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Open mike 30/12/2022

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 30th, 2022 - 58 comments
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58 comments on “Open mike 30/12/2022 ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Peter Zeihan has been running a entertaining series on world demographics, if such a thing can be entertaining!!. Each video is only 5-7 minutes long.

    Anyway, he has just done a video that covers the demographic trends for both the US and NZ.

    The takeaway is that the demographic future for both the US and NZ is very similar, despite the size difference. And, demographic trends for both the US and NZ are quite positive compared to a lot of other places in the world, e.g., China, Russia, and wider Europe, which are basically in terminal decline.

    • DB Brown 1.1

      That's really interesting. Seems our urban migration sets the stage for more rural people by making 'elbow room'. The challenge then (if one wants a workforce) is to make the countryside attractive enough to retain some people, but not so attractive it too becomes populous.

      The 'numbers making sense' (finance, opportunity) aspect of choosing to have children may be under strain lately. I have friends who seriously contemplate the expense of an extra pet, let alone child.

      What he says about the financial pain coming as we hit the narrow band of X-ers (me) so there's not so many to fill jobs, not so much capital… Surely, the boomers capital has to go somewhere e.g. inheritance, investments still occurring? This bit puzzled me.

      The wrap up leading to inflation, the future of some vs other countries, very insightful, thank you.

      • Sabine 1.1.1

        The boomer capital will be spend on nice, expensive money eating retirement homes and lifestyle for those that can afford it. The not so fortunate 'boomers' are as poor as the rest of us.

        • Francesca

          You're so right about that Sabine

          We Boomers(myself, not you) don't die respectably early these days, so the kids watch as their inheritance gets hoovered up

        • DB Brown

          Yeah that makes sense. Cruise ships till death!

          Andre King, comedian, works cruise ships. He jokes about the age of the clientele: He went out on deck and thought they'd laid out lots of driftwood.

          • Robert Guyton



          • Sabine

            And why not. why would they not lay themselves like drift wood in the sun. They could be lonely in the cold cities. They could shrivel away in a retirement place. At that age, does it matter?

            And for some, that might be the first time to ever do that to begin with, specially the poor working class boomers who exist in larger number then the financially well off.

            No need to belittle them for cheap laughs.

            What should be understood is that all of us will be asked to sell what we have in assets to get into a nice retirement home with people that will look after you, rather then some understaffed, underfunded, overcrowded affordable public retirement home because that is all that one can afford. You get the service that you can afford, and those with land to sell have money to afford a somewhat decent (hopefully) service. That is the system we have and so far i can not see any change come in the future.

            • DB Brown

              "No need to belittle them for cheap laughs."

              I remember why I stopped replying to you. My bad, but get a grip.

    • roy cartland 1.2

      This is effing interesting! I wish our economists could explain things as eloquently and effectively as him. Great find!

      • RedLogix 1.2.1

        Peter did his post-grad studies at the University of Auckland and retains a real fondness for his time in NZ. Scattered throughout his material are odd references to this country – often in jest.

        He makes a living giving conference presentations, and has a team of researchers assisting. He has also published four books, all of which I have read with interest. I will acknowledge that along with Jared Diamond, Zeihan has been influential in my thinking. The core idea he brings is that geography, demography, transport and security are the elements that determine the long-term fate of peoples and nations far more than politics and personalities.

        There is no requirement to agree with everything he says, but the hit rate on his predictions is disturbingly high.

    • roy cartland 1.3

      His talk on solar is very sobering. He says that in many places, the carbon debt of having them is not repaid due to poor sunlight hours. Wind is much better.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        His report on solar was kind of silly. A lot of it was rather obsolete, misguided, and probably just the usual US centric bigotry. Basically he looks like he is shit at basic research.

        China produces solar panels because they have the largest installed capacity of solar power. More than 3x that of the US, nearly double the whole of the EU. Their excess production is sold worldwide because they have efficiences of scale because they trykng to green their power supply on new capacity.


        Industrial grade silicon isn't produced in a "blast furnace". It is produced using electric furnaces. There are a number of paths to further refine into polysilicates used for solar panels – but as far as I am aware they are all powered by electricity and use various chemicals to get the right crystal structure.

        So when he states that the panels are produced with coal power, well that may have been the case a decade ago, but increasingly the power for producing solar panels there is from non-coal sources. Just as you'd expect from a boot strap technology – which are always built on older technologies. Clearly he doesn't read or understand technological history.

        Slave labour – no links, but it seems highly unlikely. The production path to produce solar cells doesn't survive sloppy work. Mostly it is automated. Basically that claim sound's like a ignorant clickbait.

        He also ignores the role of batteries with solar power and the grid. Doesn't talk about the relative efficiences under different climates, in particular what happens when coal is removed as a energy source. Most of the problems with solar near large cities is directly related to pollution.

        I could go on – but I have already written him off as a ignorant fool

        • tsmithfield

          Probably the issue that arises a lot these days where experts in one field suddenly feel qualified to comment on a lot of areas outside their expertise.

          When he is talking about demographics and geopolitics then he is definitely worth listening to. When he goes outside that, then take it with a grain of salt, and confirm with your own research.

          • aj

            People underestimate China's commitment to renewable energy. It's huge.

          • Francesca

            careful now T Smithfield

          • lprent

            When he is talking about demographics and geopolitics then he is definitely worth listening to.

            I see that there are some demographic links further up. I'll have a peek at those when I get some time. Don't be surprised if I find something to disagree with there. Hopefully more with opinion than facts.

            When he goes outside that, then take it with a grain of salt, and confirm with your own research.

            I pretty much always do. What got me in the solar post was that he made some truly heroic presumptions that sounded like they were propaganda at least a decade out of date. The coal power generation one in particular. Because there has been a major effort in China to reduce coal electricity generation and to replace it with renewables.

            So I looked up this world bank graph from 2015.
            then wikipedia
            then solar in China

            The arguments about solar vs wind are things that I have observed for decades.

            But the relative cost/benefit values he was talking about were also old. They sounded like something that I could have possibly agreed with in 2010 before the solar cost drops as production scaled, the economic movement of wind power generation from land to sea, and the massive improvements in battery cost/benefits. Not to mention the reports of changes in solar efficiencies as particulate pollution over urban areas diminished.

            At that point I checked the date of the video. It was put up 9 days old on his own channel – and went WTF!

            I'd also point out that none of this is particularly in my areas of expertise either. Maybe it is for some of the crystallography (earth sciences), furnaces (refractories), and some work on solar and battery economics (dealing with BOMs for hardware on electronic devices).

            Mostly it is just general knowledge from my reading – mostly from The Economist which tends to delve into these issues at a detailed but general knowledge level.

        • RedLogix

          I could go on – but I have already written him off as a ignorant fool

          And I have written you off as an arrogant pompous know it all fool. But unlike you I will not go on.


        • alwyn

          You say that "So when he states that the panels are produced with coal power, well that may have been the case a decade ago, …. " and say that they are produced by electricity.

          That may be so but China still produces more than 60% of its electricity from coal fired powered stations and you can't really distinguish where any give piece of electricity was generated so it seems quite reasonable to claim that the solar panels comes from coal sources. After all it will all be coming of the National grids(s) that cover the country.

          How do you come to your conclusion that it isn't?


          • lprent

            That may be so but China still produces more than 60% of its electricity from coal fired powered stations ..

            Well down from the 80% when it peaked in 2007.

            and you can't really distinguish where any give piece of electricity was generated so it seems quite reasonable to claim that the solar panels comes from coal sources. After all it will all be coming of the National grids(s) that cover the country.

            Because you have to be stupid if you think that power is normally transported long distances between where it is generated and where it is consumed.


            That doesn't happen here, it doesn't happen in the US, or Australia, and certainly not in China where they only started using HVDC (like our cook strait cables) interconnects in 2005 between parts of their nascent grid.

            Sure it is technically possible to transport power from one side of a country to another. But you typically have to put in hugely expensive and difficult to maintain high voltage DC lines. Mostly power is transported on lower voltage AC, and typically only for less than 500km.

            China actually doesn't have any more of a national grid than the US or Australia does. It is building two at present, one in the north and one in the south. But it is a patchwork of local grids that are generally groups of a few provinces with some transference of electricity between them. Pretty much like Aussie, and probably even more disconnected than the US grid.

            That is because the loss rates on long transfers of electricity make it uneconomic to send power more than a 200-500 kilometres depending on technology and voltage. Most power grids are connections that shift excess locally generated power relatively short distances.

            I sense that you seem to be thinking something more like the two major NZ grids each of which well less than a megametre in length and skinny. We put a small fraction of our generated power over the HVDC lines between the two grids.

            Whereas China is something like 5 megametres EW and 5.5 megametres NS. It'd require some really large numbers of of HVDC lines to be able to transfer power long distances in a much large area than our skinny islands.

            Also on the basis of your argument it'd be easy to argue that the US which has 35% coal powered electricity so it should not be producing solar panels because that coal power through their rather useless grid was injecting too much carbon into the atmosphere. Of course you'd have to ignore where the solar panels there are created and are generating as well.

            How do you come to your conclusion that it isn't?


            Because most of the solar power generation is in the West of the China in the more higher and more arid parts of the country. That is a for good reason, they get the highest efficiencies of converting sunlight into electricity. This is a common feature of all new technologies. Seems like basic economics to me – your interpretation may vary.

            Also part of basic economics for new technologies is the co-location of manufacturing and R&D is typically close to usage sites. This allows issues to be fixed close to usage site without transport costs, and being able to look at issues in situ.

            So in China you'd expect to find most of the solar panel manufacturing is also located close to generating capacity. And that is is exactly the pattern you see when you dig into where the manufacturing plants for solar grade silicon and solar panels are located. Most of the substantive sites for producing solar polysilicon are also in the west of China.

            But this isn't exactly rocket science or non-obvious effects of economics. It is the obvious geographical consequence of any new technology. Development and initial manufacturing usually happens where there is a either usage or a resource constraint that is hard to move. Silicon isn’t a hard resource to find. It isn’t a high labour or even a high skills area (outside of the R&D needs). So with solar panels, it tends to geographically cluster where it is used.

            So you'll find (for instance) that Norway is a leading manufacturer of sea based wind power systems. Carbon is available everywhere. The skills are also R&D bound. They have some really large fields of wind turbines in the North Sea.

            That NZ has quite a development and manufacturing history in open air agricultural technologies. etc. etc.

            It is only after technologies mature that you find the locations of manufacture and R&D and the location of usage will start to separate. That typically happens as scale efficiencies happen and the distribution networks spread. Then the manufacturing centres will tend to proliferate

            The obvious possible exception to trend involves software and net technologies which are less geographically bound. But that just results in those industries being geographically centred around comms links, capital and skills.

  2. Nic the NZer 2

    Good discussion on the question, does using monetary policy and unemployment to target inflation work?


    • KJT 2.1

      As relevant now as back then.

      KJT. Random musings on all sorts of things.: The Reserve Bank, Debt and the Property Market (kjt-kt.blogspot.com)

      In New Zealand we have the "Reserve Bank Act".

      Which basically requires the reserve bank to kill the rest of the economy, whenever Auckland house prices, or wages, rise.

      Originally enacted, as a circuit breaker, to cap excessive inflation in the 80's, politicians have kept it, long past its use by date, because in their limited view, what works once, briefly, will work perpetually.
      It could be argued that it was somewhat successful in curbing very high inflation, on that limited occasion, though others would note that the end of very high inflation ended with the slowing of the rise in oil prices.

      Now, every time the New Zealand productive economy struggles off its knees, the reserve bank delivers another knockout.

  3. lprent 3

    Third try, this looks a little more likely to be correct.

    Could people check if they are getting their correct replies.

  4. Anker 4


    Interesting opinion piece by Josie Pagani about how New Zealanders are more culturally divided

    • lprent 4.1

      Mostly divided by age and gender based on some of the actual recent polling. I'd have to lookup the most interesting recent article out of my notes when I get back from the deep south.

      You will notice that Josie just waffles her way through the peice giving only her opinion based on her experience, interpretation and biases only. She mentions a single international april poll about trust in media. And it is like she never read the link she used.

      The poll text attributed most of the blame for the drop in media trust to the click-bait outrage of the media. In other words in my opinion they are describing exactly the type of evidence-free simplistic opinion only crap that Josie populates in both that article and in her usual media roles.

      People like Josie are why I don't trust most media. Being a loud critic for the sole purpose of generating clicks is just a waste of my time. Especially when she neither manages to actually exactly what she is whinging about, nor manages to express any possible solutions.

      I have been of the opinion that her, media like her, and their spawned PR collegues in pllitical parties and corporate are just useless at generating trust.

      I tend to trust government somewhat more because because I read the documents backing shifts in government policies. Those invariably show the logic and background to decisions. This includes real data. Something that click bait media chasing indignation seldom does report or even seems to care about.

      BTW: if you want to read good journalism, then the april article by Patrik Smellie at business desk that Josie referenced is a excellent example. May be paywalled (I subscribe to BD)


      It only lacked a decent link to the poll itself.

    • SPC 4.2

      One of the world's great awards for journalism is named after Joseph Pulitzer. As a Hungarian refugee arriving in the US, he never forgot what it was like to sleep on a park bench because you had no money for rent. "Never lack sympathy for the poor," he said on his retirement.
      Pulitzer's media was deeply democratic. He set out to provide a cheap daily newspaper for the poor that would be an alternative to the more expensive alternatives.

      We are a culturally divided country. Trust in the media is dropping, particularly among people with more conservative views. You might not worry if your views are left, but it does matter in our democracy if a chunk of citizens don't feel represented.

      She carelessly conflates conservative with poor and left with middle class liberal. Our largest media NZH is anti-left, and once provided an editorial (2005) demanding voters prevent a Labour-Green coalition government.

      • x Socialist 4.2.1

        My local paper at the time, Hawke's Bay Today, ran a similar editorial explaining why a Labour Green government should not be elected. The blow back was about 50/50 according to then editor, Louis Pierard. Pierard was to the Right of politics, but allowed all views to be expressed in his paper. Unfortunately things turned sour after that editorial, some readership was lost, but the Left leaning editors that followed in quick succession ruined what was left of a once thriving regional paper. Of course, changing media habits didn't help.

    • x Socialist 4.3

      ''I’ve been hosting talkback this week. So far I’ve spoken to a tradie in his ute, a rocket scientist, a cook, retired folk and a dad with his 2-year-old waiting for a Covid test. ''

      I take a lot of shit for being a avid talkback listener even though my critics can usually point to something they have found of interest on TB radio, in amongst the besmirching of my good character.wink

      The above highlighted paragraph from Josie explains why I listen to TB. Sure, you won't hear higher echelons of Intellectual discourse, or discussions regarding reams of buro babble and clauses in a new piece of government regulation. But the effects of government policies, both known and little know, and cultural/ societal trends are usually first picked up by talkback back, months and sometimes years before MSM takes an interest. You sometimes get the inside story on issues that are just regurgitated official press releases beloved by MSM.

      Talkbacks big secret – a tradie, rocket scientist, and a cook don't work for media outlets or vested interests. They are you and me.

  5. joe90 5

    Here's to happy endings.

  6. Interesting and entertaining look at the political successes and failures over the last year – from a wide range of political commentators. Interesting to see the similarities (one expects to see the differences)

    Apologies if this has already been linked (I had a quick look, but didn't see it) – I've been a bit offline over the holiday season.


    • x Socialist 6.1

      From Shane Te Pou's recapitulation:

      ''National: It should be better. Luxon is not believable nor is he particularly likeable.''

      Ditto, the National Party as a whole.

      He's right. Labour should have been eviscerated in the Hamilton by-election. Yet 4,500 people voted Labour. These voters either believe Labour is doing a great job ( generally unlikely), or they believe National would be worse in government.

      • Sabine 6.1.1

        Or they don't think at all and reflexively vote Labour, as much as a third of the voting population reflexively votes for National.

        The really sad thing is that this by -election should never have happened. A pointless exercise in pretending that there are two distinct parties.

        The only interesting result of this by – election was Act.

  7. x Socialist 7

    ''Or they don't think at all and reflexively vote Labour, as much as a third of the voting population reflexively votes for National.''

    The worst type of political toadyism going. Similar to rugby diehards. At the base of these voters political thoughts are usually some simple childlike beliefs like the Left are commies, or the Right are only about rich pricks.

    • bwaghorn 7.1

      While I look sideways at anyone who blindly votes for the same party endlessly.

      Those 20to 30% on both sides provide a good solid base for democracy to function from.

      • x Socialist 7.1.1

        Never looked at it that way. All hope for a better future for our country has just faded for me.

        • bwaghorn

          In my perfect world there'd be no parties, every shire would elect their chosen hobit and they would all meet and fund top solutions for our problems , but the realist says it'd never fly.

          Imagine the caos if parties got wiped our completely at the whim of a population that swings wildly from side to side.

          • millsy

            TBH parties are useful, as it provides an indication of what sort of policy outcomes that candidates are after.

  8. lprent 8

    Bug chasing again. On the mobile version I'm getting some posts that don't display the post body. For instance the one below off an Samsung S10+. I'm guessing that it is to do with displaying twitter or youtube.

    Is anyone else getting this?

    • bwaghorn 8.1

      Been happening on and off for awhile, I think I pointed it out 2 micky a few months back

    • weka 8.2

      looks exactly the same on my iphone12 iOS 16.2

    • fender 8.3

      Yes it's quite frequent on my Samsung A8 Android V.9

      Yesterday I had the same as your screenshot above, but today it opens the desktop version and when trying to change to mobile version nothing happens, it stays on desktop.

      • lprent 8.3.1

        That sounds like a caching issue on the same page rather than the current bug.

        I'll have a look at the caching for mobile after I get this bug killed.

    • lprent 8.5

      Ok – got a signature on it after a second look.

      It appears to be where we have a classic block embedded into a block editor where the classic block is the whole of the content. The attributes on the div are set to display:none.

      I'll feed the cat, assimilate some more coffee, and try to do a work around in CSS. If that doesn't work (which it may not because it is hard to override a element attribute), then I'll see if I can identify the code that puts that display:none into the html.

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