), was born (d. 2008).

1939 George Lazenby, Australian actor, was born.

1940 Raquel Welch, American actress, was born.

1942  World War II: Japanese high command ordered withdrawal at Milne Bay, first Japanese defeat in the Pacific War.

1944 Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg constituted Benelux.

1945 – Eva Bergman, Swedish director and screenwriter, was born.

1945 Al Stewart, Scottish singer and songwriter, was born.

1945  Cold War: Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet Union embassy clerk, defected to Canada, exposing Soviet espionage in North America, signalling the beginning of the Cold War.

1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a Japanese-American suspected of being wartime radio propagandist Tokyo Rose, was arrested in Yokohama.

1946  Freddie Mercury, Zanzibar-born English singer and songwriter (Queen), was born (d. 1991).

1951 Michael Keaton, American actor, was born.

1960 Poet Léopold Sédar Senghor was elected as the first President of Senegal.

1969  My Lai Massacre: U.S. Army Lt. William Calley was charged with six specifications of premeditated murder for the death of 109 Vietnamese civilians.

1972 Munich Massacre: “Black September” attacked and took hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. 2 died in the attack and 9 die the following day.

1977  Voyager 1 was launched.

1978 Chris Jack, New Zealand All Black, was born.

1978 Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat began peace process at Camp David, Maryland.

1980 The St. Gotthard Tunnel opened in Switzerland as the world’s longesthighway tunnel at 10.14 miles (16.224 km) stretching from Goschenen to Airolo.

1984  The Space Shuttle Discovery landed after its maiden voyage.

1984  Western Australia became the last Australian state to abolish capital punishment.

1986  Pan Am Flight 73 with 358 people on board was hijacked at Karachi International Airport.

1990 Eastern University massacre, massacre of 158 Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan army.

1991 The  Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, came into force.

1996 – Hurricane Fran made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina as a Category 3 storm with 115 mph sustained winds

2000 The Haverstraw–Ossining Ferry made its maiden voyage.

2005 Mandala Airlines Flight 091 crashed into a heavily-populated residential of Sumatra, killing 104 people on board and at least 39 on the ground.

2007 – Three terrorists suspected to be a part of Al-Qaeda were arrested in Germany after allegedly planning attacks on both the Frankfurt International airport and US military installations.

2012  – A firecracker factory exploded nearSivakasi,TamilNadu, killing 40 and injuring 50 others.

2012 – An accidental explosion at a Turkish Army ammunition store inAfyon, western Turkey killed 25 soldiers and wounded 4 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


%d bloggers like this: