Tuesday 30 November 2021

Afternoon roundup

The closing of the browser tabs brings some worthies:

  • The shift to Zoom, and away from face-to-face, is costly. Fund managers losing access to the kind of information you can get through local contact reduces fund returns. "We show that soft information originates mainly from physical human interactions, primarily in cafes, restaurants, bars, and fitness centers; and the virtual world based on Zoom/Skype/Team fails to substitute physical interactions fully, thus cannot provide sufficient soft information." Now think about NZ firms seeking capital internationally, and the long-term effects of border systems that prioritise Ministerial pet projects over business travel. 
  • The blackouts back in August? It was a Transpower screwup. Here's what we'd said at the time.
  • Wellington ICU's co-director pleads that ICU nurses be added to the immigration skill shortages list.
  • Avoiding Tarras while on any South Island holidays might be advisable. If they haven't enough vaccinated people to staff a cafe...
  • Another Commerce Commission market study is coming: building materials. Like supermarkets, any lack of competition here is mainly due to crazy regulatory barriers to entry. For supermarkets: zoning and the Overseas Investment Act and consenting processes and uncertainties around liquor permits make it hard to be a new at-scale entrant. For building materials supply: good luck getting a house signed off by council if you've built it with imported materials. Ideally ComCom will recommend fixing the regulatory barriers to entry and easing councils out of joint-and-several liability for buildings they consent. But they could instead recommend breaking up each of the existing suppliers into little pieces and forcing separation between them and retailers. The latter would be stupid. The starting question really should be: if I get a container ship in Vancouver, fill it up with all the pieces needed to build a house there (flipping the 110 volt electrics to 220), would I be able to use it to build a house? If not, why not?

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