Wry & Dry

Don't mention the war. The world divides. It's been a while since...

I.  It's getting serious - don't mention the war  [1]

But they have.  Less young Readers will recall that in days of struggle great leaders used to embolden their peoples by words of inspiration from the bible or from their own lexicon.  Not any more.  Today it's all about... war.

France:  M. Macron says that France is at war! France immediately goes on strike.

Germany: Ms Merkel says that this is the worst crisis “since World War 2.”  Oh, the irony. 

Cartoon dont mention the surrender

Australia:  Mr Dutton says organised crime has unleashed the locusts onto the supermarkets, to provide stock for a black market.  Mr Morrison warns that if this keeps up, he will introduce rationing.  Said with that breathtaking lack of historical knowledge: in wartime, rationing is the necessary stimulus for a black market.

UK: Mr Johnson says that he now leads a wartime government. This is the British way. First, you set up a Ministry of Food and a Ministry of Information and a Ministry of Queues, and THEN you concern yourself with the enemy.

Yoo-Ess-Ay: President Trump says he is a wartime president. This puts him in the company of Lincoln, Wilson and FDR, who were also elected as anti-war candidates.  The Yoo-Ess-Ay, as usual, is coming to the party late.

[1] Thanks to our cartoonist Patrick Cook for the inspiration for the above images.

II.  It's getting serious - the markets

Chart major indices since peak

III.  It's getting serious - interest rates

Yesterday, the Chief Teller of the RBA got into the mood and cut interest rates to 0.25%, the lowest on record.  Competitively, the Bank of England cut the UK's rates even lower, to 0.1%.  All of this follows the US Fed's decision to cut interest rates to virtually zero.

Cartoon RBA its only money

Don't be mistaken, this is not out of sympathy for home loan borrowers.  It's all about saving the skin of highly leveraged companies.

Readers will be alert to the fact that many companies, small and large, will go to the wall.  Or struggle for some time.  This will be a time of bonus heaven for investment banks to undertake restructuring and refinancing.

IV.  It's getting serious - royalty

Readers now know that things are serious.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth tells the Brits that: "We all have a vital part to play but we're up to the challenge."  She might have just said: Keep calm.  And carry on.  She also said that the Royal family 'stand ready to play our part' in the challenges ahead.

Except for Harry and Meghan, who have fled to Canada.  And Prince Andrew, who has been roped to the railings to prevent him from appearing on a BBC interview.

And showing that CV-19 has no respect for class, Prince Albert of Monaco [2] has tested positive for the bug.

[2]  Son of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, formerly Grace Kelly, the American actress.

V.  It's getting serious - the world divides

The world can always be divided into two groups.  Readers will know of the preference questions: Red wine or white wine?  Dog or cat?  Steak or pasta?  Et cetera. 

Readers will by now have observed that it takes a pandemic to even more sharply divide the world into: The Anxious or The Unperturbed. 

The former are stockpilers of items in addition to toilet paper and food.  They probably still have the can of baked beans left over from Y2K.  And who sterilise every door handle before use.

The latter are relaxed.  And know that recent research shows that 99% of the CV-19 deaths in Italy are of people who have had previous severe medical conditions.  They also know that more than 75% of the people who died from CV-19 had high blood pressure, 35% had diabetes and 33% suffered from heart disease. [3]  

So Wry & Dry is relaxed that he is relaxed.  By DNA and upbringing he under reacts to scares of all sorts.  But he can disclose to Readers the stockpiling of an item that is neither of paper or of food: gin.

[3]  Source: Bloomberg 18-Mar-20. 

VI.  It's getting serious - but people can't help themselves

Wry & Dry fails to understand why some investors measure their wealth from the peak of the market.  It's no smarter than measuring it from the market's nadir.  Comment such as: "Aaaaggghhhh!  I've lost 32% since the middle of February!" miss the point.

Err, yes, sir/madam/non-binary.  Your portfolio has indeed fallen by 32%.  But do you measure investment success/ failure over a 28 day period?

If no: stop whingeing.

If yes: urgently seek personal financial advice.  Or counselling.

Perhaps there is a better way to look at this market:

Cartoon statisitcally it goes up again

VII.  It's getting serious - except at Macquarie Bank

The smart people at Macquarie Bank must be working from home, leaving acned millennial graduates from lesser universities to pen astounding piffle.  "We have been arguing that conventional capitalism is dying, or at least mutating into something that will be closer to a version of communism," Macquarie analysts (anonymous, to protect the guilty) wrote in a note to clients, published in yesterday's Australian.

Whaaaat!  1st April is still 12 days away, so this cannot be a premature April Fool's joke.  So, all of this government/ central bank intervention is 'closer to a version of communism'.  

Walk with Wry & Dry a while, young folk.  And hold Wry & Dry's hand as you cross the road.  Communism is not about government intervention.  It's about government ownership.  As well as some nasty side issues, such a control of the media, controls on free speech, no rule of law, etc.

Cartoon when you are a communist

Read and understand history, young folk.  Before you write such arrant nonsense.  Now, back to work.  And be careful crossing that busy road.

VIII.  It's getting serious - if you bought...

...Tesla at $850+:

Chart Tesla

IX.  It's getting serious - WFH

Readers will be familiar with the millennials' use of initialisms, such as OMG (Oh My God) or WTF (Why The Face).  Allow Wry & Dry to bring to Readers' attention the latest: WFH.  For example, "I'm WFH."

Working From home.  Which has its problems:

View image on Twitter

 

...and benefits.  WFH in Sydney yesterday:

Beachgoers get up close and personal at a packed Bondi in Sydney’s east on Thursday. Picture: Adam Yip

X.  It's getting serious - but the show must go on

Undaunted by CV-19, the US presidential primaries continued.  The latest is that the big winners from Sunday night's Biden v. Sanders debate were Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams and Wry & Dry's girlfriend, Amy Klobuchar.  Biden promised to appoint a female running partner [4].

Readers should not think for one moment that the decision will be based on talent, potential or leadership. It's all about which one will bring in most votes on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Warren is from Massachusetts, Harris from California, Abrams from Georgia and Amy from Minnesota.  Warren and Harris cannot add votes, coming from staunch Democrat states. Georgia is Republican.  Minnesota is Democrat, just.  But is in the cluster with mid-west states that dragged Virus-What-Virus-Trump over the line in 2016: Wisconsin and Michigan.

Wry & Dry moots that Amy might find herself back in the headlines.

[4] Readers will know that if Biden is nominated with Klobuchar on his ticket it will be only the third time in the history of the Democratic Party that a woman will be on the national ticket.  The other two: 1984 (Ferraro) and 2016 (Clinton).  Ferraro rose and sank without trace as the VP nominee - the presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, got blown out of the water by Ronald Reagan.  Reagan won 49 states, Mondale 1 plus DC.

XI.  It's getting serious - and it's been a while...

... since some of these investments have been this cheap.

Chart number of years since

The chart tells many stories.  It's not only about the extent to which the prices of a couple of banks and oil have fallen, but also that (a) gold hasn't risen and (b) CSL remains at its peak. 

XII.  Beggar thy neighbour? 

Readers will know that if you are an oil producing country and your budget depends on oil priced at $54 per barrel, then an oil price of $20 is going to cause some red ink on the balance sheet.  And egg on face.

And you will also get very, very grumpy with whomever caused oil price drop.  So, Readers should watch this space for reports of a big spat between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

XIII.  Tsar light, Tsar bright.  Until 2036.

As Wry & Dry predicted, the Russian Constitutional Court rubber stamped carefully decided, having judiciously considered all of the issues, to approve amendments to Russia's constitution proposed by Tsar Vlad.  The amendments would give Tsar Vlad another 12 years in power, until 2036.

Cartoon putin do you feel lucky

There will now be a national vote.  

Snippets from all over 

1.  Flying Kiwi

The New Zealand government has agreed to bail out the nation's only major airline, Air New Zealand, with a $NZ900 million ($891 million) loan facility if it were to run out of cash amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wry & Dry comments:  It owns 52% of the airline in any case.

2.  Staples

Coffee prices jumped as much as 11% in New York on Wednesday after reports that stevedores in Brazil would go on strike indefinitely.

Wry & Dry comments:  It's getting serious.

3.  Eurovision 2020 

The Eurovision song contest, one of the world's largest television events, has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Wry & Dry comments:  Whew.

4.  Hong Kong unemployment increases

Hong Kong's unemployment rate climbed to 3.7%, its highest since 2001...   

Wry & Dry comments: 3.7%? 'Ardship.

5.  China's bad hair two months

Chinese industrial output tumbled by 13.5% and total retail sales plunged by 20.5% Y/Y in January and February, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The urban unemployment rate surged to 6.2% in February, the highest level ever reported, and fixed asset investment slumped by 24.5% (down from 5.4% in the prior period).

Wry & Dry comments:  A lot worse than expected. 

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

From the witty:

“Your grandparents were called to war.  You're being called to sit on a couch.  You can do this.”

 -  T-Shirt seen in Los Angeles.

To the selfish:

“The last resort for us is to go to the players and ask them for a pay cut because, like the rest of us, they’ve got mortgages and made commitments on the money they believe they’re going to get.",

 -  Peter V'landys, Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission, asking for a subsidy from we-the-taxpayer. 

Or perhaps he has a large mortgage and doesn't want his pay cut.     

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

... grunted as Wry & Dry thrust open the door of the jalopy.

“How’s business?” inquired Wry & Dry as he pressed himself against a large bag of basmati and rested his weary feet on a 12-pack of sorbent.

“Business is booming, I’m on my way to deliver this load” Deepak said proudly, gesturing to the back seat.

“Yet, despite your unashamed profiteering, you still look miserable Deepak,” Wry & Dry observed.

“Well yes, it’s the quarantine. The Crocodile has barred me from re-entry into the house. She says it’s in Anjali’s, Amulya’s and the twin’s best interest, being pregnant and all that. I’ve been sleeping in the car all week, and I haven’t sneezed once!” he wailed.

“I’d say that it’s certainly in The Crocodile’s best interests… And I’m guessing you’ve had the pleasure of Anjali’s special vindaloo either?”

“No, to be honest it’s been a while between servings,” Deepak said forlornly.

“And,” as Wry & Dry ever so helpfully pointed out, “it’s the vindaloo that got you into all this trouble in the first place.”

“That’s as may be. But there's a pickle of a different kind, Mr. Wry & Dry.”

“Sure, I’m a pickle connoisseur,” replied Wry & Dry with a grin.

Deepak frowned; “that’s not what they call them in India, but anyway it’s my mother-in-law, again. She is smarter than I thought you know, Mr. Wry & Dry. But this time she has been caught out.”

“Go on,” encouraged Wry & Dry as he leaned forward with anticipation from his vantage in the backseat.

“It was my online tea sales, going through the roof! You do remember the very special tea The Crocodile brought back from the equally very special Fijian market? Everything was fine until I got call from the police. It would seem that the very special tea for very special son-in-laws is in fact a narcotic! Who would have thought it?”

Mr Wry & Dry raised an eyebrow, “Now who would have thought…” he repeated as his pulse quickened a little.

“So, are the police pressing charges Deepak?” said Wry & Dry changing tact.

“Of course not, they just want a quiet chat on the side, that kind of thing. The Crocodile did call just to say the police had been discussing who it was best to summon. And as I’m the man and very good at dealing with important people, I told the Crocodile it was best to summon me and she happily gave them all my details. They wanted to summon Damshi at first! Goodness knows what she would’ve told them. Although after the police agreed to summon me instead, she did show them the suitcase and said that the tea inside was all mine. I hope she mentioned it was a gift,” Deepak added, a frown suddenly flashing across his face.

“Do you know what summons actually means Deepak?” Wry & Dry asked, his throat constricting ever so slightly.

“Sure, I just have a special invitation to go down to the police station and sort it all out. They love all that official kind of stuff,” Deepak said nonchalantly with a wave of his hand.

“Although now you mention it,” Deepak continued. “I was surprised they invited me to their special office at the local magistrates court. But they know my standing as a local businessman so I’m getting the red-carpet treatment, Mr. Wry & Dry,” Deepak announced brimming with self-importance.

“There are two things every man needs in life,” said Wry & Dry as he hopped out of the jalopy. “Firstly, a good bank manager, the secondly, a good lawyer.”

Deepak laughed, “you worry far too much Mr. Wry & Dry. There is a Hindi saying; if your intention is good then your fate will be never bad.”

Wry & Dry smiled, if only it were true, he thought.

  -  from the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry. 

 

Cheers

Anthony 

 

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