Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Housing and the New Normal

A good site for US housing bubbular info is Dr Housing Bubble. A few of the noobs here could do with a click over there, methinks.

And yes, LTV's of 110% were creeping in here - I do recall a Westpac marketing pamphlet for 'professionals' which offered just that.

But y'all are missing an important aspect of the whole puzzle.

You Cannot expect useful, current or relevant info from the MSM or indeed any organ which depends on ad revenues or continued access to the Corridors of Power, wherever they may be, in a time of transition.

Put simply, they are all too invested in the status quo to be trusted. Hence the predominance of what in t'old days were called 'puff pieces', RE types talking their book, and 'analysis' by reporters which Whaleoil correctly labels 'repeaters'. Nobody there is about to pull the house down on their own heads, so the happy-clappy talk continues.

What we Do have is a transition to the New Normal - consumption around 10-15% less permanently (about the extent to which it was debt-funded), the air going out of bubbles, and reversion to the age-old means of house prices 2.8-3.2 times household incomes, PE ratios in low-mid teens, and savings rates north of 10%.

All this was predicted by numerous authors around the 1990-1993 mark, sensed by artists - try reading the cover notes for Dylan's 'World Gone Wrong' (1993) and say it ain't so, and it is a tribute indeed to the capacity for human self-delusion that so many bubbles have been inflated to keep the Good Times Rollin' since then. Which is precisely the theme of Matt Taibbi's GS piece.

Events in funky li'l NZ are skewed by three factors which y'all can assess fer yerselves:

1 - NZ is a 'haven' destination, and this gives a Lot of insulation, as haven seekers arrive and bring their loot with them. This is an obvious factor in house prices, if little recognised.

2 - NZ can feed itself many times over, and has a wealth of mineral and fuel riches. There won't be the Peak Oil stuff here - the transition can be considerably smoothed thereby, and we won't starve either. Ye cannae say that aboot, e.g. Britain.

3 - There is a strong conversative/conservation streak in NZ (same root, differing implications) which, despite the usual underclass provocations, will see us through in relatively harmonious shape. Ye cannae say that aboot most of Europe.

The glass is, in fact, half full.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Innovation in EV's - a Cambrian Explosion

Motoczysz has won the Isle of Man TT, just short of the magic 100mph lap speed, on an all-electric motorbike.

Wheee! As the Mogambo Guru likes to say.

Oil, Gaia's abiotic fruit, yer days are numbered.

Especially as the alternatives to batteries themselves are under development, as this little piece of good news shows.

Just as the early iron ships, steel bridges, internal combustion engines, and other technonological innovations went through a necessary stage of a 'Cambrian Explosion' - types, technologies, shapes etc. A Darwinian process then followed, winnowing the variety into a much, much smaller number of types, which we take for granted.

This motorcycle is part of EV's Cambrian Explosion.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Peak Oil?

A leetle rant about those who insist that PO is here! In NZ! I told yer so!

Variations on 'I told you so' are a good substitute for thinking?

NZ is nowhere near PO: the CSG prospecting undertaken by L&M, the Southland lignite fields, and the highly prospective offshore oiliferous zones are all local mitigators. The undoubted impact in a wider sense is of the toxic combination of locally selective PO (e.g. Europe), and BHO's latest excursion into the international version of Chicago Machine Politics which won't end well.

What is needed is a cool, realistic view of how best to use our certain and extensive resources well: so as to make a transition which:

- preserves living standards for working people at or somewhere near current levels. (The rich always have multiple options, ignore them, and it might be as well to state out loud what Won't be possible, in terms of aforesaid living standards' contents). And condemning folk to live in the late 17th century won't cut it, either.

- does not involve more than a reasonable extension of current technological trends. F'rinstance, positing mass use of personal EV's is perfectly OK. Proposing maglev rail everywhere isn't. No unicorn milk and pixie dust, please.

- takes into account the dark view exemplified by fiction such as Danny Suarez' 'Daemon', informed though such as John Robb's Global Guerillas (much mischief for very little input because of systempunkts spread liberally through our infrastuctures), and the genetic fact that we're highly evolved monkeys with an immense capacity for self-delusion and mayhem.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Maybe.

Could be termed 'sustainability' but that phrase is soooo devalued.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New renewable energy source

In a discussion about the EPA's approval to 'regulate' carbon doixide (that gas we all breathe out all the time), I came upon this priceless comment...

..harnessing the rotational energy of Grave-Spinning-Founding-Fathers.

Mind you, this can only last the term of the current Prez.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dylan - Neighborhood Bully

Hadn't caught up with the lyrics till now - but my, don't they sound current? From 'Infidels'. Partial quote only.

"The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He’s always on trial for just being born.
He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad.
He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
‘Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He’s the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He’s the neighborhood bully.

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He’s the neighborhood bully."

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Why I quote Kipling

That article is, simply, what I believe. Takers in NZ outnumber and can thus outvote Makers, and this will not end well.

Because Makers are free to go Make someplace else; to Make less (just sufficient for their own sustenance - income equals expenses); or to stop Making altogether. In all three cases, tax revenues collapse, suddenly.

And, you cannot Make (coerce) the Maker to Make stuff. At least not in a country I'd want to live in.

Whereas Takers have irreducible, and often extensive, Needs.