NZ 3rd for economic freedom

January 28, 2015

New Zealand has overtaken Australia to 3rd place in the  economic freedom index published by the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation.

The media release (the link to which is under press releases overview here) says:

The world economy is “moderately free,” with a slight rise in economic liberty leading to a third annual global increase, according to the editors of the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, released today by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

The world average score of 60.4 is only one-tenth of a point above the 2014 average, but represents a 2.8-point overall improvement since the inception of the Index in 1995. Thirty-seven countries, including Taiwan, Israel, Poland and Colombia, achieved their highest-ever Index scores. Among the 178 countries ranked, scores improved for 101 countries and declined for 73. Ninety economies, or about half of all nations and territories graded in the Index, provide at least a moderate level of economic freedom for their citizens.

Yet the number of people living in economically “unfree” countries remains high: 4.5 billion, or about 65 percent of the world’s population. More than half live in just two countries: China and India. Twenty-six countries have “repressed” economies (scores below 50), while only five have earned the Index’s designation of “free” (scores above 80).

“The fundamental relationship between economic freedom and prosperity is readily apparent worldwide,” the editors write. “No matter the region, per capita income levels are consistently higher in countries that are economically freer.”

Despite being the only North American economy to improve in the 2015 Index, the United States remained stuck in the 12th spot globally and the second one regionally (behind Canada, which is once again No. 6 globally despite a 1.1-point drop in its score). The 2015 Index reports modest gains in six categories for the U.S., including control of government spending, which outweighed a small decline in business freedom.

Hong Kong and Singapore finished first and second in the rankings for the 21st consecutive year, although only two-tenths of a point separate their overall scores. New Zealand, which logged almost a full-point improvement last year, moved up two slots and reclaimed third place in the rankings, outperforming Australia (4th) and Switzerland (5th).

Chile’s score declined slightly, but it took seventh place. The score for Mauritius, the only Sub-Saharan country to rank among the top 10, declined one-tenth of a point, and it slid from eighth place globally to 10th. Estonia, meanwhile, rode an improved score into the world’s No. 8 slot, while Ireland again finished ninth.

The Most Free

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia
  5. Switzerland
  6. Canada
  7. Chile
  8. Estonia
  9. Ireland
  10. Mauritius

The Least Free

  1. North Korea
  2. Cuba
  3. Venezuela
  4. Zimbabwe
  5. Eritrea
  6. Equatorial Guinea
  7. Turkmenistan
  8. Iran
  9. Rep. of Congo
  10. Argentina

Launched in 1995, the Index evaluates countries in four broad policy areas that affect economic freedom: rule of law; limited government; regulatory efficiency; and open markets. There are 10 specific categories: property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom. Scores in these categories are averaged to create an overall score. . .

Countries which have more economic freedom are also more prosperous with the social benefits which flow from that.

Oamaru gingerbread house in WSJ

November 30, 2013

There’s a little piece of Oamaru in the Wall Street Journal:

Hot properties Home Sweet Home is a slide show on gingerbread houses.

One of those featured is magnificent castle crafted by the owners of Oamaru’s  Pen-y-bryn Lodge, about which the WSJ says:

VAST LABYRINTHINE CASTLE | Fairy-tale gorging at its finest! Many tasty turrets; 87 bedrooms, most with partial views of exhausted bakers. Includes marzipan support staff.

More food less carbon

October 8, 2009

One of the criticisms of carbon emissions’ policy is the impact on agriculture and the need to increase food production.

Trade and Associate Climate Change Minister Tim Groser discusses this in an article published in the Wall Street Journal.

Reducing agricultural emissions cannot be at the expense of food production, however. To feed the world, food production will need to double by 2050. This is the same time frame in which the science tells us global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be halved if we are to limit global warming to two degrees centigrade. Already the food system is struggling to feed the world’s population, and food security will always take priority over climate-change considerations.

Groser says there are commercial reasons for reducing emissions and that the Global Alliance which New Zealand is promoting could find the answer to growing food without growing emissions.

If it doesn’t any attempts to reduce emissions will have to exclude agriculture because the need for food today will always win against the good of the environment tomorrow.

WSJ: NZ taxes itself for sake of being green

October 1, 2009

Just three weeks after saying our cap and trade rationale is a bunch of hot air, the Wall Street Journal has another opinion piece criticising us for taxing ourselves for the sake of being green.

. . . from an environmental perspective, it doesn’t really matter what New Zealand does. The island nation contributes 0.2% of total global emissions. The amended scheme isn’t expected to reduce even that already-miniscule figure much.

The government is right to be concerned about non-trade barriers which might be put up against our produce if we aren’t seen to be doing something.

But doing something isn’t the same thing as doing good.

That’s the problem with the Kyoto protocol – much of the response to meeting commitments will come at high social and environmental costs for little if any environmental gain.

The intent of the protocol may or may not have been worthy but its effects are much more about looking green than being green.

Hat Tip: Matthew Hooton.

July 8 in history

July 8, 2009

On July 8:

1497 Vasco de Gama set sail on the first European direct voyage to India. 1889


1889 The first issue of the Wall Street Journal was published.

1933 English comedian and actor Marty Feldman was born.

Feds deliver WSJ barracking to Obama

June 9, 2009

Federated Farmers President Don Nicolson has not just delivered a barracking to US President Barack Obama, he’s done it in the Wall Street Journal.

The government has to be diplomatic, but Nicolson pulls no punches in an opinion piece headlined Milking Trade Subsidies.

Less than six months into his new administration, President Barack Obama has already managed to spark a trade war with Mexico over trucking. Protectionist measures like quotas on Chinese tires could be on the cards, too. Now, newly expanded milk subsidies also threaten both America’s reputation and its trade leadership.

Last month the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, implemented the Dairy Export Incentive Program, or DEIP. Under the program, re-authorized by Congress in last year’s Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays subsidies — euphemistically described as “bonuses” — to cover the difference between American farmers’ cost of production and prevailing international prices.

While DEIP is legal in the U.S., its implementation is a political decision. In the past, annual dairy export DEIP “bonus” values have ranged from about $20 million up to $140 million. While these are miniscule figures for the U.S., the payments distort the international price of dairy products. The first post-DEIP auction price for whole milk powder, conducted earlier this month, fell by 12% — the biggest price reversal since February.

Nicolson explains the negative impact subsidies have on consumers everywhere.

In the U.S., DEIP means American families pay higher taxes to support subsidized dairy farmers, wiping out any savings they might enjoy from lower dairy prices. As in other countries, subsidies effectively shield farmers from true competition. Higher prices always result, and this price increase is passed straight onto consumers. There’s nothing inherently “fair” about any form of subsidy.

Just as relevant, especially given Mr. Obama’s stated desire to improve America’s image abroad, is how unfair this subsidy is to dairy farmers in countries like mine, New Zealand. We’re the world’s second-largest dairy exporter, after the EU and ahead of the U.S. And we’ve reached that market position without any farm subsidies whatsoever.

Nicolson explains how subsidies were dropped in New Zealand in 1985 and while painful at the time, the agricultural sector is stronger now its standing on its own feet and has bettered productivity growth in every other sector in all but two of the last 27 years.

Now programs like DEIP are punishing us for our hard-won success.

Nicolson is justifiably proud that the WSJ accepted his column.

“Writing a letter to President Barack Obama was one thing. Getting wider attention on this most important issue is another.

“That’s why the Wall Street Journal was the logical choice. It’s the trade paper of American commerce and one of the most respected newspapers in the world. It has genuine gravitas with U.S. policy makers.

“It’s an honour and a bit of a coup really that Federated Farmers has had such a topical piece accepted. The timing is ideal, given it coincides with the Cairns Group meeting being attended by U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk and the World Trade Organisation’s Director-General, Pascal Lamy.

“New Zealand and its farmers are up against a powerful U.S. dairy lobby that’s only interested in keeping its subsidies. Hopefully this opinion piece will give U.S. policy makers time to pause, think and reconsider what folly it really is. . .

“Federated Farmers is acting proactively to protect farm viability and the returns that New Zealand’s dairy farmers receive. Unless subsidies and protectionism is nipped in the bud, history tells us they’ll expand and morph into other areas. 

This more than justifies the subscription Feds charges its members and any farmer who isn’t a member should sign up because of this.

Feds has leapt gumboot deep into the slugde of growing subsidies and need our support to carry on the fight.

Hat Tip: The Bull Pen

A $1b interview

March 31, 2009

The Wall Street Journel interview with John Key  generated a bit of interest in New Zealand, but mostly by way of the isn’t-it-good-the-world-notices-us reporting.

Bernard Hickey reckons it was worth much more than that and explains how John Key secured a US1bln loan for New Zealand with a newspaper interview.

Hickey’s post explains how ANZ  National secured a $1b bond issue in the USA, it’s worth reading in full so I’ll leave it with this:

It turns out the interview was a crucial factor in the success of the bond issue, the first long term issue by a New Zealand bank since July last year. It is likely to set the tone for more.

Thank you John.

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