Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: The Prime Minister will see you now

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  • Whoops,

    As always, great stuff David. Thanks.


    Not sure about the digital channel idea - lots of us don't have freeview yet.

    Perhaps they could can the new Paul Holmes show to give us the John and Bill hour of power.

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I'm confused...agreeing with Thomas Friedman is not what I expected.

    And I really enjoy your posts, David.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    And here's a thought: could we perhaps hear a little more from our Prime Minister about what he thinks of the global economy?

    The Prime Minister made clear what he thinks in a revealing exchange in the House yesterday. But nobody wants to hear what he's saying. We'd rather just believe in the magic smile.

    Hon Jim Anderton: Which knight has been a great example of the economic success that New Zealand needs more of: Sir Michael Fay, Sir Allen Stanford, Sir Bob Jones, or Sir Roger Douglas?

    Hon JOHN KEY: ... In relation to the four gentlemen whose names the member raised, I think all of them have made a contribution to New Zealand.

    Allen Stanford?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Buffett has a much better track record than Friedman. Famously, Buffett sticks to his "circle of competence" and refuses to step outside it, whereas Friedman has a bloviation for everything. If Friedman has hit on something correct, it is only because he fires indiscriminately.

    Apropos credit: my worrying anecdote is a mate who works in the fishing industry. There's a lot of boats out there catching squid right now, wondering where to store their catch because the warehouses are full. The warehouses are full because none of the middlemen who would normally make a market can get credit. The demand for squid is still there, there's just no cash to fund getting it from A to B.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    The Prime Minister made clear what he thinks in a revealing exchange in the House yesterday. But nobody wants to hear what he's saying. We'd rather just believe in the magic smile.

    As far as revealing exchanges go, I noticed another interesting one in the same vein on Sunday night. He said of the titular honours that we use them to honour people's successes . I thought it was the contribution that was being recognised. He does seem to have quite the status preoccupation.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    there's just no cash to fund getting it from A to B.

    I wonder if the local banks are playing hardball because they don't believe they will be able to roll over the billions that expire this year.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    there's just no cash to fund getting it from A to B

    So, how about them export credit guarantees, then.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Sacha: I think the problem lies on the buyer end.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    OK, maybe buyer credits could help.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    "We can use this time to transform the economy to make us stronger so that when the world starts growing again we can be running faster than other countries we compete with."

    There's an intuitive appeal to this statement, though I wonder what rises and what falls?

    I am yet to work out why the PM thought he should take tourism on, cynically I thought it might be the media opportunities, but clearly tourism is a major export earner (pity it's also high impact and low yeild).

    Over at kiwiblog there's a lengthy thread about the nine day fortnight, I don't know that it'll get up, but if part of the tenth day is intensive training, that'd be positive. NZ has a world class workplace training infrastructure that must surely be part of the retooling and although officials hate it, I'd argue the priority for investment must be industry that will improve our export intensity.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Great post David. I wonder if one of John Key's long term aims was to become a SIR? So re-store the title now ready??

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    And here's a thought: could we perhaps hear a little more from our Prime Minister about what he thinks of the global economy?

    You must have been glad to see what that Key told the WSJ:

    Since you Your citizens are entitled to expect you to be realistic . . . to be specific about what it is you're going to do

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    "We can use this time to transform the economy to make us stronger so that when the world starts again we can be running faster than other countries we compete with."

    So, Is this the running faster?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Blast! Must look at my text when previewing, not just my formatting. Apologies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    So, Is this the running faster?

    I'm no expert on selling major assets, but don't you get a much better price for them when they're making craploads of money, rather than when they've just hacked their profits?

    Ports of Auckland board chairman Gary Judd suggested it could be the right time to consider privatisation after the company's half-year result showed a sharp drop in profit.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Your doctor knows it's best to wait until you're lying down before he raises bad news.

    I had this same conversation with my dentist, who has the advantage that you are always lying down, and you often can't talk back.

    He diagnosed that my sensitive teeth were stress-related. He'd been getting a real spike in this particular problem and had had the same in 1987.

    Buffett has a much better track record than Friedman. Famously, Buffett sticks to his "circle of competence" and refuses to step outside it, whereas Friedman has a bloviation for everything. If Friedman has hit on something correct, it is only because he fires indiscriminately.

    Warren Buffett is definitely a genius, but I don't think he has any better feed than any one else into the future at this point. Yes, the problem is fear and confusion. But that mean there's a clear solution. The wrong government action could easily create a lot more fear and confusion. Furthermore, if it starts looking like the events that are unfolding are far too massive for any particular government to solve then how much can the government, even the US government, do to quell fears?

    To me the economy is looking like the front line in a battle. Everyone knows that if you follow orders, lock ranks, keep your eyes forward, aim low and wait until you see the whites of their eyes before firing, then you are going to be a far more effective fighting unit. But very few people want to be killed, and when you're faced with a sudden and alarming surge of enemies, and start hearing the screams of the dying all around you, then running is not entirely irrational. Being routed is a very frightening and humiliating experience. But it's not the worst thing that could happen. You could be slaughtered. If you run, you could come back to fight another day. It doesn't always mean you are a coward, or that you are letting everyone down.

    Red Badge of Courage is a good look at the psychology of this. Or if you prefer film, try The Thin Red Line . Of course the leaders are going to say "Drive forward, God DAMN it!". They're not the ones who are going to eat the bullet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • James Liddell,

    I am yet to work out why the PM thought he should take tourism on, cynically I thought it might be the media opportunities, but clearly tourism is a major export earner (pity it's also high impact and low yeild).

    Paul, it was because the industry said he should. Up until that point, there had been no suggestion that Key would take the portfolio. Lindsay Tisch was spokesman for Tourism in opposition.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    Banks have not suffered the same loss of capital as in Europe and USA, but foreign banks have left a multiplying credit problem on our soil. The tightening of bank credit is beginning to affect commercial property values. As that happens, it lifts bank losses and further restricts bank lending.
    There will be probably more grief to come among a vast array of businesses both large and small. Banks will have to raise more capital to cover any losses that are ahead of them.
    Initially lowering housing interest rates was a good news , now I'm wondering if it simply means higher bank charges for business borrowers and less jobs for the community.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    don't you get a much better price for them when they're making craploads of money, rather than when they've just hacked their profits?

    If the profits are down, the asset must be cheap, no?Then, who benefits?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    How about an hour on the TV? No ads; a good interviewer. You have a digital channel at your constant disposal, ideal for the purpose.

    There's an interview show on 7? For some reason, when Freeview was coming up with shows that could be made cheaply, it decided panel shows were it, and didn't think that interview shows might also be pretty simple.

    And it would be a little dodgy, kinda, for the PM to instruct them to start one.

    But he actually does have a digital channel at his disposal - and just for Whoops, it's carried on both Freeview and Sky, and streamed live on the Internet:

    Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I wish to make a ministerial statement pursuant to Standing Order 348.
    Mr SPEAKER: The Honourable Prime Minister.
    Hon JOHN KEY: Mr Speaker, the world economy...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm wondering how much of a lead Key is taking from Alan Greenspan, who became wearied by the fact the economy could be moved around by the merest twitch of his facial muscles, and kept his comments bland and wore a poker face. Didn't stop him fueling the current crisis to a great degree.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • James Liddell,

    So, Is this the running faster?

    A bit of that, and a whole lot of this methinks.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    Kyle said:

    I'm no expert on selling major assets, but don't you get a much better price for them when they're making craploads of money, rather than when they've just hacked their profits?

    I thought the same thing, but then realized this line of reasoning doesn't provide any guidance on when to sell assets: can you imagine yourself looking at Ports of Auckland when it's bringing in shit tons of cash to the ARC (which they then depend on in their budgeting) and then saying "ok, time to sell that puppy!"?

    I couldn't see myself selling an asset because it's being successful, or because it's struggling. I think the better argument is: does this asset belong in state hands? And for the Ports of Auckland, I say "hell yes". It's critical infrastructure for importing and exporting. I'm not seeing people say that the downturn in profit is because it's mis-managed, I suspect the downturn in profits is because we're in a massive downturn in world trade. There's no sane reason for this to be in private hands.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Well that too Nat.

    I'm not an advocate of selling, now would just seem like a really shortsighted time to sell.

    I suspect the family equivalent would be - main income earner loses job = family sells house and starts renting just after bottom has fallen out of housing market = way to lose $100K.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    A bit of that, and a whole lot of this methinks.

    Here's Bill Ralston's take below. In my view, it probably be more than just a leak, it'll probably be a burst info main or even Operation Chastise.

    Meanwhile, the Government's plans to "cap the public service" or "cut the public service", depending on your political persuasion, gives some light relief.

    Pressed as to what constitutes the "core public service", which the Government is pledging not to cut, Gerry Brownlee defined it as 'That bit of the bureaucracy that is not being cut".

    That is funny. Unless you are a public servant.

    Actually the Government needs to be a bit cautious of when good public servants go bad. When threatened or cornered the public service can bite.

    The financial squeeze is going on the departments, no new spending will be approved and, realistically, most face budget cuts of 10% or more. That means jobs lost and as it's impossible to define any government department as an "iconic New Zealand business" they cannot expect any bailouts.

    Ministers will have to watch what they say in briefings with officials, treat emails to departments like they are unexploded bombs and generally expect to keep no secrets because a disaffected public service leaks like a drain.

    All of which bodes well for us journalists. Either the ministers are forced into a position of hitherto unexperienced open government or we will be deluged with juicy leaks.

    Maybe Key & Co should remember the wise words of (I think it was) Geoffrey Palmer who once said governments should have few secrets and guard them closely.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

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