Wry & Dry

Fee gouging innovation. "Daddy, what's contagion?" NEG see-saw.

Royal Commission

Advances in technology now mean that Readers can view, live, on the interweb, the daily skewering of banking and superannuation company executives at the Banking Royal Commission.  But, to W&D's mind, this is now getting beyond entertainment.  This is exemplary innovation fee gouging at its finest.  Move over Bernie Madoff [1].

But it should have come as no surprise that this week's Royal Commission story was CBA taking advice fees from dead clients. 

Cartoon bonds long term

W&D dips his lid to CBA for this innovative fee-gouging.  Really, this is world leading stuff.   

And exceeds the news that NAB completely failed to deal with allegations that it committed criminal offences in the ongoing 'fee-for-no-service' scandal.

NAB's Sergeant Shultz defence [2] looks like falling at the first hurdle, with the Royal Commission releasing damning evidence. 

NAB didn't really 'break-up' with the other banks [3]. 

NEG see-saw

Whilst the laudable National Energy Guarantee got the votes at a Liberal Party meeting, in a nightmarish scenario for the world, Tony Abbot and his vengeful prehistoric acolytes threatened to cross the floor of parliament.  The media lapped it up.       

What's going on? 

Well, firstly, W&D dips his lid to Joshua Frydenberg, the Federal Energy & Environment Minister.  The NEG is by no means perfect.  But, if it is passed and the states agree, Minister Frydenberg has achieved what most thought impossible.  His trumpets will have blasted.  And the walls of opposition to a bipartisan energy policy will have come tumbling down.

For that alone, the Kid from Kooyong is in the running for W&D's coveted Person of the Year Award. 

Secondly, essentially, as W&D sees it, the NEG aims to meet energy supply needs and emissions obligations by being technology agnostic.  The legacy Renewable Energy Target was technology specific - locking in high costs and unreliability.  

It's a political see-saw, though.  Idealogs (such as Victoria's extreme left-wing Energy Minister Lily D'Abrosio) want the electricity consumer to pay for the Labor Party to defend it's inner-city seats against the Greens.  Those wanting higher emissions-reduction targets seem to forget, if they ever knew, that these things will come at a cost.  Isn't the idea to reduce costs?  

Idealogs sitting at the other end of the see-saw (such as Tony Abbott) want to scrap the emissions' target and just build more coal-fired power stations.  Mr Abbott has warned of the 'de-industrialisation' of Australia.  Err, no.  Australia's largest users of energy support the NEG.

Cartoon renewables

If Abbott & lap-dogs or Lily D'Ambrosia & melons get their way, don't worry about the next election.  Australia will have a renewable energy target that will be too high, too soon.  And cost squillions to meet.  And who will pay?  We-the-taxpayer, consumers (some of whom don't pay taxes but use electricity) and companies (especially small companies that cannot pass on costs and so will cut them).

Better to back the Kid from Kooyong.  

3.  "Daddy, what's contagion?"

Some Readers know that 'Contagion' was a 2011 American medical thriller, with lots of famous people in key roles.  Essentially it's a story about a pandemic: people die, Matt Damon lives and the planet is saved.

Many Readers will also know that 'contagion', in the investment sense, is when one country's problems cause third parties to consider that other similar countries might also have the same problems.  And thus a nightmarish pandemic of rolling economic fear occurs.

So it is currently with Turkey.  Turkey's problems have caused a nervous shudder to roll around 'emerging markets'.

Actually, it's more than a shudder.  EM stock markets (see below) have fallen by 20% already this year.


Ouch.  But back to Turkey.

As W&D exclusively foreshadowed, the Turkish lira is going down the tubes faster than Tony Abbott can say, "let's build a coal mine." And so might follow the Turkish economy.  Will Turkey be the canary in the coal mine of contagion?  Or just a solo case of incompetence?

Predictably, Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed a western conspiracy - led by the Yoo Ess of Aye - for his economic woes.  But, as much as Readers may think little of Tarzan Trump, it all has little to do with him.  The economic carcass of the Turkey began to rot some time ago.

Turkey current account balance

The news media (and W&D) have been happily displaying colourful charts of the lemming-like story of the currency.  But wiser heads would also have a look at Turkey's current account balance - it's the worst in the world.  Being worse than both Argentina and Pakistan is a powerful statement of incompetence for a rapidly developing country.

By the way, the sanctions that the US has placed on Turkey are a separate issue, but haven't helped the lira.  Essentially, three weeks ago Turkey and America were on brink of an agreement about, effectively, a prisoner swap (American pastor for a Turkish banker).  But, in an act of brinkmanpersonship, Turkey upped the stakes with further demands.  America's patience was exhausted after two years.  Hence the modest sanctions.

But the Sultan of swing has swung back, with Turkey's own sanctions.  And has instructed his countrymenpeople not to buy the iPhone.  


But wait, there's more.  Turkey has just imposed tariffs on American cars and alcoholic drinks.  W&D is not sure that the Turks are large consumers of alcohol.

The Sultan has turned this into a personal feud.

Cartoon Sultan juggling swords


You read about it here, first...

A certain Paul Manafort is currently in court in the US, having been charged with tax evasion, money laundering and bank fraud.  Nothing unusual about that - it happens every day in the Yoo Ess Aye.  And Australia.

Except that, well, Readers know that W&D follows the 'where there's smoke, there's fire' principle.  Y'see, the smoke is billowing, because Mr Manafort is Tarzan Trump's former Presidential Campaign Chairman.

It's a bit complicated, but Manafort made millions working for global thugs, such as Marcos and then Russian oligarchs (one of whom he owed $19m).  He helped Russian-backed Ukrainian Yanukovych overthrow the democratically elected Yuliya Tymoshenko.  Yanukovych then used the presidency to help his oligarch pals fleece the country of billions, from which Manafort took $60 million.  

And during Tarzan Trump's election campaign, he made sure that there was nothing in the Republican platform that contained provisions for arms supplies to Ukraine.

Readers can join the dots as to who told him to ensure that was the case.

Manafort has not, yet, been charged with anything in relation to the Tarzan Trump campaign.  But Tarzan Trump has totally disowned him.

But on the current charges, the jury is still out, but a verdict expected tonight.

Where there's tweets... 

UK workers beginning to work

UK unemployment fell to its lowest level in 43 years, down to 4%.  Happy days. 

It's that sort of data that is holding up the government.  Notwithstanding the Brexit shambles, the government is comfortably ahead in the polls (39% versus 35%).  And Prime Minister May well ahead of Jezza Corbyn in the better PM beauty contest.

 UK government Yougov poll

NB:  Readers are asked to ignore the appalling grammar in the chart.  It should be 'Better PM', not 'Best', and 'Who of the following...' not 'Which...'  Sigh.             

Snippets from all over 

1.  Melbourne no longer 'most liveable'

In a shock to its new mayor, Melbourne, the sporting capital of Australia, is no longer the World's Most Liveable City.  That honour, by 0.7 of a percentage point, goes to Vienna. Vienna ranked #1 for least petty crime, Melbourne #12.

W&D comments:  No surprise, here.  The state government and City have been resting on their oars for too long.  Just need a first class cabin on the 75 tram...

2.  Tesla directors are...

...getting grumpy with their CEO, Elon Musk. The venerable New York Times suggests that (a) board members have asked Musk to stop tweeting; (b) outside directors have retained law firms to represent them in 'ongoing matters'; and (c) several directors were said to be irritated that Tesla had to rush out a statement to play catch-up to the Musk tweet-storm last week (i.e. about having secured financing for a buy-out).  

W&D comments:  The world would be a better place if Tesla were to go private.  

3.  Whilst Erdogan bans iPhones...

...Tarzan Trump wants Americans to boycott Harley Davidson, an iconic motor vehicle manufacturer [4]. 

Cartoon harley trump

The company said that it will move some production overseas to avoid some of Tarzan Trump's tariffs. 

W&D comments:  This is getting really, really silly.

4.  Meanwhile, south of the border...

... Venezuela, a country whose economic management make Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan look like a genius, has just announced that it is to cease subsidising the price of petrol.  

W&D comments: The country loses about USD18 billion annually from petrol smuggling.  One US dollar can buy enough to fill W&D's aging motor 720 times.

5.  Australia's unemployment fell...

... to its lowest level in 5 years, down to 5.3%.   

W&D comments: But not a yippee from the government.  Among other things, the lower rate means more people paying taxes, which means a better budget outcome.

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... Senator Fraser Anning.  This senseless, right-wing moron, in a maiden speech littered with factual fantasy, called for a 'final solution' to Australia's immigration issue.  He has been rightly condemned.

What W&D wants to know is when is the parliament going to do something about this collective of nutters in the Senate?  Anning got just 19 votes in the election - riding in on the broomstick of Pauline Hanson's vote and then resigning from her party in a nano-second.  How Hanson chose him in the first place is now lost in the mists of outback Queensland.  Which he calls home.      

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver, was wanting to...

... talk about the profitability of his paymaster, Uber.  "I read that Uber in the US has just announced a massive loss," he gloomed. "What's going on?"

"Well," replied W&D as he buckled up his seat belt, "Certainly, Uber announced last night that it lost $404m in the June quarter.  That's a lot of money."

"Oh, no.  Will Uber go broker?  Will I have to find another job?  What if my investments fail?  And I'm about to become a father."  Deepak was almost wailing.

"Calm down, Deepak," W&D was getting agitated at Deepak's outburst of irrationality. "Let's take the issues one at a time. Okay?"

"Okay," responded Deepak, moodily.

"Firstly, Uber is not going broke.  Its revenues, i.e. sales, were up 41% from a year ago.  But its expenses are growing.  For example, its spent something like $200m on research into self-driving cars."

Cartoon Uber

"Go on," said Deepak, a little more happily.

"So, perhaps it should ditch its self-driving car project.  Cut its losses.  So, secondly, it can focus on its booming growth areas.  Uber Eats, for example.  And Uber in India is going gang-busters."

"Ah, India, the saviour," agreed Deepak, getting excited about his country's contribution.

"Thirdly, your investments will, mostly be fine.  Sure, there are some dogs in there, but you've got to stop looking at the market every day.  You keep telling me that you are a long-term investor."

"I'm feeling better," he smiled. "I don't have to worry about my family."

"A fatal conclusion," replied W&D, as he stepped from Deepak's car.  "You should always worry about your family.  Just keep Anjali happy, and all will be well.  Your baby will be secure."

"But what about my mother-in-law?" yelled Deepak to a receding W&D.

"Find a way to send her back home," turned W&D.  "You get to sleep back in your bedroom.  Your world will be a happier place."  

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  


Last words...

Michael Hodge (counsel assisting the Royal Commission): "At each of the five board meetings, people come from different parts of their …"

Michael Hodge's iWatch "Sorry. I'm not sure I understand …"

Michael Hodge: "I apologise, commissioner, that was my Apple Watch getting excited …"

Mr Allert AMP Superannuation Chairman (in the witness stand): "At least something's getting excited …"

 - Excerpt from yesterday's Royal Commission proceedings.

Mr Allert was one of the more honest, and droll, witnesses to appear.   

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Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the Bell Curve

A UK holidaymaker wrote a scathing review of the beach at Perranporth in Cornwall. 

Amongst other things, she said the sand was "much too damp."    


W&D once went to Perranporth and the sea was wet.  

Guess what happened next?

Emmanuel Soriano, 35 of Las Cruces, New Mexico, wanted to talk to one of his relatives, who worked at the local Corner Bakery.  But relative wasn't allowed to take personal calls during works hours and refused to respond to Soriano's call.   What did Soriano do next?

a.  Wait unto after hours;

b.  Drive to the Corner Bakery and meet his relative;

c.  Think his iPhone was broken and took it back to the dealer; or

d.  Call 911 (the US equivalent of 000) and make a bomb threat against the Corner Bakery.       

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  Not only did he (a) make the bomb threat, he (b) made the call from his mobile phone and (c) mentioned his relative's name.

(Las Cruces Sun News)

Okay, we'll get him for littering

Justin Adams, a member of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was passing out flyers in Charlotte, North Carolina, that promoted an anti-Jew and drug use message. 

When he was stopped by police, he said they couldn't stop him because that would be violating his right to free speech.

"No problem," replied the policeman, "I'm arresting you for littering."  


Adams has lawyered up for a long fight.  


Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 




[1] Bernie Madoff: an American former stockbroker, investment adviser, financier, and admitted fraudster. He is the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history, and the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. In 2009 he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

[2] Sergeant Schultz was a character in a television series "Hogan's Heroes". His few words were invariably, "I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!" 

[3] In 2011, NAB launched an innovative marketing and advertising campaign, the 'Sorry, CommBank, ANZ and Westpac.  It's over.' campaign (also called the 'breaking up' campaign).  The bank had a new slogan: 'more give, less take.'  But it was a lipstick on the gorilla campaign. It was a great campaign, but underneath it all, NAB didn't change.  It was still, 'more take, less give.'

[4] Readers will remember the 1969 classic, "Easy Rider". The bikes used by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were customised Harley-Davidsons.