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Monday Message Board

February 25th, 2008

It’s time once again for the Monday Message Board. Please post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:
  1. O6
    February 25th, 2008 at 12:42 | #1

    On Garnaut, and what one might do, here’s something with some suggestions
    http://www.graceresearch.com/KeithPotts.pdf .
    Not being a climate scientist, I don’t know if this Potts is right, but I like his proposals.

  2. gordon
    February 25th, 2008 at 14:20 | #2

    Even the Business Council is finally remarking the collapse in Federal Govt. investment during the 11-year reign of the Rodent (the years of the Rat?). Writing in The Age, BCA President G. Gailey:
    “More than ever, governments need to focus on fiscal policies and broader reform agendas in areas such as infrastructure, education, skills and workforce participation that collectively enhance the nation’s capacity to grow.

    But recent federal budgets have not kept pace with the economy’s structural needs.

    Instead of focusing on policy settings that invest in those areas of the economy that drive long-term growth, recent budget spending has remained fixed on driving even greater demand and consumption in the short term”.

    Not a mention of the Future Fund, however. You’d think Mr Gailey would have mentioned it as an obvious source of funds to invest in the sorts of things he’s talking about. And is it just me, or did I really see a fall in the Future Fund assets from something like $64b. a week or two ago to $59.6b. today? First we had the opportunity cost, now we’ve just got the loss.

  3. MH
    February 25th, 2008 at 20:02 | #3

    Ignoring the gyrations of share markets, the commodity markets are still onwards and upwards, in just about every conceivable commodity you can think of, metals, minerals, agricultural produce and money, although the US Fed is determined to empty their treasury to bring the price down, there. Is this finally the arrival of the mythical PP curve for planetary life?

  4. Peter Wood
    February 25th, 2008 at 20:28 | #4

    A very interesting interview with Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the World Trade Organisation, where he discusses capitalism and Marx.

    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/120707G.shtml

  5. Ian Gould
    February 26th, 2008 at 09:13 | #5

    I can’t find it but someone mentioned the new European turbodiesels here recently.

    This is the next step in that particular evolution:

    http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=457882

    The Loremo uses advanced aerodynamics, widespread application of light-weight materials and a turbodiesel to do 150 MPG.

    Supposedly (I’ve gotten very cynical about new tech stories) the Loremo will be on the roads next year with a price tag of around US$20,000.

    Hybrid and battery versions are supposedly planned but the added weight from the batteries may present a problem.

  6. gordon
    February 26th, 2008 at 10:31 | #6

    The Business Council’s discovery that Govt. investment might actually be a good thing was anticipated by Prof. Quiggin here (Aug. 2006). He said: “Although attempts to relate aggregate government expenditure to economic growth have been unsuccessful, there has been more success in the examination of particular components of government expenditure. The general pattern is unsurprising. Government investment expenditure is found to increase subsequent economic growth, while consumption expenditure is found to reduce subsequent growth, exactly as would be expected for investment and consumption in general”.

    Wow! Who’d have thought it? Still, it’s good to see the BC struggling to catch up. I wonder what they’ll find out next?

    And I wonder whether, given the relationship between Govt. investment and growth that Prof. Quiggin remarked, anybody has estimated the growth foregone by shoving taxpayers’ money into the Future Fund instead of spending it on useful things.

  7. melanie
    February 26th, 2008 at 23:02 | #7

    Somebody has started a wiki called Oz Ideas for those of the 20 million who won’t be invited to the summit.

    http://ozideas.wetpaint.com

  8. mugwump
    February 27th, 2008 at 00:02 | #8

    From Peter Wood’s link @4:

    We must listen to those who talk about alternative modes of growth, those who sign up against this enormous consumerist weight that materializes, commodifies everything, who are against this system that puts people into relation with symbols they are sold thanks to the media and the Internet, so that in essence they buy nothing but their own image all day long. There’s a kind of psychic cannibalism in all that that provokes dissolute behavior.

    That, my friends, in a nutshell is the problem with the left: my vices are ok; yours are not.

  9. mugwump
    February 27th, 2008 at 00:18 | #9

    Actually, the original was in French, with “dérèglements” translated to “dissolute behavior”, which doesn’t seem right, from my rusty French. Maybe that’s colloquial usage. Anyway, read the article. It’s interesting.

  10. February 27th, 2008 at 07:39 | #10

    Was anyone else dismayed by the omission of science from the agenda of the Twenty20 summit? I whinged here.

  11. Ian Gould
    February 27th, 2008 at 09:55 | #11

    US producer prices rising at 7.7% year on year (and 1% in January). Consumer confidence at its lowest level since the recession of the early 90′s.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/27/2173663.htm?section=justin

    It’s the return of stagflation.

  12. February 27th, 2008 at 11:35 | #12

    Our rising dollar is insulating us to some extent. However interest rate targeting is a crude and round about way to lift the currency. Our dollar should be rising faster given the freefall against commodities that the US fed seems to be so okay with for their dollar.

  13. Ian Gould
    February 28th, 2008 at 04:39 | #13

    The newest bit of jargon from the US is “hydrokinetic power”, the catch-all phrase for wave and run-of-river (damless) hydro power.

    Despite the hideous name, this is looking like the wave of the future. (Sorry, somebody had to say it).

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/story;jsessionid=60A9AFE522625588E35E2C937C0ED02F?id=51672

    H-power is estimated to have the potential to provide 10% of US power needs and is growing rapidly – too rapidly according to people worried by the issue of up to 100 “expedited licenses” ny the US government.

    Damless hydro (or “river power”) has gotten a big kick along in the last couple of years from new cheaper more environmentally friendly designs. Floating turbines or turbines suspended on pylons are much cheaper and quicker to build than conventional hydro. You also avoid both the carbon dioxide emissions from millions of tons of cement and the methane released from vegetation on flooded land.

    It sounds promising but no-one knows the impact of several thousand such projects on a major river system like the Mississippi.

    But it looks like we’re abut to find out.

  14. Ian Gould
    February 28th, 2008 at 04:42 | #14
  15. February 28th, 2008 at 07:54 | #15

    Cross-posted from my blog:

    Did anyone else notice that the Euro hit US$1.50 yesterday? Or that the Aussie dollar yesterday went over $US0.94? Meanwhile gold is nearing $US1,000 an ounce while silver approaches $US20 per ounce.

    Oil just went over US$102 a barrel. Even Alan Greenspan (of all people) is encouraging Middle East oil countries to drop their US-dollar pegging!

    US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says: “The outlook for the economy has worsened in recent months and the downside risks to growth have increased.” Presumably that means the “upside” risks to recession (or worse) have increased.

    Bernanke is set to cut rates again, even as he admits this will increase inflationary pressures. Even the Wall Street Journal says “Inflation May Be Worse Than We Think“.

    Is it time to panic yet?

    The same question has been asked throughout history: “How could it have been that, with all the evidence staring them in the face, people couldn’t see disaster coming?”

    History is again repeating itself. Despite the mountains of evidence and baskets of statistics pointing to “Panic,” the media, the man on the street and the politicians avoid the facts and deny the ugly truth … or defend their beliefs with a vengeance … attacking those who beg to differ…

    America’s on the rocks and sinking fast and there’s no one there to save it. Not the Federal Reserve, the President of the United States, nor the presidential wannabes in waiting. There are no quick fixes or human geniuses that can make the debt-bloated pig fly, yet a desperate public prays that its pathetic politicians will lead them to economic salvation.

    The good news for Australia is that we seem (at the moment anyway) to be seen as a safe haven for anyone wanting to move their money out of the path of the coming tsunami. But it’s a global financial market these days, as horror stories like Centro and ABC Learning’s (well deserved) crash demonstrate. To think that the US economy will crash and burn without seriously affecting us is just wishful thinking.

  16. gordon
    March 1st, 2008 at 09:35 | #16

    Thanks for the links, Ian Gould. Looks like the economics of a gold rush, with allocation of property rights by an unaccountable US Govt. agency which is ignoring competing rights and environmental issues.

  17. Ian Gould
    March 1st, 2008 at 12:00 | #17

    Gordon, precisely – and a really promising new technology could get unfairly stigmatised as a result.

    Honestly, what’s wrong with putting in a few hundred (rather than a few thousand)devices first up and waiting a year before expanding?

  18. Ian Gould
    March 1st, 2008 at 12:05 | #18

    Here’s a rare bit of good news on the climate front:

    New Zealand, Norway, Iceland and Costa Rica plan to become the world’s first carbon neutral countries.

    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19726453.300-guilty-countries-pledge-to-go-carbon-neutral.html

    Now if only their collective emissions added up to even 1% of the global total.

  19. Chris O’Neill
    March 1st, 2008 at 14:45 | #19

    Now if only their collective emissions added up to even 1% of the global total.

    Probably not surprising that countries planning to go carbon-neutral first don’t generate much carbon to begin with.

  20. Ian Gould
    March 2nd, 2008 at 22:49 | #20

    Actually per capita Norway’s right up at the top along with us.

    I don’t think New Zealand’s that far behind us either.

  21. Ian Gould
    March 2nd, 2008 at 23:44 | #21

    From Wikipedia (usual caveats apply blah blah blah)

    CO2 Emissions per capita 2004

    Norway 19.0
    Australia 16.3
    New Zealand 7.8
    Iceland 7.6
    Costa Rica 1.5

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

  22. Ian Gould
    March 3rd, 2008 at 00:11 | #22

    While looking up those figures I came across this table which shows carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of economic output.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_ratio_of_GDP_to_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    The United States and Australia are right next to each other – between Laos and Latvia.

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