You could go with the pessimists and brace for a recession – or you could take comfort from Trumpian optimism

Maybe a recession is looming, or maybe not and we are being misled

Finance-market investors are pessimistic: global stock markets fell around the world last week, prompting headlines such as Recession fears prompt selling in global stock markets.

Weak data from Germany and China on Wednesday helped fuel a rush for safe assets like bonds and gold, the BBC said in the report beneath that headline.

Bond market moves pointed to possible recessions in major economies.

Another BBC report, headed Are markets signalling that a recession is due?,   examined the unusual phenomenon known in the jargon as an “inverted yield curve”.

This often comes before a recession or at least a significant slowdown in economic growth.
Continue reading “You could go with the pessimists and brace for a recession – or you could take comfort from Trumpian optimism”

James Shaw’s number should be up with the Stats portfolio and (based on a Green colleague’s advice) a woman should take over

James Shaw must go and be replaced as Minister of Statistics by a woman.

Julie Anne Genter, Shaw’s Green Party and ministerial colleague, hasn’t said so. But here at Point of Order we are confident she would agree.

The case for a woman taking over as Minister of Statistics is raised by a combination of the mismanaged 2018 census and by Genter’s championing of female leadership.

One analysis of the Stats NZ fiasco, by David Williams at Newsroom, says the census was bungled

“ … because of bad leadership, poor oversight, flawed decisions, and a misplaced hope that it’d turn out OK.” Continue reading “James Shaw’s number should be up with the Stats portfolio and (based on a Green colleague’s advice) a woman should take over”

Lopping the OCR might be a stroke of genius – or an Orr-ful monetary policy blunder

So what, on reflection, are we to make of  the  Reserve  Bank  governor  Adrian  Orr last week slashing the  official  cash rate  by half a percentage point to  a record  low  of  1%?

After  all,  just  the day  before  Orr made his   historic move, Finance Minister   Grant  Robertson  was  delivering  assurances  to  anyone  who might be listening  of  the  NZ  economy’s “solid fundamentals” as  he celebrated the unemployment rate falling to 3.9%.

Why then would   investment  guru Brian  Gaynor  label the  OCR  cut  as a “bizarre  decision”?

In his  widely read column in the  Saturday  edition of the NZ Herald, Gaynor wrote:

Populist politicians and central bank governors  are obsessed with taking  measures to avoid any  form of  economic slowdown. This  approach, which has been strongly  influenced  by Trump’s  pressure on the US Federal Reserve Board, is unorthodox, because  expansions and  slowdowns  are  an  integral  part of the  business  cycle. The  weird  0.5%  rate  cut…means  our Reserve Bank has more limited options if NZ is  confronted  by a  serious  recession”. Continue reading “Lopping the OCR might be a stroke of genius – or an Orr-ful monetary policy blunder”

RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR

Michael Reddell, on his Croaking Cassandra blog, has scolded the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee about its prowess – or lack of it – in the communications department.

His concerns were raised by the committee’s decision – announced yesterday along with the latest Monetary Policy Statement – to lop the Official Cash Rate by 50 basis points to 1 per cent.

As Westpac commentators noted:

“This was a stunning decision – in the history of the OCR, the only times the OCR has been cut by 50bps or more have been after the 9/11 terrorist attack, during the GFC, and after the Christchurch earthquake. We are very surprised that the RBNZ decided to cut 50bps in today’s environment.”

Reddell was surprised, too, and is urging the RBNZ’s board to ask hard questions about just what went on before the announcement. Continue reading “RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR”

If we go where Britain goes – well, it’s bad news for the champions of more bikes and fewer cars

We bring disquieting news to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, the government she serves and all advocates of cycling to save the planet, improve our health … whatever.   Walking and cycling rates in Britain have not improved in nearly two decades,  throwing UK Government targets to boost “active” travel into doubt.

Figures published by the Department for Transport reveal cycling accounted for just 2 per cent of all journeys made in England last year.  The overall distance travelled on bicycles was the same as in 2002.

The Daily Mail tells us:  

The national travel survey also found the number of cycling trips made per person each year dropped from 18 in 2002 to 17 last year.

The stagnant figures come despite millions being invested in new cycle lanes – and suggest it is likely to fall well short of its target to double cycling trips between 2013 and 2025.

The number of journeys made on foot has remained steady over the 17-year period, standing at 264 in 2002 and 262 in 2018.

But the distance in miles walked per person each year has risen by 2 per cent in the same period, the DfT report said.

Cars are still the most common mode of transport, accounting for around 61 per cent of average miles travelled. The number of car journeys made between 2015 and 2018, both by drivers and passengers, was up 3 per cent.

Car ownership has also risen from 1.09 cars or vans per person in 2002 to 1.21 in 2018.

Continue reading “If we go where Britain goes – well, it’s bad news for the champions of more bikes and fewer cars”

Just imagine a meeting of these two minds and the avoidance of split infinitives

We propose a meeting between former New Zealand Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and Britain’s newly appointed Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, to swap notes on good grammar and effective communication.  Mind you, we would prefer to steer well clear of any meeting between this particular pair of politicians.  Their enthusiasm for pedantry – we fear – would rapidly become tiresome.

Finlayson, it might be remembered, had a passion for avoiding split infinitives and eschewing the use Oxford commas.

He provided his staff with a list of more than 20 banned expressions.

Rees-Mogg’s staff similarly have been directed to avoid using certain words and to address men with the courtesy title “esquire.” Continue reading “Just imagine a meeting of these two minds and the avoidance of split infinitives”

Can’t cope with the pressure of international cricket? Put things in perspective by taking advice from Keith Miller

Psychologists, psychotherapists and what-have-you seem to be doing good business from helping players cope with something that – when all is said and done – is sport.

They are helping nerve-shattered fans, too, after the tense Cricket World Cup final between England and New Zealand, a game ultimately decided by the number of boundaries scored by each side.

On the strength of this, England won the cup.

Would the toss of a coin have been fairer?  Or should the title have been shared?

No matter.  The fact is a lot of Black Cap fans found their stress levels raised and the NZ Herald fretted:

“Kiwis have been left emotionally bruised today after New Zealand came just centimetres from winning the Cricket World Cup.”
Continue reading “Can’t cope with the pressure of international cricket? Put things in perspective by taking advice from Keith Miller”

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