Weekend Links 15-16 March – The sequel



ScreenHunter_01 Apr. 02 06.19


Europe’s Fast Track to Youth Employment (Project-Syndicate)

ECB’s Weidmann: Euro Level Not a Policy Target (WSJ Real Time Economics)

Global Investing and the European Enigma (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Irish economy in surprise decline, threatens debt-cutting plan (EU Observer)

Slovakia deflation puts more pressure on European Central Bank (Euronews)


Russia Ukraine.

Russian debt deal could haunt Ukraine’s economy (CNNMoney)

Will the IMF Lose Ukraine? (Project-Syndicate)

EU diplomats start putting names on Russia blacklist (EU Observer) (This is the only thing which will hurt, and they will strike back)

Turkey’s Crimea Quandary (EU Observer)



Latest data confirm China slowdown (SoberLook)

Don’t Get Fooled by China’s Tricky FDI Numbers, It is Still Number One (PIIE)

The Chinese Dream, Beijing’s Reforms and Global (Economonitor)

Stress In China’s Property Market A Risk To Local Government Financing Vehicles (LGFV) (IB Times)

China NPC 2014: Shifting Rhetoric On Property Market (IB Times)

11 ugly signs that confirm China’s dramatic slowdown (Financial Post)

Why There Is Good News in the Bad News on China’s Economy (Time)

Chaori default will provide resolution template (FinanceAsia) (Good list of likely default candidates)

Another Chinese Default – But It’s Still Not A Bear Stearns Moment For China (Forbes)

Yuan Dive? (Project-Syndicate)

China wants you to want its money, but there’s just one really big flaw in that plan (Quartz)


United States

What the US Economy Really Needs to recover (CBS MoneyWatch)

Fed Nominee Fischer Says Exit Has Started (WSJ Real Time Economics)

Housing recovery loses momentum in California as February sales fall (LA Times)

Aerospace, Aviation Industries See Threats in Aging Workforce (Money News)


Global Macro


Copper: China Financing Business May Cause Further Price Falls (IB Times)

Copper Narrows Weekly Retreat as Nickel Heads for Bull Market (Bloomberg)

Majors Versus Minors: China and the Sell-Off in Copper (Financial sense)

China Copper Premiums Point to Weak Demand (WSJ MoneyBeat)

IEA Raises 2014 Oil Demand Estimate as World Economy Recovers (Bloomberg)

Investors Flee Oil ETFs As US Output Surges (ETF.com)

…other things…

In a tech bubble with a twist, the big danger is bonds (FT.com)

Silicon Valley is turning our lives into an asset class (FT.com)

The furtive folk of global finance (FT.com)

It is time to stand up for the European Union (FT.com)

China eyes opportunity to drive up euro (FT.com)

…the cretinist side of capitalism…

Obama was right: To boost the economy, spread the wealth (Washington Post Wonkblog)

Economic Myth Busters – The Minimum Wage (Market Oracle)

Redistribution, inequality, and sustainable growth: Reconsidering the evidence (VoxEU)

…odds and sods…

The “Made in China” Fallacy (Slate)

The 17 Equations That Changed the Course of History (Slate)

Mind your wallet: why the underworld loves bitcoin (Reuters)

Computers dethrone humans in European stock trading (Reuters)

Why no amount of cross-selling can make corporate lending profitable (Euromoney)

Lehman wisdom from beyond the grave

…coquing up recruitment…

Why companies shouldn’t focus on hires who will hit the ground running (Quartz)


The new age of crony capitalism (Economist)


The Next Financial Catastrophe You Haven’t Heard About Yet: Puerto Rico (Time)


Macroprudential stress tests should not rely on regulatory risk weights (VoxEU)

70 Responses to “ “Weekend Links 15-16 March – The sequel”

  1. Jake89 says:

    Quick point about Australian housing and foreign investor demand for it. I very quickly read Stephen Kirchener in the Oz yesterday, and am going to use his article as a bit of an example. Aside from his point that foreign investors are buying newly built houses only, not existing ones (this isn’t accurate is it?), he basically tries to say that increased supply caused by foreign investors is good as it brings more housing, jobs and income. Can we take our economist hat off for a moment, stephen? There is more to think about than price and quantity. The issue for most Australians is can I buy my own home. There is an expectation in the community that people will be able to buy their own home and not be renting from a foreigner. The issue around house prices is well documented so I won’t go into it here, and indeed the foreign investor demand is not the main game in town. But of the housing stock in Australia, is it moral/fair for an Australian, who expects to be able to buy, is actually out-competed by someone who doesn’t even live here and is using the property to gain residence, thereby valuing the property far above its ‘ value’. I guess I’m saying that housing is special in Australians minds. Most seem ok to sell out businesses to foreigners, and I’m ok with it too. But perhaps we should be reserving property fir residents? Just sayin – maybe we can put economics aside and think about how we actually want to treat the demands of our fellow Australians.

    • migtronix says:

      Sadly I think the impetus starts with the ambivalent attitude to selling businesses/raw material to foreigners. I’m not sure what is actually very different about renting your job from a foreigner or renting your house from a foreigner? Besides we’ve been renting the whole place from a foreigner (The Queen) for ages.

      • Jake89 says:

        Yeh I agree, there isn’t much difference between renting a house from a foreigner and working for a foreign company. Perhaps the issue is not so much domestic vs international landlords, but tenants vs landlords. Here I’ll try to explain why I think housing is ‘special’:

        A domestically owned business can move offshore, as can a foreign owned business. So it doesn’t really matter who owns a business. The big concern for most Australians is do I have a job where I am earning money and am treated reasonably well, and these can be provided by foreign or domestic businesses. But a house is different in the following ways: it is a place you make your own, where you can invest yourself and see your identity revealed. It is a place you can leave to your kids. It is something to show for your hard work. You are not booted out when the landlord wants to retire. You can build a garden, you can take pride in your house. All this is very important for self-esteem and -worth. Compare to renting – Most gardens are unkempt. Neighbourhoods with renters seem to be less friendly. You can’t do all the things I list above. A house is the one thing that people want to be able to make for themselves what they want it to be. I can guess I’m trying to express the things that ordinary people, who will do very little to nothing great in their life, can look back on and be proud of. Things that make it worthwhile and meaningful.
        So perhaps the issue isn’t domestic vs local but renting vs buying. This is where income inequality comes in, which is not something I usually think about, and when I do, I generally think we should support the poor with a basic income and essential services and then observe the rule of law (lol) and let the chips fall where they may. But what we’re seeing at the moment is an abuse of the rule of law and a subsequent distortion in property ownership. For example, people took on a lot of debt in the 2000s. It all went bad, governments came in, protected the wealth of the rich, the poor were putout on the street, they’ve defaulted, the homes are sold off to investors at a discount. Then stimulus comes in, and rates are at all time lows. Investors can leverage. They buy houses. The poor rent them. This is what is being seen now. Are we turning into a world of landlords and renters? If so is the working and middle class dream over?

        This is all very dramatic stuff, and its not really well though out, but I throw it out there for discussion.

        Two things:
        1) is the issue not foreigners but landlords (and therefore income inequality?)

        2) Are so we blinkered by economics that we fail to observe the world as it is. Ie there is more going on than efficiency (such as ownership, political power, identity, people’s feelings (shock horror)).

        actually, a third thing: what is the ‘issue’ I refer to in 1)? Why is it we get upset at foreigners buying up our land?

        Before I finish, I will acknowledge that the world is not perfect, and that there will always be inequality, and that inequality is normal. In fact trying hard to rectify it through social engineering is extremely dangerous and usually leads to the worsening of conditions for all. You’ve got to answer the questions: compared to what? and at what cost? (Thomas Sowell). I realise all that. But I’m sure there are some measures we can take to improve this situation. And the final thought: maybe it is just too hard and we are moving into a structurally different world, due to technology, winner takes all effects, relationships between political power and financial power, etc, that mean that we are in a world now where middle and lower class dreams are being pushed to the side and were possible in history only for a relatively short period of time?

      • barney1 says:

        @jake89…..having rented and owned at various times in my adult life there is a few constants i have noticed, people renting are much more laid back the mood/atmosphere is much more harmonious
        i have owned in blocks where it was all owner occupied and i tell you on both occasions in inner west Sydney it was toxic,strata board meetings were battlegrounds some neighbours were in mediation….just terrible and the vibe was ‘this is my patch and i will protect it’ all over noise by the way,old art deco blocks are noise traps,hell if i had a shower after midnight there would be a knock on the door next morning complaining
        lastly a trend i have noticed, which is worsening, home owners really looking down their noses at renters and this will be the new aussie class divide between those who own v renters…its pretty sad state of affairs if that gets you up the totem pole a couple of notches….and lastly i want to add this national obsession with housing diverts money and motivation from other more useful/productive ideas so in the end it entrenches a serfdom like society

  2. migtronix says:

    That Quartz piece on recruiting is odd in that it doesn’t say very much more than the headline – sure “hitting the ground running” is just more psycho babble that can be useful, such as “touching base”, but is mostly a sad attempt at gladiatorialising cubicle work via sports metaphors — which is pointless and vain.
    As evidence by the follow quote “I’m trying to change the language on a team so they’re not talking about hitting the ground running, but about long-term potential,”

    So perhaps Russian would be best? Idiotic recruiter speak at its most banal!

  3. Royal Commission time says:

    Hi again, I posted my initial thoughts earlier http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/australias-land-bubble-goes-nuclear/#comment-336185 but am adding some more here.
    The government has ripped up the social contract.
    Shelter is now to be financialised, locals to be locked out of ownership.
    Recent 52% of sales going to investors.
    That’s way over the 30% they traditionally represented in a sustainable market .
    I believe it is now time for a Royal Commission.
    Or else, what are we going to wait for?
    Investors making up 60% of RE market?
    Not enough, how about 75% of sales?
    Bit drab, how about 90% of sales go to investors?
    I have had enough.
    I have written to a number of government departments direct asking policy specific questions and seeking an explanation as to why governments actions are counter to the intent of Mission Statements.
    Also in the process of writing a 2 page submission to the current Affordable Housing Inquiry.
    They know who I am, I know who they are.
    Royal Commissions generally investigate cases of Political corruption or matters of significant public concern. If it can be proven that the cost of housing is being deliberately made more unaffordable and that this is the deliberate intent of politicians from both major parties as well as departmental staff of various government departments (Treasury, RBA, etc), then I think a Royal Commission will get up.
    Here are 2 topics of past Royal Commissions:
    #54 Royal Commission on the method for determining the unimproved value of land held under Crown leases (1924–1925)
    #107 Commission of inquiry into the efficiency and administration of hospitals (1979–1981)
    Does anyone think that hospital admin is more corrupt than real estate industry in this country?
    Over the years, work done exposing reasons for housing unaffordability by Productivity Commissions and Senate Inquiries has been ignored.
    Time for someone to pay the price.
    The name Abeid comes to mind as the weakest link .
    In terms of known corruption within the political spheres, highlighting his activity will make the perfect ignition spark for a pyrotechnic-like implosion of the corrupt elements of Liberal and Labor party, I hope.
    Any ideas on the best way to get a Royal Commission off the ground?
    Please advise.

    • Jake89 says:

      Wow. See my rambling attempt at a similar argument above

    • 8mill says:

      Slightly off he topic but the normal 2.4% depreciation allowance on property should be gone. It should be just part of owning any asset.
      the listed companies l own either use part of their earnings to fund upgrades or they have a rights issue.

      Hence it needs to go.

    • md says:

      Royal Commission Time, I think it WOULD be good to have a Royal Commission into housing affordability IF something was actually going to come of it. The problem is that those “running” the whole thing are the very people who DON’T WANT to see their own properties fall in price. Not only that, but they are the very people who want to see us DO EVERYTHING to keep the bubble going.

      So, everybody likes the idea of Australians being able to afford to buy a home to live in, but if you ask someone with a home (and other properties): “That would mean the value of your properties losing half their value,” well, you know what the answer will be. And in reality, prices would have to drop by a lot more than half to become what could be considered “affordable”.

  4. Jack says:


    I would suggest Tripodi, Fairfield Council, Liverpool Council, Wollongong Council, as previous ICAC investigations, as well as Medich, Graham Richardson,Badgeries Creek, Kristina Keneally when she was planning minister. Probably even Bob Carr and the retrenchment and downsizing of Landcom in 1999, when land releases were halved in number

  5. Jack says:

    Actually Graham Richardson is the common demonominator with , Tripodi, Medich and Obeid. I would start with him

  6. migtronix says:

    Same way it recovers from debt, with more recession. Or is that war?

  7. 3d1k says:

    For all those regulars who claim they’re packing their bags and leaving. Where to?

    ‘We have never been in a situation like this before. It is quite possible that we will not find our way through without serious social breakdown and/or mass emigration of the most mobile and productive people. There aren’t many countries for them to go to that do not have the same problems – they could try Estonia, Australia, Chile and Switzerland; but it is a short list.’

    The debt iceberg.


    • migtronix says:

      Berlin seems like an up and comer

    • Gunnamatta says:

      Just because they dont rate a mention in the Telegraph doesnt mean they dont exist old coq…….

      ….and dont forget that no matter how great Australia may be for raising young kids and wiping dribble in ones senescence (and i agree it fits the bill nicely at those points), there is the small issue of say the years between ones late teens and seventies when a sentient person could well ask if there is more for them outside than in.

      Would you want your kid working in retail or a call centre trying to service a mega mortgage? Or do you reckon you will back a childs pole climbing skills inside an Australian management structure (while leaving the macro to someone else)? or set them up to become one of the specialised forms of rent seekers? All possible, but all often diminishing for the sentient soul.

      • 3d1k says:

        My kid won’t have to work if he doesn’t want to. I think he will though, after travelling. When the time comes I have a couple of useful contacts.

      • dumb_non_economist says:

        2d, your comment sums you up succinctly: “My kid won’t have to work if he doesn’t want to.” While you complain about Gen Alphabet, you set about to have your son the same. It wouldn’t matter what my financial circumstances were, I’d make sure my kids have to learn to earn.

        To me it’s also an indication you only think of yourself.

      • Muz21 says:

        “My kid won’t have to work if he doesn’t want to.”

        What an extraordinary comment 3inchK.
        Do you really intend to ruin that child….. or is it just your way of showing off ?
        I reckon you shouldn’t charge the boss for that post. it wouldn’t be fair, would it ?

      • Gunnamatta says:

        I reckon that was just put there to incite a reaction.

      • Turnitup says:

        @Gunna, most of us raise our kids after our late teens old coq, so there’s plenty of incentive to stay in Australia after these years. And you’re still here right? And not in your late teens. So what was your point again chief?

    • Pfh007 says:

      Yes – a one for one swap should accommodate the world’s ‘grass is greener’ community.

      Its like double entry accounting.

      Across the world population system the person credits must always equal the person debits.

      Goddam the Alien Abduction external sector!

      • flyingfox says:

        Me and mine are taken care of. Screw everyone else!

      • Gunnamatta says:

        Yeah, he’s on the money there

        ….pretty much a good reason alone to make sure you arent spending a working life in toto in Australia, and that you minimise the bejeesus out of your tax while you are here

    • The90kwbeast says:

      I’m all ears for this answer also… although primarily I’m trying to chase a metro city I can buy a house in one day without paying $500k+, have a decent economy, be English speaking etc etc. Very short list of places really outside of Australia!

      My current strategy/facts:
      1. Aus citizen, B.Bus, CPA, I’m 26 and a bloke
      2. Got my UK passport (thanks mum!)
      3. Seriously thinking about applying for an EB-3A USA visa to give me that option (Atlanta, anywhere in Texas seems to be pretty progressive?)
      4. Got about $50k saved up, no debt, ‘encumbered’ per se only by G/F who is still studying
      5. Currently live in Brissy

      Hopefully from the above that gets me anywhere in Australia, NZ, the UK or the USA in ~5 years time judging by the EB3A backlog. Question is

      Thoughts crowd on this pressing issue for many in their 20s?


      • Janet says:

        UK Passport? So it’s a EU one. ( It will say so at the top of the front cover). Portugal, then! Buy low etc…..

      • drsmithy says:

        Seriously thinking about applying for an EB-3A USA visa to give me that option

        As an Australian, you qualify for an E-3 visa, which is basically a rubber stamp (assuming you can find an employer prepared to file the paperwork).

      • alien says:

        If Portugal then Kurt should act quickly before all the Macao (and beyond) investors start buying EU visa in Portugal through property.

      • Gunnamatta says:

        Why not Spain or Italy? Or Cyprus (or even North Cyprus). Bulgaria has issues but a lot of foreigners take to the coast there. Latvia also visas for people buying places there. The trick is sustaining yourself while there, but if you can travel or work remotely buying a place there will cost about half what it would here (or less), and if you sell a place here then investing half the proceeds may be an option for some.

    • Dave_Comments says:

      Well I’m enjoying Hong Kong. If I can scalp enough money to cover my measly living expenses on the FX markets I’ll stay for as long as possible.
      This is an actual premier city… Sydney is just Houston by the water down under.

      • The90kwbeast says:

        Yeah it says European Union at the top. Portugal, eh? Cheap houses but I’ll never get a job over there!!

      • Janet says:

        On a serious note, that’s going to be the issue anywhere you go. As I tell my children ” Don’t lose your job! The next one might not be as easy to come by”. 26? You haven’t even had the first of life’s real challenges thrown at you yet ! ( the fastest way to poverty? Choose the wrong partner – or two!). You are putting more thought into it than most, though. So wherever you decide to go, it will be the right place…..

  8. AB says:

    More forward thinking from this adult government of ours.


    Hundreds more job cuts are looming at the CSIRO as the peak science body pushes through its biggest restructure in decades.

    The organisation sacked its Melbourne-based legal team this week, firing lawyers who have protected the CSIRO’s patents for many years.

    The axe is expected to fall again this year among the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s 1600 scientific support staff. Management confirmed on Friday that more jobs would be lost but said it could not provide numbers.

    In more bad news for government science jobs, private weapons companies are trying to poach specialists from the Defence Materiel Organisation in Canberra amid widespread expectation that much of the agency will be privatised with the loss of up to 3000 public service jobs.

  9. Dave_Comments says:

    “Australian dollar shot as currency cold war turns hot” Good article and I was looking forward to reading the comments but it’s disappeared?

    • migtronix says:

      I suspect it’ll be back Monday – like my coffee addiction :)

      • Dave_Comments says:

        Hey Mig, could you explain the fundamentals between JPY and AUD again? Your recent comments on the Nikkei USD/JPY and AUD/JPY have had pretty good predictive power for AUD/USD but I’m not sure if I’m fully getting the ideas behind them.

      • migtronix says:

        @Dave: Theory goes something like this; when BoJ tries goes into currency war mode it sell JPY against everything including AUD, when the NKY crashes traders start piling back into JGBs and unwind their repo/swaps positions taking AUD with it. Rinse, repeat.

      • Dave_Comments says:

        Cheers Mig!

  10. jimbo says:

    Construction and its benefits to the local economy? This is rife from what I’m seeing and it isn’t just confined to Chinese plasterers.

    ‘industry sources have provided details of an elaborate rort involving ”job sharing”, where Chinese plasterers swap documentation to enter sites and receive half the award rate of $35. One source referred to it as a ”two-for-one deal”. Other Chinese workers are required to work more than 60 hours a week, but receive payment for a standard 36-hour week.’

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/chinese-plasterers-exploited-by-rogue-companies-at-two-big-sites-20140315-34u1b.html#ixzz2w4Mj5FEP

    • Royal Commission time says:

      Intention: activate a Royal Commission into all facets of real estate industry
      Thanks jimbo, useful quotes from article:
      “Victorian Government appointed Bovis Lend Lease to build the $1 billion publicly funded Royal Children’s Hospital, while construction superannuation fund Cbus has financed the $400 million Docklands headquarters of government-backed insurer Medibank.
      Serious concerns . . subcontracting business that has failed four times in five years is repeatedly given government and corporate jobs despite stringent probity guidelines. . . collapsed with debts of more than $4.8million, most . . owed to the Australian Taxation Office.
      CFMEU . . aware of widespread exploitation of Chinese plasterers in the Victorian construction industry. . . But several industry insiders have accused the union of ignoring the practice on several big commercial projects in the CBD.”
      Targets mentioned in article: Victorian government, ATO, Cbus, CFMEU
      Source – Age article: Chinese plasterers exploited by rogue companies at two big sites

  11. 8mill says:

    The bangaroo inferno, does that seem potentially suss to anyone else?

  12. migtronix says:

    Cmon Dave he’s just helping you “climb onto the property ladder” because, you know, after that sh!tbox 1 bdr it’s beluga and bubbly every step there after.

    Research has found that home and contents insurance premiums have been growing at a much faster rate than wages – doubling in five years – yet many people take little notice of their policies, what they pay and what is covered. If you’re serious about getting ahead financially, it’s time to cut out the complacency.

    That’s right skimp on coverage so you can get extra IP sooner.

    • Dave_Comments says:

      Insurance and retirement funds are overrated, the bubble comes first, right?
      Predictably, the “RE” in “FIRE” is trying to consume the other two letters in the acronym, hungry bastard that it is.
      We shouldn’t have fed that thing after midnight.

    • Opinion8red says:


      No, you’ve got it backwards.

      The “F” in “FIRE” is (and long has been) using the “IRE” letters as pawns, with the endgame strategy of positioning to consume all disposal income, over and above bare necessities, of both the private and the public sectors.


      Check mate.

    • Dave_Comments says:

      My bad

  13. Opinion8red says:

    For all the MB housing ponzi malcontents, whose narrow focussed obsession with Oz house prices and all the many immediately visible factors (ie, the trees) impairs their ability to step back and see the whole forest (ie, follow the “money”) … upon which they might then see that the forest of “money” grows, and indeed MUST continually grow, via the mostly hidden root named Usury:

    Fears Chinese investors are pricing first-home buyers out of the market will be investigated by parliament


    Part of a double-page spread under the monster title BOOM MADE IN CHINA, published today in the nation’s biggest-selling weekend newspaper.

    Go on then, all you awful “racists”. Further diffuse (thus, collectively weaken) your already grossly ill-directed angst.

    Blame the Chinese.

    Blame the FIRB.

    Blame the politicians.

    Blame the NIMBY’s and BANANA’s.

    Blame land bankers.

    Blame developers.

    Blame baby boomers.

    Blame the Federal Reserve.

    Blame the bankers.

    Blame anything and everything, except for the true root cause.

    A cancerous “money” system that DEMANDS constant growth, in order to keep siphoning off that little, oh so familiar, seemingly inconsequential Usury “spread” to the economic rentier class.

    • migtronix says:

      Judging by the comments on that link there is 0 chance of enlightenment coming along; no one comments on land release, of years of low rates or NegGear or over a decade of property bubble. No its all the Chinese fault, never mind that they’re Johnny-come-lately and are buying at a peak.

      • Opinion8red says:

        Yep. The article is, of course, brilliantly successful at achieving exactly the outcome noted in my comment …

        “Go on then, all you awful “racists”. Further diffuse (thus, collectively weaken) your already grossly ill-directed angst.”

        If not at “racism”, then one of the other symptoms I listed. Never at the root cause.

        “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one striking at the root” — Thoreau

  14. 3d1k says:

    Dave does it really make you that angry? Seriously?

  15. migtronix says:

    Nowhere is the zero marginal cost phenomenon having more impact than the labor market, where workerless factories and offices, virtual retailing and automated logistics and transport networks are becoming more prevalent. Not surprisingly, the new employment opportunities lie in the collaborative commons in fields that tend to be nonprofit and strengthen social infrastructure — education, health care, aiding the poor, environmental restoration, child care and care for the elderly, the promotion of the arts and recreation.

    Child and elderly care great! Interesting piece though, you left leaning types will enjoy it.


  16. migtronix says:

    F1 is ridiculously quiet, can actually talk to the person next to you. In fact the helicopters make more noise.