Wry & Dry

Sensible super changes. Singapore works, expensively. Trump gets closer.

Wry & Dry remembers "I shall return" (General Douglas MacArthur) and "I'll be back" (The Terminator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger).

And now we have "I'm back" (Senator Pauline Hanson).  Despair.

W&D has in mind that Elton John song, from his album Caribou, but will not name its title for risk of offending the sensitivities of readers of a more, err, delicate disposition.

But, being a numbers' man, W&D has had the abacus out. 

By definition, the average IQ of a population is 100.  Before the election the average IQ of the Senate might have been 100 as Senators are, well, ordinary and very average people.  But there were the Greens and Jacqui Lambie, to which W&D ascribes an IQ of 80 and 50 respectively.  The average IQ of the Senate before the election was therefore 96.7.

But with Pauline Hanson's party winning four Senate seats, and W&D ascribing, quite fairly he thinks, an IQ of 5 to each, W&D calculates that the average IQ of the Senate has dropped 5% to 92. 

Not quite good enough to run the country.  

Hanson's second maiden speech (an interesting concept in itself) and that of her colleague Senator Malcolm Roberts brought to mind that delightful quatrain from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam* (who was, notably, a Muslim):

And do you think that unto such as you;

A maggot-minded, starved fanatic crew;

God gave the secret, and denied it me? -

Well, well, what matters it!   Believe that, too.

Hanson's speech might have carefully distinguished Islamic terrorism from moderate Muslims.  Or the few tribal xenophobic immigrants from the many who are decent and integrated.  She might have subtlety used the image of the differences between, say, Moroccan, Persian or Turkish cuisine to identify the differences between Muslims.

But she didn't.  Her sharp tongue betrayed a dull mind.  Her strident voice hid a shallow message.  And the richness of her imagery clothed the poverty of her understanding.

Enough of depressing matters.

W&D is careful this week not to take drugs, jay-walk or chew gum.  He might be hanged.  Well, certainly for the first offence.  W&D is in Singapore this week, lounging by the pool.

Yes, this is Singapore, where everything works: a country the size of Phillip Island** but without baby penguins or any other natural resources, whatsoever.  

It has only its people.  And yet has the third highest GDP per capita according to the IMF (2015 PPP basis).

Singapore ranking 2

Yes, it's hot, humid and boring.  And so boring that W&D cannot even access the Sportsbet website to get the latest US presidential election odds.

However, there are no left-wing demonstrations and no right-wing politics on the front page.  Or, indeed, on any page.  And infrastructure gets built quickly with a minimum of fuss and no big announcements. 

But, good grief.  The prices are higher than the ego of that Manchurian Candidate, Senator Dastyari. 

And so it is from here that W&D has time to quill a lugubrious, but somewhat truncated piece for keen readers.  Readers will search in vain for the usual two or three specialist articles.  But, alas, aside from Miscellany and Follow the Money (and, of course, the excellent accompanying Investment Matters) this page is as much as W&D can manage before again beckoning the barboy to refill the G&T.

And through the blurr of the earlier G&Ts W&D has noticed...

Success has many parents, failure is an orphan.  And now people are queuing up to take credit for advising Treasurer Jim Morrison and his right-hand person, Kelly O'Dwyer, on how to fix the moronic superannuation proposals presented in the May budget.

Well, now is not the time for modesty.  W&D will take full credit for the very sensible changes announced yesterday.  

Although the daft reduction in concessional contributions to $25,000 p.a. (which has deleterious consequences for the next generation's ability to retire without a government pension) remains.  More on that later and separately.

But hats off to Morrison and O'Dwyer for having the gonads to admit their folly.

(W&D will not list the new superannuation proposals here, there is enough about them in this morning's media.  And the proposals are just that.  Now the politics begins.  Once the Labor Party agrees to the changes (how could they not...) W&D's sibling publication Wealth Intelligence will present all the relevant information.  First Samuel will also separately advise each client on how the changes will affect him or her and what strategies, if any, might be adopted.)

US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton got some Americans really upset last week when she described some of the Trumpster's supporters as 'deplorables'.  Quite right, too.  Using an adjective as a noun is disgraceful.  She should know better.

But Ms Clinton has more to worry about than that.  Less than half of American voters believe her explanation of the illness (pneumonia) that led to her apparently fainting last Sunday.  W&D concurs that it wasn't pneumonia: she fainted because it had suddenly dawned on her that she might lose the election to The Trumpster.  W&D hastens to add that he too would swoon (but in a masculine manner) at the thought.

Meanwhile, in the UK, former PM David Cameron, who resigned as PM the day after the Brexit vote, resigned from parliament.  W&D wishes that former Australian PM Abbott would take the hint.  

Fat chance.  Abbott is unemployable outside of parliament - like many politicians there is nothing else that he can usefully do.

And by staying in parliament, he can, with all the vengeance of a woman scorned#, create merry hell for his successor PM.  W&D muses that Abbott hates Turnbull more than he hates the Labor Party.

Add to the nutters in the Senate that local Wicked Witch of the West, Peta Credlin, being paid to plunge any of her many and varied stilettos into anyone but an Abbott supporter, and Australian politics has sunk as low as Italy under Berlusconi.

Australia's unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, its lowest level in three years.  But don't open the Bolly yet.  Employment actually fell in the month: the lower unemployment rate was caused by a statistical contrivance that the number of people looking for work fell.   

It must be one of the world's most bizarre advertising campaigns.  And W&D dips his lid to the Italian government for its unique 'Fertility Day' campaign.  Fertility Day is 22nd September; the aim being to encourage Italian women to have more babies.  Last year 488,000 babies were born in Italy, the fewest since the country was unified in 1861.  Mama mia!


Reading the advertisements (one of which is above), W&D assumes that 22nd September is the only day on which Italian women should endeavour to get pregnant.   Will the Italian stallions be saving up their seed in the hope of a co-operative girl friend/ wife being uncommonly congenial on 22nd September?

If so, and having some understanding of how the Italian medial bureaucracy works, how will the Italian maternity hospitals cope with the surge in births in June 2017?

Given the confidence of Italian men and the attractiveness of Italian women an EU bailout bigger than that for Greece will be required. 

Elsewhere, Follow The Money updates the odds on the US presidential race.  And Ms Clinton is losing ground.  But is still ahead of the Trumpster.   

And, of course, Miscellany, to soothe your troubled mind.

Next week, W&D will be back in Global HQ.

*Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and numbering about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám (1048–1131), a Persian poetmathematician and astronomer. Rubaiyat is a two-line stanza with two parts per line, hence "quatrain."

**Phillip Island is a relatively small island, some 140 kilometres south east of Melbourne.  It is a summer time holiday resort but otherwise its population is about 7,000.

# Readers will be familiar with The Mourning Bride, by William Congreve, the 18th century English poet and playwright: "Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd."