Wry & Dry

Biden's first century. Belt & Road coffin. A coup upcoming.

Biden's first century

Any man that misses his wife's birthday, be it the same birthday number as the previous year or one more, is doomed to have privileges withdrawn.  

Any journalist that misses a new President's first kilometrestone would also be in the outer.  Equally, it would be churlish of Wry & Dry to miss Sleepy Joe's Hundredth Day Anniversary.  So Wry & Dry gives his report card.

Firstly, Pass #1: he didn't die, he made it to 100 days.  For a while it did look as though an item from Madame Tussaud's [1] was impaled on the chair behind the massive White House desk.  But, no.  Early predictions of imminent health issues have not been realised.  

Secondly, Pass #2: he is seeking to stop the Yoo Ess Ay from being the only modern Western democracy to not look after its less-well-off.  Readers will know that President Roosevelt's 'New Deal' was all about dragging the Yoo Ess Ay out of the Great Depression. It focussed on America. Biden is focussing on Americans. His trio of Big Spends is Hall of Fame stuff.  Consider his:

  • US$1,900,000,000,000 American Rescue Plan (covid alleviation and a bit of pork)
  • US$2,000,000,000,000 American Jobs Plan (infrastructure and a lot of pork)
  • US$1,800,000,000.000 American Families Plan (education and buying votes of students)

Cartoon biden pork

Of course, the second and third items have yet to pass Congress. However, if there is a measure of efficacy in the delivery of these programmes, Wry & Dry dips his lid to Sleepy Joe. Sure, it's big government. But it's long overdue. 

Thirdly, Fail #1: Biden doesn't get illegal immigration, and the real concerns of the more average American Joe.  Importantly, by pursuing an agenda that will inevitably fail in Congress, he risks derailing his more important projects (above) by being seen to be even more left wing than he really is.  This is a 'known known' [2] on which right-of-the-soup-spoon folk, Republicans and others, will run scare campaigns.  And runs the risk of Democrats losing control of the House with 'mid-term elections' due next year.   

Fourthly, Fail #2: Biden doesn't get entertainment. He is boring. The tedium is the message. The proof is in the pudding: social media is back to discussing reality television, not Donald Trump. Fox Network stations are losing viewers to tractor pulling competitions. Yawn.  

Conclusion: too early to tell [3].  See also Last Words, below.

[1]  Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying the waxworks of famous and historical figures, as well as popular film and television characters played by famous actors.   It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in 1835. 
[2] Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, in probably his only contribution to the world, gave Readers the term 'known knowns,' et seq.  In explaining the lack of evidence of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction in 2002 he said, "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know."  Brilliant!
[3]  As famously, and probably apocryphally, observed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai (to American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973) when asked what he thought of the French Revolution. 

Belt and Road coffin   

Readers would have read that last week the federal government gave Chairman Dan's Belt and Road Initiative the DCM.  No tears were shed, not even by the acting Victorian Chairman and members of the ministry (cabinet was not consulted on the original BRI idea).  It was serendipitous that Chairman Dan was still recovering from his inexplicable accident, and didn't have to front the media to provide a retrospective justification for his Belt and Road Initiative initiative.

Everyone (bar one) was wishing that the Victorian BRI coffin could be buried, unnoticed and unloved.

cartoon dodged a bullet

But no.  Just when the Victorian BRI coffin was being quietly lowered in the dead of night in an unmarked grave in a far away cemetery, up pipes Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye.   He said that the decision to tear up Victoria's BRI was 'unreasonable and irrational'.  This comment might have passed almost unnoticed.  But then his Excellency went on to say that "it is Australia that is engaging in economic coercion, not China." 

All of His Excellency's comments were now in the media.  Ignoring the absurdity of Australia economically coercing a country X times its size, where X is a very large number [4], attention has now refocussed on his BRI comments.  And questions being asked: what was Chairman Dan thinking with the Victorian BRI?

The lid on Victorian BRI coffin is now re-opened and body being re-examined.  Really.  What was he thinking?  Perhaps...

cartoon BRI doghouse

[4] X = ~16. 

France: a coup upcoming?

Wry & Dry has got to hand it to the French military.  The thesis is: if the government of the day isn't up to scratch, mount a coup d’état.  Well, try to.

And so this week, 60 years to the month after the failed coup against Charles de Gaulle [5], twenty retired and elderly generals have created a political storm in France with a call for a military takeover.  If... President Macron fails to halt the “disintegration” of the country at the hands of Islamists. 

Cartoon generals

This comes after a Tunisian Islamist stabbed to death a 49-year-old woman who worked at a police station in Rambouillet, in the western Paris commuter belt, last Friday.

This coup d’état stuff all started with Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’état of 1799.  And that is where the success stopped: none of the following attempts succeeded.  This week's nostalgic attempt to rouse the spirit of revolution will end sans aller aux barricades.  

However, astute Readers will know that there is more to this call for a coup d’état than meets the eye.  It's about next year's French presidential election.  A survey this week suggested that right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen would defeat incumbent Emmanuel Macron in the first round.

[5]  The Algiers putsch also known as the Generals' putsch was a failed coup d'état intended to force then French President Charles de Gaulle not to abandon French Algeria, along with the Algerian-resident European community and pro-French Muslims.  Organised in French Algeria in 1961 by retired French Army generals, it failed within 5 days

Covid deaths

There has been much media coverage about deaths allegedly from covid.  Yes, yes, Readers know that in over 80% of deaths where covid is a factor, there exists one or more 'comorbidities': e.g. diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney/ liver or heart problems.

cartoon comorbidity

A Reader drew Wry & Dry's attention to another death circumstance where covid was given as the cause of death:

Time of conversation: 11.00pm

Wife: "Did I get fat during quarantine?"

Husband: "You weren't really skinny to begin with!"

Time of death: 11.05pm.

Cause of death: Covid. 

The Firth of Boris

Readers will have read that Scottish support for Scottish independence has now collapsed to 42%.  The support was some 56% a few weeks ago, when Scotland's Wannabee First Prime Minister demanded another independence referendum (Borisconi said no).

It seems that the lads and lassies north of the border now say that, with independence, taxes, energy bills, food prices and unemployment would increase rather than drop. Fiscal prudence will always win over the Scots.

But the major reason, the survey says, is that the Scots fear a 'hard border' with England.  Wry & Dry is not sure what is a hard border.  Perhaps a sort of modern Hadrian's Wall.  With a nationwide moat for good measure? The Firth of Boris?

RDS outbreak

Wry & Dry is saddened to announce another outbreak of RDS [5].  Former PM Kevin Rudd came out last week calling for a super profits levy on iron ore mining companies that are making millions from the extraordinarily high price for the commodity.

The Ruddster still doesn't understand how industry works.  Or the massive amounts of capital required by mining companies.

The outbreak was doubly worse, as it would have brought back cruel memories of one of his most embarrassing failures when he had the keys to the PM's office: his aborted Resources Super Profits Tax. 

cartoon rudd

Readers will recall that the RSPT was a 2010 cash grab by the Ruddster and Treasurer Wayne “the four years of surpluses I announce tonight" [6] Swan to shore up the budget in the face of budget deficits growing faster than Melbourne supporters coming out of the woodwork. 

The Ruddster's proposal was given short shrift by both the Leader of the Opposition and his shadow Treasurer.  The Ruddster must have known that his reincarnated RSPT would be rejected.  So why raise the matter?  Because of RDS.

[5]  Relevance Deprivation Syndrome.
[6]  None occurred.    

Chart of the week

There is much bleating about Biden's proposals to increase corporate taxes.  But Readers should peruse the below chart, from the Financial Times.  Wasn't the Yoo Ess Ay prosperous under presidents who reigned over much higher corporate tax rates?

Line chart showing the top tax rate since 1945, with presidential administrations labeled. Biden has proposed the biggest corporate tax rise since Truman, though the rate is lower than recent decades

 

Unclear on the concept

"It will be incredibly safe for two people to meet freely" after a covid vaccination, so said the UK's Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Err, does he really think that groups of 'two people' haven't met in the UK since the lockdown?  Separate bedrooms, maybe?

Oh, those Victorian mores.

Apple outcast

It's rare for social media stocks to be outwardly grumpy with fellow companies.  But Google and Facebook are seriously grumpy with Apple. 

It's all got to do with Apple's new iOS 14.5, that has a feature in which each app asks the user if they agree to being tracked across other apps and websites.  This will bring seismic changes to the mobile advertising market.

Advertising makes up a tiny percentage of Apple's revenue.  So the gain from the virtuous introduction of easy privacy options far outweighs the possible loss of advertising revenue.

However, Facebook and Google greatly depend upon 'monetising eyeballs' (don't Readers lurv the jargon?) on every possible platform.  Any virtuous move to restrict the advertising revenue would overwhelm any possible gain from being seen to be a protector of digital privacy.

cartoon eyeballs

Astute Readers will wish to ask Apple how it justifies the billions of dollars a year it receives for making Google the default search engine on Safari, which likely uses the same data-gathering techniques that it has criticised.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Australia's backward inflation

Australia's CPI fell 0.6% over the March quarter.

Wry & Dry comments:  This takes the annual rise to just 1.1%, well short of the RBA's target range of 2-3%.

2.  US GDP leaps 

US GDP grew at an annual rate of 6.4% in the March quarter.

Wry & Dry comments:  Massive fiscal stimulus fuelled consumer spending, as well as looser lockdown restrictions, bringing output close to pre-pandemic levels.  

3.  Biden's proposed CGT rise

The White House says the proposed capital gains tax rise will hit only the richest 0.3%

Wry & Dry comments:  But that 0.3% has a lot of political muscle.   

4.  Tesla profit report: the fine print

The headline said:  "Elon Musk’s Tesla has posted a record quarterly profit, fuelled by rising deliveries despite supply disruptions."

Wry & Dry comments:  The fine print: 25% of the profit came from the sale of Bitcoin.  Strip out the Bitcoin profit and regulatory credits and the company made about the same as it did in the December quarter.  Musk said that he sold 10% of the company's Bitcoin holdings to demonstrate the crypto-currency's liquidity, fooling nobody except retail investors on Robinhood.

5.  Census-driven electoral changes favour Republicans

The US Census Bureau said that because of the latest population shifts, six states — Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon — will gain seats in the House. Seven — California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — will each lose one.  Texas will gain two seats.

Wry & Dry comments:  The redistricting (i.e. redistributions) will favour the Republicans over the Democrats, as they have performed better in sunbelt states.  And redistricting can be highly partisan, in which the party in power redraws electoral maps to their advantage.  Senate seats are not redistricted: each state gets two Senators.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“I’m sick and tired of reading how we’re planning another ‘hundred days’ of miracles.  All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration."

 -  John F Kennedy, putting into perspective the unimportance of the 'first 100 days'.  

The reality was and is that 'unknown unknowns' will disrupt any presidents term...

 

PS A reminder that the opinions in Wry & Dry do not necessarily represent those of First Samuel, its employees or directors.

 

Cheers

Anthony