Red alert: the global economies to watch

Jackson Sytles – Money Editor – The New Daily

Political instability is playing havoc with world markets, and you can bet on more uncertainty to come.

The timing is poor. Many experts say central banks across the world are running out of monetary policy ammunition. Interest rates are near zero — or sub-zero in the case of the EU, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.

National governments need to step into the gap. Instead, we seem to be getting policy missteps, military coups and insecurity — the opposite of what markets, businesses and workers need.

Here are some of the stressed economies that should be on your radar.

Venezuela

The crisis afflicting this oil-dependent nation, which has the world’s largest reserves, is of the direst kind: a food shortage.

Before the Industrial Revolution, economic downturns frequently resulted in famine and death. Modern economic crises are a tale of market collapse and crippling debt — but food spending generally remains constant.

Sadly, things are so bad in Venezuela that thousands of hungry citizens are flooding over the border into Colombia to buy milk, flour and toilet paper. The IMF has forecast GDP growth of -10 per cent and inflation of 700 per cent.

The cause is the world slump in oil prices. The Venezuelan government has fundamentally failed to diversify its economy.

Nigeria

Inflation is out of control in Africa’s largest economy.

Consumer prices rose 13.7 per cent in April, 15.6 per cent in May and 16.5 per cent in June, the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics reported.

Nigeria’s central bank recently announced it will de-peg the naira from the US dollar, allowing it to float freely. In the short term, this may drive up inflation further.

But the higher currency was arguably a cause of the problem. It turned away foreign investors and made its (non-oil) exports unattractive.

The underlying cause is that Nigeria, like Venezuela, is dependent on oil exports, and thus has been crippled by lower prices.

Italy

Europe’s third largest economy has endured two decades of weak and negative GDP growth. As a result, its banks are carrying too much bad debt: between €200-360 billion, by some estimates.

Many experts blame the economic and monetary union of the eurozone, of which Italy is a member. The zone imposes a single monetary policy across all 19 member nations — seemingly to the benefit of nations like Germany and detriment of Italy.

The worry is that a crisis in Italy’s banks will spread across Europe.

A potentially contributing factor is that Italy has a ‘perfectly bicameral‘ parliament. This means its executive government is directly accountable to both the upper and lower house, increasing instability. And the equal power of both houses makes it difficult to pass legislation — including fiscal policy and economic reforms.

Turkey

Turkish markets have been spooked by the failed military coup, and by President Tayyip Erdogan’s extreme crackdown.

He is arresting and expelling thousands of members of the defence force, judiciary, civil service and academia, and continuing to use the problem of terrorism to justify a narrowing of freedom of speech.

The Turkish central bank has pledged to provide “unlimited liquidity” to banks and take “all measures” to preserve financial stability.

But the bigger concern is not that Turkey’s economy will stutter, but that it will break its previous promise to accept the return of thousands of migrants fleeing to Europe. There are fears thousands more will flow through its borders, or be expelled from its refugee camps, putting further economic and political stress on the EU at the worst possible time.

Japan

The world’s third largest economy, and Australia’s second biggest trading partner, is reportedly considering a stimulus package of ¥20 trillion to boost its ailing economy.

The news may have buoyed markets, but is further proof of Japan’s decay. It has suffered low demand and productivity since 1989, resulting in price stagnation, low wage growth, and low economic growth.

In an effort to drive growth, the government has pumped Rudd-like fiscal stimulus into the economy. National debt is now almost 250 per cent of GDP — a figure that will rise as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stimulates yet again.

The interest payments on this sovereign debt are crippling. The concern is that Japan’s increasingly older population will result in fewer and fewer working age adults, dropping tax revenues, and thus making it impossible for Japan to service its debt. It could be forced to default, as happened in Chile in 1983 and Argentina in 2002-2005.

Britain

There are fears aplenty that the British vote in June to exit the European Union will continue to stoke market volatility across the world.

For Britain, the effects could be long term. Experts are warning that Britain may enter recession (defined as two quarters of negative economic growth), wage growth and consumer spending may slump, and unemployment rise. As many as 500,000 Britons could lose their jobs, according to Credit Suisse.

The IMF predicted this week that Brexit will continue to drive down global GDP into 2017 — this at a time when most developed nations are already suffering from stagnant growth.

China

Unlike Japan, China is enjoying strong growth — though not at the astounding levels seen in past decades. Its economy grew at 6.7 per cent in the June quarter.

But just like Japan, the Chinese government is pumping huge amounts of fiscal stimulus into public infrastructure. Thus, it faces the same problem: a potential debt hangover.

Part of what drove China’s rise was cheap labour and a glut of savings. Its low-paid workers served as the seamstresses, toy makers and iPhone assemblers of the world. And its savers fuelled lending to the US and others.

But in recent years, workers have begun to demand higher wages, forcing multinationals to chase the ‘cheaper needle’ in other parts of Asia. They have turned to consumption, stemming the flow of savings. Western demand for cheap goods has dropped. And the government-controlled Chinese banks have unleashed a boom of cheap credit

Coffs Harbour Bypass — Pacific Highway Upgrade

                                                          The Project

coffs-harbour-chb-mapThe NSW  Government is funding the planning of the Coffs Harbour Bypass. The project is a 14 kilometre motorway standard upgrade of the Pacific Highway from Englands Road in the south and connects with newly upgraded Sapphire to Woolgoolga section in the  north.

Work has started to prepare the environmental impact statement EIS in accordance with the requirements issued by the Department of Planning and  Environment.

                                              

   Investigations and studies

Investigates and studies will be taking place throughout 2016 and early 2017 and will include

 

     * Wildlife and vegetation surveys

     * Traffic studies

* Geotechnical investigations

 * Utility and engineering surveys

* Aboriginal and non Aboriginal surveys

* Urban design assessments

*Hydrology and ground water assessment

* Noise monitoring

The current concept design will be published in the coming months for

community feedback

This feedback will be used in the preparation of the EIS.

There will be further opportunities for  community input as the environmental

assessment and concept design are finalised.

For more information about this project and activities taking place please visit their

website  www.rms.nsw,gov.au/coffsharbourbypass.

To register yourself on the project mailing  list please visit  wwwsurveymonkey.com/r/

CoffsHarbour Bypass.

     Phone 1800550621        

       Coffs Harbour Bypass@ rms.nsw.gov.au

 

 

Wicked Campers vans could be deregistered unless they get rid of ‘offensive’ slogans

Wicked Campers vans in Brisbane

Wicked Campers vans in Brisbane. The Queensland attorney-general says the vehicles are the subject of ‘community concern’. Photograph: William West/AFP

The Queensland government has reached a new solution in its ongoing bid to get Wicked Campers vans and other vehicles with offensive slogans off the state’s roads.

Yvette D’Ath, the attorney general, has announced plans to introduce legislation holding commercial vehicle registration holders to determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau.  This would mean the registration of any commercial vehicle with slogans deemed to be offensive, or that otherwise failed to comply with the ASB’s standards, could be cancelled.

D’Ath said the slogans on some Wicked Campers vehicles were the subject of “community concern” and frequent complaints to the ASB.

It upheld 49 complaints against the Queensland-based company in the five years to 2015, some of which have been cited in the board’s determination summaries on discrimination and vilificationviolenceand sex, sexuality and nudity. Several were met with no response from the company.

“When the ASB has deemed those slogans to be offensive, the typical response from the holders of those commercial vehicle registrations has been deafening silence,” D’Ath said. “Now, if they refuse to remove the offensive slogans, their vehicles will be off the road.”

She hoped the laws enforcing the arrangement – a collaboration with the ASB and the state transport bureau – would be put before parliament by the end of the year but urged owners of vehicles that might be affected to “see the writing on the wall” and remove the catchphrases before then.

Guardian Australia has contacted the attorney general and Wicked Campers for comment.

In a joint statement, the ASB and the Australian Association of National Advertisers welcomed the move.

Fiona Jolly, chief executive of the ASB, said it had been working with the state government “for some time to find a way to get vans with offensive slogans and images off the road”.

The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, called for a boycott of Wicked Campers until it removed vehicles with offensive and derogatory slogans from its fleet in May.

“It is unacceptable to have those vile slogans on those vans,” she said at the time.

This new strategy was reached after a parliamentary committee inquiry, carried out in 2014 under the Campbell Newman government, recommended that either advertising body be given greater powers of enforcement. But opinion on whether Wicked Campers’ inflammatory slogans should be a government issue is split.

Earlier this week Tasmania’s Break O’Day council voted against a motion to ban Wicked Campers from caravan parks on the state’s east coast.

“We’ve got to put things into perspective – it’s not a council issue,” the mayor, Mick Tucker, told the ABC.

The New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, said in April the issue wasn’t “something that the state government should be getting involved in”.

THE RAT PACK POLICY

Ratty

Recently the “Rat Pack” ratified a proposal to create a conglomerate.  The perpetrator rationalises this novel approach by permitting the decorator to liberate the masses.  Consideration was given to maximum impact and a co-ordinated demonstration of, jumping for joy, broke out.

An administrator takes responsibility for integration of regional plans.  Such a proliferation of bureaucracy is deliberate.  It separates the “plebs” from the overseers. Infiltration by those opposed to desecration is minimised. Consideration was given to any concentrated attack from ratepayers.

Congratulations Rat Pack our ration of forward thinking has once again been satisfied.

It is little wonder a grateful community smells a “rat”.

THE NORTH COAST JOINT ORGANISATION

In recent times our Mayor took the opportunity to make a statement of the latest development – the joint organisation.

The local media quoted the mayor as saying:

“The proposed North Coast joint organisation will essentially continue and build on the collaborative relationships we’ve developed as a group of councils over the past years (and) will also give us a stronger regional voice on community priorities”.

This statement requires reader to have a minimum of 20 years education to interpret the meaning. So it would be prudent for the mayor to explain in simple terms what it means.  How about it Mayor.

Does a strong regional voice mean there are more people available to yell?  And do you mean the joint organisation is a single entity but in a multitudes of relationships?  In short is the joint organisation a bigamist or worst?

If the intention was to confuse then you passed with flying colours Mayor.

THE BENGRACH PROJECT

A brand “new” project could be about to commence in our region.   Intrigued?  Well the benefits are spectacular.  It aims to encompass the ideals of creating employment opportunities, building infrastructure as well as strengthening our place in the world.

The project will pay for itself in a very short time.  It will pilot a pathway to the future and lay a foundation for growth, both economic and population wise.

There is an old saying.  Once you reach rock bottom the only way you can go is up.  In our city many will agree we are at rock bottom.  Bengrach is the way to go “up”.  It is not a council initiative simply because the current council is incapable of conceptualising the opportunity.  So it will require a group of committed parties to bring it about but the reward it offers is opportunity.

This is the first release of this information.  More will follow if the “political” landscape in our city changes.

BECOMING A COUNCILLOR 2016

The local media reported council support for the joint organisation model.  The newspaper also carried notice of a briefing session for those considering becoming a councillor.  It was for those interested to gain a better understanding of the role and responsibilities as an elected member of council.

But the session failed to deliver. Much was made of the need to have “vision”.  This is a major element of the council’s workload – integrated planning.  But the information came from the current law – what we already know.  So if this council is endorsing the joint organisation model surely the prospective councillors might want to focus on the “new” role.

There is no doubt “vision” and integrated planning both are aspects of the new model. But the new model has three (read four) core functions.

  • Regional strategic planning
  • Intergovernmental collaboration
  • Regional leadership and
  • Advocacy.

Let us examine one of the core functions – intergovernmental collaboration.  Is just a coincidence how this is also the main purpose of the Local Government Association (LGA)?  It lobbies Federal and NSW State governments on behalf of local government.  So why do we need the duplication?

How silly of me – the LGA is obviously part of the joint organisation.  If this sounds confusing well the opportunity to straighten out the mess was missed in the briefing session. A new councillor does not need much vision to pass the buck to the LGA.

And all ye of little faith will now appreciate the LGA briefing session lacks “vision”.  It failed to address the issue.

Of course the self-promotional interventions from Cr Rhoades (President of the LGA and member of our council) did not help.  His 25 years of service qualify him to advise prospective councillors.  For the first year to 18 months they should just take their cue from the experienced councillors.

How lucky are we to have someone with 25 years of experience to lead us into a brand new venture.  This is regional leadership in a nutshell.

Back in the late 1980’s management theory discarded the theory X approach. (This is the need to control the situation).  It seems this news of the demise of theory X has not filtered through to Coffs Harbour.  It is difficult to reconcile present management techniques with the “in” jargon – collaborative.  What a mess we find ourselves in.

CC, SISI or SEE _SEE

Nominations for people to stand as councillor in the September election are yet to close.  But students who watch “body language” will have noticed a strange event.

One person declared their intention early and is well advanced with a campaign.  But it appears to be “off-the-rails” as we report.  Despite the conceited approach of relying on vast experience the nominee is attacking shadows.  This is a fear of the unknown and their solution is to stop whatever is going to happening before it happens.  Somehow the person wants to be controlling and collaborative at the same timeIf a person is in control they are confident and know the outcome.  But if the style is collaborative one never knows exactly what the outcome might be.

Further examination shows that this person does not know if they are:

  • Columbus or a Conquistador,
  • Conceptual or a Copier,
  • Cost effective or Costly,

It is not clear to the residents if they represent clarity or confusion.  Are they a Captain or just a Coolie?

How then does this nominee know what they represent? It is clear to most people that by saying one thing, yet doing the opposite, it is just a contradiction.  The future is not found in the past.  It is true past mistakes can help duplicating those errors in the future.   But the first step is to recognise that mistakes were made.

POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE LEGISLATION

The legislation as it now stands prescribes councillors with responsibility in a local government area.  But this structure is, based on the work of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, undergoing certain structural changes.  Namely some Council find themselves in a merger arrangement.  Other councils are supporting a different model referred to commonly as “a joint organisation”.  Our local council has agreed to support the latter model.

Under this proposal the three core functions of the new council are:

  1. Regional strategic planning,
  2. Intergovernmental collaboration,
  3. Regional leadership and
  4. Advocacy.

I realise this is four things (as opposed to three proposed by the model) but how will the current legislation change to reflect the difference in emphasis.  Currently councillors have strategic planning responsibilities (to change from local to regional).  But what new responsibilities/tasks are needed to accommodate intergovernmental collaboration?

And if there is a leadership role to be addressed how will your office defuse tensions and facilitate the achievement of a unified leadership role?

Finally what role do you envisage councillors having in regard to advocacy?

At what point in time will the state government consider amendment to the legislation?