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.

“(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.


p>But cap-and-trade is just a clumsy tax. As <a href=”” 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

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