|IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed Archiver|
IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.
MARRIAGE is like bankruptcy, childhood, insanity or being under sentence, and that is why I will be answering Yes in the absurd, unnecessary and costly statistical survey asking people whether they think people of the same sex should be able to marry. It is also why people of religious convictions whose religion holds that marriage is to be only between a man and a woman should do the same.
Let me explain. Being married, bankrupt, a child, insane or under sentence affects a persons legal status. The status makes them legally different from other people with different legal rights and obligations.
True, marriage is voluntary, whereas childhood, insanity and being under sentence are not. Bankruptcy often is not, though it can be.
But the important point is that changes in status happen through operation of law and events. The law should apply equally to all.
True, ministers of religion almost automatically get the power to solemnise marriages, but only if their religious denomination is recognised by the Marriage Act and they are on a register kept under the Act, and when they solemnise a marriage they must do so in accordance with the minimum requirements of the Act even if they add extra bits from their religion.
So all house-of-worship marriages in Australia are done by operation of law, not religion.
A minister may refuse to solemnise a marriage or make it conditional on the parties complying with religious tests (such as not being divorced), but it is always open to people who are refused a religious ceremony to have their marriage solemnised by a civil celebrant.
In France, the legal and religious are sensibly separated. You have to have a civil ceremony before a state official, however brief, before the law recognises you as married. After that you can have whatever religious ceremony you like.
When a person changes status from unmarried to married, a whole lot of legal rights and duties change, too those with respect to each other and those with respect to the couple and the world at large.
Many on the No side, such a Tony Abbott, have argued that there is no need for same-sex couples to get married because all the discriminatory legal provisions against unmarried couples (whether of the same or different sexes) have been removed.
These are things like access to a partners superannuation, their estate upon death, their financial support upon splitting up and so on. Lets call them couple right.
But the Abbott argument is not true. For a start, couple rights are creat...
Taking action on climate change presents a huge opportunity to make society wealthier, healthier, and happier; but a failure by Australian politicians to lead on climate is costing the country, said experts at a recent event in Sydney.
Get used to hearing about machine learning and artificial intelligence. Theyre going to seep into everything.
Heres one example
Agricultural heavyweight Deere & Company is going to pay US$305 million to buy a tech company called Blue River Technology.
Apparently, Blue River has successfully applied machine learning to spraying equipment.
This means herbicides can be used in a more targeted way. One benefit is the reduced input costs for the farmer. Smart machines will help make decisions about every plant.
Blue River Tech happens to be based in Sunnyvale, California. House prices are skyrocketing there. If you think Sydney or Melbourne is going crazy, a place in Sunnyvale just sold for US$800,000 over the listing price.
Its nothing particularly flash, either.
But that whole part of California is so drenched in tech money that anything remotely near the offices and schools is pure gold for whoever owns the land.
And theres people out there who think the US economy is teetering.
Madness. The place is booming.
Anyway, more on machine learning
The John Deere brand isnt alone investing in this space. Companies like Monsanto are teaching machines how to farm, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Apparently, computers helped choose corn plants growing in the US this year. These are the best strains in terms of yield and sturdiness. Algorthims are also analysing US weather data to anticipate crop threats.
Another handy tool is computers that can identify plant diseases early on, before they spread to the rest of a crop.
Its early days yet, but surely this can only get better.
Theres plenty happening right here in Australia, too. The Australian Financial Review says banks and law firms could save a fortune if they can teach algorithms to plough through all the paperwork they need to do.
Having said this, you have to stay wary of this kind of thing, too. A while back, investors were going nuts for companies involved in the cloud.
I cant help but feel that, very soon, every CEO will feel compelled to introduce some sort of AI strategy for their company, or will start spruiking it to give the share price a boost.
Investors will duly bid up the shares, probably understanding little about the underlying tech or business strategy.
Too cynical? Maybe.
But we have to pay attention at the very least, because AI might impact the big banks here
Last Sunday, my wife Nancy and I had a great weekend in Mooloolaba, where I took part in the Ironman 70.3 event, along with a thousand or so other competitors from around Australia and the world as well as hundreds of spectators. As Nancy said, even though the Sunshine Coast isnt far from Brisbane, wed never get around to going if there werent an event like this, but the beautiful setting makes us keen to return.
While I was there, a friend mentioned that the Melbourne Ironman
event had been cancelled because the date of the Grand Prix had
changed, producing a clash. That got my mind away from transition
times and back to economic policy.
The Grand Prix is subsidised to the tune of $60 million a year, a payment justified by the supposed benefits of tourism, estimated at 35 000 interstate and international visitors. Every serious economic analysis Ive seen suggests that the net benefits are nothing like $60 million.
But, although Im always banging on about opportunity cost, this particular example hadnt occurred to me. In addition to the subsidy cost, the Grand Prix costs Melbourne events that would otherwise attract visitors without any subsidy**. The last Melbourne Ironman attracted over 2000 entrants, of whom a large share would have been visitors with accompanying family. Its probably not the only event lost to Melbourne because of the Grand Prix. Add to that the potential visitors who choose an alternative destination to avoid the noise and congestion of the race, and youve cancelled much of the tourism benefit attributed to the Grand Prix.
* There are also nebulous benefits said to be gained from global TV viewers, who are supposed to be attracted to Melbourne by hours spent on the couch watching fast cars doing laps of Albert Park, interspersed with a promo clips/coffee break opportunities. Im dubious.
** Various tourist bodies are listed as event partners for Ironman, but as far as I can tell, the monetary value of their support is trivial.
Yesterday, I attended a blockchain conference in Houston, Texas. Its focus was on how to implement blockchain technology into energy businesses.
I heard from data scientists and engineers from Exxon Mobile, Chevron, BHP Billiton, Halliburton, and Microsoft.
In 2012, we profiled Bitcoin at $13. I remember attending a few conferences that year. At the time, it was a bunch of geeks and libertarians, and here I was in 2017, surrounded by Fortune 500 companies talking about Bitcoin and Ethereum.
By the way, I should take a moment to address this Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan) comment yesterday. Him calling Bitcoin a fraud was hilarious to me, and it shows you just how ignorant the mainstream media is about this entire space.
Jamie Dimon has been hating on Bitcoin since it was $50 its now $4,000.
His company, JP Morgan, is one of the principal investors in Ethereum, so what you really have here is a competitor of Bitcoin doing some trash talking.
The blockchain is the most certain investment Ive ever been a part of, and people like Jamie Dimon know it, which is why they are heavily investing into it both through blockchain implementation and Ethereum.
As of June 2017, there is now more money heading into this space than there is venture capital thats invested in other non-blockchain tech companies.
The U.S. Department of Defense is planning to use blockchain technology for secure communications.
Homeland Security even helped seed four security companies that will be using blockchain technology.
In Australia, Japan, Germany, Canada, and even here in the U.S. with the NASDAQ, all are either running prototypes or trial runs to do commodity and stock trading using blockchain technology.
The blockchain reduces costs, self-validates, is unhackable, secure, and eliminates settlement risk.
Here is a screenshot of some of the companies that are using the Ethereum blockchain platform.
The next six months will be the biggest of Trumps presidency.
He will have to make five decisions that determine the economic future of the global currency system, let alone Americas economy.
Australias wealth is driven by exports priced in dollars and on American markets.
The price of iron ore, coal, agricultural commodities and much more depend as much on the fate of the US dollar as their own supply and demand. Not to mention the profitability of our exporting companies swing with currencies too.
But what are these decisions Trump will make?
Prolific author Jim Rickards, of our own Strategic Intelligence newsletter, explains the situation below.
In short, there is an enormous personnel change coming up at the worlds most powerful institution.
The majority of control is up for grabs.
And Trump decides who gets nominated to what post
Donald Trump has the opportunity to appoint a higher percentage of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System at one time than any president since Woodrow Wilson.
President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act during the creation of the Fed in 1913 when it had a vacant board. At that time, the law said the Secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller of the Currency were automatically on the Feds Board of Governors.
But besides that, President Wilson selected all five of the other participating members.
Now Trump has the opportunity to fill more seats on the Feds Board of Governors than any president since then.
Thats pretty amazing when you think about it.
To review, the Federal Reserves Board of Governors is made up of seven appointees. That means they can make a majority decision with four votes. If youre reading about the Fed, you might also see reference to regional reserve bank presidents. These are roles within the Federal Reserve System, but the real power is found on the seven-member Board of Governors.
Heres the remarkable part:
As of last week, four of the seven Fed board seats are now vacant.
In fact, Im describing a 72-hour span last week as the most momentous three-day period in the entire history of the Federal Reserve (see below for all the details).
Trump will own the Fed. Meaning, whatever the president wants monetary policy to be, hell get.
In other words, Donald Trump will be able to shape the Feds majority.
But the tricky part is figuring out how he plans to shape it
The latest labour force data released today by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics
Labour Force data for August 2017 shows that total employment
growth was relatively robust (up 54,200) with full-time employment
growth accounting for much of that increase. Unlike recent months,
where if full-time growth was positive, part-time growth was
negative (and vice versa), both components of employment rose.
Further, the participation rate rose by 0.2 points as job
opportunities expanded. Labour underutilisation overall
(underemployment and unemployment) was at 14.1 per cent summing to
1,842.8 thousand persons. The teenage labour market showed further
improvement but remains in a poor state. Overall, my assessment of
the Australian labour market is that it still to early to conclude
that the uncertainty of the last few years is giving way to
The summary ABS Labour Force (seasonally adjusted) estimates for August 2017 are:
Employment increased by 54,200 (0.5 per cent) full-time employment increased 40,100 and part-time employment increased 14,100.
This is a relatively strong result.
We have observed a zig-zag pattern in total employment growth over the last 36 months or so where the employment estimates have been switching back and forth regularly between negative employment growth and positive growth with the occasional spikes.
This month, the pattern where full-time or part-time would alternative with negative and positive growth changed with both recording positive movements.
The following graph shows the month by month growth in full-time (blue columns), part-time (grey columns) and total employment (green line) for the 24 months to August 2017 using seasonally adjusted data.
It gives you a good impression of just how flat employment growth has been over the last 2 years. The positive note is that there has been four stronger full-time employment outcomes in the last eight months.
|IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed Archiver|
IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.
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