Commonwealth economies beating EU

16/07/2012

The Commonwealth today is just a loose group of nations tied together by little more than historical links to Britain.

But its economic growth is better than that of the European Union:

Economic growth, in real terms, in the European Union (see definition below) has been falling decade upon decade since the 1970’s, and more sharply since 1973. . . . In contrast to the EU, economic growth in the Commonwealth has accelerated over the post 1973 period, as shown in chart 2.

The Commonwealth has already overtaken the EU for its percentage share of GDP and is on track to overtake the Eurozone:

The future looks even better:

The IMF produces forecasts for economic growth for the EZ and the Commonwealth for the next 5 years. Given the current crisis in the EZ the 2.7% annual average growth forecast might be thought optimistic. But optimistic or not it pales into insignificance compared with the continued growth expected in the emerging markets of the Commonwealth.

GDP Growth Forecasts (Real terms, average annual growth)

  2012 – 2017
Eurozone 2.7%
Commonwealth 7.3%

Source: IMF, World Economics calculations

For many years we thought New Zealand had been disadvantaged by Britain’s entry to the EU. Perhaps the opposite is the case:

Why did we join the Common Market in the first place? What was the knock-down argument used by Heath, Jenkins and the rest? Do you remember? The Commonwealth, they told us, was finished. We needed to be part of an alternative market, one that would grow.

At the time, the claim seemed sound enough. Between 1945 and 1973, Western Europe enjoyed spectacular growth, bouncing back from the artificial low of the Second World War. Britain and her Commonwealth, by contrast, were exhausted and indebted. Much of our postwar decline was caused by successive governments eroding their debts through inflation, unaware of, or perhaps untroubled by, the damage they were doing to our national competitiveness and productivity.

We can now see that our timing could hardly have been worse. We joined the EEC in 1973. Europe’s Wirschaftswunder came to an abrupt end with the oil shock of 1974, and never properly got going again. The expansion came instead in the Commonwealth markets from which Britain had just stood aside. . .

Given the economic weakness of Europe and strength in Asia, we are much better off with growing markets closer to home.

There might be opportunities for us in other developing markets we don’t yet have much trade with too even though we might at the moment have little in common except that historical accident which makes us all part of the Commonwealth.

Hat tip: I was led to the Telegraph through a blog, but have forgotten which. If it was yours, feel free to either leave a comment or email me and I’ll give credit where it’s due.


How wet?

01/07/2012

The April to June quarter was Britain’s second wettest since records began in 1910.

Up to 27 June, total rainfall was 130.1mm – 6mm short of the 2007 record.

It is already the wettest June on record for Wales, with 186.3mm of rain this month, compared with the previous record of 183.1mm set in 1998.

We were in England for 10 days from late May and spent a wet weekend in Yorkshire.

Just how wet spring and early summer had been was illustrated by our host who finished planting potatoes while we were there.

Last year he’d got the crop planted in 17 days, this year it took 10 weeks.


“Healthier” milk?

11/07/2011

Marks and Spencer is to become the first retailer in Britain to launch a brand of “healthier” milk.

The milk is said to have at least 6% less saturated fat than standard milk due to a tailored dairy cow diet -trialled last year – that features the removal of all palm oil.

I haven’t seen the results of any scientific studies on the affect of palm oil on milk quality and its fat content but diet does impact on the quantity and quality of milk produced by animals and people.

Babies of vegan mothers who fully breast feed don’t get enough fat for brain development and healthy physical growth.

To support farmer suppliers who convert to the new feed regime, M&S will introduce a new payment contract for farmers who achieve the reduced saturated fat level. M&S says the contract will recognise any additional costs incurred.

This is how the market should work. The end user tells farmers what it wants and is prepared to pay a premium to compensate for the added costs of producing it.

Fonterra should keep a very close eye on this development for two reasons: palm kernel is used as a feed supplement here and could be affecting the quality of milk produced; and there could be a premium for our milk, most of which is supplied by free range, grass-fed cows.


Will he really want to be PM?

12/05/2010

Britain has a new Prime Minister.

That ought to be something he celebrates but the indecisive election result and the need for support from the Liberal Democrats, with whom the Conservatives have little in common, will put a dampener on celebrations.

Whether David Cameron leads a minority government or a coalition the task he faces is a difficult one.

Some commentators have suggested he’d have been better to stand back and wait. But I’m reminded of a comment Bill English made at a conference, the worst day in government where you can do something is better than the best in opposition where you can do nothing.


In praise of democracy

11/05/2010

Britain still hasn’t got a new government.

Number 10 Downing Street may have a squatter; negotiations about who will rule may be confused and protracted and the markets may not be happy about that.

But the people are going about their business unconcerned.

No riots, no mayhem, no bloodshed.

In true democracies people accept the will of the people, even when that will is unclear.


Too much weather

11/01/2010

The problems cold, wet weather pose for holiday makers when it’s supposed to be summer are minor compared with the freezing conditions in Britain

While most news reports focus on the impact on people, Phil Clarke looks at the impact on agriculture.

However, he notes it’s not all bad news for business – sales of UHT milk are booming.

Back in New Zealand,  although it’s been unseasonably cold, Northland, the east coast and some inland areas are very dry.

We were happy to get 12 mls of rain in North Otago yesterday. Farmers in Central Otago also welcomed steady rain but the ODT reports that orchardists weren’t so happy.

There’s too much winter in Britain and not enough summer in New Zealand – altogether too much weather.


Getting the measure of metrics

26/08/2009

Britain’s move to metrics upset some people so much they formed the Imperial Measures Preservation Society. They still drive in miles but seem to have adjsuted to other metric measures. The USA, however, still refuses to make the change.

 

I can’t understand why a country which has had decimal currency for centuries can’t contemplate ditching the complicated system of imperial measurements in favour of the relative simplicity of metrics.

 

July 10 1967, the day on which decimal currency was introduced is a date still fixed in my mind. This was partly due to the success of the advertising campaign which preceded it but mostly a reflection on the great relief with which I was able to close the door on old money.

 

I was 10 at the time and had already spent too long struggling over arithmetic lessons (we didn’t do maths back then) in which we were called on to do convoluted sums with pounds, shillings and pence to have any regrets about the change.

 

I can’t recall when weights and measures went metric but I shed no tears when grams, metres and litres replaced ounces, yards and pints.

 

I was never sure if it was 16 ounces in a pound and 14 pounds to the stone or the other way round and I was even more uncertain about the number of pints in a gallon. I generally got the figures relating to inches in feet and feet in yards right but struggled with conversions to miles or acres and computations concerning any of them were a nightmare.

 

When even one as mathematically challenged as I am can understand the logic of a system based on 10, those wishing to retain imperial measures haven’t a leg to stand on numerically speaking. However, I have some sympathy with them on linguistic grounds because even though we’ve been metric for years a miss is still as good as a mile but it will never be as good as a kilometre.

   

If I look after the cents the dollars may look after themselves but I still like to have my tuppence worth and while I might be in for a penny in for a pound, the decimal equivalent doesn’t trip off my tongue so lightly.

 

It’s not only expressions like these which don’t convert easily to modern measures. It is generally simple to calculate with metrics but it isn’t so easy to converse in them. I can follow recipes in metric or imperial measures but I still refer to a pound of butter rather than 500 grams and if I could still get a bottle of milk I’d call it a pint not 600 mls.

 

If you told me the day’s temperature in Fahrenheit I wouldn’t be sure whether to reach for my long johns or the sunscreen. If you asked me how to bake biscuits I’d probably suggest 350 degrees although I can bake with imperial and metric recipes.

 

Too many sorry mornings on the bathroom scales have enabled me to recognise my own weight in both stones and kilos but I’m not sure how big babies are unless they are weighed in pounds.  

 

I can understand the area of a farm in hectares but still talk about a thousand acre voice or stride. Similarly, while I might not be able to do anything worthwhile with a piece of four by two and a length of number eight wire they are still a lot more useful figuratively speaking than their metric equivalents.

 

So when I gauge myself against a linguistic yardstick I’m only slightly ahead of the imperial luddites. I might have the measure of metrics but I’m not prepared to go the extra kilometre by conversing in them.


August 1 in history

01/08/2009

On August 1:

1291 the Swiss Confederation was formed.

 

1880 1800 the Act of Union was passed uniting the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

1987 Maori became an official language in New Zealand.


Delia’s NZ lamb promotion prompts storm in roasting pan

18/06/2009

British culinary queen Delia Smith is advertising New Zealand lamb on her website: 

New Zealand Lamb is produced in lush pasturelands, where plentiful native grasses, fresh air and unlimited sunshine – over 2000 hours per year – all combine to give New Zealand Lamb great flavour and eating quality. The mild temperate climate also means that livestock can remain outside all year round, feeding on grass pasture without the need for nutrient supplements and, as there’s plenty of space for the animals to roam, they are essentially free range.

Nzlogo4 V Low Res And, naturally, there’s a link between what the sheep eat and the quality of their meat: it’s no surprise that feeding on juicy, nutrient-rich grass makes for meat that is also juicy and packed with flavour and nutritional value.

That sounds good to me but Delia’s getting a roasting from British farmers who reckon she should be promoting their lamb.

One concerned website reader, Lewis Palframan, said: ‘I’m gobsmacked and disappointed.

‘In the age of food miles and carbon footprints – not to mention the need for supporting British farming – what on earth is wrong with our own lamb?’

A spoksman for the National Farmers’ Union said: ‘British lamb is produced to some of the highest welfare standards possible and envied around the world for its quality.

‘We would urge consumers to buy British lamb, local if possible, and look out for the Red Tractor logo and quality standard mark.’

Delia received a CBE for her services to the British food industry. Her promotion of New Zealand lamb would be a bit like Alison Holst telling us to buy imported meat with but of course she wouldn’t do that when our lamb really is the best baa  bar none 🙂


Carol Ann Duffy UK’s first female poet laureate

02/05/2009

Carol Ann Duffy was annointed poet laureate  in Britain yesterday.

She is the first woman to hold the post in the 341 years since Charles II gave the inaugural post to John Dryden.

It is a great day for women writers,” said Duffy, who described the laureateship as “tending the flame” of poetry. “It highlights the way that women writers have changed the landscape of literature in this country … though I think guys will be pleased as well.”

Ten years ago, she was reportedly ruled out of the laureateship because Tony Blair was concerned about how a gay poet laureate might play in middle England. Tonight a spokesman for Tony Blair denied this had been the case.

British Prime Minsiter Gordon Brown :

. . . called Duffy “a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly”.

Duffy has published more than 30 books – plays and children’s stories as well as poems that mix accessible modern language with traditional forms such as the sonnet. Her work often displays a sly, feminist take on history and contains a strong vein of social commentary.

She was born in Glasgow and is creative director of Manchester Metropolitan University’s writing school.

 Her works include “The Worlds’ Wife”  about which Wikipedia   says: The collection takes characters, stories, histories and myths which focus on men, and in Duffy’s renowned feminist way, are twisted to look at the woman behind the man.

One of these is Anne Hathaway:


The Falklands vs Las Malvinas

02/04/2009

The British call them The Falklands, the Argentineans know then as Las Malvinas  and it’s 27 years ago today that Argentina invaded those bleak islands in the South Atlantic.

I was working in London at the time and watched the jingoistic response from several quarters, including much of the media ,with a mixture of fascination and horror.

At first there was almost a sense of celebration, some people even started organising sing alongs to revive the hits of World War II.

The mood was more sombre once the dead and wounded started returning and friends in Argentina have told me of the sadness there as they watched young lives lost and many soldiers maimed by dreadful injuries.

I don’t pretend to understand the history and politics. But a friend who shore on the Falklands for several years says the people he met were definite about wanting to be British and feelings still run high in Argentina as this sign, which we spotted outside a military base shows:

dairy-11


Jamie Oliveoil’s recipe for EU Ag Fudge

31/03/2009

Jamie Oliveoil  is having a boil up to campaign against Britain’s membership of the European Union.

I’ll leave that issue aside because this video is also a compelling argument against subsidies and for ensuring politicians and bureaucrats don’t interfere with the relationship between producers and consumers.

Agricultural Fudge, Subsidy Stew, Tariff Tortellini . . . however you cook them up they cause economic indigestion.

They cost taxpayers and consumers, they threaten food supplies, lead to gluts and shortages and they distort markets.

The people they hurt the most are the poor who can’t afford to pay more for their food and face unfair competition when they sell their produce.

Hat Tip: Fairfacts Media Show & Taxpayers’ Alliance


Getting round the flight tax

26/11/2008

The British government’s plan to tax people flying out of Britain, with the rate rising for the distance and class (ie first class to New Zealand costs more than cattle class to anywhere else) could well have unintended consequences.

People could take a short haul flight to Euorpe and pay a lower tax then take the long haul flight from there  or travel by sea or train to Europe and escape the tax altogether.

It wouldn’t be as convenient as flying direct but providing there was no concern about conencting with the onward flight the money saved could make it worth while.

Another consequence could be a reduction in tourists travelling to Britain because they don’t want to have to pay more to leave again.


Britain officially in recession

25/10/2008

Britain’s economy is shrinking for the first time in 16 years, confirming it is in recession.

The toll from the credit crisis and housing crash has ended Britain’s longest unbroken run of growth since quarterly records began in 1955. City analysts gave a warning that the economy could shrink at an even faster pace in coming months.

Figures for gross domestic product revealed a worse-than-expected fall of 0.5 per cent over the past three months. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, but a further contraction is inevitable.

We aren’t as dependent on Britain to buy our produce as we were last century. But it’s still a significant market for our exports so if the Brits tighten their belts we’ll feel it too.


Come home campaign canned

08/09/2008

What a surprise – the come home Kiwis campaign didn’t work.

A marketing campaign aimed at luring expat New Zealanders home from Australia has been canned and declared a failure.

An evaluation of the campaign, obtained under The Official Information Act by The Dominion Post, found it received more media coverage in New Zealand than Australia.

The campaign was launched in May 2006 at a cost $1 million a year.

A similar campaign was more successful in Britain where it was launched in November 2005.

The evaluation found New Zealanders were more integrated in Australia than in Britain and the lifestyle was not sufficiently different to be a selling point.

It was cancelled because it had “not proven to be effective”.

Neither campaign made any difference in the number of people leaving New Zealand.

It’s not people choosing to leave the country for their OE nor choosing not to return that is the real problem.

It is the people who feel they have to go and can’t come back because they have a better life in other countries that is the real problem.

The solution to that is not spin, it’s economic growth and the social improvements which come with it.


Please Give blood – I can’t

12/06/2008

A friend encouraged me to become a blood donor when I was at high school and I continued more or less regularly for several years.

The day our daughter was born, a donation from someone else saved both our lives. The nurse who was setting up the transfusion mentioned AIDS then said – but don’t worry we only give blood from women to pregnant mothers. Ah yes, that seems most peculiar now but this was 1985 before blood was routinely screened.

Anyway, whoever gave the blood, it was fortuantely free from any infection because once I stopped breast feeding I became a donor again in between subsequent preganancies and feeding.

That all stopped several years ago though when anyone who had been in Britain for more than 6 months in the 1980s was precluded from being a donor for fear of transmitting Mad Cow Disease.

I don’t remember eating beef when I was in Briatin – we lived on tinned tomatoes becasue they were cheap – but regardless of that I can’t be a donor anymore.

Tomorrow is Blood Donor Day – I hope those who can will give because,  as the advertisement says the life you save might be your own.


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