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HOW DO YOU GET TO SWING THIS?

By Pete Moore On August 11th, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Lemme guess: trade unions are involved, right?

While searching for something else I came across “The Epoch Times” and its feature called: Global Q&A: ‘What is the most inspiring moment for you in the Olympics?’ In its own words, “The Epoch Times asked people outside Olympic Park in London what the most inspiring moment has been for them thus far.” You might or might not find it interesting, but among those asked was a Dominick Posillipo of Stony Point, New York. Can you spot the interesting fact about him? I might have helped with dash of yellow highlighting.

You’d think he’d been a state employee (oh yeah – whoops!). I hear complaints about outsourcing. When investors see this kind of thing you understand why it happens.

THE NHS AND HEALTH UNIONS WON’T LIKE THIS – GREAT!

By Pete Moore On August 3rd, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, once described as “a clinical and financial basket case”, recently implemented a few mild reforms: a private firm (“Circle”) took over and an employee-ownership deal allowed hospital staff became part-owners of that company, so all have a stake in making it work. So how’s it going?

In just six months, waiting times had been turned around – from the worst in the region to the best. Patient care had improved; satisfaction ratings were higher than ever. Money was no longer being wasted. Staff morale was up. Even the unpopular car parking fees had been scrapped.

Good, eh? I won’t pretend that this is proof that the NHS should be destroyed, its ruins sown with salt. Hinchingbrooke is still an NHS hospital, it’s funding is still NHS funding. What’s happened is that management and operational functions have been split off from NHS control, and the improvements in just a few months have been spectacular.

Well they should replicate it, repeat it, try it again, tweak it, tweak it again and allow various models to be tried to see what works, shouldn’t they? And if the insider, special NHS interests and unions squeal, they should get stuffed, shouldn’t they?

ON THE EMPTY SEATS FIASCO

By Pete Moore On July 29th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Anyone watching the first weekend of Olympic events can’t fail to have noticed the large number of empty seats at some venues. In some cases entire blocks of prime seats have been empty. This is rather strange, given the many tales of people who tirelessly tried to get tickets without success. These stories are typical.

The government says that sponsors are not turning up. The London Olympic organisers and the IOC blame sponsors, national Olympic committees, something called “the Olympic Family” (sounds like their VIPs) and the media. Looking at the photo above, with the peasants stuffed into the back of the swimming venue, it’s clear that the no-shows are those who bagged the prime seats.

So what can we learn? The first lesson is that thousands of people were disappointed because alot of tickets weren’t available to them in the first place. Second, we’re reminded that we only truly value something when we pay for it, and that when things are given to us we don’t care for them as much.

CAN’T THINK OF A HEADLINE

By Pete Moore On July 12th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

An accurate one would be: “ITALY’S STATISTICIANS THREATEN WALK OUT”, but I’m not typing that.

Still, a rare piece of good news from Italy: Istat, the government’s statistics office, has announced that cutbacks have left its resources at breaking point and that from January 2013 the agency will stop putting out any official data. Ah well, the numbers are made up anyway. It brings to mind Sir John Cowperthwaite, the great colonial administrator of Hong Kong whose genius was to do as little administering as possible:

When Milton Friedman asked him, in 1963, to explain the mechanism which kept the Hong Kong dollar pegged to the pound, Cowperthwaite remarked that even the management of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (through which the peg was operated) did not understand it – “Better they shouldn’t. They would mess it up.” As for the paucity of economic statistics for the colony, Cowperthwaite explained that he resisted requests to provide any, lest they be used as ammunition by those who wanted more government intervention.

The only possible way that any government can aid an economy is to get out of the way. Firing the statisticians would be a great first step. As Sir John realised, they only provide an excuse for politicians to meddle (and make things worse) in any case. Italians ought to tell the bureaucratic number crunchers to walk out and stay out.

CHINA ABOUT TO MEET AUSTRIAN BUSINESS CYCLE THEORY

By Pete Moore On July 9th, 2012 at 7:22 pm

The Chinese economy is in a serious tailspin. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is out with an apocalyptic warning in The Telegraph, stating that China “is on the cusp of a deflationary vortex.” He’s not wrong there. Orders are down in many sectors, leaving a vast over-capacity in production. The most telling signals are already out.

Recently the FT reported that  “cash-strapped local governments in China have begun auctioning off fleets of officials’ luxury cars as part of efforts to bolster revenues hit by the country’s slowdown.” Government officials in all countries fight against having their perks removed. It’s a signal of the tightening that’s underway. Also of note are the indications of major government presence in the economy. The same FT article points out: “Cities have been told to keep police cars and ambulances, but to sell the chauffeured sedans that do not comply with government policy. About one in every five Audis in China – the German car’s biggest market – is owned by the government, according to industry estimates.”

Although there are pockets of free market activity in China, there is much central planning that goes on beyond central bank money printing that will make the central bank-induced boom-bust crash one that will be heard around the world. And, as always, it’s the central bank tightening of the money supply, following the central bank inflationary boom, which has launched the economy back.

Read the rest of this entry »

CLEGGONOMICS

By Pete Moore On June 20th, 2012 at 11:34 am

The Deputy PM is again pushing Keynesian wind farms.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who is leading the UK delegation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, said it was preferable for renewable energy not to rely on subsidies but said initial investment could go a long way.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Clegg said […] “In the early stages of these technologies, a bit of support from the taxpayer goes a long way. If you want to get those new renewable technologies going, you need a bit of support in those early years.”

In which case I’d refer him a few miles east to the largest capital markets in the world in the City of London. They’re used to dealing with ventures that “need a bit of support in the early years”. If wind farm developers and operators can’t persuade venture capitalists to voluntarily invest in their schemes, why should taxpayers be forced to do so?

Like all dreary Keynesians, Clegg ignores the fact that in order for the government to spend additional money, it must first take that money from some other sector of the economy. The government must either (1) tax it from others, (2) borrow it (thus crowding out the private sector) or (3) print the money, thus cheating all holders of sterling.

Since he wishes some combination of these three, I wonder if he’d be kind enough to identify which industries must shrink and who will lose their jobs in order to fund his wind farms?

ON TOP OF DEBT OR MIRED IN IT?

By David Vance On May 6th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The trouble about political rhetoric is that reality exposes the stunning paucity of it. UK Chancellor Osborne has been insisting that he is “on top of the National Debt”  The problem is that our National Debt is actually rising from £1 trillion to over £1.4 trillion – before it’s supposed to fall. Get that? That’s a mere 40% increase in debt as we go through the fearsome  but illusionary era of “savage cuts”! It’s funny how much of the UK media is completely detached from this economic reality and instead bleats on and on about government induced austerity when in fact, as the statistic shows, we see even MORE spending. Yes, under Labour spending would have been totally suicidal and we would now be a northern Greece, but Osborne has not got the Debt under control or anything like it. The reason is because he fears how the media would represent it and how Labour would then benefit. All in all, it’s a thankless task being Chancellor but he will be judged on what he achieves rather than what he says. At this point, Government is spending MORE than did Brown’s lunatic regime. Yet this is UK style austerity. Remarkable,

ECONOMY BACK INTO RECESSION IT NEVER REALLY LEFT

By Pete Moore On April 25th, 2012 at 9:14 am

The numbers are out and the UK economy is “back in recession”. It shrank by 0.2% in Q1, following a 0.3% contraction in the preceeding quarter. I can hardly claim to be surprised at the news. In truth the economy has been flatlining for four years, just trundling along with Sir Mervyn King’s money printing.

That’s four wasted years of government economics. There is another way. The Greatest Depression happened in the US in 1920/21. Most economic indicators in that year were worse than those between 1929 and 1932. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this, the most severe depression in recent economic history. The reason is that the response of President Warren Harding in 1920/21 was most unlike that of Hoover and FDR from 1929 onward and necessarily denies State propagandists the opportunity to mythologise about heroic government.

Here, let America’s greatest economist explain the response of the White House to the Greatest Depression and why it ended so quickly. Every word Murray Rothbard says is vital and has real meaning. Compare and contrast his description with the ignorant, damaging actions of government know-nothings today who desperately flail around for solutions to deep economic problems which they created and cannot possibly solve except by sacking themselves.

THE EVILS OF PRICE CONTROLS

By Pete Moore On April 24th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

By 6:30 a.m., a full hour and a half before the store would open, about two dozen people were already in line. They waited patiently, not for the latest iPhone, but for something far more basic: groceries.

“Whatever I can get,” said Katherine Huga, 23, a mother of two, describing her shopping list. She gave a shrug of resignation. “You buy what they have.”

Venezuela is one of the world’s top oil producers at a time of soaring energy prices, yet shortages of staples like milk, meat and toilet paper are a chronic part of life here, often turning grocery shopping into a hit or miss proposition.

Some residents arrange their calendars around the once-a-week deliveries made to government-subsidized stores like this one, lining up before dawn to buy a single frozen chicken before the stock runs out. Or a couple of bags of flour. Or a bottle of cooking oil.

Read the rest here

So life is increasingly tough in Venezuela. Am I sympathetic? Not towards the many who chose to plunder their compatriots by voting for Hugo Chavez. Instead they’ve been plundered themselves, first by his regime’s currency debasement and then by the price controls which this prize buffoon is increasingly imposing. We can look on now, but don’t think it can’t happen here.

BRITISH MANUFACTURING: DOING QUITE WELL

By Pete Moore On April 19th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

It’s long been the lament that “we don’t make anything anymore”. Well we do, as this chart shows:

It plots the value of Britain’s manufacturing output from the end of WW2 to the present. Tim Worstall has set up camp at The Telegraph (it’s about time it featured some economic sense) and, as he explains, the value of manufacturing output has well more than doubled since 1945 (or just look at the line and the numbers). He also explains a few more facts of manufacturing life over there. Before anyone again is tempted to lament “the decline of British manufacturing”, I do hope they give the piece a read. Go on, go shoo.