Wry & Dry

Never send to know... First Second Bloke? RDS rears its head.

Never send to know...

Wry & Dry has always been impressed with the ability of troubled Labor governments to change leaders mid-term, thereby presenting an undamaged leader to they-the-people at the next poll.  Readers will remember Steve Bracks replacing John Brumby, or Anna Bligh replacing Peter Beattie.  Each of Bracks and Bligh were successful at the next poll.

The Liberals' record is more patchy.  Sticking with the sinking John Howard instead of Peter Costello; compared to the overturning of Croesus Turnbull by the accidental Jimmy Morrison.

Having said that, allow Wry & Dry to turn to the Gulag State.  It must be patently clear to almost all that Chairman Dan is failing, irreparably.  Every day the Victorian black hole of mental health, economic and education despair gets deeper, but he keeps furiously digging.  Be it pride, stubbornness or whatever, it no longer matters.

Cartoon Andrews undertakers

The point is that Chairman Dan is managing all of this alone - he is the Chairman, CEO, chief cook and bottle washer of the disaster.  Shrewdly, the Treasurer, Health Minister, Police Minister, etc have disappeared.  So Chairman Dan will singularly carry the government's failure.  No-one else.  Readers can join the dots.

With a little understanding of how Labor operates, Wry & Dry muses that Chairman Dan has already given himself the DCM, or the factions have, with the announcement well before the Christmas lights are put up in an empty Bourke Street Mall.  From where the tolling bells of the Cathedral can be heard. 

And a new Labor Premier (probably a woman, possibly Jacinta Allen) will lead the government to the next election.  And win.  

[1] "...never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."  John Donne (1572-1631), English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary, who became a cleric in the Church of England.  He was Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London.  For Whom The Bell Tolls was also a novel about the Spanish Civil War by Earnest Hemingway.

First Second Bloke 

The greatest problem that was faced when Ms Julia Gillard became Prime Minister of Australia was not Tony Abbott.  Who was Ms Gillard's then domestic partner, Tim Mathieson [2]?  Well, he was a former hairdresser.  

In a similar vein, the folk in the Yoo-Ess-Ay are firmly focussed not on Virus-What-Virus-Trump versus Sleepy Joe Biden.  But on who is Wannabe Vice-President Kamala Harris' partner? 

Wry & Dry can advise Readers that Douglas Emhoff is a Californian lawyer with global firm DLA Piper, specialising in entertainment litigation.  The proof of that successful pudding is that he has represented the husband of one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  

If Sleepy Joe gets the gig in early November, Ms Harris also gets the gig as VPOTUS.  In an election that will ring in a number of firsts, Mr Emhoff will become the first Jewish spouse to a US Vice President.

He would also be the First Second Gentleman.  Or, colloquially, the First Second Bloke.

Speculative Readers might also note that Ms Harris and Mr Emhoff were married in Santa Barbara (in 2014), and are known to enjoy the area.  This is where the Duke of Sussex and Princess Princess now live.  If Sleepy Joe gets the gig, Wry & Dry gives three months before Princess Princess is in a photo opp with VPOTUS and the First Second Bloke.

[2] Ms Gillard now lives in Adelaide and Mr Mathieson lives in country Victoria. 

Another serious case of RDS

RDS (Relevance Deprivation Syndrome) is a well known and severe medical affliction.  It generally strikes retired politicians, such as Tony Abbott, John Hewson or Jeff Kennett, screwing their mental faculties to the point of them making spectacles of themselves by commenting on matters just to get a headline.

But yesterday, the Leader of the NSW National Party, NSW Deputy Premier and Eden-Monaro by-election Quisling, John Barilo has joined the ranks of former Federal Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce.  And become a sitting politician to be afflicted with RDS.

Mr QB was clearly concerned with all the media attention that other politicians were getting from the CV-19 pandemic.  Even the Victorian Premier, Chairman Dan, was getting more media in NSW than any NSW politician, much less Mr QB.

So Mr QB thought of a national issue to regain the headlines: koalas.  Mr QB has said that National MPs will abstain from supporting Liberal Party legislation until the government changes its new policy on koala habitats.

Mr QB, speaking from the wallet heart, said that National MPs would remain in Cabinet.     

This is the most serious case of RDS that Wry & Dry has seen.  Threatening to bring down a government of which you are a member over, um, koala habitats is sure sign that men in white coats should be summoned.    

Storm in a D-cup

Some Readers will be familiar with The Garrick, a men-only London club for theatrical types. Well a feisty female, Emily Bendell wants to join.  And it's causing increased blood-pressure in Clubland.

Not least of which is that Ms Bendell is a billionaire, who made her dosh from the lingerie company she owns: BlueBella [3]. Nothing theatrical about that.

The last time there was such a fuss was when Joanna Lumley was proposed for the club in 2011 (unsuccessfully).  Members had palpitations, half from lust, the other half from rage.

Cartoon mens clubs

Ms Blendell has lawyered up, instructing her lawyers to use UK equality law to obtain an injunction, stopping The Garrick from operating “its discriminatory policy”.  Critics have pointed out that she hasn't launched legal action against any of the women-only clubs.

Wry & Dry's London spy understands that Ms Bendell feels The Garrick’s establishment types are engaged in networking opportunities from which she’s excluded.  Weird.  Anyone who knows a London men-only club will be aware most members don't know what networking is, having been born in an age when civilised people clocked-off as soon as they left work.  For lunch.

[3] Wry & Dry's knowledge of the label is zero.  He recommends Readers consider either Eres or La Perla.

No breakfast at Tiffanys [4]

Tiffany & Co, the iconic New York jeweller, has lawyered up.  Readers will recall that in November last year luxury French brand-owner LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) made a $16.6 billion takeover bid for Tiffany.  The bid was agreed. 

Cartoon breakfast at Tiffany

Now LVMH has pulled out of the deal.  And has hidden behind the French government, saying the government doesn't wish it to complete the deal.  It's all politically complicated: it's got to do with Virus-What-Virus-Trump wishing to implement customs duties on certain French industries, including luxury goods, in reaction to France adopting a digital services tax, including on American companies. 

Wry & Dry sees it boiling down to one fact: the transaction agreed before the CV-19 pandemic has soured because of a radically different business outlook.  So LVMH went to the French government with an idea of how to renegotiate the deal.  The French government being, well, French, agreed.

And now lawyers in the US state of Delaware will decide which side gets the jewels.

[4]  Breakfast at Tiffanys is a 1961 American romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.  Until November 2017, there was no place to have breakfast at Tiffany.  The movie might have been called Breakfast Outside Tiffanys: Holly consumed a take-away pastry and coffee early one morning whilst wistfully viewing a Tiffany window. Tiffany now shares a block and a wall with Trump Tower.  Sigh.

Hong Kong imitates Melbourne

Readers will remember how Victorian police quite rightly dealt with that nasty and extremely dangerous woman who put an item on Facebook that offended Chairman Dan: she was arrested and handcuffed in front of her children and her house searched.  The fact that she was pregnant is, of course, no reason to stop the long arm of the law reaching out to quell trouble before it starts.

Victorian police will be relieved to note that their epitome of preventative action has been followed overseas.  On Sunday, Hong Kong police tackled to the ground and arrested a 12 year-old girl who was protesting against the delayed parliamentary elections.

Cartoon hong kong girl

Both are exemplars of outstanding police work.  These dangerous trouble makers must be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

Wry & Dry expects a scaffold to be erected in Spring Street to deal with Victorian troublemakers.   

Brexit follies

Readers who play bridge will be familiar with an 'end-play-squeeze' [5].  Well, the Brexit negotiations have reached a point where each side is trying to out-end-play-squeeze the other.

Cartoon boris megaphone

The UK and the EU must agree a trade deal by 31 December or it is a no-deal (and trade between them revert to World Trade Organisation rules).  The negotiations are now down to two main issues: fishing and state aid.

The EU wants its fishermen people to fish in UK waters (more or less).  European fishermen people are dependent on access to UK waters but Britain sells most of the fish it catches in Europe.

Wry & Dry cannot understand the 'state aid' issue.  Except to say that it involves Northern Ireland; 'nuff said.

Borisconi has said that if an agreement cannot be reached by 23 October (because of time needed to prepare customs, etc for a no-deal possibility), then it's no-deal.  This will get more and more tense, to the point of hysteria.  And then, in the middle of the night in the last seven days, there will be a breakthrough.  Each side will have played their end-play-squeeze.  And failed. So they resorted to... tossing a coin. 

[5] Also called a strip squeeze.  Essentially it is when a declarer cashes winners, forcing the defender to discard cards that will unguard a potential winner or be put on lead and forced to lead a loser.  

Border follies

Readers would have seen reports of the latest skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops along their disputed 3,488 kilometre border.  Shots were "fired in the air" near a lake at about 4,300 metres above sea level.

This is faintly ridiculous.  And just chest beating.  The Indian government wants anything to draw attention away from its handling the CV-19 pandemic.  And the Chinese government will always push and push its real or imagined borders until someone pushes back. 

This is how China occupied islands and atolls in the South China Sea - no-one pushed back, least of all US President O'Bama (who now admits contrition over his, err, passivity). 

An atoll in the South China Sea is one thing.  India is a bit larger.  

Stupidest headline 1

"Japanese billionaire regrets losing $41 million in stock trading" [6]

     - Bloomberg, 7 September

Wry & Dry is sympathetic - he, too, would regret losing $41 million.   

[6] The billionaire was Yusaku Maezawa, founder and former chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo Inc.  He said he lost money through day trading.

Stupidest headline 2

"Do not go to China: Payne" [7]

    - AFR, 9 September

Err, we live in Victoria.  We can't even go to the local Bunnings, much less China.

[7] Payne is Marise Payne, Australia's foreign Minister.

Big Apple

There are indices.  And there are indices.  In the Yoo-Ess-Ay there are just two that serious investors watch: the S&P 500 (the index of the 500 largest stocks by market capitalisation) and the Russell 2000 (an index of 2000 small cap companies that are outside the largest 1000 companies, i.e. 1001 to 3000).  The latter is the most widely quoted measure of small and mid-cap stocks.

Last week the value of one company, Apple, exceeded the entire value of the Russell 2000.

Chart apple v russell

What's going on?

Well, Apple doth bestride the investment world like a colossus [8]. Well along with Amazon, Microsoft, Google (Alphabet) and Facebook.  These five companies share prices trade at about 44 times expected earnings (i.e. a P/E of 44), close to the P/E of 50 of the five largest stocks at the peak of the Tech-Wreck in 2001.

Just sayin'.

[8] "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world.  Like a colossus..."  Cassius, speaking of Julius Caesar, in Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare.    

Snippets from all over 

1.  SQ fires

Singapore Airlines is eliminating about 4,300 jobs as the coronavirus outbreak devastates the aviation industry

Wry & Dry comments:  The job losses are the first at Singapore Airlines since the SARS outbreak in 2003.

2.  Rio Tinto CEO gives himself the DCM

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the chief executive of Rio Tinto, will step down by the end of March after failing to contain the fallout from the destruction of an ancient Aboriginal site in Western Australia, the miner said this morning.   

Wry & Dry comments: Too little, too late.

3.  Boeing - just when things were looking up...

US aviation regulators are investigating manufacturing flaws in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which have already led to the grounding of eight jets.

Wry & Dry comments: Boeing's share price fell 5%.

4.  Uber electric

Uber has pledged to make all of its rides in North America and Europe fully electric by 2030.

Wry & Dry comments:   Uber Australia will remain coal powered.   

5.  Business conditions fall

NAB's monthly index of business conditions fell in August to minus 6 points from zero in July.

Wry & Dry comments:  Yawn.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

“Myer has transformed itself into the world's most expensive post office.”

 -  Solomon Lew, billionaire 'rag trader', speaking on the profit results of Myer, an Australian department store.

Myer had focussed its annual report on its massive increase in on-line sales (up 61%).  Myer's NPAT fell 15.8%.  Mr Lew owns 10.8% of Myer. 

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...grinned as Wry & Dry jumped into the jalopy.

“You look very happy for someone who has been arrested for breaking lock-down rules,” remarked Wry & Dry.

“Absolutely, I’ve had a few days vacation without kids, dishwasher or wife! Although some would say one and the same, but I’m not one of those type” said Deepak with a superior air.

“And in my household, I do the dishwashing, so I’m not one of those types either!" tailed off Wry & Dry thoughtfully.

“So, do you want me to tell you how I got off the charges or not?” interrupted Deepak.

“Sure,” said Wry & Dry, always ready for a good story.

“You remember my mother-in-law’s Ponzi scheme?”

“Absolutely, Damshi lures in husbands, then advertises them for marriage-sale on some sort of online platform for an initial payout and ongoing commission and yada, yada. She really is some sort of apex predator. Not the type you’d cross. You didn’t try to blackmail her did you?” asked Wry & Dry in mock fear.

“I didn’t TRY to blackmail her” laughed Deepak.

“I get it, you just did blackmail her,” sighed Wry & Dry.

“Yep, worked a treat. All is fair in love and war, don’t they say?” replied Deepak.

“Ah, the proverb of Lyly in his book, Euphues. Did you know Euphues means graceful and witty, a Greek word actually. And I am afraid, my dear Watson, your mother-in-law is all that, graceful and witty and to continue from the Greek, also an Amazonian! When it comes to women, it is the worst kind of all, they look so, well, fabulous! Then whammo!” said Wry & Dry sadly.

“No, not at all. Damshi, was very diplomatic about the whole thing. She said, Deepak, you are right, it is a dreadful thing that I have done all out of desperation to feed my children. She said she is totally reformed, and is truly in love with her husband-to-be, the Feather-Duster. Not that I can see how, he needs six-inch platforms to even get close to looking her in the eye!”

“Well six inches of something always helps, but I think you should prepare yourself Deepak.”

“For what, this whammo? Whatever it means… ”

“Whammo, from the Greek, meaning the sound Deepak being hit with vigour by his mother-in-law Wry & Dry said as the jalopy pulled into the curb…

 

To be continued…

  

   - From the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry.

 

Cheers

Anthony