Wry & Dry

What will Carrie wear? Indiana Trump. WADA bombs Tsar Vlad.

What will Carrie wear? 

Never before has a UK election been so keenly followed.  Well, since the last keenly followed election.

And the galaxy will breathe a sigh of relief that the lesser of two weevils [1] has won.  Borisconi is an impulsive and fair minded clown.  Jezza a certifiable disaster.

Jezza, well, sort of lacked what it takes.  To lead your party to its worst election result since 1935 is not a great epitaph.  But Readers will recall Wry & Dry's reflection on Jezza's decision to back the election call. 

Better to go down a great socialist hero, snug in the bosom of ideological purity, who valiantly fought the evil capitalists (and unfortunately lost) than to win but fail to implement the radical policies.

Cartoon progrom

Bizarrely, the happiest people on the planet will not be the 42% of Brits who voted for Borisconi, but the bureaucrats in Brussels and politicians in Paris, Berlin, etc.  Brexit will now proceed, as agreed.  No more delays or referenda.  And the economic disaster that would have been Jezza: avoided.  Sterling is up 2.3% v USD and FTSE futures are up 1%.  

Tonight's media will be full of the election news and predictions, with the massive question:  what colour dress will Miss Carrie Symonds [2] wear at the Palace? 

Cartoon carrie queen

[1] "Don't you know that in the Navy you must always choose the lesser of two weevils?" Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) teasing Paul Bettany (Dr Maturin) about which was the better weevil on his dinner plate. - Master and Commander
[2]  Borisconi's girlfriend.

A Wry & Dry aside

Of the 650 constituencies (electorates) the Greens won one.  Which is one more than the now oxymoronic Brexit Party.    

Indiana Trump

Last week Wry & Dry sat down with Mrs W&D to watch escapist movies.  With glasses of 2007 Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque, the first Indiana Jones movie chosen.  One scene caused me to ponder.  The one where Jones is racing to escape a massive spherical boulder rolling down a tunnel from where he had just looted treasure.

Well, this is how Wry & Dry sees Go-On-Impeach-Me-Trump and the impeachment process.  Like the spherical boulder, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rolling evermore quickly towards her victim.

However, like Indiana Jones, Go-On-Impeach-Me-Trump will escape.  Pelosi will, like the boulder, thud to a halt, unable to go further, as the narrower passage of the Senate will block her from final victory.  

But Go-On-Impeach-Me-Trump is very different to Indiana Jones.  Jones rarely spoke, letting his heroic actions tell the story.  Go-On-Impeach-Me-Trump just will not shut up. 

Cartoon trump talking

Readers will remember some advice that John Wayne once gave, "Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much." [3]  Wry & Dry has just emailed it to the White House.

[3]  The advice was given by Wayne to Michael Caine.  Caine followed it; e.g. "You were only.  Supposed.  To blow.  The bloody doors off."

WADA bombs Tsar Vlad

Tsar Vlad always followed the Soviet dictum that success in international sport is as good as five divisions on the Polish border.  But now Tsar Vlad has much egg on face.  This week the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited Russia from major sporting events for four years. The ban will apply to next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and to the 2022 men’s football World Cup, to be held in Qatar.  Shame!

Cartoon russian athletes drugs

Err, not quite.  If the International Olympic Committee runs true to form, it will allow 'athletes from Russia' to compete in Tokyo and Beijing.  This means that athletes who had their records manipulated will be allowed to compete - the ban is on the country, not individual athletes. 

'Athletes from Russia' may compete under a neutral flag.  Wry & Dry imagines the Opening Ceremony: 500 anonymous but very, very muscular athletes marching just behind a 'neutral flag'.  By definition a neutral flag should be white.  A white flag is also a flag of s... oh, never mind.

Westpac - a chapter closes

Westpac Chairman Lindsay Maxsted wore the bike helmet at yesterday's Westpac Annual General Meeting.  A good thing, too, as most unfriendly things were said from enraged shareholders.

They might have been a little more polite and still got their message across.  Yes, Westpac stuffed up.  And badly. Heads were needed on spikes at the city gates.  And they were placed.  Fiscal pain will be needed.  And it will come.

Wry & Dry was drawn to a note in this morning's Financial Review, of a comment said by an earlier Westpac Chairman, John Uhrig in 1993.  Westpac then had a near-death experience, and almost went broke.  Uhrig said at the opening of that AGM, "I have always found the need for vengeance to be quite unproductive in creating solutions to problems."

Maxsted took the abuse he received with equanimity.  Perhaps there might have been a little more understanding of the clear changes occurring at Westpac. 

After 1993, Westpac rebuilt and recovered amazingly.  Shareholders who bailed missed the recovery.  Sure times were different then.  But Wry & Dry senses that it's already the end of the beginning of Westpac's recovery.

Prediction 

Whilst most of the globe's attention is on the Borisconi v Jezza battle, Wry & Dry is keeping an eye on the US preliminaries to next year's election.  Readers will recall last week's announcement that Kamala Harris, wannabee president of the Yoo-Ess-Ay, has 'suspended her campaign'.  Which Readers might think is candidate-speak for "Nobody (sob) loves me. (weep) I'm going home".

Err, maybe not.  Readers may not have seen the resignation letter of one of her campaign staff - read the letter here. Hell hath no fury...

In any case, there is more to this than meets Wry & Dry's rheumy eye.  And bets that she has done a deal with Sleepy Joe Biden, the current Democrat front-runner, whereby she becomes his vice-presidential running mate.

To use lazy but accurate millennial language, such a team ticks all of the boxes.  Except the one that says 'has good chance of winning'. 

Unclear on the concept

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi denied “genocidal intent” on Wednesday night as she defended Myanmar’s military operation against Rohingya Muslims in the UN’s top court.

Addressing judges in The Hague, Myanmar’s civilian leader admitted that the army may have used “disproportionate force” but said that did not prove it was trying to wipe out the minority group.

Err, hold the phone.  As at 30 September over 10,000 Rohingya Muslims had been murdered by Myanmar military, which forced over 915,000 Rohingya refugees into camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Cartoon proportionate force

'Disproportionate force' indeed.

Taking over the world

Finland, along with its Nordic neighbours, tends to lead the world in most quality of living statistics. This probably has many causes: cohesive societies; an unfriendly neighbour that is not far away enhances the need to be productive and secure; cold weather creates innovation (lying on the beach rarely gives rise to inspiration); etc.

But the news that Finland has just elected the world's youngest prime minister took even Wry & Dry by surprise.  Sanna Marin is aged just 34 [4].  And she leads a centre-left coalition with four other parties, all headed by women, three of whom are under 35.

Cartoon finnish PM

Meanwhile, the Yoo-Ess-Ay is contemplating a leadership battle between a 73 year old male (Trump) on the one hand and males aged 78 (Sanders) and 77 (Biden) and a female aged 70 (Warren).

Aaaagghhhh!    

[4] Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) is 39.  

Retail (in need of) therapy

Readers will recall that Wry & Dry recently observed the number of retail shops closing down on his local strip.  Well, this week retailer Harris Scarfe was placed into administration and/or receivership.  Some 1,800 jobs are at risk. 

Low interest rates and tax cuts don't cut ice when confidence is down.  Westpac's consumer sentiment index fell 1.9% in December.

But it would be folly for the government to lose its nerve and splash cash. History tells Readers that that doesn't work.

However, Wry & Dry senses it's time PM Jimmy Morrison got on the front foot and announced some far-reaching reforms.  The Abbott-Turnbull years were wasted years in term of reshaping some sclerotic parts of the economy.  Morrison's announcement about sensible reforms to the federal public service were only noticed in Canberra.

And Wry & Dry is writing to him, to let him know that there is more to Australia than Queensland. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Chinese state-owned company defaults

A major Chinese commodities trader became the biggest dollar bond defaulter among the nation's state-owned companies in two decades.  Tewoo Group Corp announced results of its unprecedented debt restructuring, which saw a majority of its investors accepting heavy losses.

Wry & Dry comments:  This will be the first of many.  And many will occur but not announced.

2.  China bans foreign PCs, software

The Chinese government has ordered all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three years. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Australia should retaliate.  And ban the use of...err, abacuses in Australia.   

3.  Emperor Xi favours Macau

As unrest continues in neighboring Hong Kong, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Macau next week to announce a raft of new policies aimed at diversifying the city's casino-dependent economy into a financial center.

Wry & Dry comments:  As one Chinese official said of the move to establish a renminbi settlement centre, "We used to give all the favorable policies to Hong Kong.  But now we want to diversify it." Revenge is a dish best served cold.

4.  Saudi Aramco hits two trillion dollar market cap

Reaching the price tag long sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, shares of Saudi Aramco surged to 38.7 riyals ($10.32) in their second day of public trading, pushing the state-backed oil giant to a record $2 trillion valuation before paring gains. 

Wry & Dry comments: The figure, nearly $1 trillion higher than the world's next-largest public companies, was long doubted by most in the financial community, especially after several recent high-profile IPO flops.

5.  Uber crime

Uber reported 3,045 sexual assaults across rides in 2018 in the Yoo Ess Ay, as well as nine murders and 58 people killed in crashes.

Wry & Dry comments:  The incidents represent 0.0002% of Uber's 1.3 billion rides, which is lower than 0.01% for taxis.  

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

All my internal warning bells are going off and for the first time in my life, I'm sorry to say that I'm hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane."

 -  Ed Pierson, a former manager on the Boeing 737 MAX line, writing to management before the first 737 MAX incident.

346 people were killed in two crashes of the now grounded aircraft.  

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...grinned as Wry & Dry opened the door of the jalopy.

“Mr. Wry & Dry, we were so delighted that you could come to the reveal party on the weekend with Mrs W&D.  She is a delight, you are a lucky man Mr Wry & Dry, and I dare say she got along very well with Damshi and Anjali.” 

“Too well,” Wry & Dry laughed proudly.  “And how did your mother-in-law take the news of the twins?”

“Mixed,” Deepak said.

“And?” Wry & Dry prodded.

“Well, she is delighted it is girls, and delighted there are two, but was furious when Anjali told her that I was the one that decided she should wait for the news like everyone else.” 

“I see, perhaps you should’ve taken my advice last week and cut your mother-in-law some slack, Deepak.”

Deepak looked chastised as Wry & Dry forged ahead, “Let’s face it, you are the one bloke in what will be an all-woman town. One has to be careful, very careful Deepak,” said Wry & Dry as Deepak shifted uncomfortably in his seat. 

“Well my mother-in-law did say to me I was doomed,” muttered Deepak.

“I’d say, Damshi has a point. You really need to consider how you manage your growing family,” added Wry & Dry.

“Well there is always…” Deepak said quietly, thinking to himself.

“Always what Deepak?” Wry & Dry probed, suddenly worried, after the horses, the unfortunate texts with Saffron Seduction and the Bitcoin fiasco, what more was there, he thought. Surely Deepak had learnt a few wise things under the watchful and sage guidance of Wry &Dry?

Paani me rahkar magar se bair, Mr. Wry & Dry, it means, 'living in water and being an enemy of the crocodile is not a good thing'.”

“Deepak you have it in one!” Wry & Dry sighed with relief.

“Yes, Mr. Wry and Dry, I’ve got to catch me a personal crocodile! I was speaking to one of the cousins…” his voice then quietened when he saw in the rear vision mirror Wry & Dry’s lengthening face.

“You don’t think it was a good idea to catch a crocodile Mr. Wry & Dry?”

As the jalopy drew abruptly to the curb, Wry & Dry added, “Deepak, what do you mean 'was'?"

"Err, I mean..," Deepak spluttered.

"You may call them crocodiles, but I'd call them cougars," said Wry & Dry sternly as he unbuckled his seat belt. "Although you seem a little old to be considering cougars.  Either way - they are, I understand, expensive and probably a health risk."  

"A health risk?" Deepak's face turned white.

"Deepak, cougars, by definition, have been around the block a few times," Wry & Dry sighed as he mixed metaphors and alighted.  "And more times than this jalopy.  Time to see Dr Feelgood."

 

Cheers.  

Anthony 

 

First Samuel client events calendar

EVENTS FOR 2020

First Samuel Chief Investment Officer Events

"Managing for a Low-Interest Rate Future"

February 2020
Invitations are to be sent early December

11th Feb - ARIA, Sydney

12th Feb – Elyros, Camberwell

13th Feb – Hellenic Republic, Kew

25th Feb – Chin Chin, Melbourne CBD

27th Feb – The Botanical, South Yarra
(Lunch & Dinner)

5th March – Stillwater, Dromana