Wry & Dry

Boom boom. Re-education. More snouts.

Boom boom

Twelve months ago, the world was in a downward spiral of covid-led despair. Never in the field of human endeavour has so much been wrought to so many by so little. One moment a bacterium in a petri dish in Wuhan, Empire of China; the next destined to kill 3,247,557 humans [1], and counting, over the next 12 months.

Cartoon free covid

Twelve months ago, the stock market was down 25%, toilet paper was being traded on the black market like whiskey during the Prohibition era [2] and Chairman Dan was re-reading Mao's Little Red Book [3] for guidance on what next to do.

Cartoon prohibition

And today, the mood in Australia is almost upbeat. This week, the normally gloomy folk at the Reserve Bank put on the silly party hats and blew the party whistles. They predicted economic growth in 2021 to be 4.75% (the highest since 1999) and the unemployment rate to be 4.5% (the lowest since 2008). Happy days, indeed.

(Trap for young players: The RBA also expects inflation to hit 2% by mid 2023, thereby guaranteeing a negative 'real' return for investors who hold funds in cash deposits.)   

What's going on? Well, three things. 

Firstly, governments have poured billions of we-the-taxpayers-of-the-future into the economy to ameliorate the effects of covid. Secondly, the Reserve Bank has reduced interest rates to virtually zero to (a) keep the currency low; (b) encourage investment; and (c) lower mortgage holders payments so they will have more to spend. Thirdly, the mostly effective anti-covid actions of governments (federal quarantine and states' contact tracing) have given strong confidence to Australians' sense of their future.

But PM Jimmy Morrison's new-headache-a-day (India, Holgate, Porter, net something-but-not-zero, etc) won't go away.       

[1] As at 0804 7 May 2021. Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus update 
[2] Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.  By 1925, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs in New York City alone
[3] More correctly known as Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, it is a book of statements from speeches and writings by Mao Zedong, the former Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, published from 1964 to about 1976.  The most popular versions were printed in small sizes that could be easily carried and were bound in bright red covers, thus commonly becoming known internationally as the Little Red Book.

More snouts

Some weeks ago, Wry & Dry brought to Readers' attention the fiendish plan of a disgraced Queensland federal MP to scam an extra $100,000 in retirement benefits from we-the-taxpayer. The plan was to ensure that his resignation became a DCM, i.e. 'involuntary'. 

Wry & Dry has to report another Queenslander federal MP with his snout below the Plimsoll Line in the trough. George Christensen last month announced that he would not contest the next federal election. This week, he sought to be 'disendorsed' by the Liberal National Party in Queensland. If successful, his resignation becomes a DCM. And he gets the extra 'involuntary' resignation bonus of $100,000.

Cartoon snouts

Hall of Fame Snout-In-The-Troughness.

Re-education camp needed I

Readers will know that Australia's secondary students have been falling behind students in similar countries for years. And that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial global evaluation of 15-year-olds performance in maths, science and reading. The latest tests (2018) showed that since 2003 Australian students' reading literacy fell by three quarters of a school year (maths literacy and science literacy were even worse, each falling by almost a full school year). A somewhat disgraceful outcome.

Cartoon education

Last week, the proposed revisions to Australia's national curriculum were released. What was recommended for reading? Err, more going backwards. Children should now be encouraged to "engage with, analyse, interpret, evaluate and create spoken, print, visual and multimodal texts."

Perhaps learning to read might be a good idea instead. Wry & Dry recommends that the compilers of the woolly national curriculum proposal be sentenced to a term in the Re-education Camp for Sensible Education.

Re-education camp needed II

The sentence of the week goes to the ambitious Generation Z marketing communications writer at ANZ bank. This, err, specialist in the English language penned the following in the bank's latest investment presentation:

"The bank's focused approach ensures a systematic cadence that adds velocity to benefit realisation."  Whaaaaat?

ANZ's share price rose.

Gun-boat diplomacy

There's nothing like a bit of gunboat diplomacy to swell the chests of the Brits. Especially as the enemy (well, sort of) is France.

On Wednesday, two (small) Royal Navy vessels began patrolling the waters off Jersey (an island in the English Channel) after Borisconi dispatched them in a deepening row between the UK and France over fishing rights. French fisher-people are planning to blockage the port of Jersey's capital, St Helier. Mon Dieu!  

Cartoon gunboats

They are not happy with demands that French fishing boats be equipped with monitoring devices and meet other UK criteria to obtain fishing licences.

France isn't taking the dispute lightly. Of course. And has threatened to cut off its power supply to the Channel island in support of its fisher-people.  

Wry & Dry is waiting for the sabres to really rattle.

Who pulls the strings?

Readers will remember that Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice-President of the Yoo-Ess-ay Dick Cheney and a staunch conservative known for hawkish foreign policy views, was one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach the then-president [4] over his role in the 6 January storming of the Capitol.

Liz survived a vote of confidence in February in her role as House Republican Conference Chair, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership. 

But the knives are still out. Her ongoing and outspoken anti-Trump comments have infuriated the Trumpster himself. And he has made his desires known. She must get the DCM. And quickly.  

Her fellow caucus members are now expected to hold a second confidence vote next week. Wry & Dry's person in Washington reports that, "She is toast this time."

It is now even clearer who pulls the strings in the Republican party.

[4]  Donald Trump, for those Readers whose mind suppresses his memory.

Rocket man 

Sometime tomorrow or on Sunday a 10-storey, 23 tonne piece of rocket will crash into Earth. It is apparently an un-controlled re-entry of China's largest rocket, the Long March 5B. The rocket was used last week to launch a section of Emperor Xi's new space station. His ambition to rapidly control the skies as well as the land and seas has lead to a little danger to people all over the planet. 

The apparently uncontrolled rocket will plough into Earth anywhere between 41.5 degrees north and 41.5 degrees south. Readers will know that this danger zone includes everywhere between Tasmania and northern Japan.

Cartoon rocket man

However, Wry & Dry does not believe for one minute that this is an uncontrolled rocket re-entry. It is a deliberate ploy of Emperor Xi to take revenge against Australia for all of the nasty things that our politicians have been saying against his Empire.

The rocket will, Wry & Dry forecasts, hit Australia where it really hurts: PM Jimmy Morrison's favourite pub, where he conducts his weekly pub test.

UK Labour in reverse. The message?

Yesterday was local election day in the Old Dart. And, unlike most local councils in Australia, national political parties actively compete.

The outcome, according to all of the polls, will be a massive victory for Borisconi. If so, Wry & Dry sees this not as a victory for Borisconi, but a loss for the UK Labour party. The 'New Labour' that Tony Blair successfully begat hid the emerging left-wing truth: the essential irreconcilability of (a) extreme cultural and social social-media driven issues with (b) the desires of traditional Labour voters.  

Readers will remember that Wry & Dry wrote when Borisconi came to power that he was actually a Gaullist [5] - a centrist who believed in government intervention where necessary, unity, nationalism and enterprise. These characteristics are attractive to the modern voter. Ideologically driven policies are political suicide notes.

Who cares? Wry & Dry hears some Readers ask.

The message is that Treasurer Josh is about to bring down a budget that puts him firmly in the Borisconi/ De Gaulle economic-centrist camp. It will be an almost-Labor budget.

All that then needs to happen for an election losing position for Labor is for PM Jimmy Morrison to 'get net zero'.

Waiting...waiting.

[5] After World War II French Resistance leader General Charles de Gaulle, who would become the founding President of the Fifth French Republic.  

Woodstock for Capitalists

Some Readers would be old enough to remember [6] the almost-first rock festival: Woodstock, in 1969 [7]. Some of those same Readers would also have attended Woodstock for Capitalists: the Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett's investment company) virtual annual meeting.

This year's meeting was held in this week in a studio in Los Angeles, because Buffett's sprightly partner, the 97 year old Charlie Munger, wasn't well enough to take a flight to Omaha, Nebraska, the meeting's home ground. 

The 90-year-old 'sage of Omaha', as his acolytes call him, manages $650 billion of assets. Over the last 10 years, his folksy investment wisdom (for example, on sector management: "...in the 1930s there were more than 2,000 auto manufacturers in the U.S. In 2009, there were three left and two went bankrupt.") has outperformed his competitors. But Berkshire Hathaway's share price hasn't. It is 3.6% p.a. behind the S&P500 for the last 10 years. 

The heady days prior to that seem a distant memory. Interest rates were higher, there were fewer astute investors against whom to bid for underperforming investments, and the pre-technology age leant itself to more almost leisurely investment decisions.

Wry & Dry ponders if the next Woodstock for Capitalists will end up like the original Woodstock.   

[6] The saying goes that if you can remember the 1960s you weren't there.
[7] Woodstock was a rock music festival held in August, 1969, on Max Yasgur's dairy farm, 65 km southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York. Billed as "an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain.  Wry & Dry thinks that he can remember Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, Canned Heat, CCR, Janis Joplin, the Who, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Jimi Hendrix and Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. Bob Dylan lived in Woodstock but didn't appear.  

Snippets from all over 

1.  Joke crypto-currency up 7,000%

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke — its name is a reference to a popular Internet meme, now has a market cap of $70 billion, and has gained over 130% this week and over 7,000% this year.

Wry & Dry comments: Dogecoin is a zero-sum game. The only winner will be the US tax office, which will rake in millions for taking zero risk.

2.  Eurozone in recession

"The eurozone economy slipped into a double-dip recession after lockdowns led to a 0.6 per cent contraction in growth in the first quarter. It followed a 0.7 per cent decline in the fourth quarter of 2020." 

Wry & Dry comments: Lockdowns across Europe, especially in Germany, didn't help consumption spending, the largest component of GDP.  

3.  Engagements

"Tiffany & Co. is introducing its first-ever men's engagement ring amid a rise in gender-fluid fashion trends and same-sex marriages. The line is named after the company's founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, and will be available in three types of diamond cuts measuring up to 4.3 carats."

Wry & Dry comments: Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as known today, in 1886. Thus starting a shrouded trend to impoverish men from the first stirring of marital intent.   

4.  Rates unchanged

The Chief Teller of the Reserve Bank left the official cash rate unchanged at 0.1%.

Wry & Dry comments: The party is roaring and the deep and alcoholic punchbowl keeps getting filled.

5.  House of Mouse

"Disney's two Californian theme parks (Disneyland and Californian Adventure) reopened last week, after being closed since March 2020."

Wry & Dry comments: The theme park closures cost some $10 billion.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“It is essential that Covid Quarantine Victoria has an experienced and trained workforce ready to start work as more hotels come online."

 -  A CQY spokeswoman, responding to a question as to why the Victorian government has since February paid some 550 hotel quarantine workers their full annual salary of at least $75,000, despite not working a single day on site.  

Never in the field of government has so much incompetence been shown by so many for so few successes.

 

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

 

Cheers

Anthony