Unemployment

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

Shocking state of suicide

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The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists the top 10 categories of causes of death in America in 2015 as above. Heart disease was the highest cause leading to over 633,800 deaths. Cancer was slightly under 600,000. Respiratory disease came in 3rd at 155,000. Homicide, while not listed in the Top 10, was around 14,000. Total drug related deaths were around 50,000, equivalent to deaths from car accidents and murder combined. Death from heroin and illicit opioid overdoses exceeded 20,000.

F4BB85AF-601B-44CD-8232-83590DB4455E.jpegSadly suicides in the US totaled a shocking 44,193 in 2015, most prevalent in younger age groups. Over the last 15 years we can see that suicides per head of US population has continued to climb.

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In 15 years, the incidence of female suicides has climbed 45% per head of population. While male suicide outnumbers female suicides per head of population by almost 4x the relative increase in 15 years has been 16.3%. In aggregate total suicides have grown 20.4%, an awful statistic. Half of the suicides were the result of self inflicted gunshot wounds. 1/3rd of women tended to commit suicide by taking poison versus 10% by males.

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The detrimental economic impacts are also quite heavy, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicides cost around $51bn annually while homicide is around $26bn.

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Perhaps the most alarming part of the NIMH study was the 1.1mn people that made proper attempts to take their own life. Almost 10mn contemplated it.

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In Australia, suicide rates are also at a decade high of 12.6 people per 100,000 or almost identical to those rates in the US. 3,000 took their life in 2015. According to Beyondblue 3 million Australians suffer from anxiety or depression.

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The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has increased dramatically over the last 30 years – the male rate has increased by 82% in this time. Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.

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Since 2007, suicides in the UK have started to mildly trend back upwards from 10,8/100,000 to 10.9.

China accounts for 26% of the world’s suicides. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country saw c.500 by women per day taking their own lives in 2009 or around 183,000 a year. At that rate some 1.5 million Chinese women have taken their own lives in the past eight years.

Japan is approximately down to 19.5 suicides per 100,000 but South Korea remains persistently high at 28.5.

It is a point worth reflecting on. There have been six people from my own high school year who have taken their own life. Seemingly happy and healthy on the outside, matters have taken a turn that not even friends could have detected until it is too late.

The most common symptoms that lead to suicide are due to depression or anxiety onset by

-substance abuse
-incarceration
-family history of suicide
-poor job security or low levels of job satisfaction
-financial insecurity
-history of being abused or witnessing continuous abuse
-being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as cancer or HIV
-being socially isolated or a victim of bullying
-being exposed to suicidal behavior

Worsening economic conditions are undoubtedly pushing more people toward suicide. Greece, which does not have a high suicide rate (8.8) compared to other EU countries (average of 11.6 people per 100,000), saw tough financial austerity measures leading to a 35% jump in suicide rates in a little less than 2 years, not dissimilar to Russia between 1989-1994. Each 1 percentage point rise of unemployment rates in men aged 20 to 59 was associated with a 0.19/100,000 population rise in suicide. Spain saw 20% higher suicides in 2015 vs 2008.

This is the mark of suicide prevention. Note that most countries have suicide prevention hotlines.

America

Australia

UK

Help is at hand.

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When the “best” of today is far worse than the worst of the worst in 70 years

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The St Louis Fed records that in the last 70 years, the average time one is in a state of unemployment (i.e. duration) in America is now 25 weeks (6 months). Assuming that we are in the sweet spot of a tight labour market we can see clearly that this  post-GFC ‘recovery’ at its best is 25% worse than the worst we have seen over seven decades of post recession recoveries which has barely nudged over 20 weeks. Looking at CEO Bullard’s remarks in a presentation back in April 2016, titled ‘Slow normalization or no normalization?’ that these are extraordinary times.

US unemployed since 1948 – trend is our friend?

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This is a chart of unemployed persons in the US since 1948 published by the St Louis Federal Reserve. The shaded sections denote recessions. Interesting to note that the we are skirting the red line at present, one that has seldom been breached in 70 years. Will history be bunk or will the trend confirm economic slowdown? An eerie looking chart.

A letter from the owner to Steelers fans – yeah, that’ll fix it

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How stupid does the owner take his fans for? Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II sent a letter to fans (below) which sought to explain the team’s actions. Anyone fan with half a brain would look at this letter, the actions of the coach pillorying the war veteran Alejandro Villanueva for standing alone and the forced apology as nothing short of another slap in the face. None of the message is consistent. If there was a pre-meditated plan to stay in the locker room for the anthem they could have blissfully tweeted the action on social media beforehand if indeed they thought their fans would buy it. That they didn’t smacks of the contempt they have and this insincere apology only proves it. What a joke. No wonder the ratings keep plummeting and the fans keep burning their memorabilia. Never come between an American and their patriotism.

To Steelers Nation:

I want to reach out to you, the members of Steelers Nation, based on what I believe is a misperception about our players’ intentions in not taking the field for the National Anthem in Chicago. The intentions of Steelers players were to stay out of the business of making political statements by not taking the field. Unfortunately, that was interpreted as a boycott of the anthem – which was never our players’ intention.

Our players come from many different backgrounds and are united by what it means to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are active in their communities and participate regularly in events designed to give back to those communities. And they appreciate the support they get from Steelers fans around the country and here at home.

I also know that our players have tremendous respect for the members of our military services, including their teammate Alejandro Villanueva. There was never any desire on the part of our players to show disrespect for our service members.

Yesterday, I received an email from a Steelers fan who said tell the players to just play football. That is exactly what they wanted to do. They wanted their sole focus to be on playing the game, while also coming together as a unified team.

The main thing we can do is learn from this and strive to come together remaining unified as a football team. I believe we are capable of accomplishing this with the support of our fans.

Steelers Nation is made up of the best fans in the National Football League. We appreciate your continued support of our players, coaches and staff.

Sincerely,

Art Rooney, II

 

59yo COO sues Fujifilm Australia for ageism

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The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that one of Fuji Film Australia’s executives, COO David Marshall is suing for ageism. There is a sense of irony in that the Chairman of Fujifilm Japan is 78. The AFR reports,

At a dinner at Melbourne’s Rococo restaurant in 2015, former Fujifilm CEO Kevin Masuda allegedly stood up and pointed at Mr Marshall, laughingly saying “Dave is too old” in front of senior clients…During 2017, Mr Koshimizu repeatedly referred to himself in front of Mr Marshall as “old, like past 60, retirement age” and allegedly told him Fujifilm “wants you to find the next Mr Marshall” and it was looking for a “young, strong” team.’We need a younger person’

On May 18, during a dinner at Palace Hotel in Tokyo, the chairman Mr Koshimizu told Mr Marshall “Dave, you and I are old too. We need a younger person to make strong as a general manager.”

Retirement is a hot issue in Japan. Corporates are retiring expensive workers (who are often paid based on seniority) and reemploying them as ‘advisors’ (pp.15-24) on relatively paltry sums of $1,000/mth. While it is not unusual here, it would be rather strange if Fujifilm in Australia were to make such a rookie mistake in trying to flip a worker approaching 60. In 1984 85% of male employees were full time vs 62% odd today. It isn’t surprising to see the most active demographic seeking work aren’t young uni grads but the elderly struggling to make ends meet.

 

Deliberately taking taxpayers from the 1st world to the 3rd

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The green madness in Australia continues apace. Virtue signaling governments whose efforts are nothing more than expensive tokenism at best have led the Australian energy market regulator to warn of blackouts in Victoria during the coming summer. In what world would anyone logically trade perfectly reliable electricity for renewables which have a track record of failure in neighboring South Australia? On even the most pessimistic warming scenarios Australia’s renewable efforts will have a 0.00014 degree impact in 100 years. So many billions frittered away for absolutely no gain. Industries made deliberately less competitive because their electricity prices have doubled in a decade despite being a country totally rich in raw materials to make us one of the most efficient. What is worse is that South Australia which is 40% renewable has had to blow another $600mn of taxpayer funds on back up power. Initially it will be diesel generators that burn 80,000 litres per hour until a gas plant can be built. Despite the massive failure, the Premier of SA talks it up as though he is noble. At what cost? The highest electricity prices in the world, the highest unemployment rate in Australia and the slowest growth. Surely a legacy worth protecting.