China growth rising as others fall; but China liquidity in stress; US dollar falls; US jobs cuts grow; EU confidence improves; UST 10yr yield at 0.72%; oil unchanged and gold higher; NZ$1 = 67.4 USc; TWI-5 = 70

China growth rising as others fall; but China liquidity in stress; US dollar falls; US jobs cuts grow; EU confidence improves; UST 10yr yield at 0.72%; oil unchanged and gold higher; NZ$1 = 67.4 USc; TWI-5 = 70

Here's our summary of key economic events over the weekend that affect New Zealand, with news of some sizable financial wobbles in both China and the US.

But first in China, Moody's has raised its estimate of growth in 2020 from +1.0% to +1.9%. But it has downgraded 2020 economic activity forecasts for all the other major economies, seeing a 2020 contraction in the global economy at -4.6% which is worse than their last estimate.

Concern about tighter liquidity in China is reverberating through that country’s financial markets. Their Government bond yields have risen from 2.50% in April to almost 3.10% now, their stock market rally has completely run out of puff since early July, and the yuan has strengthened to its highest level since January.

And now their central bank has revealed that in the past two weeks it has made emergency liquidity injections into their banking system of NZ$400 bln.

China's food security concerns have risen too in the southern part of the country where they are facing a locust plague.

In India, they have made an "interesting" move to support investment in housing for low income people. It has given an income tax exemption for foreign funds who invest in "affordable rental housing" via debt or equity. It's a benefit not available to local investors.

Late on Friday the US dollar had a sharp fall, but really just adding to a recent trend that started in early April as the pandemic set in. It is now at its lowest level in two years and lower than four years ago. The Trump Administration policies have undermined the greenback as traders move to discount its long term prospects. A cheaper USD makes US assets easier for outsiders to buy and partly explains why Wall Street 'values' have been rising. A Fed that is loosening its focus on inflation may be the driver for this latest decline.

It also helps explain why commodity prices have been rising - from iron ore, to precious metals. And why the Chinese currency "is now at its highest level of the year".

In the US, and in the Chicago industrial heartland, their PMI slipped a little in August from July but this should be seen as a net positive because for the second consecutive month it was above the level-pegging '50' benchmark after being below for all prior months of this year. But the important new order subcategory fell.

The next US consumer sentiment survey came in slightly better than the weak July result but still a heavy -17% lower than this time in 2019. The surveyors said it is in a "depressed range".

In Las Vegas, a major employer has announced 18,000 furloughed employees are to be laid off permanently. It is just the latest in a wave of layoffs sweeping over the US labour market in late August. Stanley Black & Decker is another in a long and growing list. (And it is not only in the US.)

In Europe, economic confidence continues to improve in August, with companies from manufacturing to services benefiting from higher demand following the end of pandemic lockdowns. It was a fourth consecutive rise and better than expected with the service sector giving a recent boost. One trend in the consumer part of these surveys however is that people are more worried about their job prospects.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is 25,069,000, up +515,000 since when we last checked this time Saturday. Global deaths reported now exceed 844,000 (+11,000 in two days).

Just under a quarter of all reported cases globally are in the US, which is up +86,000 since Saturday to 6,158,400 and a relentless rise. US deaths are now just over 187,000 and a death rate of 564/mln (+5/mln). The net number of people actively infected in the US rose overnight to 2,557,000, so back to many more new infections than recoveries. The return to school is probably behind the upsurge.

In Australia, there have now been 25,670 COVID-19 cases reported, another +222 over the weekend. Although most are in Victoria, it is definitely abating there and the new Sydney cluster isn't growing. Australia's death count is up to 611 however (+28). Their recovery rate is up over 82%. There are 3948 active cases in Australia (-289) indicating a turned tide and more recoveries than new infections.

The UST 10yr yield will start the week at 0.72%. Their 2-10 curve is at +59 bps. Their 1-5 curve is at +15 bps, while their 3m-10yr curve is at +64 bps. The Aussie Govt 10yr yield is up +2 bps at 0.98%. The China Govt 10yr is also up and by +1 bp at 3.09%. And the NZ Govt 10 yr yield has joined in with its own belated rise at the long end, up +7 bps to just under 0.64%.

The price of gold rose in final trade last week to be up +US$36 to US$1,964/oz and essentially repricing based on the currency shift.

Oil prices are little-changed today at just under US$43/bbl in the US while the international price is just over US$45.50/bbl.

However the US dollar sunk rather dramatically over the weekend and that has pushed the Kiwi dollar sharply higher, up almost a full +1c to over 67.4 USc and a sudden appreciation of +1.3%. That is its highest in more than a year, and probably annoys the RBNZ. Against the Australian dollar we are a little firmer too, at 91.5 AUc. Against the euro we are up to 56.7 euro cents. That means our TWI-5 is up to almost 70 and a one month high.

The bitcoin price is up +1.2% from this time Saturday at US$11,653. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

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81 Comments

Calling it now - back Level 3 (or a new brand of Level 2 so restrictive that it might as well be Level 3, just more politically acceptable) by the end of September.

This is good news if correct. If the virulence declines then we have a good chance of being able to relax things in the future.

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As for China: A significant developing geopolitical issue involving New Zealand with China.
Article over the weekend as to how China is increasing its global presence and influence; this time in Kiribati at the expense of Australia and New Zealand. https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/kiribati-lost-china
Not only have the Chinese opened an embassy this year (Australia and New Zealand were the only two) they now seem to be overshadowing and outbidding Aussie and Kiwi influence.
“So, while China builds a fish plant that gives jobs to I-Kiribati in Kiribati, Australia promotes a scheme where young men and women leave their families behind to work temporary low skilled jobs that Australians don’t want to do.
New Zealand gives lectures on gender equality. China says it will give planes and ferries, so women can affordably travel to improve their education, visit family and sell goods. And be evacuated in a medical crisis.
Australian and New Zealand NGOs use the fragility of the islands to raise money and awareness about climate change. China says it’s going to bring in the sort of dredgers it used to build islands in the South China Sea to reinforce Kiribati’s shores.

So why be surprised the government of Kiribati thought it would be better for their people to align with China?”
So what? While Kiribati is only a collection of small atolls with a total land area of 800km2, their scattered nature means that its EEC is the size of India and covers a significant area of the North Pacific.
USA has significant presence over much of the north Pacific (the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia) but it looks like China is claiming a significant presence in Kiribati by displacing Australia and New Zealand.
We live in interesting times.

Note: The recent widely publicised photo of the Chinese ambassador walking over local I-Kiribati as part of a traditional cultural welcome ceremony, it could well be symbolism for Kiribati’s future?

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Give them time and the Chinese will offer to develop their port and airfield facilities, and before you know it the Chinese will have a major naval base smack dab in the middle of the pacific, not too far from Hawaii, Aussie and NZ. Short term it will look really attractive to Kiribati people and Government, long term they'll be ceding their sovereignty and Chinese plans for domination of the Pacific will take another major leap forward. The game's afoot!

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Have we not ceded sovereignty to the Australian banking system?

That was a long time ago - over 100 years

Up until Covid -19 this year the New Zealand based Australian bank subs paid tribute to their parent companies in the form of $4.0 - $4.5 billion annually.

You are effectively implying the subsidiaries of the Australian Banks have been remitting dividends to their parent's of $4 billion annually for 100 years? Well done

Don't put words in my mouth - I said nothing of the sort - you mentioned 100 years not me. I clearly remember a time in NZ when banks hardly lent to the private sector - my parents struggled once to get bank mortgage finance - eventually a lawyer's trust fund underwrote it.

That is exactly the meaning of the words you said

In part probably. Our banks are less rigidly policed and regulated than in Aussie as i understand it, so for us to believe there is nothing going on here is just ludicrous. I would think the Aussie banks put a lot of pressure on our government, even to the point of threatening them with pulling out (blackmail?) which stops them looking too closely at what they do. Orr will be trapped into this too.

The classic example is that last year the BNZ sent more money back to it's bosses in Aussie than it paid in wages in NZ. Another is the ANZ closing down Bonus Bonds, which pays 0.2% return on bonds, and keeping the unclaimed bonds. Why would any of us support these people?

Stockholm syndrome?

Yes but ask yourself that question - with good NZ owned banks why does the average Kiwi still bank with the big 4? I left them 10 years ago..

One of the reasons NZ paid good money for 4 Boeing P-8 Poseidon jets. We will need to monitor the activities around our backyard soon.

We don't need to monitor. It is all out in the open. The PRC gives nothing. It lends. The Island government takes a chunk, and spends the rest on Chinese contractors to half complete and really badly build a few projects. The government gets thrown out, and goes and lives in Aussie with their money. The new government is stuck with a large unpayable debt. In the near future China will try to enforce a lot of debt repayment. It has not gone well for them in Africa. It turns out they cannot make people pay money they haven't got, and can't get. They get thrown out of their victim countries and the only winners are the ones in Aussie with their money. China has neither the power or the influence to do anything about it. They can hardly get offshore militarily. Witness Taiwan. Witness South China Sea.

Yes but limited weapons capability and no stealth so vulnerable to modern weapons systems. Plus we have no maritime strike capability at all thanks to Helen Clark. We may be able to see, but we sure as hell won't be able to do anything about it!

If we had fighter planes (which I love and miss) do you think we'd actually shoot at Chinese trawlers in our economic zone?

Besides which, Orions were always capable of dropping torpedoes. As are Poseidon P8s.

We've done it once with a Skyhawk. Helen Clark claimed we'd never used our strike aircraft in anger, carefully ignoring or denying the incident. I thought it to be more a considered demonstration of force and consequences rather than anger, but effective none the less.

P3 and P8 weapons fits largely mean you have to be pretty close, which means their defensive fit could reach out and touch you, making it a fairly bad day. P8 defensive kit should be OK if we opt for it, and there would be the option of a decent ASM, but any task force would or should be maintaining a barrier out to several hundred miles, and the P8 is neither a small target, nor particularly fast or manoeuvrable (remember it is based on the 737).

Interesting, cheers!

Where is Xing to give us the view from other side?

"Late on Friday the US dollar had a sharp fall....". Is there any wonder!
PE's of 15 used to be considered a general norm; 30 or 40 used to be considered irrational exuberance. Yet in today’s world of free money we get:
Tesla PE Ratio: 5,764.06
https://www.gurufocus.com/term/pettm/TSLA/PE-Ratiottm/Tesla
Nothing to worry about here.

While the Fed continues to print money Is it any wonder the US dollar is collapsing, the history of fiat money has been one of complete failure. If you look back in time, EVERY fiat currency has ended in devaluation and eventual collapse, of not only the currency, but of the entire economy.

Most countries would love the value of their currency to fall, making their exports more affordable.

If you're China, and fix your currency at an artificially low level, maybe. If you have a Floating Currency and are a Net Importer ( like NZ is) it just makes 'things' more expensive.
But, hey. It helps statistical inflation models. Not that most people will do anything but save more, but what people do and what the stats say is quite different today ( that Telsa and Kiribati articles being good examples)

It’s a race to the bottom where no one eventually wins.

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It's not just their money printing that is the issue. It is their entire tax system and the structure of their economy. It is all designed to make the top 10 or so % richer, at the expense of the rest. The rich and powerful in the US (and probably the rest of the world) believe the money and their influence will immunise them against the collapse that is coming. This collapse will drive up inflation, meaning ordinary people will struggle even more, making them angrier and the cycle continues. Really the Chinese should just sit back and watch. America's defeat will be self-inflicted. Sad really.

Interesting link Andrew. I liked this bit which is very, very evident today; "First, recognize that it really could happen. Human nature is to assume the status quo will continue indefinitely."

True: https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/

Anyone who seeks better for more people through policy is clearly an evil communist, however. Young people just need to stop quaffing lattes and eating avocados and things will be the same as they ever were.

My farm is back to dry, light frost this am. My soil temps are back up just under 15º. Big fires in the Mackenzie, so dry enough to burn down south, lakes were low when we were there a week ago. I was going to take the electric break off the crop but thinking will stretch it out for two more weeks just is case. Looking over paddock not one strip of mud in two months of strip grazing, under 20mm of rain in our wettest month, August. Talked to a friend up by mountains, he still has creeks with no water and dry dams just like us. but he is in an area with more than twice my rainfall.
Fantastic weather but some proper rain would be nice. I'm fencing off streams, been a slower and bigger job than I thought, but getting there, stream is still blocked full of weed in places.

AJ - interesting season your having which is similar to ours in that the whole seasons out of wack to the norm! Weve sat with average cover of 2500kg since the end of May, stock are fat and record milk production. We now running into excess protein issues and needing to feed carb's. No need for cow homes this season and no sign of a little man with a ruler measuring the cows hoof prints yet!!! Worlds gone mad! Why the hell they think we purposely pug our paddocks just amazes me - surely the clowns can work out that its not economic to spend huge money on infrastructure items such as cow homes unless theres economic reasons to do so??? Forcing this on the rural sector will kill the goose thats still laying the golden egg's!!!!!

I have a friend who has fed out lots of Lucerne silage this year and ran into animal health issues, I remember my father having that problem back in the 80's but not sure how he fixed it.

I'm not too worried about councils, end of the day farmers have to make a living or others stop getting paid. I need to take a big chill pill sometimes.

MacKenzie basin was growing at end of August that's an interesting thing, but must have happened before I think, just not often. We are in shorts, looking at the pool cover, normally early springs don't last, from memory.

Is everyone still buying palm oil kernels for stock feed? For crying out loud!

because our internal cost structures are so high PKE is a cheap option. This has been a tough 12 months for many of us and it's been about survival. I haven't fed any PKE out, some people I know added a little to supplement silage as they were running short.

I've been up at Castle Hill skiing an hour and a half inland from Chch. Only Porters Ski field working due to a lack of snow. Not a huge amount of people skiing but a good amount, espically last Wen's as there was a dump the nigh before. Taken back by how many overseas accents sill to be heard when I though it would only be Kiwis floating arround, it seemed like a 1 in 3 ratio.
Looking dry up through there for winter. Farmers had condescended stock into winter feed lots. Still chilly up there, didn't see any spring flush.
My garden in Dunners has had a good spring growth spert over that time.

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Goverent and reserve bank entite effort and stimulus has been to protect housing market instead of businesses.

If to protect housing market government can extend mortage defferal till March 2021 than by the same logic to protect businesses should wage subsidy and other stimulus not extend also till Match 2021.

Even Income relief due to covid is to avoid mortage default than unemployment - article below :

'Another rationale for the Covid payment is that those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic are more likely to be mortgage-holders. If a large number of people defaulted on their mortgages it could significantly.......'

Government is proactive for only Housing economy as for other busibesses affected by panademic - attitude is we have done enough
and now survive by self or perish.

Not that government should extend but just highlight the double standard of the government - may be vested biased interest as housing if not supported will affect them personally - policy maker.

The housing Ponzi is going to collapse anyway once interest rates have reached rock-bottom, QE has reached its terminal limit, and the delusion of mortgage deferrals reaches its end.

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The housing market is the only market that matters to the RBNZ and the govt. The former because it runs most of the economy (especially from a confidence and banking view point), the latter because it decides the government (due to the NZ public's stupid belief that house flipping brings them wealth). It will be protected by all the powers that be, come hell or high water. And it won't matter who is in power (of the major parties).

Really it's not a market anymore, it's a govt and RB funded industry propped up on the backs of your children and their future "wealth". Which in a degrading planet is not likely to be very high due to overshoot.

You can thank the older generation especially for voting for it and the younger generation for being absent.

Great shame Auckland failed to get to Level 2.

Question for part time health minister following

“We are still ploughing ahead with level 2 today. The key thing for us is looking at that cluster – are all the cases within the cluster, are they known and identified? The evidence so far is yes, they are,” he said.

Further confirming the decision stood was a full page advertisement in Stuff’s Sunday Star Times newspaper, bought by the Government’s Covid-19 response team, which said: “At 11.59pm on Sunday 30 August, Auckland will join the rest of the country at Alert Level 2.”

When was the Alert Level 2 withdrawn and replaced by Alert Level 2.5?

https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/122608407/coronavirus-...

Ploughing ahead, is used to describe stepping into resistance.

Don't worry the whole country will be on 2.5 by the end of September. We will stay there indefinitely unless there is a vaccine or people start rioting. This is effectively the Swedish model. Welcome to the new normal friends.

Diversionary tactics.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is "incredibly angry" that a wrong message was posted by the Government's Covid-response unit, saying all south and west Aucklanders should be tested, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/incredibly-angry-pm-jacinda-a...

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks" is a line from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. It is spoken by Queen Gertrude in response to the insincere overacting of a character in the play within a play created by Prince Hamlet to prove his uncle's guilt in the murder of his father, the King of Denmark.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks....

This miss was Level 2.

It was wrong in the main image. It was wrong in the text. It went out on every social media platform. Almost every which way this was downplayed was incorrect. It's also strange how it could have been 'oversimplified' when it explicitly addressed the point (whether you have symptoms or not) that was supposedly 'oversimplified'. If Ardern was so angry about it, why did she not appear to understand what had actually happened?

Did she appreciate the panic this caused in West Auckland on the eve of the country's biggest city moving down a level?

And she said this morning that her team deliberately didn't alter the script for her 1pm saturday presser after get a test mistake was pointed out to them 4 hours earlier. Why the hell not? (Because Ardern doesn't want her image tarnished in these campaign set-pieces). What is the point of these pressers if not to distribute correct info ASAP. All style no substance.

That is why her political advisors did not want an election delay. But her health advisors wanted a delay. She went with the good, honest, decent, proper option. Instead of the politically astute option. That is why we all love her. She now has another month to have a few more wheels fall off her trolley, and for Auntie Judith to get her eyebrows organised. But it was the correct thing to do!!

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We look to see if NZSX can have a full day trading.

Looking like "no"...

It's gone kaput. Got in a whopping 40 minutes.

Whoever has the bug under control thrives in this pandemic. Like or not, China is that whoever among all five permanent members of the UN security council, for now. Don't forget NZ's COVID benchmark Taiwan is also doing great; tho Taiwan doesn't weight as the mainland has.

“Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said.
What lies ahead as the US election enters the home stretch Moore, one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden.
“Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC to pull this off?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/29/michael-moore-donald-tru...

Welcome to the world of social media
Jacinda Ardern is an enthusiastic user of social media
The announcement to "require" South Aucklander's and West Aucklander's was published on the MoH Covid-19 web-site and then sprayed around the social media sites. That works so long as someone is totally on top of it. Mistakes propagated on social media are impossible to manage. And so it was. Oddly the MSM picked it up from the social media. Now that is a problem

I read the stuff article yesterday. It was funny cause somehow after reading it I had no understanding of what was correct advise and not.

So looks like Bitcoin is no longer the coin. A random token called YFI has dethroned it - from a buck to nearly $40,000 per token in just 6 weeks

Definitely a totally rational market. Where do I sign up?

So looks like Bitcoin is no longer the coin. A random token called YFI has dethroned it - from a buck to nearly $40,000 per token in just 6 weeks

Not a very wise comment if you're in the crypto space. YFI is completely different to BTC. Furthermore, it has but a sliver of dominance in the market. It's no wonder the mainstream think crypto in general is a scam.

Scam might be harsh (and I'm no fan of crypto). Mania?

In my view BTC is essentially digital gold. The appeal is finite supply and and individualist/libertarian view of control. The government can't touch it, but equally if it gets stolen, it's gone. Both are dominated by speculation, and neither is used for transactions in any meaningful way, though gold does have industrial uses or can be turned into jewellery.

The distributed ledger/blockchain idea has merit, though perhaps it is overhyped these days. I do think the particular architecture of BTC is unfortunate, though -- the computational costs of transactions mean that it is impractical for actual transactional use, and the energy costs of both transactions and mining are unnecessary and unfortunate.

the computational costs of transactions mean that it is impractical for actual transactional use

Well BTC doesn't haven to be used for transactions. There are other options such as XRP. BTC was never designed to replace fiat currency.

Ardern said this morning on AM show that "we know for sure that the 1st case originated on the 31st of july”
I thought they said they didn't know the source, but now saying they do? Would be interesting to hear details.

Your comment said she knew the date, not the source.

how could she know the date if she didn't know the source?

The date the first case caught was tested and found?

No. The govt said that the first positive test result was 10th of August (announced 9pm Aug 11th). So where does the newly mentioned 31st of July date come from?

The principal of the index family who worked at Americold went on sick-leave with the virus on 30th July

Makes sense. Fairly simple then.

No, the question is, where did she catch it from?

Yes, we're still interested in that. Discussion here was the date of this specific case.

It's the date the first person who tested positive became unwell.

Good news; ivermectin (decades old antiparasite medication) showing very good results as a wuflu prophylactic. Egyptian study shows only 10-15% as many getting sick while using ivermectin compared to those who don't after exposure to infected family members.
https://www.trialsitenews.com/zagazig-university-randomized-controlled-i...

Does anyone know what treatment we give to covid patients in NZ?

Lock them up in isolation and see if they improve?
I haven't seen anything reported as to the treatment here, it's a good question.
A good pre-exposure prophylaxis may be zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D.

Fake news.

Laboratory studies using monkey cells in a test tube (as opposed to clinical studies in human patients) have shown ivermectin can shut down the replication of SARS-CoV-2. The problem is this process requires very high concentrations of ivermectin – well above the recommended dose for humans. This means ivermectin’s virus-killing powers would be unlikely to be harnessed inside the human body.

In recent weeks the media has been awash with claims ivermectin, when given in combination with the common antibiotic doxycycline and zinc supplements, is effectively a “cure” for COVID-19. Yet there has been no definitive clinical trial so far showing this is the case. All we have are observational studies and clinicians’ opinions. Many of the current studies have low numbers of participants, weak study designs, and inconsistent (and relatively low) ivermectin dosing regimes, with ivermectin frequently given in combination with other drugs. https://theconversation.com/ivermectin-is-still-not-a-miracle-cure-for-c...

AJ might have a few litres lying around from the 90's and a spare salt lick too

I do indeed, but I never got the stuff with instructions in Spanish. It's is very cheap in the States under .50c for large angus cow unfortunately I'm going to have to charge you a lot more than that. I have a lifetime of protection from the stuff running down my back as i bent over.

Dad went to Fiordland after drenching sheep in the 50's with Deltron I think it was called, in two weeks never got a bite and still made old age.

Seeking enlightenment - this is about social media - it is not a racist comment

The media uproar today about Ardern and Hipkins commuication about CV-19 testing in South and West Auckland. Apparently it was widespread on social media ie Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Today on Stuff there is a long article about the South Auckland index family at the centre of the latest CV-19 outbreak claiming they are being villified, ostracised and racially abused which has spread to the wider Pasifika community

In todays Stuff.co.nz
quote: "South Auckland became the unwilling protagonist in the second coronavirus outbreak after four positive cases ballooned into the country’s largest cluster. Along with it came a barrage of online hate, directed at the area and the Pasifika community. This lockdown there’s been added stress: the online vitriol of racist stereotypes flying about South Auckland".
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/122579185/coronaviru...

I'm puzzled - I haven't seen any of it. I don't use social media or Facebook or any of the other sites. I don't have accounts with them. I don't even use a smartphone. Well I do have a mobile phone but hardly use it. My missus is the smartphone operator and is active on Facebook. I asked her if she sees any of this stuff. No she says.

I'm missing something - where is all this villification and abuse they are talking about - I would like to see how bad it is so I can understamd and empathise

I saw screenshots of the stuff originally posted on Facebook (primarily) and Twitter.

I'm sure there will be some - given 5million people you will find every belief somewhere if you search hard enough. However I have eight PI members in my family who are either living with me or next door and none of them have mentioned any racial abuse or villification. Maybe it is different living in North Shore.

If I was desperate to find a scapegoat I wouldn't blame Maori or PI or even the poor who have little choice but to live in over-crowded conditions. In the unlikely event of my spraying invective I would choose the govt (it doesn't matter who is in government they are always the natural choice for blame on any issue) and I would blame church going congregations - those terrible evil church-goers deserve to be ostracised by the amoral majority.

If they have little choice but to live in overcrowded conditions then there's surely the small matter of the last decade plus of poor policy and central banking that has pushed up housing costs to ridiculous levels. Of course, folk will attack those pushed to the bottom of the cliff.