The Dim-Post

March 8, 2012

Quantitive analysis for dummies

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 6:32 am

This is cute. John Armstrong, the Herald’s chief political courtier stands in awe of John Key’s mathematical analysis:

Shearer was the first to cop it. He asked Key if it was correct that under the provisions of just-introduced legislation covering the part-sale of state-owned enterprises like Genesis Energy, “half a dozen foreign investors” could legally purchase all the listed shares.

“No,” Key replied firmly before adding that no-one would be able to hold more than 10 per cent, that six times 10 was 60, and the Government was retaining 51 per cent.

It was the equivalent of the maths teacher handing a pupil the dunce’s hat and telling him to go and stand in the corner.

But . . . 49% of shares will be publicly listed, meaning half-a-dozen foreign investors could each buy 8.1%, and own all of the listed shares. Shearer was correct. Like, obviously, glaringly so. You’d think that with all the time Armstrong spends licking politicians’ fingers he’d have learned to count to ten.

27 Comments »

  1. Journalists don’t have to do maths, that’s why they became journalists. Maths is hard.

    Key on the other hand…

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 8, 2012 @ 6:39 am

  2. honeymoon continuance anyone?

    Comment by Cnr Joe — March 8, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  3. I think the point of Armstrong’s observation was that Key’s sense of humour left Shearer with no comeback.

    Whatever you think of that sense of humour it did leave Shearer with nowhere to go which supports Armstrong’s initial point that the opposition continue to underestimate Key.

    Comment by NeilM — March 8, 2012 @ 7:32 am

  4. ““No,” Key replied firmly before adding that no-one would be able to hold more than 10 per cent, that six times 10 was 60, and the Government was retaining 51 per cent.”

    In fairness to Key (and thus to Armstrong), if there will be 49% of the shares sold and no one owner can buy more than 10%, then 5 foreign investors can buy the available shares (not 6). Obviously, this is much, much better.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 8, 2012 @ 7:33 am

  5. …the opposition continue to underestimate Key.

    On this evidence, they seem to be drastically overestimating him.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 8, 2012 @ 7:39 am

  6. But wait! According to the front page of the Herald, a Grey Lynn shed sold for $900K over GV! I ain’t no high falutin’ mathematically minded academic type with a pen protector and a calculator, but I know when them good times are about to roll again!!111!1!

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 8, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  7. I can only assume this was left in to make John Armstrong look incredibly stupid.

    Comment by Fuzzy Dunlop — March 8, 2012 @ 8:15 am

  8. On second thoughts what Shearer asked was about listed shares, ie all of the shares, so of course with the govt keeping 51% there is no way that 6 people could buy 100% ie “all listed shares”, they couldn’t even buy 60%.

    So it wasn’t so much humour as spotting a hole in Shearer’s question. He should have asked could 6 people but all the shares on offer, or better – could 5 people.

    Comment by NeilM — March 8, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  9. On second thoughts what Shearer asked was about listed shares, ie all of the shares, so of course with the govt keeping 51% there is no way that 6 people could buy 100% ie “all listed shares”, they couldn’t even buy 60%.

    That’s the gist of it. The shares are, technically, listed, but the government won’t sell them. But Shearer’s questions were about foreign ownership of the shares that the government is selling. Key’s answer was a clumsy way to spin himself out of that fact that he guaranteed majority domestic ownership of those shares during the election but has now reneged on that promise. Political reporters are supposed to hold politicians to account on these things, not be effortlessly bewildered by some basic maths.

    Comment by danylmc — March 8, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  10. Last night I made a comment on Armstrong’s article along these lines, but it’s yet to show up. I’m assuming because the moderators don’t work 24/7 – it will surely turn up soon…

    Comment by J — March 8, 2012 @ 8:46 am

  11. Political reporters are supposed to hold politicians to account on these things, not be effortlessly bewildered by some basic maths.

    fair enough

    I suppose by next election we will know if Labour is right or wrong on the shares going to foreign owners. If they’re right they’re right and will presumeably go into the election with a large advantage. But what happens if the sky doesn’t fall down.

    Comment by NeilM — March 8, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  12. Well, if you assume that the shares will *only* be held by foreign investors taking the maximum holding, the PM is correct. Perhaps he knows something we don’t.

    Comment by lyndon — March 8, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  13. Oh for goodness sake, it’s Parliament question time. You are not supposed to take it literally.

    Comment by insider — March 8, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  14. insider: Except you are, because it is Question Time.

    Comment by Simon Poole — March 8, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  15. @ Psycho Milt: did you mean, “misoverestimating”? He’s technically Dubya with a Nuzild dialect.

    And still on asset sales, mum & dad investors approve of Key’s plans.

    Comment by DeepRed — March 8, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  16. Do you think John Armstrong sits in the press gallery writing John Armstrong-Key, John Key-Armstrong in loopy letters in the back of his notebook?

    Comment by Amy — March 8, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  17. Incredible. It’s the equivalent of the dunce’s fag giggling when the dunce pokes his tongue out at the teacher. Just a pity he has a face for radio and a voice for journalism, or there’d be a great little earner in squawkback when he finally hangs up the crayons.

    Comment by ak — March 8, 2012 @ 12:38 pm


  18. Political reporters are supposed to hold politicians to account on these things, not be effortlessly bewildered by some basic maths.

    No, they’re supposed to hold themselves in thrall to amusing repartee, and ‘insider’ conversations on matters of interest to the Government.

    Comment by George D — March 8, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  19. If they’re right they’re right and will presumeably go into the election with a large advantage.

    Being right only matters if Duncan Garner and John Armstrong think it’s important.

    Comment by George D — March 8, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  20. This the house, Sanc?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 8, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  21. Pretty sure it is Mr. Clunking etc. I have to say, any man of the vintage of the gentleman in the video who wears a shirt like that deserves to be beaten to death with a chuppa chup.

    I also consider the choice of art inside the house to be simply vile.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 8, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  22. Interesting, err, street appeal.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 9, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

  23. Tragic really. I thought that Armstrong would be over his infatuation with Key by now.

    Armstrong really is beneath contempt when trying to make 2+2=5 in support of his pin up idol.

    The real insult is that he, and his editorial bosses expect the rest of us to believe it when the Herald
    says it is politically neutral.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 10, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  24. I can imagine conversations, that on one side, run like this:

    You know of course that…

    I mean it’s really cool that you have an open marriage so openly when polyamory is…

    Well, you know, I mean…

    Like…

    Surely your wife knows, doesn’t she?

    I mean…

    Surely you’ve…?!

    What, really?

    I mean, really?!

    You haven’t?

    Really, you mean to say that you haven’t?!

    Do you intend to?

    Really? I think that you should, honestly. This sort of thing requires some serious discussion. I mean that.

    Really. I mean that. Really. As in really really.

    No, really. It’s a good idea, trust me. You should. Now… or if not now, as soon as possible.

    What?

    Look, no, you can’t. She’ll find out. Inevitably.

    Oh my God.

    Oh. My. God.

    Oh look! It’s X! Hang on, I really need to talk to her, like right NOW! Sorry, I’ve got to go…

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 10, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  25. “The real insult is that he, and his editorial bosses expect the rest of us to believe it when the Herald says it is politically neutral.”

    Which is where the Law Commission’s media industry discussion might just come in, being loosely inspired by the Leveson & Finkelstein Inquiries. I don’t mind if Armstrong, Roughan et al happen to be shills for the Key Govt, but if they are, I’d appreciate it if they were a lot more honest about it. And do I get the feeling that Roughan’s position in the Press Council isn’t so much one of self-regulation but one of infiltration, just like Roger Ailes’ role with Fox News? The News of the World scandal is likely the beginning of the end of the Murdoch churnalism model, and if Roughan fears that the LawCom’s discussion is a path to media censorship, then he and his cohorts only have themselves to blame.

    Comment by DeepRed — March 11, 2012 @ 12:30 am

  26. John Armstrong has been around for a long time in the Press Gallery. He was there when Rod Donald and I used to tread the halls doing press work for the Electoral Reform Coalition in 1988-90. Armstrong tends to be even-handed…though I suspect he has to acknowledge the realities of being employed by National Party-loving APN.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — March 12, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  27. Far too many Gallery journalists are still in love with Key. He is, against all precedents, still enjoying his honeymoon as he blunders into his second term. Key seldom gets asked a curly question and is able to brush criticism away with his dopey smile. It is worse on shows like TVNZ Breakfast and some radio outlets where he yarns with star-struck “mates” and weird women who appear to want to have his babies. In a previous life he was obviously adept at manipulating other people’s money and made his fortune in the totally unproductive field of money market shuffling. In a land where money is the measure of all things he can do no wrong. Journalism is becoming a farce. It is also pretty hard to take Shearer seriously. No one knows what he stands for and Labour have no big ideas or commitment to social justice and ordinary working people. They are just another middle of the road mob of opportunists looking to get their hands on the levers of power. It is tragic.

    Comment by phil wallington — March 12, 2012 @ 4:39 pm


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