The budget yawn. So the impact of the budget has been measured by the pollsters and nothing really has changed. Both Newspoll and Nielsen reckon voting intentions basically are the same as before Wayne Swan got to his feet last Tuesday.

Perhaps, for some reason or another, Julia Gillard is a tad less popular and Tony Abbott a bit less unpopular but there’s not much in it. Keep glancing at those website most-read lists and you will notice that politics is not  top-of-the-mind issue for ordinary Australians.

The chances of an early election are small so it probably won’t be for another couple of years yet either.

The error trend continues. The trend of business economists getting the trend wrong has continued with the housing market. This morning’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show new housing finance commitments fell 1.5 per cent in March.

The Reuters survey of business economists put the median forecast at a rise or 2.4 per cent. Estimates ranged from a fall of 3.1 per cent to a rise of three per cent.

With figures like these, perhaps the skilled labour shortage for the mining construction industry will not be as great as feared by some as there will be less work in the house building industry very shortly.

Talking change is good for business. Predicting changes in interest rates is par for the course for banks. Movement up and down gives traders like them the chance to clip a few more tickets proferred by the mug consumers and add to the profits.

Yet figures like those for housing in March suggest it would be dangerous of the Reserve Bank to be putting its official rates up in a hurry and the market punters seem to agree.

The Crikey Interest Rate Indicator for June strongly points to there being no change.

Glaciers in trouble after all. It was a silly claim in the last IPCC Report on global warming that Himalayan glaciers were likely to disappear by 2035 that played a significant part in the campaign by the climate skeptics in discrediting the scientific evidence of global warming. The reference to glaciers was not based on peer reviewed science but on popular articles and the IPCC was forced to admit it.

But now it seems that there soon will be a peer reviewed finding that the Himalayan glaciers are indeed shrinking. The Times of India reports this morning that a comprehensive study of Indian Space Research Organisation satellite images reveals 75% of Himalayan glaciers are on the retreat, with the average shrinkage being 3.75km during the 15 years under study.

The project, which studied 2,190 glaciers, was commissioned by the ministry of environment and forests and department of space to break myths about the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.

“I can’t say we are in a comfortable position because you can see that 75% of the glaciers have retreated. Only 8% have advanced and 17% are stable. We are going to publish the data soon, probably in the Current Science journal,” said Dr Ajai, group director, Marine, Geo and Planetary Science Group (MPSG), Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, on Saturday in Bangalore. Detailed charts showing the retreat and images were also displayed at the Isro campus.

The study used satellite images taken by Resourcesat-1 over a period of 15 years (1989-2004). Around 50 experts and 14 organizations were involved in the project which included field trips.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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