Wry & Dry

Italian politics comes to a capital near you. Greece. Woof, woof.

Italian politics comes to a capital near you

W&D has always admired Italian politicians for their amazing success in elevating self-interest.  And thus condemning one of the most beautiful countries to ossification and to only memories of former glories, as recently as 2,000 years ago.

Well, federal members of the Liberal Party are nothing if not great students of Apennine failure.  

Consider that only 10 days ago the Coalition was trailing in the polls 49/51 (almost close), Croesus Turnbull was comfortably the preferred Prime Minister, the National Energy Guarantee had the support of 56% of Australian and 68% of coalition voters and Minister Frydenberg was in a whisker of getting the states to sign up the NEG.

So why scuttle the ship and hand the next six years in Canberra to Bill Shorten? 

The two factions of the Federal Liberal Party.  Calm seas.  And not another boat in sight.

Pure vengeance.  See more, below.

But from the shipwreck...

Australia breathes a sigh of relief, as putative PM Dutton is consigned to history.  And ScoMo (Scott Morrison) takes over.  At the least there are 45 Liberal Party politicians with a brain and some foresight.

But the question is will Abbott take the defeat lying down?  Will Dutton apologise for the chaos he and his right-wing Queensland rump have created?

Probably not.

It sort of doesn't matter.  Because...

... the winner is...

Mrs Shorten.  She's down at the Lodge as W&D writes, measuring up the curtains.

Morrison casual employment

And the loser is...

Malcolms out of power

And who is looking good out of all of this?

Peter Costello.  Costello had the chance to challenge incumbent PM John Howard in what was to be Howard's last term.  But he refused, as he didn't want to split the party. 

Costello would have won the ballot, but probably lost the election (to Rudd) in any case.  Costello's name is thus not on the list of Australia's prime ministers, for his placing his party's interests above his own.

And who is looking bad?

Some Readers will be dismayed for W&D to say that the villain in all of this is Tony Abbott.  W&D will take it on the chin.  As he did when last week he was accused of spouting 'left-wing clap-trap' and being a 'right-wing apologist'.  Both at once.  Sigh.  W&D plays politics with a straight and centre bat, as he does the demon fast bowlers in C Grade cricket on the Peninsula.

Back to Abbott.  He has kept out of the limelight, and let his moronic lackeys from the backblocks of Queensland do the work.  But no mistake, Abbott's man-the-trenches-and-destroy-Turnbull-at-all-costs is going to cost the party deeply.

Abbott has inspired his lackeys to not brook compromise.  As he did when he and Peta Credlin ran the country. 

The folly of it all is shown by the promoting of Dutton as a possible Prime Minister.  Dutton is not smartest politician in Canberra.  As shown by his risible let's abolish-the-GST-on-energy policy.

W&D sees an ugly, xenophobic hybrid of Berlusconi, Trump, Quisling and the school-yard idiot.  As would most Australians.  

So if Abbott and his bootlickers knew that Dutton was unelectable, why wreck the government?

The answer is that Dutton was put up to defeat Turnbull and the small l liberals.  Not to defeat Labor.

What morons.  

Outcomes:

Turnbull?

Turnbull potato head

DCM

Bishop?

DCM

Dutton?

Will ask Tony

Frydenberg?

Possibly the big winner.  Ambitious, patient and smart.

Moving right along, the significance of 3,453 days is...

... well, who gives a fig? 

W&D loves those cricket statisticians who come up with some arcane but somehow interesting stats, "Well, Tony, that's the first time a left-handed wrist-spinner from Bangladesh who was born in Venezuela has taken a wicket from the Nursery End on the third day of test match held in June." [1]

So, the US stock market on Wednesday achieved its longest 'bull run' ever, i.e. rising without a 20% or more fall.  The 3,453-day run started in March 2009, after the GFC.  

It really doesn't matter, no more than 101 runs is a prized century in cricket, yet 99 runs is but two runs less and is not noted.

But, in the interest of arcane data, here is the track of the size of the 10 largest companies in March 2009 and the 10 largest today.

Bull runReaders will note the amazing rise of Amazon.  And the fall of IBM, Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble. 

But really, the statistic is meaningless. 

Greece - back in town?

After three bailouts, about €290 billion in loans, a 25% cut in the size of its economy and three close brushes with an exit from the euro-zone, Greece's final 'bailout' by the EU and IMF is over.

Greece can, theoretically stand on its own two feet, again.

Err, well maybe not.

Unemployment is still at about 20% (down from a peak of 29%), but 55% of new jobs from the peak are part-time.  Since 2011, about 50,000 of Greece's brightest - engineers, doctors, lawyers, young executives - have left the country, each year.  National debt to GDP is 180% - the highest in Europe. 

But the problem is not just economic, it is demographic.  In 1850 Greek women were having on average 6.03 children each.  Those were the days, of lusty men and complicit women.  But not today.  The fertility rate is down to 1.3.  Readers will know that the replacement rate for a population (ignoring net migration) is 2.3.  Whence the lust?

The population of Greece is going down.  And by 2050 will be 75% of its 11 million today.  

The clear problem is that there are fewer and fewer people to (a) drive economic growth; (b) pay the benefits and pensions for those who won't, don't or cannot work; and (b) service, much less repay, government debt.

Consider also the problems of Italy and many Eastern Europeans countries and Readers should see why the UK will, in the end, be better off for Brexit.

You read about it here, firstly

Readers will recall that last week W&D brought to their attention a certain Paul Manafort: an American charged with all sorts of heinous fiscal acts.  And many would have wondered, what is W&D writing about?  Who is this guy?

Well, Tarzan Trump employed Manafort as his Presidential Campaign Chairmanperson.   And Manafort has just been convicted of a string of offences.  And might spend more than a few years on the wrong side of the bars.

But wait, there's more #1

Manafort knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak, in relation to links between Tarzan Trump's election campaign and a largish country that stretches across 11 time zones.  

And the prosecutors want to find out where those bodies are, so to speak, before Manafort himself becomes buried.

But wait, there's more #2

Tarzan Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has just pleaded guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations.  Well, Readers might say, nothing wrong with that.  In Queensland, it's developed to high art.

Trouble is, for Tarzan Trump, Cohen paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and $130,000 to, err, exotic actress Stormy Daniels "at the direction of a candidate for federal office".  The quote being a somewhat unsubtle reference to Tarzan Trump.

W&D thought that Trump was a wealthy person.  So, why would he need to borrow $280,000 from these women?

It's a mystery. 

Hang on.  W&D now gets it...

It was hush money, allegedly paid to silence Tarzan Trump's lovers.  It's okay, now.  He now looks a bit less like Richard Nixon (genius of the dark arts) and more like Bill Clinton (wandering hands).

Clinton paid for sex

 

Phew.  W&D is back on the safer, seedier territory of sex.

APRA - woof, woof? 

Readers will know that Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority is, simply, the government's prudential regulator of financial institutions.  But it's clear from last Friday afternoon's evidence (i.e. after last week's W&D went to print) before the Banking Royal Commission that APRA does, well, very little. 

APRA pop group

The Q&A in the court went something like this:

Michael Hodge QC (Senior counsel assisting the RC): In view of all the problems in the industry over the last decade, what action would APRA take?

Helen Rowell (APRA Deputy Chairwomanperson): In the most severe cases APRA would consider taking legal action against offenders.

Michael Hodge QC: How often has APRA taken legal action against an offender in, say, the last decade?

Helen Rowell: Once.

Michael Hodge QC: Just once?

Helen Rowell: Absolutely!  Using 'enforceable undertakings' [2] was more cost effective and timely than going to court.

Michael Hodge QC: Aside from the one legal action, how many enforceable undertakings has APRA taken out in the last decade?

Helen Rowell: None.

Collapse of stout party.             

Snippets from all over 

1.  Trade victim?

On Tuesday Tarzan Trump, in his latest Make America Great Again rally, lamented that Europe's trade barriers had caused him not to see many General Motors Chevrolet cars on the streets of Berlin.

W&D comments:  No surprises there.  General Motors abandoned the European car market almost entirely last year.  And withdrew the Chevrolet brand many years earlier.

2.  Scotland the broke

Scotland's fiscal deficit, if it were an independent country, would be 7.9% of GDP, it has just been announced.  The figure for the UK as a whole is 1.9%.  

W&D comments:  Two obvious conclusions: (a) Scotland is subsidised very nicely by the rest of the UK; and (b) the deficit is more than twice that allowed by the EU, which Scotland wishes to join as an independent state.  

3.  South Africa: the beginning of the end?

Tarzan Trump has ordered his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study” the South African government’s land seizures from white farmers.

W&D comments:  Not quite sure what 'closely study' means.  The misty optimism that appeared when former President Zuma was dethroned has been seared by the government's re-announced resolve to seize farming land without compensation.  Previous, the government has followed a willing seller, willing buyer process.  Time to call the relocation agent?  

4.  Job criteria

Jezza Corbyn, the Leader of the UK Labour Party, wants all BBC journalists to declare details of their class and background (school, parents' occupations and education, etc) to ensure 'diversity'.  

W&D comments: Why stop at the BBC?  Premier League footballers and test cricketers should also be forced to declare their 'class' details.  And diversified teams chosen accordingly.  Imagine the Eton/Oxbridge footballer playing for Manchester United.

5.  Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington...[3]

... get her to play tennis.  See chart, below.

W&D comments: But badminton?  And Nascar a sport?

Women sport

Tool of the Week 

Podium finish goes to ... it's a tie:

1.  Wannabee Prime Minister Dutton, who said that eliminating GST on energy prices would cut them by 10%.  Err, no.  Readers will know that it's about 9.1%.  Cost = $100.  $100*(1+10%) = $110.  But $110*(1-10%) = $99.  Consider instead $110*(1-9.1%) = - $100.

2.  Wannabee Cabinet Minister and Abbott bootlicker, Craig Kelly, who said that the Dutton-proposed GST energy exemption should be given for just 3 months. 

And these guys want to run the country.

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

... talk about Brexit.  "I read that the UK is preparing for 'no-deal' Brexit," he asked. "What's going on?"

"Well," replied W&D as he buckled up his seat belt, "Best to be prepared.  The Eurocrats want to make it as hard as possible for the UK to leave the EU.  And so are negotiating every small detail with great reluctance."

"That's not very neighbourly," Deepak gloomed. "Surely it has to be a win-win outcome."

"The Eurocrats are not very commercial.  They really want to make it difficult for the UK.  But a 'no-deal' Brexit would costs tens of thousands of jobs in Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and France."

"And cost lots of jobs in the UK?"  Deepak looked concerned.  He has relatives in England. 

"Certainly.  But the Brits are preparing just in case.  They have a government department set up, called Department for Exiting the EU.  And it is preparing UK industry in case the Brexit negotiations break down.  So a series of 'technical notices' have been issued, many about customs forms for exporting to Europe.  And 9,000 more public servants will be employed to just deal with Brexit, on top of the 7,000 already hired." 

"This might be a disaster for the UK," opined Deepak.

"A fatal conclusion," replied W&D, as he stepped from Deepak's car.  "The long-term outlook for the EU is shambolic.  Think of Greece, Italy, the Balkans, Hungary and Poland.  The UK will have a fair bit of short-term pain, one-way or the other.  But will be better off in the long-run.  Speaking about short-term pain, how is your mother-in-law?  Did you kick her out?"

"I didn't have to.  Anjali did.  She got fed up with her mother interfering and telling her what to do.  So she told her to go home," happily yelled Deepak to a receding W&D.

"Ah, you must be a happy man," paused W&D.  "Perhaps not tell her about your latest Bitcoin purchase for a few days.  It might delay your, err, return to comfort." 

Deepak's smiling countenance turned pale. 

And, to soothe your troubled mind...  

Miscellany 

Last words...

"Most of the time I am struggling to work out my own party-room and working out the Liberal party-room is even more difficult.”

 - Barnaby Joyce, former leader of the National Party, on the morning of the Liberal Party leadership ballot on Tuesday.

No, Mr Joyce, it's easy.   Politics is all about power.  Those who don't have it, want it.  And those who do, want to keep it.   

First Samuel client events calendar

Date 

Description

Details

2018 Events  

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

The University of Akron will phase out 80 degree courses, about 20% of what it now offers, in part, to save money for the future, the university announced on Wednesday.

Instead the university will open "the largest amount of dedicated e-sports space of any university in the world to date.”

'E-sports' is competitive video gaming.

(chronicle.com)

U Akron is based in Akron, Ohio.  It has the 93rd best undergraduate business programme in the US.  The most famous alumnus is the cheerleader of the university's football team, Alexis Kaufman, better known as Alexa Bliss.  She signed with WWE in 2013 entering their developmental promotion of NXT and joining the WWE SmackDown roster in 2016 where she became the first ever 2 time WWE SmackDown Women's Championship holder and the first woman to win such title and the WWE Raw Women's Championshipunder the current format.  How about that for a resume?

Guess what happened next?

Doris Stiles-Scown caught a man allegedly filming her daughter whilst she (the daughter) was changing in stall in a store.  What did Doris next do?

a.  Ignore the man;

b.  Call the store detective;

c.  Hit him over the head with a club she was carrying; or

d.  Chases the guy, catches him, and posts a video of him.       

Close.  But no cigar.  d. is correct.  Doris is an athlete, the guy is not. She caught him, filmed him with commentary and put it on her Facebook page.  Eight million viewers.

(Pittsburg.cbslocal.com)

Bonus: Not as embarrassing, but still costly, he was arrested.

Captain obvious

A new study has alarming findings: High-school students today are texting, scrolling and using social media instead of reading books and magazines. 

(Washington Post)  

But it's okay.  The research is from the US.  and study was paid for the they-the-taxpayers-of-the-Yoo-Ess-Aye.  

 

Have a Wry & Dry weekend. 

Cheers!

Anthony

[1]  Nursery End refers to the end of Lord's cricket ground in London that used to be occupied by Henderson's Nursery up until 1887.

[2]  An enforceable undertaking is an agreement between the regulator and the offending company for the company to mends its way and to undertake specific actions.  It's like a guilty-plea-bargain, but without a conviction.

[3]  A song by Sir Noël Coward, an English playwright composer, actor and singer.