Wednesday's Top 10 with NZ Mint: Finally an RBA board member hates a high A$; Latin America fights back in currency wars; Afghanistan's hopelessness; What Germans really think; Dilbert

Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 11 am in association with NZ Mint.

I welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to

I'll pop the extras into the comment stream. See all previous Top 10s here.

My must read today is #4 on the problems in Afghanistan.

1. Finally - Bloomberg reports an incoming member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia is worried about the unnaturally high level of the Australian dollar and what that's doing to the Australian economy.

It's about time someone official starts talking about the risks of a high currency for both Australia and New Zealand.

We are being beggared by our neighbours as they print and hope.

Our jobs are being exported to those countries that do print.

One of the flaws of this sort of 'every man for himself' globalisation is that it ends up with mass migrations of people.

That's not sustainable for anyone.

Here's the new RBA board member via Bloomberg. It would be great to hear our board members talking like this. In public.

“There’s too much froth in the Australian currency,” which economic fundamentals indicate ought to be worth 90 to 95 U.S. cents, Ridout, outgoing head of the Australian Industry Group, said in an interview in Sydney yesterday.

She said “speculative” buying stoked by rate differentials had spurred the local dollar, which traded at $1.0791 late yesterday.

2. Latin American intervention - Brown Brothers Harriman Emerging Markets specialist Win Thin points via Credit Writedowns to a range of resource-rich South American nations preparing or already engaged in currency market intervention to try to stop their currencies racing away out of control as the print-and-hope nations of the north try to beggar-thy-neighbour their way to glory.

Brazil, Chile, Peru and Columbia have all acted.

3. 'Targeted subsidies' - BusinessWeek reports that China is offering selected lending support for first home buyers as it grapples with a fast slowdown in the housing market there.

Watch this space.

Many of the apartment buyers in China have been investors rather than first home buyers and now prices are way out of the range of owner occupiers.

Sound familiar?

Here's BusinessWeek:

China’s central bank pledged support for first-home buyers as a crackdown on real-estate speculation threatens to trigger a property slump in the world’s second- biggest economy.

Officials will increase support for construction of affordable housing and ensure that “loan demand from first-home families” is met, the People’s Bank of China said on its website yesterday.

4. NZ should be out of Afghanistan - I've long held this view, but here's another piece of evidence from within the US military.

It's reportage from a serving US Colonel who has just returned from a second tour there. It makes for compelling reading.

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

5. Skewed incentives - FTAlphaville points to a useful discussion by ECB board member Benoit Coeure about the role of capital flows into America after the Asian crisis of the late 1990s and how it helped create the problems we have now.

With the US dollar still reigning supreme, the United States became a hub for the recycling of the liquidity that was available globally [4].

All of a sudden, capital was flowing uphill, from emerging to advanced economies, a puzzle famously known as the “Lucas paradox”.

Clearly, however, the surge in capital flows to the US was mainly driven by the desire of the official sector in emerging-market and oil-exporting economies to increase their war chests of reserves and insure against global shocks, and not by utility-maximising decisions of their private sector.

Nevertheless, those inflows contributed to the decline in long-term interest rates and increased risk appetite in many of the advanced economies. The self-reinforcing interaction between risk appetite and liquidity came back with a vengeance.

6. Where is our Paul Krugman or Nouriel Roubini? - I'm late to this story, but well worth a link. Chris Barton at the NZHerald has done a good job of asking why so few academic economists in New Zealand have roles as public critics or commentators.HT Eric Crampton for alerting me to this.

Here's Barton.

In 2009 Victoria University Management School senior lecturer Todd Bridgman, assisted by a two year, $170,000 Marsden Fast-Start grant, went looking for public intellectuals. He reasoned that the global financial crisis was a topic that should have provided plenty of fodder for comment.

Bridgman found a variety of experts did speak out about the issues behind the crisis but they were largely journalists or economic consultants from think-tanks and banks. Academics were mostly absent. "I have concluded that, despite being a significant reservoir of knowledge in relation to many matters at the heart of the global financial crisis (GFC) the public voice of our universities has been faint," says Bridgman in Policy Quarterly. "Universities claim to be active public contributors and relevant to the communities which support them, but, at least in the case of the GFC and its effects on New Zealand, these claims sound like empty talk."

The faint voice of academics seemed odd, especially in light of the Education Act 1989, which requires universities to "accept a role as critic and conscience of society". Bridgman found some reasons why: universities, made over by the market reforms of the 80s and 90s, did little to encourage the critic and conscience role; academics believed making regular public contributions would harm their careers; taking a public role was time-consuming, meaning less time for publishing research in academic journals, which are vital to career advancement.

7. How much printing there has been - The ECB is preparing for its second bout of lending to European banks.

Here's a useful chart courtesy of Zerohedge showing how much the balance sheets of the European Central Bank (EA), the Bank of England the US Federal Reserve have grown in recent years.

8. What the Germans really think - Der Spiegel has written an editorial (helpfully in English) that it's time the Greek farce ended and a proper 'Marshall plan' paid for by German taxpayers be put in place.

Perhaps, the Greece rescuers on both sides of the negotiating table should try being honest for a change. Here's the truth: If the country is to lastingly reduce its mountain of debt and, at some point, be able to borrow money on the capital markets again, then it needs a comprehensive debt haircut. In other words, it needs to go bankrupt.

And it's not just private creditors who will have to forego a large part of their outstanding Greek debts. It is also other European countries and the European Central Bank. That would be expensive for taxpayers across Europe, and it would also be economically risky. Indeed, no one knows what consequences a Greek bankruptcy would have for other crisis-ridden countries like Portugal, Ireland or Italy. But at least it would be an honest solution.

Of course, things wouldn't stop there. The euro-zone states would also have to build a bigger firewall around the remaining crisis countries in order to prevent contagion. They would have to help some banks that get into trouble as a result of a debt cut. And they would have to provide Greece with a real opportunity to get back on its feet and start growing under its own steam -- in other words, a kind of Marshall Plan.

All this would be very expensive, and German taxpayers would also be forced to do what they have feared from Day One -- which is to pay for Greece. But this solution has two major advantages. The payments would be limited, and they would actually help Greece.

It is time for politicians to admit that their carrot and stick strategy has failed. The idea that the country can be freed from its debt quagmire though austerity programs and aid pledges tied to conditions just isn't going to work. It won't even work if private creditors forgive part of the country's debt.

9. Totally irrelevant video from amusing music video specialists OK GO - Some people did a lot of work. And the Holden Barina gets a real workout

10. Totally Jon Stewart on Donald Trump's endorsement of Mitt Romney. He compares the Donald to Nemo.


We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Yes growth as last....ok it's only in the amount of 'money' but hey it's got to be good right....doh

bloody hilarious....your $10 coffee is now $20....woo hoo im rich...
Eventually we'll all be "millionaires" living in hovels.
No wonder precious metals popularity keeps growing.

I’m not sure why you need a “boot’s on the ground” analysis of the situation. It’s very simple Sun Tzu via the Art of War says never fight a protracted war of attrition in enemy territory…

because its a flash point that could spread....pakistan is next door, let them go fundi, well they have nukes, next door to them is India, they have nukes....oh joy.....
Most of our oil is adjacent/close....oh joy.....

This is where your argument of the zero sum game is appropriate. At some point the US would spend more oil trying to protect an oil interest that they have no real advantage controlling. They would they would be better off leaving quietly and hoping China is forced in there soon.
There is a direct correlation to the economic prosperity of a nation and the education level of their women. So far every country in that region since the 1950’s has been sliding backwards in the education level of woman. They are all doomed to pass through a mini dark ages of fundamentalism and there is no stopping it.

Not that US drones in Pakistan (or soldiers in Afghanistan) are making either country any safer of course.

Don’t get me started with the fact that the use of Drone strikes is a war crime.


Why is the US using military robots to assassinate people in another country?

The war crime is the use of a civilian organisation to wage war,, for obvious reasons.

#6 we have our Paul Krugman his name is Steven

Regarding #4:  Can I ask you why the story is " compelling " ?  The war in Afghanistan is not meant to be " won ".  Its all about: Drug trafficking, mineral exploration, gas, strategic base for more " freedom" Yanky style.  Research " Syria" - just don't expect to find information in the world section of the Herald...

the americans are pissed off with russia and china vetoing sanctions against syria.
Maybe this is revenge for the yanks vetoing sanctions against ISRAEL every time the security council wanted to impose them.
oops i have offended the yanks i expect my visa application to visit to be denied.
please don't hack my computer  mr C.I.A.

Russians are pissed off that America got to buy Alaska for a bag of peanuts. The longer Russia and China keep the Syrian pot stewing the better for their exports of weapons and shite to the butcher in charge.

Wolly, the Russians should hire Maori negotiators then they could re-sell Alaska back to America claiming they got ripped off. Not only would they get billions of dollars for the sale, they would also have fishing rights, foreshore and seabed rights. river rights, etc,etc,etc. Also the Americans would have to keep paying the Russians to bless sacred sites and on and on.

Strategically Syria is a very important “piece of land” for all nations with massive oil consumption.

Bernard,  Re:#1
There are competing views and analyses:
- The New York Fed has released the latest article, Why Is the U.S. Share of World Merchandise Exports Shrinking?, in its Current Issues in Economics and Finance series.
- Lowering the value of the dollar against other currencies would reinvigorate manufacturing in the United States and create millions of jobs. Read more from CEPR
 I would not even bet your money expecting the US to lose this battle.

So what do you think NZ should do about it?
If anything?

In my view it is a structural issue with the global Monetary system.
The 2 main players that have taken advantage of this structural imbalance are USA and China.
China has had an overt policy of subsidising its exporters by fixing its exchange rate and recycling its foriegn exchange earnings back to USA as loans. ( China has bcome wealthy just based on its initial strategy of export growth )
USA in turn has, for the last 40 yrs, abused its position as the Global  Reserve currency... It has been able to increase its' money supply vastly more than it could have if it had not been the reserve currency.
The Global Monetary system, is fatally flawed...  and was created before Globalization.
There needs to be an exchange rate mechaism that balances trade, ( in my view ).
Globalization means that the liquidity that is created by the ECB, for example, finds its' way to the emerging economies ( NZ included ) and causes problems there in its hunt for returns.... which impact on exchange rate movements.
In the face of these Structural flaws... I would have to say that free trade agreements with both China and USA  would end up costing NZ...
The playing field is not at all equal , in a monetary sense...
If u want to spin it around a bit... U could say that China has an "export subsidy" that could well be more than 20% of export values.
Just imagine what would happen if NZ brought back import tariffs to protect its own manufacturers..
The number of local manufacturers that I have seen close shop and give their intellectual property to China ...and then become Importers... has been scary.The economic cost of this goes way..way..beyond the basic cost of the products.
The best book that I have read is "the dollar Crisis".. written by Richard Duncan.. ( over 10 yrs ago ).
I have completely lost faith in our Global Leadership.. they are Myopic, reactive and lacking in common sense.... and only have their own interests in mind.
NZ will do a free  trade agreement with USA ... and it will cost us in the long term.. ( just from a monetary perspective..alone )
U ask for answers....   All I can come up with,  within the context of the current Global Monetary system that NZ takes a step back from "Globalization" and 'free trade" and  rethinks the whole rationale for embracing it in the first place.
(The same goes for the Eurozone where Germany has benefitted mightily as an exporter )...   There needs to be a mechanism that Balances trade.
Bring Richard Duncan to NZ...  he has some answers.  ( USA needs to innovate the next technologies..NOT.. devalue its' dollar.. if it wants to regain prosperity )
Debasing ones currency is a game played by idiots and fools ... .. . In the long run.. it is wealth destroying.
(These imbalances and excessive money supply growth has also been a causative factor in the huge growth of the FIRE economy..which is also problematic )
Cheers  Roelof

It should be relatively easy with computers and electronic exchanges to set up some kind of semi-free balanced trade system where an export by manufacturer A to one country is balanced by a reciprocal import by importer/retailer B from that country. Otherwise you are right the big imbalances cause big winners and losers and eventual trade wars and systemic breakdown.
From memory (i could be wrong) NZ used to have some kind of cumbersome system ie if Dairy Board wanted to export x amount of butter to Russia it had to find an importer who would bring in a similar value of Russian goods

I'm curious. Do you think we could get enough people pay a few dollars to see Richard Duncan speak?

Considering how accurate his book and commentary has been..he would be easy to promote.
BUT.. I have no idea if he has a wider following..
If u do bring him out .. I'll come...      :)
Cheers  Roelof

I think NZ needs to understand what enabled Japan to withstand the USD/JPY pair moving from 235 in 1982 ish to 76/77 today, without posting a string of compounding annual  trade deficit.shortfalls.
When that analysis is completed and shown to be totally not applicable to our circumstances then we do nothing.  

Very funny.
But I bet you have some ideas.
Go on. Tell us.
No one will notice ... ;)

Lowering the value of the currency is simply a pay/price cut. If you stick with a strong dollar policy you have options. Your input costs are relatively cheaper and you can also export with a lower price that has the same net effect of a cheaper dollar.
Wages are relatively more constrained because of more stable purchasing power.
No country has debased it's way to prosperity....China has big problems partly related to a lack of domestic purchasing power.
At what point do you say finally the currency is "right" priced?
Gold is the only standard by which society can value a unit of exchange...everything else is nonsense.

Bernie, I am rapt you have that position on NZ troops in Afganistan.

Afghanistan; the west inthrall to human rights ideology thinks democracy can be transplanted to the muslim world. Well no it can't. Democracy is a western concept totally alien to Islam. They should have done what the Israelis do,slowly but surly assassinate the enemy. No point nation building where there is no nation.
Germans and Greeks. Speigel is a leftwing rag. The only answer is certain countries leave the EU, until they are genuinely fit to be members. Greece was not and is not fit.The EU should have remained an EC. 
NZ academics, hah haha. Their conscience is limited to telling taxpayers to fork out for alleged historic grievances and to being  as PC as possible when it comes to booze,tobacco and sweeties.As useful as tits on a bull.

The old colonial "civilisation" through the barrel of a gun. If you don't like them, they don't agree with you, speak a funny language and are a bit backward - even better if they're a bit brown - kill them. They'll thank you for it in the end. Destroy the village to save the village and all that. Very progressive!
Funny Greece hasn't been asked to slash its military budget. Here's why. Billions in orders for German and French warships and planes. IMF bailout for US, German and French defence industries.
Afghanistan and Iraq. Blow up everything in sight then award the military industrial complex trillions in contracts to rebuild infrastructure and restock the munitions used and invent some new threats to justify those shiny new and very expensive weapons systems along the way. Ka ching. US tax[payer subsidy for Lockeed, Boeing et al

..and wouldn't you know it where doing our bit to educate them.  We have a team of good old NZ bobbies over them who are going to teach their force how to do things proper.
Jolly good show and all that i say.....(mind you they'll need a lot more resources if like us, they need 70 cops, dog handlers, AOS and STG to bring in a fat man guraded by 3 Phillapino nannies)

Who are The Property Council, they sound very important.

Property Council says Christchurch rebuild too green
By Design Daily Team,

@ 9:51 am
The Property Council has hit out at Christchurch's draft central city plan for favouring a green city over an "economically viable" city.
The council seems to take the stance that the two are mutually incompatible and in a submission to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority labels the plan restrictive and damaging to the rebuild effort.
Property Council South Island branch president Graeme McDonald warned that the plan failed to acknowledge the challenges facing existing owners of commercial property in Christchurch while placing increasing conditions on the construction of new buildings.
“The current draft plan includes ideological restrictions on building height, placement, floor area and parking needs, favouring a ‘green’ city over an economically viable city.
“There is insufficient incentive for property owners to rebuild or reinvest back into the CBD. The local economy will be severely at risk if capital exits the Canterbury region altogether, hindering the rebuild efforts even further.”
He also criticised government policy that denied depreciation deductibility on buildings.
This would remove incentive to reinvest and force  higher rents for businesses as landlords look to recover lost tax deductions, he said.

#6 - John Key's government is hostile toward academics with dissenting opinions - simple as that - they have sent a clear message: 'do not bite the hand that feeds you'. 
Look at Mike Joy's (Massey University College of Sciences) treatment. John Key stated blatently on the UK Hardtalk programme that Mike Joy's opinion on the state of our environment was just that.. an opinion, not fact - and JK said he could find another academic with exactly the opposite point of view, then comparing academic scholarship to the legal profession.
Then take Jane Kelsey (Auckland University Law Faculty) and her long standing and well researched position on globalisation, the WTO, the TPP and FTA in general.  For example, this article on the Crafar sale;

China Could Have Sued Under FTA If Crafar Farm Sale Declined
Did we see this headline on network television news?  I didn't.  And if she is right (and I would bet my house on her legal opinion being accurate) then NZ people would really come to understand (i.e. have proof) that the TPP and indeed any/all FTAs have more downside than upside.  At the same time, Key was being reported on TV news with the visiting Chinese delegation telling us how bloody great the FTA with China is for us.  The way he spun it - we'd be a third world country of subsistence farmers without them/their capital.
No need to question the academics - ask the government what its got against academia. I would suggest they think all academics are unionists first, and "pseudo" scientists second - which is why they hired Roger Kerr's widow to implement charter schools.  She'll no doubt run for the Nats in the next election and get the Assoc Min of Ed portfolio - moving onto Minister for the full privatisation of education the following, (if not mid) term.
And speaking of science - what have we heard lately from JK's Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman given his specialty is infant/child health/development - where is he in terms media opinion on this crisis of inequality, and child abuse that we're going through?
I could go on.. but that's probably enough! 

So true Kate. Kelsey has written book after book and inumerable academic articles on the fallacies and dangers that underlie both the Rogernomics reforms and the free trade deals and the super national institutions that enforce them. She is a senior Professor of Law but mostly gets ignored. Never see her on TV. Doesn't fit the script.

I worked for 10 years as an academic at our so-called top university until relatively recently and I and my colleagues never experienced any hostility from the govt., Labour or National, when we spoke out on public matters, or when winning public contestable funding. Your comments are exaggerated in my view, Kate, and are more of a reflection of your own political agenda and left-wing views, and presumably, reflect an apparent frustration at their lack of traction in the public discourse. Having said that, it is well known that many social scientists in New Zealand have a strong left-wing bias to their research, and lack clear, independent, and original thought, which frankly renders much of what they produce as less than reliable or particularly insightful, except to other social scientists who share those political biases. Furthermore, too many of our academics do “me too” research at our universities, which in my view is simply not good enough. We need them to be asking more original New Zealand questions about New Zealand matters, and not importing North American or European questions about North American and European matters, and then applying those in the New Zealand context.
I could write pages on my views on the contribution of New Zealand’s academics’ to national debate which may go some way towards, in my view at least, explaining their relevant absence from it. Matters such as relevance to New Zealand, novelty, depth, internationally recognised expertise in the area of research, originality, insight, independence, openness to new ideas and analytical techniques in research, freedom from dogma and more self-awareness around bias, all spring to mind, but frankly I can’t be bothered.  What I will say is that our academics need to get more relevant and more expert about New Zealand.

David B: Jeeeeeepers David. What you say of local academics (social scientists) could equally be applied to the many "caped crusaders" lurking here in these pages, analising, interpreting, and offering solutions to save the world, from the comfort and protection of being vast distances away from the action of what they write.

What I will say is that i our academics need to get more relevant and more expert about New Zealand.
Rather a dumb comment when the three examples I provided in evidence are all about NZ academics working on NZ-specific issues in public forums (although of course where Sir Peter was concerned the point being he seems oddly quiet on his area of expertise - a social issue where certainly NZ stands out amongst the crowd for bad performance).
Did you actually see the Hardtalk interview;
Here is what he said - "... he [Mike Joy] is a scientist and like lawyers I can provide you with another one that gives you a counter view..."
Any academic who denies that JK is hostile toward science (and academia more generally) having listened to that argument - is the one who is reflecting their own political agenda.  
I would be keen if you could provide one example of a "more original New Zealand questions about New Zealand matters" that in your (what must be limited knowledge of all academic work in NZ) opinion has not been asked/investigated. I think maybe it is you who makes the exaggeration - unless of course you can provide some more qualification/evidence/example.  We're all interested in good ideas here. 
And by the way - why oh why does anyone who says anything derrogatory about JK's governance/leadership/ideology/style etc. - get labelled "left wing" as you have done to me? 

You're just being churlish and po-faced now.
Just as spring, a robin does not make, three examples of something means what exactly? I'll tell you what, nothing.
And secondly, how you can accuse John Key of being anti-science when he was the first Prime Minister to actually appoint a science advisor? Now that IS being dumb! And that that scientist doesn’t address your narrow interests or says the things that you want to hear means what exactly?
I saw John key’s comments about Mike Joy’s, and to characterise them as being anti-science as you are is frankly being dishonest. Science doesn’t speak with one voice, as you ought to know. What sort of nonsense are you spouting about now?  In any area of scientific controversy, you can find numerous scientists with differing opinions all backed up by their own data and /or research. Where’s the mystery in that? That’s why it’s controversial, hello???? At best, under such circumstances, you might get a consensus of scientific opinion, but you certainly won’t get anything approaching uniformity. What John Key said there was absolutely correct and is obvious to any scientist - of which evidently you are not one. That area will remain controversial until such time as a piece of research or a collection of research is published that is of sufficient strength that it silences the critics, and then the scientific paradigm will shift. But until then...........
But to accuse a politician of being anti-science because he’s being a politician and minimises a particular piece of research, oh for goodness sake, what’s your problem?
Why don’t you just admit it, Kate, that you have a bias? You are left-wing, you don’t like John Key, you don’t like the National Party or their policies, and you do not represent the middle ground, and just be honest about it.  Your credibility would go up substantially if you did. 

Yikes, The interviewer rattled off a host of environmental indicators/scientific findings - which one(s) are in dispute?  Most of the problems mentioned have a great deal of government funded remedial work being poured into them - so it's just plain dumb for Key to attack the science/scientists rather than admit our environmental record is unblemished/"100% pure" - and let the world know that we're doing something about it..
As for being the first PM to appoint a Science Advisor - big deal - a political appointment does not innovayion make when he already has the benefit of an apolitical Officer of Parliament in the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.  
JK tried in vein to politicise science in that interview - say he could "find the right science" to defend his argument.  Very G W Bush-like.  Oh and I imagine he had a Science Advisor too!
We all have biases - I'm rather partial toward honesty and the truth. 
PS Heck, if minimising taxes for personal gain is so socially acceptable, I suppose that similarly "minimising" a piece of research (i.e. facts) should be too!.

We all have biases - I'm rather partial toward honesty and the truth.

Why don’t you just admit it, Kate, that you have a bias? You are left-wing, you don’t like John Key, you don’t like the National Party or their policies, and you do not represent the middle ground, and just be honest about it.  Your credibility would go up substantially if you did. 
And so DavidB folds.  Thought you could be credible until this.

Toys, cot, throw!
You sure that institution you taught at wasn't called ABC?

That is the sort of comment I expect from a 3rd rate academic, Kate, with a chip on her shoulder about the ranking of the institution she's fit to work at.

David B: I agree with you on many things, but on this Hard Talk Stephen Sackur interview I agree with Kate. Once upon a time I frequently sailed a Laser on Lake Anawhenua, but now today it is covered (and I mean covered) with didymass (rock-snot) I wouldnt even put my big toe in it. Now it is a massive pollution bug-bear in the South Island lakes. Sackur was right. John key was and is wrong. Can you suggest an academic who considers that as 100% pure? Can you show me any academic papers addressing the issue?

He may well be wrong on that issue, iconoclast, (although do you really expect the Prime Minister of New Zealand to get up on global television and say New Zealand is a dirty polluted dump? '100% pure NZ' isn't even his baby, it was Labour's) but that doesn't make him anti-science. And that is what Kate is dishonesty sneering and smearing him with.  That for me is what this issue is about. Kate’s agenda driven dishonest spin every other time she discusses John Key.

DavidB - you have a problem with doing enough investigation to ascertain what the truth is.
What was you academic specialty?
I'm picking 'Spin'.

Egads!  I doubt the dramatic increase arose as a result of masses of US consumers having to resort to buying necessities (basic foodstuffs, power, shelter) on credit - more likely it's a surge in purchasing stuff they neither need, nor (obviously) can afford, but have an inalienable consumer right to - because they're Americans, because it's 'the latest' and because its Christmas.

I am wondering what you base your assertion on. It has already been reported over the last year that in the US and the UK there is increased use of credit to pay bills for essential items. I think it is hard to really understand the situation over there at the moment, given that we are not experiencing the same level of austerity here.

Fair comment - admit my assumptions are largely  based on the MSM coverage of the silly frenzy that goes on between shoppers sleeping outside malls to be first in on Black Friday, stampeding into the shops and then fighting one another over a cheap toaster.  And everytime there is the launch of a new "iAnything" they seem to be record-breaking sales.

I see no significant difference in consumer behaviour in NZ and US.

The chart out of the US that stunned me was this one;
That's dramatic expansion in the final quarter of last year in the US.  Not sure NZs was quite so but haven't seen a compartive one for here.
I have noticed lately in NZ - many more outlets are implementing CC payment within their online services.  TradeMe for example recently introduced it and alot of sellers are now taking up that option.  You can also pay your uni fees online by CC at (I think) most universities - and our power co. also recently introduced CC payments; whereas previously it was electronic transfer only.  I think the last speeding ticket I got as well - allowed for a CC payment :-) - tho' they charged an extra 2% for it (I thought thanks but no thanks Westpac Bank).
Not sure whether all of the above are or are not calculated amongst the "retail" transactions?

Also IRD tax, I just reliased I was a bit late so did it on line...

#1 Heather Ridout - lobbyist supremo - no "coal-face" manufacturing experience
Heather Ridout : Nick-named "Heather Everywhere" The so-called “21st member” of Labor’s cabinet, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group (formerly the Metal Trades Industry). By sheer force of personality she's become the voice of business in Canberra. Politicians respect her, the media can't get enough of her and her fellow lobbyists talk about her as if she's a saint.

When folk select the academics who back their wish-lists, they've kissed the truth goodbye.
That's so much not a moral problem; but they are deliberately skewing their perception of reality.
And when you do that it's only a matter of time before you smell burning and rosin up your bow.

Well, what's truth, pdk?
In other words, how do you determine what is truth versus what is speculation or spin?

Follow the money trail. Ask who stands to make and what is their agenda, that will get you close.

Kate - Scarfie is on to it:  It's a process of elimination. But - more than anything now, it's simply a matter of energy. Do the homework. Do the math. Lay it out and look at it.
We run a complex society - never more complex. We run an energy-hungry society - never more hungry. And - we run a large global society - never larger.
A qhick read of Roman history (and others) tells you what happens when you can't keep up your energy supply. In their case, is was food (being labour based) but land degradation meant going further to obtain poorer supplies, and the further farmers had to be fed as well as the longer drovers. Their EROEI went down, and down. They simply couldn't maintain. Conventional history will concentrate on the assasinations, personalities at the top, but that's not what makes things move and happen.
We are - globally - where the Romans were about when they peaked population (about a million). They bottomed out at 35,000....... (look for the reason they grew again - ; new energy sources and new agricultural techs.
The only way from here is down, with accompanied triage, system degradation, collapse, trends towards chaos, and unrest.
Forget being left wind ot right wing - the right wingers will be lynched (too few of them, too angry a mob) and the lefties won't have the bread or the soup to hand out. It needs a controlled powerdown, and a societal understanding that if it doesn't happen, it's 'default chaos'.
Two good books, Kate, are:   Empire of Debt (Bonner/Wiggin)  because it's intelligently written but so obviously disprovable, and makes you think.
Then read: The Upside of Down (Prof Thomas Homer-Dixon)   Compare it to the first as you read. Never forget it - own a copy if you can.
You can quickly come to some simple conclusions - like: "DavidB didn't major in physics".  Call your conclusions  truths.      :)

Thanks - will let you know when I've finished them and whether I decided to buy a copy of the latter! :-)

"look for the reason they grew again - ; new energy sources and new agricultural techs"
"The only way from here is down, with accompanied triage, system degradation, collapse, trends towards chaos, and unrest."
I'm confused. Why is it not possible for us to innovate and adapt to new sources of energy & technology? 
Every time a contemporary population/food/energy doomsayer pops up predicting peak this/that/end of times, they are proven wrong.
Most of our historical evidence predicts we will innovate, adapt & thrive.

Kanuk - no, you're not confused. You mean you think I am.
But you're wrong.
The Romans numbered perhaps a million at their peak, and were food-energy based. Hundreds of years later, introduced (fossil) energy allowed Rome to increase population again.
To look at that, then ask why 7 billion people on a finite planet, past peak oil, can't 'do it again?"   is nuts.
Firstly, there's 'nownere else' to import from - this time we're global. Secondly, they could up their ERoEI massively, food-energy ain't a patch on a tankful of fossil oil (although I bet folk like you conveniently forget that they're both stored sunlight - we're just going through millions of years storage in a 200 year blip). Our society relies on 85 million barrels of high ERoEI oil, just to maintain, and it isn'e actually maintaining - there ain't no space shuttles now, and most bridges in the USA are past their use-by-date. Same goes for much western infrastructure. Society now is also more complex, bigger, more specialised, and less resilient, than it ever was.
No 'doomsayer' was ever 'proven wrong' - Malthus' prediction,  for instance, was just staved off by application of ever-increasing quantities of fossil fuel to agriculture. Being a finite item, that wasn't a 'proving wrong', merely a temporary delay. Your take on that is more common, but totally wrong.

However as Paul Krugman(?) says right wing / conservative Pollies say science and academia has a well known liberal bias...
So its actually very hard from the right to find 'real" support...
Gotta be the best ever depiction of that point!

Oh how nice..Beijing to make homes affordable for first time buyers...horseshit!
"China’s central bank pledged support for first-home buyers as a crackdown on real-estate speculation threatens to trigger a property slump in the world’s second- biggest economy.
Officials will increase support for construction of affordable housing and ensure that “loan demand from first-home families” is met, the People’s Bank of China said on its website yesterday evening."
Read: China's Central Bank plans to protect property bubbles by encouraging peasants to borrow massive amounts to be home owners....and in the process save the banks from MASSIVE losses.

Wolly: It's all a matter of perspective. America and the US press is obsessed by and with China. They are looking for and at anything that can possibly suggest that China is in the crapper. Well it's a game of competition poker. There are only two players left at the table. (1) is Charlie, Charlie Chan, with USD $3 trillion in chips in front of him on the table, and (2) the other is Sam, Uncle Sam, who owes Charlie $3 trillion and a further USD $16 trillion of IOU's floating around owing to other mates. How Sam can even see Charlie, let alone raise him, I'm blowed if I know. But what I do know is this, while Sam and anyone who will listen to him, believes that Charlie has a property bubble, I reckon charlie is a bit too inscrutable for Sam, and has built up a long term stock of housing that will see him through the tough times ahead. In the meantime Sam keeps getting wet between the knees as he writes out another IOU to Charlie.

Meanwhile Bernanke and mates are buying Obama another 4 years to cause more damage...
"The Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions – including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run – are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014.
Keeping rates low requires the Fed to print new money to buy Treasuries, so the dollar weakened against the euro, although the reaction wasn't as big as in those in the gold and silver markets. This is partially due to the fact that the ECB is on its own campaign of printing money.
The most important action of the three was to extend the zero Fed funds rate to the end of 2014. This is a form of easing that could affect more rates than just short-term rates. Furthermore, there is a debate as to whether the action was the result of the Fed's concern about the economy slipping back into recession. Or, this could also be a bullish sign for the economy and stock market, as the guaranteed low rates could increase investment to improve our economy. Zero rates drive investors to take on risks – such as buying stocks – to gain higher returns. As a result, this induces more investment toward riskier parts of the market, which might otherwise be underfunded. Though the Fed aims to stimulate the economy, we're more likely to see a slip back into recession rather than see an effective Fed stimulus improving the economy.
The press conference suggested that quantitative easing (QE) remains on the table. As a result, new targeted asset purchases by the Fed are likely in our future. These additional purchases with newly printed money could become inflationary. That is why gold shot higher and the dollar weakened in the short term.
Both the Fed and the ECB have decidedly less-hawkish members and leadership than just last year. Both have now moved toward more money printing to keep rates low."

BBC News - Europe must do 'real' business
For decades the West lectured the East on how to manage their economies, but now the shoe is on the other foot.
Emerging Asia is the model of steady, consistent economic policy and sustained growth; while America, Europe and Japan are mired in debt and slow growth or even recession.
If any Asian leader can lay claim to some of the foundations his country's economic expansion it is Malaysia's Mahathir bin Mohamad. During his two decades in power he helped transform Malaysia from a sleepy former colony into an economic tiger. Doctor M - as he is known - is a controversial figure though, renowned for his barbed comments aimed at the West.
BBC Business Daily's Justin Rowlatt asked Dr M what he thought of the current economic crisis:
Full transcript

Bernard asks what should NZ/Aust do to cope with the printing going on all around us.
I say don't print and hang on for dear life. Printing will bring short term relief but end in severe pain.  Being honest is the wise choice for NZ.
Printers are the economic equivalent of drug addicts.  Nothing is more certain. 

Yet this is what our government and freshly minted Reserve Bank did in 1936 and our world didn't end. In fact it improved a bit.

The test Bernard is whether the printing leads to productivity great enough for long enough to generate the real income gain to overcome the damage caused by the printing...80 odd years ago I doubt that more than 5% of the NZ total resource capacity was being I would guess it's close to 98%....the printing would be more likely to lead to losses..

The report shows that gold offers a timely inflation hedge and long term holders of gold should expect a positive correlation to inflation – gold is one of only two assets since 1900 to have positive sensitivity to inflation (of 0.26).
Only inflation-linked bonds had more - 1.00, as expected.
By contrast, when inflation rises 10%, bond returns have fallen an average 7.4%; Treasuries fell 6.2%, and equities lost 5.2%. Property fell by between 3.3% and 2%.
Importantly, gold managed to increase its value across both extreme inflationary and deflationary scenarios.
The academics from LBS analysed 2,128 individual years in 19 major countries (1900-2011), finding gold rose 12.2% in the most deflationary years - when average deflation was 26%.
Also of note is the fact that gold also rose marginally in the most inflationary of those years, when CPI was jumping on average by 18%.

It's interesting that all the "shills" are claiming that gold has no yeild, which is true, but the same has always been true for "growth" stocks, and currently also many of the worlds bonds.

Shill is someone selling a position, such as yourself...
Microsoft was a growth stock, now its switching to paying dividends.....cant do that with gold...
Bonds are totally different....not comparible with gold except maybe as a get you through an event play...
stocks have P/E ratio that is plain crazy....and that share price is based on cheap and plentiful they are hugely over-valued.....I find it laughable when share shills say go into defensive stocks such as coke cola....lose less, like duh sell all and lose nothing......the share market is buggered, gold is the better bet......

Shill is someone selling a position, such as yourself...
Microsoft was a growth stock, now its switching to paying dividends.....cant do that with gold...
Bonds are totally different....not comparible with gold except maybe as a get you through an event play...
stocks have P/E ratio that is plain crazy....and that share price is based on cheap and plentiful they are hugely over-valued.....I find it laughable when share shills say go into defensive stocks such as coke cola....lose less, like duh sell all and lose nothing......the share market is buggered, gold is the better bet......

skudiv...I agree wholeheatedly with gold ownership as a protection for savings.  My take is that gold is money and that it's price is therefore stable. Currencies are falling in value relative to gold and the only way for this to reverse is for currencies to increase in value a la 20% interest rates in 1980. How likely is that.
So my main point is gold does not have a return nor does it gain value. It is simply an inert store of value but is a guage by which we can measure currencies and calculate their true returns.

There is a good reason oil is called "black gold" all comes back to energy, whether food or work done....if gold drops in paper money terms and it costs you more gold to buy energy/food you have lost...

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the 8.3 percent rate of unemployment in January understates weakness in the U.S. labor market.
“It is very important to look not just at the unemployment rate, which reflects only people who are actively seeking work,” Bernanke said today in response to questions at a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington. “There are also a lot of people who are either out of the labor force because they don’t think they can find work” or in part- time jobs.
“The 8.3 percent no doubt understates the weakness of the labor market in some broad sense,” Bernanke said today, while noting that some job indicators are improving.
Fed officials last month estimated that the world’s largest economy will grow 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent this year, according to the central tendency estimate, while the unemployment rate will average 8.2 percent to 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter."
And we will now hear from those experts on economics in the NZ poodle media and banks et aL...the same ones who last week spewed rubbish on the great job creation activity in the usa.....we will now hear from......we will......... oh, they don't want to!

"the ghost of Goebbels floats"
"The 0% official Fed Funds rate has been almost three full years in entrenched policy, when originally promised as temporary. No exit strategy here. Greenspan once stated that it should never be held fixed so low for more than six to nine months. He implied the system would be broken otherwise, subjected to pressures that would distort the valuation mechanisms beyond repair. My view is that extending 0% as monetary policy into year 2014, five years of accommodation, is a gross admission of failure. Bernanke constantly apologizes for stimulus having failed, for an economy unable to recover. The main effect of 0% policy is sustenance of the surprising weakness, draining capital from the system, and improperly pricing the debt which is at high risk. The reality is that the USEconomy is stuck in harsh deep recession of minus 3% to minus 5% GDP. The reality is that the USGovt debt burden is stuck in fast escalation at well over $1 trillion annually, while demand for the debt securities is vanishing. What remains is the Quantitative Easing, a bizarre term to give respect to abject monetary hyper inflation by any other name. The heavy hidden reliance upon monetary inflation devices has become a fixture in the financial landscape. Its marquee banner reads failure."
Watch this space. Bollard's departure signals a govt move to direct the RBNZ to go to zero OCR and follow Bernanke into the mire
(Edited for language)

A quick note. Can you stop using the 'sh' word. Imagine something more descriptive and pungent, but less boring..

Why yes Bernard...we all drift at times....and considering we are in the midst of several crises that let's be honest are sending many folk to an early grave and destroying the lives of hundreds of millions, all in the name of political protection and banker bonuses...while also ensuring that your grandchildren will live in poverty and perpetual debt here in NZ unless they win Lotto.....considering all that it really isn't acceptable to use the S it.! 

Interesting comment about our academics. Where is our Steve Keen? Our bods appear to be too busy building their personal academic empires.

You mean our "experts" Roger.....all are lining up to be appointed and annointed by the govt for the next wave of 'Working Groups'....get you free money while it's still flowing like water through the Beehive roof and out the door.

We have our academics. Ones who understand where it's going.
I've even seen one lecture to our local Council (the DCC), present were a reporter and the paper owner.
I absolutely knew that what he said wouldn't see the light of day, and (despite two encouraging emails from me) it didn't. And continues to didn't.
That's an outfit that has 'truth' in it's mission statement. Last time I submitted an op/ed on the subject, it was binned. "Would have them choking on their muesli", I'm told. Yet I was pointing out that the Local Authority couldn't pay it's future debts, and would have to apply triage. I was also pointing out the flaw in the academic structure - the interdisciplinary genuflection which fails to identify superior argument - but that too failed to see the light of day.
What I'm saying is that even if you have the academics, you need scribes with the ability to stand back impartially. Truth comes with perspective, unlikely with our medicrely myopic media.

It's a farce that helps sort the population into the winners and the losers PDK...them what knows shite when they smell it...and the rest.
Govt is all about making sure the 'rest' make up the bulk of the voting fodder. I might add the Unions play the same game...the Union bosses know it's all a farce but depend on the mob for a job.
I think I gave up buying a local rag or any other rag round about 1972....saved heaps !
Trouble is the internet of garbage is just as prone to being manipulated by the scammers.

I have noticed a gradual decline is the usefulness of the internet over the last five years as more pollution contaminates the desireable information. Too many people trying to make a buck but with little chance of succeeding.
Heck PDK 'genuflection' is too big a word for this late in the week, save that sort of thing for a Monday.