Archive for the ‘ Finance ’ Category

Occupy Unmasked


It was Andrew Breitbart’s final project before his untimely death.

And the full movie is about to be released.

Meanwhile…

And currently…

Killing the golden goose


Perfect timing for a carbon tax and mining super profits tax! /sarc

And after all that, boy oh boy will Queensland Premier, the LNP’s Campbell Newman be unpopular. TBH, I think he’s going to far with all his cuts and stuff.

His latest is raising state mining royalties by 50% to the tune of an extra $1.6 bil.

OK, so he has to raise revenue (and slash 14,000 public sector jobs) to deal with the disastrous $90 bil odd debt Labor left QLD in, and thus he really is in between a rock and a hard place, and sure, he has time before the next election, but one suspects a lot of people who voted for him will be quite grumpy indeed.

Swan will blame Newman. Newman will blame Swan :roll:

UPDATE

The editorial in the Australian:

THERE should be no surprise if the Newman government’s first state budget was tough. Treasurer Tim Nicholls must have known there could be no half-measures if he is to restore the once-prosperous state’s financial position. He told Queenslanders: “we trust and hope neither this government, nor any other government will need to undertake such a difficult task of such magnitude again.” After years of fiscal ill-discipline in other jurisdictions, we would not be too sure.

A word of warning? Tony Abbott winning the next federal election isn’t even going to be half the battle. Our gross national debt will have gone up more than $100 bil by then.

North Korea’s new economic reforms


A sliver of light, glimpsed ever so briefly, at the conclusion of a most long and dark tunnel? Perhaps.

The beginning of the end of North Korea’s debilitating socialist economic system?

News reports suggested that [North Korea] has sought to expand its implementation of the so-called June 28 measures, which some observers said are tantamount to the renouncement of the socialist system.

The measures give greater autonomy to state corporations, allowing them to choose their production items, prices, amounts and marketing methods, according to reports.

They also allow farmers to take in 30 percent of their harvest.

Imagine that. North Korean farmers will now be able to keep and sell 30% of the fruits of their labour. Easily mocked in our rich Capitalist society, but it’s a step forward, progress, from the old socialist system whereby farmers could only keep what was left over from the quota the state made them harvest.

And imagine that: companies being allowed to produce what they want and set a price.

Funny old world isn’t it? As rich, free Capitalist countries toy more and more with socialist this and socialist that, a down-trodden, poor-as-fuck, relatively isolated, under-the-boot socialist country toys with the idea of Capitalism.

Ha! North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is essentially saying, “Over to you, people,” whilst Obama is saying to every hard worker, businessman and entrepreneur in America, “You didn’t build that!”

But with these latest North Korean economic reforms, I said it’s only a sliver of hope for a reason.

Yang Un-chul, of the Sejong Institute think tank:

“Even if they allow some autonomy to farmers and corporations, when they don’t have any personal property, such incentives would not work. Even though they take in some percentage of their harvest, this would, after all, be taken away by middle-level officers.”

So where are these climate scientists, gurus, our government is so sure of?


A planet in peril, or a society?

On ABC’s QandA political affairs program last Monday, aside from GetUp!’s Simon Sheikh’s collapse, we were privilege to the dulcet tones of Climate Change minister, Greg Combet.

A major part of his reassuring argument is that the government simply cannot ignore the warnings of all the world’s top scientists.

Noted empirical evidence – namely that we haven’t seen any warming in at least ten years – was dismissed as a rubbish argument.

No, Combet smoothly argued the scientists had to be trusted.

So? Who?

The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

Even they’ve admitted they are just another UN body, and certainly not the “gold standard”.

They admitted they don’t necessarily promote views of the world’s “top scientists”, but rather, make sure every geographic region is represented as equally as possible.

Sorry, but that’s not the world’s top scientists.

No Frakking Consensus:

Leading scientists. Top climate scientists. The best scientific minds. That was the fiction. Now, at long last, the IPCC is admitting that its authors don’t, in fact, all belong to the highest echelons of the scientific community. Instead we’re advised that the IPCC has “always sought” to “achieve geographic representation.”

The end of Chapter 5 in my book reads:

Journalists say we should trust the IPCC’s conclusions because its reports have been written by the world’s finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors.

It would need an explicit policy that says something along the lines of: Even though we are a UN body, we are not influenced by UN diversity concerns. We select the world’s best experts and only the world’s best experts – regardless of where they come from or what gender they happen to be.

In fact, readers may recall that the crux of the IPCC argument, the one governments such as our own are rolling with (OK, well basically just ours), was written by a teenage boy.

The blurb:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) performs one of the most important jobs in the world. It surveys climate science research and writes a report about what it all means. This report is informally known as the Climate Bible.

Cited by governments around the world, the Climate Bible is the reason carbon taxes are being introduced, heating bills are rising, and costly new regulations are being enacted. It is why everyone thinks carbon dioxide emissions are dangerous. Put simply: the entire planet is in a tizzy because of a United Nations report.

What most of us don’t know is that, rather than being written by a meticulous, upstanding professional in business attire, the Climate Bible is produced by a slapdash, slovenly teenager who has trouble distinguishing right from wrong.

This expose, by an investigative journalist, is the product of two years of research. Its conclusion: almost nothing we’ve been told about the IPCC is true.

So?

Who?

What top climate scientists? Could Combet quote one? A credible one?

The “father” of global warming Gaia theory, perhaps?

No. Remember, James Lovelock came out recently and admitted much of the doom and gloom he’d forecast simply isn’t and hasn’t turned out to be the case.

Unfortunately, not so many other climate scientists are as free to revise their views as Lovelock is. You see, he doesn’t require government funding to keep him afloat.

That is a significant catch 22 that simply cannot be dismissed.

So?

Who?

Australia’s very own Climate Commissioner, Tim Flannery, who the government pays $180,000 per year for three days work per week?

Well, this is a bloke who predicted permanent drought for Australia’s three major eastern coastal cities.

Now the dams are as good as full, and the desal plants have been mothballed – at a cost of considerable billions.

So? Who?

That other government-paid climate expert, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who predicted our thriving reefs would be wiped out by now?

Who, Combet? Who, Gillard?

Who are they, are they on your payroll, and have any of their predictions come true?

Of course, their argument is bunkum, like as if a trace gas, of which humans produce only a fraction of, somehow drives global climate.

Hence, you’ll see more arguments like GetUp!’s Simon Sheikh’s; that being, “to rise above the politics”, like he said on QandA last Monday.

You see, to them, it was never about the science, even though that’s of course what they claimed and possibly what they also believed to a point.

And when the science started riding home, the hard empirical data that refuted the models, they argued it was time to “move on from that”.

OK. So we’re back to the political argument many claimed it always was?

Oh no, now it’s “let’s rise above the politics”.

Utterly vacuous words and sentiments. Deceitful, too – and perhaps to themselves the most.

People like Sheikh I do believe mean well. But he’s trying to change the way the world works because essentially, he doesn’t understand how the world works (and he must have been asleep in history class).

I would argue, however, that he does see genuine problems such as real pollution but has unfortunately, like many of our politicians and scientists, been caught up in CO2=pollution nonsense hypothesis.

He’s stuck.

He, like the other 50,000 delegates at the Rio+20 convention, have made and staked their careers on this.

Families to feed.

For example, what would he and his wife, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) chairperson, Anna Rose, do if this all came unravelled?

What would Combet do?

What would Flannery do?

What would Gillard do?

Looking at the big picture, that is hardly important. It’s what they’ve done, what they’re doing, and what they will do before time is up that actually matters in the broader sense.

Larry Pickering:

Now we know what Emerson’s “Whyalla” rendition was all about. It was a “get that up ya” celebration which wasn’t directed at us at all. He had already lost us.

Gillard’s old bed mate, Emerson, was serenading Abbott alone in a taunting display of ridicule.


*You know, if they’d actually just made it a big money-go-round – not a take from the rich, give to the poor – but an actual money-go-round, and admitted it as simply as that, something that might have stimulated the economy, I’d probably be half for it…*

Also, if this carbon tax did ANYTHING to lower global temperatures, then they might have a sliver of an argument. That said, the whole world could adopt it and not even Tim Flannery claims it would make an iota of difference.

Their argument of, “So what? We do nothing?” is fallacious. By wasting so much time, money, and endeavour on the carbon caper, there is in fact a lot we are not doing that we should be doing again.

Tsk, tsk, DSK… 62, ugly as sin, but didn’t know the bombshell was a pro


Ooookay then.

DISGRACED former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged today with involvement in an organised vice ring that procured prostitutes for top-class clients, lawyers said.

All very James Bond isn’t it… or is it?

Overweight, old, ugly but apparently he “never had the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes.”

Oh well, innocent until proven guilty and all that jazz.

But speaking of DSK, just what was a confirmed socialist doing running the IMF anyway? In a capitalist society, one would think the vehicle of last resort for sick economies would be run by someone more capitalist than Adam Smith.

Paywalls: where they’ve worked, where they might, and where they might not


Where a paywall seems to have worked, where it could, and where I can’t imagine how they’re going to pull it off…

I don’t think anybody really has a crystal ball on this one, but I reckon the Australian Finacial Review, the Australian, and the Herald Sun respectively.

Niche, semi-niche, tabloid.

National, national, local.

In case you missed it:

And in those three, yes, an overall tone that I{DON’T-HEART} paywalls, not after all this time without them and the once never dreamed of smorgasbord of news and opinion content to gleefully choose from.

*although there is a chance it could help some blogs…

Discussion needed on foreign state-owned farm ownership, but perhaps avoid the “hyperbowl”


So the MP With Australia’s Best Interests at Heart, none other than independent Tony Windsor, has thrown his authentic Akubra into the ring and said his two cents about the issue of Chinese state-owned firms buying up Australia’s farms.

“We shouldn’t debate about stopping foreign investment – no one is going to do that – but should foreign governments have freehold ownership over our land?

It’s something we should debate and look at the distinction between state-owned buyers and others.

And a cursory google search finds all sorts of alarming press about the Chinese government investing in and buying huge swathes of our farmland, including the notable ABC special report provocatively entitled, “Selling the Farm to China”.

Foreign interests including state-owned companies from China and the Middle East are increasingly looking to Australia to secure their food production by purchasing key agricultural assets.

The sale of agricultural land is exempt under Foreign Investment Review Board regulations and the FIRB’s attention is usually triggered only by the sale of companies whose assets exceed a $231 million threshold.

And many are right to be concerned about state-run Chinese firms cashing in on Australia’s farms, but is Liberal senator Bill Heffernan (concerned, in the report above) not playing perhaps a bit of politics here?

It would be wise to keep this in a little perspective. Even when investing as little as $1, state-owned enterprises (SOE) have to have approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). Why’s that important? Because most of the investments from China come from SOEs, so that $231 million threshold doesn’t apply, and nor does the exemption for agricultural land.

And this:

ABS released some land ownership data based on a survey of 11,000 agricultural businesses recently and the study found 89pc of the surveyed agricultural land was entirely Australian owned, while 92pc was majority Australian owned.

So not that much land is full or part foreign owned, and most of that has been approved by the FIRB because at least in China’s case, those investments are from the Chinese state so you can’t really go around attacking China on this one.

For sure, we don’t really know exactly how much farmland Chinese SOEs own, and that’s something that should definitely be rectified, but you can be rest assured it’s not that much, most likely nowhere near proportional to the panic generated over it.

If people still want to get worked up, be at some sections of our media, notably one that doesn’t mind the odd bit of exaggeration when it comes to their rural reporting.

Most of us were suckered in to that one for a while.

Let’s hope we’ve learned and don’t get suckered into this one, too.

China to increase military expenditure (thanks Uncle Sam)


Not surprising…

China said Sunday it would boost its defense spending by 11.2% in 2012, slightly less than last year’s increase but still enough to aggravate the concerns that have prompted the U.S. to refocus its defense policy on the Asian-Pacific region.

So how much will that military budget add up to? That’d be $106.4 billion US dollars.

To put that in a little more perspective, China currently holds more than $1.2 trillion of US debt. Interest payments on America’s $15.2 trillion of debt amounted to $454 billion in 2011.

Thus, interest payments to China would have been around $30 billion (454/15) that year. For the same 12 month period, the Chinese military budget was $91.5 billion.

That’s the US effectively financing one third of China’s military in 2011. And remember that’s just with interest payments. The principal on the debt isn’t going down.

With no end in sight to increasing US debt, and the likelyhood China will continue to buy at least some of it – with ever increasing interest rates – no wonder China is so well positioned to continue double-digit increases in its military expenditure… courtesy to a sizeable extent of the US taxpayer.

I’m not sure there has ever been a case in world history whereby one superpower has funded so much of a rival superpower’s military.

PS The idea of US debt interest payments funding the Chinese military has been bandied about before. I decided to have a look at the numbers myself.

Occupy Unmasked


The other side to the story most people have heard about the Occupy Wall Street and related movements around the globe.

The trailer for the new film produced by Citizens United and directed by Stephen K. Bannon. “Occupy Unmasked” goes deep into the “Occupy” movement and exposes its origins as well as the radical ideas behind “income inequality” that has become the centerpiece of the Obama re-election effort.

OWS was a spontaneous, grass roots movement? Yeah *cough bullshit* OK.

Riots in Greece; socialism at its best


Greece’s citizens, quite the socialists by nature, are having a hard time of it now that they’ve run out of other people’s money and the free, unsustainable goodies that come with it.

OK, OK, so they haven’t run out. They’ve just had to cut back on their privilaged, pampered lifestyle in order to secure another whopping $171bn €230bn of bailout money that’ll, let’s face it, probably be a waste of (other people’s) money.

Greece’s parliament has approved an austerity and debt-relief bill, crucial for the country to avoid bankruptcy and remain in the eurozone. Lawmakers voted today in favor of the bill that imposes harsh new austerity measures in return for a $171 billion new bailout agreement and related deal with private creditors to shave $132 billion off the country’s national debt. The vote occurred after extensive rioting and looting swept through the Greek capital.

There are some good piccies to go with that last link, too.

Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge:

[T]he question now is what the popular Greek response will be having learned its politicians sold it out yet again, which will likely be nothing much, as it is 1 am local time, and as everyone knows revolutions in heavily socialist countries only start between 9 am and 5 pm, with a 2 hour break for siesta.

Will likely be nothing much? A bit harsh. They did manage to get out of bed and riot because, you know, trashing your own country when it’s already broke is the obvious smart choice.

Related: click here to see in pictures who loaned Greece the money.

UPDATE

Athens’ Starbucks ablaze.

World debt: now in pictures!


Imagine an average city’s skyscrapers. Now imagine those skyscrapers are made of $100 bills. That’s how much debt the world is in.

Yowsa.

Another 18 months of FAIL


Tic toc, can we speed up the clock?

BILLIONAIRE Lindsay Fox believes the current leaders of governments all around the world will be thrown out of power in the next 18 months because of their failure to deal with the debt problems plaguing Europe and other developed economies.

In a wide-ranging interview ahead of being honoured at a gala event staged by the American Australian Association in Melbourne tonight, Mr Fox also said Julia Gillard was a “good person” with “good intentions”, but that Tony Abbott would make a “very good leader” of the nation.

With the way Gillard is spending, how CAN Abbott possibly commit to a return to surplus timetable?


OK. I get it. Opposition leader Tony Abbott, before the last election, did commit to return Gillard’s budget deficit to surplus within one term.

But that commitment simply isn’t possible now for two main reasons.

1. The budget deficit is much higher that the initial $6 billion Abbott committed to returning to surplus.

2. With gross national debt (and yes, this does affect the budget) skyrocketing at around $2 billion per week, budget debt rising fast too, and uncertainty as to exactly what week this government will fall, it would be foolish and impossible to try and dream up some sort of timetable now. Timetables require a costing/spending plan. You need to start out with a total, but nobody knows exactly what that total will be when this mess finally comes to an end.

Mr Abbott said the Coalition wasn’t in a position to make a similar pledge as it did at the last election, when it promised to post a $6 billion surplus by 2012-13.

“Now since then a lot’s happened and as you know for the current financial year the government originally predicted a $12 billion deficit, then it went out to $24 billion and now it’s gone out to $37 billion.

Imagine what that budget debt would be if sneaky Wayne Swan hadn’t taken the NBN out of budget calculations.

The benefits of Capitalism (and why the alternative is far worse)


Janet Daley has an excellent piece in the Daily Telegrapgh (UK) today. She hits on the notion so many have nowadays of some vague, fairer, better system out there – somewhere – that would be better than the free markets we have today.

However, we are reminded that that “fairer, better” system was tried last century. It’s called Communism (and you can include its baby brother, Socialism, in there too). Yet Daley laments that the utter failure of Communism never really permeated into the mass consciousness after the fall of the Evil Empire in 1989.

The failure of communism should have been, after all, not just a turning point in geo-political power – the ending of the Cold War and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – but in modern thinking about the state and its relationship to the economy, about collectivism vs individualism, and about public vs private power. Where was the discussion, the trenchant analysis, or the fundamental debate about how and why the collectivist solutions failed, which should have been so pervasive that it would have percolated down from the educated classes to the bright 18-year-olds? Fascism is so thoroughly (and, of course, rightly) repudiated that even the use of the word as a casual slur is considered slanderous, while communism, which enslaved more people for longer (and also committed mass murder), is regarded with almost sentimental condescension.

Daley ponders, and I’ll paraphrase, whether this is because Communism looks better on paper, that it seems fairer at first glance.

I’d say it does.

I don’t know who said it first, but Capitalism is great – the best – because it truly understands human nature. It understands that we actually are pretty greedy and selfish (whether we like it or not). The delicious irony is that whilst Communism purports to enshrine freedom and fairness, in reality it delivers tyranny as we witnessed last century.

And in turn, the beauty of Capitalism is that whilst it “encourages” us to be greedy and selfish, it is actually that which in a free market which ends up helping our fellow man far more than what I’d like to think of as enforced fairness that only resulted in “corruption and a new hierarchy based on party status.”

Indeed.

More people need to know that whilst Capitalism isn’t perfect, it’s the best we have and that any alternative being touted these days is but a rehash of an already tested and failed experiment – Communism and its ilk – that resulted in death, bondage, poverty and misery for millions.

Read Daley’s full argument here.

H/T JM Heinrichs

 

Wishful thinking?


Seems a bit early to tell for this layman and more of a coincidence, but anyway…

It’s happened 13 times since 1936. Call it the IBD January Incumbent Barometer.

An incumbent president faces a challenger … and 13 out of 13 times the stock market picks the winner in January.

Say again?

Here’s how it works: When the stock market scores a big gain in January — about 6% or more — the challenger beats the incumbent president every time, or as we shall see, almost every time. When the stock market goes up or down modestly in January — 4% or less in either direction — the incumbent wins almost every time.

This January the Nasdaq rose 8%, signaling a loss for President Obama, according to the IBD JIB.

Via JM

UPDATE

Stacy McCain:

Let’s pause, my friends, to recognize that what I write on this blog, and what you reply in the comments, will never change anything about the Republican presidential primary campaign. And we would be guilty of exaggerating our own influence if we thought otherwise.

Via Instapundit who notes:

In a nutshell, that’s why I haven’t seemed very interested — as various emailers have noted from time to time — in the Republican primary process. Nobody really excites me, but I’ll be quite happy to vote for the nominee, whether it’s Romney, Paul, Santorum, Gingrich, or Zeeba, over Barack Obama. Nor do I think the race is likely to turn on what gets written here.

I feel similar. None of the GOP nominees have really stood out.

UPDATE II

The latest poll tells a different story than the IBD JIB.

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