ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +

OCTOBER  2010.


I am writing from the atrium of the "World Finance Center" in downtown NY.  Free wifi, and out the eastern window I can see the cranes that are working on the hole left by 9/11, on the west is the Hudson and boats at a marina.

Data roaming charges for mobile phones are unbelievable.  I have canceled the service.  I suppose the logic of those charges is "lets make a killing on the schmucks before they realize what we are doing".  My logic of course is "How different can it be to the costs incurred at home?  It is not worth doing the sums against the likely extra cost that everyone warns about."  Well it would have been.  Normal mobile (cell) in Australia is $20/mo and in 4 days in USA I have incurred roaming charges of $200.  Cheaper to do without those GPS and maps that the HTC-Android incur.  If I need data I find a free wifi place.

I am at present staying with a friend in Battery City on the SW end of Manhattan.  Her unit is high up with views over the Hudson, with the Statue of Liberty off to the left.  The World Trade Centre is a few hundred meters East, and is rebuilding rapidly.

I saw three men working on the road.  Two of them had jack hammers going flat chat, the third was working flatout with a shovel.  We really should offer them a holiday over to Australia to demonstrate their technique.  In Australia that job would be done by at least six workers, one on a jackhammer working half the time, the shovel worker taking up the other half, and three others directing traffic, and a sixth to supervise.  Result?  Our six men take four times as long to do the job that those 3 men do.  So Australian council workers use eight times as many man hours as Manhattan council workers to do the same job.  I suppose the Manhattan council workers must be paid eight times as much.  They would be on about $600,000 per annum.


The world Recession that started in October 2008 came about because of a sequence of events.
  1. The Chinese (mostly) devalued their currency by massively purchasing US bonds.
  2. The big corporations needed to onlend that money, so they made dodgy loans.
The recession would not have developed if the Chinese had not massively purchased US bonds, so causing the Chinese currency to fall in value against the US dollar.  The purchase of bonds would have been harmless (safe) if the investment corporations that sold those bonds had not onlent the money to dodgy borrowers.  Instead they should have bought only treasury bonds, and (when that market saturated) should have lowered the bond rate to negative if necessary.  The Swiss charge money to hold funds.  The US should do the same when there is an abundance of cash.

Throughout this provocation the US government has maintained integrity by not printing money. 

With QE2 (The second round of Quantitative Easement) all that is changing.  QE2 is inflationary.  The Chinese (and the bandwagon that have joined up with them) are left with two options.
I personally believe that the Chinese will choose the second option.  The choice is stark, and the Chinese are pragmatic.



Like Clover Moore is doing for Sydney City, the Mayor of NY is developing cycle tracks all over Manhattan.  And New Yorkers are using them.  No helmets, no lights at night, no bells (a legal requirement here).

But it does not end there.  Pedestrians and cars treat traffic lights like "advisories".  A driver confronted with a red light and no traffic will just drive through.  Pedestrians watch for a break in the traffic to cross.  Like drivers, pedestrians treat traffic lights as "advisory".

And the real beauty is, the police totally ignore all those infringements.  A driver going through a red light does not get challenged, so long as he is not doing something stupid or dangerous.

But the weather!  When I arrived from Sydney about 4th October it was sunny and warm, much like Sydney.  Three weeks later and the weather is like Sydney on a cold midwinter day.

I have been born without the "sport watching gene".  New Yorkers, like most Australians, have it to a surfeit, and watch sport in the pub.  Baseball is the favorite at the moment.  I think NY is playing off against Texas.  When not glued to the TV they can be lured into politics.

Down at the pub I meet the local drinkers.  Most seem to be employed in downtown Manhattan.  One works for the Federal Reserve, another for a stockbroker.  Another for an entrepreneur who publishes a business newsletter.  Still another is a lawyer.  Another an art gallery director.

None of them is impressed with the current administration.  The general feeling is that the Fed has lost the plot.  Some consensus on having treasury offer safe transaction accounts to all and sundry, and removing the need for banks.  Then let the banks sink or swim, but not save them any more.


Is a $10 bus ride (or a  >$100 train ride) from NY.  The central market is dominated by Amish food outlets.  From their reputation and my testamentary experience they serve quite fresh, wholesome food.  Prices for liquor and food are lower than in NY.  It is a friendly town.


A further $15 bus ride from Philly gets you to downtown Washington.

In NY "downtown" is the south end of Manhattan, and is the business district.  "Uptown" is the northern end of Manhattan, and is the commercial (shopping) and residential district.  I suspect that this description (Downtown=business, uptown=commercial) is applied to all US cities, regardless of the relative locations on a map.

Downtown Washington is a bit south of the geographic centre of DC.  The feel of the buildings is distinctly "Federal".  Accommodation is expensive.  As everywhere in the USA, I found the people in Washington to be friendly.


I had booked on Vaustralia.  About an hour out of LA my neighbor broke a glass.  The staff cleaned up, and noticing I had my sandals off, insisted that I put them on so I would not get cut on any glass not cleaned up.  I refused, because traveling in shoes for extended trips is something I do not do.   I was told I would be taken into custody on arrival at Brisbane.  I offered to write an indemnity, but that would not do.  I put on my sandals, and wrote a complaint to Vaustralia management.  Watch this space for a report on what action they take.

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