Uncertainty and volatility bedevil the US economy; US debt set to pass GDP soon; China uses central planning for job placement; Australia enters recession; UST 10yr yield at 0.65%; oil and gold down; NZ$1 = 67.6 USc; TWI-5 = 70.5

Uncertainty and volatility bedevil the US economy; US debt set to pass GDP soon; China uses central planning for job placement; Australia enters recession; UST 10yr yield at 0.65%; oil and gold down; NZ$1 = 67.6 USc; TWI-5 = 70.5

Here's our summary of key economic events overnight that affect New Zealand, with news of more atrophy in the world's largest economy.

Firstly, the September US Fed Beige Book is reporting "uncertainty and volatility" with "its negative effect on consumer and business activity" across the country. There are gains noted, in manufacturing, vehicle sales and residential real estate, but they are "generally modest", they say. And they are outweighed by weakness in commercial real estate, the energy sector and in rural industries "with little expectation of near-term improvement". Basically it paints a picture of a stalled and under-performing American economy, severely constrained by the pandemic.

US mortgage application volumes declined last week.

This weekend we get the August non-farm payroll report. The precursor ADP payrolls report is out today and analysts had expected it to record new job growth of a modest +950,000 bounceback (June was +4.3 mln). But the released report only shows payrolls bouncing back with a weak +428,000, so the minimal July gains were not an outlier.

American factory orders for July were weak, down -6.5% year-on-year. Worse, non-defense capital goods orders were down -19%, so investment for the future is very weak indeed.

One of the bright spots has been vehicle sales. The US automotive market (15 mln annual sales) is now a very distant second to the Chinese market (22 mln), but at least August sales were higher in America than they were in July.

But Ford is cutting back again, announcing 1400 more job cuts. And another large American airline, United, said it will furlough more than 16,000 additional workers starting in October when federal restrictions on job cuts that were a condition of government aid end.

American debt is about to exceed GDP for the first time since the end of WWII. The mismanagement of the US public finances in the past four years has reached an epic scale. This year alone, their budget deficit will reach -US$3.3 tln, three times last year's appalling result.

It's such a fast decline that the Chinese now think their economy will be larger than the US in just 12 years from now.

But stress levels in China and their expanding pool of graduates has seen the five largest state-owned Chinese banks being forced to hire at least an extra 60,000 graduates this year, even as they all post depressed results.

Meanwhile, as Chinese benchmark interest rates rise, companies have been scrambling to cancel or delay their planned bond issuance. Eight-five onshore bond transactions were affected in August involving NZ$10 bln.

In Australia, they have just officially entered into recession (two consecutive quarters of declining economic output), their first since 1991. Their Q2 National Accounts confirmed that output plunged by -7.0%, which was weaker than anticipated, and follows a -0.3% decline in Q1. It's a shock that has created significant labour market stress, with the unemployment rate spiking as a result. But even though the GDP result was worse than expected, the equities market has ignored it.

Australian home prices fell for a fourth straight month. Sydney prices declined another -0.5% in August, Melbourne prices another -1.2%, adding to a negative quarter and cutting back the year-on-year gains.

In New York, the S&P500 is up +1.2% in afternoon trade today. Overnight European markets made big gains, up almost +2.0% on average. Yesterday, Shanghai closed down -0.2%, Hong Kong was down -0.3% and Tokyo managed a +0.4% gain. The ASX200 ended up +1.8% which exactly reversed the prior days retreat, and the NZX50 Capital Index was up +0.9% which didn't quite do the same here.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is 25,835,000, up +275,000 since yesterday. Global deaths reported now exceed 859,000 (+7,000 in one day).

Just under a quarter of all reported cases globally are in the US, which is up +48,000 in a day to 6,274,000 and a relentless rise. US deaths are now just over 189,300 and a death rate of 571/mln (+3/mln). The net number of people actively infected in the US slipped overnight to 2,573,000 (-2,000).

In Australia, there have now been 25,923 COVID-19 cases reported, and that is +104 more than yesterday. Although most are in Victoria, there has been something of a resurgence in NSW yesterday. Australia's death count is up to 663 (+6). Their recovery rate is still at 83%. There are 3576 active cases in Australia (-88) indicating a turned tide and more recoveries than new infections.

The UST 10yr yield is down another -2 bps today at 0.65%. Their 2-10 curve is flatter again at +51 bps. Their 1-5 curve is unchanged at +13 bps, and their 3m-10yr curve flatter too at +55 bps. The Aussie Govt 10yr yield is down -3 bps at 0.91%. The China Govt 10yr is up +5 bps at 3.11%. But the NZ Govt 10 yr yield is little-changed at 0.64%.

The price of gold is down sharply, down -US$30 today to US$1,941/oz.

Oil prices are a lot lower today, down by -US$1.50 at just under US$41.50/bbl in the US while the international price is down slightly less to just under US$44.50/bbl.

The Kiwi dollar is little-changed today and still at 67.6 USc. However against the Australian dollar we have risen sharply to 92.4 AUc, a rise of more than +¾c. Against the euro we are up +½c to 57.1 euro cents. That means our TWI-5 has firmed to 70.5.

The bitcoin price is sharply lower today from this time yesterday, now at US$11,366 which is a -5.2% drop. It is a bigger fall in New Zealand dollars and the local price of bitcoin is back to its levels of late July. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here ».

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87 Comments

Uncertainty? Insanity?. AAPL (Apple) now valued at USD $2.3 Trillion, which exceeds the value of the FTSE100 and exceeds the ASX200 and 45 times the NZX50

That 15% plunge in Tesla during the day will have sent a few shivers through a few unsuspecting books.
Stops triggered and margins looking to be called.
But, it's buy-the-dip in the afternoon as usual.
It's all getting quite exciting!
https://www.google.com/search?q=tesla+shares&oq=tesla+shares&aqs=chrome....

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And unless they come up with something new they will be a dying company. I own an iPhone through work but having used my wife’s $300 Samsung android I can’t understand why anyone would buy a $2000 iPhone anymore.

I don't know why people pay so much for iPhones, though there is a lot to be said for their privacy policies compared to Android/Google. Plus all that bloatware Samsung install on their phones beforehand.

Bloatware hasn't really been that much of an issue on Samsung mid-rangers and up since the Galaxy S9. The mid-rangers have had a lot of focus and have a far better feature set compared to the iPhone SE.

And here I am still rocking my wife's hand me down smashed up Galaxy S7!

Agreed. My (just superseded) Motorola G7 at $199 bought last month; twin SIM, NFC (and would probably wash the car for me if is asked it), does a great job.

G7?....My G6 is still going strong and can't see any reason to upgrade. $199 is what I paid too a couple of years ago. I have become very conscious of e-waste mind. No reason a phone needs to be replaced every year...or what I am now finding every 2 years.

Hi Jimbo, very reasonable observation you have there.
I'm 30 now, and almost everyone I know at work, and friends (bar one) either own a 1/2 year old flagship iPhone or a Samsung S10. (all phones are 1,000+ new). I think the problem with most millennials, and definitely a majority of Gen Z, is the marketing of Apple and Samsung has absolutely got us in hooks. The value proposition of something having the best of everything (camera, waterproof, big bright screen, fast CPU) when you use 5+ hours a day, 7 days a week, seems like a low cost. But our generations are desperate to own things and feel like we are seen as higher class members of society than we are. We don't have patience and know how to delay gratification. Even the more educated of these generations are quite at a loss, look at the economy falling apart every 10-15 years since 1990. There's no entry to the property market in sight. We have no promise or constant in our career choices. So owning the top of the range phone, even if we don't know how we will afford the hire purchase fee - is really no problem. Credit sharks also make it too easy. You should hear the radio advertising on Mai-FM. Loan sharks everywhere "Want $2,000 today? Ring us! No credit checks, get that phone you deserve!".
Disclaimer: I'm not exactly like the people I have explained above. But once I did buy a flagship phone while on holiday in USA. It was an irrational decision. I enjoyed the phone but it broke after a year, so I won't do that ever again. Max $500 for a phone. Try to use for 2-3 years.

Avocados and smart phones. They have a lot to answer for.

Phones have become a status symbol / fashion statement now days. The younger generations cry 'boomer' but don't seam to be prepared to do the hard yards.
Th easy high interest credit is an issues that should be addressed but that needs to be addressed in grass roots education in budgeting/ financial literary taught in schools.
This COL talks about equality and lifting the lower social economic groups higher but sadly a good portion of that is giving the said population a fish, instead of teaching them to fish.

For younger, poorer people, a smartphone replaces a telephone, a laptop, a TV, a DVD player, a stereo, etc... I'm not one for buying expensive phones, but in terms of utility, they are a bargain compared to what earlier generations had to pay for equivalent functions. Obsolescence is a problem though, you have to be very tech-savvy to keep one going for longer than 18 months.

Aye KR there it is. A 28yr old friend of a relative had saved $10k, thinking about a first home with his partner. Trouble is he owed $20k on a car, 10K on a jet ski, $3500K hard core on a Visa card and paying off household furniture on the never never. Don’t know about the phone but it was pretty recent and on a plan. Good hard working young man with prospects but couldn’t work out that debt meant he actually didn’t own those assets. Ie can’t differentiate between money earned and money borrowed.

Geez, that's some stereotypical twaddle that's been debunked previously. E.g. Treasury analyst Mark Vink noted:

A surprising feature of the data is that the saving rates of younger generations appear to be generally higher than those of the generations preceding them.

The days are long gone of talkback popular lore being accepted that young generations are out their wasting all their money vs. older generations who slaved away, saved away and were able to afford housing not through low prices but their own incredible merit.

Time to move on from being a Smashed Avocado Warrior.

Had the choice of Iphone or Android through work, got twice as much phone when I chose Android.

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Insanity or Surreal world.

No economist / experts / Reserve Banks / Governments have any idea what is happening and what will happen in future or even what the consequence will be of their money printing - which is in full swing.

Pain in economy - to give relief were on pain killer of low interest rate but soon like any pain killer economy became immune to it and now are on cannibus of QE for the pain but for how long.

Nature / Economy will takes its course - Just like life - economy cycle cannot be avoided so is wait and watch as worse is yet to come and in stock market it hits when is least expected and everyone has been sucked into it, specially in current environment.

Agree, will know where the economy stands and direction, once wage subsidy, income relief, mortage defferal and other stimulus ends.

Various stimulus to some have been support during lockdown but to many have been a bonus / opportunity as government had no idea how to target those needed and use money wisely.

Earlier was of opinion that will have full impact of panademic and lockdowns by October / November but with so much of money printing it should be felt by early next year and will be interesting.

Defination of economy has changed and will have to rewrite.

If QE is cannabis I wonder what cocaine, crack and heroin will be in monetary terms.

Highly addictive, won't be easy to get off. Nasty systemic health effects. Going clean would be very painful.

Central banks printing money the world over is the equivalent of a junkies need for a methadone fix.

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Hehe 'Straya enters a recession. And Nz is different.

12
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Only because AU uses a faster Abacus. NZ will be declared in recession when NZ Stats says so, on 17 Sep

AFR scoping it as worst in 160 years.

One of the toughest COVID-19 lockdowns in the world will cost the New Zealand economy dearly and test the strength of its financial system.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Wednesday said an economic contraction this year of almost 10 per cent

https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/nz-facing-worst-downturn-160-years-ce...

Here is Sky news with Ozz, sector by sector breakdown, breaking down.
https://youtu.be/WDmD79eJBr4

Dan Andrews style administration costs.

On your Stats question
James Shaw is Minister outside Cabinet for Statistics.

There was discussion about, how could the COL ministers seem able & happy to put in such mediocre & poor performance, past 3 years.

Seems none wish to out shine their boss.

Simple workplace dynamics.

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I would take mediocre performance any day over all the damage Shaw's party has done to our economy over this term.
Forcing the government to drop major road funding projects, ban on offshore exploration permits without prior consultation, Genter's interference in LGWM and the recent holding back of 44 shovel-ready projects unless the Green School was added to the project list.

The Greens may have cost billions in lost economic opportunity and thousands of well-paying jobs in some of our high-value sectors.

hard to disagree with that view.

DITTO!

Stupidity.

How long were those 'high paying jobs' and that 'economy' going to last? The problem with Shaw is that he believes that you can have 'growth' too.

Which makes him as deluded as the neolibs and the socialists. This is a physics thing. Best not counted in something artificially-issued and un-backed physically.

Even if we were to completely shut down all economic activity in NZ to become emission-free that wouldn't reduce more than a tiny fraction of global carbon emission.
Instead if we use a portion of the taxes from those high-paying jobs and high-value sectors to develop and innovate tech that reduces emissions for the entire world with cleaner alternatives.
But that would require intellect, planning and real effort instead of politicking and virtue-signalling, so it's a no-go for most greenies.

Just FYI - https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300058258/boris-johnson-has-done-more-f...

How about we concentrate on protecting our own environment (water, flora and fauna) and at least doing our part sufficient to be able to ask others to also?

As a related aside, a carbon tax could actually be useful in that it's a user-pays approach to pollution mitigation, and could be balanced with reduced income tax. And it would encourage innovation in green tech.

"That means coronavirus is as risky as taking a bath or skiing — and considerably less risky than scuba diving or sky diving.
Economist Tim Harford examined the numbers collated by the ONS to assess the current risk.
Tim, who presents the BBC Radio 4 statistics programme More or Less, said: “Covid-19 currently presents a background risk of a one in a million chance of death or lasting harm, every day.
“The risk of death alone is one in two million.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12557446/chance-catching-covid-44-in-million/

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The Sun? British tabloid trash.

The "I can't slag off Tim Harford or the ONS data so I'll have a pop at The Sun. It's all I've got." strategy. You'd better let the BBC, the FT, NZ Treasury, the NZ Herald... that Tim isn't up to it.

Less risky than sky diving, but you can kiss your testes goodbye.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFNdsRHKUM4

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There is increasing evidence, every week that the legacy impacts of catching COVID, but surviving are significant. So these stats don't paint the complete picture. We know that COVID causes blood clots through the lungs and other organs. In the lungs that results in breathlessness, but what we are learning is that those blood clots, or the damage caused by them don't necessarily go away even though the body has fought off the virus, so that breathlessness may last a lifetime. That damage may also sufficiently weaken the body such that another infection that would ordinarily be non fatal, may now be a real threat to life. I suggest that the programme cited is presenting a significantly distorted view.

How do you know it cases lifelong damage?

Do you understand what the word 'may' means? What we know is that a considerable number of people who have 'recovered' from COVID, months after their 'recovery' are still suffering the effects of the illness, many without measurable improvement. How long will this last? Can you say it won't last for the rest of their life? On what basis?

Chill.

Can I have some links instead of putdowns?

I was challenging your argument. Not you as a person. Some of us here actually like facts. That said, I challenge people to look at our interaction and for them to not come to the conclusion that you're coming across as a bit of a plonker.

Its not even 9am bud. Go and get some fresh air.

Well, here's a couple of recent ones just off the top of my head.

This is a study that warned about the potential for long-term cardiac damage:
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2768916

In this cohort study including 100 patients recently recovered from COVID-19 identified from a COVID-19 test center, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging revealed cardiac involvement in 78 patients (78%) and ongoing myocardial inflammation in 60 patients (60%), which was independent of preexisting conditions, severity and overall course of the acute illness, and the time from the original diagnosis.

This study studied people 2 months post-infection and found 87% still reported some form of ongoing symptom, the most common being fatigue or breathlessness. This one is only a low-powered study though so it's results are less conclusive.

This study found that in patients who had recovered from COVID-19, 87.4% reported persistence of at least 1 symptom, particularly fatigue and dyspnea

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2768351

I think we need some time to know.

And what would it be for the flu, or even common cold? I have had the flu a couple of times in my life it was nasty, and took a couple of months to come right.
I had a bad cold a year ago with a heavy cough, and still have a mild cough from time to time since then, as if if there was some kind of permanent effect.
I am not saying there can't be nasty after effects from covid, but we need balance and perspective.

Perspective doesn't sit easily with people - especially when they have just destroyed their economy and left the kids to pay for it.
From the CDC:
"Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, including:

Pneumonia
Respiratory failure
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
Sepsis
Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)"
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

That may be true but the R-value of COVID is significantly higher than influenza and we have no immunity whatsoever

"And many of those infected will not even know they have it.

Only about one person in 100 dies after being infected and another one in 100 suffer long-term effects."

It's true but the rates are quite different and they're entirely different viruses. Conflating them is just Profile being misleading.

Pluto you are on to me! - posting CDC links to "Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​" is so misleading. I trust you have reported such psyops.

My apologies, I assumed you would have linked to a more 'politically affiliated' site or blog.

It's usually quoted as being that somewhere between 0-10% of people infected with influenza will have a some form of myocarditis (compare that to the 78% found in that particular COVID study and you can see why there are some concerns).

Thanks mate.

How exactly did they determine if there was a pre-existing condition? From a quick skim it looks like it was done by comparison to the control group. That is deeply flawed logic if so, totally worthless junk science.

I don't agree with your claim. They've matched them with healthy controls and also risk-factor matched controls.

Compared with healthy controls and risk factor–matched controls, patients recently recovered from COVID-19 had lower left ventricular ejection fraction, higher left ventricle volumes, and raised native T1 and T2

Were those cardiac findings considered to be of clinical significance? As you know statistical significance is different to clinical significance.

They've shown a reduced ejection fraction on echocardiogram so there has been a reduction in the performance of heart pumping. This means cardiac output is reduced so in theory it could have clinical significance for those suffering it (increased breathlessness, reduced exercise tolerance, ?risk of developing congestive heart failure later etc.). The question is whether this is a sustained change or whether they eventually make a full recovery. Clearly this needs more time to be determined.

There are some worrying early signs about Covid-19 effecting pregnancy. People might remember that at the beginning of the Zika outbreak in 2014, no one knew what it was. It wasn't until 2016 that they fully understood the neurological and developmental harm it could do to babies during pregnancy. For obvious reasons there is a time lag between a novel virus outbreak and being able to understand the impact on pregnancy and development. Many viruses impact on pregnancy and neonates. It worries me how cavalier so many people are regarding this when it's far too early to have even been able to sufficiently monitor pregnancies, let alone developmental effects on babies.

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3391

I think we will see governments and medical authorities scrambling to come up with excuses to try and justify things. What about the babies though? That sounds like it will appeal to people, let's run with that even though babies and children are largely impervious to this virus.

Did a bit of a search for Covid and pregnancy and the first thing I find is this from Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists :

Emerging evidence suggests that transmission from a woman to her baby during pregnancy or birth (vertical transmission) might be possible. It is important to emphasise that in all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the babies were well.

Given current evidence, it is considered unlikely that if you have the virus it would cause problems with your baby’s development, and none have been observed currently.

I caught a cold two odd years ago that has left a tickle in my lungs that will not go away. I am a fitness nut and have worked hard to exercise my lungs, maintain my fitness, and it has made no difference. It is extremely annoying. Described COVID symptoms are worse, and a number of articles are starting to suggest that they will last. Try this one for a start; https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/06/02/covid-health-effects.

If you want to challenge people, consider how you pose your questions. If you are doing the reading about COVID you should have seen the same articles, or can do the same searches. It is early days yet, but as the information builds the inescapable conclusion for me is that no matter what the stats say as to mortality, just survivng will not necessarily be enjoyable. And the stats do say this is a highly infectious virus.

I asked an eight word question which you unnecessarily took offence to and responding in a condescending and patroning manner. That is the issue.

Once again chill. Its not a dick measuring competition.

Murray, that might be the aftermath similar to what the Americans call walking pneumonia or the British, winter cough. Have battled similar for twenty odd years. Get a CT scan, found I had been left with moderate bronchiectasis following a really bad flu while living in the States. Can develop into a non stop racking cough with a bit of a infection. Combination of augmentin and doxycycline will usually haul it in if commenced early. Also I am no greater believer in herbals but have found a good dose of echinacea can do wonders preventatively for that blasted tickle.

Ta Foxy, will look into it.

"And many of those infected will not even know they have it.

Only about one person in 100 dies after being infected and another one in 100 suffer long-term effects."

There are likely to be some long term negative effects of Covid for some people just like there are with any other serious respiratory illness. In this respect it is not too much different to influenza which can often damage the heart and other organs.

Maybe they can read results of tests..and determine the effects on body long term? Maybe the years studying medicine and human biology make them quite expert in this field?

Not catching Covid, but losing one's job, and ones house, and one's dignity and sense of place in society is also bad for one's health.

I think the key sentence is "Simply existing in a country where the virus is suppressed but circulating is not so risky." What is the risk when it is not suppressed? Have you looked at the numbers out of India recently? Over 10% of tests come back positive suggesting that the number of cases are probably 5-10 times what are reported. If you follow the cases in quarantine in NZ recently there are always new cases from flights from India - I think there were 7 a few days ago.

There is great gameshow on TV one every day called "Tipping Point" i think i see it about to happen in real life, all the Lemmings are about to fall of the shelf, shoved over by the tide of QE cash.

Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. It's a myth, but it's remarkable how many people believe it. Ask a few.

"It's a complete urban legend," said state wildlife biologist Thomas McDonough. "I think it blew out of proportion based on a Disney documentary in the '50s, and that brought it to the mainstream."

lemming

A derogatory term used to reference a person who seemingly does not possess any form of individual thought, and instead, mindlessly follows the behaviors and actions of the masses.

I guess if you use the term "lemming" in this way you are being a bit of a lemming according to the definition.

The Disney Lemming documentary was infamous because TV crew hidden from view were actually heaving the lemmings over the cliff!

On tipping point, for every disc coming in to the system, only one falls off, on average. Just saying. If a whole lot fall off at once, it is because they have built up a credit earlier, or will play catch up. Averages always, without exception, average out.

And hot on the heels of those like Rawdon Christie who when they can't get a real job sell Real Estate, comes:
"Former deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett is starting a new career in real estate when she stands down as an MP next month."

that's 'news' bw, at least by nuzilnd hirld standards... (although the company probably actually paid for the piece)

It seems Sir John couldn't get her onto the board of ANZ then?

It amazes me that anyone could look at an increase in vehicle production - fossil fuelled vehicles at that - this late in the global growth/collapse trajectory, and call it 'good'.

https://royalsoc.org.au/images/pdf/journal/152-1-Turner.pdf
"Physical realities must be observed: you can’t have your cake and eat it too (although some economists believe that this physical law can be ignored)"

Not just economists.....

I read part of a stuff article this morning, might go back for the rest, about snow and climate change. It was bemoaning the idea of loosing snow to climate change while not acknowledging these tourist were the problem. The have your cake and eat it too was my first thought from that article.

The big news here is rained, enough to run off the tracks. First decent rain in a long time and probably more than all the rain that fell in August. Spring is go.

We are up against the anti meat brigade, these people spend 900k a year for a major newspaper to print one story that criticizes livestock farming every week. We are still meant to take the MSM seriously, at least we know David C would never take the 900k.

https://www.producer.com/2020/02/wealthy-donors-fund-anti-livestock-move...

https://i.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/wellington/122649647/two-new-zealand...
Two New Zealanders are believed to be onboard a ship missing after a typhoon off the coast of Japan.

The ship, Gulf Livestock 1, carrying 5800 cows left Napier on August 14, carrying 43 crew members

More great farmer news..

thats really sad, a lot of of farmers are very unhappy about the trade. We don't get to tell others how to farm, so each to their own.

I wonder if the cows have lifejackets...the good news is they can swim.

Good grief I thought livestock ships were banned years ago.

This is very sad and I feel sorry for the animals on board but not so much the crew. The crew members chose to be onboard whereas the animals had no choice.

Why are we shipping produce off shore when we could be adding value to it here...... that is amazing.

Animals can be a convenient way of keeping meat fresh?

They're being used as breeding stock rather than meat

That typifies the contemporary, gun for hire journalism of the MSM.

Having read the article... I'm not a fan of the techbois, nor a vegan, but the US factory farming system *is* terrible. Abominable, even.
If they were targeting, say... NZ lamb production, which strikes me as sustainable and ethically defensible... I'd be annoyed, but I can't muster any sympathy for the 'North Carolina Pork Council'.

The US Department of Justice broke up IBM when it became too big

Compare
AU = GDP = USD $1,434 billion = USD $1.434 Trillion
NZ = GDP = USD $205 billion = USD $0.205 Trillion

China’s message to the US
- Move aside ..
- Your in debt
- You’re broke
- You’ve got 50 million unemployed
- You’ve got rioting & blood on the streets.
Game over.
-

You've got a leader with aspirations of being a war president.

Trumpie has a history of getting US troops home rather than away. What rubbish. Also China can only boss people around with arms and armed forces. They have only grabbed Tibet, Hong Kong and bits of the Sprattley Islands in their latest expansion. When they get Taiwan back and possibly Japan and the Koreas, then we can get nervous. Until those things happen, we don't have much to fear from PRC militarily.