Wednesday's Top 10 with NZ Mint: The worst and least worst insurers in Christchurch; The hubris of British bankers; Default bias and super-size fizzy drinks; The demographic death spiral in Japan (and China); Dilbert

Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 11.30 am today in association with NZ Mint.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email

See all previous Top 10s here.

My must read today is #5. It got me thinking about the size of my cups and spoons.

1. From worst to least worst - A survey by a grass roots group of home and business owners in Christchurch has found which insurers they rate the worst and the least worst.

It's good to see people on the ground getting together to lobby and pressure both government and insurers in the interests of home owners. The group is called and they have their own website here.

The delays, the obfuscation and the confusion are obviously holding up the rebuild in Christchurch.

It's also interesting to see some of the detail in the comments with the survey.

There's an awful lot of frustration and anger building in Canterbury.

Here's a sample:

"We feel that we are at war with our insurer and EQC. Originally we were patient and had some faith in the system. We knew it was an unprecedented event/s and were not demanding at all. Now we feel we are being completely dicked around," said one frustrated Tower respondent.

"We are incredibly disheartened living in a house that we don't know how or when may be rebuilt or repaired and paying insurance to a company who are incompetent and lazy and have made no effort at any stage to make contact with us, and progress forward," said an AA-Vero-SIS customer.

Other AA-Vero-SIS customers had more visceral responses: "When I see our insurer's advertisements promising fair and prompt settlement, and a commitment to excellence I am overcome by bouts of nausea." "There are so many people not doing their job that I don't even know who to punch."

2. The hubris is unbroken - The Telegraph reports the British banking establishment seems non-plussed by the extraordinarily damaging allegations that Standard Chartered laundered US$250 billion for Iran.

Sure, the CEO returned early from holiday and StanChart put out a statement defending itself. But that killer quote ("You f------- Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians") has been confirmed as coming from the Group CFO.

But here's what one fund manager was really thinking. It betrays that they really don't get it:

One top institutional investor said: “This is just a tiny regulator grabbing the headlines. But these days, politics can be very dangerous.” He added: “People are terrified in this situation because the scale of the fine, the losses, the loss of licence is so unknown and could even lead to the chief executive having to go, or whatever else. There is a lot of fear.”

Analysts estimated that losing the ability to clear transactions through the US could wipe as much as 40pc off the group’s earnings. Others forecast that the bank could face a $1.5bn fine plus losses of around $1bn from its Iranian business and a further $3bn of losses if senior managers were forced to quit.

It emerged that Richard Meddings, Standard Chartered’s finance director, was the “Group Executive Director” accused of showing “obvious contempt for US banking regulations”. The US regulator’s order alleges that Mr Meddings’ response to warnings about the bank’s Iranian operations was: “You f------- Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.”

3. 'That's not fair' - Standard Chartered shares fell 16% last night after it was accused by New York's financial regulator of laundering US$250 billion for Iran.

Standard Chartered has denied the allegations in an angry statement saying the regulator wasn't being fair. It said it had complied in almost every transaction...

The Group does not believe the order issued by the DFS presents a full and accurate picture of the facts.  The analysis, that the Group shared with all the US agencies, demonstrates that throughout the period the Group acted to comply, and overwhelmingly did comply, with US sanctions and the regulations relating to U-turn payments.  As we have disclosed to the authorities, well over 99.9% of the transactions relating to Iran complied with the U-turn regulations.  The total value of transactions which did not follow the U-turn was under $14m. 

The Group believes that the interpretation reflected in the DFS’ order, of the U-Turn exemption — a federal regulation administered and enforced by federal authorities — is incorrect as a matter of law.  The Group’s review of its Iranian payments also did not identify a single payment on behalf of any party that was designated at the time by the US Government as a terrorist entity or organization.

4. If only they knew - A survey of financial advisers and brokers by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment in Britain found two thirds had little or no trust in the British banking industry in the wake of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC scandals, not the mention all the rogue trading and market collapses in the City of London. 25% had zero confidence in banks.

Arguing that the banking sector has been “corrupted” by the need for annual profit growth at all costs, one respondent commented: “Enforced integrity and complete transparency is the only solution.”

Another said: “The scandals and greed never stop. We need to see a clean financial services sector with no more FSA fines for the next five years to rebuild trust. Only personal fines for directors and prison for perpetrators can change the fat-cat culture.”

“An embarrassment to all of those who call ourselves bankers,” was a further viewpoint.

5. Default bias - James Suroweicki writes at the New Yorker about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on mega-sized cups of sugary fizzy drink (which Americans call soda) might actually work. He points to some fascinating research on default bias.

Bloomberg’s proposal makes clever use of what economists call “default bias.” If you offer a choice in which one option is seen as a default, most people go for that default option. People who are automatically enrolled in a retirement plan, for instance, are more likely to stay with their original plan than those who choose plans for themselves. In countries where people have to choose to be an organ donor, most people aren’t donors; in countries where people have to actively say they don’t want to be an organ donor, most are donors. The soda ban makes sixteen ounces or less the default option for soda drinkers; if they want more, they’ll have to make an extra effort.

An executive at the American Beverage Association has dismissed the plan, saying that “150 years of research finds that people consume what they want.” Actually, the research shows that what people “want” has a lot to do with how choices are framed. In one well-known study, researchers put a bowl of M&M’s on the concierge desk of an apartment building, with a scoop attached and a sign below that said “Eat Your Fill.” On alternating days, the experimenters changed the size of the scoop—from a tablespoon to a quarter-cup scoop, which was four times as big. If people really ate just “what they want,” the amount they ate should have remained roughly the same.

But scoop size turned out to matter a lot: people consumed much more when the scoop was big. This suggests that most of us don’t have a fixed idea of how much we want; instead, we look to outside cues—like the size of a package or cup—to instruct us. And since the nineteen-seventies the portion sizes offered by food companies and restaurants have grown significantly larger. In 1974, the biggest drink McDonald’s offered was twenty-one ounces. Today, that’s roughly the size of a “small” drink at Burger King. In effect, the scoops have got bigger, and consumption has risen accordingly.

6. Silver probe may be dropped - reports a four year investigation into possible manipulation in the silver market looks like it will be dropped.

After taking advice from two external consultancies, the first of which found irregularities on certain trading dates that it believed deserved more analysis, CFTC staff do not have sufficient evidence to bring a case, according to the people familiar with the situation.  Ending the probe would infuriate some US silver investors, who claim that a group of large investment banks – in particular, JPMorgan – has conspired to drive the price of silver lower.

7. Preparing for Eurozone breakup - reports Wall St banks are telling counterparties and borrowers to rewrite contracts and use other banks as they prepare for a Eurozone breakup. Reading between the lines, it's clear any eurozone breakup would be immensely disruptive to the global financial system and trade credit system.

Using hedges, such as credit default swaps, US banks have reduced their net exposure to troubled eurozone countries. But they are also engaged in more work behind the scenes to ensure that if a country leaves the eurozone they will not have to receive payments in a devalued drachma or peseta.

One senior Wall Street executive said his bank was approaching derivatives counterparties to say: “‘We’ve got this contract, it’s in euros, what I want to know is in the event that Spain were to be redenominated are we going to end up being adversaries on this or can we just agree that this is a euro contact? Let’s just move it to London law so we each agree that we know where we stand. If they don’t … when that contract matures there’s not going to be any roll-over.”

Most derivatives contracts already use law for English or New York courts which, lawyers and bankers believe, are likely to insist that a counterparty from a country that has left the euro continues to make payments in euros rather than with a devalued new currency.

8. One reason for a higher Australian dollar - Yesterday Reserve Bank of Australia Board Member Warwick McKibbin wrote an excellent opinion piece in the AFR arguing for intervention to bring down the Australian dollar because of the external shock of central bank buying Australian dollar bonds to diversify their reserves away from the Euro, US$ and Japanese yen.

Here's a useful chart showing just how much foreign money has poured into Australian government bonds over the last decade. Australia is the first country on the left.

9. Japan's population and economic death spiral - Here's what happens when people stop having babies and you have a very restrictive immigration policy. Japan's population is rapidly ageing and its economy has been flat to falling for almost two decades. These charts courtesy of Bloomberg tell the story. (HT Zerohedge)

The last sentence below about China's population structure following the Japanese path is sobering. And China also has the one child policy adding to the ugly mix.

Japan’s demographics will also likely have an impact on consumer behavior. Japanese consumers older than 65 are less likely to shop for alcohol, clothing, books and electronics compared with younger consumers, according to a McKinsey survey from 2011. The average senior shops for books and clothing 38 and 35 times per year, respectively, compared with 73 and 58 times for people between the ages of 18 and 34. The only item seniors shop for more frequently than younger consumers is food, McKinsey found.

How Japan faces its demographic challenges over the next several decades may provide important lessons for countries
such as China, which has a rapidly increasing senior population due largely to the one-child policy. People over 65 account for nearly 10 percent of the population in China — similar to Japan in 1985 — up from 6 percent 20 years ago.

10. Totally Stephen Colbert talking to Chris Hayes about America's housing bubble and the 'Twilight of the Elites'

Here's the book the interview is based on.


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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And here's more on the demographic challenges in China from Leith van Onselen at

9. The demographic situation in Japan begs the question, is the economy about people or are people required to fuel the economy. Hopefully, this question may be answered in a new publication out next month called "What's the use of economics?". The book is a serious of essays, pondering the question above. The most pressing issue is whether the phrase "economic growth", so beloved of politicians. actually has any relevance. There is no doubt that the last 20 years has seen an explosion in the shadow economy, as economic growth has been driven by financial speculation. At some point, we may need to come back down to earth and realise that economics was supposed to simply explain how people lived and supported themselves with resources available. So really who cares if Japan is full of elderly people. It only matters because of the economic straightjacket we have placed around ourselves. Will they have enough food, warmth and shelter? Will they have enough human interaction? Will they be content? 
I look forward to hearing what these writers have to say on the subject. It's edited by Diane Coyle, who has written a number of excellent books on economics (hI reviewed her most recent one here).

I think the answer is clearly the latter...and that begs the Q as per BH's comments in 2008? just where does housing / economy etc go as BBs etc retire. They are not only the big spenders but builders and investors....just by their quantity.  The answer has to be, shrink....the Q is by how much, 5%?  anything beyond 5% and allowing for leverage suggests a huge neg effect.

#9, "Japan's economic death spiral": to show nominal GDP growth is completely misleading. In fact Japan has shown better real GDP growth per capita than either Europe or the US in the past 10 years, because they have low inflation and lower population growth. Perhaps Japan should be seen as an example of how to manage a demographic transition that all countries will have to face sooner or later?

Its like the hospitals, oncologists and radiologists freaking out because the tumours are not growing and the rate of new cancers is decreasing. We (cancers specialists) are doomed!!!
Japan and China should be celebrated and for their good sense and rational behaviour

Have to agree with all the comments about Japan. I was in Nagoya recently, and not one person I spoke to was concerned about their economy at all. I even had people telling me that "oh yeah, you know next month we will have to take a pay cut. But that's no big deal. We can manage just fine"

In fact living with deflation Robert M........making the unthinkable actually do-able. 
 top post BTW : >)

#9 is a clear beat-up. The only clear correlation between the Japaneese economic performance and their population deomgraphic is that they have been placed on the same graph. There are on different axis, so the author can decide how to relate the two together. Show me a period when Japan was not aging and I might think this was worth paying attention to.

Bernard has to find " beat up " stories , such as the misleading gloomster piece on Japan .........
..... if he doesn't produce at least 10 nuggets of pure scaremongering misery , every day , his head will explode ......
Or was is because  the advertisers will pull out from supporting this site ?  ........ either / or ...

Possibly, I don't really follow the BB narrative he has taken up. Its a bit non-sensical to apply a logical thought process to a group behaviour, so even if you make a statistical case for it that doesn't make it will full.

#9  Raf above says it well.
When I read such daft lines in the article above such as "Japanese consumers older than 65 are less likely to shop for alcohol, clothing, books and electronics compared with younger consumers"  I get the distinct impression the writer thinks this a bad thing.
Naughty oldies, should really get out there and booze up and buy.  Because after all they are there to serve the economic statistics, not the other way around.

Matthews is just looking for an excuse to pull down the Cathedral.  She is a disgrace.  She has no respect for Christchurch or its people.  Talking numbers like $100m to repair the Cathedral is scare tactics, what's left could likely be repaired for a fifth of that.
Most buildings in the CBD could have been repaired for much less than the cost of building new.  We have had lunatics in charge spreading lies and half truths.  The city has been failed by its leaders.

Matthews is a nice lady and she need no excuse, she has the power.

Does Bishop Mathews want Christchurch to be 63 miles across* Hugh (or like Hong Kong for that matter)?

God's works should not include divisiveness Hugh P!  Cardboard Matthews demonstrates all the self righteousness of the Pharisees themselves.
Confiscate the building from those that lack faith in rebuilding then I will donate some money.

PS I'm Catholic, so the Protestants are doomed to eternal damnation anyway!

Speaking of Houston, Hugh, have you seen this recent report;

They make NZI-IAG look like friendly helpful accomodating wonderful human beings!
In comparison EQC are a bunch of toothless crones with sharp pointy sticks that they aren't afraid to use.  Perfectly willing to beat helpless elderly while they lie already beaten on the ground.  Ready to kick in their teeth and extract their organs at the same time.
They are the worst monster you could possibly imagine.
I'm a male in my early thirties and last time I called EQC they left me ready to burst into tears!  Apparently I know nothing about building or my properties or the damage caused by the earthquakes and because it's not listed on the scope of works the damage never happened (despite having three completely different EQC scopes for the same property which show damage actually repaired itself each quake!).  Obviously because an EQC man said there is no damage to services the water doesn't spray throughout the house when I turn the main on.  Obviously the huge cracks in the gound don't exist because EQC say there is no land damage.  Obviously all those plaster cracks were pre-existing because EQC said they were.  Obviously the house was built 100mm lower at the back than the front.
Then on houses which are fully confirmed as write-offs and NZI has paid out in full apart from EQC's portion - we are still waiting on payments of over $500,000 from EQC for the February event - 18 months later!  How's that for paying their bills on time!  Even on one property with an under $10k payment we have been waiting 12 months (since the amount was confirmed LAST AUGUST) for the cheque to arrive.  Apparently it's all being "processed".  What a load of complete lies, they are just stalling.
We have 25 individual properties with claims.  EQC have fully paid out on just TWO claims.  Every other claim has money owing.  Not one repair job (other than emergency repairs) have been done by EQC to any of our properties.  We want to opt out, but they can't even get that sorted out.
On those emergency repairs, EQC couldn't even get a plumber to fix a water leak within 3 weeks of the December quake.  My plumber was ready to do it immediately but they wouldn't let him do it as Fletcher's had to look at it first (who NEVER came out and just sent a plumber anyway). 
A shambles is the only way to describe it.  EQC are holding the economy of ChCh to ransom - an overhaul was needed immediately after February.  Instead we've had them apply the payout brakes.  Hardly anything significant has been paid out by EQC, whereas most claims could have and should have been sorted by now.
It's a disgrace and John Key is responsible.  Key needs to face up and stop passing the buck.

I would like to see some kind of law introduced whereby payouts not made in a timely manner accrue interest.
Otherwise, by not paying out, any insurer gets to keep the money invested making interest and profit.  The interest on billions of dollars is quite significant.
Meanwhile the cost of repairs, due to inflation, continually increases.
We're also still waiting, more than 18 months after the event for a pay out.
Think of all the elderly too.  If payouts can be delayed long enough until they die, then what?  Always more and more chance the claim will never actually be paid out.

Time someone sought redress through the courts.  I'm assuming the only way to do it is via judicial review.  Chen Palmer are the folks for it. 
Enough is enough - a precedent needs to be set - the Court hearing would cripple Key's government.
You have the power and you'd be the hero of every victim of their arrogance and incompetence.

Chris_J, you're absolutely correct. EQC are disgusting. I believe that there should be an inquiry into their absolute incompetence. The managers need to be named and shamed.
We opted out on two repairs and had repairs carried out. All our friends stayed in the Fletcher's system, and not one of them has been attended to.
We too are waiting for a 'under 10K' payout on a rental. Since October last year, I've rang every month, and have been told on every occasion, that the payment is in the last steps of being processed, and should be paid in the following week. What crap. They lie.
They're too busy buying, driving and wreaking new Corolla's at the NZ policy holders expense to give a Rat's arse about settling any insurance claims.

so it is basic/settled economics that an aging population is a bad thing at a time when China changes into a competitor with more resources and a gigantic population?:
[Australian Productivity Commision] warns that trying to slow the impact of an ageing population on the economy by bringing in young workers is only a sugar hit.
"Any effect would be short-lived," the report says. "This is because immigrants themselves age, and progressively higher levels of migration would be needed to sustain the current age structure into the future."
The commission affirms its view that government policy effort might be better spent internally "to improve the participation rates of ... women over 45 and older Australians of both genders."
[NZ Productivity Commision:
agree that Commission’s second tranche of inquiries be selected on the degree that
• are relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission]*
*only what we want to hear thanks

In regards to #7, one wonders whether that effort will amount to anything. Would the creditors prefer to be paid out in pesos taking a loss, or to accept a default in Euros taking a loss? The debtors either have the money to repay them or they don't! 

This is from cycling organisation Spokes:

Christchurch Transport Plan

If you are excited about the Christchurch Transport Plan and think that finally, cycling will be taken seriously, you haven't read page 71. Quoting the draft Plan:

“Funding and affordability
The short term implementation of this Plan (the Recovery phase) seeks to achieve consistency with the Government’s Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding (GPS 2012/13 to 21/22), which primarily focuses investment on strategic road improvements to support economic efficiency and growth. …
This means the ability to significantly enhance the funding available for public transport, cycling and walking networks as outlined in this Plan will be heavily constrained for much of the early Plan recovery period.”

The plan goes on to talk about the economic benefits of building National’s Roads of National Significance (RoN’s). This is in spite of even Transport Gerry Brownlee being forced to admit that the cost benefit analysis for these projects is low, at best.


Meanwhile in Copenhagen Denmark bicycle super highways are being opened to allow outlying commuters to cycle into that city’s world famous bicycle network. With 50% of people there already commuting by bicycle it seems only fair to let people living in the suburbs have real transport choice. [3]

The people of Christchurch asked for better public transport and cycling facilities.  I was at the event at the Arena where the public could make suggestions on what they wanted in the rebuilt city.  Many people gave feedback asking for more cycleways, and I came away from the event thinking that if it were left to the citizens there would be more green space, farmers markets, cycling facilities and boutique shopping.  That is clearly what the public asked for.
So, where did it all go wrong?

And of course the farmer's markets and boutique shops are supplied with goods by an intrepid fleet of cyclists?
I think a Wholistic view of the processes of commerce is needed:
- acquisition of raw materials (mines, coal, firewood etc)
- transformation of raw into finished goods - try making Bicycles without Steel, f'rinstance.
- transport of finished goods to distribution centres and thence to consumer outlets
And just as ye cannae run a Steel Mill on Solar Panels, I rather think ye'll find that human-powered vehicles do not figure largely in any of the above processes.
Except of course in parts of Africa, the Arctic and the Andes...

Someone here will be able to answer the question:
Can you run a steel mill on solar energy.
What an interesting thought

Not according to Tony Abbot...Plan B....
A long way from here I'm sure some of the answer lies in Nuclear stability, if we don't have any major hiccups getting there.

Actually Tony Abbot just happens to be wrong. Well what do you know. An Australian Conservative politician being misinformed? Who would have thought.
Hope that isn't construed as snarky. Sorry if it comes across as such Christov. I just despise Conservatives, and Australian Conservatives most of all.

Dear Anarkist......great to see you around again...!
Yes mate , I was having a bit of fun with it......I mean Tony Abbot......phuleaseee!
I mean Cristoforo Benvenuti , he is not...!
I do however think research in Nuclear stability would be realistic if we continue to overpopulate as a species .

Did you just roll out Tony Abbot to highlight that he is poorly imformed? What is the possible point of trying to drag him out of his political bubble of ignorance. Leave the poor bubble dweller alone.

Your on it Nic, but like I've said so many ,many times, the danger lies in them having the microphone.
 You think he knows squat....? get a load of the voters matey.

Not really, for that you need hydro, or geo-thermal....

Why is pdk on holiday when we need him?
One of those concentrated solar tower thingies that melt salt then uses heat transfer to run an orthodox generator might be able to do it. Advantage is that it can run most of the night as well.
Have seen a description of a solar system in a Sikh temple complex in India that churns out 16,000 meals a day using purely solar.

It is pretty easy to get 150°C with a solar oven, but another ball game alltogether to produce 10x that to smelt steel. Consider that a solar oven is a direct gain device and therefore very high conversion of energy collected to work done. I doubt you could smelt with direct gain. So try to convert that energy and step up the temperature and you start getting loses. Steam turbines might get you 50%, but then it has to be converted from kinetic energy back to heat.
As a rough guide for you, hydro is a roundabout version of solar and the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter consumes almost all of the output from Manapouri power station. Aluminium is the hungriest of metals to refine at about 4x the energy consumption to produce steel. 

The big kitchen uses parabolic reflectors to create steam which is reticulated to the cooking area. It's no biggie compared to steel production.
I wonder how small a steel mill you could build that was still economic if it ran off solar (even with losses).
I think the point here is that just cos we haven't done it before doesn't mean it can't be done and that very much applies to the design of Greater Christchurch

Technically, yes of course you can melt steel with solar power.  For example, you could could hook up an array of photovoltaics to drive an electric heating element.  There are no doubt other ways you could do it without using photovoltaics that are possibly much more efficient.  So technically, it's possible.  Much like technically, I could wash my car with a cotton bud.  It's possible.  How sensible it is is another matter.  Maybe it is, or will be in the future, or maybe it never will.  That's where a lot of people will have different opinions.
If you're looking for applications for solar power I think you should start with the easier and more practical ones first. :-)
If I run out of large sponges, maybe I will use a cotton bud to wash the car, or maybe I will just stop washing the car.

How much steel goes into making a car versus a bicycle?

About one fiftieth ?

No, the goods arrive on trucks.  Just a few trucks are required to carry all the goods as they're an efficient means of transporting bulk materials.
The example of Saarbruecken, Germany I particularly like.  The main shopping street is pedestrian and cycling only.  Each side of the main street are shops.  The goods arrive at the shops not via the main shopping street, but from the streets at the back of the shops.  Cars also use these back streets.  Here is a Google Maps link to said street
Another interesting idea from Almere in The Netherlands is a separate road for emergency vehicles and busses only.  Said vehicles automatically get a green light at crossing points so they drive very fast and get you there quicker than on a regular street in a car.  Here is the link for an example intersection.
These are both systems that work and are in use today.  They're not even new or ground breaking.

Many inner city areas in Europe are laid out like this, and as you say, not new, I remember it from 20 years ago.
Trucks for delivery are allowed in the morning to 10 am, otherwise only pedestrians and cycles or emergency vehicles in the centre. In the parallel back road were introduced taxi stands, which every citizen can use within city limits with a voucher, available for a minimal fee at the council offices for locals. They figured out subsidising a few licensed taxis was cheaper than building monstrous parking houses or underground public garages,  or tear down whole blocks of houses to increase the capacity of roads.  So the people, particularly the elderly are happy, the taxi drivers are happy because what I have seen, often 3-4 people share a taxi, so they get more vouchers for the same ride and have no waiting time to stand idle.
Also as a result of this, more tourists use the picturesque inner cities, strolling around and shopping, because it is a real pleasure without noise or stench.

..... which every citizen can use within city limits with a voucher, available for a minimal fee at the council offices for locals.
And where does the money come from, to pay the council, which provides the vouchers, for the citizens?
You ever wonder why Europe is in the cr*p.

I personally haven't seen this style of taxi.  The ones I've experienced are expensive by NZ standards.
The system however is very similar to that used in Curitiba in Brazil for the busses.  The council pays the bus lines to operate a certain number of km per day, fixed rate.  The council sells tickets to the public to ride on the busses.  One ticket gets you anywhere in the city.  Now this is where it gets interesting.  The council controls the printing of tickets.  They sent rubbish trucks into the dirtiest areas of the city and anyone bringing a bag of rubbish to the truck would be given a bus ticket in exchange.  I thought that was a great idea.  Of course soon the dirty areas were rubbish free.

"Except of course" that's just make the wrong assumption that because it cannot be practically done we will just carry on as is......the reality is we wont be doing it as is.....not on the scale we do today.
So boutique shops will mostly go bye bye, many basics will consume a far greater % of ppls less incomes than they do today such consumerism will disappear. 
Farmers markets on the other hand should do well, selling locally to locals. A farmer drives in in a big bio-deisel powered truck and we bycycle in and out with a weeks fresh produce, just like I do biggee.

While I did say boutique, and that is often used in the context of small, high priced clothing shops, I really intended to convey small, independent shops, of all kinds.  I'm not sure if there is a specific word for that?
So instead of a chain supermarket, there might be a butcher, a bakery, a green grocer.  That sort of thing.  That is what I gathered from the feedback (could be wrong of course).  I got the feeling that people don't like going to a new mega mall and finding all the same shops they're seen at the last mall.

#4 "two thirds had little or no trust in the British banking industry"
There's a reason they now call the place Lieboria; sleaze, greed, graft and corruption from top to bottom. 

Re #8
This article indicates the Swiss may be transferring their EUR surplus in to other currencies such as AUS.

Spengler (David P Goldman) who originally wrote at Asia Times, and Mark Steyn (US RWDB) have been demographics bores (Steyn's characterisation) for - oh - a decade or more, now.
Good to see the rest of the bunch picking up on this development....
Better late than never (but that don't apply to demographics once the change of life sets in amongst the citoyen...)  

If you have recently bought or sold property in Christchurch recently the article below offers some good advice.  The battles will go on in Canterbury for years.

Wow - some pretty interesting issues there then for real estate agents who might have represented something other than indemnity (in other words misrepresented the ability of their seller to assign repair or replacement) when selling these damaged properties.
What a nightmare.

For all those who are scared of the baby boomers I suggest that every day you read the death notices in your local daily paper and to give you an even greater high read the death notices in all the daily papers.  

Geez that is a serious turn for the worse on the doom and gloom theme :-P


The American regulators seem to be focussing on the infractions of the British banks, of American policies, while they ignore the fraud of their own behemoth banks.  Probably to take attention away from their own short comings including their complicity in the manipulation of the gold and silver markets.  This is the sort of hypocrisy we will face in the financial sector, and in other areas, if the TransPacific Partnership becomes a reality. In return we will get complex and costly procedures, such as all suppliers to the USA having to have an American address, (Thank you George Bush)and phytosanitary  restrictions on horticultural and agricultural products that are of dubious validity although to be fair the Autralians take the cake on that one these days.  

This article came out a few days ago. It has some great stats at the end on how incredibily slow the insurers are moving here in ChCh, and these delays are having the desired result for the insurers - people are opting for lesser cash settlements rather than rebuilds or replacements:
I am with Southern Response -
"Southern Response has the highest number of residential claims, 9730, in line with it being the local insurer with the most customers - about one in three homes. It was the only insurer to supply information on cash settlements of residential claims.
Southern Response has completed only 12 rebuilds and two repairs, and has settled 464 claims with cash. Another 1184 claims were settled by the claimant buying another house.
InsuranceWatch spokesman David Stringer said resignation to the recovery being slow had turned to resentment"
2 REPAIRS!! - I have been waiting 13 months to have my first meeting with these clowns and I am still waiting.
I feel totally powerless - I am told that Southen Reponse does not work to deadlines - can you imagine what would happen if you told your boss that you didn't work to deadlines?!?
Problem is that no-one has anyway of putting effective pressure on these guys - if anyone out their has any suggestions or advice, especially something out of the box, that will extert pressure I welcome them....

As mentioned to Chris_J above where EQC are concerned a judicial review is the way to go.
Where Southern Response are concerned - I assume it is this company (from the Companies Office register) and these are the company directors;
You need to organise a picket outside the homes of the Christchurch directors - better yet, set up camp (like the Occupy people) on public land outside their homes (say on the grass verge - just make sure its public land as you don't want to be tresspassed.)  
And/or get together with a number of disgruntled policy holders and live in your cars parked outside the directors homes.  Bring the kids and their bikes, put a matress in the back of the wagon, pack a chilly bin and a camp stove. Invite the media.  Honk the horn when they emerge from their homes.  Follow them to their workplace in the morning - bring your picket signs along with you.  Set up there - make sure everyone that works with them knows your story and why you are there.  Talk to them everytime they step out of the office.  Take your protest to the company offices as well.
Keep that kind of personal pressure on the directors and you'll get results - my guess within 1-2 weeks.  

But what about the shareholders:
shouldn't they be applying some pressure...

You're joking, mate!!!
Those are the same folks stuffing up the EQC show!!!!!
Nope, take it to the directors - the shareholders aren't responsible for operational performance - in this case they (the shareholders) simply wear the losses (and my guess is that's why they aren't leaning on the directors to improve the operational performance!).
The government IS the reason you have a go slow .. they are not going to solve your problem.

Here's your prime target's place of employment - ... and good news .. she specialises in project management!!!  She's definitely the lady to get the work done on your house .. here's what she says about her prowess in managing projects;
"I love working with clients on projects that are important to their business or industry.  Understanding the challenges they're facing and working with the client to come up with ways of solving or progressing those issues is very rewarding and delivers huge value for the organisation."
There you have it - she'll LOVES tackling the challenges you are facing ... she's a gifted problem solver by trade!!!  Mount the protest outside her office at:
69 Durham Street South
Believe me - placards and angry homeowners outside this office will make SOOOO much more difference than parking outside the insurance company office.

London-to-a-Brick that the Euro & the Eurozone have been completely dismantled within the next decade ........
....... and praise be , for us all , if I'm correct on that ...... Hopefully , an orderly restoration of currencies and sovereignties ......

Sorry Christov for my outburst. My funny bone must have broken at some stage. Thankfully its on the mend. Thanks for your welcome back. I had become disillusioned about the apparent futility of arguing my side of the economic debate. Right now it just feels good to vent. haha