Saturday, 15 April 2017

Reforming banking

Economist Nicholas Gruen has posted a couple of interesting articles recently about reforming banking. Our central bank, the Reserve Bank RBA, lies at the heart of the banking system. Rethinking and adapting its role more in line with the internet age could easily put thousands of dollars into the pockets of Australian households and billions into government coffers he argues.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Budget challenges: Money debt & other myths

This is an address to a breakfast meeting of the Burnie Chamber of Commerce & Industry on 12th April 2017.

I’d like to advance the proposition that most of what is commonly believed about money, government spending and debt is wrong. Seriously wrong....and it’s stopping us from sensibly moving forward.

You may remember the Queen in 2008 going to the London School of Economics to open a building as I recall. Referring to the GFC (global financial crisis).... Lehman Bros had just collapsed....she was famously captured on camera saying "Why did nobody notice it?" Their models were wrong that’s why. Money wasn’t in the models. Banks were assumed to be passive intermediaries lending funds from patient savers to willing borrowers. That may have been the situation pre 1971 before President Nixon abandoned the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement which incorporated the gold standard and underpinned bank lending practices. The world changed after that .....and economics didn’t keep up.

Put simply...a lot of economists don’t understand accounting.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Housing bubble now official

Great post by Matt Ellis , the Rational Radical.

“Our three economic regulators have finally revealed themselves as the three witches busy tending their poisonous brew while chanting “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble!” to a nation of tone-deaf property speculators and commentators-come-experts. The architects of our dreaded housing and economic Frankenstein are among the last to formally recognise the monster of their own creation for what it is – a hideous creature that defies all reason, logic, decency, ethics and ultimately, any ability to survive.

Such is the well documented exceptionalism and wilful blindness of the collective Australian bubble psychology, that bubble believers and sceptics alike have come to the physics defying conclusion that Australia has invented an actual perpetual motion machine. The problem with perpetual motion machines? They don’t exist. Can’t you just feel the growing friction rubbing up against the bloated sack of housing hot air? I am amazed at how tenacious the belief is that exponentially growing imbalances can go on forever, when every fibre of the economy must be sacrificed at the altar of housing speculation in ever more dramatic interventions just to keep the damned thing afloat for another few months or years. For just one more election cycle.”

Read the full blog at HERE

Friday, 7 April 2017

Cable car hype

Just a little more info that was omitted from the previous blog to satisfy the space constraints of a tabloid blog.  

Mount Wellington Cableway Company Pty Limited (MWCC) draws attention to itself by its use of hyperbole and alternative facts. And that what gives the show a Mickey Mouse flavour.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Cable car conflicts

Premier Hodgman was dismissive of concerns about State Growth Minister Groom’s close relationship with Adrian Bold, proponent of the Mount Wellington cable car project, as revealed on social media.

“There are a lot of things that require my attention ---- Matt Groom’s Facebook page isn’t one of those”, he said.

What if the chair of Tourism Tasmania was a 50 per cent owner of a company which is the largest shareholder, apart from Mr Bold, in the cable car venture? Would that appear on the Premier’s radar? After all he is Minister for Tourism as well.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Hydro Tasmania's Basslink stoush

If force majeure is the reason for the Basslink outage then maybe Hydro Tasmania owes Basslink for the six months when the interconnector was being repaired?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Tas Water & Councils: The broader picture

The previous blog had a closer look at Tas Water’s cash flow statements to show how Tas Water is managing to fund its capital programs with a mixture of operating cash and borrowings and how the distributions to owner councils each year require even more borrowings.

So what is the situation with councils?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Tas Water's cash flows in detail

This is the third in a series of blogs on Tas Water.

The Tas Water saga is yet another example of our inability to solve simple problems. It has quickly degenerated into a political imbroglio where the issues that lay at the heart of the problem are quickly forgotten. This blog will attempt to redress the imbalance.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Tas Water: Where's the money coming from?

Where’s the money coming from?

That’s the problem facing Tas Water irrespective of who might be running it.

For starters there’s $2.5 billion of surplus cash sitting on Tascorp’s balance sheet earning 2.6%.

Tas Water's problems

One doesn’t need Nostradamus’ foresight to realise that borrowing to pay dividends is unsustainable. Especially if the business urgently needs to spend more on capital upgrades.

Tas Water’s 2016 financial statements are an eye opener. An extra $65 million was borrowed during the year, $20 million of which went to councils as dividends in addition to other distributions of $10 million. The rest was needed to fund extra capital spending which coincided with a fall in net operating cash. Another year or two like that and the undertakers would be placed on standby. Treasurer Gutwein’s concerns about Tas Water aren’t without foundation.

Gaming inquiry update

The parliamentary committee investigating Future Gaming Markets has received written submissions and has held five days of hearings.  Only a few witnesses ventured into accounting and economic aspects of gaming and this happened on the 7th and 8th February. The questioning by the Committee was pretty low key. It seemed they were struggling with the issues, not surprising given the enormity of the task in an area unfamiliar to all of them. This note was written in response to the Committee’s offer to accept comments from me that may assist in their deliberations following my brief appearance on the 8th February.

The submissions and appearances of interest  (submissions and transcripts can can be found here ) were from:

·       Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group, the largest pokie operator in Australia associated with Woolworths

·       Dixon Hotel Group, a local group with 35 hotels (not all pokie pubs)

·       Tasmanian Hospitality Association

·       Tourism Industry Council Tasmania

·       Federal Hotels

One  area where no progress was made was trying to understand the costs associated with pokies at the venue level and at the network level. Each face different costs some fixed and some variable. It is crucial to understand the differences if pokies are allowed to survive outside casinos,and a more equitable split is to be recommended between the network operator, the venue, players and government. The note concludes with an Econ 101 presentation setting out costs and revenue for network and venue operator(s) before and after possible changes.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Gaming inquiry submissions

Federal Hotels has presented its vision of gaming in Tasmania after 2023. Lower taxes for table and EGMs in casinos and higher EGM taxes for pubs and clubs. Despite the absence of a link between tourism and gaming Federal Hotels suggested a low tax model which covers the casinos in Townsville Cairns and Darwin is the way forward for Tasmania. 

Federal Hotels’ views are contained in one of the 147 submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into post 2023 gaming arrangements in Tasmania. Over one hundred of these only comprised a few sentences, of varying levels of disgust/displeasure at EGMs in the community. Another twenty five were contributions from church groups and NGO’s who have seen the effects of social damage from EGMs.