Wry & Dry

That ain't a cliff... Relevance Deprivation Syndrome outbreak. Peace breaks out.

Another short week...

...of reflection.  Which gave Wry & Dry time to consider the error of his ways.  Well, okay, errors.  But just one for now.  

Wry & Dry hangs his head in shame.  The truth is that over the last few weeks, contrary to what he has written, there has not been any 2008 Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque consumed in his home.  The reality is that times are tough.  The beverage was, in fact, limoncello topped with tonic water, to look like champagne, drunk from a plastic (but recyclable) container that resembled a Waterford flute.   

Cartoon Limoncello

And so it has been again this week.  Limoncello and tonic from a plastic cup.  It's tough out there.

Hope springs eternal...

Reports this morning of a sort-of-cure for CV-19 blasted the market up like a Saturn Five rocket.  Well maybe a Guy Fawkes' night rocket.  Allow Wry & Dry to provide the story from his man person in Chicago. 

Gilead Sciences Inc has reported that severe CV-19 patients being treated in Chicago with the company’s experimental drug remdesivir are “seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.”  Almost all patients were discharged in under than a week, and only two patients died. 

Readers may wish to visit this website for the full story.

The news came out after New York had closed, but S&P futures had the market up over 3%.  The ASX was up 1.5% at midday.

Wry & Dry cautions twice:

1.  Trials for remdesivir are in their very, very early stages

2.  The economic effect of the global shutdown will linger for long after the shut-down is over.

That ain't a cliff...

Readers will be aware that this CV-19 thing has really thrown sand in the wheels of the world economy.  And data gatherers and publishers are now inundating Wry & Dry with the latest depressing news.  This edition is littered with such.

But, ever searching for podium finishers, Wry & Dry has found what must be the most spectacular economic data cliff of all time.  To all others, Wry & Dry says, "That ain't a cliff.  This is a cliff:" [1]

Line chart of Seasonally adjusted monthly sales ($bn) showing US clothing store sales plunge

[1] Readers may recall this clip from the movie Crocodile Dundee: View Here

Relevance Deprivation Syndrome outbreak

It just had to happen.  After a few RDS-suffering heads appeared above the parapet (Jeff Kennett, Julie Bishop) for a short time only, all was quiet.  The infection rate remained low and manageable.

And, just when Readers thought it was safe, up popped two extremely serious outbreaks from people Wry & Dry thought were in remission: Croesus Turnbull and The Ruddster.

Cartoon Turnbull rudd

In his upcoming kiss-and-tell book, Croesus dumps excrement from a great height on friends and foes alike.  Few escape his far-flung dung.  But what is clear is that whilst he had a good handle on policies, he just didn't, and still doesn't, get politics. 

Croesus has forgotten the essence of politics.   He took his party to one election - and won by one seat.  That was book-ended by The Abbott winning the 2013 election in a landslide and Jimmy Morrison winning the unwinnable 2019 election by two seats.  Who has the street cred?

And Readers will know that for every barb Croesus has flung at others, others would be able to throw back barbs in equal measure.  

For example, Croesus' complaint that Jimmy Morrison leaked cabinet stuff to the media is a podium example of the pot calling the kettle black.  Croesus' leakings against The Abbott were legendary.

And he has taken exactly the opposite positions to those of Julia Gillard and John Howard, who are the only occupants of the Lodge since Menzies (who quit in 1966) to maintain a sense of post-Prime Ministerial dignity.

The Ruddster, on the other hand, failed and fails to understand either policies or politics.  And that is again clear in his piece Kevin Rudd on America, China and saving the WHO in yesterday's Economist Today.  The Ruddster just wanted the headline.  Or the fee.  The article was a lengthy flatulence of rehashed grievances that would arouse little argument: Trump, unilateralism, etc.   

Wry & Dry desperately searched for new ideas, new insights or even new expletives.  And then came the Golden Stranger Nugget: "A core group of constructive powers among the G20 should act to reform, fund, and politically defend the central institutions of global governance for the post-COVID era." 

Sigh.  Wry & Dry has sent the following movie clip to The Ruddster. (SEE VIDEO) And hopes that it will be a palliative to his RDS.

Economic misery

Readers will be aware of the economic mire into which the world now struggles, caused by the pernicious Chinese communist party.  The International Monetary Fund has been brave and put some estimations on the damage.  The data is not good.

If Readers do not have a strong stomach, skip to the next article.

Australia's GDP is expected to fall by 6.7% in 2020.  However, a quick rebound is forecast in 2021, with growth of 6.1%.

IMF growth

The most visible sign of the economic malaise will be in unemployment - up to 7.6% in Australia this year and 8.9% in 2021.

Cartoon tell us abut the great recession

But, as the man who jumped from the 20th floor was heard to say as he fell, "So far, so good."  So yesterday's release of Australia's unemployment figures gave cause for optimism.  The unemployment rate of 5.2% surprised many.  Perhaps the lads at Centrelink had too many DCMs to count that they just made up the figure. 

Meanwhile, back where it all started...

Readers will have expected and now see the Chinese Communist Party's massive propaganda machine swinging into action.   Viewers of Chinese television are now being fed a daily diet of images of Chinese medical supplies, not matter how small, being shipped to all parts of the grateful world.

Just like the diet where it all started:

Cartoon lunch

 

Peace breaks out, sort of

Politics in the Yoo-Ess-Ay is as weird as in any Latin-American banana republic.  Two months ago Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden were at each other's throats over who would gain the Democrat nomination to take on Virus-What-Virus-Trump.  And now they have all kissed and made-up.

And it gets better, former President O'Bama has waited until it was clear who the contender would be (Biden) before throwing his support behind him.  Just like when he was President, he didn't have the courage to speak or act when it really mattered.  His earlier endorsement of Biden would have significantly reduced the animus in the Democrat's primaries' campaign.

Cartoon obama biden

Sigh.

More RDS

That headline-seeking, RDS-suffering, neophyte US congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has dug into Biden's past about allegations of sexual harassment.  AOC, as she is known, aged 30, is a first-term congresswoman with a huge left-wing following and a Netflix documentary charting her rise, campaigned around the country for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

As usual, she appears to be the righter of all wrongs.  But after a while Readers get the drift that, really, it's all about her.   

Spot the flat line

Readers will know that during times of crisis, the approval rating of political leaders tends to rise.  Even The Ruddster's stocks rose during the GFC.  But the below chart from The Economist is telling:

Approval ratings

Okay, if Readers cannot see the only flat line on the chart, allow Wry & Dry to draw Readers' attention to... "Trump US".

Wry & Dry thinks this chart most unfair.  Readers should read the chart as showing that Virus-What-Virus-Trump's approval rating was already so high it couldn't possibly go any further.    

Virgin bailout?

Readers will be aware that there is much speculation as to what is going to happen to Virgin Airlines, the lesser of Australia's two domestic airlines.  It's in more trouble than Burke and Wills.  It has over $5 billion of debt and no capacity to pay.  It's shares are suspended from trading on the ASX - the public owns a mere 9% of the company.  The rest is with offshore companies:

Who owns Virgin Australia? These are its shareholders

Its major shareholders have little in common except being in the airline business: Etihad (an airline) is virtually broke; HNA (an airline holding company), is broke; Nashan (a privately owned Chinese conglomerate that owns an airline) is a mystery; Singapore Airlines and Richard Branson's Virgin. 

It's a complexity.  The government has suspended FIRB approval for foreign investors to buy Australian companies (because of the current cheapness of share prices).  And yet the government says it will not bailout Virgin, nor guarantee its debt.  Even if the FIRB rule is relaxed, Qantas' virtuous CEO, Alan Joyce, would scream blue murder.  He would be happy with a foreign-owned competitor, as long as it had a weak balance sheet and couldn't feed international travelers into the domestic market.

Wry & Dry sees it as a game of chicken.  Virgin employs 10,000 people and is vital to Australia's tourist industry.  A Qantas monopoly would be an anathema to the government and to we-the-people.  But a bailout would not be looked on kindly by we-the-taxpayer.

Cartoon virgin

Which leaves the major shareholders allowing Virgin to go broke, have its debt written off and then they fight for the spoils.  As a former resident, Wry & Dry has always liked Singapore. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  $6 trillion

The American government has committed more than $6 trillion to arrest the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic, with $2.35 trillion in fiscal spending and $4 trillion from the Federal Reserve. 

Wry & Dry comments:  This is more than 25% of GDP.  And will mean for the first time since the Second World War, the Yoo-Ess-Ay will owe more than its economy can produce in a given year.  But as a percentage of GDP, the fiscal stimulus is only the world's 10th largest, which must irritate Virus-What-Virus-Trump.  

2.  Stiff Upper Lip needed

The UK will suffer its deepest recession for 300 years if the coronavirus lock-down continues into the summer, according to the UK Office for Budget Responsibility,

Wry & Dry comments: The deepest recession since 1709, in fact.  The year 1709 was also the year of the Great Frost - the coldest winter in 500 years, with ice floes in the North Sea.  And that summer the first cricket match between counties was recorded: Kent versus Surrey.

3.  Big Brother Apple & Google 

Apple and Google have unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with COVID-19. The companies announced jointly that the "contact tracing" tools they are developing would be built into smartphones, using existing Bluetooth technology that tracks whether phones have passed within a certain distance of one another.

Wry & Dry comments:  So, carriers of CV-19 must put on their phones they have CV-19?  Next, perhaps ethnicity?  Religion?

4.  Business confidence hits the floor

NAB’s monthly business survey has confirmed a sudden and calamitous collapse in corporate confidence and conditions in March.  The business confidence index dropped to -66 points – the lowest on record – from -2 points in February. 

Wry & Dry comments:  More statistics confirming what people already know.

5.  Consumer confidence hits the floor

Australian consumer confidence recorded the biggest fall in the 47-year history of the survey, bringing the index down 17.7% points to 75.6 in April, according to Westpac.

Wry & Dry comments:  Even more statistics confirming what people already know.

6.  Hong Kong - fewer police

From June last year, when Hong Kong's protests erupted against a China-backed extradition bill, to February a total of 446 police quit the force, an increase of 38% from a year earlier.  The police recruited 766 people in the period, down from 1,341 and far fewer than the target of more than 1,800.

Wry & Dry comments:  There's plenty of willing young lads and lasses on the other side of the border, who would welcome the opportunity to beat up protesters join the Hong Kong police force.

7.  Centrelink queues in Yoo-Ess-Ay get longer

More than 5.2 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance last week, pushing the total in one month to more than 22 million, in the latest sign of staggering job losses from the coronavirus shutdowns.

Wry & Dry comments:  The initial claims data likely continues to understate the depth of job losses as there have been widespread reports about overwhelmed state-run website crashes and delays in filing claims for unemployment insurance benefits. 

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

If we can’t do this today [issue bonds guaranteed by the EU to provide cash to Italy and other strugglings], I tell you the populists will win — today, tomorrow, the day after, in Italy, in Spain, perhaps in France and elsewhere”. 

 -  M Macron, President of France, warning of the collapse of the EU.

As long as the EU continues to apply band-aids to the deep wounds of Italy, Italy will continue its slide to impoverishment and the EU will fail to fulfill its opportunity.  What a great result Brexit was for the Brits. 

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...grinned happily as Wry & Dry hopped into the backseat of the jalopy.

“I’m getting fat in confinement, Mr. Wry & Dry!” Deepak announced from the front.

“Me too,” said Wry & Dry happily, loosening his belt to accommodate his marginally inflated perimeter.

“Good service huh?”

Wry & Dry giggled, blushing ever so slightly.

“How is the traffic controlling going?” asked Wry & Dry, eyeing off what looked to be a brand-new paddle at his feet.

“Fabulous, I’m so good they are giving a promotion. You’re looking at the Senior Traffic Controller,” he puffed out his chest with self-importance.

“Isn’t this supposed to be a community service order designed to be a deterrent for the illegal importation of narcotics?”

“A silver lining, they say, Mr. Wry & Dry. And next week, I’m getting paid!”

“What about your business, Pandemic Supplies?”

“Outsourced…”

“What do you mean outsourced…”

He grinned wickedly; “the Crocodile is pounding the pavement.”

“You made your mother-in-law do all your deliveries?” Wry & Dry asked curiously.

“Sure, and she is doing a fine job. Customer’s love her.”

“I gathered that from last week, with afternoon visits with her gentleman friend.”

“Gentlemen friends you mean,” Deepak corrected.

“There is more than one?” Wry & Dry spluttered.

“So it would seem! And you do know that she is really not having tea at all, it’s just a metaphor…”

“I get the picture,” said Wry & Dry looking down at his fine feet, wondering if what the enigmatic “they” said was true about size. And then wondered whether it did matter in the big scheme of things after all.

“So how did you cotton on to the Crocodile’s additional service provision as it were…” Wry & Dry asked, rousing from his backseat contemplations.

“Anjali, she has a nose for these things,” Deepak said matter-of-factly.

“I see and what are you going to do?” Wry & Dry asked with anticipation.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing at all?” Wry & Dry repeated with surprise and a touch of disappointment.

“Absolutely nothing. There are somethings, my wife explained, that are better left alone. Anjali is very wise, Mr Wry & Dry. Her mother needs a bit of romance. It helps her feel young again when age is creeping on. A little flirtation is just what she needs, Anjali told me.”

With that the phone burst into life, it was the Crocodile.

“Yes, I understand, you must be exhausted after all those deliveries,” Deepak said, a hint of mirth in his voice.

“Quite, you had to go in for two cups of tea you say? Yes, you’ll definitely need to put your feet up. I’ll come straight away.”

“Be careful, Deepak, don’t encourage her too much. If the Crocodile thinks she is doing such a fine job she may just ask for a promotion!” Wry & Dry cautioned.

“Never, she knows on what side her bread is buttered,” Deepak said as the jalopy pulled to a halt.

Wry & Dry grinned. It would seem, he thought happily, that Deepak at last was learning about the great conundrum in life – women. 

   -  from the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry. 

 

Cheers

Anthony 

 

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