Tag Archives: exchange rate

“Australian Dollar Is Not A Sacred Cow”

9 May

Barnaby Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce droving a mob of cattle west of Longreach, Queensland. Photo: Peter Rae

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce droving a mob of cattle west of Longreach, Queensland. Photo: Peter Rae

Government has left cattle industry out in the cold

Fred Pascoe’s family goes back a fair way in the Gulf, possibly about 40,000 years.

His family didn’t meet a “whitefella” until 1904. That was his great-great grandfather, “Kangaroo”. In Fred’s words a “lusty” fellow who had seven wives. Fred jokes with a smirk that unfortunately that part of the family genes did not flow down.

Fred’s great-grandfather started working the cattle that have been a fixture of the Gulf ever since. His love of the country was too strong for the city. He died six days after moving to town in retirement.

Now Fred manages his own cattle property. Cattle have given Fred and his family a additional connection to his country. Cattle are now part of their culture.

Cattle are part of the nation’s culture too. The economy of the north depends on cattle. The truck drivers depend on them, the stock and station agents depend on them and even the local show and rodeo would not exist without them.

That’s what makes the government’s bungling of the live cattle saga a few years ago so galling. It was an attack on a culture. A culture that has been built up over more than 100 years, and now threatened by a combination of government incompetence, the roaring of money printing presses in other countries and the failure of monsoonal rains.

We can’t do much about that rain. I will leave that one to the local graziers and their God. We can, however, stop making bad policy decisions and start a debate about the high Australian dollar.

When we shut down the live cattle trade, we affect the food supply to a nation of more than 250 million people next door. Because of the undisputed barbaric acts of a small number of people in a very large industry we impugned an entire nation’s culture. The message was implicit but clear: we don’t trust you enough to provide you with food anymore.

Our government engaged in a prejudicial policy condemning the many based on the actions of a few. Since then the Government has made little attempt to support our own domestic cattle industry or make amends with our largest neighbour.

Because governments caused these problems, there is a moral obligation on them to help solve these problems. On Tuesday, I attended a beef crisis forum in Richmond. In a town of only 500 people in the Gulf, a crowd of 500 turned up, in a mood, not to vent frustrations, but to propose solutions and to look for leadership.

One of those solutions was for the government to purchase 100,000 head of cattle to put an immediate floor price in the market. Because the live cattle trade fiasco has dropped demand by about 300,000 head of cattle a year, beef prices are plummeting. In Longreach, cattle sold for $20 per head last week. That’s the equivalent of buying your scotch fillet for 10 ¢ a kilogram.

But the price of the dollar means our beef is still expensive to those overseas. More than 30 foreign central banks now hold Australian dollars, along with Google, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway.

The Botswana central bank is not diversifying into the Australian dollar because they share our love of a sunburnt country and wide, open plains, but because we are becoming a “safe haven” currency. Our exporters are paying their insurance policy.

Our terms of trade have fallen by 15 per cent, and economic growth is being downgraded. Still, our dollar remains relatively high.

The Reserve Bank recognised this on Tuesday by cutting interest rates, in part aimed at the high dollar. The Australian dollar is not a sacred cow.

The RBA has clearly announced that its monetary policy is now looking to target the dollar, and we have intervened directly in foreign exchange markets on 35 separate times in the past 24 years, including eight times since 1997.

Other nations are not as restrained as we are. The United States is now delivering quantitative easing at a rate of $85 billion a month. The Swiss have imposed a ceiling on their currency, and the new Shinzo Abe government in Japan is actively adopting policies to devalue its currency, by 20 per cent since last December.

Meanwhile, we are keeping our innocence and making life near impossible for those who we are relying on to figure ourselves out of our current financial mess. What’s the good of being pure, if you end up broke?

Regular readers know that I have written on this topic of the over-valued Australian dollar (due incoming “hot money” from other, currency-depreciating nations) since late 2011 –

Australia’s Debt Dreamtime

Bob’s No Mad Katter On RBA “Independence”

The Single Biggest Reason Why I Will Vote For Bob Katter’s Australian Party

Queenslander! This Is Why You Are A Complete Idiot If You Don’t Vote KAP Today

It’s wonderful – if all too belated – to finally see a politician from one of the so-called “major” parties speaking truthfully about the AUD exchange rate, and the close-mindedness on the part of our economic mandarins which has caused so much damage to Australian businesses (and thus, the economy) over the past couple of years.

Barnaby for PM.

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“You CAN Influence The Price Of The Dollar, If You Actually Want To” – Barnaby

7 May

black-check-mark-hi

Bookmark this post, dear reader. This is historic.

Once again, Barnaby Joyce is the first major party politician (to my knowledge) to speak truth to power concerning a(nother) vital economic parameter.

In late 2009 and early 2010 – before new Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wilted like a week-old lettuce leaf and sacked him – then Opposition Finance spokesman Barnaby warned of the dangers of Australia’s rising Federal and State government debt trajectories.  Only in recent weeks, some three years later, leading economists have begun to acknowledge that Barnaby was right.

Today, 7 May 2013, appearing on radio 2GB, he is the first major party politician to state that the government can bring down the exchange rate value of the Australian dollar, and tell the plain truth about why they (the ALP, Treasury, and RBA) have not done so:

The dollar, if you actually want to, you can actually affect it. It’s not written on tablets of stone and presented from Mount Sinai. You can influence the price of the dollar down if there is real motivation and desire to do so. One of the reasons they don’t do it is because they want to be economically pure. The way we’re going at the moment we’re going to be pure in debt, economically dead, so let’s make sure we keep our industry going.

Just so.

Over the past few years, our great economic leaders – the World’s Greatest Treasurer Wayne Swan, and the Million Dollar Man, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens – have deliberately chosen a policy of not joining the global currency wars.  Of deliberately allowing the AUD to rise and rise versus other currencies, and to remain at unprecedented elevated levels. Why?  In order to “make room for the mining boom”.

In other words, because of the inflationary impact of the mining (investment) boom, they have chosen to let a far-too-high AUD deflate the rest of the economy … to “make room for the mining boom”.

(Yes, the same mining boom that is now ending; the one that they so confidently believed would give Australia a period of “unprecedented prosperity”, a China-funded “golden age” lasting “to 2050”, according to former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry).

They have pursued an economic policy of allowing the rest of the Australian economy to be hollowed out, white-ant style, so that their precious little (bogus) economic performance figures for “inflation” (ie, the CPI) would not get too far beyond their arbitrary boundaries of preference.

While the rest of the country (except mining and related industries) has watched countless businesses, and whole industry sectors such as manufacturing, slowly getting squeezed towards, and in a record number of cases, into bankruptcy, our ivory-towered boffins have sat back applauding themselves for their ideological purity, self-congratulating for their not acting to influence the AUD exchange rate.

Despite the fact that practically every other nation in the world who can, is.

As usual, it takes the little ol’ bush accountant to bell the cat.

Barnaby for PM.

He’s the only one with both brains, and b***s.

Paul Howes Is A Right Extremist

12 Apr

Remember when Barnaby Joyce was subjected to a torrent of daily abuse and personal ridicule by everyone – the PM, the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Finance Minister, the Treasury Secretary, the RBA Governor, and of course, the mainstream Australian media – for his “extremist” warnings about rising US and Australian debt levels, and his calls for Australia to reduce wasteful spending and prepare a “contingency plan” for further financial turmoil impacting us from abroad?

Double standards alert.

From the SMH:

THE Australian Workers Union wants the government to expand its minerals resources rent tax to slow the mining boom, lower the value of the dollar and alleviate the worsening crisis gripping the steel and manufacturing sectors.

The proposal to embrace the original and more comprehensive resources super profits tax is among several controversial ideas, including pegging the dollar to another currency, aimed at depreciating the dollar contained in a report by the AWU national secretary, Paul Howes.

The proposed ”potential policy options” to lower the value of the dollar also include pressuring the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates by between 0.25 and 0.5 percentage points. This, the AWU argues, would not be large enough to cause an inflation outbreak but would bring the cash rate closer to those of other nations and help depreciate the dollar.

Debatable.

The AWU also argues that by pegging the dollar to another currency, it would ”move up and down relative to the performance of other currencies”.

Our biggest trading partner (China) does it.

That traditional paragon of financial virtue Switzerland has now done it too, when faced with exactly the same problem Australia has (speculator-driven international “hot money” driving up the currency, thanks to endless central bankster money printing in the USA, UK, and EU … which they are doing to prop up their insolvent banks and drive down the value of their currencies!).

The RBA, and our Labor Government, and the Coalition, have all explicitly and steadfastly refused to do the same.

With no serious critical analysis of that entrenched ideological policy position by journalists.

&^#$%@! the lot of them.

In particular, &^#$%@! all of the &^#$%@! in the so-called “Left-leaning” mainstream media, who delight in labelling, criticising, and tearing down so-called “extreme Right” politicians such as self-proclaimed agrarian socialist Barnaby Joyce and Bob Katter for their advocating so-called “protectionist” policies.

Question.

Will the likes of Laura Tingle, Stephen Koukoulas, George Megalogenis et al, and all the “political heavyweight” journalists like Paul Bongiorno and similarly nausea-inducing arrogant imagine-they-know-it-all &^#$%@! now tear strips off the star of the union movement Paul Howes, label him as “extreme Right”, and ridicule his intelligence for daring to advocate a classic form of “protectionism”?

Of course not.

I have a brief message for all the purveyors of rank double standards and exemplars of “extreme” cognitive flaccidity in the Australian Parliament, Treasury, RBA, and especially, the media:

……………………./´./)
………………….,/¯../
…………………/…./
…………./´¯/’…’/´¯¯`¸
………./’/…/…./……/¨¯\
……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
………\……………..’…../
………..\………….. _.·´
…………\…………..(
…………..\………….\
……………\…………..\
…………….\…………..\
……………..\……………\

Dollar Shoots A Hole In Farmers’ Confidence

30 Mar

Stock & Land has more on how the too-high Aussie Dollar is impacting the rural sector:

AUSTRALIA’S shooting star dollar has shot a hole in rural sector morale.

Despite good seasonal prospects, farmer confidence is deflating as exports fail to deliver much farmgate price value because our high flying dollar is hovering uncompetitively above parity with the US exchange rate.

Faltering farm commodity prices in the past five months – particularly in the grain trade – have also hit farmer confidence hard.

“Not surprisingly farmers are becoming more concerned with the strong Australian dollar’s knock-on effect on the competitiveness of our exporters,” said Rabobank’s rural general manager, Peter Knoblanche.

NSW farm supplies retailer Greg Rout summed up the mood saying farmers were “a bit disillusioned and frustrated with the way prices are going against them at the moment”.

Although farmers have emerged from the past decade’s drought with plenty of soil moisture and stored water supplies, Rabobank’s latest quarterly rural confidence survey results are dipping into negative territory.

Producers who now expected farming conditions to deteriorate in the year ahead outnumbered those who saw improvements, according to Rabobank’s findings.

Mr Knoblanche said about 28 per cent expected the farm economy to worsen in the next 12 months, compared to 20pc just three months ago.

“Mixed farmers tend to be happier than the grain-only guys but most people are still spending cautiously,” said CRT retailer Mr Rout, who owns Central West AgriCentres at Parkes, Forbes and Peak Hill.

“I wouldn’t say anybody’s beaming with confidence – even after a couple of good seasons – but I’d put the general consensus around 60 out of 100, which isn’t too bad.”

According to Rabo only about 30pc of farmers expected an improved business performance or higher incomes in the coming year – down from about 39pc in December.

About 55pc tipped business performance to be the same.

It’s study of about 1200 farmers Australia-wide found 40pc of those expecting farm economic conditions to slide primarily blamed the dollar and 32pc nominated falling commodity prices.

Although it dipped last week well below recent highs around the $US1.07 mark, the seemingly bullet-proof Aussie dollar was again back above $US1.05 early this week and forecasters tip it will stay strong against the US greenback for at least a year.

However, while Rabobank expected strong investment into Australia would keep the dollar to be above parity “for the foreseeable future”, Mr Knoblanche believed it would soften by mid year on the back of a strengthening US currency and lower terms of trade.

The high exchange rate’s competitive advantage for machinery importers helped drive a burst of machinery investment last year, but newly-elected Tractor and Machinery Association (TMA) chairman, Steve Wright, believed a lower dollar would be best for the farm sector’s long term health.

“Buyer inquiry levels are generally still strong and I think the low dollar will help make 2012 a strong year for machinery sales, but buying commitment has definitely eased lately,” Mr Wright said.

“The dollar’s taken the shine off farm returns and grain prices are not as good as farmers are wanting to see before they commit to ordering new gear.

“And with growers reluctant to sell at recent lower prices, a lot of last season’s crop is still in storage which means they haven’t been paid for their grain yet.”

This is just one of many reasons why your humble blogger has advocated voting for the KAP.

Because Katter’s Australian Party is the only political party in the nation (that I know of) that has demonstrated a firm willingness to take on the clueless blinkered ideologues in the Treasury and the RBA, in order to follow the lead of other “advanced” economies such as Switzerland and Norway, and directly address the problem of a speculator-driven Aussie dollar hollowing out vast swathes of the Australian economy. From agriculture, to tourism, foreign education, manufacturing, and retail.

Journalist and presenter Peter van Onselen recently hit the nail on the head, when he described the AUD exchange rate as “Australia’s most pressing dilemma”.

The “major” parties are unforgivably negligent, and incompetent, in their spineless, mindless obeisance to the RBA and Treasury doctrinal line.

On this single issue alone, they are all wholly unworthy of your vote.

In my firm opinion.

Put On Your Thinking KAP

23 Mar

From today.

Put down your biases, prejudices, stereotypes … and your Ego.

Put on your thinking KAP.

And listen up:

The Single Biggest Reason Why I Will Vote For Bob Katter’s Australian Party

18 Feb

The Australian Dollar.

It is way too high relative to all our major trading partners’ currencies.

About 30% too high, in fact.

No Malcolm Farr, it does not prove that the Aussie Dollar is a “safe haven”.

No Wayne Swan, it is not because we have an economy that is “the envy of the world”.

Yes Alan Kohler, it is because speculators are borrowing billions in Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) money in the USA, UK, EU et al, and using it to gamble on the relatively high interest rate Aussie Dollar. To make easy, fast profits.

It is called the “carry trade”.

Or “hot money”.

And it seems that no one … repeat NO ONE … in Australian politics has the brains to recognise that fact. Or, the balls to do anything about it.

Except Bob Katter.

Now, let me be the first to say that I do not agree with how Bob wants to weaken the currency.

He advocates forcing the RBA to slash interest rates to 2%.

I think we should follow the lead of China … and Switzerland … and introduce a currency peg.

Nevertheless, despite this difference in preferred method, the simple fact that Bob has loudly proclaimed that he wants to weaken the dollar, and, that he is prepared to dismantle the RBA if necessary in order to do so, places him a country mile ahead of any other politician in the nation.

(Yes, including my beloved debt-warning prophet Barnaby Joyce, whose office has to date not even responded to my communications on this matter. He has been very busy with a drowned home town though, so we shall wait and see…)

A little historical background on our present currency dilemma.

Remember the year prior to the GFC crescendo in September-October 2008?

Remember how the AUD turned sharply down in July 2007, falling 9c (10%) in less than a month, when the warning signs began in the USA with the collapse of two Bear Stearns’ hedge funds? And remember how the AUD turned sharply up again, when the RBA lifted interest rates for the first time in 9 months, in August 2007?

GFC begins July 2007 in USA | Click to enlarge

Remember how the RBA kept raising interest rates into the teeth of the oncoming storm, and the AUD climbed from less than 80c US in August 2007, to nearly 98c US in July 2008 … a 21% appreciation in less than a year?

Remember how the AUD fell off a cliff when the GFC peaked? Indeed, it fell so far so fast – a near 40% collapse from 98c to 60c in just a few months – that the RBA intervened in foreign exchange markets to prop up the dollar:

Click to enlarge

“Safe haven” currency, you say (Malcolm Farr)?

Utter ignorant nonsense!

The Aussie Dollar is a “speculative play”.

A profit-seekers’ gamble.

That rushing tide of “hot money” driving up the AUD exchange rate is just as likely to race out again, exactly as it did in the GFC.

But until it does, and the AUD returns to a reasonable and sustainable level, vital sectors of the Australian economy are rapidly being white-anted … and jobs destroyed in the process.

Manufacturing. Tourism. Retail. Education (ie, foreign students). To name but a few.

Many of those industries and the jobs they provide, once lost, will never come back.

And despite this disaster occurring all around us right now, both “sides” of Australian politics have done a Pontius Pilate impersonation, washing their hands of the problem, proclaiming that there’s “nothing we can do” about the dollar. That’s up to the “independent” RBA, you see. And woe betide anyone daring to question the sanctity of the RBA’s “independence”. So instead, we have an escalating, puerile argument over whether or not (and how much) to financially support affected industries.

With more borrowed money, of course.

Idiots. Invertebrates. Sans testicles.

In stark demonstration of the clueless eunuch status of both “sides” of Australian politics – and indeed, of the “independent” Reserve Bank of Australia – on the matter of dealing with a speculator-driven appreciation in your national currency, let us examine a favourite example of mine.

Norway.

Unlike the RBA’s Glenn Stevens, the Norwegian central bank governor recognises the dangers of a government over-relying on the nation’s commodities wealth, spending too much money, and putting its manufacturing industry at risk (sound familiar?):

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) — Norway’s central bank Governor Oeystein Olsen told the government to spend less of the country’s oil money and avoid an over-reliance on its commodities wealth or risk killing manufacturing jobs.

The government should tighten its fiscal policy guidelines and limit the use of petroleum revenue to 3 percent of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund from the current 4 percent, Olsen said today in the text of his annual speech on the economy and monetary policy.

“Even though petroleum revenues are phased in gradually, a phasing out of manufacturing and other private industries may not be as smooth,” he said. “Entire industries could be lost. If spending proves to be excessive, such structural changes may be difficult, or impossible, to reverse.”

The world’s seventh-largest oil exporter, which boasts the biggest budget surplus of any AAA rated nation, has largely been shielded from the global financial crisis, in part after spending a record amount of its oil money.

Witness the stark contrast to our own Reserve Bank board of governors.

They have repeatedly indicated that they believe in crowding out (ie, screwing) the rest of the economy, to “make room” for the mining boom. Your non-mining industry and job be damned.

The high Australian dollar is actually great news to the RBA. It is helping their goal of hollowing out the rest of the economy, to “make room” for more mining.

And the high dollar is also great news to the village idiot of our national government, Treasurer Wayne Swan. With little else of substance to boast of, he proudly and deceitfully points to the high dollar as somehow representing “proof” of his own wonderful economic management!

But it is not just concerns about how the government is running the country, short-sightedly squandering its natural advantages, that show parallels between Australia and Norway.

The Norwegians too, have been faced with the problem of speculator-driven “hot money” driving up the value of their currency.

Thanks to the ongoing European debt crisis, in 2010-11 “investors” (read also, “speculators”) had been selling (borrowing) the near zero-interest-rate Euro currency, and investing (speculating) in the traditional “safe haven” currency, the Swiss Franc.  As a result, the Swiss Franc had been rising precipitously, causing problems for their economy. So, in September last year, the Swiss central bank acted to protect their economy, by pegging the value of the Franc to the Euro.

Result?

With the Swiss central bank effectively having put a cap on their potential profits, the European “hot money” went looking for profits elsewhere. They turned to Norway, with their strong economy, budget surpluses, vast nationalised commodities wealth, and AAA rating.

Now, witness the contrast between Norway’s central bank response to “hot money” flowing their way, and our RBA’s response to exactly the same situation:

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — Norway’s central bank is monitoring the krone after its recent gains and remains ready to act should the currency’s appreciation warrant a response, Governor Oeystein Olsen said.

“We follow closely the krone developments,” he said yesterday in an interview in Oslo. “We have observed, of course, the recent development of the krone, we’re close to the level” in September, when it touched an eight-year high, he said.

The central bank, which in December lowered its main rate by half a percentage point to 1.75 percent, will respond to krone swings to the extent that they affect inflation. The currency this week touched the highest level since Sept. 8, when the Swiss National Bank’s decision to peg the franc to the euro prompted investors to seek alternative havens…

The exchange rate continues to be a “challenge” for the government, Trade Minister Trond Giske said Feb. 13. The central bank in September signaled it was ready to take steps to curb the krone’s appreciation. Those comments helped weaken the exchange rate, triggering a 4.8 percent decline from a Sept. 8 peak through a trough two weeks later.

The Norwegian central bank acted promptly, to “talk down” the Krone back in September. It worked, for a little while.  Then they slashed interest rates by an effective 22.2% (2.25 to 1.75) in one hit in December. And now that their currency is appreciating again, they are attempting to “talk down” their currency, by reminding markets that they stand ready to act again, to protect local jobs and industry.

Our central bank is doing nothing.

Indeed, they are happy that we have an over-valued dollar that is squeezing (ie, wiping out) the “old economy” sectors.

Because it wants the non-mining sectors of the economy to shrink (ie, die), in order to “make room” for mining, which the RBA mistakenly believes will enjoy a multi-decade boom.

This is your rapidly approaching future, dear reader.

Gillard’s “New Economy”.

Australia. “Poor white trash” quarry to the world.

There are some in the Australian (alternative) financial media who have written on this problem.

The estimable “Houses and Holes” – whose clever nom de plume sardonically depicts the long-running economic policy/vision of both “sides” of Australian politics – and his team at Macro Business is a standout example.

Unfortunately, it is apparent to this humble blogger that few if any in the mainstream financial commentariat have any greater “vision” than the clueless eunuchs in Canberra for whom they act as Press agents.

So if anything is going to be done about the Aussie Dollar, it will only happen if you, dear reader, are concerned enough about the future of this country (and your job) to take action yourself.

You can start by doing as I have been doing.

Contact the invertebrates in Canberra.

Educate.

Inform.

Complain.

Harass.

Abuse.

Point out to the self-interested, overpaid, trough swilling imbeciles on both “sides” of Australian politics that there is no excuse … none … for Australia’s government and Reserve Bank deliberately failing to act to address the root of the problem – a speculator-driven AUD exchange rate.

Other “safe havens” have done it.

Switzerland has done it.

Norway has done it.

Indeed, one of the keys to China’s economic success story, has been its use of an adjustable currency peg, which has allowed their industries time to adapt to changing economic and market conditions:

Click to enlarge

You see, dear reader, our politicians, Treasury bureaucrats (looking at you, Martin “Mini-me” Parkinson!), and Reserve Bank governors are simply too beholden to flawed and failed economic ideologies.

Neo-Keynesianism.

Laissez faire capitalism.

“Free trade”.

“Free markets”.

Globalisation.

“Government debts don’t matter, if you have your own currency … you can just print, and inflate your debts away”.

They fail to recognise that the world has fundamentally changed since 2008.

Thirty-plus years of global debt-binging is over.

The masses have had their long overdue big fright … and have begun to wake up.

Debt is not the new black. It is the old red.©

And as a result, an over-leveraged debt-laden world economy, is now de-leveraging.

And in the inevitable race to the bottom, “currency wars” (ie, devaluing your currency) are a key factor.

Australia’s major trading partners are Japan and China. Both protect local industry, with a weak currency. Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) for Japan. A currency peg for China.

The USA, UK, and the European Union are all trying to protect their economies, to support and restore their manufacturing sectors, by weakening their currencies through ZIRP, QE (Quantitative Easing ie, printing money), and similar schemes via their central banks.

As usual, Australia is roughly 3 years behind the rest of the world.

But the currency wars is not a game that one can win by coming from way way behind.

Accept no excuses from our political “servants”.

Every other major “developed economy” on the planet is supporting local industry and jobs, by acting to ensure and maintain a weak currency.

Only Australia is doing nothing.

Call, write, or email our politicians now.

And if they give you the same (indeed, any) pathetic, close-minded, imbecilic excuses for not acting on the over-valued, speculator-driven Aussie dollar?

KAP the useless bastards.

Vote 1 Bob Katter.

Vote 1 Katter’s Australian Party.

If the “old” parties won’t act on the most urgent issues facing the nation … I will vote for someone who will.

And will loudly proclaim my intent, all the way to the next election.

UPDATE:

By the way … do not fall for the Coalition’s line, that job losses and business shutdowns are due to businesses preparing for the carbon “tax”. Regular readers know that I have been and remain a vehement opponent of the banksters’ CO2 derivatives scam … and even I don’t buy that bullshit.

Sure, job losses will inevitably mount when the derivatives scam launches.

But right now, job losses and business shutdowns are primarily a result of the speculator-driven AUD:

Death knell looms for Caltex jobs

The global dance of death could come quickly to Caltex’s two refineries after it slashed the value of its refining assets by $1.5 billion due to a confluence of factors strangling profits in this part of its business.

It is another example of Australia’s manufacturing going to the wall due to the strong Australian dollar, rising costs and stiff competition from Asia.

The rise of big Asian refineries with an overcapacity of product is turning the screws for local operators and has prompted Caltex management to announce a strategic review of two key refineries of its own – the Kurnell plant in Sydney and Lytton in Brisbane.

And this comes on the heels of Caltex closing one of its petrol-making units at Kurnell last year.

The review was instigated six months ago and is expected to take another six months before investors and customers know the verdict, which could include the sale, closure or further investment in the business.

Given today’s writedown of $1.5 billion of assets due to expectations of a prolonged period of pain, the market is expecting the review will recommend closure of at least one of these two plants which convert oil into petrol and diesel.

Indeed, Caltex supplies one third of Australia’s transport fuels, so the review will need to make sure it does not adversely impact its customers.

Soon, we will not only have given up our food security, by selling the farm to foreigners.

We will not only have sold off our mineral wealth and sent the profits abroad, thanks to a disaster-in-waiting “mining tax” that will actually help the Big 3 multi-national miners to grow their oligopoly.

Soon, we will have given up fuel security too.

And with no manufacturing sector left either, well, any future war would be fun, wouldn’t it?

Carbon permit face-slapping, anyone?  To the death?

Oh wait … they’re not even paper.

They’re just electronic digits.

Exactly like your “cash” in the bank.

UPDATE 2:

Lighthouse Securities’ Greg McKenna, aka “Deus Forex Machina” at Macro Business, has written an excellent overview on this problem too:

The Australian Dollar is higher than it has been in decades. Indeed it is more than 30 cents higher than the average since it was floated in December 1983. Yet while we see businesses constantly in the news contemplating or actualising job losses and off shoring the arms of government and policy makers here in Australia can’t, won’t or don’t want to do anything about it.

This is at a time when most countries in the globe seem intent on manipulating there currency to the best advantage that they can.

I still call the Aussie Dollar “the battler” – its a legacy of it past when it always caught pneumonia at the first signs of the slightest global cold. But back then we didn’t have China, a mining boom and a central bank, our beloved RBA, with a structural bias to tighten in a world necessitating the exact opposite for most countries ( if you are interested why here’s a blog I did last April which explains why the RBA has a bias to tighten ).

It doesn’t battle much anymore though does it, well except for supremacy.

But what to do?

We know the RBA and Australian Treasury are on Board with a multi-decade China boom but do they really want to napalm the rest of the economy and just leave us with an economy full of houses and holes.

I hope not but I fear so.

Please read his article. Greg agrees that action to alleviate the impacts of the high AUD is vital. He also has some important insights on the views expressed by Treasury Secretary Martin “Mini-me” Parkinson. But (unlike myself) Greg does not favour a currency peg, and instead prefers and explains an alternative solution.

This is a debate that must be had. And urgently.

I thank Greg for his contributions to stoking the fires of that discussion.

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