Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates

Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.

Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.

The  Westpac  diagnosis  reinforces  the argument  advanced  by  Point of   Order   in  one of  its most intently  read  posts:  “After the lock-down the  economy’s  recovery  will be  dependent on dairy farmers and  their  milk”.

This post  stressed  that  when the   time   comes for the   government to  start  planning  how the  economy   can recover,   it  should be   working hard   to ensure  the  dairy  industry,  along with other  key  pillars of the  primary  sector,  gets  every encouragement to  increase   production.

Many of those who  read  the post  agreed that the  volume  of criticism  dairy farmers  had to  absorb  because  of the methane  emissions of their herds  and  the dirtying of  rivers  and streams  reached    absurd  levels and  affected  industry  morale. Continue reading “Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates”

Climate change challenge for the Nats is to take scientists’ advice on GE and gazump the Greens

Prince  Charles  has called  for a   new  economic  model  in  order  to  save  the planet.  Speaking  at  the World Economic Forum in  Davos,  he pleaded with world leaders and businesses to revolutionise the interaction between nature and global financial markets,saving the planet from “approaching catastrophe”.

In an unprecedented royal intrusion on government policy,  he argues market-based solutions and tax reform are the best options to halt the damaging impacts of climate change.Outlining 10 ways to transform financial markets and reduce global emissions, Prince Charles said nothing short of a revolution was required.

“I’ve come to realise it is not a lack of capital holding us back but rather the way in which we deploy it. Therefore, to move forward we need nothing short of a paradigm shift – one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace.”

He called for companies and countries to outline how they will move to net zero emissions – a signal he is not satisfied with the commitments made under the Paris climate accord. The United Kingdom has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 but Australia and other countries have been reluctant to make similar promises. Continue reading “Climate change challenge for the Nats is to take scientists’ advice on GE and gazump the Greens”

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since?

Nothing  very much.   Continue reading “Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies”

The Green Gospel on GM is under challenge – from Shane Jones as well as Sir Peter Gluckman

You’ve got to  hand it to  Shane  Jones.   Even  when  he is not  playing the fairy godfather role in the provinces   he  can   make the headlines.

There  he  was  on the  front page of the  NZ  Herald  last week  with  the message that  NZ  needs  to  review its genetic modification-free “gospel”.

Of  course this raises  alarm bells  among the   Green lobbies,  because  it is an article of  faith among Green  politicians  that they  “saved”  NZ  when  a  ban  was  applied  to the  application of  GM  in this country.

But Jones  reckons  if  NZ is  going to  find a  solution to meet the climate change transition, then it must apply weapons from the arsenal of science and technology.  His intervention followed the concerns raised by the government’s  Interim Climate  Change  Committee  that  laws surrounding  GM could be a  barrier to  lowering  farm emissions.

Continue reading “The Green Gospel on GM is under challenge – from Shane Jones as well as Sir Peter Gluckman”

Our productivity growth has been flagging – so fixing this should be high on Phil’s new agenda

Stripped  of  his  housing  portfolio, Phil Twyford  has  to  rebuild  his  political  reputation.

Given his spectacular  failure with  KiwiBuild, PM  Jacinda  Ardern  might have  been  pardoned  for  leaving Twyford to  work  out  his redemption   in his other  portfolio  of  Transport,   which has  enough  problems  of  its own to demand  the full-time  attention of a   struggling   minister.

But Ardern has  entrusted  the  Economic  Development  portfolio  to Twyford.  This has surprised  some business  leaders,  and dismayed  others.

NZ’s  economic  development  is  suffering  from sustained and  deep-seated  malaise.  Labour  productivity, or output per hours worked, is  around  40%  lower  than  the output per hours worked of international peers.  In a  recent report  the Productivity  Commission  noted the only members of  the  36 countries within the OECD with both a  lower  productivity level and  weaker productivity  growth than NZ  are  Mexico and Greece. Continue reading “Our productivity growth has been flagging – so fixing this should be high on Phil’s new agenda”