Wry & Dry

A Very Big Apple. Turkish bath. He, she, it.

The Very Big Apple

One trillion dollars.  That is what the little company that Steve Jobs started in 1976 is now worth.  Give or take a dollar or two (the issue is not certainty about its share-price, but because of share buybacks the number of shares on issue is always changing).  After Tuesday's profit announcement, Apple's share price leapt 4%. 

As it was already a massive company, such a share-price boost did the opposite to what a falling share-price last week did for Facebook, it shoved Apple's market capitalisation through the roof.   And a further rise last night took it past the $1,000,000,000.00 mark.

Readers may find it hard to believe that the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1997, when Jobs returned from running Pixar (Readers will remember Toy Story, the first fully computer animated movie).  Then the 'i' boom began, with iMac, iTunes, iPod and then the amazing iPhone (2007).  The iPad came in 2010.

Cartoon iPhones in olden days

The iPhone in W&D's day

It continues to amaze W&D why people pay so much more for a mobile phone that is very little different to last year's model.  Apple's premium model, the iPhone X, came to market last year with a massive price uplift for moderately increased amenity.  And its sales have been modest.  But because of the significant price increase iPhone revenues leapt by 17% from a year ago, on a mere 1% increase in unit sales. 

That is brilliant marketing and brand management.  But the 1% increase in unit sales will be a worry for future years.

Apple has been the largest company in the world, by market capitalisation, for the last seven years.  Since 1990, the title has also been held by Exxon (7 years); PetroChina (1); GE (11) and Microsoft (2).

Readers should expect many Apple-adulatory column-inches over the weekend.

Turkish bath

Some Readers may think that W&D has got something against Turkey.  Actually, no.  Turkey is an amazing country with wonderful people.  Except those in government.  

Sultan-for-life Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that lending at interest is usury. This has not led to sound central banking.  And he compounds this by political actions that border on the meglomaniacal.   

The critical economic indicator of Turkey is currently just one number: the value of its currency.  W&D is a simple man person: a picture is worth a thousand words:

Turkish lira

There are three problems with all of this.

Firstly, Turkey's government and large companies have borrowed in US dollars - and hence the plunging currency makes the debts larger.  This compounds increased inflationary trends from a weaker currency.

Secondly, more broadly, this might be the commencement of an emerging market crisis.  Readers should watch out for one word: contagion.

Thirdly, and most importantly in W&D's rheumy eyes, is the geo-political problems that this crisis will cause.  W&D is a student of Mackinder's Heartland Theory [2].  That theory puts the massive land mass of Eurasia as the key to the world's future.  Turkey is at the crossroads of Eurasia. 

And political masters, mistresses, err, crafts-people like Tsar Putin love nothing more than turmoil in nearby countries.  And watch for Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan attempt to divert attention away from the economic issues to possibly nationalist causes.   

This will end in tears.

Election egg-on-face

The polls said that Labor would retain the two key marginal seats in last Saturday's by-elections.  And it did.   So no surprise there.

The surprise was that the LNP primary vote in Longmanperson fell by about 10%.  A thousand reasons were given.  W&D has just one.  It was Queensland.

Cartoon elections in Qld

Meanwhile, in Tasmania, that arch idiot and Liberal senator, Eric Abetz, effectively gave the seat of Braddon to Labor with his personal attack on a Labor-preferencing independent candidate.

The Senator's use-by-date has long since passed.  But, then again, he is unemployable elsewhere.  So, he won't resign.                 

Tarzan Trump and the Bard

Tarzan Trump is perhaps unfamiliar with the work of Shakespeare.  And hence the line "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," [1] would be unknown to him.

W&D's mind was moved to ponder the Bard on Wednesday, as he read of Tarzan Trump's latest incendiary but flatulent tweet.  Tarzan Trump has demanded that the US Attorney General halt his investigation into alleged Russian collusion with Trump's election campaign.

Readers would think it desirable that the US Department of Justice be free from political interference. 

Cartoon Trump DoJ

But, it doesn't really matter: Readers should expect Trump to expect the world to do his bidding. 

What matters to W&D in the tweet is the deeply psychological working of Tarzan Trump's brain.  That part of his anatomy may be small, but it screams out for analysis.  Which W&D is happy to do.

The Shakespeare allusion is commonly used to imply that someone who denies something very strongly is hiding the truth.  And reading Trump's tweet, W&D would say that is exactly what he is doing.   

The Surgeon

W&D would be more than a little afraid of a biker whose nickname was 'The Surgeon'.  Not much imagination required to work out that he didn't get the name because of time spent at medical school.

The Surgeon is the leader of a biker gang in Slovakia, called Night Wolves.  Trouble is, the gang is a Russian nationalist gang and close to Tsar Vlad.  Tsar Vlad has even given The Surgeon a medal.  

President Putin with Alexander Zaldostanov, 14 Mar 13

Tsar Vlad has probably ridden with the Night Wolves...

Cartoon Puton on motor bike

The Night Wolves believe in such truths as: Crimea is, was and will be Russian; that Stalin was a great hero; and that Nato is a criminal organisation.

Expect increasing interference in Slovakia, stirring up nationalist and right-wing elements.  

Don't worry about the tanks coming across the border.  The enemy will already be within.  (That sounds alarmist, doesn't it?  But, well, it's one of those weeks).        

FAANGs: an update

Readers will recall last week's divergent profit results of the companies that make up the convenient acronym FAANG.  That fatuous acronym should become just AAG (Apple, Amazon, Google).  Facebook is just an on-line advertising vehicle that will get legislated to mediocrity, and Netflix an on-line movie business that will just go bust.

Some Readers have commented that there's only one company that W&D hates more than the Australian banks, and that is Facebook.

Correct weight.

But the reality is that you cannot save people from themselves.  The below chart tells the story:

Facebook privacy

If so many users of Facebook are concerned about their privacy on Facebook, why don't they just close their Facebook account?

And they should.  For one simple reason: China.

Facebook is desperate to get into China. But that means playing by China's rules: content censoring, data stored on servers in China and giving Beijing access to all Facebook accounts, anywhere.

Readers will remember what happened to Yahoo.  In 2004, Yahoo gave Beijing information about the on-line activities of Chinese dissident journalist Shi Tao.  Shi Tao got 10 years in the slammer.

To quote the words of US Congressman Tom Lantos, "While technologically and financially your are giants, morally you are pygmies." [4]

Watch that Facebook space. 

Sleepless in Sydney.  Or wherever

The next round of the Banking Royal Commission resumes on Monday.  This time it's all about superannuation.  And more than a few folk will not be sleeping well.

Cartoon pick your superfund

Readers can bet London to a brick that those condemned to spend time in the witness stand will spend the weekend in secret locations.  Not to get away from it all.  But to practice answering fiendishly troublesome question tossed by highly paid barristers, all in preparation for the likely slow roasting over the burning embers of the Royal Commission.

W&D predicts that journalists and cartoonists of all sorts will be called back from summer in the northern hemisphere to describe the goings-on to we-the-people.  Expect lurid headlines from about noon on Monday.  

And the plentiful PR people will be on hand to divert/ defend/ justify/ apologise/ [Readers: insert your verb here].

Having trouble getting a car park?

W&D often wonders about demographers.

In 2005, the government forecast that Australia's population would reach 25 million in 2048.  Err, hang on.  We've just hit that personstone.

Good grief.

The outcomes of this either catastrophic or serendipitous population boom, depending on your mood, are two fold.

Population growth

Firstly, totally inadequate infrastructure.  No matter where Readers look: roads, rail, electricity, airports (well, look no further than Melbourne's 1971 airport), we-the-people have been let down by successful governments, essentially from 2008 onwards.  Governments wasted we-the-taxpayers-money on such white elephants as pink batts and yes-we-have-no-business-case NBN.  And the three-PM's-Labor government was followed by a Liberal/ Gnat government and The Abbott-Credlin Infrastructure Doctrine. TACID was that government infrastructure money could only be spent on roads or National Party pork barreling, such as the it-will-never-make-a-cent Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway.

W&D could go on.  And on.  And now we are playing catch up.  Which we never will. 

Sigh.

Secondly, the benefit of the population boom has been a significant boost to GDP growth, probably of the order of about 1% p.a.  

And there's the rub.  The federal and state governments have been spending the increased taxes from the increased population and anything but, until recently, infrastructure.

Oh, for a government like Singapore.

Snippets from all over 

1.  CBA profit report

The whole world will be watching.  Well, maybe not.  But CBA will release its FY-18 profit result on Wednesday.  Will it be the bell wether for the other banks' profits?  How much will slowing housing borrowing affect it?  Etc.  Etc.

W&D comments:  The punters will be watching, no mistake.  W&D will have better things to do.

2.  Global mobile phone gloating rights go to...

...Samsung.  Last week W&D reporting on the pecking order in Australia.  Well the global data for June is out.  Samsung 21%, Huawei 16%, Apple 12%,  Xiaomi 5% and Oppo 5%.  

W&D comments:  But for sheer profit, Apple: nobody does it half as good as you.  Baby, you're the best.    

3.  US economy booms ...

The US economy grew at annual rate of 4.1% in the June quarter, the highest for four years.

W&D comments:  Tarzan Trump is taking the credit.  And there's no doubt that his tax cuts have been a big boost.  Republican candidates in the November election just have to parrot Bill Clinton's simple and successful campaign message "it's the economy, stupid". 

4.  ... but Tarzan Trump's tax cuts shaft the deficit

The US Congressional Budget Office says the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years will average nearly 5% GDP, compared with 3.5% in 2017. Federal debt will rise to equal nearly 100% of GDP, its highest since just after the second world war.

W&D comments: Weird, isn't it.  When Obama was president, the Republican Congress pleaded the need to return the Yoo Ess Aye to solvency.  Now that they are in charge, the tune has changed...  

5.  Shuffling the Telstra chairs

Telstra, a getting smaller Australian phone company, has had its night of the long knives on Monday.  CEO Andy Penn fired lots of Telstra's 'C-Suite': its Chief Financial Officer; Chief Marketing Officer;  Technology Leader and its Head of Wholesale all received the DCM, or, rather DCT [3].   

W&D comments: Too little, too late.

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to... the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.  This department is promoting the first Wednesday of every month as 'They Day', and asking its 10,000 employees to avoid 'gendered language', such as 'he' or 'she'.   And instead use neutral pronouns.

Cartoon they them

W&D considers that the initiative doesn't go far enough.  Why stop at pronouns?  W&D can only assume that the people involved were too busy doing their real jobs to worry about de-gendering nouns as well?  

Readers will know of W&D's concern that there are just too many words in the English language.  And a severe rationalisation is required.  Removal of all gender specific words (man, woman, boy, girl, he, she, male, female, etc) would help with the culling.  And how about all those proper nouns that identify gender (William, Mavis, Charles, Edith, Anthony, etc) could all go.  And we'd be left with a simple few, such as Kim or Tony.

Those lads and lasses people in that Victorian Department should be given a grant to proceed forthwith with further word rationalisation.  Get those cardigans off and get to it!             

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver, is ...

... on vacation.  But Anjali is fine.  Scan later today.   

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  

Miscellany 

Last words...

" 'Tis but a flesh wound."

 - What Croesus Turnbull might have said had he been a knight in Monty Python's The Black Knight, on the government performing so badly in the Longmanperson by-election.

In The Black Knight, the Black Knight keeps on fighting King Arthur, whilst losing, successively, each of his four limbs. As Arthur finally sheathes his sword, The Black Knight, now reduced to a mere stump of a manperson, calls out, "All right, we'll call it a draw."   

First Samuel client events calendar

Date 

Description

Details

2018 Events  

Tue-14-Aug-18

Annual Forum and Cocktail Party

"Who is giving whom ... the coal shoulder?"

Hear Tony Sennitt, CEO of Diamond Energy, discuss the opportunity for renewables

Guests are invited to come with an open mind, either way!

Some place still available.  Contact Jess.

Leonda

Various

Chief Investment Officer Dinners

FY-18 was a Year of Harvest and Sowing Seeds for the Next Five Years

Invitations have been sent

Various

Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

Brian Cawley, 53, was short of cash.  So he walked into his local Tesco supermarket and pretended that he had a gun, by sticking his finger in his pocket.  And sort of pointing his pocket at the cashier.

But there's no foolin' a supermarket cashier.  She laughed.  And Crawley fled.

Undeterred, Crawley twice more that day attempted the same scheme, in difference locations, but with the same result.  

(BBC)

Three years and four months to think about it all..

Guess what happened next?

A 17-year-old lad decided to go for drive.  Unfortunately his car had a cracked windscreen and no working headlights.  So, not surprisingly, he was pulled over by the local police.  What did the police find in his car?

a.  A 9mm pistol;

b.  A 9mm pistol and cocaine;

c.  A 9mm pistol, cocaine, and drug 'paraphernalia; or

d.  A 9mm pistol, cocaine, drug 'paraphernalia, a loaded AK-47, methamphetamines, $10,000 cash.       

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  Why didn't he Uber?

(www.wmur.com)

Bonus: he also didn't have a driver's licence.  

Bridezilla

Courtney Duff was going to be a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding.  Even though it meant flying across the USA to get to the wedding.  But because Courtney worked and was studying full-time, she couldn't pay to also fly across the country the weekend earlier for the 'bridesmaid's weekend'.

The day after the bridesmaid's weekend, Alexendra, the bride, emailed Courtney and told her that she needed to 'relinquish' her bridesmaid's duties.  Because she couldn't come to the bridesmaid's weekend.

Alexandra also asked Courtney to mail the bridesmaid's outfit, so that the replacement bridesmaid could wear it. 

(www.wmur.com)

Courtney didn't go to the wedding.  No news on the outfit.

 

Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 

Cheers!

Anthony

 

[1]  Readers will know the line is from Hamlet, where it is spoken by Queen Gertrude in response to the insincere overacting of a character in the play within a play created by Prince Hamlet to prove his uncle's guilt in the murder of his father, the King of Denmark.  Got that?

[2]  Sir Halford John Mackinder PC (1861 – 1947) was an English geographer, academic, politician and Director of the London School of Economics, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy.  In 1904, Mackinder gave a paper on "The Geographical Pivot of History" at the Royal Geographical Society, in which he formulated the Heartland Theory. This is often considered as a, if not the, founding moment of geopolitics as a field of study.

[3]  Don't Come Tuesday.

[4] Source: Washington Post.  The late Tom Lantos is the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the US Congress.