Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

BTW, clicking on most charts will produce the original-sized, i.e., bigger version.

Monday, December 10, 2012

4 Ways to leap the Fiscal Cliff

Some good points in this piece

I don't think it makes sense to raise company tax.  But a carbon tax of just $5 a tonne, will raise $34 billion a year, and if it rises by $2 a year, substantially more within 10 years, while also encouraging a decline in emissions.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Frenzy of Consumerism

An interesting --- and rather bleak --- article by James Adonis of The Age newspaper.

There was something quite tragic about the Click Frenzy frenzy, wasn’t there? The same could be said about the Black Friday stampedes in the US, the likes of which are bound to be repeated here in Australia on Boxing Day. It’s tasteless consumerism to the max, turning ordinary people into ravenous and mindless shoppers, with flow-on effects in the workplace.

But first, let’s go back to 1929. In an article written for Nation’s Business magazine, Charles Kettering – a director of General Motors Research – opined on the need for companies to keep consumers dissatisfied. The moment people are happy with what they have, “almost immediately hard times would be upon us”, he wrote.

And so it is that marketers persevere with advertising to convince us we’re not sexy enough, popular enough, smart enough, or (whatever) enough, unless we purchase what they’re selling. Perhaps that’s why American comedian Bill Hicks referred to marketers and advertisers as “Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage”.

This is where work comes in. In order to fund the lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed, we work. In many cases, we overwork. Then, as our credit card balances swell and our home loans balloon, we work even harder just to keep up. Where households could once get by with just one wage earner, today both parents have little choice but to be employed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

China's bottoming

The official and the HSBC/Markit PMI's both rose in November, as did my estimate of the IP growth rate (based on a 3 month lag to the average of the two PMIs).  Other evidence (electricity prdn, imports, exports, etc) confirm that the slowdown has stopped.

I doubt growth will reach the heady heights seen before, but no matter:  these days it's a far more important member of the world economy, so even at the new lower growth rate, it will still be significant.