Thursday, 14 May 2015

Failing to find path to credibility

Prime Minister Menzies was never pilloried for running seventeen successive deficits and risking burdening my generation with onerous amounts of debt.

Times changed and deficits became taboo.

The latest budget shows deficits are here to stay. Even the uncertain projections of later years reveal deficits.

The talk is now of having a creditable path to a surplus.

Arguably the more pressing need is to find a credible path to credibility.

Never has there been such a radical shift from one budget to the next, from fixing a debt and deficit disaster to living with a wing and a prayer twelve months later.

The Budget is predominantly a political reaction not an economic plan.

Monday, 11 May 2015

MIS post mortem

In response to an invitation by the Senate Economics Committee chaired by Sam Dastyari (with members including Nick Xenophon Bill Heffernan and Peter Whish-Wilson) to make a submission to their inquiry looking at forestry MISs the following brief overview of what happened during the MIS debacle was submitted.

Problems with MIS have been written about for a few years but with the dust almost settled following insolvency of the three MIS companies which operated in Tasmania  (Gunns FEA and Great Southern) which represented about 50% of the total national MIS  scene, it was important to explain that the aftermath is of Hiroshima proportions and needs remedial action lest travesties reoccur in the future..



1.      Motivation and drivers

2.     How much was lost?

3.     Reasons for failure-the product

4.     Reasons for failure-the model

5.     ATO’s role

6.     ASIC’s role

7.     Yields

8.     Overview of past MISs

9.     Is div 394 the answer?

10.  What now?

Appendix: MIS wind up notes for Great Southern, Gunns and FEA

Terms of reference


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

FT closer to closure

The ministerial statement on the future of Forestry Tasmania today was an announcement of the appointment of a de facto Administrator.

Expressions of interest are to be invited for some of FT’s assets, mainly the hardwood plantations, which hopefully will be enough to cover the costs of Administration.

FT will then almost certainly be wound up.

It was always going to be this way. The talk about transitioning to other, in this case, private operators, is simply a restatement of what happens when companies are wound up.

Minister Harriss is pretending that selling assets in Administration will save FT from Liquidation.

How often do Administrators forestall liquidation and manage to return a company to normal trading without equity injection or a significant compromise with its creditors?

None spring to mind.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Americans buy FEA

FEA’s Receivers Deloitte has at last found a buyer for FEA’s land and trees.

Resources Management Services LLC (RMS) a forestry investment manager from Alabama paid $125.5 million for land belonging to FEA and trees belonging to FEA’s MIS growers.

The sale price confirms that forest assets have continued to plummet in value. The sale price is a disaster for everyone waiting for a distribution, the secured and unsecured creditors and the growers.

The insolvency practitioners stand the best chance of getting paid in full.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Intergenerational nonsense

The fear of burdening our grandchildren with debt, we are forever being told, is the reason why there is a need to return to a budget surplus.

Few argue with the proposition, most only quibble about the speed to reach a surplus.

But not since the days of the flat earthers have so many unquestionably swallowed such nonsense.

Clearly if the Jones borrow long term from the Smiths, the younger members of the latter family may suffer a reduced standard of living by having to repay the debt, compared to the older members who received the benefits of the loan.

That certainly applies where the older members simply consumed the benefits.

It is less obvious when the benefits are of an enduring nature. Borrowing to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge would have few detractors on this score, especially given hindsight.

To extrapolate a family situation to the whole economy is however, complete nonsense, another example of the fallacy of composition, not unfamiliar in economics.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Things that can't last......

Things that can’t last forever usually don’t.

This morning’s Examiner reported on a leaked email from Forestry Tasmania (FT) Chairman to FT staff responding “to mounting concerns that the cash-strapped company may be dissolved and folded into a government department.”

In that event a radical transformation will occur.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Has FT found the way?

Forestry Tasmania’s (FT) controversial small native forest coupe in the Flowerdale river catchment area at Lapoinya in NW Tasmania is one of its better coupes. FT is adamant clearfelling will be a profitable exercise.

After a relentless pattern over the years of failing to cover even $1 in staff wages from its operations this looks like a real live test case to establish which exactly of FT’s operations are profitable, if any.

From a strict financial accounting viewpoint, each year FT adjusts the value of its forest estate so that as at 30th June FT’s balance sheet contains the current value of its forest estate.

Hence clearfelling a coupe merely realises its current value. It is simply swapping trees for cash.

The accounting profits from the Lapoinya coupe should have already been recorded in FT’s books over the years if the current value of the trees as recorded is correct. The small profits over time scarcely dented losses from other sources.

Chopping down a coupe is a realisation exercise not a profit making one.