Warning signs

The Federal Labor Government in Australia appears on track to challenge the Whitlam government of the early 1970s as Australia’s worst ever. Socially and economically the signs are bad.

Here’s how current Treasurer Chalmers thinks:

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Every malaise Chalmers sees has been caused by Government intervention in the past. His solution? More Government intervention.

Australian energy production by fuel mix

For the 3 months to 25 January 2023, the Australian energy market operator reports the following supply sources.

Source: aemo.com.au

These three months are typically the best for sunshine and reasonable winds. Yet solar and wind generation are contributing only 20% of the country’s needs.

It seems to me that the only viable way to get the penetration of renewables up will be to shut down all coal and gas production. Then renewables would be close to 100%. An inconvenient side effect would be that we would have only a quarter of the energy that we have today.

Inflation in Australia

The latest data on consumer prices in Australia was released today by the ABS. It was for the December 2022 quarter. By itself, changes in the CPI for a prior quarter do not give any information about what is likely for the current or future quarters. Still, many commentators were out in force today predicting this or that about future prices. Alan Kohler, once but no longer respected journalist, said in July 2022 that inflation had peaked. He said it would reduce in September 2022 and again in December 2022. He was wrong.

The CPI is not an indicator of inflation. It is a symptom. It is not leading, it is lagging. Remember, when the word inflation was coined, it meant an increase in the money supply. Rising prices were always the result and gradually usage changed so that inflation came to mean rising prices, in common parlance.

I’ll have more to say in the next week or so about future inflation after the statistics for the December quarter’s producers’ prices and the money supply are released.

Day D

In June 1944, the allied forces of UK, US, Canada, NZ and Australia launched what what was then, and remains, the largest most grave and probably most risky seaborne invasion of a foreign continent. D day.

The Nazi atrocity was to be confronted. Eventually, successfully. Europe would be liberated.

In June 2023, I’m crossing from Dunkirk, France to Dover, England. 79 years later and in the wrong direction, but over the same stretch of water.

I will remember them.

Gratitude

I was terrified of my year 11 maths (2) teacher. Maths (2) was ‘applied’ in the sense of practical trigonometry. Maths 1 was pure, in the sense of abstraction. You know, early aspects of Newton’s calculus. That teacher was amiable. Newton, he scoffed, ‘very vague; let’s not fret overly.’

Whereas, Mrs Clayton in Maths 2 wanted trigonometric concepts applied to real life 19th century problems. Then and there. In the late 20th century. And you would be detained after class if not displaying sufficient enthusiasm for the topic.

She terrified all the boys, not just me. Being dragged up to the front of class at a lesson beginning for an ‘impromptu test’ scarred many of us.

But I am now grateful to Mrs Clayton. She taught us trig, no doubt about it. I still remember her insistence, her tests and public shaming. We got it in the end.

I use that knowledge today. It is fundamental to navigation. I use it all the time when sailing. I’m very grateful, Mrs Clayton.

The deafening silence

Excess mortality. An actuarial phrase, if ever you wanted one. It means the number of people dying in excess of what would have happened if prior mortality trends had continued.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released its latest excess mortality report. For the nine months to 30 September 2022, the number of deaths relative to the recent typical time periods was 16% more than normal. That is to say, there were 19,986 more deaths than typical for that 9 month period, based on population and mortality trends of recent times.

19,986 is quite surgically precise when it comes to national statistics. Let’s round it to 20,000. Gross it up from 9 months to 12: around 26,000 deaths more than usual per year.

That sounds like a lot. I would imagine that the Australian media, the scientific community, the medical profession, the undertakers’ associations, the municipal councils associations (graveyard plots planning division), the legal profession and the actuarial profession would all be investigating or calling loudly for investigations. Finally, I would expect the politicians to be demanding answers – what is going on?

I haven’t heard any such calls.

The doddering, the unhinged, the Messiahs and the frantically busy hotel manager at the WEF

The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland has just wound up its 2023 meeting. What a joy it is to behold the WEF meetings. Because it is when the participants believe themselves to be among friends that they say what they really think, thus exposing themselves to scrutiny. In the eyes of many, Klaus Schwab, the founder of the WEF, is evil personified.

Klaus Schwab

I disagree. I think he is a doddering old fool. I think he is incapable of achieving anything other than an expensive gabfest each year.

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