365 days of gratitude

August 31, 2018

Going somewhere to do something often doesn’t leave time to do something else.

Today I had a day in Dunedin with time to do some of the something elses – catching up with an aunt, a browse and a little buying in the UBS (surely one of the world’s best book shops) and a long overdue catch up with a couple of old friends.

Tonight I’m grateful for a day with time for the something else’s.


Word of the day

August 31, 2018

Swathe – a broad strip or area of something; a row or line of grass, corn, or other crop as it falls or lies when mown or reaped; to bind, wrap, or swaddle with or as if with a bandage; envelop; wrap up closely or fully.


Rural round-up

August 31, 2018

Commissioner releases research on the contribution of New Zealand’s livestock methane to global warming:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, has today released new research on the impact methane from New Zealand’s livestock has on global warming.

“I hope this new work will help promote debate on reducing methane emissions that is grounded firmly in science.” . .

Farmers face pressure under climate change legislation – Eric Frykberg:

Farmers’ hopes of getting an easy ride in climate change legislation has been dented by the combative stand on methane taken by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The commissioner said to prevent global warming, methane emissions would have to fall by 10 to 22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050.

There would then need to be further reductions by 2100. . .

B+LNZ welcomes PCE report on livestock methane emissions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on livestock emissions which recognises the difference in the warming potential between short and long term greenhouse gases.

The Commissioner’s report says that if New Zealand wishes to ensure that methane from livestock contributes no additional warming beyond current levels, methane emissions from all livestock will need to be reduced from 2016 levels by between 10 – 22 per cent by 2050, and 20 – 27 per cent by 2100. . .

Methane report shoots down ‘must be zero’ claims:

Another research paper – this one from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment – shoots down the claims that New Zealand must reduce its livestock methane emissions to zero, Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The paper, based on modelling by Dr Andy Reisinger of the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, suggests that to ensure no additional warming effects beyond current levels, methane emissions would need to be reduced by 10-22 percent below 2016 levels by 2050, with further reductions by 2100. . .

Snacking taken to a new high by Fonterra beverage – Peter Burke:

Fonterra is launching a milk beverage to tap into the emerging consumer trend called ‘snacking’.

The aim is to replace pies, crisps and sugar-filled soft drinks. Production is by new technology at a new plant in a deal with an apple juice processor. In a large industrial area near Hastings, Apollo Foods has set up a new processing plant, the brainchild of apple industry entrepreneur Ross Beaton who intends to make a quality, long life apple juice.

But the plant can do more than process apples: the technology is perfect for producing quality long life milk beverages, which Apollo has agreed to do for Fonterra. . .

Is agritech destined to save New Zealand?:

Agritech could be destined to save the New Zealand economy, leading New Zealand tech expert Graeme Muller says.

The tremendous worldwide demand for food continues to soar with some estimating the market to be worth $US3 trillion and much of the growth coming from specialty and healthy foods, Muller, the NZTech chief executive, says.

He is one of 30 New Zealand agritech delegates attending the Silicon Valley forum agritech immersion programme this week in San Jose, California, and they are finding that New Zealand is well placed to respond to the substantial changing demands. . .

Strong exports push King Salmon earnings – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Strong export growth in its lead North American market and in Asia pushed New Zealand King Salmon to record operating earnings in the year to June 30.

The result would have been stronger had the company not experienced high mortality among its salmon stocks because of high Marlborough Sounds water temperatures.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – the benchmark measure the company used for forecasts in its prospectus before listing on the NZX in 2016 – came in at $26.2 million, a 21 percent increase on the previous financial year and 17 percent ahead of prospectus forecasts. . .

 


Fonterra forecast drops 25c

August 31, 2018

Fonterra has dropped its forecast payout for the current season by 25 cents.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised its 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price from $7.00 per kgMS to $6.75 per kgMS.

Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan, said the change was in response to stronger milk supply signals coming from some of the world’s key dairy producing regions.

“Over the past quarter, we have seen increased milk supply out of markets including Europe, the US and Argentina. These regions have a big influence on the supply and demand balance and therefore global prices. For example, the one per cent increase in US milk production represents just under 100 million litres of extra milk.

“At the same time, demand for whole milk powder and dairy fats is showing signs of slowing in some parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” added Monaghan.

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell, said the weakening NZD/USD exchange rate had only partially offset the decline in global dairy prices, and it was important to give farmers a realistic assessment of the market.

“It’s still very early in the season and a lot can change over the coming months. A drop in the new season Milk Price forecast will be frustrating to our farmers, but it’s important we give them the facts so they can make informed decisions in their farming businesses,” said Hurrell.

The timing of today’s update is in line with DIRA requirements for Fonterra to review the Milk Price every three months. The Co-operative last considered the Milk Price in May.

This isn’t unexpected and $6.75 is still a reasonable amount, though no-one should bank on that not being revised down again.


Paying for poor policies

August 31, 2018

Business confidence has dropped to the lowest point for 10 years:

In the August ANZ Business Outlook Survey headline business confidence dropped a further 5 points to a net 50% of respondents reporting they expect general business conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead.

However, firms’ perceptions of their own prospects are a much better gauge of actual economic outcomes. This series stabilised at a net 4% expecting an improvement, well below the long-term average of +27%. By industry, manufacturers’ expectations dropped 11 points to become the least positive about their own activity (-4%), while retail and services improved somewhat.

Turning to the survey detail:

* A net 5% of firms are expecting to reduce investment, down 6 points. It is rare for this series to be negative.

* Employment intentions fell 8 points to -6%. No sectors are positive.

These two points are most concerning. Businesses reducing investment and with negative employment intentions will have a direct and negative impact on the economy.

* Profit expectations were flat at -17%. Retail and manufacturing are the weakest sectors at -27% (up 1%pt) and -28% (down 12%pts) respectively.

* Firms’ pricing intentions fell 2 points to +27%. They are strongest for construction but also lifted for retail. Inflation expectations were flat at 2.2%.

 * Residential construction intentions eased 3 points to +13%, while encouragingly, commercial construction intentions bounced 13 points to -4%. . . 

The economy is delicately placed. But it seems increasingly inevitable that wariness amongst firms will have real impacts, in the near term at least, as investment and employment decisions are deferred. . .

The outlook isn’t all bad.

But firms have real concerns about industrial relations policy, minimum wage hikes and costs more generally – and particularly about their ability to pass on higher costs and maintain profitability. Troubles in the construction sector appear to be starting to cause stresses in related firms. And exporting firms will be keeping a nervous eye on signs that global growth has peaked. . .

The Taxpayers’ Union says the drop in confidence shows the urgent need for tax reform:

. . .Taxpayers’ Union Economist Joe Ascroft says, “Businesses need more than a working group. They need real changes in policy direction, including tax reform. Business breakfasts with CEOs and Cabinet Ministers simply won’t cut it for the average small business.”

“Company tax rate cuts – accompanied by full capital expensing – would put a rocket under business investment and put an end to the doldrums. If focused at measures to boost productivity, the evidence shows that tax relief would flow through to workers in the form of higher wages.” . .

Tax reform would help and not just for businesses.

The lower dollar helps export returns but increases the cost of imports, including fuel, the price of which is also being boosted by extra taxes:

The Government’s obsession with fuel taxes shows it doesn’t care about the cost of living for ordinary Kiwis, National’s Transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross says.

“Now is the time for solutions to the cost of living, not new taxes. National is taking the initiative with a bill lodged today to repeal regional fuel taxes within three months.

“Fuel prices are sitting at record levels across the country and are set to rise further because the Government is proposing three additional rounds of national fuel tax increases totalling an extra 12 cents a litre of fuel in new taxes.

“In addition, there is an 11.5 cents a litre regional fuel tax in place in Auckland that will be rolled to other regions in a few short years. It adds to this Government’s sorry record of driving up costs for households and businesses and choking economic growth. . .

 

But tax is only part of the problem. The Government has several other poor policies that we’re all paying for:

The message from economists is loud and clear: the Government’s bad economic policies mean New Zealanders will be thousands of dollars a year worse off, says National Party Leader Simon Bridges.

“In the last three months alone NZIER has revised down their GDP growth forecasts which means every man, woman and child will be $1600 a year worse off on average by 2022. That is $6400 for a family of four.

“NZIER are clear that the decline in the economic outlook isn’t just sentiment. Profitability has deteriorated and businesses’ own activity, a measure closely correlated with GDP growth, has weakened. There are real implications for businesses, workers and New Zealanders trying to get ahead.

“The reason GDP growth is now faltering is because this Government has imposed a wide range of policies that are bad for growth. They have imposed more taxes, shut off foreign investment, significantly increased labour and compliance costs, banned oil and gas exploration and wasted billions on low-quality spending.

“And what was the Prime Minister’s solution this morning: another working group. The Government needs to understand that lower growth has real consequences for New Zealand families. Working groups do not drive economic growth, good policies and hardworking New Zealanders do.

“So the goal is simple. We must grow the economy if we want New Zealanders to be better off. A growing economy means more jobs, higher incomes and more revenue to pay for the things we need.

“We need to be pro-growth as that is the only way we can improve our standard of living. National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. Higher taxes, more regulation, compliance costs and a rising cost of living do nothing to help families get ahead.

 

Added costs and uncertainty are a poisoning business confidence and this week’s announcement of a business council is no antidote.


A lasagne of failure

August 31, 2018

Wellington commuters are really cheesed off about changes to their bus services:

A lasagne of failure?

That’s a delicious metaphor that will be savoured and chewed over.


Quote of the day

August 31, 2018

It is surprising to notice that even from the earliest age, man finds the greatest satisfaction in feeling independent. The exalting feeling of being sufficient to oneself comes as a revelation. – Maria Montessori who was born on this day in 1870.


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