Blockchain the Transformer

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one ....

Males and Females–the differences in the way our brains are wired

This post by Priceonomics shows just how differently males and females think – the differences in their internet searches and popular websites is staggering. Interesting too to see where millennials go for their information and entertainment.

Data source: Quantcast

The number one website with the most female traffic is Zulily, an ecommerce site selling clothing, toys, and home products at deep discounts. Women also made up the majority of traffic at ....

A Key White House Post which remains unfilled

FIRST PET – It may be time for Donald Trump to find a four-legged friend

DONALD TRUMP has broken the mould of the American presidency in almost every major category. He is the country’s oldest commander-in-chief, its richest and the only one in history without any governmental or military experience. He is one of just two presidents since 1888 to win an election without winning the popular vote. And last but not least, he is the first president without a pet in near....

The Business of Tax

ONE of the hottest debates in economic policy at the moment is how to ensure companies are paying the optimal amount of tax. On the right, politicians think that a lower corporate-tax rate will lead to more business investment and thus faster economic growth. Hence the initial stockmarket enthusiasm after President Donald Trump was elected on a platform that included cuts in business taxes. On the left, the belief is that business is not paying its “fair share” of tax and that it can be further squeezed to pay for spending commitments. Hence the promise of the Labour Party in Britain’s recent election campaign to push the corporate-tax rate up to 26% (from 19%).

How do these theorie....

A thought for today

This quote from Deirdre McCloskey makes very good sense:

“That businesspeople buy low and sell high in a particularly alert and advantageous way does not make them bad unless all trading is bad, unless when you yourself shop prudently you are bad, unless any tall poppy needs to be cut down, unless we wish to run our ethical lives on the sin of envy.”
Deirdre N. McCloskey

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Margarine sales: investors can’t believe they’re not better

Demand for natural fats is rising

THE debate over fats is larded with controversy. For years doctors argued that they should be expunged from diets entirely. Saturated fats, they reckoned, were especially harmful. As a result, consumers increasingly turned to margarine and demand for butter melted away. The vegetable-based spread remained dominant for decades. But two trends have since eaten away at its market share.

First, the crusade against fats is waning. Nowadays, doctors are much more sanguine about eating fat in general. Instead they have set their si....

Six Feet of Mortgage Regulations Explain Slower Housing Market in U.S.

Thanks to FutureofCapitalism for this post:

More than 14,000 pages of new rules and regulations governing home mortgages have slowed America’s economy by half a percent a year over the past five years, one of America’s most prominent bankers says.

The banker, James Dimon, has been CEO of JPMorgan Chase for more than a decade. He makes the complaint in his annual letter to shareholders.

Dimon acknowledges that the financial crisis “was caused in part by poor mortgage lending practices.” But he says the post-crisis changes have gone too far. That has made mortgages more expensive for consumers and made it nearly impossible for lots of people to qualify.

“It’s noteworthy....

The Paradox of Choice

The modern entertainment industry is a nirvana for consumers

For America’s bloated pay-TV providers, not so much

From The Economist Feb 11th 2017 edition

FOR couch potatoes and bookworms, filmgoers and music-lovers, this is a golden age. The internet provides an almost endlessly long menu of options to meet the almost infinitely quirky tastes of humanity. Smartphones have put all kinds of entertainment—from classic rock to pres....

The New Old Thing

Conformity, nostalgia and 5G at the Mobile World Congress

More black rectangles made their debut in Barcelona

“A SEA of sameness.” A veteran of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), Ben Wood of CCS Insight, a consultancy, was not expecting much from the mobile industry’s main trade show this week in Barcelona. As one product launch followed another, it was easy to lose track. Whether it was LG, Huawei or Wiko, they all showed off yet more black rectangles with slightly varying specifications.

Another reminder of the smartphone busi....

Reducing the alcohol purchase age

Reducing the alcohol purchase age from 20 to 18 did not increase the number of road accidents. If anything, risky driving dropped for a while.
Stefan Boes and Steve Stillman have updated their earlier work on New Zealand’s alcohol purchase age to bring in some more recent accident data to allow for longer term trends.
They make an important methodological point – one that applies to a lot of work on minimum legal drinking ages. It is really easy to set up a regression discontinuity design using the birthday as the point of the discontinuity. The 17 year old, before the birthday, is the same person a week later, except with access to alcohol. Sure. But the RDD me....

Is Corporate Short-termism a distraction

Firms are increasingly accused of failing to look ahead. That is a misdiagnosis according to The Economist

AS AMERICA’S economy has misfired over the past decade, several grand theories have emerged about what went wrong. Economists fret about secular stagnation, debt hangovers and whether demography explains sluggish growth. In American boardrooms, meanwhile, a widely held view is that a dangerous short-termism has taken hold. This theory contends that investors and executives have become myopic, leading firms to invest too little. Like many....

Where Rashid and Juliet can’t wed

Many countries make it hard to marry someone from another religion – change is needed

Around two dozen countries have no provision for civil marriage

ARMAN DHANI, an Indonesian journalist who is Muslim, broke up with his Catholic girlfriend of five years when he reached the heartbreaking conclusion that they would never be able to marry. Indonesian officials refuse to register inter-faith marriages because the law does not mention them. “My mother said: ‘If you want to marry her she must convert to Islam,’” he says. “But I didn....

Foreign Drivers and Driver Testing

Is the number of accidents caused by foreign drivers increasing? No. It has been fairly constant at around 6% of all accidents for the last decade.

In that time tourism numbers have increased 30%.

So would requiring tourists who are here more than three months to undertake a driving test make much of an impact. The data suggests next to nothing.

In 2016 there were 1,817,136 tourists here and only 40,336 stayed for more than three months. That’s 2.2%.

So this measure would impact just 2.2% of tourists in NZ. If tourists cause 6% of all accidents then you might expect a 0.13% reduction in the road toll.

And that is only if you make the generous assumption that having them....

An unfree trade

Cracking down on hardworking people – doesn’t help the poor

Cracking down on African street vendors

The Economist Feb 2nd 2017 | KAMPALA AND KIGALI

RUNNING away is part of life, explains Meddy Sserwadda, eyeing the road. Each morning he buys belts from a market in central Kampala, the capital of Uganda, selling them on a downtown street for a small profit. He works without a licence—the city government has stopped issuing them—and flees when enforcement officers approach. “They don’t want us to mak....

Looking at progress humanity has made

· Where 150 years ago it took 25 men a whole day to harvest and thresh a ton of grain, one person with a modern combine harvester can do it in six minutes

· In 1947, 50 per cent of the world’s population was chronically malnourished. Today that’s down to 13 per cent.

· Chlorination of water led to a massive drop in infant mortality. Such benefits have now been extended to the Third World, with the result that 91 per cent of the world’s population (2.6 billion people) have clean water, as opposed to 52 per cent in 1980.

· In the 1830s, in western Europe life expectancy was still only 33. Today, average life expectancy in the world is an amazing 71.

· Homo sapiens evolve....