Biden takes over some huge and growing US economic problems; Australia records improving economic data; China races to join TPP; UST 10yr at 1.08%; oil stable and gold up; NZ$1 = 72.5 USc; TWI-5 = 73.7

Biden takes over some huge and growing US economic problems; Australia records improving economic data; China races to join TPP; UST 10yr at 1.08%; oil stable and gold up; NZ$1 = 72.5 USc; TWI-5 = 73.7

Here's our summary of key economic events over the New Year holiday break that affect New Zealand, with news economic events are overshadowed today even if the political direction is now very much clearer.

The political news this morning is that there are now serious calls for the removal of the US President from office before he can do even more damage in the next two weeks.

Elsewhere in the US, +922,000 more people filed for State jobless claims last week, the week straddling the New Year, taking the total to 5.4 mln and only a small rise, as many came to the expiry of their benefit entitlement. Although it might take some additional time, the new Congress is likely to raise the level of Federal support.

The American trade deficit for both goods and services rose in November to -US$68.1 bln and far above the previous record set in October of -US$63.1 bln. Their goods deficit was a record high -US$86.1 bln for the month while the services surplus was a record low +$18.2 bln for the month. This makes the overall trade deficit -US$651 bln for the past year, or -3.1% of GDP. In 2019 that deficit was -US$577 bln or -2.6% of GDP.

The politically sensitive merchandise trade deficit with China was -US$314 bln and a small improvement from the -US$347 bln in 2019.

In the release of the minutes from the last US Federal Reserve Board meeting, they seem on track to let their asset growth rise be their primary support measure for "significant policy accommodation" (pg 10) but the US$120 bln/mth program isn't anything new. However, they are watching the faster spread of the pandemic which is making them nervous that the recent return to growth in the United States will stall, and hoping the vaccines will rescue them and not require more intervention. Vaccines were mentioned 17 times in these minutes.

American vehicle sales come with a small uplift in December, but for the full year they total just 14.6 mln. This is -15% less than in 2019. Despite a second half recovery of sorts, that makes them a distant second to China who sold 25.3 mln in 2020, only -2% less than in 2019.

Australia recorded a record trade surplus in November, all due to strong iron ore sales to China. But their export growth is slowing all the same.

Australia also reported a very strong recovery in building consents in November, particularly for houses, and notably not for high-density dwellings.

China is moving forward with its application to join the CPTPP, taking advantage of American weakness to join before the Biden Administration can change US policy on the matter.

German factory orders for November surprised with relatively better data than expected, up +2.3% from October when a decline was expected, and +6.3% higher than a year ago.

EU retail sales also surprised, but in this case, not in a good way. It was down -6.1% in November from October, and down -2.9% year-on-year. This is a very worrying trend revealing a fast loss of momentum.

On the commodities front, copper prices are now at an 8 year high. Partly, this is due to the pandemic in South America curbing important production volumes as demand from China stays high. The pandemic affects supply as much as demand, sometimes more.

Airfreight is another example. Global air freight markets in November showed freight volumes improving compared to October, but remain depressed compared to 2019. Capacity remains constrained from the loss of available belly cargo space, as passenger aircraft remain parked. Asia/Pacific volumes are down nearly -11% year-on-year. But the cost of air cargo is sky-high. The small recovery in passenger traffic was snubbed out in November and apart from domestic air travel in China, things remain very grim for this industry.

Wall Street is up more than +1.3% in early afternoon trade, boosted by a much clearer sense of where the US is heading politically. Overnight, European markets rose about +0.5%. Yesterday, the very large Tokyo market rose a strong +1.6%, and Shanghai gained +0.5% but Hong Kong fell -0.7%. The ASX200 rose +1.6% yesterday while the NZX50 Capital Index rose +1.1% and cementing in some big gains to start the year.

The latest global compilation of COVID-19 data is here. The global tally is rising faster, now at 87,434,000 and up +730,000 overnight. We are heading for 100 mln before the end of January mainly because the UK variant is taking off worldwide now. And many countries are getting a surge from New Year's celebrations where social distancing was abandoned. It is still very grim in Russia (+24,000 overnight), the UK (+63,000), South Africa (+22,000) and Turkey (+14,000). It does seem to be easing in Europe, although not in the UK or Sweden (+32,000 in the past three days). Japan is stressed with a rising tide of cases, up to +6000 in a day. China is facing a new surge too but reliable data seems suppressed. Global deaths reported now exceed 1,889,000 and surging +14,000 in a single day as death rates rise everywhere.

But the largest number of reported cases globally is still in the US, which rose +254,000 overnight for their tally to reach 21,880,000. The US remains the global epicenter of the virus. The number of active cases rose overnight and is now at 8,482,000 and that level is up +91,000 in a day, so more new cases than recoveries again by a substantial margin. Their death total is up to 370,000 however (+4000). The US now has a COVID death rate of 1116/mln, approaching the disastrous UK level (1153).

In Australia, their Sydney-based community resurgence seems to be coming under control. But that takes their all-time cases reported to 28,547, and +11 more cases overnight, most in managed isolation. But 297 of these cases are 'active' (-2). Reported deaths are unchanged at 909.

The UST 10yr yield will start today up another +3 bps at just over 1.08%. Their 2-10 rate curve is steeper again at +94 bps, their 1-5 curve is also steeper at +34 bps, and their 3m-10 year curve is steeper too at +99 bps. The Australian Govt 10 year yield is up +2 bps at 1.08%. But the China Govt 10 year yield is unchanged at 3.20%, while the New Zealand Govt 10 year yield is up +5 bps at 1.02%.

The price of gold is up +US$7 in New York to be now at US$1,913/oz.

Oil prices are little-changed today and still just under US$51/bbl in the US, while the international price is now just over US$54/bbl.

And the Kiwi dollar has settled at 72.5 USc today. Against the Australian dollar we are also holding at 93.5 AUc. Against the euro we are still at 59.1 euro cents. That means our TWI-5 is at 73.7.

The bitcoin price has powered higher yet again today, hitting a new all-time high of US$39,297 which is +13.5% above the level at this time yesterday. And in local currency, it has shot up well above the NZ$50,000 level to be at NZ$54,204. 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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'The notion of a Saeculum or cycle is anathema or alien to modern Western thinking that has become linear. Indeed, that is why it is likely that both the leadership and the public in America are unprepared for the crisis that is coming, just as they were unprepared for the pandemic itself. Linear thinking predicted “the end of history", in Francis Fukuyama’s memorable words. The same thinking underlies the monetary policy efforts to prolong business cycle expansions and to put a floor under asset prices whenever they sag. It regards economic growth as an inalienable right, and policymakers pursue whatever it takes to keep it going. But business cycles are necessary cleansers, just as mini forest fires and small avalanches help avoid raging forest fires and major avalanches.
John Gray, in a brilliant article, How Apocalyptic Is Now? (, 13 May 2020), noted that a reversion to history was unthinkable for practitioners of linear thinking, and that much progress occurred when history was idling. For the West led by America, history has been mostly idling over the last 75 years and, hence, it had taken progress for granted. '

7.8 Billion people in the World and they pick the biggest idiot to have a Nucleat Button. The World maybe doomed.

And all we hear and see is ...all about Donald. Let us get a Life...not kill us all.

Absolutely agree with you, They need to remove him from office asap! Trump could still do a lot of damage even in the short time he has left in power.
Senior officials have discussed removing Trump under the 25th Amendment. Here’s how that could work; Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to declare that Trump is unfit for duty. They would then send a letter to Congress about their decision.


he still got 75 million votes. The damage to America has been going on for over 30 years with both parties to blame.

Actually Trump got 74 million votes and Biden got over 81 million votes. US 2020 results:

you should be a Trump supporter

Never in a million years! I'd rather not join you as a Trump supporter, you're quite literally a dying breed (Especially those who aren't wearing face masks in the middle of a pandemic). :)

I would never vote Trump, not in a million years. I would gone for an independent.

Same as I don't vote National, Judging people is folly.

'I see you aren't that different from me,
But still I ignore your worth.
No better than I are you than me,
A truth first told at birth.
But still I ignore your worth,
Judging farther than I can see,
A truth first told at birth,
I forget your unique identity.
Judging farther than my eyes can see,
I miss your special traits,
I forget your unique identity,
For my respect you wait.
I miss your special traits,
No attention to who you are,
For my respect you wait,
Acknowledgment sits afar.
No attention to who you are,
No better than I are you than me.
And still, acknowledgment sits afar,
Yet, I see you aren't that different from me.

I'll alter my comment too, and remind you next time when you 'appear' to be supporting Trump. Like you did yesterday when you said it wasn't Trumps fault for his supports that stormed the US Capitol. ;)


Because I believe it is the US citizens who choose their president not the worlds media. It's not for me to criticise their choice, same as I don't criticise Putin or Erdogan, although I will critique their policies. I don't hold millions of Russians up as fools for voting for Putin. Syria is an independent country and they can vote for whoever they want as President, although I suspect Assad's Father was a bad man, I think his son is trying hard to make his country a better place, he just got caught up as a pawn in the 'great game' in the middle east.
It's always been about Israel and Iran. Look at Iran as an example of Western meddling leading to poor outcomes. For too long the Western world especially the USA has had blood on its hands.

I have seen the pain in middle America, the bankruptcies from medical bills, the huge student debts, the destruction of the middle classes, the unemployment, the tent cities, the low paid immigrant, the crime, the lies and the deception.

See here's the thing. At least the Democrats are trying to fix those problems by supporting free medical care and improving education pretty much all the points you listed. Oh and don't forget that Biden wants to also get the pandemic under control in the US, where Trump wanted people to get infected for the unproven 'herd immunity' that has now been largely debunked. Trumps legacy will be "His attempt to destroy democracy for his own political gain and 400,000+ dead Americans from the pandemic".

Andrew J "I have seen the pain in middle America, the bankruptcies from medical bills, the huge student debts, the destruction of the middle classes, the unemployment, the tent cities, the low paid immigrant, the crime, the lies and the deception." could be said to a greater or lesser degree to all "first world" nations. It's not an exclusively American problem.

Your first comment today referenced the Strauss–Howe generational theory, which I also find very interesting as a lens to consider history and change. Strauss–Howe generational theory in my opinion, is too reductive and simplistic though. The turning wheel of history, is much, much more complex than this theory. There are so many other factors that effect human behaviour and culture. Weather/climate events have probably been the most significant and yet we generally don't contextualise them with appropriate gravity when we discuss influences on history. We like to refer to individuals or particular nations/groups and put human personalities center stage. The main causal factor. After weather/climate, technology has had more influence on our cultures than any one single person or nation. Again though, irrigation, the wheel, domestication, steam engines or the internet/mass media don't capture the human imagination and passions as powerfully as when we tell stories about individuals Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Augustus, Asoka, Marx, Washington, Cyrus, Charlamagne, Ramesses II etc. We like to find a figurehead to embody our story. And for many, Trump filled that void nicely.

Leaders reflect the culture and society that created them. That is the situation with Trump but not only Trump.
I find it interesting to reflect on a whole range of leaders across the world, now and in the past, as to why it was that they came to power.
That also applies to the great thinkers and why they had influence.
Some years back when I was trying to understand a little more about Chinese culture I came to the conclusion that Confucius was himself a product of Chinese culture at that time - no other culture in the world could have produced a Confucius. His writings captured the essence of Chinese thinking at that time and codified those into a philosophy of behaviour.

So what does Jacinda say about Nz in 2021? All style and no substance? Full of hollow words? Says one thing does another? Doesn't keep promises? But as a person (nation) fairly decent?

Good Points.

I have always thought we have been hamstrung from the time the RMA was subverted, and MMP as we worked out how it should work and also the compromises (by definition no one getting what they wanted) MMP forced parties into without any party being able to govern alone.

But now Labour has no excesses with a clear majority. Now we will find out if a majority decision is better than a compromised decision.

I think we will find out it won't be like going from good to better, but from bad to worse.

It is called Hero Worshipping and Hero Need.

Well said.

Oh dear. I enjoy reading your comments about the rural sector. Many quite enlightened, but you should steer clear of analysing the attributes of authoritarian leaders in one party states. Bashir (gas your citizens children) al Assad and Vlad ( poison your opponents and grant yourself life immunity from prosecution) Putin, et al, are as murderously corrupt as it's possible to be. Mass media is what formulates public opinion. Unfortunately algorithms enclose the susceptible in a complete alternative bubble. How else can QAnon exist in an informed world?

I have a friend who works for the Russian government, he tells me Putin is actually a quite extraordinary man, a very clear thinker. Won my friend over from the UK foreign office. We never talk about his job.

Fact is USA trade sanctions on Iraq could have responsible for up to 500k children needlessly dying.The USA at present is supporting Saudi in Yemen and creating a huge humanitarian disaster. Assad's father was no doubt a bad man.

The Skipal poisoning is as dodgy as it gets and shown western intelligence agencies to seriously lacking independence.

And you believe a friend working for the Russian government is objective?

To understand Syria you would have to go back at least to the Sykes Picot agreement when Syrian got lumped in with Lebanon as a French Protectorate.
The French had an interest in protecting Maronite christians, Lebanon eventually broke off, Syria being multi ethic as well as a multi faith country was still dominantly Shite, which meant it's safety required cooperation with Iran, or old Persia.

That article is unbalanced, Russia has interests in this region, they are telling the USA to get out and probably Turkey too.

The causes of the Arab spring uprisings are complex, but unlike democracies, govts in the Middle East/North Africa tend to be hard to remove, regardless of their dysfunctionality. The original spark was Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi's self immolation in protest at high taxes. Obviously there were deeply embedded issues in the general population that caused that spark to catch, as in all countries where the spring erupted. Poverty, overpopulation, food price spikes, unresponsive govt, all waiting for the right moment. Syria was no different, except of course for the close relationship between Assad and Russia. It takes a special kind of leader to start shooting citizens when they protest, rather than engage in dialogue and work through the issues!

Assad's close relationship is with Persia. I'd go back to Genghis Khan .

Weird that this article doesn't explore the role of US Aid, State Dept and CIA in the Arab Spring and resultant deaths:
Please don't bully boy Andrew J with this childish, binary goodies v baddies bullshit, most of us come here to escape the children.

Ouch. Harsh? I don't remember mentioning "goodies"? But I guess if you believe authoritarianism is a great form of Govt, good for you.

Not just the US. The Western countries in Europe, primarily Britain has to share lots of blame for the mess they created in the Middle East from the beginning of the discovery of oil there. They created artificial unrealistic borders, supported verious strongmen who were favourable to their exploitation of oil, so on. Even now, the Persian Gulf is not owned by the Arabs in a real sense.

Not just the US. The Western countries in Europe, primarily Britain has to share lots of blame for the mess they created in the Middle East from the beginning of the discovery of oil there. They created artificial unrealistic borders, supported verious strongmen who were favourable to their exploitation of oil, so on. Even now, the Persian Gulf is not owned by the Arabs in a real sense.

US citizens or any other country would not have the means to make a decision without media. It is absolutely the media that people make their decisions from. That is why the likes of murdoch's fox entertainment and newsmax have caused untold harm to America and other parts of the world because they have ZERO interest in actual reporting of truth, only sensationalism for advertising $s. Murdoch pioneered sensationalist journalism. And that is the main reason the Dumbster has such a following. If an outlet reports lies often enough, the weak believe it is the truth, because they don't have the intellectual ability to search out the truth by diversing their information source.

We're all a dying breed, that's the problem.

Indeed all over the world the US champions and encourages people to reject elections and indulge in civil disobedience. Even the Chinese didn't should people to death in Hong Kong.

BLM and Anti-Fa rioting which looted and burned down whole blocks was seen as legitimate and "mostly peaceful" protest protected by the constitution. The right of every US citizen.

Aj, there was a sea change on Clinton’s arrival. Firstly the sex scandal leading to impeachment, then other infidelity claimers, pictured in Playboy no less. Then corruption Whitewater, the first Lady involved. Up until then, apart from Nixon, after which things were stabilised subsequently, presidencies had been traditionally run, more or less. Lids were managed to be kept in place. Sure you had Reagan vagaries and Bush not liking broccoli, but big stuff stayed hidden. But during Clinton it all hurtled out of the woodwork, partisanship unbridled, cut loose.

The era of cheque book journalism began to accelerate. Encouraged by Clinton narrowing the media field, by allowing companies to gobble each other up and ending objective reporting.

Yes good point. The advent of the web and the enormous acceleration in advertising revenue therefrom, created opportunity and a vehicle for sensationalism. Previously the realm of the tabloids at supermarket check outs with the misleading headlines. Opportunity of a nefarious nature, offers too freely, temptation, opportunism, scavengers. As an example the eventual demise of Murdoch’s News of the World.

Totally agree. I have a lot of American friends - some Republicans - and they are not hill billies as the media portray Trump supporters to ne.

I'll bite...what are they, then? How can anyone with a modicum of intelligence support a lying charlatan?

I'll bite too given I've got a swathe of relatives there.

They are more patriotic than others - flag wavers and firm believers in the morals/intentions and vision of the Founding Fathers. They are proud of that original intent of a united republic of the people, by the people, for the people. They were mostly raised in one of the many Christian faiths. Many/most never contemplated unemployment, grew up and raised their families, or were raised themselves in suburban and heartland America at a time when children/family were the beating heart of the nation. They still believe that every man/woman can live a good life/get ahead, if only they take personal responsibility - hence, welfare is an anathema to them - as I think they see it a possibility for themselves and their families too unless the 'spirit' of the Founding Fathers recaptures the American ethos.

They no longer have faith in any of the institutions of state.

And yes, they represent at least 50% of the population.

Unfortunately that "faith" blinds them to the fact their country is finite, as the world is finite. The fairy tales they have been telling themselves for generations no longer match reality. Their country is built on massive exploitation of cheap energy that no longer exists! It's symptomatic of a dislocation from reality, that conservative America voted for someone promising to strip the last of the countries energy wealth as quickly as possible.

We're all telling ourselves those fairy tales. Don't see that 'faith' being anything uniquely American.'natural%20capital'.&text=Contrary%20to%20weak%20sustainability%2C%20strong,are%20complementary%2C%20but%20not%20interchangeable.

Being human means living in this little universe in our heads. Full of biases and opinions, mixed up with observations and what we believe to be facts. The thing that's unique about America, is its ability to transpose its little universe anywhere chosen, with a massive stockpile of military hardware. You are right about fairy tales. We're all telling ourselves it'll be OK, but I suspect it won't be. Looking for technical solutions for the problems of overconsumption and overpopulation is an exercise in futility. At least that's what the little universe in my head is telling me. We've had 4 years of Trump opening up reserves and continental shelf for drilling, while scraping product environmental standards. Now we'll have 4 years of Biden filling the landscape with windmills. :-)

Like the Jews becoming the Oppressor form being the Oppressed, America has become the Occupier from the Liberator it was during the War era. Now there is no other country to liberate those poor nations.

'conservative America voted for someone promising to strip the last of the countries energy wealth as quickly as possible.'

So if the Republicans are stripping their own country of its wealth, that must mean the Democrats are stripping other countries of their wealth.

Sounds like one is shooting its self in the foot, and the other is shooting other people in the foot.

Well yes, there is an element of truth to that. The US as a whole is stripping planetary wealth. Although I don't think Republicans limit themselves to the US homeland eg Gulf war 2, as Dems don't limit themselves to stripping other countries. Obama and fracking. The US has been shooting everyone in the foot, globally!

The problem is that they aren’t taking the personal responsibility to upskill themselves and get a job, they expect to be handed one, all the while bemoaning anyone else that gets a handout. The US got to where they are by being the best, by being ahead of the rest, not by believing in god and assuming all will be ok.

Actually most churches in the States preach a strong work ethic and personal responsibility. The US got to where it is partly due to strong Christian morals and faith, obviously not all but a majority.

They got to being the best on the back of their belief in hard work and faith in an all seeing god, not in spite of it.

When I was young churches were full every Sunday, it's the same over most of the western world.

I guess that is the problem in a technology driven world; they need to be smarter not work harder.

Quite. Rebublican Senator Mastrioni and former State Representative Saccone are hardly hill billies but there they were posting about storming the Capitol along with the QAnon Shaman and BakedAlaska.

It's incredible how many Republicans have been radicalised and brain washed by Trump Cult inc and the alt right. So much for conservatism upholding traditions and providing ballast against radical change (the time honoured stance of Conservatives since Ancient Greece), these Trumped up Republicans are openly admitting they want Revolution (a violent one at that) and to overthrow the existing systems. The exact *opposite* of traditional conservative values.

The radicalisation is on both sides.

Well yes, but not on the same level. One is like a raging bull, armed to the teeth and the other is like a whining puppy.

Andrewj and I have never said otherwise. But the current events are Republicans. Hence why we are discussing Republicans. I am used to the left becoming incredibly radical every now and again. But traditionally Republicans are supposed to be the ones that uphold traditions and avoid radical change, so it's pretty wild that they have done this. Radical Conservatism is something of an oxymoron no?

They say they support Trump, however, they really consider themselves Republican and would vote for a monkey if he said he/she lead the Republican party. Most of them are professionals, engineers, etc, one being from Mexico. When I ask them why, they say that they are worried about what will happen when Biden takes over in regard to illegal immigrants coming from Venezuela, etc. This time, they believe that they won't be turned back at the Mexican border. They appear to be conservatives who oppose the extreme left of the Democratic party. I have friends from all over the world and I don't judge them on their religion or politics. The media we have in NZ is all pro-Democrat, so I take everything I read with a grain of salt.

I wonder what people thought when their ancestors immigrated to America?

Not talking about legal immigration. Imagine 100 vessels turning up in NZ shores and our Govt saying "welcome in, you are now entitled to uemployment, pensions, medical, ACC, etc" - another 100 would be on their way.

Hope he doesn't start a war with Iran or any other country in the 2 weeks left..

Does he have any business interests that would benefit from a war with Iran? If so, I wouldn't bet against it.

Alter Ego, the USA elected an egomaniac. There it is.

Well aware of what Trump is. About time his Ego Altered...but then I might have to change too.

Perfection is so trying...Ho Ho.

After yesterday's debacle many now see the end of USD as the reserve currency.

What needs to be asked is " why did 75 million people vote for Trump in the first place'.

My brother is a Trumpa..when I ask he is vague "drain the swamp"..corrupt Hillary, fake news..ANtifa..socilaists" -- basically a lack of critical thinking and too much zero hedge and info wars. We don't talk any more which is sad.

I see lots of the opposite in amongst my friends and associates, which I would estimate as 90/10 in Democrat/Republican. Democrats haven't moved beyond orange man bad, whereas I've been fed detailed information from Republicans (also struggling with their own hysteria now) on the structure, legal process, the challenges, how this could play out.

I sit in the middle and thing they are all fools, and they are, but I can't tell them that.

I've seen this behaviour before. I once read two books back to back on the topic of David Bain. One published by the Police Association, the other by Joe Caram. The former book was empty of detail, they simply said he was found guilty get over it. Caram went into great detail about each critical piece of evidence and told you why he thought it was flawed. The most difficult IMO was that the bloody foot prints, agreed by both sides to be those of the killer, were 28cm, where Bain's feet are 30cm long.

That said I could never get him to drill down into more detail about his arguments - but like you Red or Blue nothing changes in the states including systemic racism - just imagine if BLM managed to storm into the chamber (blood everywhere).

I don't think so. They have been very tolerant of BLM and Anti-Fa recently. They would probably have better protected Capitol Hill with more riot police so that there was no way they could have entered. They practically withdrew security form Capitol Hill. This whole event looks engineered to me.

This is an easily debunked trope. The summer protests continued unabated and one person was shot by law enforcement. This happened in less than 90 mins yesterday.

However the comparisons are futile. We have become so completely polarised. This is the problem and no one wants to actually fix it. Expect the division, demonstration and bitter squabbling to continue.

Come on - Trump has stoked these divisions constantly starting with the lock her up chants - Biden has already been widely espousing an inclusive stance - not some knuckleheaded schoolboy bullying nonsense. It was never like this under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jnr or Obama - there is only one common denominator here and it's the narcissist in the WH. 13 days and counting.

The divisions have been around for years Trump just shone the light on them. Trump was one of the first Presidents who was wealthy enough before he got to become president to give big guys the finger.

How did Obama, Clinton, Blair etc, all become multi millionaires after leaving power? Do you think they were not bought, really. I for one think Clinton should have been locked up., perhaps Bush Junior, Rumsfeld, Chaney too.

would not there have been blood traces on footwear or feet of either the accused or other family. hard to imagine though, anyone bothering to clean their feet or footwear before taking their own life.

Lack of education and inbreeding. One look at the images of the idiots that stormed the Capitol build and Senate will show you that. BBC Capitol riot: Five startling images from the siege.

what! 75 million of them? Some of those rioters were ANTIFA, nothing is what as it first appears. [WARNING: The FBI has said there is zero evidence that Antifa was involved. This is just spreading a made-up conspiracy theory. Ed ]

Looks like people need to get out of their bubble thinking, your smart you should have worked out why over the past four years...


OK ...give us some evidence - geez Andrew love your posts but hate it when you go down this hole with your crap! Let me guess the women who was shot was

This is really worth a watch (under 8min to watch). Monbiot on why the US was lucky to get Trump, but at the same time outlining what a dangerous man he is. Lucky is that he was incompetent as far as autocrats go, failures over 30 years could have led to worse, and probably will lead to worse.

I just don't believe anything is black and white, shades of grey, movement in the shadows.

1 antifa. If I was running ANTIFA this would have been too good an opportunity to miss.

A picture of 1 black man in a black sweatshirt - thats it?

The claim is that he is an Antifa leader. So the real point being that on one has any idea unless they were there. I've seen images of a hundred thousand Trump supporters at a rally at the other end of the National Mall, that hasn't made it to main stream media.

Be careful of confirmation bias in all this. Both sides really.

If you are going to espouse this, and it is possible, then you also need to acknowledge there were agent provocateurs placed among the BLM protests, although most of the looting will have been carried out by opportunists of heaven knows what political persuasion, if any, using the protests as cover.
See also how the police handled the people in these protests as opposed to those in the BLM, I draw your attention to this as my f'rinstance

Been reading Zero Hedge again Andrewj. I see no bylines on that site. Big red propaganda flag.

Happy New Year ..AndrewJ..and all our commenters with an ounce of sense.

There wa definitely s a need for "Change" in the USA. Making things worse was never the answer.

MAGA was a need....but they picked the wrong guy to implement was never just a TV and Faceache and Twitter ....self centred program.

They needed a reality program....more than ever......not a one man Band......trumpeting his own values....and tantrums.

AndrewJ "why did 75 million people vote for Trump"?

How long have you got? There isn't just one reason. There are many, all intersecting and culminating.

*Evolution (we have evolved to form tribes and bond over perceived common values by identifying and uniting against an enemy or "other")
*Human culture has been changing rapidly because of the speed and amplification of social media.
*Globalisation (which is also massively influenced and amplified by the internet and media) is changing wealth structures and power between nations. People in the developed world initially enjoyed the boon of post-industrial, post-development globalisation because they still had sufficient wealth, power and influence to manipulate it to their advantage enough so that the average citizen of the Western world's life style materially improved over several successive decades. And human beings have very short memories. They forget that things were hard and shit just a few generations before that, they have developed the sense of entitlement that they should be healthy, despite eating total crap etc.
* America and the West in general, is losing it's share of the money, influence, technology edge, intellectual pie. Making America Great Again would require another world war, that flattened all its competition, so that all the great minds of the world would immigrate to America again with all their ideas intellectual capital, so that while it's competition were all in tatters, they could speed forward. And they would also need a lean, healthy and keen workforce again. They would also need to have more of a sense of unity, so would probably need to set aside all their different values and agree on some common ground again.
*Memes, ideas spread through human groups like contagious viruses. Why did/do millions of people smoke or pursue sun tans despite knowing it greatly increases their chances of cancer? Why did the Chinese bind the feet of their women for generations? Why anything that human beings do en mass? Because we are communal species who are highly influenced by each other, all our neurochemicals are geared towards this. Trump was appealing to a great many people, he had the right message, with the right marketing, at the right moment.

Heavy metals in the water?

Perhaps we are in the five stages of grief in the Western world, led by the USA. In multiple ways, and different people perhaps at different stages.

Under the denial phase there is Avoidance, Confusion, Elation, Shock, Fear, which I think we have in spades in US Politics and Covid.

Hard to reason a gigantic mess up in a few words, but that is pretty damn close.

The NZX50 Capital Index has risen by 7% since December 21st and 14% since August 21st which was around about when it fully recovered from the lockdown panic. Quite dramatic really. Will be interesting to see how things go from now on.

Essentially it is the 'safe haven' effect, just like the house price inflation effect, and even (at an international level) the bitcoin effect. In all three cases cases, the investors (including institutions such as superannuation funds) might be reluctant, but given the flood of money in their hands looking for a home, they see no alternative. As long as central banks rely on pumping via QE, then the chances are that this will continue. However, if fiscal policy is allowed to take over with Treasury bonds remaining in the market, then the balloon may stabilise somewhat.

Hi Keith, I really like your thinking and your occasional articles on Interest, do you publish more articles one can subscribe to?

Most but not all of the articles I write are published at Interest.
I also have my own site which you can subscribe to without charge and that contains about 300 articles I have written over the last ten years on a range of topics. These are organised by category as well as by chronology.

Keith, friend in the States just sent this,

"Corn seed company just sent me an letter saying I was approved for 4x the credit amount I spent on 2020.
Optimistic, seeing how I didn’t even ask for it.'
And it’s not just corn seed companies, all of the industry is awash with credit.

You can’t throw a cow and not hit an 100k approval letter for credit.'

So I am curious David, is it not the protocol when using statistics such as deaths per million that they refer to a calendar year? Would it be appropriate, and more honest, to reset the Covid counter as of the 1st of January.

Just look at the slope on the total deaths graphs at Worldometers, or alternatively the daily death rates. Both tell a tale that the global deaths per million of population, or of any other population unit, are now greater than at any time since the start of the pandemic. When looking at individual countries some caution is appropriate as to any apparent declining death rates in the last few days. For example, in Sweden most death rates for specific days take two to three weeks to be added in.
Keith W

I check that Worldometers website everyday. Started 11 months ago and when it was book marked it had just 2,600 deaths worldwide. It makes interesting reading but does require some interpretation. For example avoid making deductions from data collected in under-developed countries; clearly some countries have most of their testing staff resting at weekends.
Some data is overwhelming - compare the NZ with French Polynesia for conclusive proof that it is not worth opening your borders for the sake of the tourist dollar. From reliable developed countries the death rate is roughly 2%. The UK will be interesting from now until Easter will the vaccine and the severe lockdown beat the pandemic?

Is it a race against time? Or is it trying to set aside today so as to focus entirely on a specific kind of tomorrow? It’s easy to do the latter especially when today is what it is; you can’t change what’s already gone on. You can, however, think that today won’t impede or even impact a much better tomorrow yet to be determined, especially when the heavy hand of government is anticipated to intervene after sunset.

On the one side, more fiscal “stimulus” is purported just over today’s horizon landing squarely at the forefront of our future. The government will spend gobs, trillions, no doubt, to fix whatever’s broken, however much it may be broken. And it is in the scale of such “stimulus” all worries are supposed to melt away.

That hasn’t happened yet, anywhere, but there’s always a first time. Link

The US needs the rise of a new political party to bridge the devide.

And on a different topic.
Andrewj - you have gone on about how dry you have been - how about sending some of that rain up here - you seem to have been getting more than your fair share lately.
We have two meat works in Northland and at least one uses us as a 'holding paddock' while they process cattle from everywhere else. We get to wait at the back of the line while the beef schedule slowly sinks. Nothing new - they do it every year - I don't know why I stay loyal.
It is of note that while the forecast dairy payout and beef schedule have been reasonably strong I don't sense any great positivity amongst farmers and times must be tough for some rural suppliers as a number have recently tightened up their credit terms or removed any credit terms - a sign cashflow is not flash.
I just sense farmers are tired. Sick of the poor public perception of them, sick of the constantly increasing regulations that don't always make practical sense, sick of ratcheting upwards costs such as local rates and input costs, sick of worrying about the stability of our overseas markets.
If the exchange rate is a measure of confidence in the future of our economy and our economy (at present) is largely relying on agriculture I think a few 'experts' are misjudging it.

I noticed you have missed out on the rain, we are getting thunderstorms forming but not amounting too much. It must be a very weak La Nina.

I notice every time I go down south, the ferry is full of stock trucks heading north, Loads of cattle, I saw two Ryal Bush trucks going by yesterday. The works are playing musical chairs, the loss of the co-ops has been a huge mistake.

I have halved the amount of cattle on the farm and I have a green pick but that is only here because we haven't had much sun, nights are cool, the children haven't been using the pool.

I have been quoted 18 mth bulls 300kgs @ 2.50 a kg, thats not a sign of confidence. Imagine buying them as calves for $550 and and 18 months later making $200 trading margin, no joy in that trade after commission, drenches, freight, etc. Friends in the UK are telling me it's a giant screw up, one for the record books and really going to hurt, unemployment numbers in the USA are also bad.

If you are looking for some diversification Wilco, maybe this is something to be considered

Casual Observer - Personally we are trucking along okay. Keeping our heads down as we know others are not so fortunate. My comments more reflect sentiments of farmers in general around here and contacts in rural real estate and banking. Prices are pretty good at the moment and yet hardly anyone rural is smiling.
There are plenty of opportunities for diversification up here - commercial scale 1-2ha banana crops, other tropical fruit, a big push on growing peanuts over on the west coast, alternate fodders.
Sadly any diversification for me from now will be outside farming - wife's instructions.

Good to hear you're trucking along ok Wilco. While I was aware of other crops up there, I hadn't heard of peanuts - interesting.

A large project funded by PGF on future crops identified the west coast of Northland as being internationally competitive in growing peanuts. I think one issue to overcome is having enough scale to justify a processing plant and a committed peanut butter manufacturer. Interestingly the same report authors showed that we are NOT internationally competitive in Kumara production - it is only our border restrictions preventing imports that keeps the local industry profitable.

Wilco, I have cut my spending plans, thinking the next few years could be tough for me, I'm starting to think like everyone else.
I was going to cut some hay but my contractor is still doing Baleage, silage in Hawkes Bay in Jan, it's definitely not last season. Thinking hay is a waste of time, may divert that money into Fertiliser. Cheaper to buy Barley or PKE than make your own hay, they want $80 a round bale in the paddock for hay, which is nutsville. Hay contractor is having his busiest season ever, never gets to me in time to make decent hay.
We have still not had what I would call significant rain just lots of 10mm, great for grass but not enough to recharge the aquifer.

Like you say, it's a new world and we don't know the effects of all these changes, but let face it they are not cheap.

DT could be the breakpoint of the western democracy.

Yes I agree with you. Trump certainly seems to be trying to push his dictatorship agenda for his own political gain. It doesn't matter to Donald if he burns down western democracy in the process.

He said break point, not the cause.

Trump is a catalyst, don't you understand that.

No, he's a symptom

"Western democracy" goes well, well beyond the US. The US system is just a very special variant of it, and far from the best example.
Thankfully, most western democratic countries are very different to the US, socially and politically speaking. That the social, economic and political model of the US is broken does not mean that the "western democratic" model is broken too. Having lived a few years both in the US and in a few Northern European countries, I can say that from personal experience.
Actually, I have been experiencing real trouble thinking of the US as still a western country since Trump was elected to office.

Will be interesting to see the number of Presidential Pardons issued for family and friends in the next two weeks now that the election has been conceded.
My understanding is that there is a principal in justice where one can not act as judge - such as granting a pardon - for one’s self. Nixon had to step aside for Ford to grant his pardon.
I wonder what will happen in this instance given Trump’s criticism and falling out with Pence over Pence’s display of integrity.

Pence's name will eclipse that of Benedict Arnold's in the list of infamous Americans.

No it won't, that is just silly

Yes Trump issuing pardons for himself and his family is highly likely, if Trump is allowed to remain in power even if it's only for the two weeks that he has whilst time runs out for him. This is one of the reason why they want to remove him from office immediately (that and he could case more riots and even pardon the rioters). They could invoke the 25th amendment. Schumer said. “If the vice president and the cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president.”


But you are ignoring the wrongs of the Biden family, not many innocents in this dog fight.

LOL Oh you mean when you sent Giuliani to dig up dirt on Biden's son and came up empty! Andrew lets face it you are a Trump supporter and you always will be just like Zachary. You'll keep denying it but you'll keep trying to subtly defend Trump.

He's trolling and getting responses - what does Hunter Biden have to do with Bidens presidency?

Get your facts straight. The FBI have commenced a criminal investigation into Hunter Biden and it is yet to be determined whether his father had knowledge of his dealings.

. . . and yeah, Obama wasn’t born in the USA.

Don't laugh. I was in a taxi in Hawaii (pre Covid) and the driver was emphatic Obama had been born outside the USA. He also told us that Hawaii had a low crime rate cause not many black people lived there. I had to hold my wife down she was that angry but a reflection of America we don't see represented in the media here.

Lots of crime in USA and nobody knows how to stop it, people just buy guns, 7 million new gun owners in the last year.


Im trying to be apolitical, the wrongs are on both sides, the Clintons bought US politics to an all time low. Remember Benghazi? Remember we came , we saw, he died?

What about Bush Juniors invasion of Iraq under false pretences ? The 9/11 attackers were mostly from Saudi. What will Republicans do next vote Romney?

Obama involvement in the destruction of Libya and the resulting flood of migrants into Europe. Obama came into politics a poor man and left a very rich man.

These guys have be filling us with B/S for years and the media is missing in action

This is the spectre of partisanship, its worst elements. It spills forth on this site not just USA politics, NZ’s as well. It is entirely counterproductive and futile to proclaim that one apple in the barrel is better than the other because it is less rotten. How can one miscreant justify his or her bad deeds by pointing to a worse offender. Nonsensical to apply such daft reasoning, political parties, their personalities and any other topic for that matter.

I agree that nobody is lily white, however I think that there is widespread agreement that, as fact checking shows, care must be taken in listening to Trump including his accusations and that many of his action are demonstrably at best can be considered at bordering on corruption and illegality. His actions in inciting events yesterday and other desperate actions over the past week (such as his telephone conversation) are at very best are in a grey area of legality - and these are clearly public instances which must raise uncertainty as to his attachment to realty, and his degree of dishonesty and corruption.
To me, in Obama and Trump, we have seen the extremes of Presidents when it comes to honesty and integrity that I am aware of over the past 50 years. Trump has far out done the likes of Nixon.

Trump just blew it up, ripped down the curtain now all parties have major credibility problems. Obama looks great if you only read the MSM. Trump nailed him when he asked what they got for his 80 million dollar book contract.

At least they put US interests first and didn't stoke division or social unrest in the USA. Are you happy for the US to go to war with itself and weaken it's interests abroad to win some sort of pissing contest? Teheran, Moscow or Beijing will happily oblige you out the door. I suggest reading Boltons book.

So you're justifying all past US foreign indiscretions based on the principle that the administration "put US interests first"?

Yes Thomas Sowell said that he turns the TV off when either Obama or Trump is on.

It's all relative

Funny to see you guys all discussing political parties and corruption...

But here in New Zealand no one ever looks at the EMA, Business NZ and the National Party.

What were the chances of both Phil OReily and Kirk Hope coming from Westpac and becoming CEO and in charge of lobbying on behalf of business? Have they been lobbying on behalf of members or on behalf the banks and stuff those who have actual businesses.

Remember poor old John Walley trying to warn us of the path we have gone down... the death of the real economy in front of our eyes.

Does anyone know who Phil OReilly represents when he chairs his OECD role? New Zealand, the banks, his private lobbying office... ???

How’s Andrew Hunt going chairing the EMA and the regional chair for the National Party.

Never going to make CNN but I assure you it’s going to affect your life in more ways than you know.

I’d don’t know the answers but I do know statistics...

I’m sure everything is fine and dandy and I shouldn’t worry about these things