How Well Did The Economy Do Under John Key?

John Key: made New Zealand wealthier compared to other nations, but not by as much as Helen Clark did

This article starts with a very straightforward proposition: that the prosperity of an economy and of the people in that economy is primarily a question of GDP per capita. Given that, we can measure the increase in New Zealand prosperity (if any) under John Key’s tenure by looking at the change in GDP per capita during that time.

The figures that this article uses are taken from the International Monetary Database. Here we calculate GDP on a price purchasing parity basis because we are ultimately trying to measure the change in standard of living.

In 2009, the GDP per capita of New Zealand was USD30,572. This placed us 37th in the world, just behind Italy, Japan and Spain, and just ahead of Greece, South Korea and Israel.

In 2016, the GDP per capita of New Zealand was USD37,294. This placed us 35th in the world, just behind South Korea (who leapfrogged us), Japan and Finland, and just ahead of Italy and Spain (who we leapfrogged) and Israel.

This makes for an increase of 22% over 7 years, which is about 2.9% per year if calculated on a compounding basis.

2.9% over a seven-year period can rightly be considered a decent effort of national economic stewardship from Mr. Key. That level of growth is far from remarkable, but it was enough to move us past a Southern European level of wealth and close to a Far East Asian level.

By way of comparison, the GDP per capita of New Zealand in 2000 was USD21,807, which makes for a 40% increase over the nine years of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. This works out to just over 3.7% per annum.

Measured that way, the performance of the John Key economy was markedly poorer than the Clark/Cullen economy. However, one has to take into account that Key inherited a global financial crisis, and so it’s worthwhile comparing New Zealand to other nations instead of looking at absolute growth.

In the year 2000, New Zealand was considerably less wealthy than Italy (which had a GDP per capita of USD28,602), Japan (USD26,850) and Spain (USD24,053). It was also less wealthy than Australia (USD28,801), Britain (USD26,425) and America (USD36,433).

By 2009, the GDP per capita of New Zealand had increased from 76% of that of Italy to 89%; from 81% of that of Japan to 92%; and from 91% of that of Spain to 96%. Against other Anglo nations, the GDP per capita of New Zealand had decreased from 76% of that of Australia to 75%; had increased from 83% to 87% of that of Britain; and increased from 60% to 65% of that of America.

This means that under the Fifth Labour Government, New Zealand improved its position strongly against comparable countries, with the exception of the booming Australia.

By 2016, the GDP per capita of New Zealand had increased from 89% to 101% of that of Italy; had decreased from 92% to 90% of that of Japan; and had increased from 96% to 102% of that of Spain. Against other Anglo nations, the GDP per capita of New Zealand had increased from 75% of that of Australia back up to 76%; had increased from 87% to 88% of that of Britain; and remained at 65% of that of America.

This tells us that under the Fifth National Government, New Zealand improved its position against the Southern European countries but stayed the same compared to other Anglo ones.

Ultimately, therefore, we can see that New Zealand’s economic standing in the world is marginally better, in relative terms, after the Key Administration. Apart from the decline of Italy, New Zealand didn’t really improve in relative wealth. This contrasts sharply with the years under Helen Clark, during which time New Zealand improved strongly.

What’s Mental Damage to You is a Profit Opportunity to Someone Else

Here’s a grim, meathook reality so grim that you might want to sit down for it in case you can’t sit down pain-free for the next week: There is nothing in the whole world as profitable as human suffering. In every time and in every place, human misery offers unparalled opportunity to make dollars.

Understanding this is a matter of understanding some psychology.

A person’s level of motivation to take any given action is a function of the amount of pleasure they expect to gain or the amount of suffering they expect to avoid.

If they come to believe that a previously favoured course of action will lead to a decrease in future pleasure or an increase in future suffering, they will come to change their behaviour.

The psychology of advertising is little more than causing the reader, listener or viewer of the advert to suffer in some way and to then create an association between the product that you are trying to sell and the alleviation of that suffering.

This is done with a simple two-step procedure.

The first is to get the reader to feel bad for some reason. In practice, there are an almost unlimited number of ways that you can make a person feel bad. The really big ticket items, though, are a fear of disease, a fear of low social status and the fear of not being attractive to the opposite sex.

These fears play into the ultimate biological reason why human beings feel fear – namely, when the biological organism calculates, consciously or otherwise, that its potential to maintain or to spread its genes is threatened.

The second is to promote a product as the solution to that feeling bad.

In the case of fear of disease, you can sell medicine and insurance. You can manipulate the target’s fear of germs by exaggerating the prevalence of them to sell cleaning products. You can manipulate the target’s fear of dying by exaggerating the degree of anxiety that a reasonable person ought to feel if they do not have life insurance.

In the case of fear of low social status, you can sell flash cars, expensive clothing, jewellery, houses, golf clubs, yachts and more. Basically anything that appears to compensate for any kind of erectile dysfunction or small penis will attract people who are willing to pay money for it.

In the case of fear of not being attractive to the opposite sex, you can sell just about anything. The use of sex to sell a product is almost universal in advertising. After all, it plays at the fundamental male fear.

The psychologists who conduct advertising campaigns know that the human male – in the vast majority of circumstances – is permanently in a state of subconscious anxiety about his capacity to pass his genes on through a fertile female of his species. This will make him reliably dumb in ways that can be anticipated and profited from.

All the advertiser has to do is to associate the lack of their product with a lack of mating opportunities, and the presence of their product with the presence of mating opportunities. When this is achieved, the male will be willing to pay money for the advertiser’s product in order to alleviate the anxiety the advertiser has created.

It can therefore be seen that the purpose of advertising is literally to make you suffer for money.

This column is no exception. We make a living from telling you when you’ve been lied to – and then selling you what we claim to be the truth. The more we can aggravate your sense of outrage at the lies of politicians, priests and psychiatrists, the more likely you will become to spend money on our books.

Of course, we claim to be doing it out of solidarity, in your own interest – but then so did the priests who burned Giordano Bruno at the stake.

As above; so below – but don’t forget that anyone who is trying to make you suffer is probably not doing it out of sadism but simply for the $$$$$.

r/K Selection Theory and Political Orientation

r/K selection theory is an ecological concept that applies to the attitudes that a breeding creature will have towards its offspring. Simply put, all sexually reproducing creatures fall along a spectrum that has zero parental input into the survival of the offspring at one end (the r end) and extremely high parental input at the other end (the K end).

The classic r-strategy is one that has a very high rate of breeding, and a correspondingly very low rate of parental investment, like that of a reptile or a mouse. The classic K-strategy, by contrast, is one that has a low rate of breeding and a correspondingly high rate of parental investment, like that of an elephant or a human being.

As above, so below: the thinking of people can be understood along this exact same parallel. Although biologists don’t look at it like this, it’s possible to view this r/K arrangement as representing the degree of solidarity that exists between human generations.

The r-strategy could be compared to the kind of male that gets a woman pregnant and then disappears from the scene before he is called upon to provide any resources for the offspring. It is even described as “opportunistic”, in much the same way that that kind of male behaviour is.

The K-strategy would then be compared to the kind of male that forms a monogamous pair bond for life, with no intention of finding future female partners to inseminate, and who makes a large investment in terms of time and/or energy in making sure that the offspring of the bond grow up to be fit to deal with the selective pressures of life.

Practically speaking, a male running the r-strategy would have to inseminate more females than a male running the K-strategy, because fewer of the former male’s offspring could be expected to survive to adulthood, on account of the lower degree of parental investment they received.

Moreover, a smaller proportion of those who did survive to adulthood would reproduce, because those who did survive would more frequently be socially or emotionally defective in comparison to those who had a more natural level of paternal investment.

The r/K selection strategy parallels closely the objective of the various political wings. What’s odd, though, is that both wings of the left-right spectrum see themselves as representatives of the K-strategy and their opponents as the representatives of the r-strategy.

Conservatives would consider that the optimal K-strategy would be a monogamous marriage, and preferably a Christian one, and this is the kind of family that appears to be held up in our culture as some kind of ideal. In such a marriage the father would stick around and provide a large amount of investment in a relatively small number of offspring.

They would consider that paying out money in welfare is a mistake because it incentivises r-strategy men to impregnate women and then disappear. In many cases the fear is that welfare incentivises women to get inseminated by dead-beat males and that the rest of us therefore have to carry the burden for children who would not otherwise have existed.

Liberals would consider that the K-strategy involved paying an amount of tax that was sufficient to cover all the requirements every citizen has to grow into a healthy, productive adult. This would mean a high level of investment in every child – schooling, healthcare, freedom from abuse and neglect etc.

They would consider the r-strategy to be what religious conservatives do when they have large numbers of children in adherence to a religious admonition to populate the Earth, and then raise them to be fearful, prejudiced and superstitious.

It appears somehow natural, when reading about the difference, to associate humans and mammals with the K-strategy and reptiles and insects with the r-strategy. Probably this is why both sides of the politico-retard spectrum consider themselves to represent the K-strategy.

Oddly, this gives us a potential way forward for the political system. If both left and right can agree that a K-strategy is morally superior to an r-strategy, then why not forget left and right entirely and run the system along the lines of a K-strategy?

South Africa in New Zealand 2017 Test Series Preview

Kagiso Rabada, at only 21 years of age, is considered one of the most likely to play an influential role in this series

The limited overs leg of the 2017 South Africa tour of New Zealand was a close-fought contest that ended in South Africa’s favour. As the limited overs game is New Zealand’s strong suit, that means that the South Africans will take the ascendancy into the three-match Test series beginning tomorrow in Dunedin.

South Africa are ranked No. 3 in the world and the Black Caps No. 5. This might not be a large gap but the market is much more confident of a South Africa win. The Proteas are paying only $2.24 on BetFair to win the First Test, compared to the Black Caps paying $3.70 and the Draw $3.60.

The Black Caps will not fondly recall the disappointment from when these two sides last met in Tests – the two match series in South Africa last August. The First Test was ruined by rain and the Second saw the Black Caps at one stage 4 down for 7 runs before a respectable, if futile, rearguard from Henry Nicholls.

Since then, the Black Caps have demolished both Pakistan and Bangladesh at home. Although South Africa will be tougher than either of those two Asian sides in New Zealand conditions, the Black Caps’ home advantage should make this series more interesting than the previous encounter in South Africa last August.

If one makes the assumption that Tom Latham’s poor recent ODI form will not carry over into the Test arena, then the Black Caps top order looks as solid as it ever has been.

They will have the highest ranked Test batsman on display for either side, in Kane Williamson at 4th. His returns in the past year have been good but mediocre by his high standards and he would like to play a defining innings against the South Africans.

Ross Taylor at 15th and Tom Latham at 26th, with Jeet Raval looking solid in his limited opportunities so far, make it a respectable, if far from intimidating, Black Caps top order.

They will not be favoured to dominate the South African bowling attack, though, even in the absence of Dale Steyn. The 21-year old Kagiso Rabada had barely had time to find his feet but has already risen to 5th in the Test bowling rankings, with two five-wicket hauls in only 14 Tests.

He will likely open the bowling with Vernon Philander, who averages 21.40 with the ball over 40 Tests. In terms of bowling average, at least, it will be easily the most formidable opening bowling pair the Black Caps have faced since their last series against South Africa.

They also have Morne Morkel, whose height and bounce pose a threat that New Zealand batsmen rarely face, and an almost total unknown in left-arm orthodox Keshav Maharaj.

The Black Caps have no real bowling spearheads but are capable of sustained pressure. Neil Wagner, Trent Boult and Tim Southee occupy positions 11 to 13 on the Test bowling rankings table.

These three bowlers have proven themselves capable of hunting as a pack, and the variety of Wagner’s left-arm bouncer barrage, Boult’s left-arm swing and Southee’s right-arm seam should make it difficult for the South African batsmen to settle. It will also be interesting to see if Mitchell Santner can usefully transfer his tight ODI bowling into the Test arena.

The South African Test batting unit might not be as terrifying as it is in ODIs but it still poses a threat. They do not have AB de Villiers for this series but both of Hashim Amla and Quentin de Kock are ranked in the top 10 and either could play a matchwinning knock.

The Black Caps bowlers will back their bowling plans against the other batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma. None of the batsmen in South Africa’s second tier pose a particular threat but all are very good players. Even if the Black Caps pick up a string of wickets somewhere they will always have to work hard to get the rest.

A heavyweight South Africa side without their best two players and playing in foreign conditions over three Tests against a middle-of-the-pack Black Caps side hungry to make the top tier promises to be highly competitive cricket. This column is guessing the most likely outcome to be a two-one win to South Africa or a one-all draw.

South Africa in New Zealand 2017 Limited Overs Series Preview

The theme of revenge for South Africa’s 2015 Cricket World Cup semifinal loss to the Black Caps has been well established. The Proteas came to Auckland with every reason to think they had what it took to seize a place in the World Cup final, but were denied at the last moment.

The Limited Overs leg of this year’s tour begins tomorrow and involves six matches. For South Africa there might be something of the 2015 World Cup about it, as the final match is, once again, at Eden Park.

The leg begins with a T20, also at Eden Park. Much of the interest in the T20 revolves about the late call-up of prodigious Auckland talent Glenn Phillips, who is replacing the injured Martin Guptill.

The 20-year old Phillips is already being talked about as a talent on the order of Kane Williamson and Tom Latham. In last year’s Super Smash he scored 369 runs at an average of 46 and a strike rate of 143, including one century scored at a strike rate of 200.

That is the sort of hitting the Black Caps will need at the top if they are to find an adequate replacement for Guptill. In limited overs matches the Black Caps know that if Guptill goes big, they win, because his striking ability is unmatched.

New Zealand sit comfortably on top of the current world T20I rankings, with South Africa at fourth. It’s almost exactly the other way around in the ODIs, with South Africa ranked at the top and the Black Caps third.

Despite that, the Black Caps are currently paying $2.34 on BetFair to win the T20, so there appears to be some value there.

The South African batting features four of the top ranked seven batsmen in the world at the moment, in AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Quentin de Kock. With any four of those players capable of a matchwinning innings, that makes the Proteas top order arguably the strongest ODI top order that has ever come to these shores.

The Black Caps, for their part, have a diverse and highly skilled array of artillery to break through this. But barring Trent Boult, who is currently ranked the No. 2 ODI bowler, none of them can rightly be said to be at the same skill level as the South African batting lineup.

Although there is much to choose from out of Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne (the latter two returning from injury), none of those names pose the known and established threat that Boult does.

Probably the Black Caps will pick Trent Boult, one of the two speedsters (likely to be Ferguson who is in the squad ahead of Milne) and the other spot will be decided by who is best for the conditions out of Henry and Southee.

Ish Sodhi will also be back in case the Black Caps decide to try and strangle the South Africans with the spin of Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and perhaps even Williamson. If the seamers end up getting dominated by the superb Proteas batsmen, expect a wholesale shift to Plan B: strangle by spin.

The South African bowling unit would generally back itself to defend the large totals their batsmen would expect to put up. They have the No. 1 ranked ODI bowler in Imran Tahir, and the ever-more impressive Kagiso Rabada, who is ranked equal with Matt Henry at 7.

Rabada ought to find New Zealand pitches to his liking, with his Courtney Walsh-style action a test of any batsman’s technique. Chris Morris might be hard to get away but Wayne Parnell, JP Duminy and Andile Phehlukwayo will not be names the Black Caps batsmen are afraid of.

Dean Brownlie scored an excellent 63 in the Black Caps’ Hadlee-Chappell winning effort in their last ODI against Australia, and he has been selected to open in place of Guptill for the first two ODIs (Guptill is expected to be fit for the third).

The rest of the Black Caps top order looks very strong, with Latham, Williamson and Ross Taylor making up the remainder. With Luke Ronchi back in the ODI squad there is plenty of middle order hitting power as well.

Expect a high-scoring series in stark contrast to the recent Hadlee-Chappell, as both South Africa and the Black Caps have considerably stronger batting lineups than they do bowling attacks. It is, however, likely to be close, with a 3-2 win to the Proteas probably the slight favourite over a 3-2 to the Black Caps.

Australia in New Zealand 2017 ODI Series Preview

Missing an explosively terrifying opening batsman and a first drop with the hand-eye co-ordination of a god, the Australian cricket team came to New Zealand and got beaten 3-0. Prediction for this week? No, that was what happened the last time we were in that situation, in February 2007.

Building up for a later triumphant Cricket World Cup campaign, Australia rested both Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting for the 2007 Hadlee-Chappell series in New Zealand, and got beaten 3-0.

Absent the usual steel up top, Australia disintegrated in the first ODI to Shane Bond, who took 5-23 from 9.3 overs, and they lost by ten wickets. Chasing 337 in the second ODI, New Zealand won after a brilliant Ross Taylor century and some dogged lower-order batting. Again chasing in the third, only that time 347, the Black Caps won in the last over with the last wicket after a 165-run 6th wicket stand between Craig McMillan and Brendon McCullum.

The 2017 edition of the Hadlee-Chappell will be absent David Warner – who recently took AB de Villiers’s crown as No. 1 ranked ODI batsman, and Steve Smith, who averages 51.90 since the start of 2015.

In the 2016 edition in New Zealand, the Black Caps took the series 2-1: Australia won a close game and was thumped twice. Something similar might be on the cards for this week.

Like 2007, the Australia of 2017 will possess some fearsome bowling. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins make up what must be close to the most dangerous trio ever seen in ODI history. Both Starc and Hazlewood are ranked in the top 5, and although Cummins is only ranked 27th that is a reflection of bad luck with injuries and not an absence of talent.

The Black Caps, for their part, have their own heavy artillery. Trent Boult is today the No. 1 ranked ODI bowler in the world, and Matt Henry is at No. 7. These two bowlers demolished the Australia top order in the first ODI of the 2016 series, leaving them at one stage 6/41.

Tim Southee might only be ranked 26th but he is dangerous with a bit of assistance, and Mitchell Santner is fast becoming like another Daniel Vettori in terms of miserly economy. This series will surely also feature more of Lockie Ferguson, who rocked the speed radar in Australia with a string of 150kph+ deliveries, but whose pace was often to the batsman’s advantage on the hard pitches.

The major difference between the two sides is in the batting. Australia’s best batsman in this series is arguably Glenn Maxwell, ranked 18th.

Because Australia is absent Warner at the top and Steve Smith ranked 8th, New Zealand have the top-ranked three batsmen in this match, with Kane Williamson at 5, Martin Guptill at 9 and Ross Taylor at 16. These three batsmen would all be in a Black Caps all-time ODI top 5.

Tom Latham may only average 33 in ODIs but appears to have now adjusted very well to the white ball game, and he is now averaging 40 in his last 25 ODI matches. As he is still only 24 and improving so rapidly in all forms of the game he is on a trajectory to become as good as the others.

Australia has brought in the reputable Aaron Finch to bolster the batting, but none of the names in the Australian top 5 – weak by historical standards even with Warner and Smith – will stand out to the Black Caps tacticians as a particular threat.

The obvious plan for the Black Caps to win the series, then, is to repeat how they won it in 2016, namely by bowling Australia out for substandard totals.

The market seems to think that this is very likely – the Black Caps are paying only $2.12 on BetFair to take the first ODI at Eden Park tomorrow. At the TAB a 3-0 Black Caps series win is paying only $6.50, which seems minuscule considering that Australia has won five Cricket World Cups.

Considering that the Hadlee-Chappell is fast becoming the ODI cricket equivalent of a marquee series like the Ashes or the Bledisloe Cup, probably the best strategy would be to save your betting money for chips and weed and just kick back to enjoy the degree of skill on display.

VJM Publishing Launches Range of Premium Trolling Services

International demand for trolling services is one of the Internet’s fastest growing industries, alongside meme construction and paid political shilling. Nothing grows interest and enthusiasm for an internet channel or forum faster than a skilled professional troll. Particularly good ones are guaranteed to get the viewers coming back time and time again.

Alfred Hitchcock once asked “What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?” Indeed, once it is understood that one of the major reasons people use the Internet is for entertainment, and that drama is prime entertainment, and that trolls cause drama, it follows that trolls attract people to the Internet, and by implication to any forum that has trolls.

This means traffic, which, of course, means money. So trolls = money.

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The major advantage The Shitfighter package affords over the entry-tier one is that The Shitfighter will have a higher level of knowledge about the forum subject matter and of the various forum personalities. They will also be capable of a higher posting volume, as any troll assigned to this package will have fewer other channels in their portfolio to compete for time.

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Bangladesh in New Zealand Test Series 2017, Second Test Preview

The Black Caps, the Tigers, and cricket fans will all be on the same side for the Second Test, their adversary: the Christchurch weather. It is forecast to rain on at least three of the five days of the Test, and anyone who has lived in the Garden City knows that this could mean anything from five days of blazing sun to five days of hammering down.

BetFair doesn’t seem too concerned about the possibility of the Draw, though. At time of writing this was paying $6.60.

On the face of it, this looks very high when you consider that the first two innings of the First Test went for over 1,100 runs for only 18 wickets. In fact, at Tea on the fourth day, the Draw was paying a mere $1.05, and the majority of cricket fans were astonished by how rapidly the second Bangladeshi innings fell apart from that point.

Probably the market is anticipating that Bangladesh will have difficulty replicating their batting feats of the first innings in Wellington – after all, Bangladeshi batsmen cannot break the record for their nation’s highest ever Test score every match, as Shakib al Hasan did with his superb 217 from 276 balls.

The Black Caps are paying $1.26, which is very marginal value at best.

Although they showed in Wellington that any of Tom Latham, Kane Williamson or Ross Taylor can play a matchwinning innings, it’s doubtful whether the Black Caps have the firepower with the ball to justify accepting a margin of twenty-six cents in the dollar.

The Black Caps bowlers may have knocked the Tigers out for 160 in their second innings, but aside from skilled bowling from Mitchell Santner, and Neil Wagner setting up Mominul Haque, this was mostly due to poor shot selection and being injured by the ball.

Certainly there is motivation for Tim Southee to bowl well in Christchurch because his claim to a spot in the team is arguably more tenuous than anyone else beside Henry Nicholls.

With match figures of 3 for 192 in Wellington, and with an average of 36 at a strike rate of 70 since the start of 2015, he will have to improve to keep the next generation of strike bowlers from replacing him in the first choice side.

Bangladesh are paying $16.50 at time of writing, which appears good value but not as good as the Draw. They were paying $24 before the First Test so the market has taken account of how impressive they were.

Taskin Ahmed was impressive without reward with the new ball on debut, suggesting that much of his promise in the shorter forms will carry over to Tests once he makes the adjustment. He may have only got one wicket but it was Williamson with a delivery of excellent line and length, and if a bowler can dismiss Williamson he can dismiss anyone.

Subashis Roy, the other debutant, did not have an action that suggested he would be dangerous but he did pick up 3 for 121, very good figures in the context of a defeat of this magnitude.

The main difficulty for Bangladesh is that – although Mominul Haque and al Hasan are a match for the Black Caps bowlers with the bat – Williamson, Taylor and arguably even Latham and BJ Watling outclass with the bat anything the Tigers can put forward with the ball.

So – as was amply demonstrated in Wellington – the Tigers may have the potential to put up a huge innings on occasion but probably lack the firepower to break the Black Caps defences twice themselves.

Certainly with regular captain Mushfiqur Rahim out injured for the second Test, the Bangladeshi men of silver will be having nightmares about how to get Kane Williamson out twice. Williamson was dismissed once in Wellington for the McCullumesque match return of 157 runs from 145 balls.

Considering that there are very few match outcomes that could result in the Black Caps being shorter than $1.26 at the end of the first day, the optimal betting strategy might be to lay the Black Caps before the start of play. In doing so, you will be in a position to cash in on both the possibility of rain and of a large first innings from Bangladesh.

This bet will very likely have value until at least late in the fourth day, given the fact that the batsmen in both teams are collectively more skilled than the bowlers in both teams.

The trader may also wish to consider that in the previous Test at this venue, the Black Caps lost Latham, Williamson and Taylor for a total of 16 runs in the first innings – and still won by eight wickets. So if the rain does not play a role there may well be a result.

Bangladesh in New Zealand Test Series 2017, First Test Preview

Facing Trent Boult on a green wicket in Wellington promises to be daunting challenge for the Bangladeshi top order

Bangladesh are currently paying $24 on BetFair to win the First Test of their 2017 tour to New Zealand, beginning tomorrow in Wellington. New Zealand are so heavily favoured that if Bangladesh can manage so much as a draw it pays $6.60.

On the surface of things, there are few areas in which Bangladesh have an advantage over New Zealand.

The Black Caps top order is looking as composed as it ever has done. Jeet Raval may have only played two Tests but across those two he averages 49.33, with two fifties and a not out. By the standards of Black Caps openers since Richardson, that’s as promising as anyone apart from Tom Latham.

Latham, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor comprise the rest of the top order, and one would have to go back as far as John Wright, Andrew Jones and Martin Crowe to find an equivalent solidity.

In the middle order things are not as certain. If Henry Nicholls cannot impress at No. 5 soon, he might have to return to domestic cricket for a spell while one of the next generation has a turn at trying to fill the Brendon McCullum-sized hole.

Colin de Grandhomme has, like Raval, only played two Tests but he has also looked solid, averaging 32, and also has a strong first-class record. Even though Watling at 7 is a solid pick, the overall feel of the Black Caps middle order is far from settled.

The pitch at the Basin Reserve is expected to be unusually green, which means that Trent Boult and Tim Southee can be expected to pose a considerable danger. In an odd quirk, Boult (12) and Southee (13) are, with Neil Wagner at 11th, grouped together on the ICC Test bowling rankings.

The Bangladeshi batting will depend heavily on certain key players, and if the Black Caps can get a couple of them early they will back themselves to roll the visitors, on a green wicket, for very little.

Although the spine of the Bangladeshi side is much stronger than it has been in recent years, few would expect it to stand strong against the Black Caps’ heavy artillery on a green track.

Opener Tamim Iqbal is the highest ranked of the Bangladeshi bastmen, at 22nd. An opener averaging 40 is an impressive asset for a side of Bangladesh’s reputation, and perhaps the foremost way that the Tigers could claim to have an advantage over their opposite numbers.

With a probable 4-5-6-7 of Mahmudullah, Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman, the Bangladeshi middle order is a fairly battle-hardened unit. All four of these batsmen are, if not intimidating, skilled enough to make the Black Caps pay for any errors.

The major disadvantage that the Tigers will have is a bowling attack highly unsuited to the conditions they will face in Wellington. Shakib al Hasan may be ranked 2nd of all the allrounders in Tests, but his gentle left-arm spin will pose far less of a threat at the Basin Reserve than in Bangladesh.

If Bangladesh are to win, it will almost certainly take a handful of good spells from Taskin Ahmed, who with an ODI strike rate of 29 is growing into a strike weapon in the shorter form of the game, or from his expected new ball partner Subashis Roy, about who very little is known apart from a respectable first class average of 28.

The best hope for an interesting match might be for Bangladesh to win the toss and put the Black Caps in on a green wicket tomorrow morning, then to ambush the top order with their debutant new ball pair and get into the soft middle order before lunch.

What the BetFair Market is Telling us About the US Presidential Election

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Although a glance at the BetFair market for November’s US Presidential election looks, on the surface, to be a comfortable win for Hillary Clinton, there are some facts that go against this simple conclusion.

There has been a lot of discussion about Hillary Clinton’s health. Much of the mainstream media, though, seems willing to write this off as an alt-right conspiracy theory.

But at an appearance during a 9/11 memorial Hillary left because she was “overwhelmed with emotion”. Later, the story was corrected to “overwhelmed with heat” (the day was not especially warm). Even later still, the story was changed to “pneumonia”, so we can rightly suspect that there is a major political secret about Hillary’s health that could define this presidential campaign.

The odds of Hillary winning the Presidency blew out when this was reported, from $1.45 to $1.61. It went up and down after that with low volumes being placed, as the market started to suspect that she might be forced to drop out of the race.

There are Democratic replacements for Hillary at short odds, but this is not the same for Republican replacements for Trump. The difference between the two gives us some clues about how much the market suspects Hillary might drop out.

After the 9/11 medical event, Bernie Sanders was paying a mere $38 to win the Presidency, reflecting the belief that, as premiere challenger to Hillary during the primaries, he would be the obvious choice to take over should Hillary’s health fail.

Joe Biden came in to $30 on rumours that the Democratic party had conducted polls suggesting Biden had a 20-point lead over Trump in a head-to-head election.

Tim Kaine came in all the way in to $95 from $1000, reflecting the widespread belief that, for some reason, it is too late to change the candidate and so the Democrats would have to go with Kaine should Hillary become incapacitated.

Using VJM Publishing’s Draw Arbitrage Finder program we can calculate that the BetFair market considers $16.65 to be fair value for any candidate other than Clinton and Trump. Considering that the odds of the closest challenger to Trump, Paul Ryan, are $610, this equates to a roughly 6% chance that Clinton will drop out of the Presidential race.

Also of interest is that Trump is doing much better than Brexit was at any stage of that campaign, including, crucially, the morning of the vote itself. This suggests that the apparent advantage that Hillary has is well within the range of possible outcomes that could be the result of Establishment manipulation.