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US growth up +3.3%; global trade up +4.3%; bitcoin volatile; US Fed looking at an official digital currency; German inflation rises; China sets limits on micro loans; UST 10yr yield at 2.38%; oil and gold down; NZ$1 = 68.9 US¢, TWI-5 = 71.8

US growth up +3.3%; global trade up +4.3%; bitcoin volatile; US Fed looking at an official digital currency; German inflation rises; China sets limits on micro loans; UST 10yr yield at 2.38%; oil and gold down; NZ$1 = 68.9 US¢, TWI-5 = 71.8

Here's my summary of the key events overnight that affect New Zealand with news of a strong rise in the global trade in goods.

Economic growth in the US in the September quarter was revised higher today. Originally it was estimated at +3.0% but today's second estimate shows it growing at a +3.3% annual rate.

That was helped by a strong rise in global trade. The OECD said international merchandise trade growth was up a strong +4.3% in the third quarter of 2017, with both imports and exports both rising, the highest rate of growth since the first half of 2011.

Bitcoin zoomed past US$11,000 to hit a record high for the sixth day in a row at US$11,364 overnight after gaining more than $1,000 in just 12 hours. Then it fell, dropping -US$700 in just over an hour before rising and falling hundreds of dollars each hour. That wild behaviour is stoking concerns that a rapidly swelling bubble could be set to burst in spectacular fashion. Much of the activity is from small players who are millennials in the Far East participating in wild herd gambling. Normal market judgment is absent. But it is spectacular, a throwback to other manias, just bigger.

Meanwhile, the outgoing head of the NY Federal Reserve said overnight that they are thinking about an official digital currency. He says the technology is worthy of attention even if the activity around bitcoin is just pure speculation.

Across the Atlantic, the German inflation rate is finally stirring. The increases are across the board, but led by energy costs. It rose by +1.8% in the year to November, faster than both analysts predictions and for the prior month.

And in an action that should be noted here, a Chinese trade group has said that the total cost of credit for short term unsecured micro loans should never exceed 36% pa - and that is for both interest and fees.

And also of note here, the Aussie competition Commission is delving into their dairy industry. It has said it is especially interested in "impediments to competition for farmers' milk". Fonterra is one of the larger players in that market.

Ratings agency Fitch says yesterday's RBNZ plan to ease the LVR speed limits in the mortgage market is unlikely to reverse the cooling of the housing market or meaningfully increase banks' exposure to housing risks.

In New York, the UST 10yr yield has jumped to 2.38% following the higher US GDP report on the expectations that the Fed will be more committed to rate hikes in 2018.

The price of crude oil is down by more than US$1 today, now just under US$57 / barrel, while the Brent benchmark is just under US$63. Larger US crude stocks are behind the change in sentiment.

The price of gold is down -US$9 to US$1,283 oz.

And the Kiwi dollar is also down, especially against a rising greenback. We are now at 68.9 US¢. And on the cross rates we are at 91.1 AU¢, and against the euro at 58.2 euro cents. That puts the TWI-5 down at 71.8.

If you want to catch up with all the changes yesterday, we have an update here.

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

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"I would simply say that I am very worried about the sustainability of the U.S. debt trajectory," Yellen said. "Our current debt-to-GDP ratio of about 75 percent is not frightening but it's also not low."

"It's the type of thing that should keep people awake at night," she added.

Which is rather rich since she has enabled the US government to continue to do what it does best, spend freely on miltary adventurism.

Bill Bernanke openly copied Takahashi Korekiyo. Takahashi Korekiyo "saved" Japan from the depression of the 1930s, but they don't mention that in so doing he enabled the militarists to expand their power base. When he tried to pull back the money supply they chopped off his head in his sleep.

The even more talented Hjalmar Schacht, having become a national hero after halting the hyper inflation of the 1920s Weimar Republic, then engineered the re-armament of Germany and the building of the motorway network. Unfortunately this also also enabled a miltarist to gain excessive power, who eventually threw him in a concentration camp.

Where does all this lead?

To Godwin's Law?

In the US, the deficit rises every year, nearly bringing State activity to a standstill; in the UK, the national debt has doubled in seven years. And as for the money supply, what use are M1, M2 and M3 s that have little or no correlation with the economies of the sovereign States involved: they are merely weapons in the war that is mercantile globalism. In fact, the price of money is rigged regulated centrally throughout the world, and the cost of capital has been manipulated by various brands of QE. The next stage is about to begin. Not content with making life-savings the victim of hidden inflation and Zirp, the next stage is to change bailout into bail in. And so the Alchemy will continue…..demanding you sell your house to fund the aged care of your parents, foreclosing on your mortgage when multinational tax evasion forces local government to up your office rents and taxes, and removing your right to help with legal fees, the better to defend yourself against such pillage. The last item above is but one symptom of how the Rule of Law is being rapidly eroded, and Equality before the Law already a distant memory. Although the emphasis of power differs by nation, one by one all the unelected élites have been placed above the law.

(John Law 28/11/17)

Pillaging other's wealth is a national US pastime.

Of course, if these same politicians are truly concerned about massive wealth transfers from low-income taxpayers to the rich, then they should promptly take notice of an article published by the Pocono Record today highlighting some of the most egregious annual pension payouts awarded to retired public employees in Pennsylvania...payouts that are funded by tax receipts from one of the most regressive taxing systems in the country given Pennsylvania's 3.07% flat tax. Read more

It gets better.

Now, new revelations from the Suffolk County District Attorney's office illustrate precisely why asset forfeitures, and all the inherent conflicts of interest therein, are suddenly becoming a hot topic of debate all across the country. According to records obtained by Newsday from Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, former DA Thomas Spota doled out a staggering $3.25 million - $550,000 more than originally reported - in "bonuses" to public prosecutors, from a pool of seized assets, without a single legislative approval. Read more

Bloody hell (and that is a descriptor of the potential consequences), this perspective is scary! The question is, how do we as voters do something about it? None of this stuff really hits the mainstream media in a way that gets peoples attention?

We are also allowing foreign forestry investments, often paying I suspect, little or no tax, to wreck our roads while shoving the cost onto ratepayers sometime in the future.

Napier port alone is expecting log exports to go from 1.5 million tonnes to over 4.5 in the next few years, insiders tell me it could be over 6 mil tonnes, with only 300k tonnes expected to go on rail.

At present the amount of logs ready to harvest is swamping the industry, with a new logging gang required every week.

Interesting, Northland roads are similarly getting hammered. But it was known this would happen wasn't it? Due to subsidies in the 90's?

What happens if China stops buying though?

Another Nat party approach to transport fails to deliver.........

Isn't this only part of the solution and Transmission Gully the other part?

The context is that total vehicle mileage is +5.7% ?
As Ken Laban points out, there needs to be some real focus on getting cars off the roads. Some of those average travel speeds are well within the scope of travelling by bike. By e-bike it would be a breeze (in Wellington, literally)

Surprise surprise, building a new motorway encourages more people to drive. Creating congestion and destroying the benefits of building a new motorway.

I love how the official models used to build business cases assume traffic will not increase.

And ignore the bottle necks at either end of the new motorways. All they've achieved is shifting the bottle necks to somewhere else, while they can say they are at least doing something about it.

If they had spent an equivalent amount on setting up an effective, and affordable public transport system, what would we have now?

Do the ever increasing buyers of new and used cars pay their fair share of tax to finance the infrastructure costs their purchases demand, or are they unpaid and rising on government off-balance sheet derivative (PPP) ledgers hidden from prying eyes?

..and for the price of annual rego you have the right to occupy several square meters of tarseal 24/7. This has to the cheapest bit of occupied space one could ever hope to occupy.

Worse, we are subsidising ever growing trucks on those roads which cause 98% of the damage to them, but don't pay anywhere near the cost. Making them have to compete with Kiwi Rail would take a lot off the roads.

The downside of buying bitcoin, though I guess people of more careful of keeping track now. "Then there’s the finite supply issue. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins. That is the maximum. There are currently 16 million. But inventor Satoshi Nakamoto’s 1.2 million coins are locked up.

There are wallets sitting dormant with tens of thousands of bitcoins on them. It looks like the keys have been lost. This isn’t something where you can phone up customer services and get them to sort it out. This is cryptography. If you’ve lost the means to access those coins, they’re gone.

And think of all the hard drives that have been lost or corrupted. My buddy used to mine them on his computer at work. When he came to leave the company, they took the computer back and deleted the hard drive!

How many similar stories are there? Bitcoins on old phones that have been thrown away. Ditsy people (like yours truly) who experimented a bit and bought a few, but can’t now remember where that USB stick is. Coins lost when the Silk Road was shut down, with criminals perhaps throwing away their computers to hide the evidence.

I bet at least another 10%–20% of current supply is either lost or can’t be got at.

If you search Google trends you’ll find that “buy bitcoin” is now more popular than “buy gold” (though not yet in the US). Where “buy bitcoin” obliterates “buy gold” is in Russia, in Korea, in China. There may be a finite supply of bitcoins, but there is no finite supply of Chinese buyers."

Germany inflating - "The increases are across the board, but led by energy costs."

The Energy component is led by their Energiewende issues. Pinning hopes on sunshine and breezes, shutting down nuclear, and relying on neighbours to either Take power generation spikes, or Supply generation/demand shortfalls, has led to some bleedingly obvious consequences:

Such is the fate of technical systems being guided by politicians, not engineers....SA is of course the leading poster child here.

They could send the excess power to produce clean diesel over the border in Switzerland

"Bitcoin has plunged as much as 20 per cent hours after a rally past $US11,000 generated a surge in traffic at online exchanges that led to intermittent outages. The plunge capped a wild day for the largest cryptocurrency that included a breakneck advance to a high of $US11,434 before the reversal took it as low as $US9009."

From above - "Bitcoin has had five 80% corrections in its evolution."

And Auckland just announced they intend to pass a by-law to charge a tax of 10cents a litre on fuel sales ................................. " TO REDUCE CONGESTION "

Do me a favour , anyone who thinks that this tax will miraculously reduce Auckland congestion is just plain delusional .

With our dirty , smelly, dysfunctional , hopelessly expensive bus service there is no way in hell that a whole new number of people will suddenly start using this awful service . Some of these busses are downright uncomfortable , Birkenhead busses are almost as old as I am, they are noisy , smelly and cold in winter . Our suburban bus stop shelters are not weather proof , and are simply unfit for purpose .

And urban legend has it that at least one of the Auckland bus company owners is a Richlister ............ and he gets a ratepayer subsidy .

If this is true , we should be outraged.

Why would the huge growth in public transport usage we have seen over the last decade suddenly stop when the regional tax is introduced? The last governments 6 increases to national petrol tax rates didn't stop aucklanders flocking to public transport.

It's a sneak to add GST to the 10c per litre Auckland fuel tax making it all up 11.5c!

I'm all in favour of this Auckland tax and think it should keep increasing every year until people realise that rampant population growth and under-investment in infrastructure needs to be paid for, regardless of how much your house is worth.

tl;dr - externalities should be priced