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Friday, 26 February

16:11

If you’re not a property investor, your retirement plans don’t matter, says IPA Prosper Australia

by Dr Gavin Putland Professor Sinclair Davidson for the Institute of Public Affairs has written an “occasional paper” under the title “What politicians need to know about negative gearing”, opposing the known Labor policy of allowing negative gearing only for new homes (with grandfathering), and the possible Coalition policy of imposing some sort of cap […]

16:00

The Weekend Quiz – February 27-28, 2016 Bill Mitchell – billy blog

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. A national government which issues its own floating currency is never vulnerable for financial reasons to defaulting on its own outstanding debt.



2. If the household saving ratio rises and there is an external deficit, then Modern Monetary Theory tells us that the government must increase net spending to fill the private spending gap or else national output and income will fall.

...

14:58

The 40 Australian towns that could, and should, quit the grid Renew Economy

Study identifies 40 Australian towns that would save money by using solar and storage for their power needs, and cut the wire to the main grid.

14:52

SA network says housing developers keen on renewable micro-grids Renew Economy

South Australia Power Networks says numerous housing developers looking at renewable microgrids, as it plans largest household battery storage trial.

14:50

NSW utilities win major battle in Australian electricity price war Renew Economy

Court reverses move to curb network costs, a decision that could result in higher grid charges, and an accelerated push from consumers to seek alternatives and maybe quit the grid.

13:40

Yackandandah 100% renewable plans kick off with 90kW solar health centre Renew Economy

Community-based effort to shift regional Victorian town to 100% renewables by 2022 kicks off with launch of 90kW solar array.

13:37

Engie promises accelerated push to renewables, still no word on Hazelwood Renew Economy

French owner of Australia’s dirtiest coal plant launches three-year strategy to transition to clean energy, and dump its fossil fuel assets.

12:11

Mitsui, Sunverge target Japan behind-the-meter battery market Renew Economy

How lots of solar, battery storage, grid resiliency needs and market liberalisation could add up to virtual power plant opportunities.

12:11

First Tesla Powerwall battery storage system installed in Germany Renew Economy

German solar and storage installer Praml has completed two of the first installations of Tesla’s 6.4kWh residential battery system in the nation's south.

12:11

Unsubsidised solar PV price hits record low in Peru auction Renew Economy

Peru has awarded 185MW of new solar PV contracts at record-low prices for a nation not offering any tax breaks for renewables development.

09:41

Robb’s two different stories on medicines AFTINET

26 February 2016

When then Trade Minister Andrew Robb signed off the TPP he promised the Australian people it would not result in longer monopolies or extra costs for life-saving biologic medicines.

Prime Minister Turnbull told Fairfax Media at the time: "This deal has no impact on the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme, it's not going to make drugs more expensive in Australia whatsoever.” 

But this week Mr Robb promised US pharmaceutical companies that as a result of the TPP, they would receive at least 8 years of monopoly rights for biologic medicines in Australia, and potentially as long as 12 to 17 years. 

Australia’s current law only guarantees five years of monopoly data protection.

It’s true that the TPP won’t require an actual change to legislation - these extra years of protection will be provided for through “other measures.” 

The outcome, however, is the same - this will mean more expensive medicines for longer, which is likely to cost the PBS hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Read AFTINET’s med...

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Wednesday, 24 February

16:25

Real wages falling in Australia Bill Mitchell – billy blog

The Australian Bureau of Statistics published the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the December-quarter yesterday and annual private sector wages growth fell to 2.0 per cent (0.5 per cent for the quarter). This is the fourth consecutive month that the annual growth in wages has recorded its lowest level since the data series began in the September-quarter 1997. Real wages in the private sector are now in decline. In the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook published in December, the Government assumed wages growth for 2014-15 would be 2.5 per cent rising to 2.75 over 2016-17. They also assumed real wages (the difference between growth in the nominal Wage Price Index and the Consumer Price Index would be positive (0.5 per cent in 2016-17). On current trends, neither assumption will be realised, means the forward estimates for taxation revenue are already falling short and the fiscal deficit will be larger than assumed. There will be then the typical hysteria about the size of the fiscal deficit and the need to cut it which will be missing the point entirely. The rising deficit is just responding to a generalised decline in economic activity, falling employment and suppressed wages growth. Depending on how we measure inflation, the annual wages growth translates into a small real wage rise or fall. Either way, real wages are growing well below trend productivity growth and Real Unit Labour Costs (RULC) continue to fall. This means that the gap between real wages growth and productivity growth continues to widen as the wage share in national income falls (and the profit share rises). The flat wages trend is intensifying the pre-crisis dynamics, which saw private sector credit rather than real wages drive growth in consumption spending. The lessons have not been learned.

...

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Saturday, 20 February

20:54

Is Abenomics Dead? The Diplomat » Pacific Money

If it is to be saved, the government needs to start thinking about working people.

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Friday, 19 February

17:00

The Weekend Quiz – February 20-21, 2016 Bill Mitchell – billy blog

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

Please go to The Weekend Quiz – February 20-21, 2016 to view the quiz

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Thursday, 18 February

12:20

Peak paper John Quiggin

I’ve recently published a piece in Aeon, looking at the peak in global paper use, which occurred a couple of years ago, and arguing that this is an indication of a less resource-intensive future. Over the fold, a longer draft – I’ll add hyperlinks back in if I get a free moment.

Since the dawn of history (literally, of written records), civilisation has depended critically on paper. As living standards have risen, so has the volume of paper produced, printed and read. The more knowledge we have and the wider its distribution, the more paper is needed.

At least, that was true until the end of the 20th century. With the rise of the Internet, the correlation between paper and information broke down. Increasingly, information is created and manipulated in electronic form, with paper serving mainly as an official record of the process.

In 2013, the world reached Peak Paper. World production and consumption of paper reached its maximum, flattened out, and is now falling. In fact, the peak in the traditional use of paper, for writing and printing, took place a few years earlier, but was offset for a while by continued growth in other uses, such as packaging and tissues.

China, by virtue of its size, rapid growth and middle-income status is the bellwether here; as China goes, so goes the world. Unsurprisingly in this light, China’s own peak year for paper use also occurred in 2013. Poorer countries, where universal literacy is only just arriving, are still increasing their use of paper, but even in these countries the peak is not far away.

The arrival of Peak Paper is of interest for a number of reasons.

* First, it is, in large measure, the realisation of a prediction that was over-hyped in 20th centu...

Thursday, 28 January

02:00

288 – Bowie albums ranked Pannell Discussions

Since David Bowie’s death a couple of weeks ago, I’ve playing his albums pretty incessantly. Playing them all within a short time made me think about which ones I prefer. I’m sharing, in case it’s helpful to others thinking of expanding their Bowie collections.

David Bowie is in my second rank of favourite musicians: not someone whose music I’m completely obsessed with, but definitely one of the greats. He fits into mainstream rock, but like the most original and creative rock artists (The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Radiohead) he was renowned for making radical changes in his music from time to time. In fact, Bowie’s changes were more radical and more frequent than any other major artist.

My decade-by-decade summary would be:

  • The 1960s: An awkward debut, one brilliant single, and a very good second album.
  • The 1970s: Mostly stunningly good, progressing through five utterly distinct phases.
  • The 1980s: Starts with one very good album. After that, several dreadful albums that I can’t bear to listen to it.
  • The 1990s, 2000s and 2010s: Everything from 1995 on was very good to excellent.

You can see that I have a strong preference for his more adventurous work, and a very strong dislike of his most commercial work (from the mid 1980s).

To be more specific, here is my ranking of all his albums, from best to worst, with some comments about each.

1. Low (1977). The secon...

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