Saturday, April 12, 2008


Beware your Employer come bearing gifts...

KiwiSaver, the new government superannuation scheme, is a great a idea. It's not only good for the individual but also good for the New Zealand economy. I'll explain why. If the average kiwi signs up for the default 4% they get a government kick-start of $1040, 1% from their employer from the 1st of April 2008 rising 1% each year to a final amount of 4%, $20 for annual management fees and a $20 a week tax rebate. That tax rebate works out at another $1040 per year which the government gives you as a lump sum at the end of each year your are a KiwiSaver participant.

This saving will give most kiwis a comfortable retirement and also means that money that might have been spent on imports, which affect our balance of trade, or "invested" in the non-productive housing industry will be at worst saved in the local economy and at best invested in local and international equities.In the long run equities provide the best return and if you've got more than say 5 - 10 years to retire then I would recommend it. Also, investing in our local economy gives us back control of our profitable companies, this means more profits are kept in New Zealand raising all out living standards. It also means new companies and IPOs can be financed internally to a larger degree. Take Piker River Coal mine (PRC), this company is mining some of the highest grade coking coal down in the west cost. Now a large part of this company (at least 70%) was bought by overseas investors (India comes to mind) who need access to the coal for steel production. Recent coal prices, like many commodities, are at all time highs. If New Zealand had been more focused on investing in our local infrastructure rather than property we may have been able to maintain more of this company in local hands. It's likely this company will start producing a profit in 2009 and 70% of that will most likely end up overseas. KiwiSaver will give us more of this focus, a focus that's been happening in America, Australia, Canada etc.. for a much longer time. By investing overseas we do one better, we get a slice of foreign profit coming into the New Zealand economy.

So far so good ... you may be wondering why the title then. The reason is because, although KiwiSaver is great in principle, it may not be so in practice. There are couple of issues I see with it and for the ignorant it is possible they may be being swindled by their scheme provider and/or employer. First you have to be careful who you choose to invest with. I don't think there is any regulation on what a scheme provider has to invest in so they could, theoretically, invest your 4% in lotto tickets and hope you strike it big. Okay, this is an extreme example, but how many of you know exactly what your KiwiSaver money is invested in? Maybe you should ask your scheme provider. Second, beware management fees and investment styles (a fees calculator is available here: There is quite a large difference in fees here and you can expect to pay 3 times as much in fees from the higher end than from the lower end. This can equate to tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you retire. Also, beware (most) actively managed funds. Most managers, around 75% don't/can't beat the market (see and if they do it may only be for one year and then they slip back into the pack. I would recommend a passive index fund which just tracks an index e.g. SmartFonz (FNZ) which tracks the performance of New Zealand's top 50 companies. These have the advantage that they are likely to beat 75% of managers year in year out, they have lower management fees, which I've shown before can make a big difference and also active funds have to pay tax every time they buy and sell shares whereas a passive index does not. I personally use SmartKiwi, the NZX's KiwiSaver scheme. They use only index funds and have one of the lowest management fees around.

Now for the employer angle. Some companies are trying to claim that the employer contributions are part of your salary package and will be taken into account in future pay negotiations. One notable example is one of New Zealand's largest Telecommunications and ICT providers ( not naming names ;) ). To me this is unethical in the extreme. I have heard claim that they are only trying to treat all employees fairly i.e. those that haven't opted for KiwiSaver and aren't getting the 1% top up should not be unfairly disadvantaged. Yes, they should!!. If they choose not to sign up to Kiwisaver, it's their own, DAMN, fault. Don't penalize me because they're stupid. They have a choice, the government has set up this scheme and it's their choice not to take advantage of it. And anyway these companies are given a tax rebate to cover their contributions and now their trying to claim more off their employees? (see Talk about wanting their cake and eating to too. These companies are trying to use their employees ignorance of the KiwiSaver scheme to rip them off. My fellow kiwi's, why would you want to work for an employer that has such little regard for their own people. If they think we're that stupid why did they hire us in the first place?!?. They can GF!!

I guess what can you expect from companies that are largely overseas owned. They have no love of the Kiwi people, all they see are dollar signs. So for your own good and the good of our country join up, lets take control of our own lives back and the control of our country's future prosperity.

I'm a Kiwi and I'm proud to call my self a Kiwi ... Saver.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Here comes a new Boss, almost like the old Boss

Spankermatic has been stupid enough to add me to his blog.

I'll be ranting about my point of view from now on. Although it is similar to his, he knows nothing about good TV shows, ahem FIREFLY ahem.

IronMan, better than the Man of Steel

Generally speaking I am not to bothered about all the super hero films that seem to come out. Some of them are pretty cool, most have an entertainment value of some kind, and some are just plain terrible. In saying that I am actually looking forward to the new IronMan film. It is directed by the star of one of my favourite films 'Swingers', Jon Faverau. Also it has Robert Downey Jr who seems to have come good after all those years of being a druggy loser bum. Don’t get me wrong I like Downey, I think he is a great actor with bucket loads of talent but he nearly threw it all away. Anyway the trailer has been out for a while now and if you want to see it then read on. Also I have listed some of the superhero\comic book films that I like\Hate or what ever.
IronMan trailer

X-Men - I don’t mind this series at all, it's fairly disposable watching with plenty of action. There is not too much to care about in regards to the characters of the danger that the bad guys present. I mean I don’t feel that the World is going to end. I am not rooting for the good guys as much as waiting for the bad guys to do something bad.

Spiderman - This series started so well. The first one looked so good and there was good action, it was a new look at a cool super hero. I am desperate for Sam Raimi to do some new material as I think he got bogged down with this series. I do think that the Spiderman films fell into the same trap as the first series of Batman films, there were to many villains. Spiderman 3 had three bad guys, Venom, that goblin guy and the Sandman. It should have been about Venom only, that would have given chance to create a much better evil for Venom and flesh things out more.

Superman - I really quite liked Superman Returns, I think they paid homage to the original Christopher Reeve films nicely and hopefully the series continues. Christopher Reeve was the reason that the original series worked so well, he was completely believable as Kent and Superman. You got totally taken to that World. The bad chaps in Superman II were nasty too. Wearing black and killing astronauts on the moon.... grizzly. That’s what PG villains should be like.

Daredevil - This was really average. Don’t really know what to say... Bad guys were naff and Affleck was normal. Blagh!

Ultraviolet - Shit! Total garbage.....

Batman - Tim Burton's Batman was fantastic, as was Nolan's Batman Begins. i only hope that The Dark Knight is a better sequel than Batman Returns was for Burton. I think that Burton's Batman is a lot more mysterious than Nolan's and that helps to sell the dark brooding image. In saying that Nolan's version show us exactly what he went through to become the man in the suit and gives us a more detailed motive. I love them both and can't wait to see The Dark Knight.

This is just a short selection of some of the things that I think about the superheroes that have graced our screens recently. I do think that they should slow down on the production of these films as they are becoming more throw away and less eagerly awaited. People have almost had enough. I am sure that IronMan will prove me wrong.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Teaching can be Fun.

Here is a video of a physics lecturer at MIT in the States who uses lots of practicle demonstrations to teach his students. I wish that my teachers had been like this, it actually looks like fun. His name is Walter Lewin and he is becoming rather well known now because of a video blogs and his enthusiasm for physics. This is what teaching should be about. People that have a passion for something and want to share it with others. Not like when I was at school where we were all told to read stuff, we didnt even have internet, or paper, or books. I had to walk twenty miles in the snow just to get to school, and that was without shoes. Then I had to walk twenty miles home just to get a beating before going to work in the mine.... Folks these days have it easy.