Sunday, 23 November 2014

China To Cap Coal Use By 2020

  • China To Cap Coal Use By 2020 To Meet Game-Changing Climate, Air Pollution Targets – “The Chinese government announced Wednesday it would cap coal use by 2020. The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said the peak would be 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption. This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centered around building a coal plant or more a week. Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy.”
  • octobernoaaClick to enlarge
  • State of the Climate: Global Analysis – The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for October, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F). The global land surface temperature was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F)—the fifth highest for October on record. For the ocean, the October global sea surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F) and the highest for October on record. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–October period (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F). The first ten months of 2014 were the warmest such period on record.
  • Study shows the media has a clear bias — in favor of dogs
  • The writer who foresaw the rise of the totalitarian state – “The 19th Century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote about characters who justified murder in the name of their ideological beliefs. For this reason, John Gray argues, he’s remained relevant ever since, through the rise of the totalitarian states of the 20th Century, to the ‘war against terror’.”
  • Poverty is a hard sell for newspapers flogging braised endives – “Leftwing papers have to strike an uneasy balance between the lure of aspirational advertising and their mission to report.”

Saturday, 22 November 2014

And even the banking regulators were in on the act

The Bank of England has opened a formal investigation into whether its officials knew of – and even facilitated – the possible manipulation of auctions designed to inject money into the credit markets to alleviate the financial crisis.
The probe, which started in the summer, has been revealed just a week after the UK central bank published a report that criticised its own response to the foreign exchange rigging scandal.
Lord Grabiner QC, a senior British advocate who led the separate forex inquiry, has been asked by the BoE to head the new investigation. He is to probe whether a series of money-market auctions held by the central bank in late 2007 and early 2008 were rigged, and whether officials were party to any manipulation, according to people familiar with the issue.

Abbott’s own team are getting uneasy about him as leader

The supporters are getting restless. Tony Abbott is disappointing them.
The number one cheer leader this morning:
Abbott doomed
These extracts give the flavour:
It’s a simple lesson that Mr Abbott has failed to grasp: talking points and three-word slogans can never suffice. “Australia is open for business” does not constitute a narrative or provide inspiration. “Team Australia” has hokey appeal, but it, too, does not work as an explanation for complex national security issues.
Limply, the Prime Minister is losing the battle to define core issues and to explain to voters what he is doing and why. At stake is his political credibility, no less. Mr Abbott risks becoming a “oncer” if he allows his opponents to constantly control the agenda.
… Other than in some formal set pieces, he has lost his authoritative voice. Of course, it is no use blaming ill-equipped, tyro advisers. The Prime Minister’s Office is too dominated by Peta Credlin, his chief of staff, including on media strategy.
… Where is the intelligent Rhodes scholar who has an easy rapport with Australians in any setting?
This communications malady is endemic. The Coalition’s failing media strategy is damaging its electoral standing and making it difficult to bed down policy responses to problems it was elected to address. The economy is where this ineptitude is most marked; the selling of the Abbott government’s fiscal repair job has been a debacle.
… In opposition, the Coalition had overegged the crisis alarmism. In truth, the debt overhang is a medium-term issue …
Certainly, Mr Abbott was right to recognise that the electorate had lost patience with the extravagant verbiage of the RuddGillard era. But there is a sweet spot between overblown rhetoric and the dot-point banalities pumped out by the PMO and the Coalition’s advisers.
… Without a clear narrative, the task will be beyond him; his communications strategy is in disarray. The Coalition needs skilful media personnel and new roles for its best ministerial performers; it must communicate like a team that knows what it is doing. Short-term tactical wins may offer a mood hit in the executive wing, but they are not the key to sustained governing. Mr Abbott must regroup, trust himself and speak with purpose. Right now, his insipid default setting is losing the people.
Interesting that the criticism is all about the poor salesmanship. There’s still a long way to go before the disappointed ones start realising that it is the product not the sales pitch that people increasingly don’t like.

Friday, 21 November 2014

How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul

In Victoria is the election all over bar the voting? Maybe, but the Greens are providing plenty of interest

Two opinion polls today on the Victorian state election with one showing Labor on course for a comfortable win and the other suggesting a crushing defeat is in store for the Coalition government.
This morning Galaxy:
Untitled imageThis afternoon Roy Morgan:
roy morgan
Both pollsters are showing the Greens doing well – Galaxy has them with a primary vote of 13% while Morgan puts their support at a staggeringly high 19.5%.
Gary Morgan comments:
Gary Morgan says:
“Opposition Leader Dan Andrews has grabbed a significant lead with a week to go before the Victorian Election with the ALP (55%) well ahead of the L-NP (45%) on a two-party preferred basis. A victory for the Labor Party will mean the Liberal Government of Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine will be the first one-term Government in Victoria since John Cain Snr. in 1952-1955.
“Although the two major parties are almost level on primary vote: ALP (35.5%) cf. L-NP (35%), the high expected Greens vote (19.5%) would ensure a strong flow of preferences to the ALP. If the high expected Greens vote is maintained over the final week of the campaign a strong Greens vote gives the Greens a good chance of winning their first lower house seat at a Victorian Election in one of the Inner Melbourne seats of Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote or Richmond.
“The Liberal Party’s negative advertising against Labor Leader Dan Andrews has provided Andrews with ‘free’ publicity and not given electors any positive reasons to vote for the Coalition.”

Cartoonist captures Tony Abbott's election losing mistake

Tony Abbott transformed into Julia Gillard the liar. This morning's cartoon in the Melbourne Herald Sun says it all .
2014-11-21_cartoonAnd my guess is that the result will be the same.
Ms Gillard did not recover from breaking breaking her no carbon tax in a government I lead promise. The same fate awaits Tony Abbott over the spending cuts for the ABC and SBS.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

When they put on a banker’s hat otherwise honest people become dishonest

Readers of my Ticket Clippers postings will not be surprised by this latest piece of academic research. A new study by Alain Cohn, Ernst Fehr, and Michel Maréchal from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich shows that bank employees are in principle not more dishonest than their colleagues in other industries. The findings indicate, however, that the business culture in the banking sector implicitly favors dishonest behavior.
The scientists recruited approximately 200 bank employees, 128 from a large international bank and 80 from other banks. Each person was then randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions. In the experimental group, the participants were reminded of their occupational role and the associated behavioral norms with appropriate questions. In contrast, the subjects in the control group were reminded of their non-occupational role in their leisure time and the associated norms. Subsequently, all participants completed a task that would allow them to increase their income by up to two hundred US dollars if they behaved dishonestly. The result was that bank employees in the experimental group, where their occupational role in the banking sector was made salient, behaved significantly more dishonestly.
A very similar study was then conducted with employees from various other industries. In this case as well, either the employees’ occupational roles or those associated with leisure time were activated. Unlike the bankers, however, the employees in these other industries were not more dishonest when reminded of their occupational role. “Our results suggest that the social norms in the banking sector tend to be more lenient towards dishonest behavior and thus contribute to the reputational loss in the industry,” says Michel Maréchal, Professor for Experimental Economic Research at the University of Zurich.
Social norms that are implicitly more lenient towards dishonesty are problematic, because the people’s trust in bank employees’ behavior is of great importance for the long-term stability of the financial services industry. Alain Cohn, who recently joined the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral scholar, suggests concrete measures that could counteract the problem: “The banks could encourage honest behavior by changing the industry’s implicit social norms. Several experts and supervisory authorities suggest, for example, that bank employees should take a professional oath, similar to the Hippocratic Oath for physicians.” If an oath like this were supported with a corresponding training program in ethics and appropriate financial incentives, this could lead bank employees to focus more strongly on the long-term, social effects of their behavior instead of concentrating on their own, short-term gains.
The full article Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry is published in the journal Nature behind a paywall but here is the abstract:
Trust in others’ honesty is a key component of the long-term performance of firms, industries, and even whole countries1. However, in recent years, numerous scandals involving fraud have undermined confidence in the financial industry. Contemporary commentators have attributed these scandals to the financial sector’s business culture but no scientific evidence supports this claim. Here we show that employees of a large, international bank behave, on average, honestly in a control condition. However, when their professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest. This effect is specific to bank employees because control experiments with employees from other industries and with students show that they do not become more dishonest when their professional identity or bank-related items are rendered salient. Our results thus suggest that the prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying that measures to re-establish an honest culture are very important.