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Atlas drops the ball again

Written By: - Date published: 5:48 am, July 1st, 2009 - 104 comments
Categories: economy, employment - Tags:

Why does this myth that the private sector is better persist in this country? At every turn, the bosses show themselves to be a bunch of greedy, short-sighted half-wits.

Take Line 7. Outsourced their production to China. Built their business model on the assumption that the NZD would stay high. Didn’t hedge. NZD, predictably, falls.  Business model stuffed. Owner has a cry on National Radio: ‘who could have known the value of a commodity currency would fall in a global recession!’ 120 Kiwis out of a job (on top of the ones who were actually making the clothes before the outsourcing).

The genius boss who pocketed the profits for 20 years and stuffed it all up stays rich. Of course.

What kind of morons can’t even hedge against the inevitability that the NZD won’t keep buying 80 cents US forever? Our capitalist class, that’s who. This latest moronic failure is just another in the long, inglorious history of the trumped up fools who think they, not the workers, create the wealth in this country.

All they’re good at is rent-seeking. ‘Oh, don’t make us pay for our carbon emissions, get the taxpayer to cover us’, ‘give us a tax-cut or we offshore’, ‘help, we can’t even hedge’, ‘set us up a private public partnership – profits to the privates, risk to the public’, ‘how’s about some juicy contracts?’, ‘did someone say corporate welfare?’. Losers. 

We’re meant to turn over delivery of more vital public services to this lot of incompetents? Bollocks to that. Wouldn’t trust them to run a cake-stall. Shouldn’t let them near our health, education, and infrastructure.

104 comments on “Atlas drops the ball again ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Its easy to criticize them for not hedging. However, we don’t know the specific circumstances. They may very well have wanted to hedge. However, that often requires bank security to cover potential movements in the exchange rate going forward. They may have simply run out of room on their bank facilities and may have been unable to hedge at the time.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      The boss said on Morning Report that they hadn’t hedged against the dollar falling from 70 cents to 50 cents

      • craig 1.1.1

        How can you even support hedging – isn’t it just capitalist bullshit?

        What does trading currency actually produce? How does it help starving children? What’s the point of sitting on a dead planet with some forex trades?

        I say good on him for not feeding the profits of those rick prick capitalist traders.

  2. Tim Ellis 2

    What kind of morons can’t even hedge against the inevitability that the NZD won’t keep buying 80 cents US forever? Our capitalist class, that’s who. This latest moronic failure is just another in the long, inglorious history of the trumped up fools who think they, not the workers, create the wealth in this country.

    When have you ever risked your own capital and started and run a business, zetetic?

    For every businessman who makes a mistake and loses their own capital, there are many more who create jobs for workers. Are there any employers you do like, or does your tirade and rant extend to all employers?

    • So Bored 2.1

      It grieves me greatly to agree with Tim. If you are going to criticise the capitalist ethic Zet you cant expect to also take the benefits.

      What is happening is the nature of the beast, for as long as we adhere to the capitalist model we will always see workers getting less than what they regard as their fair share and owners justifying it on taking risk etc. Neither are wrong. The system itself is inherently flawed and insecure.

      More importantly capitalism is past its use by date (as are alternatives such as Marxism) with regard to resource and environmental exploitation,. The concepts of progress and “growth” need a radical reappraisal before our materialistic project kills us all.

      I suspect that most of you in “blogsphere” wont like that appraisal. The concept of sitting on a pile of cash on a dead planet holds very little appeal.

      • craig 2.1.1

        It’s fine dissing capitalism – democracy is equally flawed.

        But you have to come up with a better idea before we ditch it…

        • So Bored 2.1.1.1

          Dissing capitalism???? Thats not all, read again. If you care to read a little you might discover that capitalism, feudalism, imperialism (a whole pile of isms) did not just get thought up overnight then get implemented. They evolved…..some de evolved and died…..capitalism is just more recent, and yet to die…who knows it may not.

          What I said was that our current modus operandi needs radical reappraisal, a recognition that there is a problem before formulating an answer. Its a bit trite of you to demand “a better idea” when you cant even conceive the truck thats about to flatten you.

          • craig 2.1.1.1.1

            “What I said was that our current modus operandi needs radical reappraisal, a recognition that there is a problem before formulating an answer.”

            I just agreed with you?

            Capitalism isn’t perfect, in fact it’s not even great. However I believe it’s better than every other ism people have come up with so far.

            “Its a bit trite of you to demand “a better idea’ when you cant even conceive the truck thats about to flatten you.”

            Have you not heard of the best of bad choices? That was my comparison with democracy, which is also horribly flawed…

            Capitalism will remain to most people the best of bad choices until someone comes up with a better idea.

      • Zetetic 2.1.2

        “If you are going to criticise the capitalist ethic Zet you cant expect to also take the benefits.”

        Yes I can. Your logic means nothing could ever be criticised ever.

        ‘If you are going to criticise the emission of greenhouse gases Zet you cant expect to also take the benefits.’

        How about – keep the good and get rid of the bad.

        • craig 2.1.2.1

          Ah no that’s called hypocrisy – like me saying “prostitution is bad” before going and fucking an escort.

          If you think greenhouse gases are bad you can pay to make up your share.

    • Zetetic 2.2

      Yeah I have. And if I hadn’t so what?

      Have you ever been an All Blacks halfback? No… then don’t criticise!

      Have you ever been a woman? No… then don’t have an opinion on abortion!

      Attacking the other side’s right to even have an opinion is the ultimate sign of defeat Ellis

      • craig 2.2.1

        “Yeah I have. And if I hadn’t so what? ”

        So are all your employees rich yet?

        Or are you just a half-witted capital class moron/loser like the rest of them?

    • Sparo 2.3

      Hi Tim,

      For every businessman who makes a mistake and loses their own capital

      Likely this overlooks business folks’ reliance on supposed expertise.. in money matters this usually relates to bankers (hedgies are the follow-through as it were).

      My recall is that less than two years has elapsed since enzed bank client newsletters/advisories were ‘out of commodities’ – you might care check that out though I’m pretty sure on the recall.

      Even if undirected business folks DO pick up the negatives.. which could well explain this fellow’s decision.. you’d agree the context is all-important.

      I’ll add a rider re banks commodity dealings.. Futures Modernisation Act(US) 2000 was a designer deal for players to ramp specific commodity (and related) trading.

      Of course, not clothing…

  3. vto 3

    are you still a student zit? that was a completely overblown polemic rant with no substance and exhibiting a total lack of experience and knowledge in the subject.

    “greedy, short-sighted half-wits.”

    “morons”

    “trumped up fools ”

    ” Losers.”

    “this lot of incompetents”

    You zit, are a fuckwit. Fuck off.

    • Andrew 3.1

      Couldnt agree more. Zet, you are a complete and utter fucktard and the bile that spewes from you mouth is at best repulsive. I enjoy reading The Standard, but you my friend are seriously letting the side down.

      prent, ditch this looser before he turns more people off the site.

      [lprent: I rather enjoy his posts. They definitely come from a different angle to my own. A lot of the time I’d disagree with the posts, but that isn’t uncommon, I don’t think that I’d agree with almost any contributor here more than 50%.

      In this particular post I’d have to agree with him. The currency has been hellishly volatile over the last 20 years or so. During that period it has been NZD1 getting US 45c to 85c . I’ve run businesses with that exchange risk factor in exporting to the US. I’d expect that any businessman would cover themselves either through hedging or business model. It is a predictable risk for any competent business person to handle. In this case Line 7 punted a bet and lost. Pity the employees, not the risk-taker. ]

    • Zetetic 3.2

      vto. I put those words in specifically because I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle it. I want you to get excited, angry, worked up. That’s the only way you’ll think. The only way you’ll be challenged to come and fight for what you believe in or change what you believe in.

      I note you gave no defence of NZ capitalism. So I guess we know where your head is.

      • The Baron 3.2.1

        Here is a defense of NZ capitalism, Zetty, you moron:

        – None of those people would have ever had a job without the management of line 7, who stumped up the capital and effort to build the brand and the enterprise.
        – Reward comes with risk. A tradegy that the business has gone down, but that is the nature of the beast.
        – What is the alternative? Worker ownership? Socialism? Any other tried and failed experiments of the 20th century?
        – Capitalist class? There is no such thing – only those that do, and those that don’t.
        – Oh yes, what a pack of morons for not hedging. Jesus christ man, do you even know what hedging is?

        You’re a bitter, hate filled hack, Zetty. It appears that as soon as someone starts a business, and therefore starts paying business taxes and employing people, you line them up for your ill-informed bile.

        So, pray tell, which businesses or business people DO you like, Zetty? Prove me wrong that you aren’t just an outdated, marxist class warrior, about 50 years behind the times.

        • Zetetic 3.2.1.1

          The only things the capitalist class is meant to provide to the capitalist economic system is capital and competent management and allocation of capital. Fact is, there’s such a level of incompetence and short-sighted greed that they fail on the second part far too often. So, all they’re giving is the capital. They’ve only got the capital because of the nature of the system is to concentrate capital in the hands of the few. They don’t magically create capital. In other economic systems, capital can be held and allocated communally, rather than via capitalists.

          • The Baron 3.2.1.1.1

            Answer the question, and prove that you aren’t a stupid uninformed HACK, Zetty.

            Tell us a businessman who you admire, who lives up to your outdated and frankly bizarre ideals.

            Otherwise, we will just assume you’re a biased, hate filled little prick, who loves to heap criticism on those that actually try and make a difference rather than just have a whinge.

            • Zetetic 3.2.1.1.1.1

              Buffett. Has a good head and isn’t exploitative. Hasn’t used his skills just to live the rich life himself. Lives very modestly and always has. Has run his businesses on the principle of treating workers well. Has never paid a dividend. One of the few to call the long-term decline of the US economy when everyone else was mistaking a housing bubble for utopia.

              Buffett would have hedged. Wouldn’t have run with the money and left 120 people out of a job.

            • Tim Ellis 3.2.1.1.1.2

              Buffett’s company reported a loss of $11.5 billion last year, Zetetic. Perhaps you should come up with a nice state-owned organisation to prove your case.

              How about the NZ Super Fund? Oh, that’s right, it made whopping losses this year too.

              How about ACC? Nope, big losses there.

            • Zetetic 3.2.1.1.1.3

              Nearly every major financial institution made losses last year. Credit crunch, global recession. Remember?

              Making a small (by his standards) loss once in a while doesn’t make you a bad businessperson. Especially when all around you other companies are going to the wall through incompetence. If you can be relatively unaffected, it shows you’ve got skills.

              Likewise the NZ Super Fund. Beats the market consistently. Even when the market crashed, its losses were much smaller. Because Adrian Orr has a competent team. Not a bunch of egoists.

            • Tim Ellis 3.2.1.1.1.4

              Berkshire Hathaway lost 30% of its value last year, Zetetic. That isn’t minor, by any standard.

              It’s funny how you blame the financial recession for the drop in values for companies that you like, but blame stupidity for the losses of companies you want to use to score political points.

        • Ag 3.2.1.2

          There aren’t really any good New Zealand businesspeople. I guess it’s our national shame that they are all so thick and useless. If only they had the good grace to hide their incompetence by shutting up.

          • The Baron 3.2.1.2.1

            Wow, are you one of those people that branded national’s campaign as “NZ Sucks”? What on earth is this then?

            So what would make them awesome, by your standards Ag?

          • Sparo 3.2.1.2.2

            But still they get to the ‘top’ – according to the guy who made CFO for M/S and was rewarded with a big pitch on RNZ’s morning show, nine2noon or something.. a coupla years back

            Of course, if you’re into win7 or whatever the latest OS version is and have heard how no discounts apply for kiwis buying it (geeez $1800 to beat Vista !) when Aussis rate huge discounts and – tip: certain apps like cameras or phones etc) come with it installed – you likely won’t hold another candle for the management no matter where they are from..

            lively thread, zet, and hey I’m only this far into it..

      • vto 3.2.2

        “vto. I put those words in specifically because I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle it. I want you to get excited, angry, worked up. That’s the only way you’ll think. The only way you’ll be challenged to come and fight for what you believe in or change what you believe in.”

        You just proved again your lack of time on the planet. Get some years under the belt.

        That’s the only way I’ll think? What I believe in? Those assumptions expose your own thinking. or rather, lack of. See, your lack of experience dooms you to rely on the few things that you have read in a book. Bit shallow isn’t it.

        common traits run through your threads. they are weak.

  4. craig 4

    There wouldn’t have been 120 people to lose their jobs if he hadn’t started it in the first place!

    Nothing’s permanent – surely it’s much better that those jobs were created for a while than if he’d stayed at home playing playstation and they weren’t?

    People who start businesses typically work far longer hours than bureaucrats who clock out at 5pm every day. And most of them fail.

    I’d suggest you start up a business if it’s so easy – and rather than keeping your profits you can distribute them to your workers (who won’t be working crazy hours or risking their house / marriage / sanity), and the world will be a better place.

    • Zetetic 4.1

      “I’d suggest you start up a business if it’s so easy and rather than keeping your profits you can distribute them to your workers (who won’t be working crazy hours or risking their house / marriage / sanity), and the world will be a better place.”

      yeah. It’s called a collective. It was successful. cheers.

      craig. doing something right for a while doesn’t give you immunity from criticusm when you stuff up royally.

      • craig 4.1.1

        “It was successful. cheers.”

        Well what happened to it if it was so successful?

        No one’s saying Line 7 shouldn’t be criticised. But using them as an example to criticise all private business owners is ridiculous.

  5. indiana 5

    Z, did you support the government when they gave Emirates Team NZ a whole wad of cash when they lost the America’s cup? I raised this over at Red Alert and Trevor kindly replied that it was an economic decision – however I haven’t seen the payback from that investment or “business” decision.

    To my knowledge there hasn’t been a flurry of tourist here from seeing our boat in Europe and I am not aware of super yacht orders that cannot be filled due to demand. Also, if Line 7 are bad in their business decisions, do you support people like Mac Pac who shut down their operation in NZ and took their brand to Asia? Would you have preferred they did that? Jobs still would have been lost, but it was a good capitalist decision.

    • Zetetic 5.1

      As Benjamin Nathan said “that’s not our cup. That’s the rich man’s cup”

  6. Ron 6

    Despite his overblown rhetoric, Zetetic’s point remains valid. Private providers are no more (and very often less) qualified to deliver services than government.

    • craig 6.1

      Except private providers take the losses themselves, whereas the taxpayer takes the losses when the government fucks up.

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        Ron, that is an interesting point.

        Private providers provide pretty much all primary healthcare services in New Zealand already. Private providers already provide much of New Zealand’s infrastructure.

        • DeeDub 6.1.1.1

          That’s right, Tim. Which is why our A&E departments are overflowing with sick people who can’t afford to see their GPs, and also why a raft of primary health issues, especially amongst people on low incomes, living in sub-standard housing, are not dealt with until they become manifestly more serious and life threatening.

          Tell me how that model is ‘working’?

          • Swampy 6.1.1.1.1

            You mean like in the UK where public provision can’t keep up with demand?

            You mean like our hospitals are overflowing because the public health system can’t provide for their needs, well in fact that is no different really, it has not got anything to do with being either public or private.

      • Zetetic 6.1.2

        Except that they try to avoid carrying the losses and pass them on to the public all the time.

        If there was a motto of the bosses it would be:

        privatise the profits, socalise the losses, and seek rents.

        • craig 6.1.2.1

          “Except that they try to avoid carrying the losses and pass them on to the public all the time.”

          That’s not a problem with capitalism – it’s a problem with the deal that our government is writing up.

  7. sausage fingers 7

    Zetetic,

    As you are clearly such a genius, why don’t you start a business? Then you could make a real difference to people’s lives by offering them employment and products or services that they would value. That might be more productive than whining on a blog about how stupid everyone else is.

    • Clarke 7.1

      Which I presume is what you’ve done, Sausage, given that you’re so keen to point the bone. Tell me, how many staff do you currently employ?

      • craig 7.1.1

        Why should he have done it? He’s not the one calling people who start their own businesses losers…

        • Clarke 7.1.1.1

          He’s calling a bloke who ran his own business into the ground through bad management decisions a loser – which would appear to be objectively correct. Why would Zetetic need to start a company in order to criticize obvious management errors?

          • craig 7.1.1.1.1

            It was “Losers” – plural.

            And he was referring to “our capitalist class”.

            Zetetic needs to start a company so he can realise that business owners are not “morons”.

            • Zetetic 7.1.1.1.1.1

              craig. I’m not calling people who start their own business losers because of that. I’m calling the ones who seek rents and stuff up then expect the government to save them losers.

              Unfortunately, they seem to be representative of the class. It’s hard to identify a single industry where their primary lobbying goal isn’t rent-seeking and who don’t come crying to the government for cash when they stuff up only to demand tax cuts when things are going right.

            • craig 7.1.1.1.1.2

              People have a right to complain. I don’t see how this is any different to farmers who want handouts when there are floods or droughts.

              We just shouldn’t give them anything.

            • Zetetic 7.1.1.1.1.3

              The problem is that hardworking Kiwis’ livelihoods are in the hands of people who make such simple mistakes yet wrap themselves up in this aura of the modern Atlas.

            • The Baron 7.1.1.1.1.4

              Oh yes, “hardworking kiwis” – as if the owners of these businesses aren’t hard workers too.

              The only one who is creating “us and them” is you, Zetty, with your outdated mindset of victimisation.

      • sausage fingers 7.1.2

        Only one right now but, at my peak, five.

  8. Clarke 8

    Yeah, well Zetetic does seem to have the rhetoric turned up to 11 this morning. However the point is valid.

    Tim Ellis – according to the CEO when interviewed on TVNZ last night, the reason he didn’t hedge as because the forward cover was “too expensive” – i.e. he put short-term margins ahead of risk mitigation. He lost the bet, and it cost him the company, which by any reasonable standard is a failure of corporate governance.

    The first objective of business is to stay in business, and at this he’s clearly a failure. I would suggest that he lacked any relevant forex experience and didn’t bother going and hiring any. It’s difficult to see this as anything other than the poor management that Zetetic is criticizing.

  9. Tim Ellis 9

    Clarke, I don’t know much about Line 7, so thank you for those points.

    What zetetic is trying to show is that Line 7 is an example of why private enterprises are bad, and therefore, why public enterprises are good.

    It is a preposterous argument. There are good and bad managers in the public and private sectors.

    I don’t personally have an ideological problem with private sector involvement in anything.

    • Zetetic 9.1

      No. I’m saying too much private management is bad. Therefore the argument that privatising offers gains from better management is a crock. And where does it come from? More rent-seeking behaviour. Look at this health privatisation plan. It’s just a gift to private providers under the guise that they are more efficient.

      You have an ideological presumption that the private sector will do better. My opposition to that is based on practice, not theory.

  10. Zetetic, most business owners are not greedy half-wits. Line 7 was a successful business for many years. It fell on hard times in the midst of a global recession and at a time when the NZ currency is one of the most unstable in the world. Many smart, decent people are losing money or going out of business.

    Do you have experience in running a business? Have you had to deal with employees, GST, customers, marketing, suppliers, accounts and banks? You have no idea how hard it is to run a business.

    May I suggest you lay off the abuse until you know what you’re talking about?

    • Clarke 10.1

      It fell on hard times in the midst of a global recession and at a time when the NZ currency is one of the most unstable in the world.

      God that made me laugh.

      Line 7 fell over because the managing director decided not to hedge his currency risk, because – by his own admission – it was too expensive. This was rather like deciding to walk across a tightrope ten stories up, but to forgo a safety net because it’s too expensive.

      And here’s news – the NZ dollar has traded in a wide range since the day it was floated. If he was unaware of the long-standing volatility of the NZD then he was clearly living in a fantasy land. A more prudent approach would have been to insure against adverse consequences by hedging, particularly when the consequences were the failure of the business.

      He’s only a victim of his own bad management. He didn’t “fall on hard times” at all.

  11. djp 11

    This just in, businessmen are fallible!

    Who would have known

  12. craig 12

    By the way I assume the owners of something like Eves Pantry would also fall under your definition of “capitalist class”?

    I’d suggest you probably could trust them to run a cake stall…

  13. Craig Glen Eden 13

    While the rant was over done I think the first point is true the private sector is not better than the public sector or the other way round.Firstly let me say, I have been a public servant, I have been a union official now I own my own company and have started this from scratch, as apposed to buying a business that is already up and rocking.The little self employed guy/girl or company owner does carry the risk and stress, its not easy but hey, some do well a lot fail. Their are basic services like Health/Education/ other social services that the private sector are not good with.If you look at health it is a mess in the USA. Why because the profit motive of private companies Insurers and Surgeons is to great per procedure. The end result has seen millions of people without health care.This model has also been used by other self interested greedy people who call them selves Drug companies.

    I have to agree with So Bored its time we start doing things differently but this whole private is better than public thing is crap and capitalism is not working.

    Why is it that the likes of the Weldons of this world are so keen to get their hands on the Tax payers assets? I believe its not because they can deliver the service or product any better its just because they can rape it with a short term profit grab. Who misses out the Tax payer. Time for a change people, I will get back to you all when I have worked out the model to replace the existing. No holding your breath now!

  14. StephenR 14

    Their are basic services like Health/Education/ other social services that the private sector are not good with.

    Which would explain why there is no demand for such services in NZ, right? Perhaps the question is could they provide such service to everybody regardless of income.

    The US health system is a mess for a myriad of reasons, not because it’s simple ‘a free market’, which it certainly aint.

  15. Maynard J 15

    This mythos of the amazing person who takes a risk to employ people irks me, as it is implied they are inherently superior to everyone else. Businesses have limited liability, so there is a limit to the sacrifice that these people are taking, although I agree it is not insignificant at all. I respect these people – I am fairly certain that I will not start up a business and employ people. That is not where my skills lie and I would be a liability to those who I employed if I was to do so.

    Am I therefore inferior?

    People have very different skills. There are people who are invaluable to companies of all sizes, without initially financing them.

    I (unlike zetetic) am not criticising them at all – I am merely pointing out that they should not be elevated to some superior status. Business is always, at some level, a collaborative exercise – it may not have happened without the founders, but it sure will not work without those who work for and support it (how bloody collectivist of I).

    Let us just keep sight of that.

    • tsmithfield 15.1

      I don’t think business owners are superior Maynard.

      However, the nature of business involves risk-taking. We hedged at around US 70 last year, which was at very high levels. Seemed like a good decision at the time. However, the currency kept on going up, and we lost money on it.

      The problem is that business is not conducted in hindsight. We make the best decisions we can with the information available at the time. Sometimes we get it wrong.

      In the case that Line 7 faced, they may well have assumed a risk that the currency might fall by 10% or so, and therefore were prepared to accept the risk and focus their resources to other important areas. As it happened, the currency fell like a stone, probably a lot further than they would have expected.

      Sometimes shit happens and there is not a lot you can do about it.

      • Maynard J 15.1.1

        The nature of everything involves risk taking. Getting a job is a risk, so is every financial decision you make. I am glad you do not think business owners are superior, I get that attitude from people though.

        The simple but logical extension of that is greater risk = hero. Clearly not so!

        I am not interested in the specifics of line seven, I was just spouting some collectivist wisdom 🙂

        “Sometimes shit happens and there is not a lot you can do about it.”

        That is something we all agree on. I think it is the application of that to specific instances of shit happening which causes grief.

  16. I’m certainly not suggesting Zetetic can’t criticise others, Nor do I think businesspeople should be immune from criticism. I happen to disagree strongly with the substance of Zetetic’s argument, but that’s another matter.

    What I don’t like is the abuse. There’s no reason to call the guy a half-wit.

    • Zetetic 16.1

      He didn’t hedge against the dollar dropping from record highs. That was such an important risk that not doing it sunk a 40 year old company.

      He’s not exactly Einstein

      • djp 16.1.1

        Everybody is Einstein in hindsight

        How much did you make from shorting the kiwi then?

        • Zetetic 16.1.1.1

          I called the interest rate crash. Made $1000 this last year by locking in term deposit rates at their peak. If I had wanted to I could have applied that foresight on where things were heading one step further to currency because it was obvious the currency would drop until things started to get better, when it would recover. But I’ll leave the currency speculation to Key (who expected it to drop into the 40s… oops) and businesses who need to hedge to ensure their survival.

          • The Baron 16.1.1.1.1

            I expect you won’t want to risk being a hypocrite by keeping that “rent” that you made off your capital, then Zetty.

            About $9 each for each of the laid off workers. Come on, put your money where your mouth is.

            Bet you don’t, because you’ll probably whine along that you’re “working class” too, despite the fact that you’ve evidently got a couple of K sitting in the bank. Well la-de-dah you are a genius, aren’t you.

            Lets add egotist to hypocritical, hatefilled, and being a HACK.

            • Zetetic 16.1.1.1.1.1

              I’ve already given more than that to food banks and environmental groups this year. I’m not anti-interest either. Clearly a price on money is needed for the flow of capital to work in a capitalist society. I’m anti rent-seeking and fools who want to be seen as heroes.

              There’s nothing wrong with using your skills and using them in a way that’s beneficial to the wider community (as opposed to just enriching yourself). There’s something wrong with claiming to have skills, stuffing up and taking others down with you.

          • Jasper 16.1.1.1.2

            My business owning exporting uncle hedged 25 million last year at 81c. He ignored John “wouldn’t know a tick from a dick” Key when he “saw the kiwi dropping to 45c” and just hedged another 25 million at 65c

            However, Keys comment caused a fair few exporters to rush out and hedge… at 54c. They must be suffering now.

            At Zetitic. I called the FX rate last year also at the same time as uncle. 14 month term to get it through to this financial year and made a lovely $9500 realised gain.

            • Zetetic 16.1.1.1.2.1

              Well done. Hope you use the money for the good of those around you and your community.

            • Jasper 16.1.1.1.2.2

              Apart from paying my CGT on the gain?

              The only thing I spend my money on and in are kiwi owned businesses.
              Which generally cuts out about 80% of businesses operating in NZ by virtue of being Australian owned (yes, I know that palaver of hiring kiwis, but the profits don’t go back to the community. Just underpaid staff wages)
              Thank heavens for 100% Electric and LV Martin Your genuine Kiwi Stores.

  17. So Bored 17

    Zet,

    The argument above for or against capitalism somewhat hollow, its a bit like an atheist turning up at a Christian service and declaring the non existence of God….nobody will believe him, and he cant prove it. Conversely nobody can prove the existence of God to the atheist. Everybody then gets very doctrinal and agitated, and declares the other a heretic or fool. Its called absolutist thought, plenty of it from both sides above.

    An alternative…I propose healthy scepticism and doubt, admission tht truth is neither absolute or exclusive. That could bugger this type of blog.

    • Zetetic 17.1

      So Bored. Come close and I’ll tell you a secret (don’t tell vto, it would be bad for his blood pressure).

      The point of this post and the other anti-capitalist ones I’ve written is to provoke conflict. Make people decide which side they stand on and think about what that means.

      Ultimately, politics is about power. Whether you have the power to do what you think is right or the others have the power over you to do what they think is right. That’s why this post goes right for the jugular. Attacks the myth of the heroic capitalist. Because it’s the only way to get the fundamental conflict in the open. Just pussy-footing around the edge ignores that conflict and leaves their core beliefs unchallenged.

      • So Bored 17.1.1

        Zet,

        Thats where we differ and agree…I have some doubt over your tactics, and to a large degree belong in your camp (with some healthy scepticism)….cant argue that you draw the barbs, whether you blunt them is another issue. Keep it up, its a nice cutting edge.

      • Tim Ellis 17.1.2

        Zetetic, what you’re really saying is that you’re a troll, and you will justify any outlandish claim that isn’t based facts accordingly. It really is very infantile.

        • Zetetic 17.1.2.1

          Tim. What isn’t based on the facts? Don’t throw childish accusations around. It makes you look like a tool and you’re one of the smarter ones.

      • vto 17.1.3

        “Come close and I’ll tell you a secret (don’t tell vto, it would be bad for his blood pressure). The point of this post and the other anti-capitalist ones I’ve written is to provoke conflict. Make people decide which side they stand on and think about what that means.”

        Do you think that is not obvious? Hae it ever crossed your mind that is perhaps my own m.o. at times? You expose your ignorance yet again.

        The problem you have is that your sentences 1 and 2 do nothing for your aim in sentence 3. Duh.

        Out

  18. tsmithfield 18

    Predicting currency movements is not at all easy.

    Yesterday we hedged against the Aussie for 100k at .8015. The BNZ currency dealer recommended that we didn’t take too much because the Aussie was moving up. However, it has dropped back down again today. In hindsight I would have been better to take 200k. Shit I am a bad business man.

    • Zetetic 18.1

      You don’t have to be perfect. Not seeing that the NZD was going to drop in a global recession and building your business model around a high dollar, then not hedging with the result your business collapses. That’s not just a minor cockup.

      • insider 18.1.1

        Of course you are all ignoring that the person who said it was FX rates may have a self interest to blame the rates. It could be that there are other more fundamental issues with the business and its management, and the exchange rate is a convenient scapegoat.

        I seem to recall him also mentioning lower sales, high rents, non payment for goods and failure to control costs. I suspect those have been more influential than $ volatility and a failure to hedge.

      • tsmithfield 18.1.2

        I do have some sympathy for them though.

        I was actually looking at taking a position on the US myself last year when it was around .80. My banker advised against it because he said it could well go higher, so it was risky even at that. As it turned out, I would have made a packet if I had followed my instinct. So, playing the foreign currency is not that easy.

        From a business perspective, in my company last year we would have loved to have taken a substantial hedging position on the US. However, all our hedging facilities were committed to the Aussie from where we were bringing in a lot of equipment at the time.

        Sometimes in business there are things you would love to do, but for various reasons, can’t.

        I don’t know the specifics of Line 7. However, I suspect that foreign currency wasn’t their only problem. They may well have already been having problems, and pushing their bank facilities to the margins. They may have simply been unable to hedge, even though they wanted to.

  19. coolas 19

    I like to hear some solutions to the problem of currency fluctuations.
    The Chinese have suggested a trading currency – International Dollar? What about pegging again, giving surety and gutting speculation?

  20. infused 20

    Sooner The Standard dump you as a contributor, the better.

    [lprent: I drop commentators rather than contributors almost every time. Read the policy especially this bit under banning

    Abusing the sysop or post writers on their own site. This is viewed as self-evident stupidity, and should be added as a category to the Darwin Awards.

    To date I haven’t heard another contributor having a go at Z on the back-channels, and I rather enjoy his posts – they’re ummmm ‘aggressive’. ]

    • Tim Ellis 20.1

      To be fair, LP, Zetetic does use very colourful and aggressive language, which is fair enough in debate, I suppose, but it in parliamentary terms, it is likely to lead to disorder.

      I don’t have a problem with that, but you might consider given the leeway Z has with his posts, that their aggressive is intended to provoke strong reactions (as he’s admitted here), that when strong reactions are received, you might give some extra leeway to those comments.

      Personally I think Zetetic should be able to write what he wants. People can choose whether to engage with him or not, but if they do, a bit more liberty in the comments might be appropriate.

      • lprent 20.1.1

        We have (as we always do) a look at the post and what people are responding to when moderating. There is considerable leeway given during posts like this. That is why I’ve only moderated on two comments despite the venting going on.

        One was someone directly asking me a question as a moderator.

        The other was stating that we (the contributors) should do something. Normally that has a VERY high probability of getting an instant banning. In this post it got a mild warning pointing out the relevant section of policy.

        The policies are designed to stop uncontrolled flamewars, threadjacking, etc in posts to the detriment of other readers. They aren’t applicable when the contributor deliberately sets out to cause a bit of a flamewar with their use of language. Then a more relaxed policy tends to be used.

        The intent (as always) is to promote dialogue amongst people who often have to agree to disagree. There are no hard and fast rules. It is a matter of judgement for the moderator who sees something and responds first. The variation tends to reduce lawyering and promote self-moderation (which we heartily approve of).

  21. Relic 21

    This piece has really just turned over a rock, exposing all you aspirational capitalists wriggling away. Unfortunately for you lot, the club of true capitalists will only ever be small due to the monopolistic nature of the beast, spurred on the by the tendency of the rate of profit to fall which requires ever more desperate measures. No amount of public sycophancy will see you admitted.

    • Tim Ellis 21.1

      Relic, New Zealanders are primarily employed by small and medium sized companies. For the main part, they aren’t working for monopolistic employers. The barriers to entry to starting your own business are small. New Zealand has consistently rated as one of the easiest countries in the world to start a business.

      Which makes the claim of onompoly rent-takers by the “capitalist class” very weak, in my view.

      • Relic 21.1.1

        The fact is the small enterprise and sole operator people generally have finance captial standing on their throats in one form or another, so they too are indeed exploited workers, but most would not admit such. I am my own boss would be the expected utterance. ‘Ten thousand lawn mowing rounds’ is not the answer for this country.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 21.1.2

        Isn’t that what Weldon wants- monopoly rent takers owning our public services?

        By the way, you are right about the risk takers- they are what give us an economic future, if they didn’t take risks our GDP would plummet.

        Small enterprises stand to lose big time if our public services are sold. All the venture capital would directed toward the buy out of these monopolies- as they are a lazy way of certain profitability. Try telling your bank that your business is more desrving of funds than a monopoly rent seeker.

  22. infused 22

    Your loss pent.

  23. Relic (aptly named) – the Cold War’s been over almost 20 years. Your team lost, mainly because having everything controlled by the state leads to basket-case economies.

    Capitalism (provided its excesses are moderated) works. We’re in a recession, and some businesses will fail, but the recession will end. If people didn’t take risks there would be no business failures. There would also be no innovation and you’d still be using a typewriter to communicate.

    • Maynard J 23.1

      Maybe you should be called relic – you have not gotten over the cold war either. It does not even need to be mentioned for you to start crowing your ‘victory’. You must be the most boring man at the pub.

      The internet was invented by state-funded universities. Do you think true inspiration stops when financed by the state? Any evidence, or will you spout ideology?

      • Swampy 23.1.1

        The internet has prospered as a commercial entity, not a wholly public one. When it was a creature of universities there was hardly anything happening on it.

  24. Maynard J, I happen to think there’s a role for the state in fostering innovation. What I should have said was “much less” innovation, rather than “no innovation”.

    Silicon Valley’s a good example of innovation fostered mostly by the private sector.

    I’m not an idealogue, and sit largely in the centre politically. I think capitalism works, so long as it’s subject to some state regulation. People who rage against bosses and capitalists are living in the past, hence my reference to the Cold War. I’m sorry you think that’s boring.

    • Pascal's bookie 24.1

      “I’m not an idealogue…”

      Just wondering, do you speak with an accent? 😉

    • Maynard J 24.2

      “I’m sorry you think that’s boring.”

      Referring it to the cold war, indeed. It is a new battle my friend, and has nothing to do with the conflict of past – that was a struggle for hegemony.

      Tell me, what do you do these days if you want to critique capitalism while at the same time not be branded a Cold Warrior by Scott Yorke? Or must I accept capitalism as my master now and hereafter?

      Why, if not for ideology, do you think the successes of Silicon Valley could not have been achieved with state funding?

  25. George Darroch 25

    They dropped focus on their core market, high value sailing clothes, in favour of a larger and potentially more profitable one in fashion. Unfortunately their products dated quite quickly as demand changed in the last decade. They suffered. If they were a sailing company I’d say they’d still be around today. The currency issues certainly didn’t help.

    I’d also like to see more stability in the NZ dollar, but the kind of regulation needed to ensure that is off the table for Labour.

  26. “Just wondering, do you speak with an accent?”

    Who doesn’t?

    • Pascal's bookie 26.1

      I just find it strange when people claim that they are just ‘in the centre’, not ‘having an ideology’.

      As if the centre doesn’t move around, quite wildly, and as if their own opinions are of course just pragmatic and moral exercises in common sense. Not like those ideologues who find their opinions in the sock drawer or something.

      No biggie. It’s just something that always strikes me as strange.

      • Zetetic 26.1.1

        Stay out of my sock drawer, PB.

        • Zetetic 26.1.1.1

          nah jokes. I got all my opinions in a little book called ‘The Leftie’s guide to everything’. Whenever I have a question I just look up the ideologically valid answer and then I write it down. Easier than thinking about it.

  27. Maynard J: you said “Why, if not for ideology, do you think the successes of Silicon Valley could not have been achieved with state funding?”

    I don’t think those successes could have been. The State is generally risk-averse with its spending and generally doesn’t like investing in high risk business activity. Which pretty much sums up Silicon Valley – much activity there involves enormous commercial risk but potentially enormous rewards. Some people end up losing their shirt, and others make a bundle.

    The moment the State began to invest significantly in software and ICT innovation people would be writing letters to the editor of every newspaper complaining about how many hip operations could have been performed using the money.

    I’ll accept I’m never going to convince you of the potential benefits of capitalism. I’m not a crusader for capitalism and acknowledge that it has flaws that need to be moderated. Call that ideology if you want to. I still think I’m a moderate.

    • Maynard J 27.1

      “The moment the State began to invest significantly in software and ICT innovation people would be writing letters to the editor of every newspaper complaining about how many hip operations could have been performed using the money. ”

      There is no disputing that point!

      I see the benefits of capitalism, and the pitfalls. The idealist in me wonders if there is a way to reap the benefits while mitigating the risks – but that’s not really likely is it?

  28. “The idealist in me wonders if there is a way to reap the benefits while mitigating the risks but that’s not really likely is it?”

    Probably not. But feel free to put your thinking hat on and come up with something.

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