Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When Storylines Intersect: China's Plenum Reforms Not Good For Australian Commodities

The first law of ecology: Everything is connected.*
From MacroBusiness:
Plenum reform agenda bad for commodites
Credit Suisse agrees with me today that the Chinese reform agenda is likely a net negative for Australia:
  • The Chinese authorities have further clarified their reform agenda post the 3rd plenum, with recent announcements suggesting that they are about to embark on the biggest change to the country’s economy for many years (see – China: Detailed reform framework announced). The key points are:
  • Commitment to increasing the market’s role in allocating resources, with a commensurate reduction in government direction of economic activity. Fitting this, the government should move to a more “arm’s length” relationship with SOEs.
  • Fiscal reform – aiming for greater clarity over local government debt and a rebalancing of revenue collection and expenditure between central and local government. Central government to also play a greater role in the construction and management of cross-regional infrastructure projects.
  • Financial sector reform – interest rate liberalization and RMB internationalization.
  • Rural land reform – clarifying farmers’ land ownership rights so they can buy, sell and mortgage land.

*The law made a small fortune for James Burke:
Connections explores an Alternative View of Change (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation.

Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own (e.g., profit, curiosity, religious) motivations with no concept of the final, modern result of what either their or their contemporaries' actions finally led to. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation, and is also the main focus of the series and its sequels.

To demonstrate this view, Burke begins each episode with a particular event or innovation in the past (usually Ancient or Medieval times) and traces the path from that event through a series of seemingly unrelated connections to a fundamental and essential aspect of the modern world. For example, The Long Chain episode traces the invention of plastics from the development of the fluyt, a type of Dutch cargo ship.
Watch the full documentary now (30 episodes, each 45 minutes long)
Connections (1978)
1. The Trigger Effect details the world’s present dependence on complex technological networks through a detailed narrative of New York City and the power blackout of 1965.
2. Death in the Morning examines the standardization of precious metal with the touchstone in the ancient world.
3. Distant Voices suggests that telecommunications exist because Normans had stirrups for horse riding which in turn led them to further advancements in warfare.
4. Faith in Numbers examines the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance from the perspective of how commercialism, climate change and the Black Death influenced cultural development.
5. The Wheel of Fortune traces astrological knowledge in ancient Greek manuscripts from Baghdad’s founder, Caliph Al-Mansur, via the Muslim monastery/medical school at Gundeshapur, to the medieval Church’s need for alarm clocks (the water horologium and the verge and foliot clock).
6. Thunder in the Skies implicates the Little Ice Age (ca. 1250-1300 AD) in the invention of the chimney, as well as knitting, buttons, wainscoting, wall tapestries, wall plastering, glass windows, and the practice of privacy for sleeping and sex.
7. The Long Chain traces the invention of the Fluyt freighter in Holland in the 1500s. Voyages were insured by Edward Lloyd (Lloyd's of London) if the ships hulls were covered in pitch and tar which came from the colonies until the American Revolution in 1776.
8. Eat, Drink and Be Merry begins with plastic, the plastic credit card and the concept of credit then leaps back in time to to the Dukes of Burgundy, which was the first state to use credit.
9. Countdown connects the invention of the movie projector to improvements in castle fortifications caused by the invention and use of the cannon.
10. Yesterday, Tomorrow and You. A bit of a recap: change causes more change. Start with the plow, you get craftsmen, civilization, irrigation, pottery and writing, mathematics, a calendar to predict floods, empires, and a modern world where change happens so rapidly you can't keep up.
Connections² (1994)
Connections³ (1997)