Monthly Archives: March 2009

Bans on the parallel import of books

Geoff Bezos and the Kindle

My sub­mis­sion to the Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty Com­mis­sion on their Draft Dis­cus­sion paper on Par­al­lel Impor­ta­tion of Books.

Dear Com­mis­sion­ers— Your assess­ment (Dis­cus­sion Draft, ” Restric­tions on the Par­al­lel Impor­ta­tion of Books”) eval­u­ates the cost of the Par­al­lel Import Restric­tions (PIRs) by con­sid­er­ing their impacts on the authors, pub­lish­ers and con­sumers of ‘trade books’; that is print­ed books. But you do not con­sid­er the costs that the PIRs may impose on the con­sumers of elec­tron­ic books.

Recommendations
”(1) I urge you, in your final report, to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the restric­tion on access to elec­tron­ic edi­tions of books (specif­i­cal­ly, the ‘front list’ books that are avail­able in the US as Kin­dle books) is a cost imposed on Aus­tralian con­sumers by the PIRs.

(2) I urge you to rec­om­mend that the PIRs be abol­ished and that, if use­ful (I doubt it), the Gov­ern­ment should increase the sub­si­dies to ‘cul­ture’ by direct­ly com­pen­sat­ing Aus­tralian authors of ‘cul­tur­al’ works for the loss of the PIRs. They should not sub­si­dize the pub­lish­ers. Nor need they sub­si­dize for­eign authors now ben­e­fit­ing from our PIRs (there’s noth­ing in the nation­al treat­ment oblig­a­tions of the AUSFTA that requires us to sub­si­dize US authors).”

Volcanic explosion in Alaska

The thou­sands of tonnes of ash, dust and gasses that vol­canos spew into the atmos­phere are often a cause of short-run glob­al cool­ing. The explo­sive erup­tion of Mt Redoubt, a large vol­cano in Alas­ka, in the past 24 hours seems bound to affect the north­ern hemi­sphere cli­mate. The image (click) shows the ash plume shoot­ing into the upper atmos­phere.

Ash plume from Mt Reboubt explosion seen shooting into the stratosphere

Guessing game

This is like the Sesame Street game, right? Two of the words in this list (key­words from an item in the New York­er) don’t belong… or do they?

Bernie Mad­off; Lob­sters; Rein­car­na­tion; Attacks; Fraud; Ponzi Schemes; Invest­ments” Extract from The New York­er

Cap-and-trade to fund Obama’s tax cuts

This seems to be a plan to make the work­ers pay for the pro­posed tax cuts for the mid­dle-class.

The White House planned to finance the tax cuts with rev­enues from its pro­posed cap-and-trade scheme to reg­u­late car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, but nei­ther the House nor Sen­ate bud­get com­mit­tees are plan­ning to include those mea­sures in their leg­is­la­tion.

In his press con­fer­ence on Tues­day evening, Mr Oba­ma said he remained com­mit­ted to tack­ling cli­mate change through cap-and-trade, despite con­cern in Con­gress that lim­its on CO2 emis­sions could under­mine eco­nom­ic recov­ery by increas­ing ener­gy costs.

The pres­i­dent said he was pre­pared to ‘lis­ten’ if Con­gress had alter­na­tive ideas for fund­ing tax cuts.” Extract from Finan­cial Times

I don’t under­stand how this plan fits with Obama’s promis­es to ‘work­ing fam­i­lies’. The pre­miss seems to be that ‘cap-and-trade’ con­trols will be a wind­fall that can be applied to mid­dle-class tax rebates.

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p>But cap-and-trade is just a clum­sy tax. As <a href=“http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/buffett-cap-and-trade-is-a-regressive-tax/” title=“Buffett: Cap-and-Trade Is a

Public Policy and the Payments System

An impor­tant speech last night by the Reserve Bank gov­er­nor Glenn Stevens argu­ing the need for more inter­ven­tion in the pri­vate pay­ments system—specifically the EFTPOS and ATM systems—to guide and accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment of bet­ter tech­nolo­gies and stan­dards by the com­pet­ing Aus­tralian banks.

An uptick in US demand

Hmm.. too ear­ly to be due to Obama’s stim­u­lus.

The 3.4 per­cent increase [in demand for durable goods], the biggest gain in more than a year and the first in sev­en months, fol­lowed a 7.3 per­cent decrease in Jan­u­ary that was larg­er than pre­vi­ous­ly esti­mat­ed, the Com­merce Depart­ment said today in Wash­ing­ton. Exclud­ing trans­porta­tion equip­ment, orders gained 3.9 per­cent, the most since August 2005.” Extract from Bloomberg.com

Lu Kewen given his orders?

How could a meet­ing, at the PM’s offi­cial res­i­dence, with a top Chi­nese polit­buro mem­ber be ‘pri­vate’? This is a bizarre state­ment!

[A] spokes­woman for Mr Rudd told The Aus­tralian: ‘It was a pri­vate meet­ing between the two. It is not the Prime Min­is­ter of Australia’s role to put out a press release announc­ing what every vis­it­ing politi­cian is doing.’” Extract from The Aus­tralian