Monthly Archives: December 2008

Mandarin or doublespeak?

greatHelmsman.jpgOK. Here’s a lit­tle Christ­mas Quiz. Not hard, I promise

First, read this inspir­ing quote from our Great Helms­man as he rous­es the unions with some hearty advice and a love­ly big cheque for $180m of your mon­ey. He’s giv­ing the mon­ey to them because… well, it’s a Great Aus­tralian Tra­di­tion to give big chunks of mon­ey to the motor vehi­cle indus­try when they ask for it and, after all, it’s only a tiny bit of the $6 bil­lion prezzie he promised them a few weeks ago.

‘In the year ahead, there will be some very tough times,’ Mr Rudd said at the com­pa­ny announce­ment, flanked by thou­sands of auto-indus­try work­ers and their fam­i­lies. ‘It will be hard. There will be some cru­el times. And we are in many respects in unchart­ed waters. But if we stick togeth­er and gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to pro­vide lead­er­ship in secur­ing the nation’s future, then we will see Aus­tralia through.’  extract from: The Aus­tralian

Now, here’s the ques­tion: When the Prime Min­is­ter warns the boys at Gen­er­al Motors of ‘tough times’ ahead, do you think he means theirs or yours? (Hint: did you get $6 bil­lion for Xmas?)

For bonus points: The Age news­pa­per says that it’s ‘sub­sti­tut­ing dog­ma for real­i­ty’ to crit­i­cize these sub­si­dies because there’s every rea­son to think that they’ll put the indus­try back on it’s feet and we won’t be ‘locked-in’ to prop­ping up Gen­er­al Motors. Ques­tion: Does The Age believe in the tooth-fairy? Or have they for­got­ten that we’ve been prop­ping up this indus­try with direct sub­si­dies, tax sub­si­dies, high tar­iffs, con­ces­sion­al imports, import quo­tas and import bans since 1948?

A better way ahead for WTO

As we have argued before, gov­ern­ments need to look for oth­er options such as small­er, more man­age­able stand­alone mul­ti­lat­er­al deals.”  extract from: FT Edi­to­r­i­al — The bro­ken promise of Doha

A ‘small­er, stand-alone’ deal is almost cer­tain to lead to a pluri­lat­er­al agree­ment among a sub-set of WTO’s 153 mem­bers because it will prob­a­bly not offer suf­fi­cient gain to all of them. But that’s OK in my view. It’s still a prospec­tive way ahead.

EC cooling on Global Warming?

Each of the 35,000 solar jobs in Ger­many, for instance, is sub­si­dized to the tune of €130,000. Accord­ing to esti­mates by the Rhine-West­phalia Insti­tute for Eco­nom­ic Research, green sub­si­dies will cost Ger­man elec­tric­i­ty con­sumers near­ly €27 bil­lion in the next two years.”  extract from: Ben­ny Peis­er in the WSJ

Emission controls not warranted by facts

click for larger imageSome envi­ron­men­tal­ists (and The Age news­pa­per) are pre­dictably cry­ing foul at Kevin Rudd’s rel­a­tive­ly mod­est White Paper option of up to 25% or 35% cuts from the esti­mat­ed busi­ness as usu­al lev­el of Aus­tralian GHG emis­sions in 2020. Nev­er­the­less, the pro­posed ETS con­forms to the government’s threat to “reform and trans­form our econ­o­my” (Cli­mate Min­is­ter, Pen­ny Wong), by effec­tive­ly chok­ing it just when it is run­ning out of puff

Rug-man on climate haircut


On Thurs­day the Ital­ian pre­mier had repeat­ed a threat to veto the pack­age if Italy’s demands were not met, and said in a frank exchange with jour­nal­ists that he thought it was “absurd” to be talk­ing about car­bon emis­sions in the face of the more press­ing finan­cial cri­sis. “It’s like some­one with pneu­mo­nia think­ing about hav­ing a hair­do,” he said.”  (extract from ANSA)

Aus exports at current prices

click for larger image

Speak­ing of unsus­tain­able trends …

A Pisgah sight of the Doha deal

(Update: the Min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing will not take place) Ahead of a like­ly attempt by WTO Min­siters to spy the promised land before the year is out In one last attempt to wrest con­sen­sus from growl­ing dis­cord, the (retir­ing) Chair of the WTO Agri­cul­ture Nego­ti­a­tions has released anoth­er ver­sion of his 120-page ‘modal­i­ties’ paper (.pdf, about 1mb) for the pro­posed Doha Round agree­ment on Agri­cul­ture. The Chair of the NAMA group has simul­ta­ne­ous­ly released a new text on non-agri­cul­tur­al mar­ket access nego­ti­a­tions.

Pre­dictably, the agri­cul­ture text con­tains new regres­sions—that is, new means of increas­ing, rather than ‘sub­stan­tial­ly reduc­ing’ protection—that have been graft­ed to the pro­pos­als by an ugly sort of franken­stein surgery. Will the mon­ster rise from the table at Min­is­ters’ com­mand? I hope not; I would pre­fer anoth­er route to the com­ple­tion of Doha.

This is Ambas­sador Craw­ford Falconer’s last attempt to lead WTO mem­bers out of the wilder­ness. He has done his best with an impos­si­ble brief: to make an agree­ment among gov­ern­ments that don’t agree.

“Every­thing is con­di­tion­al in the deep­est sense in any case. But the changes made at this time now rep­re­sent a best esti­mate of where there is addi­tion­al good rea­son to believe there would prove to be con­sen­sus if every­thing was to come togeth­er as a modal­i­ties pack­age.” (extract from Craw­ford Falconer’s press release)

A short list of the changes (I can’t call them high­lights) I’ve noticed in the agri­cul­ture text fol­lows