Wry & Dry

Moustache given DCM. A plague on both your houses. A long time ago...

Just when Readers thought... 

1.  ...that I-Wanna-Quiet-Week-Trump meant a quiet week, he fires John Bolton, his moustachioed national-security adviser.  Bolton's sins against Trump will probably be leaked in due course.  Wry & Dry saw Bolton as a latter-day Dick Cheney.  But there probably will not be a National Security Adviser movie [1].

2.  ...that the European Central Bank was asleep, it awoke with an interest rate cut (to minus 0.5%) and a re-start of so-called quantitative easing.  The aim is to try and kick-start the EU economy.  Fat chance, as long as the Germans keep their wallets closed. 

And, predictably, I-Wanna-Lower-My-Mortgage-Repayments-Trump (see Last Words, below) could not restrain himself:

“European Central Bank acting quickly,” Mr Trump tweeted. “They are trying, and succeeding, in depreciating the euro against the VERY strong dollar, hurting US exports . . . ”.

In response, ECB President Mr Draghi said: “We have a mandate. We pursue price stability. And we don’t target exchange rates. Period.” 

Which is diplomatic-speak for a two-word message to Trump.

[1]  As there was Vice, for Dick Cheney.  But if there were a movie about Bolton, Readers could reasonably bet that I-Wanna-Be-In-The-Movie-Trump would want a part in the movie.

"A plague on both your houses" [2]

Readers will know that the cold hard logic of Brexit (voted by they-the-people) has descended into a parade of formless many-headed political creatures trudging towards the EU exit door. 

On the sidelines is the partisan media, tossing Molotov cocktails [3] at every utterance by whomever in the parade it considers the enemy.  The Times, Financial Times and BBC targeting the Leavers and the Telegraph, Daily Mail and Sun the Remainers.  Moderation is just not in the lexicon of editors.

It seems to Wry & Dry that the matter should be left to they-the-people.  Who have already voted.  And if again asked would vote the same way, as the opinion polls clearly show. 

Readers will know that last week UK politics descended into a reminiscence of the last days of the Roman Empire.  On the one hand, Borisconi ate some raw meat, bared his apparently hairy chest and kicked out of his party those whom he considered Quislings.  And on the other Jezza Corbyn chose to make short-term political capital rather than show some political honesty.  And the media, fringe groups and not yet returned university students took to the streets.  Or rather street.  The British demonstrator has much to learn from those in Hong Kong.

Yougov poll

The chaos suggested that the popularity of the major parties would fall, which it did.  But sharp-eyed Readers would have seen that the polling is more stable than it seems.  The sum of the Conservatives and Brexit votes and those of Labor and Lib Dems has moved by no more than 2% points in two months, which suggests a measure of inter-changeability. 

(And the Greens' vote has been unmoved, as if chained to a nearby tree, on 7% for five weeks.  But the UK voting system is quaint: it is not mandatory and it is first-past-the-post i.e. there are not any preferences.  The Greens have no political influence.)

Wry & Dry hesitates to predict the next step.  Borisconi might pull something out of the hat.

Cartoon what would winston do

[Churchill ordered the destruction of the French fleet in 1940 to prevent it from falling into German hands.  The French had signed an armistice with Germany.  Of particular significance to the British were the five battleships of the Bretagne and Richelieu classes, and the two fast battleships of the Dunkerque class, the second-largest force of capital ships in Europe after the Royal Navy. ]

Other than to say that the sight of the UK in political chaos must be a delight to the French and the Brussels' elite.  Less so to German and Dutch industry.  

[2] Mercutio, one of Romeo's closest friends, who, on being stabbed utters these words.  He speaks of the rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues.  Act III Scene 1, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare.
[3] Petrol filled bottles of petrol, capped with a lit rag.  On hitting the ground the bottle would break, randomly spreading the flaming petrol.  The name "Molotov cocktail" was coined by the Finns during the Winter War (when Soviet Russia invaded Finland in November 1939).  The name was an insulting reference to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who declared on Soviet state radio that bombing missions over Finland were actually airborne humanitarian food deliveries for their starving neighbours.  When the hand-held bottle firebomb was developed to attack Soviet tanks, the Finns called it the "Molotov cocktail", as "a drink to go with the food".

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Wry & Dry is somewhat bemused by the excitement caused by someone discovering water on a planet that is outside our solar system.

The media breathlessly announced that this had raised 'the first real hope of finding alien life.'

Get a grip, lads. 

Firstly, the planet, delightfully named K2-18b, is 110 light-years from Earth.  So a radio message to those K2-18b-lings would take 110 years to get there, and 110 years to get a response.

Secondly, as for being a great place for a vacation, nuh.  K2-18b is eight times the mass of Earth - human bodies would be crushed.

Thirdly, in any case, it's a gas giant, like Neptune.

Finally, travelling at Earth escape velocity of 40,000 kph, a spaceship would take 2.97 million years to travel the 1,041,000,000,000,000 kilometres.

Slow news day?     

Meanwhile, in Moscow

Readers will be aware that last Sunday was local elections' day in Russia.  The Moscow Duma (parliament) was dominated by the ruling United Russia Party (Tsar Vlad's party).  

But not one candidate formally stood for the hated United Russia Party, as its popularity is near zero.  The candidates cagily rebranded themselves as independents.  Well, that didn't work: one third of them lost their seats.

The Kremlin prevented over a dozen liberal opposition figures associated with Alexei Navalny, the prominent opposition politician, from standing.  

Cartoon putin not taking it to preferences

Comrade Stalin, welcome back. 

Focusing on the big issues 1

Apple, a distributor of mobile phone and related technology, this week launched three new iPhones.  The feature of the new phones is that they have 'more cameras than before'.  Now, how about that for a unique selling proposition?  Err, maybe not.  Apple now puffs and pants in vain after Samsung and Huawei.   

What's going on?  Well, before Readers turn to sorting out their sock drawer they should understand that Wry & Dry does have a point.  And that is that this is a mature market.  Aside from 5G, there is little telephonically to tempt buyers, even millennials, to upgrade every two years.  Readers will know that iPhone sales have tanked (down 13.8% this year) as owners hold on to earlier models.

Hence more cameras and not much else.

And it is clear from the launch of a Netflix-rival streaming service (Apple TV) and a gaming subscription service (Apple Arcade) that Apple sees its future in subscription services, not in the sale of mobile phones.  As Readers know, once a company gets a consumer's credit card number and persuades that consumer to pay for a monthly service, the dosh rolls in.

Focusing on the big issues 2

Readers of a petrol-head/ toys-for-boys inclination will know that the Frankfurt Motor Show has just started.  This biennial event (in a show area that has its own railway station) is one of the top five events of its type (after Detroit, Geneva, Paris and Tokyo).  But it is, well, struggling. 

It's a "I'm washing my hair that night" [4] for Aston Martin, Bugatti, Citroën, Ferrari, Fiat, Jeep, Kia, Lancia, Mazda, Renault-Nissan, Peugeot, Rolls-Royce, Suzuki, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volvo.  Each of which had better things to do.

Cartoon Frankfurt Motor Show

What's going on?

[4]  A reason actually given to Wry & Dry by a young lady with, err, promise, in the years before Readers were born. 

Focusing on the big issues 3

Once in the news, it is hard to stay out of it.  Sarah Palin, former Republican vice-presidential candidate (2008) is now husband-less.  After 31 years, Todd has packed-up his hunting gear and fishing tackle and sought other arrangements.

Ms Palin, the former governor of Alaska, was made even more famous than her Vice-Presidential bid by her geographically challenged comment that she could see Russia from her house.  As the distance is 1,173 kilometers, may be not. [5]

[5]  In the Bering Strait, there lies two small islands known as Big Diomede and Little Diomede.  Big Diomede is owned by Russia while Little Diomede is owned by the Yoo-Ess-Ay. The stretch of water between these two islands is only about 4 kilometres miles wide and actually freezes over during the winter.  So Readers could walk from the US to Russia on this seasonal sea ice. 

Unclear on the concept

Readers will know that Wry & Dry is an environmentally aware chap.  And is keen on the concept of an electric car.  So, in an idle moment this week he visited the BMW website, seeking information on what he had been told was a decent plug-in for Mrs Wry & Dry to consider: the new electric BMWi3.  After searching around BMW's website (that lacked any semblance of German precision), he finally found a section on the electric car.  And pleased with what he saw, clicked on the 'Build My BMW' link. 

The first choice to be made was 'Fuel type'.  Two choices: petrol or hybrid.  Hang on, no electric.  

BMW's The Ultimate Driving Machine capability clearly didn't extend to The Ultimate Website.

Didn't get the memo 1

To:  Members of Parliament; Members of Federal Executive; Wayne Swan, Federal President, ALP; State Members....

From:  ALP Federal Secretariat

Subject:  Topics not to speak to the media about

Text: #6:  The ALP lost the election because of our tax-and-spend policies.  So, do not suggest, hint or even think that we should retain our tax-and-spend policies.

But...

"The national president of the ALP, Wayne Swan, said last weekend that the Labor Party should not drop its tax-and-spend agenda that it took to the election.  "We should be proud of our policies..."  

Cartoon wayne swan moment

Didn't get the memo 2

To: Federal Members of Liberal and National Parties

From:  Liberal Federal Secretariat

Subject:  Taking advice before going on national television

Text:  Before going on national television, make sure that you take advice from your experienced advisers and that you are fully briefed on how to answer questions.  This especially relates to current issues, such as Hong Kong/ China... 

But... 

"The newly elected member for the federal seat of Chisholm, the Hong Kong born Gladys Liu, denied that she had been a member of any organisation linked to the Chinese Communist Party.  In a slow-moving train-wreck of an interview on Sky News with commentator Andrew Bolt...

"Ms Liu had not notified anyone in the government of her decision to appear on Sky News Australia with presenter Andrew Bolt to answer questions over her past associations raised by the ABC on Tuesday.  

Cartoon gladys liu

Snippets from all over 

1.  Canada votes

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a federal election for 21 October.  Opinion polls are indicating it will be a tough race for the left-leaning Mr Trudeau, who is seeking a second term in office.

Cartoon trudeau

Wry & Dry comments:  Mr Trudeau was elected as a young and exciting socially progressive PM.  But the gloss has tarnished, as he turned into a well-dressed, clean-looking 1960s hippie.  He focused more on social issues than running the country.  He may get the DCM. 

2.  Cheeky

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange stunned investors when it made a £32 billion unsolicited bid for the London Stock Exchange, one of London’s highest-profile financial institutions, on Wednesday. 

Wry & Dry comments:  The lads in the Carlton Club would have choked on their cheroots.  The bid is likely to be rejected.

3.  India tuk tuk

Car sales in India plunged by 41% in August compared with a year ago.  

Wry & Dry comments:  Until someone designs a cow- or elephant-proof car, sales have peaked.  

PS: New car sales in Australia fell by 10.1% in August.

4.  Ford junked

Ford Motors' credit rating has been cut to 'junk' by Moody's Investors Service. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Just like their cars?    

5. Hong Kong 

August visitors to Hong Kong fell almost 40% from a year ago. 

Wry & Dry comments:  This shows a lack of awareness on the part of tourists.  Readers will be aware that demonstrations in Hong Kong only occur on a Sunday.  Surely tourists can visit on the other six days...

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

"The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt."

 -  I-Wanna-Lower-My-Mortgage-Repayments-Trump, in a tweet on Wednesday.

1.  I-Wanna-Lower-My-Mortgage-Repayments-Trump is talking his own book.  After all, he has some $340 million in variable rate loans from Deutsche Bank.  Every 0.25% point drop in Fed rates saves him about $850,000.

2.  Unclear on the concept.  Refinancing existing debt is an illusory saving.  The existing US$22 trillion of government debt would have to be bought back.  Yes, the new debt would be issued at a lower coupon (i.e. lower interest rates), but the old debt being bought back would be bought at a premium.  Zero sum game.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

... sent a much-anticipated postcard from Delhi to W&D.

W&D had not been sleeping well as he was anxious to hear whether Deepak had indeed achieved status as a valiant knight by rescuing his mother-in-law from the Delhi lockup. Or had Damshi been extradited to Seychelles to defend the charges of bitcoin account hacking…

Post card from India

W&D chuckled as he alighted from his taxi.

 

Cheers.  

Anthony 

 

First Samuel client events calendar

EVENTS FOR 2019

First Samuel 20th Anniversary Investment Forum

Tuesday 24th September

with Special guest
Hon Josh Frydenberg, MP, Federal Treasurer

Invitation sent

Please let Jess know if you are interested in bringing your children along to hear Mr. Frydenberg speak

Chief Investment Officer Dinners

Invitation sent
Contact Jess at responses@firstsamuel.com.au to RSVP your preference of venue

 

Venue Seating Date & Time
Many Little by Polperro - Red Hill Dinner 17th September 6pm (Dinner fully booked)
Elyros - Camberwell Dinner 18th September 6pm (Dinner fully booked)