Top 10 at 10: The amazing Allan Hawkins; Chinese buying Hummer; Agreeing with Tony Alexander; Taxing tall people
3rd Jun 09, 11:08am
Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet in the last day or so at 10 am. I welcome your additions in the comments below. I cannot embed my dismissive scoffing sound. 1. Adam Bennett at the NZHerald has picked up on this NZX announcement on Friday that Allan Hawkins, the convicted fraudster of Equitycorp infamy, is raising NZ$10 million from small investors (NZ$500 minimum investment) through an issue of capital securities offering 9.25%.
Hawkins was sentenced to six years jail in 1993 on seven fraud and conspiracy charges on transactions totalling $520 million after one of the longest and most expensive trials in New Zealand history. However, Hawkins' convictions are not disclosed in Cynotech's prospectus for the issue.This is amazing. How on earth are we supposed to take any prospectus approved by the Securities Commission seriously when a fraud conviction is not included? How much credibility can we give to the NZX when it allows the likes of Hawkins to raise money from Mums and Dads through its market? 2. Oh the humiliation. GM is selling its most All-American brand of stupid SUVs to the Chinese. Sichuan Tengzhong is buying Hummer for less than US$500 million, the WSJ.com reported. 3. The Chinese are not happy with America's spend, borrow and print strategy to dealing with the financial crisis. Bloomberg reports Yu Yongding, a former Chinese central bank adviser, as saying he doesn't believe America's plan to reduce its budget deficit from 12.9% of GDP now to 3% at some stage. He also described the US Federal Reserve as the world's biggest junk investor.
Yu said U.S. tax revenue is not likely to increase in the short term because of low economic growth, inflexible expenditures and the cost of "fighting two wars." China wants to know how the U.S. will withdraw excess liquidity from its financial system "in a timely fashion so as to avoid inflation" when its economy recovers, said Yu, now a senior researcher at the government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He questioned whether there would be enough demand to meet U.S. debt issuance this year. "The balance sheet of the Federal Reserve not only has expanded like mad but is also ridden with "˜rubbish' assets," he said.The irony of the world's biggest communists telling the world's biggest capitalists what to do is delicious. HT Mish. 4. This is a long read, but well worth it. Professor Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld from Yale looks at the demise of GM in depth and blames it on Roger Smith (Roger and Me) and the just departed Rick Wagoner. This gives a much nuanced look at the company and board culture that led the world's biggest car maker to bankruptcy. A fascinating look at corporate cultures and how not to do it. HT Lance Wiggs. 5. Seth Godin says something I have believed for a long time: joint ventures never work. 6. BNZ economist Tony Alexander has an interesting take on the budget. He goes to the heart of the matter and points out our core problem is our lack of savings and our current deficit. I couldn't agree more. I disagree with him on house prices, but he's right on this.
Eventually we will get a credit downgrading because there is no sign that households intend structurally (permanently) lifting their savings level. This means that apart from the short term cyclical improvement there is little reason for believing our current account deficit and foreign indebtedness position will be trending toward the better.7. Nassim Taleb is launching a Black Swan Protection Protocol-Inflation fund for people to bet on hyperinflation and governments generally stuffing it up, Felix Salmon points out.
The upshot is that some year down the track "“ and it is 100 percent impossible to forecast which decade let alone which year - we will see a currency collapse and soaring interest rates.8. Here is the video ad that Americans are watching in between news shows talking about the bankruptcy of GM. It is made by GM at some cost. Repeat after me: 'I'm glad I'm not a US taxpayer'. This is a lesson in how not to do marketing. So many companies do this. They think marketing spend is the way to fix or repair a brand. The only way to fix a brand is to fix the product and the service first. 9. Here's what happens when people get nervous about the value of their currency. People in Buenos Aires are hoarding coins. They're now very difficult to get, the New Yorker points out. 10. This one caught my attention because I am 6 ft 5in (1.95m). Matt Nolan at TVHE looks at this whole debate about taxing tall people because they earn more. Needless to say, I don't like the idea.