Wry & Dry

Borisconi: W&D's guide. Tesla runs off the road. Barnaby's brain is back.

Borisconi: W&D's guide

In spite of what Readers might read in the lesser media, Borisconi (Boris Johnson, the new tenant at Number 10 Downing Street, London SW1A) has few things in common with I-Wanna-Stay-In-The-White-House-Trump (IWSINTWHT).  Aside from Big Hair, that is.  To aid busy Readers who wish to make comparisons, W&D presents:

Clown v. Clown:  W&D's Guide to Borisconi 

Borisconi is a social liberal.  Trump is to the right of the soup spoon, by an arm's length.  

Borisconi wants to be liked by everybody.  Trump wants to be liked only by enough people to get himself re-elected.  

Borisconi was educated at Eton and Oxford.  Trump is an uneducated slob.  

Borisconi has no attention to detail.  Trump has no attention to detail. 

Borisconi enjoys being popular.  Trump loves flattery.  

Borisconi has glass jaw.  Trump has a thick skin.  

Borisconi came to fame as a rakish journalist.  Trump came to fame as rakish property developer.  

Borisconi has been divorced twice.  Trump has been divorced once.  

Borisconi was born in the Yoo Ess Ay.  Trump was born in the Yoo Ess Ay.  

Borisconi thinks a fox is to be hunted, with hounds.  Trump thinks Fox is a television network.  

Borisconi reads Ancient Greek and Latin.  Trump reads tweets he has sent.  

Borisconi is carefree with the truth.  Trump is carefree with the truth.  

Borisconi in a sentence: a second rate huckster.  Trump in a sentence: a second rate huckster.  

Thinking of the main objective upon taking office, I-Wanna-Be-Famous-Trump's was easy: give jobs to his children.  Borisconi's main objective is somewhat more difficult: a successful deal-Brexit. 

Cartoon brexit eu ministry of silly talks


And deal with Iran.  And with the ailing UK economy.  And to ensure that Jezza Corbyn doesn't get elected.  And with [insert your UK worry here]. 

Borisconi has 99 days to prove himself.  A no-deal Brexit wouldn't look good in obits.  

Tesla runs off the road

Shares in Tesla, an electric motor vehicle manufacturer, plummeted by 15% last night.

The company released a worse-than-expected loss and yet another major management change, both of which cast fresh doubts on its future.

Cartoon sell tesla buy jerry cans

The company lost $408m in the June quarter, which was better than the loss of $702m in the March quarter.  But a lot worse than expected. 

W&D has been steadfast in his view of the folly of investing in Tesla.  First mover advantage works in some industries.  But not others: Readers will remember Atari, Palm Pilot, Wang (word processing), Blackberry, etc.

The second mouse gets the cheese.


W&D is not one for gloating at another's misfortune.  But, what the heck.  And so it was with some schadenfreude that W&D noticed that the English cricket team were dismissed for 85 runs by the yeoman-like Ireland in a cricket test match in the UK.  Ireland, admitted to test cricket just two years ago, blew the Poms out of the water.  And then made 205 in their first innings.

Last night, the Poms did a little better, leaving the Irish with almost 200 to get in their second dig.  This would be an amazing victory.  And W&D has no doubt that all of Ireland will be watching the third day's play.

Err, well, maybe not.  Cricket is not big in Ireland.

Frugal comfort

There has been a bit of recent fuss about a noted restaurateur who failed to pay his employees not even close to the level he should have.  And quite right, too.  W&D would have put him in the pillory in the village square.  At least. 

His company underpaid his workers about $7.8m.  That is not just underpayments, it is theft. A fine of $200,000 is farcical.

Cartoon wages underpayment if you cant stand the hunger

If a Reader stole $7.8m it is highly probable that some time in the slammer would result.  Yes, yes, W&D knows that there is a question of jurisdiction, etc, etc.  

Which brings W&D, logically, of course, to the economics of all of this.  Readers will be aware of the on-again, off-again controversy about Australia's minimum wage.  And, when paid, is it fair or adequate?

Well, new research by the Economist magazine finds that it is at least fair, inasmuch as Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world.  As Readers can see, Australia sits comfortably above the next ranked countries, France and Germany.  And that gap is all the more because the comparison is in US dollars, at a time then the Australian dollar was (and still is) somewhat weak against the US dollar. 

The more subjective question as to whether it is adequate is another matter.  Readers will recall the 1907 legal case, when Australia was the second in the world to introduce a minimum wage (after New Zealand).  That case was the famous 'Harvester Judgment', where the judge ruled that the minimum wage should be enough to maintain a family with three children in 'frugal comfort'. 

W&D suggests that an employee of that restaurateur would be living in frugal discomfort, without much time for his/ her three children.  

Barnaby's brain is back

W&D remembers with fondness the times when Barnaby Joyce was at the forefront of political idiocy.  Such idiocy provided comic relief from the broader ennui that drifted like a sleeping gas seeping from under the doors of parliament house.

Now a humble back-bencher (he gave himself the DCM from being Deputy Prime Minister and a minister following discovery of him making sleeping arrangements alternative to those preferred under the marriage vows of the Catholic Church), it was only a matter of time before the pressure to "say something, anything" got too much.

In a media opinion piece last weekend, he said that, "free electricity could be offered to residents living close to a nuclear power station," to help build support for the controversial technology.

Run that past W&D again.  So, if people are worried about a Fukushima accident [2] in the next street then offering free electricity is going to assuage their concerns?

Cartoon barnaby nuclear

Welcome back, Barnaby.

[2]  Fukushima was the site a nuclear power station on the coast of northern Japan.  In 2011, a earthquake cause a 15-metre tsunami, that swamped the station and caused flooding of the basement-located cooling generators, which failed.  This led to three nuclear meltdowns.  One death was directly attributable to radiation exposure, with two other workers having radiation burns. A report by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and World Health Organization projected no increase in miscarriages, stillbirths or physical and mental disorders in babies born after the accident. 

Facebook wins as US regulator rolls over

Readers will know that Facebook got into hot water overs its breaches of users' privacy.  The name Cambridge Analytics was splashed all over the news last year.  The company vowed to change its ways, CEO Mark Zuckerberg contritely fronted a Congress committee, remorseful ads were placed globally and soothing noises were made at every opportunity.

Well, the seeming repentance has worked.

The US Federal Trade Commissioner has rolled over in much the same way as ASIC/ APRA used to be be tummy-tickled by Australian banks.  The FTC fined Facebook US$5 billion and placed a series of minor administrative requirements on the company.  

The risible size of the fine (Facebook has revenue of US$68 billion) was accurately summed up by one investor last night, who said, "Good news on the FTC settlement."  Indeed it was for Facebook and its investors.

The person accountable for the egregious privacy breaches, CEO Zuckerberg, got off scott-free.

The Chairman of the FTC, sounding very much like ASIC/APRA bosses, said, "We had two options: One settle on excellent terms; or two litigate for years and receive far less."

No, old son.  You rolled over.  Facebook has made a mockery of you and your institution.  

Sino-sabre rattling

China's greatest fear has always been social unrest.  Unlike bovine Russians, whom seem to have come to accept life's hardships as an outcome of the Orthodox Church's teachings [3], the Chinese are more, well, moved to action.

And Emperor Xi Jinping doesn't like unrest.  Because of this fear over one million Chinese of the mostly Muslim ethnic Uighur community in the far western province of Xinjiang are interned.  The internments are for 're-education.'  All of this followed the massive clash between 'colonising' Han Chinese residents and Uighurs some 10 years ago.  

Cartoon china internament of uighurs tanks

And now Emperor Xi's acolytes are rattling sabres extra-territorially: about Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Readers would have heard of that a senior Beijing army officer has said that the Chinese military stand ready to maintain law and order in Hong Kong.   

Concerning Taiwan, China's latest white paper on national defence, released on Wednesday, said it would not rule out using force on the self-ruled island, which it regards as part of its territory.

W&D is wondering where all of the this will end.  What would Bismark do? [4]

[3]  It was only the monumental stupidity of Tsar Nicholas II that ignited the Russian Revolution in 1917. 
[4] Invade another country?.

Time serving 

Readers know that Binyamin Netanyahu is about to set a new record by overtaking Israel’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister, in office for 13 years and 128 days.  His record in office is barbell-shaped.

He has presided over a decade of uninterrupted economic growth and relative calm within the country’s borders (certainly when compared with the turbulent region around it).  Equally, but un-measurably, he has been totally unyielding on accommodation with the Palestinians.

Readers may recall in 1976 an Air France A300 from Tel Aviv was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  It was flown to, eventually, Entebbe, the main airport in Uganda.  Non-Israeli passengers were released, but 94 Israelis and 12 Air France crew remained as hostages to the PLO's demands.

The short story is that the Israeli Defense Forces mounted a successful and amazing rescue operation. All except three hostages were rescued unharmed.  Only one Israeli commando was killed, the leader of the operation.  His name was Lieutenant-Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, the then elder brother of Binyamin Netanyahu.

Unclear on the concept

A drug trafficker from Sydney was taking his load of $200 million worth of methyl-amphetamine to its distribution centre. He had many routes from which to choose.  But he chose one that went past a police station.  This was unwise.  He lost control of his van just as he was passing the station, slamming into two parked police cars.

The driver fled, but was soon arrested.  He was charged with large commercial drug supply, failing to give particulars, etc. 

And negligent driving.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Boeing 737 Max cash drain

Boeing, the US aerospace manufacturer, slumped to its biggest ever quarterly loss as the prolonged grounding of its bestselling 737 Max jet took its toll.  The loss was US$2.9 billion.  Revenue was down to $15.7 billion, from $24.5 billion a year earlier.  

W&D comments:  A research analyst said, "It could have been worse."  But not for those killed in the two crashes.   

2.  Down at the car wash

The bipartisan agreement (i.e. between Republicans and Democrats) will suspend the U.S. debt ceiling until the middle of 2021, eliminating the risk that the government could miss payments as early as September, a move that would have severe economic ramifications. It will also likely push the annual budget deficit for the U.S. above $1,000,000,000,000 next year,

W&D comments:  Err, what's the point of a debt-ceiling?

3.  Plaque on the FAANGs

Shares of Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet (Google) were hit after the close on Tuesday, as the Department of Justice followed Attorney General William Barr's interest in launching a broad antitrust investigation into Big Tech.

W&D comments:  Much of the US share market rally has been fueled by the FAANG stocks and a prolonged legal affair - as well as Netflix growth worries - could erode some of that sentiment.

4.  Slowing growth

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth outlook on Wednesday to 3.2% in 2019 and 3.5% in 2020, both down 0.1 percentage points from its April projections.

W&D comments:  The usual suspects were rounded up: Sino-US trade war, Brexit and 'technology tensions' [1].

Cartoon IMF technology tension

[1] 'Technology tensions' is a euphemism for "we need a third reason for declining growth that sounds vaguely plausible, but still vague."

5.  Sunday drones

United Parcel Service will start delivering packages on Sundays starting in January, following FedEx's announced move to seven-day delivery as the two work to meet the demands of online shopping.  UPS also announced a new drone delivery subsidiary called UPS Flight Forward.

W&D comments:  "...And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done."

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

"Congratulations @BorisJohnson on becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingston."

 -  Ivanka Trump.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ... 

...  resplendent in a new suit, grinned at W&D in the rear vision mirror.

 “Very sharp,” W&D commented, “what’s the occasion?”  

“Anjali is saying a few words during her lecture and she invited me to attend,” Deepak announced.

 “Ah, her maiden speech, as it were. And the topic?” W&D chuckled.

 “Something about global uncertainty and the role of crypto assets, Mr W&D. To be honest I feel quite uncertain myself” Deepak confessed.

W&D leaned forward, feeling in a surprisingly generous mood.

“As my father always told me, "Son, don’t look too good or talk too wise".  So a dash of caution is a fine thing. But would you like me to suggest a way to manage this, just so…” he tailed off.

“So, I can impress!  Yes, please Mr W&D.”

“Well, you know this Mr Boris Johnson?  Big hair, new Prime Minister of the mother country and in charge of the Brexit shemozzle? Well, if you listen to him, I mean really listen, he doesn't know what he is talking about.  But he strings big ideas together.  So, you should do the same.  String a few big words together, add a bit of emotion and your listeners will be astounded.”

W&D continued, "So something like "Brexit breaks the economic and political nexus with the Old World."  Or "Crypto-currencies: I think the party is about to begin."  Each is meaningless, but sounding, well, impressive.  Another one might be, "Think like a chicken farmer and diversify." "

“Ah, ha," exclaimed Deepak.  "That is why I’ve sold my Bitcoin, I’m diversifying into the property market, it’s all about Airbnb now, Mr W&D.  I’m adding rooms to my mother-in-law's backyard Taj Mahal.  I don’t think they even need windows these days.”

Curious at the change in subject, W&D cautioned, “Hold the phone, Deepak.  Better check with the council by-laws about that.  I believe they are cracking down on illegal structures.”

“She’ll be right, mate. Isn’t that what the Aussies say?” Deepak laughed as he pulled to the kerb.

“A fatal conclusion, Deepak” W&D warned as he unbuckled his seat belt. "Are you on good terms with your neighbours?  They might dob you in?"

W&D heard Deepak swearing in what must have been Hindi, as he strode off.  

First Samuel client events calendar


First Samuel Annual Forum

Tuesday 24th September

with Special guest
Hon Josh Frydenberg, MP, Federal Treasurer

Official invitation will be sent next week

Chief Investment Officer Dinners

Interstate Invitations - Sent

Melbourne - Invitations sent yesterday

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


Venue Seating Date & Time
Cumulus Inc. - Melbourne CBD Lunch 27th August 12pm
Hellenic Republic - Kew Dinner 27th August 6pm
Stokehouse - St Kilda Lunch 28th August 12 pm
Chin Chin - Melbourne CBD Dinner 10th September 6 pm
The Botanical Hotel - South Yarra Lunch & Dinner 11th September 12pm & 6pm
Many Little by Polperro - Red Hill Dinner 17th September 6pm
Elyros - Camberwell Lunch & Dinner 18th September 12pm & 6pm