Source: Enemies of the WTO (1999).
Australia’s top income earners are a lazy lot. The top 0.1% only ever had a rising income share under a Labor government in the 1980s. Even the top 1% had a pretty lean time until the 1990s.
Source: The World Wealth and Income Database.
How can Pauline Hanson be an extreme right-winger if half of her votes come from people who 2nd preference the Australian Labour Party? This strong support for her populism has been well-known since she won the safest Labour Party seed in Queensland in the 1996 Australian Federal Election but is hardly ever mentioned by the media or her critics.
It should be therefore no surprise that a lot of her views have popular support because she has support across the political spectrum. Not knowing that will means you will be not very good at combating her views which you simply do not understand where they come from.
Few of her supporters see themselves as extremists and will be insulted when you suggest they are. Listen here dummy is no way to win back votes of people who just voted for you recently.
Hanson’s support among Labour voters is increasing. Only 42% of her voters gave their 2nd preference to Labour in previous federal elections for the House of Representatives.
For a generation, a campaign by the green movement against the growing of genetically modified crops has held sway across Europe. These foodstuffs are a threat to health, the environment and the small independent farmer, NGOs have argued.
As result, virtually no GM crops have been grown on Europe’s farms for the past 25 years. Yet hard evidence to support what is, in all but name, a ban on these vilified forms of plant life is thin on the ground. In fact, most scientific reports have indicated that they are generally safe, both to humans and the environment.
This point was endorsed last week when a 20-strong committee of experts from the US National Academies of Science announced the results of its trawl of three decades of scientific studies for “persuasive evidence of adverse health effects directly attributable to consumption of foods derived from genetically engineered crops”. It found none.
Instead the group uncovered evidence that GM crops have the potential to bestow considerable health benefits. An example is provided by golden rice, a genetically modified rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Its use could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency in the third world, say scientists.
Scientists and governments around the world overwhelmingly agree that climate change is real, is largely human-induced and needs urgent action to prevent.
There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities (such as burning fossil fuels), and if left un-checked will likely have disastrous consequences.
Furthermore, there is solid scientific evidence that we should act now on climate change – and this is reflected in the statements by these definitive scientific authorities.
Any decent political movement makes an ambit claim in expectation of being beaten back to its real position. That is basic negotiation tactics in politics.
Such is the volatility of expressive politics that the fight for 15 campaign has taken on a life of its own and is actually delivering on a $15 living wage as the minimum wage in the USA in a growing number of states and cities as well is in Democratic party presidential campaign pledges.
If there is any degree of economic sanity and practicality among living wage advocates, they know that such a high living wage increase will cost jobs.
After all, if a large wage increase for low-paid workers cost no jobs, why not increase everyone’s wage by a similar percentage, which is about 100% in the USA?
Since 1985, extreme poverty has halved in Botswana and dropped by a 3rd in Swaziland and Uganda.
Source: World Poverty – Our World In Data.
Life expectancies are increasing again in Swaziland and Botswana after the HIV epidemic has come under more control.
if Kiwibank is part of the competitive fringe of an oligopoly made up of the 4 Australian banks, it is not very profitable for a competitive fringe of a cartel as the chart below shows. The other New Zealand owned small banks in that competitive fringe are not that profitable at all. Undercutting an oligopoly and its high prices and above-average cost and above marginal cost pricing is not what it used to be for the competitive fringe in New Zealand banking, if there ever was a cartel.
Bank customers can choose between four major banks and a competitive fringe. If those major banks are indeed overcharging because of price-fixing by a cartel or an oligopoly, that competitive fringe which includes Kiwibank has a real opportunity to expand profitably and with little risk.
The prospect of expansion by the competitive fringe that includes Kiwibank only increases the incentives on each of the four big banks to cheat on the cartel price. The first bank to cheat on the cartel will profit the most; the other banks who are colluding know this. As George Stigler concluded in his 1964 paper “The Theory of Oligopoly” as Peltzman and Carlton explain:
…once a price is somehow agreed upon, there will be incentives for individual rivals to cheat on the [collusive] agreement. Whether cheating occurs depends on weighing the profits from not cheating against the profits from cheating and then being detected and having competition break out…
any agreement among sellers cannot ignore the incentives to cheat provided by lags in detection. So understanding when a price elevated above the competitive level can be an equilibrium requires an analysis of the dynamic consequences of cheating versus not cheating…
Collusion over retail banking services and prices faces major hurdles that will lead to most attempts at price-fixing having a short life. These barriers to successful collusion include:
- numerous competitors,
- expansion by the smaller banks were not part of the cartel or cheat on the cartel
- the entry and expansion of new banks,
- the lack of a standard product, and
- a rapidly changing business environment.
Implicit understandings among the colluding banks may break down owing to conflicts over the most suitable price, the complexities of co-ordinating pricing across a diverse range of banking products, or the simple presence of a maverick bank.
As time passes, destabilising pressures within a banking cartel or oligopoly will build due to long-run substitution and the threat or actuality of entry by new banks and expansion by banks In the competitive fringe, which includes Kiwibank.
The first firm in any market may charge a high price relative to costs, but the entry of one or two more firms usually results in effective competition. Once there are three to five suppliers in a market, an additional entrant has little impact on prices because pricing is already as competitive as it can be.
When ANZ sought to acquire the National Bank of New Zealand in 2003, the Commerce Commission did not oppose this merger. The Commission did not consider that a substantial lessening of competition would follow this merger. The Commission said:
…the merger is unlikely to increase the likelihood of co-ordinated market power in the supply of transaction accounts because the fringe players are likely to provide some competition, the banks have different strengths and weaknesses and in particular ASB is unlikely to have the incentive to participate in co-ordinated power at the expense of its recent growth and customer satisfaction levels.
This analysis of co-ordinated market power applies to each of the relevant markets. Therefore the Commission concludes that the merger is unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of transaction accounts.
In the supply of mortgages, savings accounts and credit cards the merger is unlikely to lead to a substantial lessening of competition, as in each of these markets, ASB, Westpac and BNZ are likely to provide sufficient competition to the combined entity.
An important driver of a competition in the mortgage market in 2003 was a high incidence of fixed-rate mortgages and the tendency of these fixed rate mortgagees to reconsider all their options at the end of each fixed rate term.
The Commission Commission noted that there was a large re-mortgaging market in New Zealand. Banks offer to do all the work for customers wishing to switch over bank accounts and direct debit arrangements.
In a very atypical move for a purported cartel, in 2010 the bank owned Payments New Zealand agreed to change over direct debits over automatically when a customer switched banks, which made switching banks even more easier.
At the time of the ANZ and National Bank merger, the Commerce Commission noted that Kiwibank was offering lower rates on its mortgages as a way of gaining a foothold in the market.
The Commerce Commission could not have been more right about the vigour in competition in retail banking with regard to re-mortgaging and switching between fixed and floating mortgages in New Zealand.
As the chart below of fixed and floating mortgage shares a New Zealand bank balance sheets shows, there is a rapid exodus from fixed rate mortgages at the time of the Global Financial Crisis.
I cannot see how any cartel or oligopoly could sustain price-fixing against such dynamic changes in market shares and product switching.
Cartels are is much more difficult to agree when there are many products about which to fix prices and market shares. At a minimum, this rapid movement of customers between mortgage products will sow suspicions that one or more rival banks is stealing customers thereby cheating on the cartel agreement. Not surprisingly, the history of cartels is a history of double-crossing. Banking is no exception.