Monday, June 17, 2013

20130617 Links: Technology, Australia, New Zealand.

1. Faster and faster super-computers:
Tianhe-2, developed by the government-run National University of Defence Technology, topped the latest list of the fastest 500 supercomputers, by a team of international researchers.
They said the news was a "surprise" since the system had not been expected to be ready until 2015. 
China last held the top rank between November 2010 and June 2011. 
According to the list, the US has the world's second and third fastest supercomputers, Titan and Sequoia, while Japan's K computer drops to fourth spot. 
The latest version of the twice-yearly list - which is overseen by Hans Meuer, professor of computer science at the University of Mannheim - was published to coincide with the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany. 
Fastest supercomputers
1. Tianhe-2 (China)
2. Titan (US)
3. Sequoia (US)
4. K computer (Japan)
5. Mira (US)
6. Stampede (US)
7. Juqueen (Germany)
8. Vulcan (US)
9. SuperMuc (Germany)
10. Tianhe-1A (China)
2. Deteriorating outlook for Australia:
Fears of a slowdown in Australia's growth have been compounded again with Bank of America Merrill Lynch slashing its forecast for the nation's 2014 GDP growth, hot on the heels of Goldman Sachs.   
The bank has cut its forecast to 2.4 per cent GDP growth for Australia next year, down from 2.9 per cent.  
It comes less than a week after Goldman Sachs warned Australia was at risk of sliding into a steep downturn as it cut the country's growth and currency forecasts.  
Goldman's lowered its 2013 growth forecast to 2 per cent from 2.4 per cent and 2014 forecast to 1.9 per cent from 2.7 per cent. 
The investment bank blamed cuts to corporate and public spending, a high Australian dollar and falling export prices for the revision and prediction of a 20 per cent recession risk for the nation.  
JP Morgan has also reduced its forecast for 2014 to 2.75 per cent, from 3.25 per cent. 
3. The bubbling New Zealand housing market:
It will be at least August before the Reserve Bank launches its first torpedo at the Auckland property market, in the form of restrictions on low-deposit home loans.
Governor Graeme Wheeler said yesterday that although no decisions had been taken, the bank was seriously considering imposing a speed limit - that is, restricting how much of a bank's new mortgage lending can be at high loan-to-value ratios (LVRs).
At present about 30 per cent of new lending is to borrowers with a deposit of 20 per cent or less, and a similar proportion of new lending is to first-home buyers.
The June monetary policy statement forecasts annual house-price inflation nationwide to peak at 10 per cent over the next year or so, from 8.7 per cent now, because house prices and household debt levels are already very high relative to incomes.
That would be notably less than the mid-2000s rises, but it is already exceeded in Auckland and Christchurch.
Wheeler said that during the 2003 to 2007 period the tightening required was 325 basis points.
But the bank is reluctant to raise rates when the recovery, while strengthening, remains very patchy and when the Kiwi dollar, even with its recent fall, remains overvalued.
The interest rate track pencilled into MPS forecasts has the official cash rate on hold at 2.5 per cent until mid-year next year.
But the dollar's recent fall means the exchange rate is already about 4.5 per cent lower than the forecasts assume for the next 12 months, which all else being equal would permit an earlier start to the tightening cycle.
New Zealand's residential real estate: prices skyrocketed between 2003 and 2008, then the bubble did not burst and prices continued rising at a moderate pace, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, through

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