Saturday, January 31, 2009

Global financial crisis- where has all the money gone?

The global financial crisis has got many thinking. In fact it has many worrying quite a lot. It has got me thinking, but thankfully not worrying. Where did all the money go?
There have been great losses on share markets across the world. This apparently was brought about my financial institutions collapsing due to bad losses on credit. Simply put they lent out too much money, or more accurately lent out money to people who could not repay the loans. These bad debts have triggered the crisis. There is no doubt that the greed of many banks in the US is to blame.

I have always thought of money as a finite resource. I am sure that many have thought the same. But I am coming to change the way I understand that concept. It used to be that a nation would only print as much money as represented the gold that they had in reserve. Back in those times, money was a finite concept. To go even further back in history, people had gold and silver coins, and there were no banks. Of course they could always find more gold in the ground. How things have changed in todays world.

Money is now a relative concept, not finite. It is fitting that such a concept has come about in a post modern world. The house of cards that is the US economy is crashing down. The rest of the world have been attaching our own economies to the US economy, and now the whole thing seems to be crashing down. Recent news reports have said that the global economy has now come to a complete stand still. This means that there is no net economic growth in the world, in fact there are losses, and this is what economic recession is.

But what is economic growth anyway? Well it represents productivity in a society, be that national or global. So there are some tangible things to attach the concept to. On a tangible level we have seen factories closing all over Russia and China. They are no longer productive. (India is still productive and I believe Canada is too.) If there is no product then there is no money. It's a little like if there is no wheat then there is no food for us to eat. Just like there can be a bumper crop of wheat some years, there can also be a bumper crop of money.

A bumper crop of money is when banks reap big dividends. People pay back their loans. Companies post big profits and their value soars. Essentially this means there is more money around to work with. Yes it is true that banks fictitiously create money, but this is only a part of the picture. In today's global economy money needs to be circulated. None of us need to hold on to the money all the time, so it is circulated around for some one else to use. It's a bit like a game of musical chairs. And just recently a whole bunch of chairs have been taken away.

Where did all the money go? Not into the hands of some other person. The money simply disappeared, burned in a fire, got washed away out to sea. Since there is less money to circulate, companies can not afford to pay their staff. This means that productivity goes down. Since there is less money to circulate, people become afraid to spend and then consumer demand drops, so productivity is in essence no longer needed.

Three quarters of Australia's economy depends on consumer spending. I am confident that many other western economies are built on similar principles. If we all spend our money happily then it will circulate and demand for productivity will go up.

Recently Kevin Rudd (Australian prime minister) thinks he knows the solution. He says that it is time to bring an end to traditional capitalism, and that a new age of social capitalism needs to begin. It sounds like a big experiment to me. Somehow I think the SRC School president does not know what he is talking about. Australia's economy is headed for a major deficit and a deep recession. The word depression is not on people's lips yet. But I think that is now a possibility.

Spend your money happily. It may be worth nothing tomorrow anyway.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cheating in the game of Twenty 20

What the heck are NSW thinking? Brendan Mc Cullum has never played a single game for NSW before, but now they feel they can recruit him for the Twenty 20 final this Saturday. Yes it is true that a state can select one international player, but that was really a rule intended for when a player would stay a whole season, such as Imran Khan and Ian Botham did in the past.
Twenty 20 is still at representative level, but the competition is a little like a league. There is a bluriness between the two at the moment. It is my guess that the rule will change after they are given a big stretch by NSW this week. Still they have gotten away with it this time, and gone against the spirit of the game.

Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are in talks about starting a Twenty 20 Super League in 2011. If all players are available for all of the competition it should be a huge hit. There will be 3 teams from RSA, 3 from Australia and 2 from New Zealand. I am glad that something will finally happen. The stocks in cricket will go up in Australia over the next decade. The Super League may start out small, probably with teams in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but will undoubtedly expand when there are more media friendly stars known to the public.

When such a league starts NSW can recruit Brendan Mc Cullum, but in the mean time, they are practically cheats.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Vertigo part II..... oops "Get on your boots" (U2 review)

It's that time again, it comes around every four years or so. It's U2 time. I always love the day when the new U2 single comes out. I get a hold of it as soon as possible (in the past that meant waiting to record it on to a tape off the radio; I did this for "The Fly", "Beautiful Day", "Electrical Storm" and "Vertigo") but now it means downloading and putting it on the iPod. Then I proceed to listen to the song 50 times over or so, to the amusement of my wife.

Actually my first listen this time was on U2's website. It disappointed at first, because it just wasn't loud enough on my computer. But as soon as I transferred it to the iPod and plugged into the stereo at full volume, it impressed immediately.

This song is really in exactly the same vein as Vertigo. But hey, Vertigo was a fun song, and the rest of Atomic Bomb was a serious album. Boots, is just as fun a rock song, with a few meaningful lyrics thrown in..... to boot. I sometimes wonder if U2 are the last rock band on the planet when I look at the charts these days. Thank God for 'em, they're keeping it alive, and Boots actually truly does rock, hard and fast. I don't have to explain the music much, just give it a spin, oh I mean a mouse click.

My favourite lyrics at the moment are- "Satan loves a bomb scare, but it won't scare you." It seems to me that Bono is suggesting Satan is behind all those scary things out there in the media a la military and terrorist action. Metaphorically the devil does try to create bombscares in our lives, but with the love of Jesus, he's all talk. This leads me to the chorus- "You don't know how beautiful you are." Immediately this lyric said to me, that God's love for us is much bigger than we can imagine. Bono has found a way to weave God's love and protection into his lyrics once again, in a way that sneaks up on most.

This song itself gives us no indication of what the record "No line on the horizon" will be like. Apparently we are to expect the epic, weird and Arabic style scales in the album. Most U2 albums come with a lot of pre-hype, but still I will be pre-ordering mine. (Otherwise I'll miss out on the bonus tracks).

Rock on!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Can you hold down the Pleiades?

Have a look at these stars for a minute. How beautiful they are, how huge they are. This is the Pleiades constellation. God challenged Job, "can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?" The Psalmist declared of God, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name."
I sat and watched a documentary tonight about the stars. The Milky Way itself is full of hundreds of billions of stars. If each star were counted, 1 per second then it would take 2500 years to count them all. That is how huge our own galaxy is. Yet there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. How huge is God, that he created all of this? As I sat and watched the documentary and took in some of the numbers and images and realised how small I am, and yet how great God is, things fell back into perspective for me. This amazing and great Creator God loves me and the whole world so much that he gave himself as Jesus on the cross to pay for my awful sin.
His love is so great, he has made me clean. And he is so great that as my life is in his hands I have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Now that's perspective.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mugabe must go

It's been quite a while since I have talked about Mugabe. Every day he makes me sicker.

Dear Lord, please bring an end to this evil man's regime and do it soon, any way that you must.

Where to start? Thousands are dying daily from cholera now. Eighty percent of the country are in abject poverty. The only people who have any money are his army. Just today he has issued the "trillion dollar banknote" series. If you think that sounds crazy, it was just last week that the billion dollar bank not series was released, but those notes have already lost value.

Recently Mugabe told a gathering of African leaders that he would never give up Zimbabwe, and that he "owns it". We have long suspected that he believes that, but to hear it is the absolute pits. I guess the west is standing by wanting African leaders to do something about him. South Africa have dropped the ball. Jacob Zuma is implicitly to blame. Desmond Tutu has even admitted that South Africa have lost international credibility for doing nothing.

I didn't write on this topic during the last Zimbabwe election, because I hoped beyond hope that Mugabe would step down, but he did not. The power sharing arrangement has been a farce.

I really don't want to write about this again until he is gone, and I pray that is very soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank you Matty... and goodbye

I said I would be happy when Matthew Hayden retired. Relieved is a more accurate word. I thoroughly enjoyed his career. His career was a brilliant one. It would be fair to say that he was in the top 3 batsmen for Australia over the last two decades along with Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. That's a fair call, considering he never captained Australia. So no hard feelings Matty, thanks for all the good times, and thanks for stepping aside to give the young blokes a chance.

Speaking of young blokes the question now falls as to who should fill Hayden's shoes. An obvious choice would be Phil Jaques at 29, going on 30, although that's not very young, but has been the common age of selection for the test side in the recent era. Jaques was the opener who replaced Langer when he retired. He has played 11 test matches for 902 runs with an average of 47 and a high score of 150. These are very dependable figures. Jaques is currently out on injury and has not played much cricket this season.

Katich has played well in recent times and should happily keep his spot. He is 33 now, and probably only has 3 years left in him. But this may be perfect timing for David Warner who will then be 25 to replace him.

Phil Hughes is the exciting option in my estimation. At 20 years of age, he has already played 16 matches for NSW at shield level, with a very handy average of 53.48. Everyone knows that Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia is serious stuff, so his average should count for something. I wonder if the Australian selectors will take a risk and go for youth. I hope they do, but my bet is they will choose Jaques.

There are exciting days ahead for Australian cricket, if the right choices are made.

Monday, January 12, 2009

David Warner than Shane?

Wow, I really enjoyed myself at the MCG last night. I think the award should be changed from "player of the match" to "entertainer of the match." Warner's innings was so entertaining last night, that I have been completely won over to the Twenty20 concept. I am still a test purist at heart, but I have to say that Twenty 20 is ready to take on the world with games last night, that was frankly far more entertaining than any baseball match. Look out America!

I really enjoyed watching an Australian team with so many young players in it. It was right of the selectors to take some risks with their choices. I actually think that the selectors do not yet believe that Twenty 20 cricket counts, and are therefore happy to take risks. For the time being this is good for Australian cricket. It gives young players a chance to show their stuff.

David Warner is 22 years old. He has only plated a handful of games at Twenty 20 and List A level for NSW, but never a first class game. It's obvious that it is too early for him to play in the test side for the simple reason that he has no Shield first class experience. But it's still a shame that he has none, because he would be an exciting opener at test level. Maybe in a couple years time.

Apparently David Warner has already been picked up in the Indian Premier League by the Delhi Devils. This does pose an interesting question. Are we seeing the first of a new generation to specialise in Twenty 20, and never to play test cricket. I certainly hope not, but we will have to see which way the revolution goes.

Last night's Australian team had two test players in it. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey both looked like they needn't be there last night. Both were ineffectual with the bat, although Hussey did take a brilliant catch. Shaun Tait has played tests before. It was good to see him warm up again. It was extremely entertaining to see him knock AB De Villiers over at 156 kph and force a hit wicket.

For my brain, I still like to think of the future of the test team. The third test in Sydney and the Twenty 20 last night both give a lot of food for thought. Doug Bollinger and Andrew Mac Donald both had good debuts in Sydney. Peter Siddle is staking his claim for a spot in the side. David Warner has also staked his claim, but perhaps not for a year or two. My only two large disappointments now surround the omission of Jason Krejza and the inclusion of Matthew Hayden. Hayden, I have already talked about. Krejza had a fantastic debut with 12 wickets in India. He was then bowled on the flattest of wickets in Perth, and subsequently left out of the team. He needs to be brought back as quickly as possible. With Johnson, Siddle, Bollinger, Hilfenhaus and Jason Krejza the future of Australian bowling looks bright.

With David Warner's performance last night, the future of Twenty 20 looks hot, and the future of Aussie cricket looks bright too. Is he Warner than Warne?

Next time.... when is Australia getting a Twenty 20 Premier League.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Time to go Matty (Hayden)

I remember many years back watching Matthew Hayden with a friend of mine on Boxing Day. Australia was playing the West Indies. It was early in Hayden's career. I was an advocate of his position in the test side. My mate argued incessantly that Hayden should not be in the team. To prove my mate's point Matty Hayden went on to leave a ball that clean bowled him. It was an embarrassing dismissal for Hayden and I had egg on my face for sticking up for him. Nevertheless I argued that he should be in the test side. Over all I have been the correct judge as Hayden has had a wonderful career. He has been a highly dependable player. 8625 runs at 50.37 with 30 centuries is solid.

We are thankful for the player that Hayden has been, but it is time for him to retire. Over the last 6 test matches he has averaged 22 runs. His failures at the crease have been all too consistent this Summer. The icing on the cake was when he dropped Ntini at second slip in the third test in Sydney, which would have won the match. The catch was simple and straight forward, yet his head was just not in the zone.

Over the last two years Shane Warne, Glen Mc Grath, Damien Martyn, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist have all retired from the Australian team. As each player has retired the public have been sad to see them go. They all left on a high note. Many times people have wished that Shane Warne would come back to the side. He has happily refused knowing that his legend will be remembered.

If Matthew Hayden does not retire soon then nobody will miss him when he is gone. In fact I will be happy when he is gone, and I have always spoken up for him during his career. I wish he would know when his time has come. He now seems out of place in the side. It seems that we have a new team now of younger players who are capable of winning. It is time to build the next generation test side and sadly Hayden is now just getting in the way.