Monday, April 21, 2008

The Dow Jones picks up my sentiments Good financial management is like fresh air, exercise and a healthy diet. Organisations need it every day to stay fit and to live a full and active life.

Isn't it peculiar that governments in South Australia and Tasmania are stoutly resisting cries for permanent corruption commissions to be established in those sainted states? It scarcely seems credible that they should resist such a terrific suggestion. A glance at the NSW model of corruption fighting should be enough to put any besieged government entirely at ease. Odd to fear watchdogs, as bark's worse than bite

Am I the only person to be surprised not by the complaints but by the lack of ambition Martin Wolf
This is not an example of public sector inefficiency as a result. It is an example of private sector greed and inefficiency.

Martin Wolf is one of the best respected economic commentators in the world. His column in the FT this morning is a classic. He argues that:
Am I the only person to be surprised not by the complaints [by the non-domiciled], which are predictable, but by their lack of ambition?
And he goes on, by arguing in absurdum, that if the non-doms arguments are right:
a) Everyone in the UK should be able to use the remittance basis and so pay tax on an optional basis;
b) There should be no tax on incomes over £100,000;
c) Because they generate so much wealth those earning over £100,000 should in fact have a negative tax rate;
d) Billionaires should be paid to come to the UK.
As his argument makes clear, no one has put forward such claims because they know that tax has to be paid by someone. What the wealthy want is that it is paid by anyone but them. As Leona Helmsley put it:
We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.
This is what the non-dom debate is about. But as Wolf puts it:
From long experience, I am deeply sceptical of special interest “the sky is falling” pleading. More fundamentally, I am opposed to this particular pleading because it is subversive of any enduring political compact among citizens. If we take the principle that successful people are too important and too mobile to pay tax to its logical conclusion, political community will collapse.
And as he concludes:
Yet the experience also shows that the case for a simple, neutral and stable fiscal system, which taxes the worldwide incomes of all long-stay residents on the basis of ability to pay, is overwhelming. As soon as one departs from that principle one enters in a maze of special pleading or invidious distinctions, in which failed ideas of industrial policy - subsidising winners through the tax system - return to the fore. If the application of that great principle means some rich people leave the country, so be it.
I agree. Entirely.
I also agree (and some should note this) with the simplification part of this argument. Getting rid of the domicile rule would be a great way to do that. But for once the professions seem quite opposed to simplification. Is it because they too think that only the little people should pay tax? I fear it is.

I agree. Entirely. [Everybody, listen to me, And return me, my ship. I'm your captain, I'm your captain. Although I'm feeling mighty sick. -- Mark Farner American Poet B. Flint AGE OF UNREASON ; ]
• · It's not going to be pretty at the Labor Party's state conference when Morris Iemma lines up to show who's in charge - Donations fuss driven by media dragons … Premier's power play; A man's home may no longer be his castle, but it could well end up being somebody else's castle - THE State Government plans to give its agencies and councils power to compulsorily acquire private land to re-sell to developers at a profit - or, if they choose, at a reduced price so the developers make even more money State can sell your home
• · When stainless steel corrodes - which it shouldn't but does - the result is especially catastrophic because the corruption works unseen, crumbling the core material while leaving its glorious surface unblemished. Nothing is visible, until that fateful instant when the bolt, cleat or cable gives way with a sudden hollow shudder. And calamity abounds. There are various theories on this chemical perfidy. Most involve pitting, from microscopic manganese inclusions that disturb the electrochemistry within, voluntarily rearranging the electrons without approval from head office, much as happens in political parties. Highly polished Carr a rust bucket in disguise; NSW Labor to reform political donations
• · · THE Opposition has accused the Government of contempt of Parliament by failing to disclose four documents containing criticisms of a deal to allow development on land that Planning Department staff had rejected as highly unsuitable. O'Farrell outraged at papers' absence; NSW Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell has marked his first anniversary in the job with a stinging attack on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), accusing it of ducking tough State Government corruption claims. In an extraordinary outburst, Mr O'Farrell said the ICAC was a far cry from the fearless watchdog it was under previous commissioners Ian Temby and Barry O'Keefe. O'Farrell attacks watchdog
• · · · Duncan Hardie YOU only have to look at Duncan Hardie's sprawling faux Spanish villa in the Hunter's wine district to know this is a man who thinks big. Sweetwater Ridge is the realisation of the ultimate dream home for the chairman and founder of Hardie Holdings. Sweetwater was also the name the 57-year-old New Zealand-born speculator gave to another unlikely dream, a new city of 28,000 homes for 59,000 people, with a university and commercial centre thrown in. Paving paradise to save it; The Hardie Holdings subsidiary Eco Trades exhausted its bank of high-conservation land in 2006 when it agreed to hand over 7400 hectares of land to the state's national parks system. Developer moves on to Mid North Coast
• · · · · Hardie Holdings; Land-clearing blots no barrier to biobank plan - Environment ...
• · · · · · THE State Government dismissed advice from its own planners and allowed developers to clear valuable bushland to build housing estates away from existing towns and transport, after months of aggressive lobbying by developers. Secret files expose the sway of developers ; A FEDERAL Government move to expose the lobbying industry to greater public scrutiny has generated a backlash, with lobbying firms seeking changes. ; COMMUNICATING WITH
GOVERNMENT - A BUSINESS - Bruce Hawker. Managing Director. Hawker Britton Pty Ltd. On TUESDAY, May 13, 2008 George Orwell and the STATE GOVERNMENT FAMILIARISATION PROGRAMME ; ONE of the problems for long-term governments is that the past inevitably catches up with them. Hawker pops up in the spin doctors segment on Sally's show about once a month - If you’re in government – any sort of government – there are two things you could be doing: selling your programs or defending them. All of these are possible sources of juicy stories which can stop promising careers in their tracks.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

1,007 delegates gathered at Parliament House in Canberra this weekend for the Australia 2020 Summit How good would it be if we were our imagined selves and not our real selves? Australia's 2020 Summit

View from the floor: Vision for the future Republic, treaty and tax reform top the list
RADICAL tax reform, a push for a republic by 2010, a new bill of rights and a treaty between black and white Australia were among a swag of ideas flung onto the national agenda at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's historic 2020 Summit yesterday.

Nation building recommendations floated by the 1000 delegates who gathered at Parliament House in Canberra included:
A move towards a republic within two years, as flagged by Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus. Delegates in the governance group originally agreed to a 12-year target but, when Mr Debus challenged them to commit to a shorter time frame, he was cheered and clapped. "I want us to say that we will proceed to a republic by 2010," Mr Debus said. Summiteers in the stream voted three to one to endorse the ambitious target.
Higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol and a "fat tax" on junk food, to help fund more preventative health programs.

Strengthening Communities; [Fewer homes were built in NSW last year than any year since records began in the mid 1980s, figures from the Bureau of Statistics show Buyers scarce despite house shortages; Kevin Rudd's world tour might be over, but his fingerprints were everywhere this week Talking about a Kevolution ]
• · If Rudd takes just one of these observations to heart, this book will have been worthwhile Dear Mr Rudd;Olympic torch sizzles in Australia: Kevin Rudd has little option other than to go to the Olympics in Beijing or risk offending China. Protests will make China reluctant to lose face
• · A SYDNEY businessman is taking legal action after he was allegedly knocked unconscious three times by police and transit officers at Town Hall station. Mark Girvan - Brother of British lord sues over Sydney station assault; Google defies sceptics with 30% profit rise - Public trains The thrill of risking explicit exposure makes the naughty business wickedly arousing
• · · The State Government's promised power privatisation is hotting up with a Labor Party branch pushing to have Premier Morris Iemma and Treasurer Michael Costa kicked out of the party Move to sack Iemma, Costa on power sale; John Pilger gathers journalism's revelations that have shaken the world While everyday reportage tells us the who, what, when and where of events, it usually fails to chart the deeper, less accessible level that lies below - the how and why

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Time to head for the Blue Mountains and enjoy conversation with Dr Cope who is aware of the Depression we had to have ...

GEORGE Soros, billionaire, philanthropist and hedge fund legend, has characterised today's situation in global markets as the most severe since the Great Depression It is like Great Recession or Black Dog

Soros of Opes Best and Worst of Times
Soeey but Soros says house prices in the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere would continue to come under severe pressure. George Soros gives his ten cents’ worth on the global credit crisis and the paradigm shift needed to escape it. There is something rotten in the state of the markets

Even so, he noted, the financial crisis is beginning to have serious effects on the real economy, adding: The extent of that is not, in my opinion, yet fully recognised. All told, investors are facing the “worst financial crisis of our lifetime”, Mr Soros said. When some men speak the world listens. Mega entrepreneur and socially conscious George Soros just happen to be one such man.
The City of London faces a severe recession and the UK economy is set to follow the US into a sharp downturn, according to a gloomy prognosis from the billionaire financier George Soros.
Regulators have abandoned their duty by letting markets regulate themselves. It's because a market fundamentalist ideology has come to dominate the behaviour of market participants and market regulators over the past 25 years ... and the idea that markets are best left to their own devices became policy.
I have operated a hedge fund myself, said Mr Soros, whose famous bet against the British pound earned his Quantum Fund $US1 billion in 1992. I have never used the kind of leverage others have employed and some of them have not proven to be sustainable. In that regard, Mr Soros said he believed the amount of leverage that hedge funds and other players are using needed to be regulated. But, he said, that regulation should be done through the banks.

• The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means Soros: It's like the Great Depression ; [The government is apparently guilty of trying to ensnare first time-buyers into negative equity by offering the banks the chance to swap their mortgage backed securities for government backed bonds. Or at least so says Alice Miles in today's Falling house prices are not a cause for alarm ; George Soros has made doom-and-gloom predictions for the U.S. economy – again. Naturally, it resulted in the New York Times dubbing him a prophet. NY Times Praises Soros as 'Prophet']
• · As if Australia’s financial regulators weren’t damaged enough, now we’ve Mick Gatto brazenly parading for the media as an alternative debt collector for creditors - This whole fiasco is extraordinarily damaging for the reputation of our financial markets. Bring on the Royal Commission - BURLY stand-over men, missing millions, a Maserati, forfeited passports and an international money hunt … the saga of Opes Prime is a plot writer's dream. John Khoury THE plot thickened further yesterday in the Opes Prime scandal ; About a dozen top-of-the-range Italian sport cars have been seized by the receivers of a company linked to the failed stockbroking firm Opes Prime in a quest to track down tens of millions of dollars for their main lender. In an operation that straddled Singapore and Australia, 10 to 12 of the luxury cars, thought to be Maseratis and Ferraris, were claimed by a team of investigators from Deloitte Corporate Reorganisation Deloitte Corporate Reorganisation.; Royal Stock THIS is the man underworld figure Mick Gatto probably wants to talk to in Singapore about the Opes Prime collapse. Investigators know that hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and shares were routed through a company registered in the British Virgin Islands but which operates from Singapore. That company, Riqueza BVI, is wholly owned by Jay Moghe, a former Opes employee who claims he had no control over the money flows. Mr Gatto wants to have words with Mr Moghe who claims to have already disclosed all he knows. Trying to untangle a perplexing plott
• · The investigation into the collapse of stockbroking firm Opes Prime has widened to include allegations that directors may have used a tax-haven registered company to support company share prices, thereby avoiding margin calls on their own accounts. Investigators have begun puffing apart thousands of transactions involving the Opes Prime directors private investment companies, Leveraged Capital and Hawkswood Investments, as well as a mysterious British Virgin Islands-domiciled company Riqueza, which was seized yesterday by administrators. Tax Virgins; Google and so many links to OOPS and Opes
• · · John Lindholm from corporate recovery specialist Ferrier Hodgson named British Virgin Island holding company Riqueza as a "linchpin" in investigations of the collapsed stockbroking company. Opes Prime was established in 2004, with three principals running the show: Laurie Emini, a financier who once worked for the ANZ Bank; Julian Smith, a stockbroker who started out in Britain; and Anthony Blumberg, who had worked in banking and finance for a number of big accountancy firms. Laurie Emini ; MELBOURNE'S underbelly surfaced in the foyer of Singapore's five-star Shangri-La Hotel yesterday, with Mick Gatto and two associates holding court in the lobby as several local "friends" kept unwanted guests at bay. Shangri-La Hotel
• · · · In this article you’ll get tips on how to make a strong first impression and answer interview questions, and you’ll learn the verbal and nonverbal communications you should employ and avoid so that you can ace the interview How to ace an executive level job interview ; Discerning what your prospective boss wants from you is a survival skill everyone should have, particularly in IT, where duties, responsibilities and expectations are frequently underdefined or unarticulated. What will your new boss really want?,
• · · · · The internet “was built without a way to know who and what you are connecting to”. That is bad enough in the private sector, where the only thing at stake is money. For dealing with government, it is potentially catastrophic. Technology can - just about - tell how an internet user got online. It can check the authenticity of passwords and logins, and validate smart cards or biometric checks. But such data, even if encrypted, can be stolen, borrowed, guessed or intercepted. Financial institutions and their customers are routinely defrauded by cybergangsters, and there is little legal basis for dealing with cybercrime. Identities are valuable and so are stolen - cybercriminals have been targeting individual internet users with spyware and phishing. But the huge databases held by governments would be a much bigger prize. Super Identity parade ; Swonk called it the "biggest inequality since the Great Depression. Not only are the rich getting richer, there are more of them, and those who are rich . Super bubble

Friday, April 04, 2008

I had already experienced the week from heaven so I was in good spirits for reading the draft of a new memoirs. Adam Shepard's SCRATCH BEGINNINGS, originally self-published and said to have sold 10,000 copies, in which the author, in a sort of "anti-NICKEL AND DIMED" experiment to see if the American Dream is still alive, with no concrete plan and nothing but $25 and a backpack, gets off a train in Charleston, SC, and spends 70 days in a homeless shelter, with the goal of having $2,500 and a place to live by the end of a year … NOT EATING OUT IN NEW YORK: A Year of Cooking at Home

Can we change the heart of politics? SOMETHING MISSING: Leaker hunt riles Speaker
On April Fools Day - D.D. McNicoll writes INDEPENDENT Speaker of the NSW Parliament Richard Torbay is on the warpath over the Iemma Government's latest clumsy foray into information control.

Torbay was gobsmacked when he learned late last week that Parliament House closed-circuit television footage had been handed over to Treasury officials without his consent. Treasury was on the trail of a leak, following a story in The Australian last Thursday by the paper's NSW political reporter, Imre Salusinszky. The story revealed there was only $16.5billion available for transport infrastructure spending between now and 2021, $12.5 billion of which has already been committed to a metro rail system for outer northwest Sydney. Salusinszky's yarn included comments from a seminar for Treasury bigwigs held in a Parliament House theatrette last Wednesday. NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell is understood to share Torbay's concern about the precedent of using security footage to spy on public servants and journalists as they go about their business.
THE NSW parliament may have breached state and federal privacy laws by allowing its CCTV security footage to be used by Treasury officials chasing a media leak, according to a legal expert. NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell told parliament yesterday: "Clearly this issue goes to the matter of freedom of the press, but also goes to the freedom of members of parliament. Are we now going to have CCTV footage released to the Government so that they can see who's coming to visit us?
In a statement yesterday, NSW parliamentary press gallery president Simon Benson said the use of CCTV footage to trace the source of a media story was unprecedented in the history of this parliament and constitutes an unacceptable development

Footage of truth; [Trolleys of Truth]
• · Commonwealth lobbyists will have to be registered for the first time in Australian history, publicly revealing all their clients, or they will be denied access to the Rudd Government. Tough new rules for lobbyists ; John Faulkner is Kevin Rudd's minister for integrity. He has been given the task of cracking down on influence peddling - money politics. Power and dirty, sexy money
• · Chairman Russell Tate said Hawker Britton was a good fit for STW Communications Group - Spin doctors keep spinning Bruce Hawker - the managing director of the firm, was once chief of staff to former NSW premier Bob Carr. The political donations disclosure regime may be a joke, but influential Labor players in Canberra are not laughing today. That's because Bruce Hawker, widely seen as the capital's go-to persuader and a key player in the Rudd government's elite, has got himself and his party in an awkward spot. Oops! Hawker embarrasses Labor ; In Canberra's corridors there is a scramble to get in step with the Rudd Government. Katharine Murphy reports on the high-stakes contest for political influence Lobbyists and the new balance of power; Many people and organisations want the attention of the Rudd Government. They all have messages that they want to whisper in its collective ear. Tips for Rudd's ear in a lobby
• · · WHEN police, lawyers, journalists and witnesses crammed into Brisbane District Court No.29 in late July 1987, no one knew what was to come. - FAMED corruption buster Tony Fitzgerald, QC, is heading a probe into the Melbourne arm of the Australian Tax Office after concerns over links between one of its senior investigators and underworld figure Mick Gatto. Players in a vast drama ; AN OLD Victoria Police detective training manual implores fledgling officers to develop contacts across all walks of life, including those they seek to arrest. A sound knowledge of local criminals can be acquired over a period of time. Always take the opportunity of conversing with local criminals when you see them. In the course of simple conversation, valuable information often slips out The manual says But in the modern world of law enforcement and government agencies — where the process is just as important as the result — his associations with influential underworld figures proved problematic for the "old school" ex-detective Old school
• · · · There are some areas of human life that should not be trusted to the market. Childcare is one. Hard headed corporations; Why was the public service so ineffectual in the face of an aggressively ideological Howard government?Learning from the past
• · · · · Mitch McCrimmon, Ivey Business Journal, March-April 2008, 4p. It may be like asking a football coach to remain quiet on the sidelines, but today's business leader needs to ask questions and listen. How to tame the alpha male leader ; William Malek & Venkat Narayanan, Ivey Business Journal, March-April 2008, 6p. This article describes why developing clarity around outcomes is fundamental to effective strategic planning/execution and decision making. Outcomes can be at four levels: organisation, portfolio, project and at the individual level. Why smooth execution depends on clear outcomes
• · · · · · Formulating strategy is a difficult task. Making strategy work - executing or implementing it throughout the organisation is even more difficult. Making strategy work: overcoming obstacles to effective execution ; Many managers indicate that their organisations are very good at starting projects, but not so good at finishing them. It may be tough to do, but maintaining priorities rather than shifting them at will is the way to ensure that projects will get completed. The project management paradox: achieving more by doing less