Open mike 05/01/2016

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 5th, 2016 - 68 comments
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68 comments on “Open mike 05/01/2016”

    • Paul 1.1

      ‘The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 375 points as a selloff in Chinese equities spread around the world, fanned by concerns that economic growth is decelerating from Asia to North America.
      The U.S. blue-chip index tumbled toward its worst start to a year since 1932, while banks and technology shares led the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lower.
      A measure of global equities headed for its worst inaugural session in at least three decades. Emerging markets slid the most since August as slowing manufacturing triggered a selloff that halted Shanghai trading. Bonds jumped and the yen rallied on demand for haven assets.
      “We’ve had a number of negatives out there in the U.S. throughout most of last year as investors battled to have a flat year and China is a reminder that there aren’t many things to be bullish about going into this year,” Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at Jones Trading Institutional Services LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut, said by phone.
      Investors returning to the market after the New Year holiday faced a worldwide selloff sparked by weak factory data in China, while a reading that showed the fastest contraction in U.S. manufacturing in six years added to anxiety that slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy is spreading.
      A flareup in tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran increased geopolitical unease.’

  1. John Shears 2

    This from the Timaru Herald today.
    “Potentially toxic algae continues to bring risks to the region’s river users in the warm, dry conditions. Warnings remain in place on the Opihi River at State Highway 1 and Waipopo Huts, the Waihao River below Bradshaws Bridge, the Waihi River at Winchester and Geraldine, the Temuka River at SH1, the Hakataramea River at the SH82 bridge, and the Pareora River at SH1 and Evans Crossing.

    Regional authority Environment Canterbury warns “significant quantities” of cyanobacteria algae at the sites could make people and pets who touch the water or algae sick.

    As well as the algae, recorded E coli levels nearing “trigger levels” at several sites mean the Opihi River at Saleyards Bridge near Pleasant Point and the Otaio River at Otaio Gorge are the only monitored South Canterbury river sites ECan rates as “good” for swimming. ”

    Yesterday only the mid & North Canterbury rivers were named but this report shows that Ecan the National Govt. appointed group are failing the whole of their area.

    The Opihi was my childhood river where I learnt to swim, caught cockies, made rafts , drank it. WoooH this is not the New Zealand I grew up in.

    Minister Smith and other Nat Ministers responsible are a disgrace, their leader should take their portfolios off them. I wish….

    • Ad 2.1

      Canterbury from Blenheim to the Waitaki now resemble a large-scale industrial park. The only border is at the National Parks themselves, and the sea.

    • Sacha 2.2

      And this government reckons ‘wadeable’ is good enough water quality for us plebs, so that corporate dairy farmers can do as they please.

  2. esoteric pineapples 3

    It was interesting to note the other day that both David Cameron and John Key used the same “New Zealand/Britain on the cusp/verge of something special” in their respective election campaigns. The New Zealand election came first so I guess this particular PR spin was tried out here first and then repeated in Britain.

    • Macro 3.1

      Yeah – on the cusp of a depression!
      UK wages set for worst wage growth since 1920’s
      and feeling the pinch UK shoppers stay at home
      The western economies are now more about consumption than the actual provision of needs – hence the worry in the financial sector as posted by Paul above. The markets are anxious because consumption is falling. Oh dear! What a catastrophe.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Yeah, can’t builds an economy on speculation and, as, that’s all that Western economies are based upon the speculators are stating to panic.

      • greywarshark 3.1.2

        While consumption is happening it gives the impression that there is a real economy (with old-fashioned Form 3 economic systems operating – workers making and doing things, earning, factories and business activity selling things and so on, workers and others buyiing those things, with govt transfers and taxes streaming out from the side to feed the social machine, then the cycle repeating itself).

        But style before substance is the order of the day now. Putting cosmetic layers over the bare shell of the economy has become accepted, like women applying make-up every day to cover their natural faces. Pity the natural economy isn’t so comely when revealed plain and simple with all its imperfections and distortions.

      • sabine 3.1.3

        it would be nice to have a chart showing how the Christmas Sales went this year in NZ. Not eftpost transaction, but actually Christmas Shopping say from Mid November till 24/12.
        Or just a chart with Eftpos Transaction over that period of time, say over a period of 10 – 15 years. Not sure where to find something like that.

        i heard from a lot of people that the annual shopping frenzy needed by many retailers to cover the first three month of the new year was not that lucrative.

        • Graeme

          There’s this from Statistics

          That survey is pretty broad and doesn’t really separate the really discretionary spend sectors that get hammered when people aren’t feeling flash. Does show when businesses have had a good run in past quarters with vehicle spending.

          Xmas eftpos figures aren’t terribly reliable as spending patterns are influenced by which day 25/12 falls on, so reporting can change to keep the news good.

          Comparing retail and eftpos stats to what we see across the counter in the gallery, if they are roughly in line with CPI there’s not much money around and it’s hard work for us from the domestic market. 2-3 points above CPI and we’re humming. Right now it’s all international and quite good because of the lower dollar, but only for USD.

    • esoteric pineapples 3.2

      What I found interesting was that the same exact line was parroted in two different countries. It showed the complete vapidity of John Key’s comment. It wasn’t even driven by some misguided vision of where New Zealand is headed. There was no unique vision whatsoever. It was completely contrived, with nothing to do with reality. Just a piece of advertising fluff thought up by a PR company. We could be on the verge of something special or on the verge of hell – it made no difference provided it was a line that would sell the government at the election. New Zealand and New Zealanders have basically been commodified into a product to be sold back to us. In a way this is the ultimate end result of Rogernomics/Monetarism. A financial value has been applied to absolutely everything from the clothes we wear to the values we hold as a country.

      • alwyn 3.2.1

        “The New Zealand election came first so I guess this particular PR spin was tried out here first” and “same exact line was parroted in two different countries. It showed the complete vapidity of John Key’s comment”

        I’ll suggest an alternative viewpoint. Given the timing of the statements, and I’ll assume that you are quoting them accurately, we could say something like this.

        “Here we have further evidence of the enormous influence that John Key has in the world. Just as Obama and Turnbull showed, Key is respected and admired by most other world statesmen. That everything he says is listened to carefully by other world leaders as is illustrated by Cameron showing the ultimate flattery of imitating him”.

        There, I’m sure that with your great respect for our Prime Minister you’ll agree that that is a much more likely scenario?

        • kenny

          Or could just be that both governments are being advised/told what to say by the Crosby’s.

        • Expat

          ““Here we have further evidence of the enormous influence that John Key has in the world. Just as Obama and Turnbull showed, Key is respected and admired by most other world statesmen. That everything he says is listened to carefully by other world leaders”

          Especially the pony tail pulling bit, Turnbull say’s nice things about any one, and so does Obama, it’s called diplomacy

          What a load of BS, the MSM would love to have you believe that, and obviously you do.

        • North

          Love your mix of Monty Python and Ebsolutely Febulous there Alwyn !

          • alwyn

            I was sure you would. I wrote it just for you.
            I thought it was in the same vein of fantasy as was esoteric pineapples actually.
            It is amazing what one can come up with when, like ES and I, you decide that for something like this any connection between reality and the comment made can be discarded. You are, of course, living in that world all the time aren’t you?

  3. Ad 5

    Excellent article by Branda Harre on TransportBlog today: “Is Christchurch a provincial market town or a diversified commercial city?”

    Brendan starts to make the case for it being the latter not the former, whereas other business leaders make the case for the contrary.

    If anyone wants to understand why it continues to be so hard to push New Zealand’s rural rump up the value escalator when Denmark and Finland have made it look so easy, have a read. It’s a good piece.

    • Pat 5.1

      good article ….so agriculture and tourism is ChCh lot , two of the lowest value activities and ChCh historic low wage economy is well explained.

  4. millsy 6

    Look what the cat dragged into the Herald

    Alan Duff, who owns chateaux in France and denies poverty exists yet claiming to help those in low decile schools by giving them a few books. Apparently we have a ‘poverty of spirit’ yet he describes kids in Mangere wanting to be orthodontist.

    • Mrs Brillo 6.1

      He never owned that chateau he declared bankruptcy from in 2011.

      It’s a bed and breakfast, listed in the Loire guides.

      I could give you its website (Chateau de la Doree), but can’t link to it as it’s an insecure connection.

    • greywarshark 6.2

      Don’t get dirty on Alan Duff. He has done something with his books for kids. Far more than many other people. Even though he is a controversial figure, save your intense scorn for others.

  5. Ad 7

    For those who need one extra helping of anxiety-inducing risk discussion for 2016, here’s a summary of what the Eurasia Group have to say:

    “The Middle East is the most vulnerable to a geopolitical leadership vacuum and is heading toward conflagration. There are six failed states across the broader region (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria, and Yemen) and more refugees than ever recorded. ISIS has become the most powerful terrorist organization in history. Oil economies are under strain. All of this will get worse in 2016.

    Europe will feel much of the pain—in economic costs, security vulnerability, and political blowback. The United States, at the twilight of Barack Obama’s administration, will mostly stick to its knitting, since the western hemisphere remains insulated from the lion’s share of geopolitical instability. In Asia, despite having many of the world’s strongest national leaders, helping manage these problems is not a priority.

    This all means a dramatically more fragmented world in 2016 with more intra-, inter-, and extra-state conflict than at any point since World War II. And yet drawing the major powers into military battle against one another—World War III—is virtually unthinkable (recent comments from Pope Francis notwithstanding). The world’s four largest economies—the United States, China, Japan, and Germany—are all deeply reluctant to accept responsibility for crisis management. Only the Germans are affected directly by this turmoil, and they still have plenty of reasons to duck the fight.

    And so, in 2016, conflict intensifies. Last year, investors recognized growing uncertainty but remained more focused on the economic improvements: a US economy in recovery and Europe coming out of recession. That’s unlikely to last, as geopolitical risk shakes the global order.”

    The broader report also dishes on:
    – The hollow and weakening trans-Atlantic partnership
    – Conflict between Open Europe and Closed Europe
    – China being the only remaining country with a global strategy, and its increasing global footprint
    – Rise of ISIS within many more Islamic-dominated countries
    – Destabilising discord inside Saudi Arabia
    – Technology leaders rising as political agents
    – Political and economic crisis worsening in Brazil

    And dismisses a few things as red herrings:

    “US voters aren’t going to elect a president who will close the country to Muslims. China’s economy isn’t headed for a hard landing, and its politics will remain stable. Continued strong leadership from Japan’s Shinzo Abe, India’s Narendra Modi, and especially China’s Xi Jinping will keep Asia’s three most important players focused on economic reform and longer-term strategy, reducing the risk of conflict in Asia’s geopolitics.”

    It’s a fun stab at a bunch of things.

    [lprent: This wound up in spam. Did a mod have their finger slip? Cos I checked it and it looks like Ad to me. Comment doesn’t appear to have issues for the site and I see that YourNZ linked to it. Extracted back out of spam.

    Mods/Ad: If it was intended, then send it to trash, I don’t evaluate those. ]

    [Hi it was me sorry. Wanted to convert it into a post. I was going to replace the text with this. Then when I went back it was no longer in spam … MS]

    • weka 8.1

      Fuck that’s depressing. Climate change and industrial agriculture and poverty and how they interrelate.

  6. sabine 9

    and the earth just shook, luckily they estimate it to be a light earthquake, it was enough to shake the house of my parents in law.

    yei. good fun.

  7. sabine 10

    and then there is Dick Smith Electronics, or maybe it was. But surely all the soon to be unemployed will find a job pronto in our Rock Star Economy. And surely now that we are in 2016 and the run for 2017 has effectively started we can start talking tax cuts to stimulate the economy 🙂

    • weka 10.1

      That article says they don’t know why it’s had to go into receivership. Might not close though.

      • Tc 10.1.1

        Been into one lately ?

        Woolies probably bit anchorage capitals hand off unloading it in 2011 to them and they have behaved like the bankstas they are since with financial tricks and sale after sale in a sector under huge pressure with lotsa real estate, etailing etc.

        The geeks who knew stuff cant be found much anymore and everything they sell can be picked up from places with same or better advice with sharper prices like a PB tech, harvey norman, jb etc

        • weka

          thanks Tc. Haven’t been in one for a long time and hadn’t realised they’d changed so much.

        • Draco T Bastard

          My biggest complaint about DSE over the last few years is that it’s no longer a electronics store for hobbyists but is now a whiteware store. Used to be able to go in there and get the knowledge and parts to make the electronics that you wanted to.

          Seems really hard to find good hobbyist stores any more – even online – and I think we’ll find that it’s having a detrimental effect upon innovation.

          • McFlock

            yeah – jaycar has some interesting stuff, probably filling the vacuum left by DSE’s reorientation. Lots of kits, components, that sort of thing. Dedicated computer stores like pb or cellotech handle the other side.

            DSE is just another place where you go for a computer and they sell you a standard box with the sales staff on a quota to upsell you the extended warranty. I went in on boxing day and they had espresso machines, ffs.

          • millsy

            That is what got DSE in the end, really. They moved away from selling gadgets and hobby electronics to just selling what you could get from Harvey Norman or The Warehouse. They didnt even have HDMI – VGA adapters in there when I was looking for them.

        • Graeme

          Yeah, private equity strikes again.

          They bought it for about 100 mil, pumped a bit of money in and made it look pretty, conned 500 mil for the float ($2.20 / share) two years ago, it’s 0.34 / share now and Anchorage are long gone, sold the last of their stock 6 months ago. And the thing is carrying huge debt.

          Where has the money, like 400 mil, gone?

          • Macro

            “Where has the money, like 400 mil, gone?”
            Into Anchorage’s back pocket.

          • Descendant Of Sssmith

            The electronics side got sold to Jaycar Electronics who lots of nerds go to now.

            Dick Smith just became another retailer with hardly any technical knowledge with buyers who didn’t buy things like limited editions of games even on pre-order cause they are asshats who didn’t realise that those of us who bought both the electronics and limited editions spent a lot of money in their shops on other stuff.

            They also populated their store locally with PS4 fanboys who just pissed off us regular Xbox players. You don’t sell stuff to us by telling us that what we (consciously) prefer is crap, particularly when we know a darn sight more about the merits and issues with the different systems than you do.

            Even with PC’s I had one dick tell me I couldn’t put the RAM I wanted in myself and needed to pay someone who knew what they were doing to do it. When I said I know how easy it was and explained it he was totally gobsmacked. He’d never actually ever looked inside a PC.

            The older (experience not age) staff knew us and tried to hold on to our business but their hands were tied.

            They sadly watched our business go elsewhere.

            • millsy

              That is like walking into Mitre 10 and discovering the staff dont know how to install gib board, or going to Repco, and finding the people who work there dont know how to connect/remove a car battery.

          • Expat

            Graeme, it’s actually (DSE share) 20c, the point at which trading is suspended.

            • Graeme

              Yeah, I was looking at an article that was a few days old. May as well say it’s 0.00 now.

              It’s still a serious amount of money to “loose” by any measure in two years. But I suppose they will be well practiced at disguising any malfeasance.

              • Expat

                Graeme, I agree with you, I don’t think they lost it, it was simply ripped off them, the share holders, that is.
                I saw the in depth report this evening, disturbing really, and blatant.

          • ropata

            Bought for AU$20 mill, pumped up to $520 mill according to this:

            After closing 100 stores, Woolworths decided to exit the struggling business in 2012, selling it to private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners. At the time, Vulture South noted the AU$20 million “initial cash proceeds” from the sale was probably less than the value of in-store inventory.

            Anchorage then re-floated the business in 2013 for $520 million. Funds manager Forage Funds Management last October called the Anchorage deal “the greatest private equity heist of all time

      • John Shears 10.1.2

        “Whilst confident on the long-term viability of the company, the directors have been unsuccessful in obtaining the necessary support of its banking syndicate to see it through this period.”

        According to one article I read.

        • Graeme

          These guys have a good turn of phrase, found this about their fire sale before Christmas

          managing director Nick Abboud said Dick Smith would maintain “flexibility on gross margin to reduce inventory and improve our debt position,”

          • millsy

            I hope they have another fire sale — I could use a DSE turntable to play my elevator music records on 😉

            • Descendant Of Sssmith

              They’ll sound horrible – particularly if you have a good amp and speakers.

              The quality of the amp in particular will magnify the poor quality of the turntable.

              Go good quality turntable, then good quality amp, then good speakers.

              Good input still sounds good on poor speakers.

              Poor input is magnified on good output.

              It’s an oddity that many people buy the really cool speakers first and wonder why their records sound like crap.

              GIGO principle applies here as well.

              If you want to move your vinyl to PC then there’s a few good phono pre-amps that’ll allow you to plug in a USB cable.

              I find “vinyl studio” to be pretty good software for this, including tidying up pops etc.

  8. weka 11

    ACCORDING to the United States government, nearly 7 out of 10 American adults weigh too much. (In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorized 74 percent of men and 65 percent of women as either overweight or obese.)

    But a new meta-analysis of the relationship between weight and mortality risk, involving nearly three million subjects from more than a dozen countries, illustrates just how exaggerated and unscientific that claim is.

    The meta-analysis, published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed data from nearly a hundred large epidemiological studies to determine the correlation between body mass and mortality risk. The results ought to stun anyone who assumes the definition of “normal” or “healthy” weight used by our public health authorities is actually supported by the medical literature.

    The study, by Katherine M. Flegal and her associates at the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health, found that all adults categorized as overweight and most of those categorized as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal-weight individuals. If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 11.1

      Family members who were nurses used to oft say to carry a bit of extra weight after 40 in case you had to have an operation.

      Twas those that didn’t that most commonly died post-op as their bodies had insufficient surplus fat to use to recover.

      Dunno if there any truth to that or whether it’s just an old wives tale but it’s an interesting notion.

      I’ve always understood that the BMI index was established by insurance companies to determine risk from their perspective rather than a medical discovery – bit like legally blind doesn’t actually mean blind but sets out a point at which insurance companies would pay out or employers would be liable for costs.

      Anyway it’s always been problematic in that the measure varies from country to country and changes in settings can change the number of people that are in any category.

      “In 1998, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought U.S. definitions in line with World Health Organization guidelines, lowering the normal/overweight cut-off from BMI 27.8 to BMI 25. This had the effect of redefining approximately 29 million Americans, previously healthy to overweight.[21]

      This can partially explain the increase in the overweight diagnosis in the past 20 years, and the increase in sales of the weight loss products during the same time. WHO also recommends lowering the normal/overweight threshold for South East Asian body types to around BMI 23, and expects further revisions to emerge from clinical studies of different body types.”

      • McFlock 11.1.1

        Seems to me that the key take-home message is to not rely on self-reported data when establishing guidelines.

        As to the rest of it, it’s not granular enough to draw any conclusions: all causes mortality could be confounded by injuries, degree of medical care (are moderately fact people kept alive by pills?), or even if the issue is with the lower end of the “normal” category (i.e. increased mortality in underweight people throws off the base measurement).

        Interesting, though. It’ll keep people in work for the next 20 years trying to narrow down where the ines should be roughly drawn. I’ll get the [unbuttered] popcorn.

    • Incognito 11.2

      It is important to keep in mind that this study was on mortality and not on general health.

  9. weka 12

    This is a pretty good explanation about how deforestation, clearing land and techniques like dredging waterways increase flooding, and how traditional techniques of slowing water flow hold it in the land and decrease flooding. The article actually discusses climate change in the context of a local weather event too.

    Droughts and floods have significant manmade causes in addition to climate change.

    They got together with top academics from Oxford, Newcastle and Durham Universities to examine all options. Much the best plan turned out indeed to be to try to recreate past conditions by slowing the flow of water from the hills. Impressed by the intellectual endorsement, official bodies like the local councils, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and even the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, joined in.

    They built 167 leaky dams of logs and branches – which let normal flows through but restrict and slow down high ones – in the becks above the town; added 187 lesser obstructions, made of bales of heather and fulfilling the same purpose, in smaller drains and gullies; and planted 29 hectares of woodland. And, after much bureaucratic tangling, they built a bund, to store up to 120,000 cubic metres of floodwater, releasing it slowly through a culvert.

    After 24 hours of rain, just three months after it was inaugurated, Mr Potter climbed up to the scheme and found it working well. Then he went home, “switched on the TV, and saw the all the floodwaters elsewhere”. He adds: “While there was devastation all over northern England, our newly completed defences worked a treat and our community got on with life as normal.” The total cost, he says, was around £2m, a 10th that of the original wall which, he believes, would not have coped with the Boxing Day conditions anyway.

  10. Draco T Bastard 13


  11. joe90 14

    Slowly but surely.

    The Greatest Strategic Impact of 3-D Printing: Local Production Replaces Globalization

    Yet the greatest strategic impact of additive manufacturing may not occur on the battlefield, but rather in the mundane manufacturing of clothing, shoes, appliances, phones, medical devices, and much more. In short, localized distributed manufacturing will become the norm. Not only will products be cheaper, but they will also be extremely customizable, rendering traditional manufacturing able to compete in only a few areas. And since 3-D printing technology is so cheap, it will also be incredibly widespread — Cambodia, for instance, already has a 3-D print shop.

    previously on TS

  12. Jilly Bee 15

    What a load of bloody tossers the Care Alliance are – shame on them

    • Anne 15.1

      These types remind me of the anti-abortionist lobby of the 1970s and 80s – full of venom and hatred for anyone who didn’t support their view point. They are like a NZ version of the American fundamentalist movements.

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 15.1.1

        Yeah well the religious know about the thin end of the wedge stuff. Works well for them.

        We’ll set up our own schools in opposition to state funded secular education and pay for those schools ourselves for our religious children – give or take 10%

        We’ll take state funding cause there’s less religious people

        We’ll take white flight children from state schools and get them to lie about their religious status in order to pretend we only have 10% non-religious people at our school

        We’ll infiltrate state schools through boards of trustees and start teaching religion at lunch times

        We’ll start teaching religion during class times and make it difficult for pupils to not go

        We’ll get our own special religious charter schools fully funded by the tax payer – with even better funding than the state schools

    • RedBaronCV 15.2

      Totally agree. I found the combination of Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army somewhat strange.
      Okay the Hospice organisation believes in end of life, quality palliative care and that this should be well funded. It obeys the current law and doesn’t want a law change for euthenasia. Even if there was such a law change the Hospice association could still say that euthenasia was unacceptable to their charity and I for one would accept that.
      Ditto the Salavtion army who provide some elder care services.
      Both these organisations are fully entitled to their views and to incorporate them in their daily work.

      Family First doesn’t appear to do anything hands on for elder care just issue a press release.

      but why do any of these organisations feel that it is acceptable to attack an individual for attending a meeting where something they may not agree with is discussed?

  13. joe90 16

    A diversion perhaps but four times the amount of fish caught with a little more than double the population is rather alarming.

  14. Whateva next? 17

    Just watching Nigel Latta spelling it out so plainly, even the die hard National’s will have to feel real bad, “The Haves and Have-nots”

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