Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday quick links

My childhood street is famous for building cubby houses in trees on council land

Obesity epidemic growing for a century - much longer than ever thought before….
and now Jamie Oliver does his best to tackle obesity the ‘old fashioned’ way, but faces strong resistance in the US, even after success in the UK. He faced tough opposition on the Letterman show:

'I don't care how much ground up sea grass you eat or wheat germ - or stuff you find in your pocket. As long as they are selling 160 different types of cookie what hope do you have?'

Oliver appeared to become resigned to the fact he wouldn't convert Letterman to his way of thinking, turning to the audience and saying: 'As you can see ladies and gentlemen, my challenge is big.'

Does this support a 'sin tax' on junk food, or are we aware of the obesity externality and simply don't care, making obesity an optimal outcome?

China housing bubble and government intervention
Beijing recently introduced much tighter rules for home loan lending. The discount on the mortgage rate for first home buyers has been cut, while discount for second-time home buyers has been scrapped altogether. In addition, second-time home buyers have to make a deposit of 40 per cent of the value of their home, while people buying their third home have to come up with a 60 per cent deposit.

A bit of social engineering for home ownership that just might work? Would there be any major problems implementing such restrictions in Australia (we could start a company to buy the investment property, but then only have tax beenfits in the 30% corporate tax bracket, and face the costs of company reporting requirements)?

Interest rate gamble
Looks like my bet was closer to the mark than it first appeared with weak lending data (a leading indicator) pointing to house price declines. Will the RBA let that happen?

More support for a National Resources Fund (this time from RBA chairman Warwick McKibbin)
RBA board member Warwick McKibbin suggests that Australia follows Norway’s lead and sets up sovereign wealth fund that goes beyond the narrow ambition of the Future Fund to finance public service pensions. Norway’s 4 million souls now own a fund worth more than $US400 billion, throwing off a big contribution to national income every year.

1 comment:

  1. From the article about the cubby houses: "What kind of over-regulated society do we live in, when kids can't play in their tree house?" asked Nicholas Edwards, 12. "Mum didn't tell me to say that."

    Great quote :-)