Links October 30

Global Macro

  • ExxonMobil flexes its geopolitical muscles. Quartz
  • An information diet for the 2012 election. BigThink. We spoke about the election and information diets in this week’s Macro Investor.
  • Do we live in the golden age of investing? MintLife

North America


  • Murdoch in bid for Pearson’s Penguin. Financial Times
  • Viktor Yanukovych claims victory in Ukraine. BBC
  • And Social Democrat/Labour coalition likely to win government in Lithuania. Guardian
  • Is Europe’s emissions trading system broken? Der Spiegel
  • Mikhail Prokhorov trades business for opposition politics. Moscow Times




  • Beijing cracks down on those who want to list Buddhist temples or Taoist shrines on the sharemarket. Want China Times
  • The wilderness fetish is bad for people and the planet. Aeon


    • “One consequence is that Australia has the highest net foreign debt among all developed economies.”

      I can’t decide if I’m scared or terrified.

  1. John Lee has an interesting take on the Asian Century paper. It questions the one thing no-one else has questioned: It might not be the Asian Century.


    But it is clear that few analysts in Asia see the collective rise of all major countries in the region as inevitable or even probable – as the white paper seems to do. And just as Australia has consistently overlooked unmistakable signs that China’s continued and rapid growth is far from inevitable, it is now also underestimating the challenges facing many rising countries in Asia.

    Empty stomachs at Canberra’s Asian banquet

  2. Question for the loony libertarian right (GSM, MattR, MineBot et al): Is there ever a place for regulation?

    This thought crossed my mind while watching Four Corners last night where unregulated distribution of antibiotics in India has resulted in the rapid evolution of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

    Now I know you guys don’t wear seat belts, but surely you agree that the distribution of antibiotics should be strictly regulated?

    • Lorax – I can’t speak for others – but I have never advocated ZERO regulation. And certainly not in the area of pharmaceutical/chemical production. To suggest such is either wilful misrepresentation or woeful misunderstanding.

      I advocate, along with BHP, Cochlear, Dow, Rio and a raft of others, a reduction in excessive regulation that stymies progress and innovation. If we are to remain competitive in the global economy overhaul of our regulatory and tax environment is essential.

    • Total lack of regulation is anarchy. There are anarchists out there but not every liberty lover is like that.

      I myself consider myself a minarchist :

      I am aware that a small proportion of the people are generally scumbags who would try to steal and hurt those who can’t defend themselves. Therefore there is a role for the government to make sure people are not hurting each other, i.e. to establish some small set of rules and enforce them.

      Releasing poisonous gas in a confined space would hurt other people so there is a need for regulation and enforcement to protect us from that.

      Creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria also hurts other people and thus there is a need for regulation and enforcement to prevent that.

      • Ok, so what about seatbelts? Do you refuse to wear them because its an infringement of your liberties?

        What happens if you’re involved in an accident and require many months (even years) of expensive medical care funded by the state?

        • I wear seatbelts because it is stupid to risk serious injury and a fine. I would wear them even if they were not mandatory.
          Having said that if a political party announces a program to reduce the nanny state and part of that program to be making seatbelts non-mandatory I would vote for them.
          I believe every adult ought to balance between the risk of serious injury and the inconvenience of wearing the seatbelts and make his/her informed choice.

          Now on you second paragraph – part of the problem is that the medical care is funded by the state.
          I would like to see everyone insuring him/herself for catastrophic medical conditions (which may or may not include car accidents without wearing seatbelts – depending on the policy) and pay out of pocket for trivial sicknesses. If anyone can not afford that then he/she should either start working harder or seek voluntary donations from other freely minded people. As a side effect this would promote healthier lifestyle for everyone.

  3. “Australia will have an innovation system, in the top 10 globally, that supports excellence and dynamism in business with a creative problem-solving culture…”

    “Australia’s tax and transfer system will be efficient and fair…”

    “Australia will be among the most efficiently regulated places in the world…”

    “Australia’s school system will be in the top five schooling systems in the world…”

    Alan Kohler’s quotes from the Asian Century White Paper. Depressing, aren’t they? Might as well have said “Australia will be the richest country in the world, with two Ferraris and a Mercedes S600 in every garage.”

    This government has had five years to start making such outcomes possible. The only area of those above in which a case could be made for some progress is education. In the other areas, we have gone backwards.

      • Absolutely. The report has received near universal dismissal, only Gillard and Emerson capable of mustering feigned interest – would be interesting to know the content prior to government tampering which has effectively turned it into commendation of Labor policies.

        Has Henry sold his soul?

      • Couple of classic one liners by Terry McCrann:

        “content so shallow that if it were a pool of water would pose no danger to a one-month old baby lying on its belly”

        “What, did Henry buy the sentences at banality template central?”

        “They’re not so much targets, as pick-a-number wish lists, mixed up with utterly fatuous advice, delivered with all the pompous certainty that could only come from an ivory tower, and a Canberra one at that.”

        • “content so shallow that if it were a pool of water would pose no danger to a one-month old baby lying on its belly”

          Pot meet kettle. The same can be said of Terry McCrann’s articles.

          • I wasn’t trumpeting the intellectual depth of McCrann, simply pointing to a few classic zingers. I agree it is a case of pot and kettle. But McCrann is writing a popular column for the Herald Sun, not a government White Paper. The expectations are different.