First Union's Morgan Godfery on Trumps breaking out everywhere; the pain of incentives; wanting it both ways with houses; an enranged house hunter writes; trouble with trade; Dilbert & more

Today's Top 10 is a guest post from Morgan Godfery the communications and media officer for First Union.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to david.chaston@interest.co.nz.

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. The New Yorker’s John Cassidy reports on “a Europe of Donald Trumps,” from Britain to Russia and everywhere in between
“In an essay in the weekend edition of the Financial Times, Mark Mazower, a historian at Columbia University, argued that we are witnessing a revival of nationalism as a reaction to heightened insecurity. Citing the work of the late Benedict Anderson, especially the 1983 book “Imagined Communities,” Mazower wrote, “Under the globalisation juggernaut, we all feel small now, even the US, and this is perhaps the main difference between Reagan-era Republican tub-thumping and Trump’s.”

The old certainties are crumbling, like the old promise of a ‘job for life’, and in their place the new nationalisms of the right and (to a much lesser extent) the left are promising a return to the supposed good ol’ days.

2. A new study finds that, contrary to Econ 101, incentives might hurt
“Agents do not provide high effort when prize spreads are larger [i.e. when incentives are higher]. When we take into account agents’ risk aversion, we find that while the effect of large spreads is not significant for risk-prone individuals, it is strongly detrimental for the performance of risk-averse individuals.”

Targets and incentives create enormous stress, like for bank workers who must meet regular and onerous sales targets. Targets and incentives might also discourage innovation as it sends a signal to workers to focus on jobs that are easily measured and rather than ones that are less observable but might have longer-term payoffs.

3. From incentives and banks to Bitcoin
“The total value of all the bitcoin in circulation, as I write, is £4.24 billion. That number changes, often with disconcerting rapidity, since the price of bitcoin is sharply variable. This puts outsiders off, since one of the most basic functions of money is to store value; bitcoin is a lousy store of value, as many observers have pointed out. Bitcoin, however, already does an OK job with one of money’s other main functions, as a medium of exchange. You can buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms, buy computer equipment, food and pretty much anything else with bitcoin, which is now accepted by tens of thousands of businesses. Indeed, since you can buy gift cards with bitcoin, and use the cards at Amazon and other e-commerce sites, you can in effect buy anything you want using the cryptocurrency.”

The problem: Bitcoin is essentially an anonymous (and largely untraceable) way to move money – which is why it’s best known as a currency for criminals.

4. New Zealand’s refugee intake – “quota” seems like a dehumanising term – could be lifted for the first time in almost three decades
“Prime Minister John Key has signalled New Zealand's annual refugee quota will be lifted from the current levels of 750.

Speaking at a NZ Institute of International Affairs conference, Mr Key said the three yearly review of the quota was currently under way. That has been at 750 since 1987.”

New Zealand isn’t doing its bit. Labour leader Andrew Little is calling for an intake of 1500 refugees per year after visiting a refugee camp in Jordan. That’s the least we can do.

5. Shamubeel Eaqub on rising house prices and shortages
“Politically we want house prices to rise for home owners, but fall for first home buyers. We can't have both.

This is where leadership is needed to set out a path to affordable housing, and putting it back to where it should be: shelter and a human right, not an investment and a reserve for the rich…

I reckon we have to take a two prong approach. First, deal to speculation. Second, deal to the structural issues. 

Dealing to speculation needs tightening our tax rules and banking rules.

Capital gains should be levied on all investment properties, no longer how long they are held.”

Eaqub offers a tidy overview of the issues and proposes two good fixes. One fix that is missing, and a fix that will be felt not just in the housing market, is to lift wages for working people. If prices continue to rise at the same rate they are, and wages continue to stutter along at the current rate, then by 2020 a young couple in Auckland will have to spend approximately 80 percent of their income on mortgage repayments.

6. Kirsty Johnston writes a necessary corrective for those who complain that, in order to afford a house, young people just need to drop their Sky subscription (young people subscribe to Netflix and Lightbox… What kind of dinosaur still subscribes to Sky?)
“This morning I read advice from a mortgage broker which said house hunters just need to give up their Sky TV or expensive cars and they'll have a first home in no time.

It enraged me. I am one of those house hunters. And let me tell you right now, it's not the Sky subscription that's the problem.

Between us, my boyfriend and I earn about $110,000 a year. We have good jobs, and some savings, and could probably scrape enough together using our Kiwisaver accounts to pay for a deposit on, say, a $400,000 home.

The mortgage repayments would actually be less than the $450 per week we pay in rent.

Except of course, we live in Auckland, where the median house price has hit $820,000. Even if we could afford the deposit, the mortgage on that is more than $1100 a week. What if interest went up? Or we wanted to have a baby? Or I lost my job? We'd be ruined.”

7. TTIP is in doubt as France threatens to block the controversial US-EU trade deal
“Doubts about the controversial EU-US trade pact are mounting after the French president threatened to block the deal.

François Hollande said on Tuesday he would reject the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership “at this stage” because France was opposed to unregulated free trade.

Earlier, France’s lead trade negotiator had warned that a halt in TTIP talks “is the most probable option”. Matthias Fekl, the minister responsible for representing France in TTIP talks, blamed Washington for the impasse. He said Europe had offered a lot but had received little in return. He added: “There cannot be an agreement without France and much less against France.”

Meanwhile, in New Zealand…

8. Why is the US TPPA ‘Implementation Team’ Meddling in NZ?
“The US Trade Representative Michael Froman has revealed his office is sending teams of officials to the other the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) countries, including New Zealand, to vet their implementation of the intellectual property chapter and other parts of the agreement.

“Implementation” is code for the US making sure it gets what it wants, backed by its power to veto the TPPA’s entry into force if it doesn’t’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

‘This is an outrageous assault on the sovereign right of nations to decide their own laws without interference from other states.’

‘The US is notorious for rewriting the script after negotiations are ‘concluded’ to secure their version of the text when other countries insist they have done what is required.”

Usually, determining consistency is a matter for the courts, except the ‘court’ in the context of the TPPA is a secretive overseas tribunal.

9. In other news, the Warriors are doing really, really badly… But not as badly as 2004 – yet

10. And this is just harsh

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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34 Comments

Oh my , house prices again .........okay so its not a crisis in the context of say Syria or the GFC , or the Japanese earthquake and tsunaml ( or even Chch ) ,but for a country that prides itself in being very egalitarian , where everyone gets a fair go , its a major problem that is not being adequately addressed .

Actually I think Shamubeel is perpetuating a myth here. Home owners want to be able to improve their lot, i.e. move into progressively nicer properties, but traditionally it has been achieved through improving the property gaining through the increased value and using that as the stepping stone into the next level with essentially the same level of debt. This way relativity is maintained. People can then improve their living standard without a significant increase in debt. Today's mess means that for most that same improvement in lot means a significant increase in debt, making such gains unachievable, unaffordable and unrealistic. So even middle to lower income home owners are suffering in this environment.

Re #1 and #8, nationalism, Trump, Le Pen and the TPP. There's a thread running here and it looks like the French, British and Yanks won't be the pushover to the multinational greed machine that we are.
Here AEP on the TTIP:

"Perhaps great shock of globalisation is a one-off effect, already past its worst as Chinese wages shoot up and the Communist Party weans the economy off manic over-investment, or at least talks about doing so.

But right now China is still adding excess capacity across a swathe of industries, and there is every reason to fear that the next global downturn will bring matters to a head, either because President Xi Jinping devalues the yuan to buy political time or because capital flight forces his hand. Either way we would face a deflationary tsunami.

Western leaders did not fully understand what they were doing when they tore down the defences over the last quarter century, and lightly overlooked what competition with Chinese labour might mean for tens of millions of their own electors. " AND

"We are living in an age where people feel overwhelmed by global forces. The wiser statecraft is surely to shift the balance back a little towards parliamentary supremacy, whether in Britain, America, Germany, or France.

The paramount issue at hand is to conserve the vitality of our core democracies at a time when they are under multiple pin-prick attacks, from the European Court, or trade tribunals, or from any one of the proliferating supra-national bodies run by lawyers and technocrats on the margins of accountability. If TTIP whithers on the vine, so be it."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/04/let-the-ttip-trade-pact-d...

Good interview this morning on RNZ National.

Noam Chomsky on the death of the American Dream

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201799712/...

Famed scholar, activist and political theorist Noam Chomsky talks frankly to Nine to Noon's Katherine Ryan about politics, society and his new film, Requiem for the American Dream. Filmed over five years, the 87 year old unpacks the US policies of the past half-century which have lead to an unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the select few.

Also mentions TPPA, which Chomsky reckons is only for the multi-nationals, and is not at all a trade deal.
Worth a listen.

A profound and insightful interview. One thing that stood out for me was the statement that there should/could be a mobilisation of citizens to change things as there was in the 1930's and 1960's. In other words we have the power to change the corrupt systems, it just needs the will to do it and some inspirational leaders. I'm too old now, having joined the change marches in the 1960's, but it would be great to think that some of the younger commentators on this site could step up and put their words into action.

What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right. G.K Chesterton.

Instead we are becoming a society that is simply against everything that currently exists.

Definitely worth a listen for an intelligent adult interview - with parallels to the current NZ situation. And kudos to Kathryn Ryan for her end of the interview - well done.

(I can only hope when I'm 87 and 1/2 years that my mental acuity is somewhere near Chomsky's.)

Kathryn Ryan, like Kim Hill , is a national treasure.
But remember they only get about 3% of the audience.
The vast majority prefers the likes of Henry and Hoskins - there is no hope for NZ.

Interesting remark about SKY TV subscriptions , I reckon the business model wont survive the decade

We discontinued our SKY ages ago , there is already too much to see on free-to-air, all important matches are flighted on Prime , and my kids have shown me how to live -stream whatever we want on the internet and then show it on the big screen TV

sky are very slow off the mark they should have gone online ages ago, they may be too late now to catch up netflix and amazon are way way cheaper and have a better range to watch. the only thing sky has left to keep people hooked is the sport

You are right , the only thing you can be sure of is that things will change , ask KODAK, IBM or the Auckland Gas Company all of which no longer exist in their original businesses .

I don't see how SKY , a monopoly who got fat and lacked innovation can make a comeback unless some new technology comes along that they grab quickly .

Frankly no one needs SKY anymore, apart from rugby diehards

@ # 1
Can we see our future and make predictions with a high degree of certainty?

Our future, as our past, is made by humans and humans are predictable.

There are things about our past that we can say, with a high degree of certainty, will also happen in the future. By putting these certainties together we can build up a picture of our future.

So what has happened in our past, that we can say with a high degree of certainty, will continue to happen in our future?

HEALTH
Over the past 300 years we have seen a gradual change in our lifestyles.

Our accommodation has changed to a warmer dryer environment with sanitation. This has led to people being healthier and living longer.

At the same time we have poisoned our environment making us less healthy. Our food has become heavily processed and poisoned with chemicals. Agricultural spraying, food additives for flavours, preservatives, colour and more.

The combination of improved accommodation with improved medication has outweighed the damage caused by poisoning of our food and our environment.

Advances in DNA and stem cell medications will continue to improve our health and longevity, but this advantage must, at some point, peak and our health suffer.

We can now predict, that there is a high probability, that our health will continue to improve into the foreseeable future, but we cannot predict when it will peak.

ENVIRONMENT
Throughout history humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals through cross breading. With technology we can now speed up that process.

Today we are genetically modifying everything plants, animals, insects, bacteria, our food and even people.

We live in a nature built earth but what will a man made earth of the future look like?

CURRENCY
Shells, Tally sticks and Gold were just some of the many types of currency used throughout our History. More recently we have seen a paper fiat currency changing to a digital one

Pointless to say currency will change in the future because that future is here now. We are seeing the development of the block-chain and ethereum.

LEADERSHIP
Throughout our history we have always had a leader and the type of leader has changed over time. From Tribal leaders, Religious leaders, War Lords, Kings and Queens, to Prime Ministers, Presidents and Dictators. So there is a high probability that our future type of leadership will change.

GOVERNMENT and the BUREAUCRACY
Governments were run by wealthy landowners then wealthy industrialists. More recent times this role has been taken over by academia. As government is about making laws, it seemed natural for lawyers to make those laws.

With academia came the swelling of the bureaucracy also from the academia class.

Big data, algorithms and AI is taking over much of the work of the large bureaucracies and will make them obsolete. At the same time Big data is integrating society

Just as it was natural for lawyers to make the laws, it will be natural for technocrats to replace them. People like Mark Zuckerberg

WAR
Humans have waged wars on each other for thousands of years. There seems to be no desire to change such things. So we can say with a high degree of certainty, that war will continue well into our future. Only the reasons for killing each other and the methods of killing each other will change.

I could go on about migration, transportation and so on but i leave that for others

What picture, if any has emerged so far?

As i see it the future will look like this.

Technocrats will run government. There will be a Virtual government in that Algorithms and AI will, through data, recommend laws and regulations which the technocrats will implement.

Algorithms (think Facebook) know more about us than we know about ourselves. It will be possible for you to receive recommendations on who you should vote for. Eventually the algorithm will take that burden from you and vote on your behalf.

Government will be in a virtual world
Financial transactions will be in a virtual world
Our lives will be well organised in a virtual world
We will fight wars in a virtual world. Think robots fighting robots.
Our world will be a genetically modified one.

So our leadership will have changed
Our government and Bureaucracy will have changed
Our health and our environment will have changed.

But for the average person. People like you and i.

Nothing will have changed only our jobs and our toys

.

#4 Refugees. 750 refugees are not the problem. I am fine with increasing that quota. The real issue is the tens even hundreds of thousands of economic immigrants, and fake students,for whom we have an open door for. Cut that back to 5000.

Wellington services struggle to support influx of refugees

My wife volunteers her extensive foreign language skills as an interpreting interface to government and medical agencies. It is notable that volunteers cannot fill the gap of virtually non-existent paid staff.

KH, are you serious? Like we do not have enough problems in New Zealand?

We, the taxpayers of New Zealand already spend 50 milion NZD p.a. on this moronic problem importation project called "resettlement program". Now Key wants to increase the expense? With which justification? With what sense? Key only parrots the commonplaces he reads in the newspaper like "we have to do our lot" etc to justify his idiot policies.

There is no legitimacy in the NZ government spending as much as ONE CENT of our money on so-called refugees, when there is rampant child poverty and even child homelessness in New Zealand.

In my view, this man is nothing but a thief, betraying his own nation to score a few cheap points with the international loon-left media. Is he also keen on a plum job at the UN?

Peter. Did you not notice I believe we should chop huge numbers off the other immigration channels. A few genuine refugees are not the problem.

Shamubeel Eaqub......., his solutions are only "good" because they align with the current solution de jour (which clearly the author aligns with) land tax and build more, Re "by 2020 a young couple in Auckland will have to spend approximately 80 percent of their income on mortgage repayments" gimme a break unless things change by 2020 any young couple in Auckland will never own their own home, they will rent unless they are part of the global 0.1% that own the majority of property in Auckland - NZ for sale!
(Message edited. Please refrain from personal insults. Ed).

(Message deleted. Once again, please refrain from personal insults. Debate the issues instead. Thank you. Ed).

New Zealand's current position on Foreign Trusts is now history:

According to The Guardian Obama has moved on the issue for the US and we will have to follow:
new treasury rules closing a loophole allowing foreigners to hide financial activity behind anonymous entities in the US.
Game over for Foreign Trusts?

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/may/06/panama-papers-us-launches-cr...

Maybe we need to import a yank after his term....finishes.

The last one we imported has not yet remembered where Panama actually is.

This is where leadership is needed to set out a path to affordable housing, and putting it back to where it should be: shelter and a human right, not an investment and a reserve for the rich…

Spot on that is exactly the problem where speculators aka all investors are pushing the prices out of reach for FHBs. Under national the average auckland home.has increased from 500k to approx 950k. 450k increase.

What's the average wage increase in that period ? 20k

Forget percentages focus on the absolute amounts. Under labour prices up 200k approx under National 450k and rising. That will be the PMs legacy. Short term votes for long term pain. Classic trader behaviour that helped cause the GFC. No lessons have been learnt. How can prices be allowed to increase by 450k after the biggest crisis in modern history. Income to loan ratios are a good idea. Protect both the bank and the borrower. Protect them from themselves.

Long may it continue. Ill vote for that all day long.

The only light at the end of the tunnel is one day John Key will move on then we can start picking up the pieces again. To quote Churchill... when you are going through helll keep going.

I previously voted National and had high hopes for Key especially when he went on about closing the GAP with Australia. All that has been forgotten by his government.

Or maybe the GAP he was referring to was the House price GAP between NZ and Australia. haha.

Now that the Auckland average is higher than the Sydney average that GAP has truly been closed. Just a shame he did not close the Wage/productivity GAP also.

It's cool though, it's merely a 'challenge'.

'Tis but a scratch!!!'

#4. So-called "refugees".

John Key is on the one hand unable or - more likely - not interested in fighting poverty and social disadvantage within New Zealand, while he is at the same time squandering many tens of millions of our money on inviting people who only create problems for us, socially, culturally, and economically.

Many of his special guests are also pretty likely to develop into a security threat, as we can witness in Europe where a lot of "refugee communities" have morphed into terror nests.

In my eyes this is not only irresponsible and irrational, but very much fulfils the definition of high treason.

Although I am not against more refugees perhaps Key has plans after government in the steps of Helen Clark (UN role) so by accepting more that will give him "personal/career" kudos for the future. I would say it is likely to be in his own interest to accept more.

Don't worry that there are homeless in NZ that he is not too concerned about.

# 1 The old certainties are crumbling

I have been suggesting for a while now that you revolutionaries should turn new right and not old left. The usual suspects on this forum come across as old school socialists which is so last century and unappealing now. To appeal to the youth you are going to have to be more exciting, more spiritual and a lot more dynamic.
In France the National Front is now capturing a large chunk of the youth vote. While many youth still fail to vote if the election was restricted to 18-30 year olds only the NF would win the election:

The National Front is the youngest party in France

The time may be ripe for a Kiwi Green-Nationalist-Identitarian-Youth movement.

#6 The enraged house hunter:

But none of my friends own a $17,000 car. Mine was $4,300 and I'm still paying it off (thanks Dad).
She seems to need assistance buying a very cheap car and still hasn't payed it off?

Between us, my boyfriend and I...
If I was a lender I'd like to see a marriage license.

I did take a year off to travel the world
Kirsty, Kirsty, Kirsty, you know people can make choices...take a year off and travel or buy a house.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/143898615346/how-not-to-make-a-campaign-ad

Posted by Scott Adams' blog, Dilbert Cartoonist

'Let’s evaluate the (Clinton) ad for its persuasiveness.

Trump’s proposition is that the establishment is a bunch of useless losers and he can do better. The ad shows Trump being opposed by… a bunch of useless losers on the Republican side. Trump annihilated every one of them. And it wasn’t even hard.

Here’s what the ad does in terms of forming associations:

1. The ad lumps Clinton with the losing Republican candidates. They all share a dislike of the presumptive Republican nominee. Do they belong to the same club of establishment politicians who are ruining the country?

2. The ad shows that Trump is disliked by the Republican establishment. But that is his appeal, not his flaw. Trump already “fired” the losers in the video who are attacking him. Do you believe anything you hear from a disgruntled employee who just got fired?

3. When you remind viewers how many big-name politicians Trump has defeated, it makes him seem stronger.

4. Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans will see that Trump is an “enemy of their enemy” and bond to him."

Ha ha ha
Goodbye Mr Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Don't trip over the cat box on your way out of NZ.

I love these You Can't Stump the Trump video montages. Hilarious:

https://youtu.be/7W9YWVQAIxM

My favorite part is at around 10:48.