Brazil

I am travelling to Brazil for a week. In the meantime the regular posts should be appearing at the regular time, or irregular times as the case may be. Posting may be light or heavy. Moderated comments and the spaminator will be cleared after long and variable delays.

Posted in Site News | 26 Comments

All Tip, No Iceberg

As reported earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal, a US Federal Court Judge dismissed a law suit against Starbucks that using ice in cold drinks mislead consumers about the amount of the actual beverage in a cup.

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit accusing Starbucks of misleading customers about the ice-to-product ratio of its cold beverages.

Ridiculing the plaintiffs and their lawyers who brought the case, the judge said no reasonable adult customer — much less a child — could be deceived by the company’s beverage labeling.

The lawsuit, a proposed class action filed in Los Angeles federal court in June, alleged that iced coffee and other cold beverages sold by Starbucks “contain significantly less product than advertised.” It argued that the listed sizes of beverages conceal how much space in the cup is taken up by ice cubes, as opposed to coffee and tea.

I am not sure that such a case would work in Australia either.  Not because judges trust the intellect of consumers, but politicians generally don’t and will likely have a regulation around this type of matter in Australia.

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Stuck in the slow lane

It is a wonder that people who write about interest rate policy don’t bother to actually read what they have themselves written. This is from All eyes on Yellen interest rate dilemma in today’s AFR.

When US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen speaks at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole central banking conference on Friday, investors and economists will want to know how low she thinks interest rates should be set in this brave new world of lacklustre economic growth, weak productivity and soft inflation.

All this with interest rates as low as possible. Whatever low rates have or have not done, they most clearly have not set the economy on fire. So we then have this three paras later:

Policymakers worry that with rates stuck not far above zero in the US, at record lows in Australia and in negative territory in Europe and Japan, central bankers will have little firepower up their sleeves to stimulate the economy in a future economic downturn or crisis.

It was once understood that low interest rates actually cause an economy to stall. And even if you didn’t know this, you think that someone might just begin to consider that low rates do not provide much “firepower” at all. I would actually go further and argue that low interest rates make the economy perform far worse than it otherwise would.

It’s like public spending. If you don’t understand the economic dynamic, increased spending, like lower rates, sounds just like what the economy needs. Both make things worse, but who is ever going to go through the pain of adjustment that cutting spending and raising rates would require? Since no one will, it’s hard to see a genuine recovery any time soon.

THE FANTASTIC IGNORANCE OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMIC ELITE: This really is beyond the pale. From The Financial Times today:

“We are now seven years removed from the crisis and we still have below-target inflation in most major economies, and only the US is approaching full employment,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

If he doesn’t know that the US unemployment stats look so rosy only because of the phenomenal fall in the participation rate, he should not be involved with economic decision making in any way. He is either knowingly intending to deceive or knows next to nothing about the economy he is supposedly overseeing.

Posted in Economics and economy | 53 Comments

Scott Morrison says we (Australia) have an earnings problem

You betcha.  The citizens don’t earn enough for the Government to take more and more to feed the ever growing Commonwealth spending machine.

As reported by Peter Martin in the SMH, Treasurer ScoMo says:

“since the 2013 pre-election financial statement we have kept expenditure under control”.

Is he kidding himself?  According to the budget papers:

  • Payments in 2013-2014 were: $406,430 million
  • Payments in 2015-16 were: $424,961 million
  • Payments in 2016-2017 are expected to be: $445,045 million.

That is a $38,616 million (or $38.6 BILLION) increase over 3 years.  A billion here.  A billion there.  Eventually we might be talking about real money.

And this last number (2016-2017 payments) assumes fairy tale savings which will never be achieved.

But for the record Mr Treasurer, tax increases and rebate reductions are not savings.

At this rate, we may need to rename this country from the Commonwealth of Australia to the Commonspend of Australia.  Perhaps also a change to the words of our national anthem from with golden soil and wealth for toil; to with solar panels and wealth from redistribution, our home is girt by sea.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Management advice from people who have never managed anything

Just interviewed on SkyNews was Dr. Cassandra Goldie.

When the subject turned to the issue of the the census, Dr. Goldie concluded that it must be budget cuts and efficiency dividends from the ABS that caused the issues that plagued the recent census.  This notwithstanding the investigation, which has access to actual information, not yet being concluded.

This is the same argument that is wheeled out when there are issues anywhere in the “public services” such as schools, hospitals or community services; those horrible budget cuts.  They must need more money.

Never does it seem to dawn on the these “experts” and “commentator” that the failures are not actual money related but rather management failures or governance failures.

When it comes to criticizing the private sectors failures, which also often occur, it is never about the resources or costs.  It is always about the management and board.

The CEO has failed!  Where is ASIC investigating the board?  How can the Chairman have allowed this?  

Yet, such standards never seem to apply to the public service.  Why is this so?  Is it the case the the quality of management and governance in the public sector is so much superior than the private sector that the only reason for failures is insufficient inputs?

Despite Dr. Goldie’s conclusions, it is not yet know what happened with the census.  But I have my money on the management and board, and their management of their supplier.

Public servants …. gooooood.  Private sector …. evil.

We much nationalize everything and make everyone public servants.  Then everything will be great …. and we will live in utopia.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

The Gillard Effect

Definition:

The act of taking personal criticism, no matter whether warranted, accurate, wrong or inappropriate, and extrapolating it to a class of people the recipient (of the criticism) is a member of.  For example, a criticism of a particular woman is sexist or the criticism of a particular indigenous person is racist.

This is how the word misogyny seems to have been redefined.

Now by research, the definition of misogyny from:

  • Dictionary.com is the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women; and from
  • Oxforddictionaries.com is the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women.

I have re-read these definitions a couple of times, but nowhere did I see the names Gillard or Clinton.  Notwithstanding, the word misogyny was redefined under the Julia Gillard Prime Ministership such that any criticism of Prime Minister Gillard was posited to be a criticism of all women.  And now this new definition is being applied to a possible Hillary Clinton (possible) Presidency.

See the latest contribution in the Atlantic magazine:

A Hillary Clinton presidential victory promises to usher in a new age of public misogyny.

And

A Clinton victory also promises to usher in four-to-eight years of the kind of down-and-dirty public misogyny you might expect from a stag party at Roger Ailes’s house.

That’s right.  Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, ALL women will be treated poorly.  Interesting also that Prime Minister Gillard was quoted for this article and works for an offshoot of the Clinton Foundation which received Australian tax payer money.

Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t recall claims of misogyny around Margaret Thatcher or Theresa May.  What about of Benazir Bhutto (former Prime Minister of Pakistan)?

They say lots of things about Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (President of Argentia) or Angela Merkel (Chancellor of German) or Park Geun-hye (President of South Korea), but I have not noticed that the criticisms of these leaders what branded misogynistic.

Is it at all possible that Prime Minister Gillard or Secretary Clinton were/are disliked for reasons other than their gender?  I wonder ….

Why are Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Gillard different to the others?  I wonder?  But what would I know; I am a white male.

Posted in Uncategorized | 40 Comments

Wednesday Forum: August 24, 2016

Posted in Open Forum | 1,204 Comments

Guest Post: Robert Carruthers – Soros financing subversion

Are you billionaires tool, a “useful idiot”? Probably not, but I bet you know someone jumping to Soros’ tune. His hacked emails reportedly reveal:

Soros-backed projects share basic common attributes.

They all work to weaken the ability of national and local authorities in Western democracies to uphold the laws and values of their nations and communities.

They all work to hinder free markets, whether those markets are financial, ideological, political or scientific. They do so in the name of democracy, human rights, economic, racial and sexual justice and other lofty terms.

In other words, their goal is to subvert Western democracies and make it impossible for governments to maintain order or for societies to retain their unique identities and values.

And

From the US to Europe to Israel, Soros has implemented a worldwide push to use immigration to undermine the national identity and demographic composition of Western democracies. The leaked emails show that his groups have interfered in European elections to get politicians elected who support open border policies for immigrants from the Arab world and to financially and otherwise support journalists who report sympathetically on immigrants.

Soros’s groups are on the ground enabling illegal immigrants to enter the US and Europe. They have sought to influence US Supreme Court rulings on illegal immigration from Mexico. They have worked with Muslim and other groups to demonize Americans and Europeans who oppose open borders.

Hopefully someone enterprising Cat readers can trawl through the Soros correspondence. GetUp would get going if there were rivers of gold flowing from a NAZI collaborator to our side of the political spectrum.

Posted in Guest Post | 29 Comments

Political Machines

I am reading an interesting article in The New Republic about the political machines in the US.  The history is quite interesting.

The article notes that these political machines were of the Democratic Party and not other parties.  But a couple of the lines from the article caught my eye:

The trouble with politics as a business was that it required a dependent and subservient population. The machines had no interest in reducing the numbers of the urban poor, or enabling them to find worthy careers outside of politics. That would mean fewer voters, fewer foot soldiers heeling the ward. The machines were also hugely, grossly corrupt—the more so as the American economy expanded and the opportunities to grab proliferated. The organization was always in bed with organized crime.

and

Perhaps the worst flaw of the machines was how often they actually reduced opportunities, and even standards of living, for their constituents.

Hmmm.  Sound familiar?  Déjà vu perhaps?

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Quote of the Millennium – Bill Shorten

Speaking right now at the Australian Press Club, in the context of a question on a/the Bank Royal Commission ….

Let’s just bell the cat here.  You’ve got increasingly, the big bonuses for the top end of executives in banking, they get paid by improvements to the bottom line or a significant portion of their bonus is the bottom line.  How does that impact upon decisions to lower credit card interest rates?

Talk about belling the cat.

Is Mr. Shorten advocating policies that the Government should regulate executive remuneration frameworks?  Or should the Government regulate the pricing policies of business?  Or both?  Perhaps the Government should regulate that bank executives to prevent profit maximisation/optimisation?

Would it not be more transparent for the ALP to just nationise the banks?

Recall.  Mr. Shorten does know what he is talking about.  Selective extracts from his biography below:

  • Assistant Treasurer from 14.9.10 to 14.12.11.
  • Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation from 14.9.10 to 1.7.13.
  • BA, LLB (Monash), MBA (Melb).
  • Director, Australian Super (formerly Superannuation Trust Australia) 1998-2007.
  • Director, Victorian Funds Management Corporation 2005-07.
Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments