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NZ presents some of the most alluring property in the Western World; particularly given the greater easy of residency, the low cost of property, and the liveability of the country. In addition, there is no capital gains tax, transfer taxes, VAT/GST or wealth taxes in NZ, so rest assured that NZ property is tax-effective! Learn more now!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Zealanders getting rich from business

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Michael Hill has some important advice for New Zealanders....if you want to be successful...as I guess he thinks you ought to be, then you need to 'get out of your comfort zone'.
This is undoubtedly a problem in NZ. The country is inherently less aspirational than places like the USA, southern Britain or Australia. I do feel these places are 'the land of the free', and NZ has the sense of a retirement 'backwater'. The reality however is that NZ is among the freest countries politically in the world. Sadly this is a relativist view, and statism is a sorry legacy in all countries.
The problem for NZ is that with little population growth and the entrenched government controls means the country cannot depend on population and debt stimulus that other countries do. So either the government has to resort to winding back government or stimulating population growth. I hope the former.

What I find particularly interesting about Michael Hill is that he really only made his break from the age of 40yo. This means there is still hope for me. :) Actually, his perspective is much the same as mine, but for different reasons. According to the NZ Herald, he lost all his possessions in a fire. In my case, I had a life-changing girl friend. She was kind of the first positive person in my life. A best friend....but a kindred spirit in the sense that we were both out to make a difference. I truly believe I am on the path to success now, whereas before I was just a lot of great ideas with no execution. She most importantly changed my view of people. Before I just did not see potential in people. One of the great aspects about the internet is the ability to meet people who think as you do.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plans for travelling to NZ in 2011

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CNN has identified NZ as the 2nd best place to be in 2011. The big reason for this might well be the relatively low NZD and the World Cup Rugby in September 2011. Mind you, travellers ought to note the high cost of travelling in NZ. For travellers, you might like to reflect upon some of the costs, which are particularly high in tourist meccas like Queenstown.

We offer you some cheaper ways to keep costs down:
1. Buying a car - You can pick up a really cheap car through Turner NZ auctions in a number of major cities. Visit their website first before you come. You can always sell the car before you leave through TradeMe. This might be harder if you have no registered address in NZ, so set up your TradeMe account before you buy. You will probably want to buy other things anyway. It makes sense to buy a car if you are here more than a month I suspect. I suggest buying a car with a 1.6-1.8L engine to reduce the cost of NZD1.98/litre petrol.
2. Rent a campervan - This spares you the expense of accommodation as well as flexibility and difficulties finding a hotel. NZ is a quiet place so its not too difficult to find a place to stay the nice. Just make sure you park where there are toilets. Campervans are cheap in NZ because there is a lot of competition. If you need to get back to an airport for a flight out, consider www.standbycars.com for a nominally priced campavan return.
3. Buy all your food in Countdown and New World supermarkets. Restrict yourself to the token coffee and muffin at cafes for a token eating out experience. Catch your own fish. Fishing licence is required in NZ.
4. Internet is really hard to get in NZ, so it might be worth getting a pre-paid USD modem for around $100. Get the right download volume to meet your needs and time constraints.
5. Cost of living is high, so consider bringing all your camping needs. There is limited competition and you might not have time to buy stuff 2nd-hand from salvation army or 2nd hand shops, or from TradeMe.co.nz.
6. NZ experiences - Consider carefully the experiences you have because anything related to tourism is overpriced because of demand. i.e. The cost of entering Rotorua hot springs are excessive, so you are better off going to Yellowstone (USA). The old reasonably priced experiences in NZ are swimming at the beach, walking bush trails and renting houses. If you do overnight trips, alpine huts can cost anything from zero to $50/night, depending on demand. This is why camping is the ultimate stop-gap.
7. Flights - The best entries into NZ are Jetstar (from Australia or Japan), Air Asia X (from March from KL) from Gold Coast or Melbourne; as these are the discount airlines. Otherwise check out the www.jetstar.com website.

The best way to enjoy NZ is to visit in the summer and stay on a 3-month lease in places like Queenstown (South Is), Te Anau (Sth), Wanganui (Nth) and Auckland (Nth). This makes maximum use of your car. You can start in the south in summer, and spend the winter in Auckland.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home stay in New Zealand

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One of the cheapest ways to travel around a country is by home stay. Home stay is popular for older people, couples, students, and most particularly girls, because there is some assurance of having a host to provide support. Most backpackers offer similar support, however a host offers a more homely experience, though in all probability, not the professionalism, and perhaps not all the services. You will in most respects get better services in terms of furnishings, bedding, and many hosts offer food and travel. You might find yourself becoming a member of a family.
Another benefit for guests is that you are able to ensure that the person has police clearances. Any person who reports bad service is likely to see a bad host stricken from their membership base, offering some assurance to you. I would advise anyone who wants to make payment to pay via Paypal because at least you have some recourse if they don't provide the service you require. It is common to pay a deposit before you arrive, say of $200, and then the balance upon arrival.
Personally, home stays do not always work out because there are many people who are looking for extra income. The problem is often in the form of:
1. Differing standards of cleanliness
2. Different expectations in terms of services offered, i.e. You might have expected your own bathroom, greater privacy, you might not have expected any men to be there. You might have expected wifi internet, or access to a computer.
3. Differences in terms of food style or preparation, i.e. If you host is offering food, you want to inquire as to the types of food they eat (i.e. fatty foods, takeaway or vegetarian), and whether you will be able to prepared your own.
4. Isolation from transport, i.e. You might have expected the location to be close to transport, and you might have expected more transport.

In order to avoid these problems it might be preferable if you have a trial night, but this is not always possible. It is better to simply ask questions.

For more information of home staying in any country - see the HomeStay.com website.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

One of the best NZ advertisements

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One aspect of NZ business that impresses me in NZ is the quality of the TV advertising. There is broadly a very high standard for advertising. I am reminded of a radio advertisement from my first visit to NZ. The byline was 'come and get'm before the Aussies do'. Perhaps my favourite advertisement which comes to mind is the following for NZ Post. You have to love the self-deprecating humour.

The features of this advertisement which impresses me is that I can imagine that NZ is generally a place with a lot of 'tough love', and broken relationships resonate with a lot of people. It appeals to the personal touch in writing a letter, and it highlights the fact that, in a world of emails, there is still a place for the handwritten world. Go to You Tube and see how many people this advertisement has impressed.

The opportunities in energy for NZ

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In recent months I have been writing about the prospects of NZ staging a magnificent turnaround - albeit in the next decade, perhaps longer. I have made the argument that the world is going to be looking for oil, and eventually they are going to make their way to NZ. It is not enough that they come looking here, but it will also take some time for them to find something. It is not that I know something that they don't on the exploration-side, its just a fact that NZ has vast areas of offshore basins upon which carbonate oozes can accumulation, and in which oil can develop. This article by the NZ Herald suggests that oil explorers are starting to enter the NZ market.
The other reason why this is big is the fact that NZ is such a small nation, with just 4 million people. The implication is that NZ is potentially going to be like those small European nations like Norway, which grow rich from oil. Brunei is of course another good example. It will come...though its hard to say how much oil wealth NZ possesses...there is good reason to think it will make a substantial difference to the country. It is probable it will be gas rather than oil. If I reflect upon the geological basins of the world which most resemble the NZ context, it is likely to be the North Sea (UK-Norway fields). The proof however remains in a comparison of the geology and ultimately the evidence that comes from performing exploratory geophysics and drilling. There needs to be the right rock types, sufficient accumulation, structural development, cap rocks.
The other important development in NZ is going to be the development of iron ore resources. NZ has vast iron ore sand deposits containing titanium and vanadium. These additives will prove to be high value in the context of their ready access, because they will allow the low-temperature smelting of these ores into high-strength steels. There is probably more work to perform on these ores.
The important point is that the longer NZ takes to develop these resources, the greater their worth. The market for high-strength steels is yet to really develop, and there is still plenty of oil in the Middle East, so it will be another decade before oil prices go crazy. Resource-rich countries like Russia, Australia, Venezuela and NZ will perform really well. I think its just remarkable that the world's richest nations are not doing more to avert this problem. i.e. They ought to be investing in more efficient engines. i.e. The internal combustion engine is really very inefficient. The modern fuel cell is pretty efficient, but it produces at access of heat, when in fact the world needs the more useful form of energy, electricity. The Stirling engine is a far matter design, but it suffers from the same problem.
I would not be surprised if some NZ'er or an Australian comes up with the ground-breaking technology which sees developments in this area. It will be some frustrated engineer who could not get government funding, who mortgaged their house to develop the technology, and they end up selling out for a 3% royalty. Its the Sarich engine scenario all over again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 'other worlders' of NZ - according to WikiLeaks

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WikiLeaks has revealed some US embassy perceptions of NZ people, describing them as 'first worlders' or 'other worlders'. Former NZ Prime Minister regards these comments as disrespectful. The reality however is that they are value judgements, and it is the role of each of us to make value judgements, and respect 'the right' of people to make them. We do not have to be defined by others judgement, and nor should we. We ought to live our lives by our own standards and values, and not substitute others values and judgement uncritically for our own.
If we are efficacious in our thinking, then we have nothing to worry or point of vulnerability. We are prepared to adjust, and we are able to anticipate. The fact is that NZ is a socialist welfare state with a small productive sector. It needs to grow the economy, so it needs to curtail that aspect of the nation which Helen Clark feels compelled to defend....welfare, intrinsic love, i.e. unconditional care for others. Those are the values which have been a disservice to NZ, and those are the values which the US Embassy detests or 'disrespects'. Of course Clark is not going to value any such judgements, because they are antithetical to her own values, as a liberal/socialist.

NZ Adventure tourism - a false economy?

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The title of this blog is 'living in NZ', but maybe it should be dying in NZ. No, its not a reference to the local retirement industry, or the lack of domestic activity, I mean actual dying. The local adventure sports industry ought to be doing a lot of navel-gazing at the moment because there are just too many people dying whilst doing adventure sports. Consider the recent accidents:
1. Several light planes crashing
2. Balloon accident
3. Bunge jumping death
4. Canoeing accident
5. Jet boat accident
6. Kite sailing - the latest accident

Some of these accidents were not this year, but last, but regardless, there is too many accidents. People engaging in these sports do not expect to die. Are the rates too high? I think so? Is it an acceptable risk? Well, I would suggest that is something the participant should decide. Perhaps there is a need for immediate disclosure of:
1. NZ-wide statistics on the percentage of people being injured in adventure sports
2. NZ-wide statistics on the percentage of people being injured in the specific adventure sport being attempted
3. Company-specific statistics on the percentage of people being injured in the specific adventure sport
4. Company-specific statistics on the percentage of people being injured in the specific adventure sport - this month, this year, the last 5 years
5. Identification of all the possible dangers that you could be exposing yourself to by participating in the sport. Probably the biggest is someone performing tasks they are not ready for, whether its an instructor who was out drinking last night; or an inadequately trained instructor because most want to take off and travel the world...for bigger thrills.

You might wonder whether anyone gets any business disclosing this information. They might just wonder if its worth it. If you think life is about getting such thrills, maybe you ought to be just taking heroin. They call them 'cheap thrills', I would argue that:
1. They are over-priced
2. They could cost you your life

I am fond of adventure, but I think its silly to take risks; most particularly risks you don't control. I occasionally go whitewater kayaking/canoeing, but its adventure/exploration, not cheap 'adrenalin thrills'. When I go kayaking, it is after I have slowly graduated to more difficult rapids, and also after researching and understanding rivers. I also never go beyond grade 3 rivers, even if they sometimes surprise me with grade 3.5 rapids.
I discount the value of these activities for the same reason I discount taking drugs. Its not what life is about...twitching a few neurons to fill alive for 15 - 60 seconds. NZ seems to have a penchant for dreaming up some new adventure sport. Some form of new board sport, etc. There are plenty of pipe dreamers out there. Some are little variants on old schemes. It might better be regarded as escapism by the inventor as much as the sports participant. I do not however want to discount all such sports. Sport does entail risk. Each ought to be in a position to know just how much risk they are taking.
Perhaps what this industry (kite boarding) needs is an 'air bag' device, so it they get in trouble they can release a valve and an air bubble blows up around them; so they get caught in a tree rather than killed by it. Alternatively, the sport should be conducted a certain safe distance away from trees and other obstructions.

Save yourself some money and engage in some sustainable pleasures!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Queenstown - Melbourne - Gold Coast - KL flights

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We are going off to live in Queenstown soon. I read in today's paper that Jetstar is opening up new flights from Queenstown to Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Queenstown is a popular skiing and water sports (summer) tourist town. The direct access to two major cities on the East Coast of Australia can be expected to attract more tourists.
We had already mentioned that Air Asia X, another discount airline will be offering flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Christchurch from 1st Mar 2010. The good news is that you have another option from entering NZ through Queenstown from Asia. You can fly from Queenstown to the Gold Coast by Jetstar, and then fly to KL with Air Asia X. Of course the more direct route from Christchurch will probably be cheaper.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Air New Zealand's 'Space Couch' innovates air travel

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The future of the NZ economy depends on doing things smarter. If it does it enough, then perceptions about NZ will change for the positive. Here is a case in point. NZ has the capacity to develop niche, high value product and service exports. It also has the capacity to earn royalties for product design. A recent design royalty stream that Air NZ has developed is its 'Sky Couch' seats.
What a great opportunity for NZ to change the narrow perceptions of NZ as merely a farming country. I personally don't know why the airlines have not improved seating for years. I remember as a kid I was dreaming up ideas for more comfortable seating. Staying in capsule hotels in Japan only reminded me of the opportunities many years later. These designs by Air NZ do not even strike me as a particularly progressive move. More change can be expected.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The best place in the world

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NZ is not 'the land of milk and honey' that a lot of people would expect, but then its hard to think of any place which is. NZ is of course a diverse country offering a range of experience, and of course every person has different values; but there is also a great deal that unites us, and in as much as we might forget, we do have a human nature which demands certain objective values for our happiness.
So where does NZ rank - its a wonderful place to live in some respects, but it is also a challenge in other respects. Consider some of the following comments at Expat Forum.
I have lived in Australia, NZ, Japan and the Philippines. Australia is my favourite place to live, and I suspect I will head back that way within the next few years.

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Retirement age deferred to 67yo

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The NZ government has announced that the retirement age is being deferred from 65yo to 67yo. The reason of course is that the NZ work horse is not working hard enough, so he has to work longer in order to carry his costs. Is that the real lesson? I would care to differ in several respects.
1. The government is not very efficient. We have a lot of costs placed upon us by inefficient government. Government is incredibly centralised, which is great for economies of scale. The problem is that too much depends on slow government decision-making. There is also the problem of poor cost recovery, which makes capital investments unsustainable. The implication is that NZ has one of the worst funding provisions for capital infrastructure in the OECD. Note all the failures in the telecom sector. There is a great deal of inefficiency, particularly in local govt. Its all too common to see council workers standing around, or performing wasteful expenditure.
2. Youth is not well-prepared: The tough love evident in NZ is really a sign of poor values. NZ really remains caught in 'old world' 1970s values. There is too much indulgence, lack of pride, purpose, self-esteem, and self-awareness. There is really a need for some structure or self-discipline in a great many lives. There is a need in this country for the affluent and enlightened decision-makers to engage with the Maori and 'white trash' as we might euphemistically call them, in order to give them positive incentives to work hard, provide constructive support for their children, and to develop a sense of personal identity which differentiates them from others.

There are too many vacant minds in the country. Too many kids who are idle. There are too many people who hate their jobs, who are thus inclined to work 3 days and charge for five.
Living standards are supposed to improve....so why is the retirement age falling? The simple answer is we are living longer. But that is not the reason. The average life expectancy of people in Western countries is probably rising 1 year every 7 years. i.e. A rate of 1.3%. This compares with real growth in national income of just 1.2% per annum between 1975-2005. That is very low growth. Check out the history of economic growth here. Aside from slugging population growth, the problem is constrained national income. There is too little provision for capital spending and too much spending on recurrent items. This can be partially attributed to the welfare state which gives primacy to giving, as opposed to creating; however this reflects the deeper issue of values. There are some unhealth, reactionary, short-term, deluded egos in NZ who are simply keeping this economy down, and the NZ government is financing them. I would suggest the public sector is one and the same problem. This is the problem with middlemen. Politicians will flog the beast for every working hour it can get without reflecting on its own impact. So long as it preserves its moral relativism, we will be voting for National-Labour. It is a deluded or false dichotomy which serves no one. Get rid of democracy. Its poison!

NZ needs some economic and social reform

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The NZ deficit has blown out in the half-year budgetary review. Clearly the NZ govt has to rein in spending and restrain itself to prudent expenditure. There is a lot the government could do of course. Maybe it was looking for such bad news to justify some tough decisions. Among the measures are likely to be:
1. Chasing 'tax cheats' with greater powers - Who can argue with slavery as a means of repaying debts that governments took out to retain power....oh offer bad service.
2. Abolishing the interest-free concession on student loans. This is too generous. Even Australians pay a nominal interest rate on their student loans. Also, NZ will have a tough time recouping the money if those students head overseas.
3. Bringing forward fibre optic layout: There are plans to lay a fibre network in NZ. The problem is that the network envisaged will not be laid until 2015. This is a little slow I suggest.
4. Supporting call centre development: NZ ought to be the call centre hub for Australia, and even some European countries like the UK. Why? Because it has the lowest wages of all English-speaking OECD countries, with comparatively high standards of training; plus a relatively weak currency, and the expectation that will remain the case. NZ needs jobs. There are good reasons for NZ to develop call centres for Australia, as opposed to outsourcing them to Asia. There are certain jobs that NZ will do better, e.g. Selling conference tickets, product marketing, and even SEO services like content writing.
5. Software development: NZ is a logical base for the development of software products. It is one thing to have a financial base in LA, etc, however as far as software development is concerned, NZ is a great place to develop product because of its education system and cheap wages. The problem however is creating your own corporate culture because many NZ'ers are not accustomed to hard work. Things are a little slow here....the world is moving on...and too many are being left behind. The country's biggest industries are milk, tourism and retirement.
6. Boosting savings: NZ needs more investment funds, and those funds ought to be geared completely to investing in Australian mining. Why? The Australian dollar is going to be stronger over the next 20 years, the Australian mining sector is going to benefit from a strong commodities market (thanks to China and India). Greater savings means less spending; which means a balanced budget. NZ citizens are too reliant on government.
7. Business incubation: I think there is an opportunity for local governments to engage in some business incubation in order to help the unemployed develop some skills. There really is no need for the high-cost education skills in the modern era, as a great deal of information is free if you know how to harvest it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sale of NZ state-owned assets

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John Key's National Party government has signalled that it will privatise state owned assets in its next term in government. The assets it has signalled for sale are mostly the power assets:
1. Might River Power
2. Solid Energy
3. Genesis Energy

It seems like the government intends to retain ownership of the hydro assets for the time being. A government has conducted a study of the value of these assets, and believes that Solid Energy is only worth half of the $3.5 billion attributed to the entity by Solid Energy executives. I tend to agree with Solid Energy. The company has some significant assets, though central and state ownership of those assets can only hinder their commercial value. Consider the projects:
1. Coal resources & Huntly power station - The power station must be worth $300mil alone.
2. Southland lignite resources - important source of feedstock for export coal business given recent developments in compressed coal bricks. I think this resource is very valuable, and the only reason to be conservative is the technology risk. It will assist the government to wait until this technology is proven in Vietnam, where a Vietnamese govt JV with the University of Melbourne is testing the technology on the Red River lignite deposits. I suspect Solid Energy will do its only testwork.
3. Coal seam gas potential - important given the declining availability of offshore resources. This could change however in the next 10 years. This potential is probably worth anywhere from $150 to $500 million.

I can agree that the valuation of Solid Energy is probably a little on the high side; but then it might have assets I am not aware of. There needs to be a closer look. I suspect the government had an accountant study it, and you don't do that. Accountants only look at cashflows and their prospect of being extended. They are too conservative. They cannot see over the horizon. They tend to be an anti-conceptual lot. I remember trying to sell a mining company to a fund manager. He was more interested in the 'advanced' project for which we had a cashflow model than the gold project with very exciting drilling intersections. Today, the 'advanced' project is still on the backburner, and the gold project is being constructed. Why? Because he had no idea about which way commodity prices were going, he had no ideas about technology/development risk, and he was suspicious of anything without a cashflow model. They need quantitative data. Whereas a geologist/mining engineer needs as little as a few well-placed drill holes and some structural information (at the least). Gold is going to $2500/oz. Does he believe it? No. People are sceptical of what they don't understand. Accountants enter the world only with a little life experience and quantitative analytical skills which are dependent upon conceptual knowledge. They are only 'half a brain' really. That is why I studied geology, mining engineering and accounting/finance. My lecturers praised my judgement. But really, it only reflected my life experience up until that point. I was visiting mind sites when I was 14 years old, and I was trading mining stocks since I was 11yo.
If you want to do your child a favour - buy them $1000 worth of stock each in Vital Metals (ASX.VML), MIL Resources (ASX.MGK) and Union Resources (ASX.UCL). Use a lottery game to distribute the stock, to create some competitiveness between them. Soon they will be wanting to get a newspaper run to raise more money to buy more stock. Of course, you could always buy these stocks yourself. You're never too old to learn 'money makes money'. The lesson of timing will take longer to learn. That requires studying charting (i.e. technical analysis).

Why am I suggesting that NZ'ers buy stocks in Australia? The reason is because over the next 15 years the NZD is going to be left behind. Thereafter it will probably start to close the gap, but not before more Kiwis will leave for Australia. The mining industry offers the best exposure to the Chinese/Indian boom, which will go for another 20 years. Why? Because they have a lot of under-utilised labour. That is fueling demand. It will take off again as soon as the global debt inventory is absorbed/recapitalised.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The prospects for a competitive telecom market in NZ

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You might ask - what would a free marketer like myself expect from a NZ broadband network. We all have long come to understand that free markets don't always deliver desirable outcomes. There are reasons for this:
1. Cross-market subsidisation - profits extorted through market power in some market can be used to finance new investment in others. We thus want to ensure in a global world that companies are able to finance improvements to services, but that any surplus profits are invested in the local business.
2. Market collusion - profits are not able to be excessive because two market competitors are able to extort excessive prices from the consumers who have no 'effective' choice. It matters little if there are just two players pretending to compete or 10 who have a formalised price-following or price-targeting strategy. i.e. You might find that the CEOs of these companies get together and they decide that in 2011 Telco A will be the price leader, in 2012 Telco B will lead any price changes. It goes without saying that those pricing changes will be favourable.
3. Transfer pricing - They all establish enterprises abroad, say in Ireland (with a lower tax rate), which purchases the hardware, and they pass on the costs to the NZ operating entity, so they look competitive, and profit margins look thinner.
4. Accounting tricks - Maybe they will use creative accounting to understate profits, such as making provisions for the acquisition of future capital, or the depreciation of old plant, which help to understate costs. These provisions don't even have to be real; they are just planning, so those profits can be released at any convenient time.

The question then becomes as to how does one achieve a truly competitive market? Or how does one ensure that business earns a reasonable profit, business has an incentive to cut costs, but at the same time provide an efficient service; and how does one get business to accurately and honest report its performance such that the market achieves an optimal outcome. We might also ask:
1. What constitutes fairness? Who gets the market surplus created in these transactions - the consumer or the business operator? Who created the surplus? Business.
2. What right does the consumer (or the government) have to ensure surpluses are not invested abroad in new or more competitive markets?

These are the intellectual questions that never seem to get answered. They are not new questions. They were asked and answered by people like David Ricardo and Karl Marx; not always with desirable interpretations. Far from wanting revolution, I would like to see an efficient market. Perhaps the strongest prospect for competition comes from a change in the way we structure society. This is an intellectual debate we do not have because our political system is so impervious to ideas. People are so concrete-bound. They are reluctant to engage with ideas, because the legislature does not place a value on ideas. It values perceptions because that is what the majority of voters respond to. They response to the 'concrete' because they have no effiective power, they have little specialised interest in all-manner of issues. So they are passive, only responsive to subtle messages.
I am not going to answer this question here. The greater issue is our political system.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

High rate of animal cruelty in NZ

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According to the NZ Herald, there has been a 2nd attack upon some fur seals at Kaikoura, on the Northern tip of the Southern Island of NZ. I visited those seals about a year ago. Some idiots have come along and killed about 20 of them. What was interesting was the fact that there is apparently a waterfall in the area where the seals swim. This would have been a great attraction to visit if I had known about it.
I have seen a great many cases of animal cruelty in NZ in the last 2 years I have been here. There are far more cases that in Australia. I attribute this to two issues:
1. The more collectivist (socialistic) ethic of NZ
2. The higher incidence of child abuse, such that animal abuse is a practical extension
3. The high incidence of peer pressure-yobbo-loutish behaviour by youths drinking alcohol
4. Low population of NZ, which makes the place a little boring for youths. There is not much of a business culture, and this might be explained by the lack of opportunities for a small, isolated island population offering little in the way of investment or job opportunities. Small businesses have little opportunity to expand with minimal population growth. Everyone is taking off to Australia.
6. The high legal allowances for drinking - 9 beers in the first 2 hours compared to 4 in Australia.

Ethics is the big issue as far as I am concerned. The other issues merely provide the specific context in which crimes occur. There are a number of things that foreigners come to NZ for, and I would think chief among their list are the following - but maybe NZ is simply burning its bridges:
1. Natural settings - the mountain vistas, the wildlife, the trails - Sadly there are too few trails to walk along, or roads to access remote regions. There is a lack of public toilets.
2. Cultural settings - English gardens, cafes - lovely and reasonably priced, often free gardens. I wish more cafes had free wifi. Shopping malls food courts are pretty dirty since no one cleans the tables, or the spilt drinks, etc.
3. Small towns, low population - They are still pleasant - just avoid the drunken youths around and in the bars. I never see gang members in NZ, except whizzing past on their Harley's.
4. Friendly people - they are friendly and related, just avoid the drunken louts at night and on the road, or when your illegally camping in some campervan by the beach.
5. Low cost - Less so with the increase in the GST, but aided by new low-cost flights from Asia with Air Asia X.

The cruelty is a low note to end on, so let me take it a little lower. NZ has a pretty bad crime rate. Most news seems to be punctuated by animal stories - whether its a seal being clubbed or sighted, or the murder of someone working home...usually from a pub. Other than that the news is about Australia and politicians. Little surprise 40,000 New Zealanders are escaping to Australia each year. It makes you wonder - is NZ's problem perceptions or the people. I hope you stay long enough to find out because it is a beautiful country.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New discount airline entrant to NZ - AirAsia X

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Good news for New Zealanders! AirAsia X, a Malaysian-based discount airline is flighting from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch. The airline will start taking bookings from the 3rd Dec 2010 for flights from 1st March 2011. The promotion is offering flights for $99 plus taxes, which I guess will be around $150, so $250 each way. The problem is that AirAsia X and its competitor, Tiger Airlines, which only flies to Melbourne and Perth often offer a very cheap single route, so you pay full price for the return. This is a problem if immigration at your destination country requires an outward-bound ticket. Its fine if you are leap-frogging because you need only have '1 leap' booked ahead, but that's lost flexibility.
I have yet to fly AirAsia X, but like a lot of discount airlines, expect to pay extra for food, beverages, checked baggage, excess baggage and ticket changes. These airlines offer a lot of discounts, so its worth waiting for a good deal. Consider the options:
1. Jetstar - flights from Auckland or Christchurch to Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, link to Jetstar or AirAsia X in Gold Coast or Melbourne for flights to Asia.
2. Jetstar - from Auckland direct to Japan (Osaka or Tokyo-Narita). Some discount airlines fly to/from Japan. i.e. Cebu Pacific, and Chinese airlines from Haneda Airport (Tokyo).
3. Air NZ - they offer cheap Asia flights for two in twin-ticket sales through the TradeMe website.
4. AirAsia X - they fly Christchurch to KL (Malaysia), with links to Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc.
5. Pacific Blue - their prices are generally not as competitive as Jetstar, but they do have sales, so worth a look. They are appealing for flights from Wellington to the East Coast of Australia.

More discount airlines for NZ is great news because it has been difficult for travellers to fly to NZ from Asia. Air NZ offers great service, but you pay for it. Jetstar and Pacific Blue also offer comparable service cheaply, but they have limited offerings. Wellington only offers a limited number of destinations because of its smaller airstrip. i.e. Confined to smaller planes. When booking flights from Wellington, unlike the other airports, they do not add their airport tax to the ticket price. This is wrong to me because passengers should be treated the same.

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