Friday, 30 May 2014

Piketty's Capital: An Economist's Inequality Ideas Are All the Rage and other news and views for Friday 30 May

29-05-2014 PIKETTYMANIA
  • Piketty’s Capital: An Economist’s Inequality Ideas Are All the Rage
  • Dads who do chores bolster daughters’ aspirations – “Fathers who help with household chores are more likely to raise daughters who aspire to less traditional, and potentially higher paying, careers. So finds a new study that suggests how parents share dishes, laundry and other domestic duties plays a key role in shaping the gender attitudes and aspirations of their children, especially daughters.”
  • Free-market think-tanks waged war on entitlement, conscripted an Australian Joe – “The neoliberal thought collective is a well-organised, politically connected movement of like-minded individuals who have dedicated their lives to spreading the ideas they believe in. That they have managed to influence governments, including the Abbott government, may be dismaying to those who disagree with their ideas, but it shouldn’t be surprising.”
  • How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America – “By 2020, Millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans. It is estimated that by 2025 they will make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce. …  Morley Winograd and Michael Hais outline the cultural force of the Millennial generation on the economy as Millennials increasingly dominate the nation’s workplaces and permeate its corporate culture. Winograd and Hais argue that the current culture on Wall Street is becoming increasingly isolated from the beliefs and values of America’s largest adult generation.”

Another 15 banks investigated for fraud? Well fancy that

Well fancy that:
(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have opened criminal and civil probes into at least 15 banks and payment processors as part of a wide-ranging consumer fraud investigation, according to documents released on Thursday by a congressional committee.
The Justice Department's investigation, known as "Operation Choke Point," is more than a year old and aims to crack down on fraud by going after firms that handle and move money for various suspect businesses.
Just for good measure let me add this one that Reuters also reports today:
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan is investigating at least five banks over whether they overcharged the government for expenses incurred during foreclosures on federally backed home loans, filings and interviews show.
And don't forget my earlier report today: What’s $10 billion? Just another bank fine

What's $10 billion? Just another bank fine

t gets a bit monotonous. Another major bank facing a major fine for improper behaviour.
2014-05-30_bankfine
Today it is BNP Paribas that is reportedly facing a $10 billion fine for evading US sanctions against Iran and other countries.
Once again there is no talk of any bank official going to jail for what is a criminal offence.
You will find details of other examples of the ethical standards of banks in the Owl's Ticket clippers section. It is a depressing collection.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Julia Gillard leaves the list of the world's powerful women but Gina remains and other news and views for Thursday 29 May

Julia Gillard leaves the Forbes magazine list but these two remain.
Julia Gillard leaves the Forbes magazine list but these two remain.
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2014-05-29_worldcupeconomics
  • Australia: The 2014 World Cup: A tough gig – “… the sun has all but set on the ‘Golden Generation’ who underpinned Australia’s success over the past decade. Of the 14 players fielded in Australia’s last World Cup game, realistically only team talisman Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano are likely ‘starters’ in Brazil. … The passing of the ‘Golden Generation’ and the enormity of Australia’s challenge in Brazil have clear parallels in the domestic economy as, following an unprecedented 22 years of uninterrupted expansion, major risks are now intensifying. Most importantly, the dual booms in commodity prices and mining construction that delivered Australia through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed are now swinging sharply into reverse. And against this backdrop, the stubbornly high AUD and switch to contractionary fiscal policy are acting as handbrakes to a nascent economic recovery.
    Ultimately, for Australia to successfully navigate the current period of elevated economic risk would truly be some achievement – unprecedented in the country’s long history of commodity booms followed by painful busts. The burden on local policy makers is therefore a heavy one, and the government is taking a significant risk by seeking to underpin Australia’s AAA credit rating via a combination of the largest cuts to public expenditure in almost two decades and the introduction of unpopular tax increases. As kick-off in Brazil approaches, the current Prime Minister may reflect with unease that Australia’s last appearance in the World Cup on June 23, 2010 coincided with the then Prime Minister being unexpectedly usurped by his Deputy – in large part in response to the government’s mishandling of taxation issues.”
magine a mama wren hovering above her nest. The chick below is crying out for food. The mama listens. She keeps listening. The chick is obviously hungry; the mama has a mash of berries ready, but ... she doesn't land. Instead, after a few more beats, she turns and — suddenly — vanishes. She doesn't come back. Ever. The baby starves. What just happened? The mother has just made a horrible discovery. A few days earlier she had a couple of eggs (not yet hatched) in that nest. While she was out foraging, a sneaky neighbor snuck over and dropped an extra egg of her own into the nest. This new egg wasn't invited. It wasn't even a wren egg. It belonged to a Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo, an animal that biologists call a "brood parasite" — meaning the cuckoo tricks other birds into raising her kids.
Imagine a mama wren hovering above her nest. The chick below is crying out for food. The mama listens. She keeps listening. The chick is obviously hungry; the mama has a mash of berries ready, but … she doesn’t land. Instead, after a few more beats, she turns and — suddenly — vanishes. She doesn’t come back. Ever. The baby starves. What just happened? The mother has just made a horrible discovery. A few days earlier she had a couple of eggs (not yet hatched) in that nest. While she was out foraging, a sneaky neighbor snuck over and dropped an extra egg of her own into the nest. This new egg wasn’t invited. It wasn’t even a wren egg. It belonged to a Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo, an animal that biologists call a “brood parasite” — meaning the cuckoo tricks other birds into raising her kids.

Malcolm Turnbull ruins his leadership chances

Dining with a Treasury secretary is acceptable. Being seen with Clive is no hanging matter. But a New South Welshman skipping a State of Origin. An irreparable mistake

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The frustrating inadequacy of numbers about violence against women and other news and views for Wednesday 28 May

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Some differing views on the European election and other news and views for Tuesday 27 May

2014-05-27_gulpilil
  • “Charlie’s Country” – “The great Australian Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil co-wrote and stars as a dispossessed tribal man in this haunting drama from director Rolf de Heer. Though there is a story, the movie draws much of its power from poetic closeups of its star’s magnificently weathered face, as expressive as that of the great silent screen stars.”
  • Heads roll across Europe in wake of polls - The aftershocks of EU elections that saw a surge in support for anti-establishment parties rippled across Europe on Monday with mainstream party leaders losing their posts and a battle building over the bloc’s top job. The struggle over the EU’s future is due to be joined on Tuesday, when EU leaders gather for dinner in Brussels to weigh the region’s new leadership. At least two prime ministers, Britain’s David Cameron and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, were working to block the candidacy of veteran Brussels fixer Jean-Claude Juncker, frontrunner for the EU’s most high-profile post.
  • The National Front’s victory: France in shock
  • A Victory for European Democracy – “Although voter turnout was down in many places and right-wing populists scored significant gains, this weekend’s European Parliament election was historically important. It has shifted the balance of power in Europe in favor of voters.”
  • Amazon: malignant monopoly, or just plain evil?
2014-05-27_waterfromair
  • A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air - “When Italian designer Arturo Vittori and Swiss architect Andreas Vogler first visited Ethiopia in 2012, they were shocked to see women and children forced to walk miles for water. … Their firm, Architecture and Vision, has since come up with WarkaWater, a majestic palm-like structure that may look like something you’d see in a modern art museum but it’s been designed to harvest water from the air.”

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Public interest in climate change declining and other news and views for Sunday 25 May

Princeton University and University of Oxford researchers found that negative media reports seem to have only a passing effect on public opinion, but that positive stories don't appear to possess much staying power, either. Measured by how often people worldwide scour the Internet for information related to climate change, overall public interest in the topic has steadily waned since 2007. To gauge public interest, the researchers used Google Trends to document the Internet search-engine activity for "global warming" (blue line) and "climate change" (red line) from 2004 to 2013. They examined activity both globally (top) and in the United States (bottom). The numbers on the left indicate how often people looked up each term based on its percentage of the maximum search volume at any given point in time. Credit: William Anderegg Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-climate-unshaken-scandal-unstirred-science.html#jCp
Princeton University and University of Oxford researchers found that negative media reports seem to have only a passing effect on public opinion, but that positive stories don’t appear to possess much staying power, either. Measured by how often people worldwide scour the Internet for information related to climate change, overall public interest in the topic has steadily waned since 2007. To gauge public interest, the researchers used Google Trends to document the Internet search-engine activity for “global warming” (blue line) and “climate change” (red line) from 2004 to 2013. They examined activity both globally (top) and in the United States (bottom). The numbers on the left indicate how often people looked up each term based on its percentage of the maximum search volume at any given point in time. Credit: William Anderegg
Animals, such as pet hamsters, really do enjoy exercise wheels, suggests a new study that found most small wild creatures voluntarily use the wheels when they encounter them. The study, published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to look at wheel running in the wild.
Animals, such as pet hamsters, really do enjoy exercise wheels, suggests a new study that found most small wild creatures voluntarily use the wheels when they encounter them. The study, published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to look at wheel running in the wild.

Another day, another major bank, another scandal, another fine

From The Financial Times comes the news that a shadow has been cast over another key global financial benchmark after UK regulators found that a Barclays trader had manipulated the London gold fix that is used to value billions of dollars of derivatives contracts annually. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority fined the British bank £26m on Friday and reprimanded it for nine years of lax controls for its failure to rein in an options trader who in 2012 drove the gold price lower to avoid paying £2.3m to one of the lender’s clients.

How Nigel Farage gave British democracy back to the voters and other news and views for Saturday 24 May

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Eating advice for campaigning politicians

British Labour did not do as well in local government elections this week as it had hoped to and the search for explanations has begun
Labour MPs expressed despair at a series of media gaffes by Mr Miliband during the campaign – including  an unfortunate photocall at which he struggled to eat a bacon sandwich.
Labour MPs expressed despair at a series of media gaffes by Mr Miliband during the campaign – including an unfortunate photocall at which he struggled to eat a bacon sandwich.
Labour grandee Tessa Jowell said the basic presentational errors of the campaign were unforgivable. ‘If you are a politician . . . don’t eat a bacon butty when the world’s cameras are on you.’

A politician quitting on a matter of conscience? Put it on page 10

Members quitting parliament on matters of principle are a rare event – so rare that I cannot think of one happening in my 50 plus years covering politics in Canberra. As for state parliaments I am less knowledgeable but a quick googling did not help me find one apart from this week’s resignation by Dr Chris Davis as the member for Stafford in Queensland.
It was, said Dr Davis, “with sadness that I have advised the Speaker of my resignation.”
The passage of recent government legislation affecting critical aspects of our democracy goes contrary to my value system and that of the majority of my electorate. I would never have stood for Parliament on such a platform, nor do I believe I would have been elected. My most recent speech to Parliament offers additional insights.
My sacking has been a catalyst. It is sadly no longer possible for me to effectively represent my electorate in such an environment, despite my best endeavours.
A significant parliamentary event surely.
Well not to Queensland’s biggest selling daily paper. The Courier Mail relegated the story to page 10. The Townsville Bulletin had its four page version on the same page.

Friday, 23 May 2014

A modest improvement in UKIP's chances in the European parliamentary election

The strong showing by UKIP in the UK’s local government elections has resulted in the markets making a five percentage point improvement in the assessed probability of that party gaining most votes in the elections of members to the European Parliament. Those votes for MEPs were caste on the same day as those for local governments but will not be counted until Sunday when elections in all European countries are concluded.
At this point of proceedings I am happy with my recommendations:
EUROPEAN ELECTION
  • $460 on Labour at $2.20 to win most votes in the UK at the European parliamentary election
  • $450 on UKIP at $2.25 to win most votes in the UK at the European parliamentary election.
UKIP and Labour are both winners.
Full details of my political betting are at my political speculator’s diary blog.

So that budget business is not going down so well with the punters.
Well how about this:
2014-05-23_cm

Or this:
2014-05-23_theoz
(click to enlarge)

Miranda Devine has forgotten Julia Gillard already

Mmm. So Australian voters rush to embrace what the extreme and malevolent hate. Tell that to Julia Gillard.
2014-05-23_miranda2014-05-23_apology

Reporting a military coup – this morning’s Bangkok papers

2014-05-23_bangkokpost
The military seized power, dissolving the caretaker government, suspending the constitution and ordering protesters to return home in a bloodless coup yesterday.
The power seizure took place after talks between the pro- and anti-government camps failed for a second day yesterday.
The army brought them together for talks to settle the country’s protracted political conflict, without success.
Military sources said the negotiations were brought to an end after the government insisted on holding on to power.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who chaired the talks, left the Army Auditorium, the venue of the talks, as soldiers moved in to detain all negotiators and whisked them away in passenger vans.
Representatives of the Senate and the Election Commission were later allowed to go free.
Radio and television stations were ordered to suspend their normal broadcasts. A curfew between 10pm-5am was imposed and gatherings of more than five people banned.
All schools nationwide were ordered closed from today until Sunday.
In its first coup statement, the military cited the eruption of violence in Bangkok and other provinces which resulted in many deaths and injuries in the past months as the reasons behind the power seizure.
Appearing on all television channels along with other armed forces leaders and the national police chief about 4.30pm, Gen Prayuth read the statement.
He said the violence in the country had been escalating to such an extent that it stood to undermine national security and public safety.
The coup would help restore normalcy and national unity, ensure reform of political, economic and social institutions, and ensure legitimacy to all sides, he added.
2014-05-23_thenatiion2014-05-23_nationdetail

Thursday, 22 May 2014

How Australia’s winking Tony Abbott became one of the world’s most unpopular prime ministers

In politics it is often the simple things that have the most influence on voters. And so we are seeing this week as university students contemplate paying higher fees while knowing the PM’s daughter avoided the millstone of a HELP* debt because one of her daddy’s Liberal Party friends helped her get a scholarship. The politics of this part of the Coalition budget could hardly be worse. There the story was again tonight at the top of the list of most talked about items on 9 News, just like yesterday.
22-05-2014 ninenewsStill near the top of the list as well – tonight just behind the bull – is what the Washington Post on its website has called, surprise, surprise, Winkgate, under the headline How Australia’s winking Tony Abbott became one of the world’s most unpopular prime ministers
(YouTube)
Finally, the madness has taken its name: Winkgate. The gate opened when Australia’s prime minister, who has recently bungled his way from one scandal to the next, took a call from a listener on a radio show that was filmed.
The caller was worried about money. She was a grandmother. And a sex hotline worker. “I am a 67-year-old pensioner, three chronic incurable medical conditions — two life-threatening,” the caller, named Gloria, said. “I just survive on about $400 a fortnight after I pay my rent. And I work on an adult sex line to make ends meet.”
Abbott, who took office last September, then smirked for the briefest of moments and winked — unleashing a tidal wave of criticism, tweets and headlines.
This, of course, is nothing new for Tony Abbott, who’s quickly becoming one of the world’s most hated prime ministers. He just unveiled a draconian austerity budget that analysts call the most extreme and least popular of the past four decades in Australia. His approval rating has plunged to 30 percent. And then there’s the irreverent hashtag #MorePopularThanAbbott, which suggests that both toilet paper and flat tires are more popular than the prime minister.
Back on the home front, 7 News also had the winking as its top of the pops.
22-05-2014 7news
Over at the ABC, Sex line grandmother labels Abbott’s wink ‘sleazy’ and ‘slimy’ (video)was the most popular item for the last 24 hours.
And to think that yesterday I wrote that it would be Hard to think of a worse day for Abbott and Hockey as political salesmen. Just mark that down as another one of my mistakes.