Too Big to Fail

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 pm, April 10th, 2009 - 28 comments
Categories: economy - Tags:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of those rare thinkers who has the priceless ability to express complex ideas in ways that are immediately accessible and concrete. I’m going to shamelessly quote and derive from a very recent article he’s written in the Financial Times. It’s so good I’m going to take each one of the ten ideas he expresses and in turn try to link each one to underlying themes we see debated here over and over.

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks and hence the most fragile become the biggest.

Taleb argues that random, high impact events occur more often than we imagine. Most of the time we expect the world to behave with a comfortable Gaussian range of behaviours, the mean being most common, and by the time we get several standard deviations out, the probabilities of extreme events becomes vanishingly rare. In fact the world is not like that.

Seven years of good times, is one day replaced by seven years of famine. No matter how large and successful an enterprise was, no matter how comfortably and well you lived in the good times, if the famine causes the business to collapse, or you and your family to die… the good times mean nothing.

Business failure in a corner dairy, or a local contractor’s ditch digging company is hurtful for the individuals involved, but does not damage society as a whole. People pick themselves up and life goes on. But when an entire financial system goes belly up, all at once…there is no ‘picking yourself up again’, because everyone else is in the same gutter with you.

Capitalism as we have known it fails on these counts:

1. It has allowed excessive concentration of wealth into fewer hands, inevitably resulting in the evolution of entities ‘too big to fail’.

2. It hides tranparent evaluation of real risks behind walls of ‘commercial confidentiality’, disinformation and lies which rewards cheaters and liars with a grossly disproportionate advantage. Entities built on this advantage may grow rapidly, but their inevitable collapse is even more spectacular.

3. Systemic failure becomes catastrophic because capitalism imposes an economic mono-culture on the entire globe ensnaring almost everyone in it’s grip. Local silos of prosperity and independence have been swept away by globalised, mass market business, creating a dependency model much like a addict becomes hooked on P.

4. Far from encouraging innovation and diversity that is adaptive in the face of radical change, capitalism acts to protect the established markets and the largest, most powerful players within them. Although some change is permitted around the margins, the core action in any market does not change unless and until the big dominating cartels allow it.

What will change this? What form of regulation or law change is necessary to break this system? The end of the legal fiction that coporations are ‘natural persons’? The end of ‘intellectual property’? Nationalisation of all credit creation?

28 comments on “Too Big to Fail ”

  1. Quoth the Raven 1

    The end of limited liability would be a good one. Make people take full personal responsibility for the risks they take.

    • Ari 1.1

      That would just hit the small players even harder when they try to muscle in, QtR.

      Legislating to remove things like hedge funds, demand corporate transparency standards, removing the legal fiction of “corporate persons”, and so on would all be very useful steps.

      Nationalising credit creation would reign in the banks, but it might also kill the boom times. If we’re willing to sacrifice that, fine, but I don’t see the whole world doing it at once.

      • Quoth the Raven 1.1.1

        Small businesses like sole proprietors with unlimited liability?
        No it has been argued that businesses would become smaller if real free market policies like getting rid of limited liability were enacted.

        • Ari 1.1.1.1

          I agree, to an extent, but I like the idea of limited liability in situations where someone truly was just overconfident of their ability to run a business successfully. We should deal with people who shield corruption behind limited liability by making corrupt business practises as dangerous to careers in the private sector as they are in the public sector.

  2. I remember reading some article that said the cause of all the financial bubbles of the past 10-15 years basically stems from the fact that money is getting further and further concentrated among a small amount of super rich people and businesses. This is particularly the case in the USA.

    If you think about it, the super-rich literally can’t spend all their money so they invest it – in technology stocks, in the sharemarket, in oil, in derivatives or in housing. There’s more money invested in those areas than should be, so you get a bubble created – which of course eventually pops. If the money was spread out a lot more, then it would be spent (creating jobs) rather than invested in over-inflated market derivatives, or whatever you want to call it. This would be a more sustainable way for a country to operate, with the money flowing around a lot more and reaching a lot more people.

    It’s a kind of win-win situation for everyone (except the super-duper rich). We avoid market bubbles, we help out those in need to a greater extent and we create more jobs than ever. It’s something the left should be pointing out I think. A pity most economists are right-wing.

  3. rave 3

    Too big to fail? But they have failed.
    Its catastrophic because instead of them suffering its us who suffer.
    The big banks only survive because our future wage increases and taxes are mortgaged to bail them out.
    Jarbury is right. We owe them nothing. In fact they owe us centuries of backwages as poet ARD Fairburn once put it.
    But to do this we have to nationalise the central banks and put them under the control of those who work. Then nationalise all the key sectors of the economy with no compensation to the Jennings of this world. I would like to disproportionately misrepresent that tycoon.
    Then we have to devise how to run a democratic state to make sure the credit is used to produce things we need.
    For those of us in Auckland, stopping the banksters from supersizing our city would be a trial run.

  4. infused 4

    limited liability is a myth QtR.

    • BLiP 4.1

      Infused, you’re confused. Try telling the owners of leaky apartments who are chasing the millionaire developers that limited liability is a myth. I am sure they will be consoled and comforted with your understanding of the situation.

      • lprent 4.1.1

        I’d just like my case to get to court. It has been more than 4 years since we started forking out for fixing my apartment.

  5. Tom M 5

    I think you’re right about the normal distribution – in fact many economists are coming to realise that perhaps these things are better modelled with a t distribution, i.e. a normal one but with fatter tails.

    However, I think you’ve got the causality confused in terms of ‘too big to fail’ institutions. It’s the large institutions that subsequently create great wealth for their proprietors, rather than the other way around.
    Think about it – the bankers don’t earn their money in a vacuum and then pool it to create a bank. Rather, the bank grows, and correspondingly so does their pay.

    At least, that seems more intuitive to me.

    Some of your other claims seem a little suspect to me also.

  6. ak 6

    Absolutely right, the lot of you. “Too big to fail” is the ultimate, gobsmacking euphemism for the fact that “democracy” (that marvellous choice between two millionaires every three or four years) is indeed dead: a clear and unequivocal admission that the “finance industry” is more powerful than the most powerful government on earth.

    So much so, that that same govt is forced to shovel trillions of worker-created wealth down the throat of an “industry” that has produced precisely nothing (while millions die for want of cents): merely shuffled paper – (and to our local shame we inserted one of its greedy minions as our leader). And that tiny, bloated cabal – those cheerleaders of greed and obscene usury that led us to this point – still have the utter gall to claim our attention and ask that we take them seriously.

    But there’s a silver lining: just as those “stimulae” continue to look increasingly impotent, there’s a new, steady assertiveness stirring from the bottom. US wealth defeated the USSR, and the lesson was well learned. The savers and producers now hold the cards: their more advanced morality is now poised to ascend.

    Karl and JC were right: thanks to the net, the meek are slowly but surely demanding their just inheritance, and the dawn of the yuan (over the buck) is just the first milky light of a potential new day – the salubrious new contours of emancipation slowly taking shape in the minds of billions; once tasted, never to be relinquished.

    And how apt the timing: the moneychangers on their bikes to nowhere, and the world at Calvary’s summit. Shoulder to the boulder, brothers and sisters, the truth can never die if we all but work to reveal it.

    • Rex Widerstrom 6.1

      Beautifully written, ak.

      However, like Pat has said below, surely a large part of the answer is more democracy (in the genuine sense) not its death?

      Certainly it’s time for an end to the false choice between, as you put it, “two millionaires every three or four years” and between two parties who then toss a policy bone or two to the yapping minor parties nipping at their ankles.

      It’s time for people to have a genuine and ongoing input into decisions affecting their future and that of their fellows; it’s time for the creation of new governmental structures which permit that to occur; and it’s time for gross excesses of capitalism to be regulated the same way (e.g. shareholder approval of senior executive salary packages).

      But given your apparent eulogy to democracy and your (again, apparent) enthusiasm for a dictatorial regime that puts bullets into the backs of people’s heads, I’m left wondering just what it is you’re hoping will arise from mess?!

      • ak 6.1.1

        No enthusiasm for dictatorial regimes, I assure you Rex (and yes, bullets do go in the back of heads – just as lethal injections go in veins elsewhere, along with illegal invasions, torture, secret vice-presidential death squads etc etc).

        But lots of enthusiasm for good intentions. What I hope to see arising from this mess is a widespread acceptance that “dog-eat-dog” has failed our species: and that “to each according to need” is a nobler, more edifying vision statement – irrespective of the undeniable difficulties in its implementation.

        In practical terms, nationalisation (or at least strict regulation) of the finance industry, the demise of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a more democratic global power balance, and a genuine, co-ordinated, War on Global Inequality. (highly ambitious I know, but so’s wee Johnny apparently – and so were calls for abolition, welfare, fem and gay rights etc etc once).

  7. Pat 7

    Good thought provoking post, RL. The company failures that have the most impact, are those companies large enough to list on the stock markets for capital raising.

    So I would like to see it made compulsory for all listed companies to include a reasonable portion a shares as part of every employee’s remuneration. I think this would have several impacts over time:

    1. Productivity would improve as workers have more of a vested interest in the success of the company.
    2. A worker’s personal investment wealth would grow with the success of the company.
    3. It would encourage worker’s to want to have a longer career with a successful company.
    4. It would encourage good ideas to be passed up from the factory floor.
    5. As worker’s collective shareholding grows, they would have a stronger voice on the decisions,directions and governance of the company.
    6. It would encourage earlier whistle-blowing from within, on things that are going wrong in the company.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      So I would like to see it made compulsory for all listed companies to include a reasonable portion a shares as part of every employee’s remuneration.

      Yes. I once worked for mid-sized California based corporate that did a genuine 10% profit share for all non-sales staff (who had their own performance based compensation). It worked exceedingly well. It meant that I knew that off every $1 I succeeded in putting onto the company’s bottom line, I got to keep 10c of it.

      Shareholding for all employees (not just the senior layer of execs) has merit, but as an idea in isolation I’m not so sure how effective it might be. Certainly it would not work in the current climate, most corporates are not ready to accept that as worker’s collective shareholding grows, they would have a stronger voice on the decisions,directions and governance of the company.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        You mean, of course, that the capitalists don’t want to give up their dictatorial power.

  8. Pat 8

    In response to ak’s communist rant, this post is about how to improve the capitalist system, not getting rid of democracy. Democracy is not dead. The world need’s more democracy, not less.

    I might be wrong, but I would have thought the vast majority of Standard readers would not advocate getting rid of democracy.

    ak can keep his Chinese new dawn all to himself. I do not look forward to the rise of China as the world’s biggest superpower.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Capitalism != Democracy
      In fact, the two are diametrically opposed. Capitalism is, as a matter of fact, dictatorship. Communism requires participatory democracy and not the elected dictatorship that we have that is there solely to support the capitalists.

  9. gomango 9

    Tom M – you should read Taleb’s books. T distribution won’t solve the problem either, the point is parametric models are wrong when you rely on historical descriptions of non-related events. LTCM wasn’t the first illustration, but it was the first big one (10 standard deviation move in 90 minutes of Danish mortgage bond spreads versus Euro swap spreads) – do the math. Taleb does get a bit repetitive but his core “we don’t live in a normal world” message is hard to fault.

    All the proof you ever need about why the easy liquidity, over leveraged, reliance on model world got out of hand is summed up in this quote from the Goldies CFO:

    “We are seeing things that were 25-standard deviation events, several days in a row,” said David Viniar, CFO of the smartest financial firm in the world, Goldman Sachs.

    What are the odds of THAT happening………..

    Did he not pass the equivalent of NCEA level 1 maths?

    The remedy is pretty simple (not the solution to whats happened – thats a whole issue of least worst outcomes), but the remedy for the next time we go thru the upwards bit of the cycle is reasonably clear:

    1. force banks to declare everything on balance sheet
    2. make banks have capital ratios based on black swan type stress tests
    3. create derivative clearing houses, ie get rid of the otc market.
    4. Don’t invite Greenspan (or any other easy money pump primer) back to the fed

    And as always, you can’t spend your way out of debt.

  10. charlie 10

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb claims that those who are putting society at risk are “no true statisticians”, merely people using statistics either without understanding them, or in a self-serving manner.

  11. gomango 11

    ak – just read your comment closely. You are kidding re China right? Yes I agree that China is potentially on the road to economic and hence strategic dominance over the rest of the world – but if you wanted to pick one country in the world where the following are most true:

    1. economic power concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority
    2. political rights held only by a tiny minority
    3. freedom of speech constrained
    4. workers rights systematically ignored and devalued
    5. instutionalised graft and corruption
    6. no checks and balances on the concentrations of power

    That country is China. And that’s why i say “potentially” above. Any system which ignores individual rights won’t tend to survive in the long run. But they do have plenty of cash even though they no longer control much of it as it is sitting in the US treasury. Not sure who has the problem – US as borrower or china as lender……. Brings to mind the old Depression era cliche ” if you borrow $100 from the bank you have a problem, if you borrow a million dollars the bank has a problem”. Substitute $750 billion dollars plus for one million…… plus the $^50 billion from Japan, plus the 2 trillion from the rest of the world………

    Also bear in mind that all of China’s wealth was actually created by US demand. Domestic demand in China is not meaningful – they need the US export market. Look at what is happening now in China – in some of the new cities 80% of factories have closed, millions of workers are returning to their home villages where they have no access to land or jobs. China has managed to grow because of the pact the neo-Capitalist ruling party made – give up your political and human rights and in return we will guarantee prosperity. Lets see if they can keep that bargain.

    • ak 11.1

      Well, lifting several hundred million from abject poverty is a pretty good start on that bargain I’d say goman – and funny, but those dire concerns you list don’t seem to matter too much to the average Jiu on the jyair-to. In fact the level of day-to-day freedoms, candour and optimism is quite striking (especially to the anti-PC brigade who marvel at such wonders as unrestricted smoking, lack of any apparent road rules, omnipresent hawking etc), and one wonders if the hobson’s choice we get every three years is really the sole route to utopia. Evidence to date is somewhat less than convincing….

      And yes, the over-dependence on the US consumer certainly is untenable long-term. Which is precisely why the recent moves towards domestic stimulation and an alternative settling currency are being taken. Delicate position for the medium term, but a fundamental shift is softly occurring, the sheer numbers making it eventually inevitable.

  12. gomango 12

    and quoth the raven….. removing limited liability would not hurt entrenched business interests it would only stifle the backbone of our economy – small and medium business.

    Started a business lately? I have and yes it has limited liability. I still have to provide a personal guarantee plus a charge over my house in order to satisfy the bank and the companies office. It certainly doesn’t feel like limited liability.

    • Quoth the Raven 12.1

      You should ask yourself why the state should protect you from the full responsibility of your actions? and why the state should enforce a contractual arrangement on third parties that never consented to it? If there wasn’t state enforced limited liability you could still voluntarily agree to a limited liability contract with your creditiors, but that does not mean that that individual limited liability contract could be enforced on a third party protecting you from tort. Limited liability and corporate personhood are just schemes to privatise gains and socialise losses. If you don’t want to take full responsibility for the risks you take then don’t start a business. If you’ve read a lot of free market writings like I have you’ll find that those who argue for limited liability are the apologists for big business – the Randroids, the Mises worshippers and so on. Those who argue against it sympathise with the left. It has been argued time and again that without these protections we wouldn’t see such large corporations as we do now. Large corporations are not a product of the free market, they are a product of capitalism. There is a good article here to familiarise yourself with the issues: Is the Corporation a Free-Market Institution?

      A corporation that is compatible with natural law is no more than an association of natural persons, who agree to recognize the association as an artificial person “in its own right.’ However, as far as other persons are concerned, the existence of the association and its recognition by the partners as an independent artificial person in no way diminish the responsibility or the liability of the partners. How the partners assign responsibilities and liabilities among themselves is their business, but they lawfully cannot agree to deflect them to the artificial corporate person that they created. The partners own the corporation, and, as owners they are fully responsible and liable for what “it’ does. I cannot give lawful personality to my dog or my car and tell others that, when an accident happens, they should sue the dog or the car and leave me alone. In natural law, a corporation is just as much a means of human action as a dog, a car, or any other tool might be.

      There is another article here.

  13. gomango 13

    typo – Japans US treasury holdings are $650 billion

  14. Bill 14

    Some interesting comments and all blind to a fundamental point.

    It was the market that spawned Capitalism and State Socialism. Neither State Socialism nor Capitalism have been able to manage the market. Both have been subject to its pitches, yaws and plunges.

    At the moment, the idea appears to be to save the management system ( Capitalism) and those who literally profit most from it.

    Other ideas seem to merely posit different management models….state socialism or whatever.

    But why?!

    Are we so far mired in the quasi religion of the market that we have forgotten that it is neither natural nor necessary: that it is a contrivance?

    Cut to the heart of the matter. Manage our political and economic affairs free from market imperatives. ie abolish it, rather than pretending it can somehow, someday be managed. Because it can’t.

    It is intrinsically unstable and unpredictable. It serves merely as a springboard ( a way and a means) for inadequate individuals who crave power over others.

    Dump it. It’s worth nothing. Has done no good. Never will.

  15. Hi RL,

    Sorry for the treadjack.

    I was off line for a bit and found out recently that you have joined the Standardista’s writers team.
    Awesome and congratulations.

  16. Red, you may be interested a recent ABC background briefing which quotes Taleb on why the crisis occurred. The link is http://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2009/2538655.htm#transcript

    Regards, Paul.

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    What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on?Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    5 days ago
  • Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media
    Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based ...
    5 days ago
  • All good, still
    1. On what subject is Paul Henry even remotely worth giving the time of day?a. The state of our nationb. The state of the ACT partyc. How to freak out potential buyers of your gin palace by baking the remains of your deceased parent into its fittings2. Now that New ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • The looting is the point
    Last time National was in power, they looted the state, privatising public assets and signing hugely wasteful public-private partnership (PPP) contracts which saw foreign consortiums provide substandard infrastructure while gouging us for profits. You only have to look at the ongoing fiasco of Transmission Gully to see how it was ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The Illusion of Power: How Local Government Bureaucrats Overawe Democratically-Elected Councillors..
    The Democratic Façade Of Local Government: Our district and city councillors are democratically elected to govern their communities on one very strict condition – that they never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to do so.A DISINTEGRATION OF LOYALTIES on the Wellington City Council has left Mayor Tory Whanau without a ...
    6 days ago
  • Lowlights & Bright Spots
    I can feel the lowlights coming over meI can feel the lowlights, from the state I’m inI can see the light now even thought it’s dimA little glow on the horizonAnother week of lowlights from our government, with the odd bright spot and a glow on the horizon. The light ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Weekly Roundup 14-June-2024
    Another week, another roundup of things that caught our eye on our favourite topics of transport, housing and how to make cities a little bit greater. This Week in Greater Auckland On Monday, Connor wrote about Kāinga Ora’s role as an urban development agency Tuesday’s guest post by ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    6 days ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 14
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s moves this week to take farming out of the ETS and encourage more mining and oil and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Climate policy axed in broad daylight, while taxpayer liabilities grow in the dark
    In 2019, Shane Jones addressed the “50 Shades of Green” protest at Parliament: Now he is part of a government giving those farmers a pass on becoming part of the ETS, as well as threatening to lock in offshore oil exploration and mining for decades. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Here’s the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Rage Bait!
    Hi,Today’s newsletter is all about how easy it is to get sucked into “rage bait” online, and how easy it is to get played.But first I wanted to share something that elicited the exact opposite of rage in me — something that made me feel incredibly proud, whilst also making ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Friday, June 14
    Seymour said lower speed limits “drained the joy from life as people were forced to follow rules they knew made no sense.” File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Friday, June 14 were:The National/ACT/NZ First ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Friendly but frank talks with China Premier
    It sounded like the best word to describe yesterday’s talks between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his heavyweight delegation of Ministers and officials and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and New Zealand Ministers and officials was “frank.” But it was the kind of frankness that friends can indulge in. It ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024
    Open access notables Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology: We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 ...
    6 days ago
  • Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live
    Photo by Mathias Elle on UnsplashIt’s that new day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for our chat about the week’s news with special guests:5.00 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Geoffrey Miller: China’s message to New Zealand – don’t put it all at risk
    Don’t put it all at risk. That’s likely to be the take-home message for New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his meetings with Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier. Li’s visit to Wellington this week is the highest-ranking visit by a Chinese official since 2017. The trip down under – ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    6 days ago
  • The Real Thing
    I know the feelingIt is the real thingThe essence of the soulThe perfect momentThat golden momentI know you feel it tooI know the feelingIt is the real thingYou can't refuse the embraceNo?Sometimes we face the things we most dislike. A phobia or fear that must be confronted so it doesn’t ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on how moderates empower the political right
    Struth, what a week. Having made sure the rural sector won’t have to pay any time soon for its pollution, PM Christopher Luxon yesterday chose Fieldays 2024 to launch a parliamentary inquiry into rural banking services, to see how the banks have been treating farmers faced with high interest rates. ...
    7 days ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Thursday, June 13
    In April, 17,656 people left Aotearoa-NZ to live overseas, averaging 588 a day, with just over half of those likely to have gone to Australia. Photo: Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Thursday, June 13 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Our guide to having your say on the draft RLTP 2024
    Auckland’s draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP) 2024 is open for feedback – and you only have until Monday 17 June to submit. Do it! Join the thousands of Aucklanders who are speaking up for wise strategic investment that will dig us out of traffic and give us easy and ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    7 days ago
  • The China puzzle
    Chinese Premier Li Qiang arrives in Wellington today for a three-day visit to the country. The visit will take place amid uncertainty about the future of the New Zealand-China relationship. Li hosted a formal welcome and then lunch for then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in Beijing a year ago. The pair ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    7 days ago
  • Fossil fuels are shredding our democracy
    This is a re-post of an article from the Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler published on June 3, 2024. I have an oped in the New York Times (gift link) about this. For a long time, a common refrain about the energy transition was that renewable energy needed to become ...
    1 week ago
  • Life at 20 kilometres an hour
    We are still in France, getting from A to B.Possibly for only another week, though; Switzerland and Germany are looming now. On we pedal, towards Budapest, at about 20 km per hour.What are are mostly doing is inhaling a country, loving its ways and its food. Rolling, talking, quietly thinking. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Hipkins is still useless
    The big problem with the last Labour government was that they were chickenshits who did nothing with the absolute majority we had given them. They governed as if they were scared of their own shadows, afraid of making decisions lest it upset someone - usually someone who would never have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Exercising with the IDF.
    This morning I did something I seldom do, I looked at the Twitter newsfeed. Normally I take the approach of something that I’m not sure is an American urban legend, or genuinely something kids do over there. The infamous bag of dog poo on the front porch, set it on ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Helm Hammerhand Anime: First Pictures and an Old English ‘Hera’
    We have some news on the upcoming War of the Rohirrim anime. It will apparently be two and a half hours in length, with Peter Jackson as Executive Producer, and Helm’s daughter Hera will be the main character. Also, pictures: The bloke in the middle picture is Freca’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Farmers get free pass on climate AND get subsidies
    The cows will keep burping and farting and climate change will keep accelerating - but farmers can stop worrying about being included in the ETS. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Wednesday, June 12 were:The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Six ideas to secure Te Huia’s Future
    This is a guest post by our friend Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which features “musings about public transport and other cool stuff in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and around the globe.” With Te Huia now having funding secure through to 2026, now is ...
    Greater AucklandBy Darren Davis
    1 week ago
  • The methane waka sinks
    In some ways, there may be less than meets the eye to the Government announcement yesterday that the He Waka Eke Noa proposal for farmers to pay for greenhouse gas emissions has been scrapped. The spectre of farmers still having to pay at some point in the future remains. That, ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • At a glance – Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Farmers get what they wanted – for now
    Since entering office, National has unravelled practically every climate policy, leaving us with no effective way of reducing emissions or meeting our emissions budgets beyond magical thinking around the ETS. And today they've announced another step: removing agriculture entirely. At present, following the complete failure of he waka eka noa, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Presumed Innocent?
    The blue billionaireDistraction no interactionOr movement outside these glazed over eyesThe new great divideFew fight the tide to be glorifiedBut will he be satisfied?Can we accept this without zoom?The elephant in the roomNot much happens in politics on a Monday. Bugger all in fact. Although yesterday Christopher Luxon found he ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on our doomed love affair with oil and gas
    What if New Zealand threw a fossil fuel party, and nobody came? On the weekend, Resources Minister Shane Jones sent out the invitations and strung up the balloons, but will anyone really want to invest big time in resuming oil and gas exploration in our corner of the planet? Yes, ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    1 week ago
  • Building better housing insights
    This is a guest post by Meredith Dale, senior urban designer and strategist at The Urban Advisory. There’s a saying that goes something like: ‘what you measure is what you value’. An RNZ article last week claimed that Auckland was ‘hurting’ because of a more affordable supply of homes, particularly townhouses ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • Putin would be proud of them
    A Prime Minister directs his public service to inquire into the actions of the opposition political party which is his harshest critic. Something from Orban's Hungary, or Putin's Russia? No, its happening right here in Aotearoa: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Public Service Commission will launch an ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths
    This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy. Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. ...
    1 week ago
  • Juggernaut
    Politics were going on all around us yesterday, and we barely noticed, rolling along canal paths, eating baguettes. It wasn’t until my mate got to the headlines last night that we learned there had been a dismayingly strong far right result in the EU elections and Macron had called a ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Numbers Game.
    Respect Existence, Or Expect Resistance? There may well have been 50,000 pairs of feet “Marching For Nature” down Auckland’s Queen Street on Saturday afternoon, but the figure that impresses the Coalition Government is the 1,450,000 pairs of Auckland feet that were somewhere else.IN THE ERA OF DRONES and Artificial Intelligence, ...
    1 week ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on post-colonial blowback.
    Selwyn Manning and I discuss varieties of post colonial blowback and the implications its has for the rise of the Global South. Counties discussed include Palestine/Israel, France/New Caledonia, England/India, apartheid/post-apartheid South Africa and post-colonial New Zealand. It is a bit … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Policy by panic
    Back in March, Ombudsman Peter Boshier resigned when he hit the statutory retirement age of 72, leaving the country in the awkward (and legally questionable) position of having him continue as a temporay appointee. It apparently took the entire political system by surprise - as evinced by Labour's dick move ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • PSA: NZ's Richest Company, Zuru, Sucks
    Hi,Today the New Zealand press is breathlessly reporting that the owners of toy company Zuru are officially New Zealand’s wealthiest people: Mat and Nick Mowbray worth an estimated $20 billion between them.While the New Zealand press loses its shit celebrating this Kiwi success story, this is a Webworm reminder that ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 10
    TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • In Defence of Kāinga Ora
    Given the headlines around the recent findings of the ‘independent’ review of Kāinga Ora by Bill English, you might assume this post will be about social housing, Kāinga Ora’s most prominent role. While that is indeed something that requires defending, I want to talk about the other core purpose of ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Baby You're A Rich Man
    “How does it feel to beOne of the beautiful peopleNow that you know who you areWhat do you want to beAnd have you traveled very far?Far as the eye can see”Yesterday the ACT party faithful were regaled with craven boasts, sneers, and demands for even more at their annual rally.That ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Stopping a future Labour government from shutting down gas exploration
    A defiant Resources Minister Shane Jones has responded to Saturday’s environmental protests by ending Labour’s offshore oil exploration ban and calling for long-term contracts with any successful explorers. The purpose would be to prevent a future Labour Government from reversing any licence the explorers might hold. Jones sees a precedent ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23
    A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 2, 2024 thru Sat, June 8, 2024. Story of the week Our Story of the Week is Yale Climate Connection's Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths, by ...
    1 week ago
  • Fission by the river
    This is where we ate our lunch last Wednesday. Never mind your châteaux and castles and whatnot, we like to enjoy a baguette in the shadow of a nuclear power plant; a station that puts out more than twice as much as Manapouri using nothing more than tiny atoms to bring ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    2 weeks ago

  • Prime Minister wraps up visit to Japan
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has just finished a successful three-day visit to Japan, where he strengthened political relationships and boosted business links. Mr Luxon’s visit culminated in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by a state dinner. “It was important for me to meet Prime Minister Kishida in person ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Major business deals signed on PM’s Japan trip
    Significant business deals have been closed during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to Japan this week, including in the areas of space, renewable energy and investment.  “Commercial deals like this demonstrate that we don’t just export high-quality agricultural products to Japan, but also our world-class technology, expertise, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Strategic Security speech, Tokyo
    Minasan, konnichiwa, kia ora and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and thank you to our friends at the Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies and NEC for making this event possible today.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, speaking with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline worth over $120 billion
    The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national view of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools, and more, has climbed above $120 billion, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says. “Our Government is investing a record amount in modern infrastructure that Kiwis can rely on as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Making it easier to build infrastructure
    The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk announced today. An independent panel will undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • NZ enhances North Korea sanctions monitoring
    New Zealand will enhance its defence contributions to monitoring violations of sanctions against North Korea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.  The enhancement will see the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) increase its contributions to North Korea sanctions monitoring, operating out of Japan. “This increase reflects the importance New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
    Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be with you all today before we wrap up Day One of the annual Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference. Thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this conference, for the chance to talk to you about the upcoming health and safety consultation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin alliance agreements signed
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone for the Ōtaki to north of Levin Road of National Significance (RoNS), following the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) signing interim alliance agreements with two design and construction teams who will develop and ultimately build the new expressway.“The Government’s priority for transport ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Improvements to stopping Digital Child Exploitation
    The Department of Internal Affairs [Department] is making a significant upgrade to their Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, says Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden.  “The Department will incorporate the up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease
    A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says. The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Latest data shows size of public service decreasing
    Spending on contractors and consultants continues to fall and the size of the Public Service workforce has started to decrease after years of growth, according to the latest data released today by the Public Service Commission. Workforce data for the quarter from 31 December 23 to 31 March 24 shows ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Speech to the Law Association
    Thank you to the Law Association for inviting me to speak this morning. As a former president under its previous name — the Auckland District Law Society — I take particular satisfaction in seeing this organisation, and its members, in such good heart. As Attorney-General, I am grateful for these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • 25 years on, NZ reaffirms enduring friendship with Timor Leste
    New Zealand is committed to working closely with Timor-Leste to support its prosperity and resilience, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “This year is the 25th anniversary of New Zealand sending peacekeepers to Timor-Leste, who contributed to the country’s stabilisation and ultimately its independence,” Mr Peters says.    “A quarter ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Inquiry requested into rural banking
    Promoting robust competition in the banking sector is vital to rebuilding the economy, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “New Zealanders deserve a banking sector that is as competitive as possible. Banking services play an important role in our communities and in the economy. Kiwis rely on access to lending when ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Ministry for Regulation targets red tape to keep farmers and growers competitive
    Regulation Minister David Seymour, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds, and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard have today announced a regulatory sector review on the approval process for new agricultural and horticultural products.    “Red tape stops farmers and growers from getting access to products that have been approved by other OECD countries. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government to reverse blanket speed limit reductions
    The Coalition Government will reverse Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions by 1 July 2025 through a new Land Transport Rule released for public consultation today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The draft speed limit rule will deliver on the National-ACT coalition commitment to reverse the previous government’s blanket speed limit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Chair appointments for NZSO, CNZ and NZ On Air
    Minister Paul Goldsmith is making major leadership changes within both his Arts and Media portfolios. “I am delighted to announce Carmel Walsh will be officially stepping into the role of Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having been acting Chair since April,” Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith says.  “Carmel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government focus on long-term food, fibre growth
    Food and fibre export revenue is tipped to reach $54.6 billion this year and hit a record $66.6b in 2028 as the Government focuses on getting better access to markets and cutting red tape, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones say. “This achievement is testament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt consulting on cutting red tape for exporters
    A new export exemption proposal for food businesses demonstrates the coalition Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory barriers for industry and increasing the value of New Zealand exports, which gets safe New Zealand food to more markets, says Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The coalition Government has listened to the concerns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand and Philippines elevating relationship
    New Zealand and Philippines are continuing to elevate our relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “The leaders of New Zealand and Philippines agreed in April 2024 to lift our relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026,” Mr Peters says. “Our visit to Manila this week has been an excellent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Paid Parental Leave increase to help families
    Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Brooke van Velden says paid parental leave increase from 1 July will put more money in the pockets of Kiwi parents and give them extra support as they take precious time off to bond with their newborns. The increase takes effect from 1 July 2024 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Defence increases UN Command commitment
    The number of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea is increasing, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today.  NZDF will deploy up to 41 additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • New Zealand to attend 'Summit on Peace in Ukraine' in Switzerland
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