When it comes to housing, Australia and Berlin are worlds apart. In Australia, as in much of the English-speaking world, housing is treated as primarily a vehicle for investment and wealth creation, a state of affairs which began with the privately-financed speculative building of colonial times, and is firmly entrenched in the culture; 70% of Australians own their own homes, and the “Australian Dream” is still widely held to be home ownership, though these days the home may well be a trendy inner-city apartment rather than the traditional bungalow on a quarter-acre block. In Berlin, however, the vast majority of residents are renters, and they have considerable political clout, as they have had for decades. [more inside]
We’re all familiar with the stories of Russian oligarchs buying up mansions in London, but this is a much broader phenomenon. A torrent of capital from wealthy people in emerging markets—from China, above all, but also from Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East—has flowed into the real-estate markets of big cities in other countries, driving up prices and causing a luxury-construction boom. ... The globalization of real estate upends some of our basic assumptions about housing prices. We expect them to reflect local fundamentals—above all, how much people earn. In a truly global market, that may not be the case.James Surowiecki writing in the New Yorker on the rise of a truly global market in real estate.
John Green: "Why Are Americans Health Care Costs So High?" A quick, handy little overview of common misconceptions on the US healthcare system. (SLYT)
Yesterday Australia joined many developed nations in putting a price on carbon pollution (fixed at $23/tonne CO2e for three years) (prev). Despite extensive compensation, this moderate economic reform has proved enormously unpopular ("based on a lie") and is expected to be repealed if/when the Federal Opposition are returned to government.
Writing in The Monthly, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan makes a cogent case for ongoing economic reform to deliver equity, contrasting Australian with US outcomes, and slamming three modern robber barons, Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart for their increasing political influence.
The Australian Government has committed to a price on carbon from 1 July 2012, prior to a likely full emissions trading scheme within three to five years. The Opposition are outraged, predicting a people's revolt. This should clearly define the next election.
Screw you worldcom, enron. In Australia we know how to make a loss. AU$11,962,000,000 in fact. One has to wonder how much of this is a "paper loss" or how much of this is "creative accounting for tax purposes". Or just where the hell did the money go?
Understanding what makes America tick "The belief that America is exceptional, in the double sense that it is superior and that it is different...The United States had a mission, a manifest destiny, to change the world in its image. This conviction echoes down through American history....Other countries—France, Britain, Russia—have from time to time in their history felt a sense of mission, of carrying their civilisation to other peoples and territories. But in their cases it has been episodic and not deeply rooted—usually limited to when their power was at its zenith and usually clearly recognisable as a rationalisation for what they were doing for other reasons. In the case of the United States, it has been constant and central." [Centre of Independent Studies in Sydney via aldaily] American Exceptionalism. Mix it with sole super power status and massive military might. Should make it quite an intoxicating ride these next few years.
Here is an interesting account of S11 written by a journalist who went to protest on his day off. More inside...