Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A 'new' look at the Greek crisis.

Comments on the Greek crisis vary from it being a Balance of Payments crisis to a Sovereign debt crisis.

Paul-Adrien Hyppolite examines the Greek crisis and comes down in favour of one of these explanations.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Shorten out of touch on budget

The Budget has been quite remarkable.
It certainly caught out Bill Shorten something fierce.
His policy on financing the NDIS is simply incoherent and nonsensical.
He is even worse on education. Moreover they did not implement Gonski. They did not cut funds from rich schools so needy schools could get more like this Government is attempting to do.A cut in expenditure is not that same as not  increasing it as much as previously forecast. Greg Jericho has good advice on this.

Shorten does not seem to understand the more you simply oppose something for short term purposes the more likely it will come back and bite you on the bum when you are in Government. Tony Abbott anyone??

Shorten had the opportunity to embrace the policies the Government is now set to implement  from Labour but no he is working on the Tony Abbott school of Opposition. He has gone from the Centre to the Left and looked a complete goose in the meantime.

Polling indicates it does not matter in the short term but once in government it creates a lot of problems.

Shorten has become a much diminished political figure since the budget.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Has Trump changed?

Steve form Brisbane had a typically thoughtful article on Trump and his decline in his cognitive abilities.
This got me thinking. I remember Trump and he has always been a braggart BUT it is only in recent times he has become an ignorant braggart.
His tweets show him up as a complete idiot. Comedians have lots to play with.

BUT am I right and is this is a recent development?

He was embarrassing in both the primaries and the election in just how much he did not know compared with the typical candidate. His 'knowledge' of ISIS and how to combat them is a prime example. His EO on Refugees another one.

We must remember he is an old man. He is an overweight person.He was clearly feeling the cold when few others were in January and February.( How could I forget the 4 hours sleep. He loves to work you see.)
He is legendary for having the attention span of a cockerspaniel in the Chaos house.
People are deliberately leaking in the Chaos house because either they show Trump utter contempt as he clearly disregards specialist advice ( think security and intelligence matters as a prime example) or because they need to ventilate views he as disregarded.

Have we ignored how old Trump is and what this involves? If he wasn't President people would simply say he is a typical grumpy old man and what that all entails.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Iran and Trump

Iran had a Presidential election and Iran voted in droves for the Iran economy to open up and for living standards to rise as a result. Middle class Persians are no different job anyone else!

There is now a clear and significant chasm between the political and religious leadership in Iran. Although the latter has far more power than the former the religious leadership has to pay due deference to the political leadership.
Opening up the Iranian economy has significant effects on the people but also the different forms of leadership.
A leader who understands this could choose to drive a wedge between the political and religious leaderships to boost the democratic process and boost the political leadership in the process.
This can only work with a deft political touch.

Trump  in Saudia Arabia , which is at the centre of Wahhabism the  prime theological force behinds both ISIS and Al Qaeda, completely ignored all this and criticised Iran as the prime force behind Terrorism.
Given how much those two terrorist groups hate Iran because it is Shia this was absurd.
We learnt both during the Primaries and the election that Trump was completely ignorant on Terrorism and ISIS. We had hoped he would learn on the job.
He hasn't and will not. He has taken exception when views contrary to his has been told to him by his Security and Intelligence agencies hence his war with them.

Yet another piece of evidence of what occurs when you put an ignorant braggart in power!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Around the Traps 26/5/17

It is time for Around the Traps again.

Northern America
Andrew Gelman ( mainly stats)
Genial Dave Giles (econometrics)
Dianne Coyle ( quirky + book reviews)
Vox Wonk

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Coroners Report was disappointing

The Coroners Report released yesterday into the Lindt Cafe siege was very disappointing.

Take Monis first.
Why did he do this? If he was a terrorist as alleged when was he radicalised?  He came to Australia as a refugee from Iran . He was a liberal Shia cleric. Changing to a hard line Sunni ISIS inspired terrorist is a whopping big change. He was also on bail both for accessory to murder of his wife and quite a few sexual offences. Any evidence he was aghast at all these sins? ( Why in the hell was he allowed bail not once but three times?)

What was the point of the 'siege'? Take Manchester for instance. The point there is the terrorist has changed behaviour in at least two instances. Parents will not allow their children to go to concerts and soldiers will be on the streets.

Terrorists usually kill themselves as well as their targets but not in this instance. why?

What behaviour would be changed by the siege? Whom was taking responsibility for it?

It is all to easy to say it was a terrorist attack and let everyone off the hook.

Monis was a man who both gained publicity for himself and tried to gain some street cred amongst people he wanted to be with. Was the siege part of this? Given his girlfriend was convicted we can speculate he would have been as well. Was the siege merely a way to gain publicity in his death?

Lots of questions and no answers. Over 600 pages at that.

Not good enough.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Catallaxy has no shame or moral compass

There comes a time when you have to either cal it as it is or give it away.

Roger Franklin went way over the top and was completely and utterly embarrassing.

At Catallaxy instead of calling it like it is they doubled down, like Trump, and went even harder as both nutcase Katesy  and Plain Packaging Sinkers showing yet again .

They not only have no shame they have no moral compass.
How is this different form This Sinkers. Hypocrisy no less.

Hoisted on one's own petard!

Should have added Franklin should be sacked.


Catallaxy can no longer have the get out clause that Katesy is the outlier there now.

Behavioural economics

Behavioural economics is all the rage.
Beryl Chang and Fabrizio Ghiselleni make the case for changes so the topic becomes part of mainstream economics.

This is a small but compelling article for those who are interested in economics.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Steve from Brisbane nails it

Steve from Brisbane writes an very interesting blog.

He is quite anti-Trump for very good reasons as I am.
His latest simply nails the issue.
His emphasis on what Peter Beinart says it all. Trump is a coward. Trump says nasty wildly offensive things all the time yet when he meets people face to face he instantly changes to jelly.
In other words he has no ideology at all. He changes like the wind.

At present he talks about radical islam in the 'moderate' Saudia Arabia of all places.
This is the  place where Wahhabism is front and centre and exported to the world.
If you were caught with a bible in your hand what would occur in that country?  What if you renounced Islam? how about kissing your girlfriend in the local park? What if she wanted to drive the car?

Only Trump could then issue threats against Iran just after most in Iran voted to become more of the world!
Comment on the election. See:

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Menzies' forgotten people speech.

In what must be the most hyperbolic statement in politics radio shock jock Steve Price said Menzies forgotten people speech which he did on radio station 2UE in Sydney this this day a long time ago.

He made it in 1942.
This speech made soooo much reaction Curtin won the 1943 election in a canter.!!

Chifley then easily won in the 1946 election. Indeed if he hadn't had a brain snap and tried to nationalise the banks he would not have lost the 1949 election narrowly as it happened.

If this speech resonated soooo much with the  unwashed then Menzies would have won the 1943 election where Parliament was on a knife edge. Even so he would have surely won the 1946 election if people warmed to the speech and everything in it.

Facts do contradict illogical statements!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Around the Traps 19/5/17

It is time for Around the Traps again.

Northern America
Andrew Gelman (mainly stats)
Genial Dave Giles (econometrics)
Dianne Coyle ( quirky + book reviews)
Vox Wonk

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

John Quiggin goes Catallaxy

John Quiggin has a article on his blog entitled churchgoing-labor-voters

Naturally I looked in on this and was rather disappointed.
John talked about socially progressive observant Christians. This did sound to me as a complete contradiction. upon following john's link I found it was.

He  unfortunately linked to wikipedia. Even then how could a person incorporate evangelical and liberal thought together. It is lie saying you believe both in Keynesian and Classical economics. It is completely nonsensical;.

John and his readers obviously did not know this. This is understandable as they are not christians but I would have thought they could at least try and get some basic understanding of the issues but no.
further we find socially progressive christians support LGBT rights and same sex marriage. Whoopsy this is at odds of what is in the bible is it not?
That is like a person saying they are a Keynesian but advocates austerity in a recession!

The 'best' that can be said for this John ( and his readers) is simply quite ignorant of what constitutes christianity . Further evidence of this is the fact john curtailed any further comment by me on the topic.

On this issue John behaved just like Catallaxy. tut tut

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

austerity is not only bad for the macroeconomy but also for the microeconomy

The ever thoughtful Chris Dillow has a very interesting article on the perils of austerity.  What makes this really interesting is the argument he makes that it is counter productive even in microeconomic terms.

Perhaps I should add austerity is good when the economy is going well but very poor when it is not. Countries who adopted austerity as policy experienced a depression ( a 10% drop in output) following the GFC!

Polling update

The inimitable Kevin Bonham has his latest polling update up. He delves into budget bounces as well.

A great read as usual

Monday, 15 May 2017

How to analyse Trump

David Roberts at Vox has a very perceptive piece on how to analyse Trump. ( Thanks Brad De Long).

You do not need a great intellect to be a political leader.
What you do need is to understand whether a policy can work and thus whether you should use your political capital to push it through and then gain more political capital when it works.

The problem with Trump is is he is so ignorant about policy he simply ignores advice from his advisors he does not believe in. His EO on refugees is a wonderful example of this. He was told there was NO evidence for his prejudice (which initially brought on the problems he incurs in the security and intelligence communities). Instead of listening to his experts he ignored them and pushed on regardless. History shows the EO was very poorly drafted by incompetents.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Some further thoughts on the Budget

There are a few things on the budget that I did not comment on at length.

This budget has gone back to the long term average of all budgets in that it will add about 0.8 percentage points to annual GDP. Previously the coalition has added about half this. It has not detracted from GDP as Wayne Swan's last budget did.

It is also interesting that having been in power now for four years the coalition has made no headway into reducing the structural deficit. The underlying deficit reduces because of cyclical factors.

Why will wages breakout? Unemployment does not fall. Are they assuming that full-time employment takes in a much greater proportion of total employment? We are not told.

This budget holds to the coalition strategy ,  even in the woeful 2014 budget ,  that most of budget repair is due to an increase in  revenue not spending cuts.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Around the Traps 12/5/17

It is time for Around the Traps again.

Northern America
Andrew Gelman (mainly stats)
Genial Dave Giles ( econometrics)
Dianne Coyle ( quirky + book reviews)
Vox wonk

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Vale Mark Colvin

A long time ago I was interested in topics such as job enrichment, worker participation, industrial democracy and I was told there was an amazing thing happening at Double Jay the new ABC rock station.

I rang up Marius Webb and organised to talk to a lot of people at the station. The most interesting and most impressive person I got to meet was a young journalist Mark Colvin. I remember telling him at the time he had a voice for radio.
He sounded authoritative, sounded the gentlemen he was. You enjoyed listening to his calm voice.
He was the initial voice of The World Today but made his name at the very authoritative PM program where he was the voice of the program.

He died today at the age of 65, an age far too young.

He will be missed.

Here is Jim Middleton a close colleague.
This also from the ABC website


I do apologise I failed to mention the great intellect of Mark. This was what made him most interesting IMHO. He could speak with authority o\n a variety of topics. This and his sense of humour made him the first person to invite to any dinner party. He is possibly one of the few people who used twitter as it should be used. His links were absolute gems.

Some help for Soony

Poor Jason Soon.

He loves to embrace economic theories without reading of any empirical evidence.

Here are just a couple I have highlighted here from my modest blog. I found it amazing  a man of such high intellectual heights did not know about this.

tsk tsk

  • why-is-wage-growth-so-low   please note none of this could occur if the ALP re-regulated the labour marker. It did the opposite. You know things like only employees could sign off on an EBAs or strike action could only occur during EBA bargaining. There were lots more. The Fair work act used much less words than its predecessor A lot was simply changing the name!
  • another-stake-in-heart-of-classical-economics   The OECD found if you introduce labour market reforms when the economy is in the doldrums then the economy will get worse, primarily unemployment will rise. If you favour labour marker reforms you introduce them when the economy is humming or at least about to him.
come on Soony you are not a Katesy. You do have a first class intellect. Do not descend into Catallaxy like comments!!

Please note when I wrote about the above papers.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Budget 2017/18

I smell an early election from this budget. No hard decisions and pinching labor policies.

On an underlying cash basis the budget deficit falls from 2.1% to 1.6% and then to 1.1% and after that it is essentially in balance. So far so good.
Most of the improvement in the budget is in revenue.

Pity the Infrastructure spending is so late in the peace although the inland rail looks very iffy.That might come back and bite them in their backside.

Assumptions look okay BUT the wages forecast is very optimistic. It is almost at odds with what it is saying on unemployment. So are the forecasts of company profits and consumption. the rise in personal income tax is nothing short of extraordinary.
So the risks are on the downside.

The biggest question is why is spending so high as a % of GDP? The ALP had it on a declining path which the Government changed. I understand this was done originally to put blame on the ALP but that didn't work. It surely cannot be because of automatic stabilisers so what is the story.

The reason can only be they were advised by Treasury aggressive fiscal consolidation ( such as Wayne Swan did in the last budget he had responsibility for) could weaken the economy. They cannot for political reasons admit to this.

I will link various budget articles as I find them. Some on specific topics others not.

Why do certain welfare recipients have to do drug tests? This makes no sense at all.

Okay sorry but my back of envelope calculations has the banks merely raising rates by 3 basis points to 'pay' for the bank levy.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Milton Friedman and Statistics

There was a very interesting article which examined the statistics behind some of Friedman's work  ( primarily with Anna Schwarz).
Few people realise that Friedman was a top notch statistician. I didn't until I did one of my post-graduate programs.

I was quite enamoured with his work UNTIL the Hendry assault. Bill Mitchell has the bones about it. After reading this criticism and with de-regulation Friedman's theories 'ran out of gas'.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The A -League final

The A League capped off a great season with a thrilling final.
Most finals of any sport are not matches of great skill and this was the case here  however the tension  was palpable and to finish with a penalty shoot out tested the nerves.

The season was easily the best for yonks. I watched all Friday matches live on SBS and to my mind there was only one dud match.

The FFA needs to address two major issues. Find stadiums that are suitable to use ( A final in Sydney MUST be at Homebush) and get more juniors involved in teams. I was surprised to find players not good enough to play in the A league still playing in teams which  did not use local juniors.

It would be good to have some promotion as well. I have said previously the FFA should be trying to get a bigger crowd at the Sydney derby than there is for the Manchester derby.

The Friday match should be on a better channel than a SBS offshoot as well.

Hopefully the Wanderers can it it next season!!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Songs that are better in the studio than live

Continuing my series of songs better in the studio than live.

Bryan Ferry's Slave to Love.
I have to say when I first heard this song ( I was watching Nine and a Half Weeks) I thought to myself this would be impossible to play well live mainly because of Phil Manzanera's magnificent playing of guitar and the many uses of it he uses in the production of the song.

Here is the studio version.

Here is a live version

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Around the Traps 5/5/17

It time again for Around the Traps

Northern America
Andrew Gelman ( mainly stats)
Genial Dave Giles (econometrics)
Dianne Coyle ( quirky + book reviews)
Vox Wonk