From my hotel room in London, I read this SMH report, headlined “NBN benefits ‘grossly overstated'” which in turn refers to a report by “British telecommunications consultant Robert Kenny and Charles Kenny from the US Centre for Global Development” released (in London, as it happens) a couple of days ago.
Five minutes with Google is enough to determine that
* the Centre for Global Development is a genuine and reputable thinktank, with no particular axe to grind
* Charles Kenny is not what you might call an Internet enthusiast, having written, in 2002, a piece entitled Should we Try to Bridge the Global Digital Divide.
Read More »
A moving post on marriage rights from reader and occasional CT commenter Tim Scriven.
Slightly anachronistically, here’s what I wrote for the LSE blog in advance of my lecture last night. The blog as a whole is well worth reading.
I’m speaking at the London School of Economics tonight, basically recapping my Zombie Economics book. It’s a bit late notice, but in case any London-based readers are interested, I thought I would give the event a plug here.
Michael Stutchbury’s piece a while back supporting the QR asset sale (my critique, his response) turns out to have been the first of many as the Murdoch press tries desperately to talk this flop up. But the punters aren’t buying, and even some of the subeditors appear not to have got the memo. This (unsigned) piece in the Courier-Mail says that, rather than repaying the debt that was the pretext for the sale, Bligh and Fraser plan to spray much of the proceeds on electoral bribes of one kind or another. The text gives the most positive spin possible, but the headline referring to a “desperate push for votes” gives the game away.
And if Bligh and Fraser weren’t feeling desperate, the comments on the story ought to make them so. In 127 comments, I didn’t find one that actively supported the government, although there were a fair few that were also critical of the hopeless LNP. My personal favorite from “Skeptic”
Hands up those who reckon they can be bribed by this behaviour. If so, I have a bridge to sell you. Oh, wait, they’ve sold that too…
Bligh and Fraser are doubtless on the way to well-paid sinecures in the financial sector. But those members of the Labor Caucus who don’t have anything lined up post-politics must soon realise that their only chance of keeping any seats at all next time round is to sack them both.
It’s time again, once again, for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.
The QR float came in at the bottom of the indicated price range ($2.55 a share for institutions, $2.45 for individuals) and the government sold only 66 per cent of the shares, implying a return of $4.1 billion. However, the government announced a return of $4.6 billion. Unsurprisingly, these figures are bogus. To get there the government included some extras, picked up in later reports:
Dividends due to the government from the company and cash proceeds from a debt facility make up the difference between the $4.1bn worth of shares issued and the total revenue figure of $4.6bn.
It’s pretty rich, but par for the course for this government, to treat the dividends from an asset you are selling as part of the sales proceeds.
A couple of points
* The sale just scraped in at the government’s minimum. What are the odds that some favours were called in, and future favours promised, the get the float over the line?
* As I mentioned last time , the government took on $4.3 billion of extra debt when it restructured QR for sale. So, in cash terms, this sale actually leaves the government marginally behind.
Update In the original version I used reports that said the government had retained a 40 per cent holding, which created some additional puzzles. I’ve now fixed this.